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there has, with many, been a sad overlooking of what is no less indispensable, even his personal capacity. And yet even on the lowest and grossest conceptions of what that is which constitutes the felicity of heaven, it would be no heaven, and no place of enjoyment at all, without a personal adaptation on the part of its occupiers, to the kind of happiness which is current there. If that happiness consisted entirely in sights of magnificence, of what use would it be to confer a title-deed of entry on a man who was blind? To make it heaven to him, his eyes must be opened. Or, if that happiness consisted in sounds of melody, of what use would a passport be to the man who was deaf 2 To make out a heaven for him, a change must be made on the person which he wears, as well as in the place which he occupies, and his ears must be unstopped. Or, if that happiness consisted in fresh and perpetual accessions of new and delightful truth to the understanding, what would rights and legal privileges avail to him who was sunk in helpless idiotism 2 To provide him with a heaven, it is not enough that he be transported to a place among the mansions of the celestial : he must be provided with a new faculty, and as before a change behooved to be made upon the senses; so now, ere heaven can be heaven to its occupier, a change must be made upon his mind. And, in like manner, my brethren, is that happiness shall consist in the love of God for his goodness, and in the love of God for the moral and spiritual excellence which belongs to him—if it shall consist in the play and exercise of affections directed to such objects as are alone worthy of their most exalted regard—if it shall consist in the movements of a heart now attracted in reverence and admiration towards all that is noble, and righteous, and holy—it is not enough to constitute a heaven for the sinner, that God is there in visible manifestation, or that heaven is lighted up to him in a blaze of spiritual glory. His heart must be made a fit recipient for the impression of that glory. Of what possible enjoyment to him is heaven, as his purchased inheritance, if heaven be not also his precious and his much-loved home 2 To create enjoyment for a man, there must be a suitableness between the taste that is in him, and the objects that are around him. To make a natural man happy upon earth, we may let his taste alone, and surround him with favourable circumstances—with smiling abundance, and merry companionship, and bright anticipations of fortune or of fame, and the salutations of public respect, and the gaieties of fashionable amusement, and the countless other pleasures of a world, which yields so much to delight and to diversify the short-lived period of its fleeting generations. To make the same
man happy in heaven, it would suffice simply to transmit him there with the same taste, and to surround him with the same circumstances. But God has not so ordered heaven. He will not suit the circumstances of heaven to the character of man; and therefore to make it, that man can be happy there, nothing remains but to suit the character of man to the circumstances of heaven; and, therefore it is, that to bring about heaven to a sinner, it is not enough that there be the preparation of a place for him; there must be a preparation of him for the place—it is not enough that he be meet in law, he must be meet in person— it is not enough that there be a change in his forensic relation towards God, there must be a change in the actual disposition of his heart towards him; and unless delivered from his earth-born propensities— unless a clean heart be created, and a right spirit renewed—unless transformed into a holy and godlike character, it is quite in vain to have put a deed of entry into his hands—heaven will have no 3. for him—all its notes of rapture will fall with tasteless insipidity upon his ear—and justification itself will cease to be a privilege. Let us cease to wonder, then, at the frequent application, in Scripture, of this phrase to a state of personal feeling and character upon earth; and rather let us press upon our remembrance the important lessons which are to be gathered from such an application. In that passage where it is said, that the “kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” there can be no doubt that the reference is altogether personal, for the apostle is here contrasting the man who, in these things, serveth Christ, with the man who eateth unto the Lord, or who eateth not unto the Lord. And in the passage now before us, there can be as little doubt, that the reference is to the kingdom of God, as fixed and substantiated upon the character of the human soul. He was just before alluding to those who could talk of the things of Christ, while it remained questionable whether there was any change or any effect that could at all attest the power of these things upon their person and character. This is the point which he proposed to ascertain on his next visit to them. “I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” It is not enough to mark you as the children of this kingdom; or as those over whose hearts the reign of God is established ; or as those in whom a preparation is going on here for a place of glory and blessedness hereaster—that you know the terms of orthodoxy, or that you can speak its language. If even an actual belief in its doctrine could reside in your mind, without fruit and without influence, this would as little avail you. But it is well to know, both from-experience and from the information of him who knew what was in man, that an actual belief of the Gospel, is at all times an effectual belies—that upon the entrance of such a belief, the kingdom of God comes to us with power, being that which availeth, even faith, working by love, and purifying the heart, and overcoming the world. One of the simplest cases of the kingdom of God in word, and not in power, is that of a child, with its memory stored in passages of Scriptures, and in all the answers to all the questions of a substantial and well-digested catechism. In such an instance, the tongue may be able to rehearse the whole expression of evangelical truth, while neither the meaning of the truth is perceived by the understanding, nor, of consequence, can the moral influence of the truth be felt in the heart. The learner has got words, but nothing more. This is the whole fruit of his acquisition; nor would it make any difference, in as far as the efsect at the time is concerned, though, instead of words adapted to the expression of Christian doctrine, they had been the words of a song, or a fable, or any secular narrative and performance whatever. This is all undeniable enough—if we could only prevail on many men, and many women, not to deny its application to themselves— if we could only convince our grown-up children of the absolute futility of many of their exercises—if we could only arouse from their dormancy our listless readers of the Bible—our men, who make a mere piece-work of their Christianity, who, in making way through the Scriptnres, do it by the page, and, in addressing prayers to their Maker, do it by the sentence; with whom the perusal of the sacred volume, is absolutely little better than a mere exercise of the lip, or of the eye; and a preference for orthodoxy is little better than a preference for certain familiar and well-known sounds; where the thinking principle is almost never in contact with the matter of theological truth, however conversant both their mouths and their memories may be with the language of it—so that in fact the doctrine by the knowledge of which, and the power of which it is, that we are saved, lies as effectually hidden from their minds, as if it lay wrapt in hieroglyphical obscurity; or, as if their intellectual organ was shut against all communication with any thing without them; and thus it is, that what is not perceived by the o eye, having no possible operation upon the men. tal feelings, or mental purposes, the king
dom of God cometh to them in word only while not in power. But again, what is translated word in this verse, is also capable of being rendered by the term reason. It may not only denote that which constitutes the material vehicle by which the argument conceived in the mind of one man is translated into the mind of another; it may also denote the argument itself; and when rendered in this way, it offers to our notice a very interesting case, of which there are not wanting many exemplifications. In the case just now adverted to, the mere word is in the mouth, without its corresponding idea being in the mind; but in the case immediately before us, ideas are present as well as words, and every intellectual faculty is at its post, for the purpose of entertaining them—the attention most thoroughly awake —and the curiosity on the stretch of its utmost eagerness—and the judgment most busily employed in the work of comparing one doctrine, and one declaration with another—and the reason conducting its long or its intricate processes; and, in a word, the whole machinery of the mind as powerfully stimulated by a theological, as it ever can be by a natural or scientific speculation—and yet, with this seeming advance: ment that it makes from the language of Christianity to the substance of Christianity, what shall we think of it, if there be no advancement whatever in the power of Christianity—no accession to the soul of any one of those three ingredients, which, taken together, make up the apostle's definition of the kingdom of God—no augmentation either of its righteousness, or its peace, or its joy in the Holy Ghost— the man, no doubt, very much engrossed and exercised with the subject of divinity, but with as little of the real spirit and o: ter of divinity, thereby transferred into his own spirit, and his own character, as if he were equally engrossed and equally exercised with the subject of mathematics—remaining, in short, after all his doctrinal acquisitions of the truth, an utter stranger to the moral influence of the truth; and proving, in the fact of his being practically and personally the very same man as before, that if the kingdom of God is not in word, it is as little in argument, but in power. If it be of importance to know, that a man may lay hold, by his memory, of all the language of Christianity, and yet not be a Christian—it is also of importance to know that a man may lay hold by his understanding, of all the doctrine of Christianity, and yet not be a Christian. It is our opinion, that in this case the man has only an apparent belief, without having an actual belief—that all the doctrine is conceived by him, without being credited by him—that it is the object of his fancy, without being the object of his faith—and that, as on the one hand, if the conviction be real, the consequence of another heart, and another character, will be sure; so, on the other hand, and on the principle, of “by their fruits shall ye know them,” if he want the fruit, it is just because he is in want of the foundation—if there be no produce, it is because there is no principle; having experienced no salvation from sin here, he shall experience no salvation from the abode of sinners hereafter. If faith were present with him, he would be kept by the powers of it unto salvation, from both; but destitute as he proves himself to be now of the faith which sanctifies, he will be found then, in the midst of all his semblances, and all his delusions, to have been equally destitute of the faith which justifies. And it is, perhaps, not so difficult to stir up in the mind of the learned controversialist, and the deeply-exercised scholar, the suspicion, that with all his acquirements in the lore of theology, he is, in respect of its personal influence upon himself, still in a state of moral and spiritual unsoundness, it is not so difficult to raise this feeling of self-condemnation in his mind, as it is to do it in the mind of him who has selected his one favourite article, and there, resolved, is die he must, to die hard, has taken up his obstinate and immoveable position—and retiring within the intrenchment of a few verses of the Bible, will defy all the truth and all the thunder of its remaining declarations; and with an orthodoxy which carries on all its play in his head, without one moving or one softening touch upon his heart, will stand out to the eye of the world, both in avowed principle, and in its corresponding practice, a secure, sturdy, firm, impregnable Antinomian. He thinks that he will have heaven, because he has faith. But if his faith do not bring the virtues of heaven nto his heart, it will never spread either the glory or the security of heaven around his person. The region to which he vainly thinks of looking forward, is a region of spirituality; and he himself must spiritualized, ere it can prove to him a #. of enjoyment. If he count on a different paradise from this, he is as widely onistaken as they who dream of the luxury that awaits them in the paradise of Mahdmet. He misinterprets the whole undertaking of Jesus Christ. He degrades the salvation which He hath achieved, into a *alvation from animal pain. He transforms the heaven which he has opened into a eaven of animal gratifications. He forgoto, that on the great errand of man's re*oration, it is not more necessary to recal our departed species to the heaven from which they had wandered, than it is to re“al to the bosom of man its departed worth,
and its departed excellence. The one is what faith will do on the other side of time. But the other just as certainly faith must do on this side of time. It is here that heaven begins. It is here that eternal life is entered upon. It is here that man first breathes the air of immortality. It is upon earth that he learns the rudiments of a celestial character, and first tastes of celestial enjoyments. It is here, that the well of water is struck out in the heart of renovated man, and that fruit is made to grow unto holiness, and then, in the end, there is life everlasting. The man whose threadbare orthodoxy is made up of meagre and unfruitful positions, may think that he walks in clearness, while he is only walking in the cold light of speculation. He walks in the feeble sparks of his own kindling. Were it fire from the sanctuary, it would impart, to his unregenerated bosom, of the heat, and spirit, and love of the sanctuary. This is the sure result of the faith that is unseigned—and all that a seigned faith can possibly make out, will be a fictitious title deed, which will not stand before the light of the great day of final examination. And thus will it be found, I fear, in many cases of marked and ostentatious prosessorship, how possible a thing it is to have an appearance of the kingdom of God in word, and the kingdom of God in letter, and the kingdom of God in controversy— while the kingdom of God is not in power,
But once more-—instead of laying a false security upon one article, it is possible to have a mind familiarized to all the articles ---to admit the need of holiness, and to demonstrate the channel of influence by which it is brought down from heaven upon the hearts of believers—to cast an eye of intelligence over the whole symphony and extent of Christian doctrine—to lay bare those ligaments of connection by which a true faith in the mind is ever sure to bring a new spirit and a new practice along with it: and to hold up the lights both of Scripture and of experience, over the whole process of man's regeneration. It is possible for one to do all this—and yet to have no part in that regeneration—to declare with ability and effect the Gospel to others, and yet himself be cast away—to unravel the whole of that spiritual mechanism, by which a sinner is transformed into a saint, while he does not exemplify that mechanism upon his own person—to explain what must be done, what must be undergone in the process of becoming one of the children .P the kingdom, while he remains one of the children of this world. To him the kingdom of God hath come in word, and it hath come in letter, and it hath come in natural discernment; but it hath not come in power. He may have profoundly studied the whole doctrine of
the kingdom--and have conceived the various ideas of which it is composed---and have embodied them in words—and have poured them forth in utterance—and yet be as little spiritualized by these manifold operations, as the air is spiritualized by its being the avenue for the sounds of his voice to the ears of his listening auditory. The living man may, with all the force of his active intelligence, be a mere vehicle of transmission. The Holy Ghost may leave the message to take its own way through his mind—and may refuse the accession of his influence, till it make its escape from the lips of the preacher—-and may trust for its conveyance to those aerial undulations by which the report is carried forward to an assembled multitude---and may only, after the entrance of hearing has been esfected for the terms of the message, may only, after the unaided powers of moral and physical nature have brought the matter thus far, may then, and not till then, add his own influence to the truths of the message, and send them with this impregnation from the ear to the conscience of any whom he listeth. And thus from the workings of a cold and desolate bosom in the human expounder, may there proceed a voice which on its way to some of those who are assembled around him, shall turn out to be a voice of urgency and power. He may be the instrument of blessings to others, which have never come with kindly 'or effective influence upon his own heart. He may inspire an energy, which he does not feel, and pour a comfort into the wounded spirit, the taste of which, and the enjoyment of which is not permitted to his own—and nothing can serve more effectually than this experimental fact to humble him, and to demonstrate the existence of a power which cannot be wielded by all the energies of Nature---a power often refused to eloquence, often refused to the might and the glory of human wisdom--often refused to the most strenuous exertions of human might and human talent, and generally met with in richest abundance among the ministrations of the men of simplicity and prayer. Some of you have heard of the individual, who, under an oppression of the severest melancholy, implored relief and counsel
from his physician. The unhappy patient was advised to attend the performances of a comedian, who had put all the world in ecstacies. But it o out, that the patient was the comedian himself—and that while his smile was the signal of merriment to all, his heart stood uncheered and motionless, amid the gratulations of an applauding theatre—and evening after evening, did he kindle around him a rapture in which he could not participate—a poor, helpless, dejected mourner, among the tumults of that high-sounding gaiety, which he himself had created. Let all this touch our breasts with the persuasion of the nothingness of man. Let it lead us to withdraw our confidence from the mere instrument, and to carry it upwards to him who alone worketh all in all. Let it reconcile us to the arrangements of his providence, and assure our minds, that he can do with one arrangement, what we fondly anticipated from another. Let us cease to be violently affected by the mutabilities of a fleeting and a shifting world— and let nothing be suffered the power of dissolving for an instant, that connection of trust which should ever subsist between our minds and the will of the all-working Deity. Above all, let us carefully separate between our liking for certain accompaniments of the word, and our liking for the word it. seis. Let us be jealous of those human preferences which may bespeak some human and adventitious influence upon our hearts, and be altogether different from the influence of Christian truth upon Christianized' and sanctified affectrons. Let us be tenacious only of one thing—not of holding by particular ministers—not of saying, that “I am Paul, or Cephas, or Apollos”—not of idolizing the servant, while the Master is forgotten,--but let us hold by the Head, even Christ. He is the source of all spiritual influence—and while the agents whom he employs, can do no more than bring the kingdom of God to you in word—it lies with him either to exalt one agency, or to humble and depress another—and either with or without such an agency, by the demonstration of that Spirit, which is given unto faith, to make the kingdom of God come into your hearts with power.
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 lii. 23.
“Shut up unto the faith.” This is the expression which we fix upon as the subject of our present discourse—and to let you more effectually into the meaning of it, it may be right to state, that in the preceding clause “kept under the law,” the term kept, is, in the original Greek, derived from a word which signifies a sentinel. The mode of conception is altogether military. The law is made to act the part of a sentry, guarding every avenue but one—and that one leads those who are compelled to take it to the faith of the Gospel. They are shut up to this faith as their only alternative— like an enemy driven by the superior tactics of an opposing general, to take up the only position in which they can maintain themselves, or fly to the only town in which they can find a refuge or a security. This seems to have been a favourite style of ar#. with Paul, and the way in which e often carried on an intellectual warfare with the enemies of his master's cause. It forms the basis of that masterly and decisive train of reasoning, which we have in his epistle to the Romans. By the operation of a skilful tactics, he, (if we may be allowed the expression) manoeuvred them, and shut them up to the faith of the Gospel. It gave prodigious effect to his argument, when he reasoned with them, as he often does, upon their own principles, and turned them into instruments of conviction against themselves. With the Jews he reasoned as a Jew. He made a full concession to them of the leading principles of Judaism—and this gave him possession of the vantage round upon which these principles stood. e made use of the Jewish law as a sentinel to shut them out of every other refuge, and to shut them up to the refuge laid before them in the Gospel. He led them to Christ by a school-master which they could not refuse—and the lesson of this schoolmaster, though a very decisive, was a very short one. “Cursed be he that continueth not in all the words of this law to do them.” But, in 4." of fact, they had not done them. To them belonged the curse of the violated law. The awful severity of its sanctions was upon them. They found the faith and the free offer of the Gospel to be the only avenue open to receive them. They were shut up unto this avenue; and the law, by concluding them all to be under sin, left them no other outlet but the free act of grace
and of mercy laid before us in the New Testament. But this is not the only example of that peculiar way in which St. Paul has managed his discussions with the enemies of the faith. He carried the principle of being all things to all men into his very reasonings. He had Gentiles as well as Jews to contend with ; and he often made some sentiment or conviction of their own, the starting point of his argument. In this same epistle to the Romans, he pleaded with the Gentiles the acknowledged law of nature and of conscience. In his speech to the men of Athens, he dated his argument from a point in their own superstition. In this way he drew converts both from the ranks of Judaism, and the ranks of idolatry; and whether it was the school of Gamaliel in Jerusalem, or the school of poetry and philosophy in countries of refinement, that he had to contend with, his accomplished mind was never at a loss for principles by which he bore down the hostility of his adversaries, and shut them up unto the faith. But there is a sashion in philosophy as well as in other things. In the course of centuries, new schools are formed, and the old, with all their doctrines, and all their plausibilities, sink into oblivion. The restless appetite of the human mind for speculation, must have noveltics to feed upon—and after the countless fluctuations of two thousand years, the age in which we live has its own taste, and its own style of sentiment to characterize it. Is Paul, vested with a new apostolical commission, were to make his appearance amongst us, we should like to know how he would shape his argument to the reigning taste and philosophy of the times. We should like to confront him with the literati of the day, and hear him lift his intrepid voice in our halls and colleges. In his speech to the men of Athens, he refers to certain of their own poets. We should like to hear his reference to the poetry and the publications of modern Europe—and while the science of this cultivated age stood to listen in all the pride of academic dignity, we should like to know the arguments of him who was determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. But all this is little better than the indulgence of a dream. St. Paul has already fought the good fight, and his course is finished. The battles of the faith are now