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ch. xiv. ver. 15: "If you love me, keep my commandments." Had the manifestation of love towards God with all our strength, and towards our neighbours as ourselves, been practically impossible, as maintained by the Editor, (page 112,) or had any other doctrines been necessary to lead to eternal life, Jesus of Nazareth, (in whose veracity, candour, and perfection, we have happily been persuaded to place implicit confidence,) could not, consistently with his office as the Christ of God, have enjoined the lawyer to the obedience of those two commandments, and would not have promised him eternal life as the reward of such obedience; (vide Luke, ch. x. ver. 28, "This do and thou shalt live ;") for a man possessed of common sense and common humanity would not incite another to labour in vain by attempting what was practically impossible, nor delude him with promises of a reward upon conditions beyond his power to fulfil; much less could a Being, in whom dwelt all truth, and who was sent with a divine law to guide mankind by his preaching and example, inculcate precepts that it was impracticable to follow. Any commandment enjoining man to love God with all his heart and all his strength, requires of us of course to direct our love towards him as the sole Father of the universe; but does not amount to a prohibition of the pursuits necessary for life, or to an abstinence from love towards any other object; for such love also is enjoined by the subsequent commandment. The following passages, John,
ch. xiv. ver. 21, “ He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him:” Ch. xv. ver. 10, “ If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love:” ver. 14,“ Ye are my friends, if ye
do whatsoever I command you, &c.," and many other
passages of a similar import, exhibit clearly, that love of and adherence to Jesus can be evinced solely by obedience to the divine commandments. But if the observance of those commandments be treated as practically impossible, the love of Jesus and adherence to him must likewise be so considered, and Christianity altogether regarded as existing only in theory.
I appeal to the Reverend Editor himself, whether we are to set at defiance the
express commandments of Jesus, under the supposition that manifestation of the love enjoined by him is practically impossible? Yet this we must do, if we are to adopt the position of the Editor, found in his Review, page 111, “ That the most excellent precepts, the most perfect law, can never lead to happiness and peace, unless by causing men to take refuge in the doctrine of the cross ;” meaning, I presume, the doctrine of the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, as an atonement for the sins of mankind.
As the Reverend Editor has most fairly and justly confined himself to arguments, founded on the authority of the divine Teacher himself, I should hope
to be allowed to beg him to point out, in order to establish his position, even a single passage pronounced by Jesus, enjoining a refuge in such a doctrine of the cross, as all-sufficient or indispensable for salvation ; so that his position, thus supported, may be placed in competition with that founded on those passages which I have quoted in the foregoing paragraph, shewing both the indispensableness and the all-sufficiency of the excellent Precepts in question to procure salvation; and may impel us to endeavour to reconcile contradictions, which would in that case be shewn to subsist between the passages, declaring the all-sufficiency of the moral precepts preached by Christ for eternal life, and those that might be found to announce the indispensableness of the doctrine of the cross for everlasting happiness.
It is however evident, that the human race are naturally so weak, and so prone to be led astray by temptations of temporary gratifications, that the best and wisest of them fall far short of manifesting a strict obedience to the divine commandments, and are constantly neglecting the duty they owe to the Creator and to their fellow-creatures ; nevertheless, in reliance on numerous promises found in the sacred writings, we ought to entertain every hope of enjoying the blessings of pardon from the merciful Father through repentance, which is declared the only means of procuring forgiveness of our failures. I have already quoted some of these comforting passages in my Appeal, page 110; but as the Reverend Editor seems to have entirely overlooked them, and
omitted to notice them in any of his publications, I deem it necessary to repeat them here with a few additions. Ezekiel, chap. xviii. ver. 30: “ Repent and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” Luke, chap. xiii. ver. 3: “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Chap. xv. ver. 7: “I
that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine persons who need no repentance.” Matthew, chap. ix. ver. 13: “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Chap. iii. ver. 2, John the Baptist preached, saying, “ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand ;” and Jesus, after his resurrection, lastly, directs his disciples, Luke, chap. xxiv. ver. 47, “That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, , beginning at Jerusalem,” wherein he declares the remission of sins as an immediate and necessary consequence of repentance.
The foregoing authorities and remarks will, I trust, suffice with every candid reader, as my apology for persisting in the conviction, that the Precepts compiled and published as a guide to peace and happiness, though deficient in respect to speculative doctrines and creeds, as well as narrative, yet contain all that is essential in practical Christianity ; since
; they teach us the performance of our duty to God and to our fellow-creatures, and the most acceptable atonement on our part to the All-merciful, when we have fallen short of that duty.
Natural Inferiority of the Son to the Father.
In endeavouring to prove what he represents as "the most abstruse, and yet the most important of doctrines, the Deity of Jesus Christ," the Reverend Editor advances seven positions: 1st, that Jesus was possessed of ubiquity, an attribute peculiar to God alone. 2dly, That he declared that a knowledge of his nature was equally incomprehensible with that of the nature of God. 3rdly, That he exercised the power of forgiving sins, the peculiar prerogative of God. 4thly, That he claimed almighty power, "in the most unequivocal manner." 5thly, That his heavenly Father had committed to him the final judgment of all who have lived since the creation. 6thly, That he received worship due to God alone. 7thly, That he associated his own name with that of God the Father in the sacred rite of baptism. The facts on which the Editor labours to establish these positions, however, seem to me, upon an impartial examination, not only unfavourable to his inference, but even confirmatory of the opposite opinion. For admitting for a moment that the posi tions of the Editor are well founded, and that the Saviour was in possession of attributes and powers