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using their liberty, in short, (we fear,) as an oc- Galat. v. casion to that "natural" disposition, which Christ came to correct and to restore. - Now, that by such methods, enforced by education, and strengthened by the best of secondary motives, men may attain to an excellent proficiency in “morals," I am neither prepared nor disposed to disputé. I am not desirous of disputing, that they inay possess therein an excellent“ religion,” as opposed to Mahometanism or Paganism. But, that they possess the true account to be given of their stewardship of that one talent, the GOSPEL itself, I do doubt, in sorrow and in fear. I do doubt, whether they live the life that now is, as St. Paul lived it, by Galat. ii. the faith of the Son of God; by true apprehension of the things that He suffered for us, and the right which he has purchased in us, to com- Cf. 1 Cor.
vi. 19, 20. mand in us all excellent qualities and actions : and (further) of the invisible, but real, assistance which he gives us, towards the performance of them.
Of all such persons--of all Christian persons wherever found, living good moral lives with an imperfect creed, we cannot but think and speak with tenderness; perhaps, not without some conscious shame. It is impossible not to love good conduct, every where. It is natural to love it, in the first place, because it always helps ourselves; it strengthens the hands of good
against evil; it lightens our own labour: and it is right to love it, in the second place, for his sake, unto whom it truly belongs, although the doers often be not sensible of this proprietorship. It is, however, equally impossible to say of such persons as we are now describing, when they are born and live under an approved religious establishment, and have means and under standing to interpret rightly the revealed word of God, that we think them in a safe way, for the reason just now given; because it is impossible for us to think (without confessing ourselves to be either misted, or else indifferent to all distinctions of faith) that they live the life which they now live in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God. And if, when they come to the door that openeth into glory hereafter,
and knock, and ask for admittance, it be indeed Cf. Jolin x. found, (as we believe, and are persuaded,) that Luke xiii. none but CHRisT the Mediator 'opéneth the 23—27.
door ; how shall they murmur, if it be not
they belong: not presuming to judge them, from iii. §. 2.
our own imperféct knowledge; yet earnestly warning them of their great, and we think reasonable, danger. noi amo .... :' : ,
For, the “ rule and law of life," which we have
in the Gospel prescribed to us, becomes imperative only through connection with its peculiar doctrines. If it be not true, that Christ our Saviour has redeemed and purchased us with his Cf. 1 Pet. most precious blood; I do not see how it is true, that we are bound to live in particular, as the New Testament commands us. The Gospel stands, in such case, only on the quicksands of " expediency” and “ decency." "It must be received all together, to become the power of Rom. i. 16. God unto salvation to every one that believeth. I admit, that we may not like it all. This has Lect. iv. been acknowledged before. I do not think the po whole is of a quality to be relished, until we have accepted and digested all together. ; .
We may not, therefore, like it all; or we may wish that we did not know so much; we may éven complain of our excess of light. The Spirit who 'dictated the Book of Life foreknew this; was well aware that many prefer darkness.' But Cf. John these are considerations past. The Gospel is here.' It is among us : and we have no power to get rid of our knowledge of it. The secret it unfolds may be painful to know ; but it is ours, and we can no longer'fly from its accompanying responsibility. We cannot, at any rate, disprove the truth of Christianity: the very utmost that unbelief and wickedness together can do, is to make it doubtfula. But, if we be faithful to
A If this be considered too sharply or uncandidly stated, let the train of thought be put to the test of a comparison
. ii. 18—21.
ourselves, we shall perceive, that the rejection of it now, because it is “ doubtful,” is altogether inadmissible: it amounts to an entire rejection of “ faith,” as a practical principle in religious matters. The question to be considered rather is, “ Can we live by the motives and the rule of “ holy Scripture, as revealed and commanded to “ us?” Nothing but a positive demonstration of its doctrines being either“ mischievous,” or else “ superfluous and unsuitable to their design," (and so, of course, in either case inapplicable to our individual wants, according to its own terms;) nothing but a demonstration of one or other of these conclusions, will excuse the rejection or slighting of “ revelation.”
I. Let it be asked first, then, according to this order, “ Are these great and influential doc“ trines, as before stated, and which are at least “ proposed as the solace of our wretchedness, “ and the warrant of our hope, justly to be ac6 counted mischievous b??
No doubt it will be by some asserted that they are. But where shall we be referred for
with some of the concluding chapters of “ Butler's Analogy," (part ii. chap. 6. &c. and conclusion,) and let it only be so far received as it may be consistent with that.
b I do not mean to advance this as the proper ground upon which to uphold the dispensations of the Deity, or as the foundation of our obedience. God be praised ! the earnest expectation of his creatures looks forth from a surer hold than this ! But it is still an outwork between our cause and the objector. For the point of the case now before us (we
proof of this assertion ? Not to the use of these high doctrines, but to the abuse of them ; not to the practice, but to the neglect of them. We shall be referred to the excesses of “ Fanaticism," or to the torpor of “ Formality.” And the inference from the one will be, that they lead to “ madness ;" from the other, to “ hypocrisy." But what does this prove, except the truth of what the pious and humble Christian himself is, of all persons, the foremost to understand and to deplore; that as well “ Fanaticism," as “ For“ mality,” stands condemned by the spirit of true religion?
The only fair appeal (if we are to look, in such a case, to examples at all) would lie, not to the abuse, nor even to the average aspect, but to the most perfect embodying of Christian belief in practice, which can any where be found. It is, however, better not to look to any extraneous instances, in a question of this nature. It is the individual's self in which its power is to be proved. It is he, who is the aspirant to happiness. It is he, whose everlasting salvation is at stake. Let “ examples” therefore be deferred, till they are wanted. We are contemplating
contend) is one that does not admit of indifference. We cannot, therefore, listen any longer to objections, that may arise on the score of “ hardship” cnly, or unpleasantness." It rests with him who would condemn our faith to prove, that its doctrines are “ positively mischievous."