Sidor som bilder

All are equally consistent with each other, and with the general tenor of the antecedent Scriptures.

Does it not look as if the marked distinction which some readers make between the historical and the epistolary portions, arose from a must erroneous belief that they can more commodiously reconcile their own views, opinions, and practice, with the narratives of the Evangelists, than with the keen, penetrating, heart-exploring exposition of those very doctrines which are equally found, but not equally expanded, in the Gospels? These critical discoverers, however, may rest assured, that there is nothing more strong, nothing more pointed, nothing more unequivocally plain, nothing more awfully severe in any part of Saint Paul's writings than in the discourses of our Lord himself. He would indeed have overshot his duty in the same proportion in which he had outgone his Master. Does Paul enjoin any thing more contrary to nature than the excision of a right hand, or the plucking out of a right eye? Does Paul any where exhibit a menace, I will not say more alarming, but so repeatedly alarming, as his Divine Master, who expressly, in one chapter only, the 9th of Saint Mark, three several times denounces eternal punishment on the irreclaimably impenitent, awfully marking not only the specific place, but the specific torment, -the undying worm, and the unquenched fire?

No: these scrupulous objectors add nothing to the character of our Lord by what they subduct from that of his apostle. Perfection admits of no improvement; deity of no addition. To degrade any portion of the revealed will of God is no proof of reverence for Him


whose will is revealed. But it is preposterous to insinuate, that a regard for the Epistles is calculated to diminish a regard for the Gospels. Where else can we find such believing, such admiring, such adoring views of him whose life the Gospel records? Where else are we so grounded in that love which passeth knowledge? Where else are we so continually taught to be looking unto Jesus? Where else are we so powerfully reminded that there is no other name under heaven by which we may be saved? We may as well assert, that the existing laws, of which Magna Charta is the original, diminish our reverence for this palladium itself; this basis of our political security, as the Gospel is of our moral and spiritual privileges. In both cases the derived benefit sends us back to the wellhead from whence it flows.

He who professes to read the Holy Scriptures for his "instruction," should recollect, 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 the Gospels, we must believe that he speaks to us in the Epistles also. In the one he addresses us in his militant, in the other in his glorified character. In one, the Divine Instructor speaks to us on earth; in the other, from heaven. The internal wisdom, the divinity of the doctrines, the accordance both of doctrine and precept with those delivered by the Saviour himself, the powerful and abiding effects which, for near two thousand years they have produced, and are actually producing, on the hearts and lives of multitudes; the same spirit which inspired the writer still ready fo

assist the reader; all together forming, to every serious inquirer who reads them with an humble heart and a docile spirit, irrefragable arguments, unimpeachable evidence, that they possess as full a claim to inspiration, and consequently have as forcible demand on his belief and obedience, as any of the less litigated portions of the book of God.

Whoever, then, shall sit down to the perusal of these Epistles without prejudice, will not rise from it without improvement. In any human science we do not lay aside the whole, because some parts are more difficult than others, we are rather stimulated to the work by the difficulty, than deterred from it; because we believe the attainment will reward the perseverance. There is, indeed, an essential difference between a diagram and a doctrine, the apprehension of the one solely depending on the capacity and application of the student, while the understanding of the other depends not merely on the industry, but on the temper with which we apply." If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given him."

Let any reader say, if after perusing Saint Luke's biographical sketch of the Acts of the Apostles, after contemplating the work of the Spirit of God, and its effects on the lives and preaching of these primitive saints, whether he has not attained an additional insight. into the genius and the results of Christianity since he finished reading the Evangelists? Let him say further, whether the light of Revelation, shining more and more as he advances, does not, in his adding the perusal of

the Epistles to that of the Acts, pour in upon his mental eye the full and perfect day?

As there was more leisure, as well as a more appropriate space, in the Epistles for building up Christianity as a system than in the Gospels, so these wise master-builders, “building on no other foundation than that which was laid," borrowed all the materials for the glorious edifice, from the anterior Scriptures. They brought from their precursors in the immortal work, the hewn stones with which the spiritual temple is constructed, and having compacted it with that which every portion supplied; squared, rounded, and polished the precious mass into perfect form and shape into complete beauty and everlasting strength.




THERE are some principles and seeds of nature, some elements in the character of man, not indisposed for certain acts of virtue; we mean virtue as distinguished from the principle of pleasing God by the act or sentiment. Some persons naturally hate cruelty, others spurn at injustice, this man detests covetousness, that abhors oppression. "Some of these dispositions certain minds find, and others fancy, within themselves. for a man to go entirely out of himself, to live upon trust, to renounce all confidence in virtues which he possesses, and in actions which he pertorms; to cast himself entirely upon another; to seek to be justified, not by his own obedience, but by the obedience of that other; to look for eternal happiness, not from the merit of his own life, but from that of another's death, that death the most degrading, after a life the most despised;-for all this revolution in the mind and heart, there is no foundation, no seed, no element in nature; it is foreign to the make of man; if possessed, it is bestowed; if felt, it is derived: it is not a production, but an infusion; it is a principle, not indigenous, but implanted. The Apostle implies that faith is not inherent, when he says, 66 to you it is given to believe." This superinduced principle is Faith, a principle not only not inherent in nature, but diametrically contrary

« FöregåendeFortsätt »