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of Christian man, with relation to his Maker and
the Comforter, but without his open warrant; Eph. vi. 17. and with nothing but that sword of the Spirit, · which is the word of God, and the inward confi
dence vouchsafed to personal integrity and perseverance, in the midst of gainsaying and dis
obedience. Consider the Epistles, as written unCf. Note a, der à foreknowledge, existing somewhere, how in this Lec
these things would be, and how will they appear then? Is the tenor of their teaching suitable to the existing situation of Christ's Church, as now
"militant upon earth?" Is it suitable to the condition in which we ourselves, at this day, stand? Is the physical and moral constitution which we feel ourselves possessed of, and by which we are influenced, that to which the Apostles make ap
With regard to general manner, then, I think it is impossible not to perceive, throughout the Epistles of the New Testament, (and in those of St. Paul even most particularly,) that they address a race of persons under a silent and spiritual dispensation-persons, to whom a fulness of all necessary knowledge is vouchsafed, and to whom no further sign remains in store to be given. Their authors write as “interpreters," and not as “ legislators.” Wherefore, though from the singularity of the case their interpretations have now the force of law, and are evidently intended to be handed down as such, they add nothing to the original preparation, upon which they proceed, as affecting man's salvation. Do they not seem to proceed upon the supposition of all essential terms being settled and complete? of a perfect cure provided for the worst extent of man's misery; but of a perfect liberty, at the same time, in the subjects to whom it should be offered, to avail or not avail themselves of its preserving power? They assume the fall and restoration of man in the most complete
2 Cor.v.17. manner. Old things are passed away, and all
things are become new, if any man be in Christ. Nothing is now of consequence but this. And the outward acceptation of that holy name being once rightly and duly completed, the subsequent
test of a sincere union is the simplest imaginGal. v. 19, able: These, and these, are the works of the
flesh-and these, the works of the Spirit: and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live, therefore, in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit. .
Thus, as though they concluded the proportion between obedience asked of the believer, and grace promised to him, to be effectually and intelligibly established, all the practical details of their Epistles, their exhortations, their dissuasions, are the very simplest appeals to cominon understanding and real life. They do not flatter, but neither do they frighten. They speak the very language of simple honesty and unsuspicious truth. They desire to lead, but not
to compel. While there breathes through these 1 Cor. ix. sacred compositions a spirit that becomes all
things to all men, that it may by all means save
some, not a vestige is to be traced of that indisMatt. xxiii. criminate and spurious zeal which would com
pass sea and land to make one proselyte. There is no mistake, in them, of vulgarity for humility; but true condescension and true dignity
meet together. Their general manner is, accordingly, that of persuasive and calm appeal-the manner (as we think) proportionate and congenial with the character of the present existing form of the divine dispensation.
For is not this exactly what our case requires ? Suppose we felt ourselves to be addressed now, through a voice minatory and peremptory; to be threatened with immediate retributions and visible avengings :-should we believe as readily, as now we do. I am persuaded we should be ensnared to demand the signs of corresponding, visible power; and so, by resistance, to abuse that liberty, of which we cannot but be now conscious.
Suppose, again, that the Epistles carried this their mildness beyond a certain point; that they were wavering and indecisive in their tone:-we might suspect the source of their authority. .
Suppose that they wandered into flights of mysticism, or were wholly taken up with general and indefinite things '; we should deny that they described and addressed ourselves.
Cf. Bishop Taylor's Advice to his Clergy, Rule 42. “Do “not spend your sermons in general and indefinite things; "as in exhortations to the people to get Christ, to be united " to Christ, and things of the like unlimited signification ... ".... for generals not explicated do but fill the people's "heads with empty notions, and their mouths with perpetual
By tempering (as they do) firmness with candour; faith with reason ; modesty with power ; justifying and enforcing the peculiar motives which are above unassisted nature, by strength of the conclusions which lie within it; being indulgent, and yet impartial; not imprudently refraining from fear, yet speaking evidently, by general preference, as under a dispensation of love'; they meet human nature, as now existing in an awakened and enlightened conscience, in every point. Truly they do indeed know what is in man; and they treat him accordingly.
Their condescension to every variety of station; their addresses to every age, and relative condition; in short, the infinitely diversified reality of their appeals; all are as fresh, as ' 'applicable to the exigencies' of our own existing nature, as if they were fruits gathered into the storehouse of truth only yesterday. What is Ephesus, or Corinth, now? Where is Philippi, or Colosse? How little does it matter what, or where! Their spiritual possessions all are here. The wives and husbands; fathers and children; masters and servants; all the accountable stewards of God's grace to them committed; these are with us. The letters, which instructed them,
“unintelligible talk; but their hearts remain empty, and “ themselves are not edified.” Clergyman's Instructor, p. 104. edit. 1807.