« AnteriorContinuar »
the kingdom--and have conceived the va- from his physician. The unhappy patient
demonstration of that Spirit, which is given Some of you have heard of the individual, unto faith, to make the kingdom of God who, under an oppression of the severest come into your hearts with power. melancholy, implored relief and counsel
On the Reasonableness of Faith.
" But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be
revealed."'--Galatians ini. 23.
"Shut up unto the faith.” This is the land of mercy laid before us in the New Tesexpression which we fix upon as the subject tament. of our present discourse--and to let you But this is not the only example of that more effectually into the meaning of it, it peculiar way in which St. Paul has managed may be right to state, that in the preceding his discussions with the enemies of the faith. clause "kept under the law," the term kept, He carried the principle of being all things is, in the original Greek, derived from a to all men into his very reasonings. He had word which signifies a sentinel. The mode Gentiles as well as Jews to contend with; of conception is altogether military. The and he osten made some sentiment or conlaw is made to act the part of a sentry, viction of their own, the starting point of guarding every avenue but one-and that his argument. In this same epistle to the one leads those who are compelled to take Romans, he pleaded with the Gentiles the it to the faith of the Gospel. They are shut acknowledged law of nature and of conup to this faith as their only alternative- science. In his speech to the men of Athens, like an enemy driven by the superior tac- he dated his argument from a point in their tics of an opposing general, to take up the own superstition. In this way he drew cononly position in which they can maintain verts both from the ranks of Judaism, and themselves, or fly to the only town in which the ranks of idolatry; and whether it was they can find a refuge or a security. This the school of Gamaliel in Jerusalem, or the seems to have been a favourite style of ar- school of poetry and philosophy in coungument with Paul, and the way in which tries of refinement, that he had to contend he often carried on an intellectual warfare with, his accomplished mind was never at with the enemies of his master's cause. It a loss for principles by which he bore down forms the basis of that masterly and deci- the hostility of his adversaries, and shut sive train of reasoning, which we have in them up unto the faith. his epistle to the Romans. By the operation but there is a fashion in philosophy as well of a skilsul tactics, he, (if we may be al- as in other things. In the course of centulowed the expression) maneuvred them, ries, new schools are formed, and the old, and shut them up to the faith of the Gospel. with all their doctrines, and all their plausiIt gave prodigious effect to his argument, bilities, sink into oblivion. The restless apwhen he reasoned with them, as he often petite of the human mind for speculation, does, upon their own principles, and turned must have novelties to feed upon-and after them into instruments of conviction against the countless fluctuations of two thousand themselves. With the Jews he reasoned as years, the age in which we live has its own a Jew. He made a full concession to them taste, and its own style of sentiment to chaof the leading principles of Judaism-and racterize it. If Paul, vested with a new this gave him possession of the vantage apostolical commission, were to make his ground upon which these principles stood. appearance amongst us, we should like to He made use of the Jewish law as a senti- know how he would shape his argument nel to shut them out of every other refuge, to the reigning taste and philosophy of the and to shut them up to the refuge laid be- 1 times. We should like to confront him with fore them in the Gospel. He led them to the literati of the day, and hear him lift his Christ by a school-master which they could intrepid voice in our halls and colleges. In not refuse-and the lesson of this school- his speech to the men of Athens, he refers master, though a very decisive, was a very to certain of their own poets. We should short one. “Cursed be he that continueth | like to hear his reference to the poetry and not in all the words of this law to do them.” | the publications of modern Europe--and But, in point of fact, they had not done while the science of this cultivated age them. To them belonged the curse of the stood to listen in all the pride of academic violated law. The awful severity of its dignity, we should like to know the argusanctions was upon them. They found the ments of him who was determined to know faith and the free offer of the Gospel to be nothing save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. the only avenue open to receive them. They But all this is little better than the indulwere shut up unto this avenue; and the law, gence of a dream. St. Paul has already by concluding them all to be under sin, left fought the good fight, and his course is them no other outlet but the free act of grace finished. The battles of the faith are now
in other hands—and though the wisdom, that sinneth not." It is not to open, shameand the eloquence, and the inspiration of less, and abandoned profligacy, that we are Paul have departed from among us, yet he pointing your attention. We make our conhas left behind him the record of his princi-fident appeal to the purest and loveliest of ples. With this for our guide, we may at the species. We rest our cause with the tempt to do what he himself calls upon us most virtuous individual of our nature. to do. We may attempt to be followers of We enter his heart, and from what passes him. We may imitate him in the intrepid there, we can gather enough, and more than avowal of his principles--and we may try, enough to overthrow this tottering and unhowever humbly and imperfectly, to imi- supported fabric. We take a survey of its tate his style of defending them. We may desires, its wishes, its affections; and we put accommodate our argument to the reigning the question to the consciousness of its pos principles of the day. We may be all things sessor, if all these move in obedient harto all men--and out of the leading varieties mony even to the law of natural religion. of taste and of sentiment which obtain in The external conduct viewed separately and the present age, and in the present country, in itself, is, in the eye of every enlightened we may try if we can collect something, i moralist, nothing. It is mere visible display. which may be turned into an instrument of Virtue consists in the motive which lies conviction for reclaiming men from their behind it; and the soul is the place of its delusions, and shutting them up unto the essential residence. Bring the soul, then, faith.
into immediate comparison with the law of There is first, then, the school of Natural God. Think of the pure and spiritual serReligion-a school founded on the compe- vice which it exacts from you. Amid all the tency of the human mind to know God by busy and complicated movements of the the exercise of its own faculties--to clothe inner man, is there no estrangement from him in the attributes of its own demonstra- | God? Are there no tumultuous wandertion—to serve him by a worship and a lawings from that purity, and goodness, and of its own discovery-and to assign to him truth, which even philosophers ascribe to a mode of procedure in the administration him ? Is there no shortcoming from the of this vast universe, upon the strength and holiness of his law, and the magnificence of the plausibility of its own theories. We have his eternity? Is there no slavish devotion not time at present, for exposing the rash to the paltry things of sepse and of the and unphilosophical audacity of all these world ? Is there no dreary interval of hours presumptions. We lay hold of one of them, together, when God is unfelt and unthought and we maintain, that if steadily adhered of? Is there no one time when the mind to, and consistently carried into its conse- delivers itself up to the guidance of its own quences, it would empty the school of na- | feelings, and its own vanities-When !! tural religion of all its disciples--it would | moves at a distance from heaven; and shut them up unto the faith, and impress whether in solitude or among acquaintone rapid and universal movement into the ances, carries along, without any reference school of Christ.
to that Being whose arm is perpetualy The principle which we allude to makes upon me; who, at this moment, is at my a capital figure in their self-formed specula- right hand, and measures out to me every tions; and it is neither more nor less than hairbreadth of my existence--who upholds the judicial government of God over moral me through every point of that time which and accountable creatures. They hold that runs from the first cry of my infancy, to that there is a law. They hold the human race dark hour when the weight of my dying to be bound to obedience. They hold the agonies is upon me---whose love and whose authority of the law to be supported by kindness are ever present to give me every sanctions; and that the truth, and justice, breath which I draw, and every comfort and dignity of the Supreme Being are in- | which I enjoy? We grant the disciples of 'volved in these sanctions being enforced natural religion the truth of their own prinand executed. One step more, and they ciple, that we are under the moral governare fairly shut up unto the faith. That law ment of the Almighty; and by the simple which they hold to be in full authority and addition of one undeniable fact to their operation over us, has been most unques- speculation, we shut them up unto the tionably violated. We appeal, as Paul did faith. before us, to the actual state of the human The simple fact is, that we are rebels to heart, and of human performances. We ask that government, and the punishment of them to open their eyes to the world around these rebels is due to the vindication of its them to respect, like true philosophers, the insulted authority. To'say, that God will evidence of observation, and not to flinch perpetually interpose with an act of oblivion, from the decisive undeniable fact which would be vastly convenient for us; Dul this evidence lays before them. Men are what then becomes of that moral governunder the law, and that law they have vio- ment which figures away in the demonstraJated. “There is not a just man on earth, I tions of moralists? Does it turn out, alter
a hand as a ll
so glaring 1
to rebel at the king. b pro to efface 31 dignity fron
te you depos the Your ar to a name a the lie to your 2 fabric of ripes; and you which makes 1 fuur vanity-pl prescribing a wa n down the h the standard of Tishes. This zny truth in the
lates whom he We have tramp ay iis centence
were be a sing
cannot be su
fier lhe majes
oi the New
all, to be nothing more than an idle and, if any man enter in, he shall be saved. In unmeaning declamation, on which they the appointment of this Mediat r-in his love to expatiate; without any thing like death, to make propitiation for the sins of real attention or belief on the part of the the world-in his triumph over the powers thinking principle? If they are not true to of darkness--in the voice heard from the their own professed convictions, we can clouds of heaven, and issuing from the undertake to shut them up to nothing. | mouth of God himself, “This is my beloved This is slipping from under us; but it is by Son, in whom I am well pleased”-in the an actual desertion of their own principle. resistless argument of the Apostle, who deIf you cannot get them to stand to the ar-clares God to be just, and the justifier of gument, the argument is discharged upon him that believeth in Jesus—in the unthem in vain. If this be the result, we do doubted miracles which accompanied the not promise ourselves that all we can say preaching of this illustrious personage, and shall have any weight upon their convic- his inmediate followers in the noble train tions; not, however, because they have of prophecy, of which he was the object gained a victory, but because they have be- and the termination-in the choir of angels taken themselves to flight. At the very mo- from heaven, who sung his entrance into ment that we thought of shutting them up, the world--and in the sublime ascension and binding them in captivity to the obe- from the grave, which carried him away dience of the truth, they have turned about from it--in all this we see a warrant and a and got away from us-but how? By an security given to the work of our redempopen renunciation of their own principle. tion in the New Testament, before which Look at the great majority of infidel and philosophy and all her speculations vanish demi-infidel authors, and they concur in into nothing. Let us betake ourselves to this representing man as an accountable subject, way. Let us rejoice in being shut up unto it. and God as a judge and a lawgiver. Ex- It is passing, in fact, from death unto life; or, amine then the account which this subject from our being under the law, which speaks has to render; and you will see, in charac- tribulation and wrath to every soul of man ters to glaring to be resisted, that with the that doeth evil, to being under the grace purest and most perfect individual amongst which speaks quietness and assurance for us, it is a wretched account of guilt and de-ever to all that repair to it. The Scripture ficiency. What make you, of this? Is the hath concluded all to be under sin, that the subject to rebel and disobey every hour, I promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be and the King, by a perpetual act of indul-given to them that believe. gence, to efface every character of truth We now pass on from the school of naand dignity from his government? Do this, tural religion to another school, possessing and you depose the legislator from his distinct features; and of which we conthrone. You reduce the sanctions of his ceive the most expressive designation to be, law to a name and a mockery. You give the school of Classical Morality. The lesthe lie to your own speculation, You pull | sons of this school are given to the public the fabric of his moral government to in the form of periodical essays, elaborate pieces; and you give a spectacle to angels dissertations on the principles of virtue, elowhich makes them weep compassion on quent and often highly interesting pictures your vanity--poor, pigmy, perishable man, of its loveliness and dignity, the charm that prescribing a way to the Eternal, and bring- it imparts to domestic retirement, and its ing down the high economy of Heaven to happy subservience to the peace, and order, the standard of his convenience, and his and well-being of society. It differs from wishes. This will never do. If there be the former school in one leading particular any truth in the law of God over the crea- It does not carry in its speculations so distures whom he has formed, and if that law tinct and positive a reference to the Suwe have trampled upon, we are amenable preme Being. It is true, that our duties to to its sentence. Ours is the dark and un-him are found to occupy a place in the catasheltered state of condemnation--and if I logue of its virtues, but then the principle there be a single outlet or way of escaping, on which they are made to rest, is not ihe It cannot be such a way as will abolish the will of God, or obedience to his law. They law, and degrade the Lawgiver; but it inust are rather viewed as a species of moral acbe such a way as will vindicate and exalt complishment, the effect of which is to exthe Deity-as will pour a tide of splendour | alt and embellish the individual. They over the majesty of his high attributes- form a component part of what they call and as in the sublime language of the pro- virtue; but if their virtue be looked upon in phet, who saw it from afar, will magnify no other light than as the dress of the mind, his law, and make it honourable. To this we maintain, that in the act of admiring way we are fairly shut up. It is our only this dress, and of even attempting to put it alternative. It is offered to us in the Gos-on, you may stand at as great a distance pel of the New Testament. I am the way, \ from God, and he be as little in your says the Author of that Gospel, and by me, I thoughts, as in the tasteful choice of your
apparel, for the dress and ornament of the / with the vices and the degradation of the