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He does not philosophize upon abstract truths, nor reason upon conjectural notions; but bears witness to what he has seen and known, and deduces practical instruction from actual events. He is therefore distinct in his exposition of doctrines and duties; explicit in his injunctions and reproofs; and this because truth is absolute. We can scarcely peruse a sentence in his writings, without finding something to bring away from them for our own use, something which be longs to ourselves, something which would have been seasonably addressed to us, had he been our personal correspondent.
He knew mankind too well not to know the necessity of speaking out; he knew that if any opening was left, they would interpret it in their own favour, that they would slip out of every thing which was not precisely explained, and definitely enjoined. He was aware that
the reason why men profit so little by scripture instruction is, because, in applying it, they are disposed to think only of other people, and are apt to forget themselves. He knew it was not easy to lower the world's good opinion of itself. That the quicksightedness of certain persons errs, not in misunderstanding the justness of a reproof, but only in mistak ing its object, and that by directing the censure to others, they turn away the point of the weapon from their own boYet he makes charitable allowance for the capacities, the exigencies, and the temptations of a world so diversely circumstanced. Like his blessed Master he would have all men every where to be saved; and, like him, left no means unessayed which might promote this great end.
We must not imagine that Christianity is not precisely the same thing now, as it was when our apostle published it, because
its external marks are not so completely identified. A more animated zeal in religion, might have been visible and legitimate in the first ages of the Church than commonly in the present. astonishing change then effected in the minds of men was rapid, and often instantaneous. In our day it is usually gradual. It is no wonder that persons should have been overwhelmed with joy and gratitude at being suddenly rescued from the darkness of Pagan idolatry, at being delivered from the bondage of the Jewish ritual, and translated into the glorious liberty of the children of God. This total revolution in the mind, and in the principles, would certainly produce a sensible alteration in the external habits and visible practice of the Gentile convert; whose morals, if he were indeed a convert, would be as different from what they had previously been, as his faith, and he as different from his former self, as any two men from each other.
This, consequently, would make the change more obvious than in the renovated character of a nominal Christian, now brought to embrace vital Christianity; in whose outward observances, antecedent and subsequent to his change, there might possibly be no very apparent alteration.
In the days of the apostle, the holy sacrament of baptism was likely to be in the very highest sense of the word, -regeneration. It was not only the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace; but it was also, for the most part, an actual evidence that such grace had been effectually received unto eter-nal salvation.. The convert then was an adult, and received baptism as his explicit confession, and open adoption of the new faith. To bring men "to be
lieve with the heart, and to confess "with the tongue," the Divinity of the Redeemer, was to bring them to be truly converted. No man could say that: "Jesus
"Jesus was the Lord, but by the Holy "Ghost." As the apostles had neither reputation to influence, nor authority to compel, nor riches to bribe, so it is obvious that there was nothing to attract men to Christianity, except their full conviction of its divine truth. It was hostile to their secular advancement, to their interests, their reputation, their safety. Hypocrisy was consequently a rare, when it was a losing sin. A hypocrite was not likely to embrace a faith by which he was sure to gain nothing in this world, if it were false, and nothing till after his death, if it were true. Christians were such optionally, or not at all.
It was not then probable that he who was baptized under such circumstances would be merely an external convert. According to all human means of judging, that "faith" existed, which is said by an article to be " confirmed" in baptism; and this holy Sacrament became