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but renounce the advantages which are legitimately open to us, under a sounder view of the true state of the question. The disciples went forth as unlearned and uncultivated men, expressly selected to be miraculous advocates of a cause, which, by the very evidence of their natural unfitness for such a commission, was to be shewn to be God's cause.
St. Paul too carne to the Corinthians with
out the excellency of speech or of wisdom, for the express purpose of manifesting that the success of his ministry was not owing to the adventitious aid of eloquence, or ordinary attainments, but that it was the special testimony of God’ to the truth of his preaching. In conformity therefore with this declared design, he calls them to witness that his address was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that their faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.'
But if the extraordinary gifts which signalized the infancy of the primitive church have ceased with the necessity and design in which they originated, it cannot be pretended that we are to dispense with labours for which no substitute is now provided, or to undervalue the importance of human learning humbly dedicated to the service of Christianity, and sanctified, through God's blessing, to the promotion of his cause and glory. The sound of the Gospel must still go out into all lands
out into all lands ; but the Spirit now gives utterance, not as on the day of Pentecost, by conferring an immediate power of speaking in strange tongues, but by the secret influence of divine grace bestowed on natural means and ordinary opportunities of improve
Again, the silence of our Lord respecting particular vices might lead us to form very erroneous opinions respecting their criminality, did we not take into the account certain
peculiarities incidental to the time and place of his ministry.
o precept occupies so large a space in the
ode as the law against idolatry. It is
enacted in the most set and solemn terms, enforced with every argument which reverence or gratitude could suggest, repeated as often as obedience to it seems to have been relaxed by perversity or temptation, and guarded by the denunciation of penalties of the severest kind against those who despised its authority. Yet this fundamental law is scarcely noticed by our Lord, except perhaps by a quotation from Deuteronomy addressed to Satan, and in one or two passages of a similar tendency.
The commandment against sabbath-breaking is one which, considered with reference to its importance only, it might have been expected Christ would have sanctioned by an express direction, especially when the great body of ceremonial rites of the Levitical law were about to be abolished on the establishment of the new system. Other circumstances make our Lord's will respecting the observance of the sabbath not doubtful; but the only instances in which the Evangelists have recorded any remark on it from his own mouth, are where he vindicated himself from supposed breaches of its sanctity by affirming his right to dispense with it in certain cases, and condemnning the bigotry which would have hindered the performance of acts of mercy and love on the day of rest.
The Evangelists mention no
no direct law against usury; and other things, which are as much forbidden to a Christian as to a Jew, find no place in the recorded discourses of our Lord, though the Jewish legislator has thought it necessary to express their unlawfulness by repeated declarations.
What conclusion, then, should we draw from the silence of our Lord on these topics ? Are we to conceive that idolatry and sabbath-breaking and usury are less offensive to God, who in these latter days hath spoken to us by his Son, than to God who in the old time spoke by the mouth of his servant Moses? or as he formerly suffered some things to remain, in consequence of the hardness of heart of the Israelites, has he now adopted the same course, with regard to
much weightier matters under a far more spiritual law ?
There is, in fact, no difficulty in assigning a reason for the difference, without having recourse to any such suppositions, and we may derive from it an useful lesson. If Christ. had seen that the direction which the wickedness of the times had taken, were such as to have required it, there can be no doubt that he would have left on record as strong denunciations against faults which he passed over without notice, as the Gospels actually contain against hypocrisy, and unbelief, and the other corruptions of the law which prevailed at his advent. The distinction, therefore, should be clearly marked between our Lord as a preacher of doctrine, and as a moralist. As a preacher of doctrine, the truths he taught were everlasting, and in due season all the ends of the world will hear the same terms of the same covenant proposed without one jot or tittle of alteration or omission. But as a moralist he addressed himself to the particular crimes in which his hearers most stood