« ZurückWeiter »
bearing :-it is real life that is described in the
behaviour of the wife of Zebedee, in her request, Matt. xx. Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on
thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy
kingdom. Nor does it make material difference, Cf. Mark x. whether we suppose the sons applying for their
own advancement, or the mother speaking for them. There is such a reality in the whole picture, that to draw forth the various points of its application closely must be forborne, from feelings of reverence. It would make Scripture sound almost like satire.
3. A like feeling forbids more than just the mention of a third, still quite different, example, to be found in that most natural and genuine
description of the conduct, throughout, of the Acts xix. rioters at Ephesus, as narrated in the nineteenth 21, ad fin.
chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
But it may be said, “ the character of a tus multuous popular assemblage is a very palpa“ ble one; and it needs no preternatural spirit to 6. describe this."
Most certainly it does not; nor do we maintain any such position. The position before us is, that we ourselves, and such as we, are the very persons whom Scripture speaks of; and to whom, as men, in every variety of persuasive form, it makes its condescending, though celestial, appeal. The point worthy of observation is, to note how a book of the description and the
compass which we have represented Scripture to be, possesses this versatility of power,—this eye, like that of a portrait, uniformly fixed upon us, turn where we will; to perceive how that very simplicity of form, for which in the pride of theory we should be disposed to reject it, becomes capable of being changed by the humility of practice into one of the surest sources of conviction. The thing to be digested, in faith, is this:--that in this singular volume, spoken, as it has been, at sundry times and in divers manners, by Prophets, Evangelists, Apostles, “ there “ is nothing said of moral man, inconsistent with “ proved experience; nothing to which he, the “ subject of its trial, may not either from his “ lighter or more solemn observation of himself, “ bear testimony."
II. 2. This has been illustrated from its narratives. The tendency of all its practical doctrines points the same way f.
i Perhaps it might be more correct to say, of its doctrinal precepts : but whatever phrase may be accepted as best expressing what is intended, I mean those precepts which are considered to be, and which certainly are, peculiar to Christianity, the “ renouncing of the world,” the “preference of “humility to honour,” the “ forgiveness and love of enemies;" and such like : which are peculiar to Christianity in this sense,—that, though their truth, and excellence, and advantage, may be demonstrated by reason alone to every candid man's sufficient conviction, yet are they so difficult in execution, and so essentially interwoven with the whole frame and spirit of the Gospel, that they cannot be accepted
And here it may be proper to notice (as it appears from the point of view at which we now are) an error of too pious zeal, which has occasioned offence to unbelievers. I mean that, by which too much has often been claimed for the morality of Christianity 5. . .
I would not be understood to imply, that Christian morality has nothing distinctive and peculiar in it, even independently of its sanctions. But the cause of truth is not injured, or deserted, by foregoing a degree of claim which cannot be maintained. And it appears to me to be not only not disadvantageous to the evidence of Christianity, but altogether the contrary, that in its mere moral code it should have fallen in so much, as it has done, with preestablished authorities. It was better that so, in all admissible things, existing rights should have been respected by it; that the philosopher of the Gentiles
as practical principles of conduct, without the belief and in ward consolation of Gospel doctrines. : .. 8 An error, which has, I believe, been carried so far by some, as to induce them to claim, as a principle of conduct unknown before, the Christian maxim of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. A claim this, which (without referring to other authorities) may be invalidated by these simple words of Isocrates ; “A πάσχοντες υφ' ετέρων åpnyídeo:fe, TaĒTO Tois annous pain wortīte (Nicocles. vol. i. p. 116. edit. Battie. 1749.) I am not aware what writer has advanced this injudicious demand, but mention it because it has been made a matter of complaint against the fairness of Christian advocates, within my own personal knowledge. *
should have been enabled (notwithstanding the See Rom. i. sentence passed upon his “wisdom”) to recog- 1 Cor. i.19, nize himself among the guests invited to the Christian feast; if he were but willing to come to it. It was better that he should have had the means of perceiving that He, who knows what is in man, was ready to accept both him, and all men, in Jesus Christ, at the point at which he found them. The event has proved that (after accepting the alliance of such human wisdom as is essentially imperishable) there is yet quite enough remaining, in the sanctions and spiritual requisitions of the Gospel, to establish its separate and superior authority ;-quite enough to prove it divine; quite enough to convince the very strength of human reason of its ultimate weakness, without denying it its real possession of that, which surely it possessed before; much admirable sagacity, much that merited to be engrafted and preserved among the stock that is to last for ever: of which, therefore, indeed it could not have been deprived, without impeaching the justice of its Author.
Let the case be estimated in this manner : we renounce the philosopher (I mean the philosophic unbeliever) of our own times, as a brother under our peculiar inheritance. If he set up his own wisdom as sufficient to happiness, without the Gospel, it is clear he disinherits himself. But we do not for this, renounce his wisdom in its
sterling and appropriate value. He has as much title, under our general inheritance, as we, or
any man. It were vain to deny him to be lord Cf. Lect. iv. of the very extremest compass of that wisdom, p. 86–89. which recorded facts prove it to be possible for Cf. Lect. ii. man, (I will not say, for I do not believe, without
the help of grace, but for man,) at least unconscious of grace and revelation, to have attained to, and rejoiced in. As vain were it, as to deny
that he possesses, bodily, “the discerning head, Taylor.
and the servile feet; the thinking heart, and “ the working hand.” We will travel with him, on our way, as far as we can; as far as he will go. It is not his stock of real knowledge that we require of him to surrender. If he will but submit to take our principles, we will gladly, thankfully, give him the right hand of fellowship altogether. We desire not to rob him of that property which, as it was the gift of God when first he came to us, so is it at the same Almighty disposal still. That shall be continued to his sole account. He, indeed, who will then have showed mercy, will purify and transform it into a talent fitted for his own use. But let not the man, who is thus freely called, therefore fear to trust his Maker! Much shall be added to his treasure, but nothing taken away. He shall receive his own with usury. If I may dare so to apply the
Apostle's language, Christianity does not ask of 2 Cor. v. 4. human knowledge that it should be unclothed,