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Providence; difficulties insuperable in the transfiguration of their Lord. The three
. He would indeed have overshot bis sons discredit the one, from an exclusive duty in the same proportion in which he had veneration for the other.
outgone his Master. Does Paul enjoin any But is it not so derogatory from the dignity thing more contrary to nature than the exof our Lord to disparage the epistolary dis- cision of a right hand, or the plucking out of cussions written under the direction of his a right eye? Does Paul any where exhibit Holy Spirit, written with a view to lay open a menace, I will not say more alarming, but in the clearest manner the truths be taught so repeatedly alarming, as his Divine Masin the Gospel, as it would be to depreciate ter, who expressly, in one chapter oply, the the facts themselves, which that Gospel re- 9th of St. Mark, three several times de cords?
nounces eternal punishment on the irreThe more general respect for the Gospels claimably impenitent, awfully marking out seems partly to arise from the circumstance not only ibe specific place, but the specific that they contain facts: the disregard im- torment,-the undying worm, and the unplied for the Epistles from this cause,--that quenched fire? they enforce doctrines. The former, the No: these scrupulous objectors add nogenerality feel they dare not resist; the lat- thing to the character of our Lord, by what ter they think they can oppose with more they subduct from that of his apostle.' Perimpunity. But of how much less value fection admits of no improvement; deity of would be the record of these astonishing facts no addition. To degrade any portion of the if there were neither doctrines to grow out revealed will of God, is no proof of reverence of them, por precepts to be built upon them! for Him whose will is revealed. But it is And where should we look for the full in- preposterous to insinuate, that a regard for struction to be deduced from both, but in the Epistles is calculated to diminish a rethe commentaries of those, to whom the gard for the Gospels. Where else can we charge of expounding the truths previously And such believing, sucb admiring, such taught was committed? Our Saviour him- adoring views of him wbose life the Gospel self has left no written record. As the Fa- records? Where else are we so grounded in ther committed all judgment to the Son, so that love which passeth knowledge? Where the Son committed all written instruction to else are we so continually taught to be lookbis select servants.
ing unto Jesus? Where else are we so pow. One of these, wbo had written a Gospel, erfully reminded that there is no other name wrote also three Epistles. Another carried under beaven by which we may be saved ? on the sequel of the evangelical history. If We may as well assert, that the existing these men are worthy of confidence in one laws, of which Magna Charta is the original, instance, why not in another? Fourteen of diminish our reverence for this palladium itthe Epistles were written by one who had an self; this basis of our political security, as express revelation from Heaven; all the rest, the Gospel is of our moral and spiritual prithe siogle chapter of Saint Jude excepted, vileges.' In both cases the derived benefit by the distinguished apostles who were hon- sends us back to the well-head from whence oured with the privilege of witnessing the lit flows.
He who professes to read the Holy Scrip- 1 perfect form and shape, into complete beauty tures for his instruction,' should recollect, and everlasting strength. whenever he is disposed to be captious, that they are written also for his correction. If we really believe that Christ speaks to us in
CHAP. IV. the Gospels, we must believe that he speaks to us in the Epistles also. In the one he ad- Saint Paul's Faith, a Practical Principle. dresses us in his militant, in the other in his THERE are some principles and seeds of glorified character. In one, the Divine lo- nature, some elements in the character of structor speaks to us on earth; in the other, man, not indisposed for certain acts of virfrom heaven. The internal wisdom, the di- tue; we mean virtue as distinguished from vinity of the doctrines, the accordance both the principle of pleasing God by the act or of doctrine and precept with those delivered sentiment. Some persons naturally bale by the Saviour himself, the powerful and cruelty, others spurn at injustice, this man abiding effects which, for near two thousand detests covetousness, that abhors oppression. years they have produced, and are actually Some of these dispositions certain minds find, producing, on the hearts and lives of multi- and others fancy, within themselves. But tudes; the same spirit which inspired the for a man to go entirely out of himself, to writer is still ready to assist the reader ; all live upon trust, to renounce all confidence together forming, to every serious inquirer in virtues which he possesses, and in actions who reads them with an humble beart and which he performs; to cast himself entirely a docile spirit, irrefragable arguments, uo- upon another; to seek to be justified, not by impeacbable evidence that they possess as bis own obedience, but by the obedience of full a claim to inspiration, and consequently that other; to look for eternal happiness, not have as forcible demand on bis belief and from the merit of his own life, but from that obedience, as any of the less litigated por- of another's death, that death the most de tions of the book of God.
grading, after a life the most despised; for Whoever, then, shall sit down to the pe. all this revolution in the mind and heart, rusal of these epistles without prejudice, will there is no foundation, no seed, no element in not rise from it without improvement. In nature; it is foreign to the make of man ; if any human science we do not lay aside the possessed, it is bestowed ; if felt, it is derived; whole, because some parts are more difficult it is not a production, but an infusion; it is than others; we are rather stimulated to the a principle, not indigenous, but implanted. work by the difficulty, than deterred from it; The Apostle implies that faith is not inherent, because we believe the attainment will re- when he says, to you it is given to believe.' ward the perseverance.
Tbere is, indeed, This superinduced priociple is Faith, a an essential difference between a diagram principle not only not inherent in nature, and a doctrine, the apprehension of the one but diametrically contrary to it; a principle solely depending on the capacity and applica- which takes no root in the soil of the natural tion of the student, while the understanding heart; no man can say that Jesus is the Lord of the other depends not merely on the indus- but by the Holy Ghost. Its result is not try, but on the temper with which we apply. merely a reform, but a new life,
,-a life gov• If any man lack wisdom, let bim ask of erned by the same principle wbich first comGod, and it shall be given him.'
municated it. Let any reader say, if after perusing Saint The faith of mere assent, that faith which Luke's biographical sketch of the Acts of is purely a conviction of the understanding, the Apostles, after contemplating the work seldom stirs beyond the point at which it first of the Spirit of God, and its effects on the sits down. Being established on the same lives and the preaching of these primitive common ground with any scientific truth, or saints, whether he has not attained an addi- any acknowledged fact, it is not likely to ad tional insight into the genius and the results vance, desiring nothing more than to retain of Christianity since he finished reading the its station among other accepted truths, and Evangelist ? Let bim say further, whether thus it continues to reside in the intellect the light of Revelation, shining more and alone. Though its local existence is allows more as be advances, does not, in his adding ed, it exhibits none of the undoubted signs of the perusal of the Epistles to that of the Acts, life,-activity, motion, growth. pour in upon his mental eye the full and But that vital faith with which the souls of perfect day?
the Scripture saints were so richly imbued, As there was more leisure, as well as a is an animating and pervading principle. It more appropriate space, in the Epistles for spreads and enlarges in its progress. It building up Christianity as a system than in gathers energy as it proceeds. The more adthe Gospels, so these wise master-builders, vanced are its attainments, the more pros• building on no other foundation than that pective are its views. The nearer it apwhich was laid,' borrowed all the materials proaches to the invisible realities to which it for the glorious edifice, from the anterior is stretching forward, the more their domin. Scriptures. They brought from their pre-ion over it increases, till it almost makes the cursors in the immortal work, the hewn future present, and the unseen visible. Its stones with which the spiritual temple is light becomes brighter, its flame purer, its constructed, and having compacted it with aspirations stronger. Its increasing proximthat wbich every portion supplied ; squared, ity to its object fills the mind, warms the rounded, and polished the precious mass into beart, clears tbe sight, quickens the pace.
But as faith is of a spiritual nature, it can-perience, all were against him. From all not be kept alive without spiritual means. these impediments he averted bis eres ; be It requires for its sustenance aliment con- raised them to Ilim who had promised. genial with itself. Meditation familiarizes Though the promise was so great as to seem it with its object; prayer keeps it close to incredible, his confidence in Omnipotence its end. If thus cherished by perpetual ex- overbalanced all his apprebensions of any ercise, sustained by the habitual contempla- hindrances. With the eye of faith he not tion of the oracles of God, and watered with only saw his offspring as if immediately grantthe dews of bis grace, it becomes the preg. ed,' but all the myriads which should hereafnant seed of every Christian virtue.
ter descend from him. He saw the great an. The Holy Scriptures have not left this faith ticipated blessing : he saw the star come to grow merely out of the stock of injunction, out of Jacob,'— the sceptre rise out of Isexhortation, or command ; the inspired wri- rael.' Though an exclamation of wonder ters have not merely expatiated on its beauty escaped him, it was astonishment untinctured as a grace, on its necessity as a duty, on its with distrust; he disregarded second causes ; use as an instrument, but having infused it difficulties disappeared, impossibilities vanas a living and governing principle, have for- ished, faith was victorious. tified their exhortations with instances the In this glorious catalogue of those who conmost striking, have illustrated their defini- quered by faith, there is perhaps not one who tions with examples the most impressive. offers a more appropriate lesson to the high
The most indefatigable but rational cham- er classes of society than the great legislator pion of faith is the Apostle Paul. He every of Israel. Here is a man sitting at ease in where demonstrates, that it is not a specula- his possessions, enjoying the sweets of plenty, tive dogma remaining dormant in the mind, the dignity of rank, ihe luxuries of literature, but a lively conviction of the power and good- the distinction of reputation. All these he ness of God, and of his mercy in Christ Je voluntarily renounces; he foregoes tbe pornps sus; a principle received into the heart, ac- of a court, the advantages of a city, then the kaowledged by the understanding, and opera- most learned in the world ;, he relinquishes ting on the practice.
the delights of polished society ; refused to Saint Paul, among the other sacred an- be called the grandson of a potent monarch ; tlors, seems to consider that faith is to the chooses rather to suffer afliction with his besool, what the senses are to the body; it is lieving brethren than to enjoy the temporary spiritual sight. God is the object, faith is pleasures which a sinful connivance could the visual ray.
Christ is the substance, bave obtained for bim : he esteems the refaith is the hand which lays hold on it By proach of Christ,--a Saviour unborn till mafaith the promises are in a manner substan- ny ages after, unknown but to the eye of tiated. Our Saviour does not say, he that faith,--greater than all the treasures of believeth on me shall have life, but has life.' Egypt. The accomplished, the learned, and It is not a blessing, of which the fruition is the polite, will be best able to appreciate the wholly reserved for heaven : in a spiritual value of such a sacrifice. Does it not seem sense, through faith the promise becomes to come more home to the bosoms of the eleperformance, and assurance possession. The gant and the opulent; and to offer an instrucimmortal seed is not only sown, but already lion, more intimate perhaps than is bequeathsprung up in the soil of the renewed heart. ed even by those martial and heroic spirits The life of grace becomes the same in na- who subdued kingdoms, quenched the vioture and quality with the life of glory, to lence of fire, stopped the mouths of lions, and which it leads. And if in this ungenial cli- turned to flight the armies of the aliens ? mate the plant will not attain its maturity, at These are instances of faith, which, if more least its progress intimates that it will termi- sublime, are still of less special application. Date in absolute perfection.
Few are now called to these latter sufferings, la that valuable epitome of Old Testament but many in their measure and degree to the biography, the eleventh of Hebrews, Paul other. May they ever bear in mind that Modefines faith to be a future but inalienable ses sustained bis trials only as seeing Him possession. He then exhibits the astonishing who is invisible ! effects of faith displayed in men like ourselves, To change the heart of a sinner is a highby marshalling the worthies who lived under er exertion of power than to create a man, the ancient economy, as actual evidences of or even a world; in the latter case, as God the verity of this Divine principle; a princi- made it out of nothing, so there was nothing ple which he thus, by numberless personifi. to resist the operation ; but in the former he cations, vindicates from the charge of being has to encounter, not inanity, but repulsion ; nothing more than an abstract notion, a vis- not an unobtrusive vacuity, but a powerful icoary, unproductive conceit, or an imagina- counteraction; and to believe in the Divine ry enthusiastic feeling. He combats this energy which effects this renovation, is a opinion by exhibiting characteristically the greater exercise of faith than to believe that rich and the abundant harvest, springing from the spirit of God, moving on the face of the this prolific principle. On these illustrious waters, was the efficient cause of creation. examples our limits will not permit us to In producing this moral renovation God dwell'; one or two instances must suffice. has to subdue, not only the rebel in arms
The patriarchal father of the faithful, against the king, but the little state of man' against hope believed in hope. Natural reli- in arms against himself, fighting against his ance, reasonable expectation, common ex-convictions, refusiog the redemption wrought Vor. ll.
for him. Almighty Goodness has the twofold, blessedness of heaven ; nothing else can work of providing pardon for offenders, and give us such a feeling conviction of its brevmaking them willing to receive it. To offer ity at the longest, as that principle which haheaven, and then to prevail on man to ac- bitually measures it with eternity. It holds cept it, is at once an act of God's omnipo- out the only light which shows a Christian tence, and of his mercy.
that the universe bas no bribe worth his acThus faith, which appears to be so easy, is ceptance, if it must be obtained at the price of all things the most difficult ;- which seems of his conscience, at the risk of his soul. to be so common, is of all things most rare. Saint Paul demonstrates in bis own inTo consider how reluctant the human beart stance, that faith is not only a regulating and adopts this principle ; how it evades and conquering, but a transforming grace. It stipulates; how it procrastinates, even when altered the whole constitution of his mind. it does not pointedly reject; how ingenious It did not dry up the tide of his strong affecits subterfuges, how specious its pretences; tions, but diverted them into a channel en. and then to deny that faith is a supernatural tirely different. To say all in a word, he was gift, is to reject the concurring testimony of a living exemplification of the gi eat Scripreason, of Scripture, of daily observation, of ture doctrine which he taught—faith made actual experience.
him, emphatically, a ner man. Thus his St. Paul frequently intimates that faith is life as well as his writings prove that faith is never a solitary attribute: he never sepa- an operating principle, a strenuous, influenrates it from humility, it being indeed the tial, vigilaot grace. If it teach that selfparent of that self-abasing grace. He also abasement which makes us lowly in our own implies that faith is not, as some represent it, eyes, it communicates that watchfulness a disorderly, but a regulating principle, which preserves us from the contamination when he speaks of the law of faith, of the of sin, a dread of every communication obedience of faith. Faith and repentance which may pollute. Its disciple is active as are the two qualities inseparably linked in well as humble. Love is the instrument by the work of our salvation ; repentance which it works. But that love of God with teaching us to abhor ourselves for sin,-faith, which it fills the beart, is not maintained to go out of ourselves for righteousnes. Ho- there in indolent repose, but quickened liness and charity Paul exhibits as its insep- for the service of man. Genuine faith does arable concomitants, or rather its necessary not infuse a piety which is unprofitable to productions, their absence clearly demon- others, but draws it out in incessant desires strating the want of the generating princi- and aims to promote the general good. ple. May we not hence in fer that wberever The Apostle knew that the faith of many faith is scen not in this company, she is an is rather drowsy than insincere, rather slothimpostor.
ful than hypocritical; that they dread the Of the great mysteries of godliness' en- consequences it involves more than the proumerated by Paul in bis Epistle to Timothy, fession it requires. He is therefore always he shows by his arrangement of the five par- explicit, always mindful to append the ticulars that compose them, that God believed effect to the cause. Hence we hear so on in the world is the climax of this aston much from him aud the other apostles of the isbing process. * And it may be deduced fruits of faith, of adding to faith virtue ; and from his general writings, that the reason it is worthy of remark, that in the roll of why so many do pot more anxiously labour Saints,--those spirits of renown in the anfor eternal happiness, is, because they do not cient church, to which allusion has been practically believe it.
The importance of made,--the faith of every one is illustrated, This fundamental principle is so great, that not only by some splendid act, but by a life our spiritual enemy is not so perseveringly of obedience. bent on deterring us from this duty, or detach We may talk as holily as Paul himself, and ing is from that virtue, as on sbaking the by a delusion not uncommon, by the very bofoundation of our faith. He knows if he can liness of our talk, may deceive our own undermine this strong hold, slighter impedi- souls; but we may rest assured that where ments will give way. As the first practical charity is not the dominant grace, faith is instance of human rebellion sprung from un- not the inspiring priuciple. Thus, by exambelief, so all subsequent obedience, to be ining our lives, not our discourse, we shall available, must spring from faith.
prove whether we are in faith.' Saint Paul shows faith to be a victorious Though a genuine faith is peremptory in principle. There is no other quality which its decision and resolute in its obedience, yet can enable us to overcome the world. it deeply feels the source from whence it is Faith is the only successful competitor with derived In that memorable instance of secular allurement. The world offers things Abraham's faith, in the very act, instead of great in human estimation, but it is the prop- valuing himself on the strength of his conerty of this grace to make great things look viction, he gave glory to God; and it is oblittle; it effects this purpose by reducing vious that the reason why faith is selected as them to their real dimensions. Nothing but the prime condition of our justification, is, faith can show us the emptiness of this because it is a grace which, beyond all othworld's glory at the best, because nothing ers, gives to God the entire glory ; that it is ethe views it in perpetual contrast with the the only attribute which subducts nothing
for, derives nothing from self. Why are 3. Tin chap. 7,
christian and believer convertible terins, if
this living principle be no ground-work of strength to weakness, spirit to action, motire his character. If, then, it supplies his dis- to virtue, certainty to doubt, patience to suftinguishing appellation, should it not be his fering, light to darkness, life to death. governing spirit af action?
It is a rule of Aristotle, that principles and Paul is a wonderful iostance of the pow- conclusions must always be within the sphere er of this principle. That he should be so of the same science ; that error will be inentirely carried out of bis natural character ; evitable, while men examine the concluthat he who, by his persecuting spirit, court- sions of one science by the principles of an. ed the favour of the intolerant Sanhedrim, other. He observes, that it is therefore abshould be brought to act in direct opposition surd for a mathematician, whose conclusions to their prejudices, supported by no human ought to be grounded on demonstration, to protection, sustained alone by the grace of ground them on the probabilities of the rhetHim whom he bad stoutly opposed ; that bis orician. confidence in God should rise in proportion Mas not this rule be transferred from the to his persecutions from man: that the wbole sciences of the schools to the science of morbent of his soul should be set directly con als? Will not the worldly moralist err, by trary to his natural propensities, the whole drawing his conclusions as to the morality of force of his mind and actions be turned in a serious Christian from the principles of the full opposition to his temper, education, so. worldly school; not being at all able to ciety, and habits; that not only his affec- judge of the principles, of which the relitions should be diverted into a new channel, gious'man's morals are the result. but that his judgment and understanding But in our application of this rule, the should sail in the newly directed current; converse of the proposition will not hold that his bigotry should be transformed into good; for the real Christian, being aware of caodour, his fierceness into gentleness, his the principles of worldly morality, expects untameable pride into charity, his intoler- that' his conclusions should grow out of his ance into meekness,-can all this be ac- principles, and in this opinion he seldom counted for on any principle inherent in hu- errs. man nature, on any principle uninspired by Christian writings bave made innumerathe spirit of God?
ble converts to morality ; but mere moral After this instance,—and, blessed be God, works have never made one convert to relithe instance, though superior, is not solitary; gion. They do not exhibit an originating the change, though miraculous in this case, principle. Morality is not the instrument is not less certain in others,-shall the doc but the effect of conversion. It cannot say, trine so exemplified continue to be the butt · Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from of ridicule? While the scoffing in fidel vir- the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.' tually puts the renovation of the buman But when Christ has given life, then moraliheart nearly on a footing with the metamor- ty, by the activity of the inspiring motive, phoses of Ovid, or the transmigrations of gives the surest évidence of renovated vitalPythagoras ; let not the timid Christian be ity, and exhibits the most unequivocal sympdiscouraged: let not his faith be shaken, toms, not only of spiritual lite, but of vigorthough he may find that the principle to ous health. which he has been taught to trust his eternal Saint Paul is sometimes represented not happiness, is considered as false by him who merely as the greatest of the Apostles,- this bas not examived into its truth ; that the is readily granted, but virtually as being change, of which the sound believer exhibits almost exclusively great. Is not this just so convincing an evidence, is derided as ab- ascription of superior excellence, however, surb by the philosophical sceptic, treated as too commonly livnited to the doctrinal part chimerical by the superficial reasoner, or si- of bis compositions, and is not the consumleatly suspected as incredible by the decent mate moral perfection wbich both his wrimoralist.
tings anů his character so consistently display, sometimes, if not overlooked, yet placed in the background ?
Though he did more for the moral accomCHAP. V.
plishment of the human character than has The morality of Saint Paul.
ever been effected by any other man;
though he laboured more abundantly than CHRISTIANITY was a second creation. It any other writer, to promote practical relicompleted the first order of things, and in- gion; yet polemical divinity, on the one troduced a new one of its own, not subver- side, is too much disposed to claim him as sive but perfective of the original. It pro- her immediate champion; and then in order duced an entire revolution in the condition to make good her claim on the other, to asof man, and accomplished a change in the sign to him a subordinate station in the ranks state of the world, which all its confederated of sacred moral writers. power, wit, and philosophy, not only could Now the fact is, that all the prophets and not effect, but could not even conceive. It apostles, aggregately, are not so abundant threw such a preponderating weight into the in ethical instruction, nor is the detail of scale of morals, by the superinduction of the moral conduct in any of them so ninutely new principle of faith in a Redeemer, as unfolded, or so widely ramified, as in the rendered the hitherto insupportable trials of works of Saint Paul. We may indeed, venthe afflicted, coinparatively light. It gavelture to assert, that David and our apostle are