« ZurückWeiter »
proceed to more simple and intelligible matters. How many kinds of faith do the scriptures speak of, William ? William. They say there is but one faith.
Olympas. But that may be “the truth” simply: for instance, when we are commanded to “contend for the faith formerly delivered to the saints, it denotes truth handed down through them.
William. I read of "faith unfeigned,” and I presume that one epithet always implies another: there must, therefore, be two kinds of faith-viz. a feigned and an unfeigned faith.
Olympas. These terms do not represent two sorts of faith, but two sorts of professions of it. There are the sincere believer and the pretender.
Edward. There are a dead faith and a living faith.
Olympas. But a dead faith, like a dead man, represents not a distinet thing, but the same thing in another state. As the same man may be living or dead, so the same faith may be dead or alive.
Thomas. I understood you to say that there were a true faith and false faith.
Olympas. I did. But true faith is the belief of truth; and a false faith is the belief of falsehood. Remember that faith is faith, and neither more nor less. Many “believe a lie;" still they have faith. They are deceived in the object; but they are persuaded of its truth. So far as believing is concerned, like seeing or hearing, the act or operation is uniformly the same ; but the object may be very different. He that believes the truth has true faith, and he that believes a falsehood has false faith. Do you remember, Reuben, the remarks
of Evangelicus, the preacher, who staid with us all night, last Christmas, on the power of faith?
Reuben. I think he represented the power of faith to be in the object rather than in the subject. He showed us that we may have weak faith or strong faith; but the soul-subduing, salutary, and all-conquering power of faith was in the thing believed rather than in the believer. It was what Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, &c. believed that imparted to them the power by which they obtained for themselves an eternal fame.
Olympas. This brings us back to the place of beginning. This examination of faith originated in the account given of Abel's acceptance at the altar, and Paul's comment upon it. It was by faith that Abel obtained acceptance and a good report, God testifying of his gifts. We simply argued from the fact of Abel's faith, that revelations and promises were more full and clear than we now suppose were enjoyed by the antediluvians.
Reuben. How could Adam say to Eve on the day of her creation, “And for thee henceforth shall a man forsake father and mother, brother and sister, and to thee shall he adhere as his own flesh," before the relations of father, mother, brother and sister existed ? How did he know any thing about fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters ?
Olympas. I shall put this question round your class. Can any of you explain this mystery?
Thomas Dilworth. It does not so read in my Bible. Adam does not mention brother or sister in the whole affair, nor does he say anything about adhering to Eve as his own flesh.
Olympas. True, Reuben has not put the ques. tion as it is in the book; still the difficulty is the same: for as yet there was nothing revealed about father, mother, wife or child. Adam seems to have been wiser than his years or his experience. If we will allow our Lord to interpret this passage we shall find an easy solution of this apparent difficulty. The words are not Adam's : they are God's own institution of marriage in his own language. It is not altogether evident that Adam even uttered them; but whether or not, it was God who spoke through him. Do you remember, William, the passage in which the Saviour comments on this transaction ?
William. In Matthew's Testimony, nineteenth chapter, fourth and fifth verses, it is thus explained: • Have you not read that he that made them at the beginning made them a male and a female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh: therefore they are no inore two, but one flesh."
Olympas. The matter is decided. Jesus says that these words are the Creator's and not Adam's. “What, therefore,” adds Jesus, “God has joined together let not man put asunder.” This addition in Matt. xix. 6, makes these words not only God's, but it presents them in the form of an institution. It is worthy of note while we are called back to this subject, that God has positively condemned both celibacy and polygamy in this transaction, with all that accompanies them. Can you tell, Reuben, how celibacy is condemned ?
Reuben. I know not, unless it be in the reason
that God gave for the formation of a woman.
He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Olympas. And certainly in so saying he intimated very clearly that it is bad to be alone : for what is not good must of necessity be bad. Every son of Adam should then find for himself the lost rib in the person of some suitable daughter of Eve. And how, think you, Edward, is polygamy prohibited in this affair?
Eduard. It must be tacitly : for nothing is intimated concerning marriage with one or more persons. Is it not inferred to be unreasonable and evil, from the fact that God made it impossible for Adam to have but one wife? Wherefore did he create but one woman, if he intended a plurality of wives?
Olympas. True : with him, as Malachi has observed, was at that time the residue of the Spirit. “ And wherefore did he only make one ?”. The answer is
divine as the question, for the Prophet adds, “That he might seek a godly seed.". Polygamy has corrupted the offspring of man, while celibacy prevented it. They are both contrary to the revealed will of God at the beginning. Moses, indeed, tolerated divorces because he feared the cruelty of wicked husbands,
“because of the hardness of your hearts,” he permitted a bill of divorce : but from the beginning it was not so. Is there any Christian law on this subject, Thomas ? Thomas. Paul, you
alluded to this when he said, “Let every man have his own wife,” (not wives,) “and every woman her own husband."
Olympas. This command prohibits these two
great errors from the ancient order of thingscelibacy and polygamy. They are alike contrary to reason, nature, and providence.
Thomas. How are they contrary to providence?
Olympas. Because God has most remarkably preserved such an equality between the sexes in point of numbers, as to evince his opposition both to celibacy and polygamy-as to make it possible for every man to have his own wife, and for
every woman to have her own husband, and robbery to have more than one.
Mrs. Olympas. Do you not thus condemn Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Paul, and many others ?
Olympas. Abraham did wrong in conforming to a wicked custom, and brought upon
himself severe afflictions, as did Jacob, David, and Solomon. What wise or good man could possibly envy their lot? There appears a million of times more temporal, more rational, more refined bliss in one equally yoked and loving and beloved wedded pair, than any of those renouned characters enjoyed. Domestic bliss was not often a guest with them. Paul, indeed, was justified for his celibacy, because of the existing distress and the great work upon his shoulders. And in some rare in: stances, of a similar character, an individual may be allowed to prefer celibacy to a gift from the Lord. Still, I opine, these occasions in our day are rare indeed; and therefore it is not good for Adam to be without Eve.
Mrs. Olympas. The Pope, however, says it is better for himself and his ecclesiastics to be alone than to have every one his own wife.