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but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life ;--the human, exalted and enlarged by the divine. . .' is in
But to return to the question of those “prac“ tical doctrines, which are peculiar to Chris“ tianity.” Will not (it may be objected) our great argument, " that the revelation of the Gos" pel is adapted to the state of human nature," be thus invalidated by the counter-argument, that its most important, because peculiar, precepts, are contrary to human nature :
No: the being contrary to human nature, in its unrenewed state, does not necessarily imply that human nature is incapable of complying with them under any assistance whatever. And the very fact of their unwelcomeness proves as much as is absolutely needed to support the consistency of our proposition. We do not say that human nature will not be altered by acceptance of, and conformity to, these precepts; interwoven inseparably as that acceptance and conformity will and must be with spiritual blessings : but we say, that the offer of them--the challenge to accept them-is made to human nature as it is. And this is enough to justify an argument, that there is perceptible, in every point of revelation, the hand and wisdom of a Revealer, who knew what was in man. - II. 3. We seek a further exemplification of our argument from our Saviour's parables : and
as the proposition is more certain with respect to others, and will probably be admitted at first sight there, it shall the rather be grounded upon those which may be in part considered as prophetical, by reason of their describing the exact progress, or treatment, of the Gospel in the world.
But are these, predictions of the historical march and sufferance of the truth, only ? records merely of the past, which have spent their strength in a solitary effort, and remain now but as heralds that have told their message? Or does not experience even constrain us to invest them with that perennial life, which heathen piety
could attach to only supposed divine utterances? Æschyl.
θέσφατ' ουκ αμβλύνεται. Sept. c. Theb. 884. And again, ed. Blom
Tè aiel Soph. C : dip. Tyr.
ζώντα περιποτάται. 481-2. ed. Brunck.
Surely they are a sort of standing prophecyMatt. xiii. permanent chronicles of human nature! The 24, &c.
field, the good seed, the tares, the mixture suffered to remain unto the harvest-these are no ordinary likenesses—no definite enunciations,
once appointed to be verified, but since daily Matt. xxii. fulfilled only by accident! Again : the marriage 1, &c. Luke xiv. feast, the general invitation, not given until all 16, &c.
things were now ready, the shifting and hypocritical excuses, and finally the intrusion of unfit
guests after all-these cannot be mere protests, and records of condemnation, against the Jews ; but general, and recurring, and pregnant testimonies of the case between the Almighty and'. his people, through all the generations of those, who, on the failing of the natural branches through unbelief, were grafted in by faith h. Rom. xi.
II. 4. To proceed to another part of Scripture-consider the profound insight into human nature, perceptible throughout the Epistles of St. Paul. But let our more especial reference be made, here, to such passages as describe the va
h If it were not so, if we found ourselves prohibited from using these very significant and touching representations to the better understanding and the improving of our spiritual condition, and were told that we had no business with them in that way, though they served a general purpose in our fayour; we might -well adapt to our feelings the pathetic appeal of the poet, in his “ Complaint” on a different subject :
“ Now, for this consecrated Fount,
“ Of my fond heart, hath made me poor.” And let our quotation of this be received as a testimony with what community of spirit we embrace all subsidiary processes of natural wisdom, power, and beauty, and apply them to the illustration and joint establishment of truth. 3
rious abuses under which the Church should, in succeeding ages, suffer, through corruptions of
its disciples and teachers. I do not refer to such 1 Tim.iv.1. a passage as that wherein he says, The Spirit
speaketh expressly, but to those which seem to
have a general aspect; as where he regrets the 1 Cor. xi. necessity of heresies, or mentions the impatience 2 Tim. iv.3. of sound doctrine, which should arise; or. de2 Tim. üi. scribes the sort of teachers, which should creep
into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts : these are not merely things which we have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us, they are true, in that respect as well as in every other, -but because we have seen, we have believed them.
Now what answer shall be made to this? “ That St. Paul was a subtle rhetorician, brought “ up at the feet of Gamaliel, and therefore knew “ all artificial modes of attack and defence; and « so, fortified his system by anticipating evils in “ themselves not unlikely to befall?” The supposition implies that, in regard to Christianity, he was an impostor. Wherefore, its refutation may safely be referred to the general state of the argument on this point. What other interpretation, then, besides the true, shall be put upon it? There is none. St. Paul's anticipation of darker times is only to be accounted for, raHonally, by the belief that he spoke under influ
viii. I, g. 1,
ence and direction of a Spirit that knew, really, what was in man..
One further example only shall be brought, from a circumstance which conveys a most affecting evidence of truth to the heart, and which is so little like the manner of men; from that beautiful and merciful acceptance of divers conditions and capacities in the cause of God, which cf. Lect. is so marked a feature of the New Testament. 2,3. In proof of which let present appeal be made only to the tenor of St. Paul's language in the twelfth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians : since it is upon the recognition of so much difference of capacity, rather than of con- Cf. Lect. i.
p. 7-10, dition, that the inference shall be grounded. &c.
It may be said, perhaps, that this twelfth chapter of Corinthians only concerns certain varieties of miraculous power in the primitive Church.
Be it so, that in its first and strict application it does. But when I see that in the Church miraculous powers of every sort have long since ceased altogether ; that an equable and proportionate change has happened to its whole body, something analogous, in its effect, to the softening of a picture ; that learning has thus stepped in, to supply, in such measure as it may, the place of inspiration ; (whence, at this day, they within the Church that are mighty in learning are accounted and honoured as its foremost defenders;) that some are rich in eloquence, and in