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of holy Writ, itself. And the intention must stand or fall by its own merits d. ..
- If it may be done without breach of duty, (as I trust it may,) I would awaken attention to the inconsistency, following in the train of too close definition, of too rigid adherence to the code either of one fixed school of interpretation, or another, as it may be traced through this circumstance; that, in their practical labours, “ the disciples of the two great rival sys“ tems, which so much divide the Christian world, do virtu“ally change positions ; and either, in effect, maintains the “ other's conflict.” For when they, as many as espouse the gloomier creed, in their invitation and entreaty to sinners throw open the gates of mercy wide as the east is from the west, (even going the length, sometimes, of systematically representing the greater load of loathesomeness and guilt as the greater recommendation to divine favour ;) what do they, but acknowledge, in despite of themselves, the universality of redeeming grace? what do they but pursue a narrow and confined end, through something almost more than open means? Again; when they, of livelier hope, whose joy and consolation it is to magnify the “ universal end,” do still so narrow and constrain the path to it, as to leave it manifest that only very few can reach the prize of glory; not simply by representing it as “ strait,” (we have full authority for that,) but by so dwelling in particular duties, as almost to - pass the bounds of possible compliance with them ; what do they, in turn, but, virtually confess the solemn truth of a strict “predestination;" (so far, at least, as such doctrine may be involved in our Lord's own saying, that muny are called, but few chosen,) pursuing an open end through restricted means? 16 pouces 1 . Lieti fining , " ?
I make no comment upon these appearances; only suggesting them as matter for reflection. But if they exist, and if the above thought concerning them be at all just, it should surely read us a strong lesson against too eager and hasty an adoption of partial prejudices. It should make us careful, The inquiry will be pursued after the following method.
We shall first state what we conceive to be the manner of appeal now made by the Most High to us his reasonable creatures, by presenting á view of Christianity, as the dispensation of Lect. ii. the Spirit. Certain important deductions, arising from this view, will then be considered, and pro- Lect. iii. posed for acceptance as Christian axioms.
By this process, foundation being laid for viewing holy Scripture connectedly, as was proposed, we shall go on to assert its divine authority from its wonderful, intuitive correspondence with the Lect. iv. general state of human nature. Which assertion being, in two following Lectures, practically ex- Lect. v. vi. hibited to the reader's own impartial judgment, in a selection of examples ; we shall, in the seventh Lecture, consider the fulness of holy Scrip-Lect. vii. ture to satisfy the wants and wishes of an individual Christian; and in the last, its adaptation to Lect. viii. his condition, as a traveller, in company, through an imperfect world.
If these propositions be made good, the argument from them will not be inconsiderable. And if (where every thing is meant to be spoken in humility, and in the faith and fear of God)
that we do not exceed, while we do not suppress, any part of our commission; and that we be careful both to receive and to explain God's promises,“ in such wise as they be gene“ rally set forth to us in holy Scripture.”
any thing, however simple, shall reach the conscience, or convince the judgment, so as either to strengthen and confirm good principles, or to awaken charitable ones ; let that atone, in some part, for defects of execution, and rejoice against censure. Whatever may be said in error, let it be avoided; only let it be treated with candour. But whatever shall strictly correspond with acknowledged soundness of interpretation, let that be received, not as a tale often told, and undeserving of further attention; but as an unconscious addition to the evidence, that truth is one, and uniform; and let us pray for grace, that all Christian people may rejoice daily more and more in the knowledge and confession of it!
GALATIANS iii. 24.
The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.
THE connection here represented as subsisting between the Law and the Gospel, involves a view of Christianity, which, by more full expansion and contemplation, appears highly capable of strengthening in the truth such brethren as have already implicitly received it..
Such expansion will accordingly be the object of the present Lecture: in which it will be endeavoured to illustrate this proposition; that the appeal made by the Almighty to his rational creatures, to bring them to a knowledge of himself, has been progressive ; progressive, after an order of which the character cannot be more distinctly expressed than in words used by St. Paul, to describe the different stages of human existence; I mean in that passage wherein he says, There is a natural body, and there is a 1 Cor. xv. spiritual- body. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
Such is the relation between the characters of the two great divine dispensations, and such the order of their succession. The MOSAIC, or NATURAL, came first; and the EVANGELICAL, or sPIRITUAL, followed. When I use these terms, I mean by “ natural,” that which in its character and conduct is more palpable and visible, and in its application directed more to the present motives of the creatures who were called to obey it; and by “spiritual,” that which is more refined in its own features and character, and addressed to man, as to a spiritual and immortal being...
For the more full comprehension of this view of revelation in all its branches, and for positive authority to sanction that which will be now pursued as a method of inquiry ; let reference be made to those storehouses of meditation on the subject--the chapter from whence the text is taken, and that which follows it; the general tenor of the Epistle to the Hebrews; and that comparison between the Law and the Gospel
held out in the third chapter of St. Paul's 2 Cor. iii. second Epistle to the Corinthians; If the minis
tration of death, written and engraven on stones was glorious, - how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious ? and the context. ..
I shall not however enter here into any detailed comparison of “ glory" between the Law