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letters to the churches; and applied for the regulation of mens' practice, in the various relations in which they were placed. Through ignorance of the divine law, or inattention to its spirit, muhitudes have called evil good, and good evil; have put the form of godliness in the room of its power ; have diverted the vigour of their minds from judgment, mercy, and faith, to the tithing of mint, cummin, and anise; from the subsiantial duties of piety and probity, to a circle of childish and degrading superstitions.
Good works are works formed on the model of the Saviour's example. It is among the privileges peculiar to the Christian dispensation thal, in the life of the Author, there is exhibited a perfect pattern of obedience to the divine law. This example was given too in circumstances which accord with the situations in which the generality of his followers are placed. Jesus Christ was a poor man, often exposed to reproach, - pronounced by the multitude of his countrymen to be a deceiver of the people, harrassed by temptations, - abandoned by his friends in the hour of danger, and doomed to suffer as a felan and a slave on the cross. The peculiar virtues which thạt melancholy accumulation of uncqualled woe required, He, in a nanner all his own, illustrated; and, by a bright assemblage of religious and moral excellence, illumined the close of a clouded life, which set in the blackness of darkness. His example shed light also on the mean. ing of his precepís, which he had given in expounding the spirit of the divine law; - and his disciples, when they saw him give his back to the smiters, and his checks to them that p!ucked off the hair, understood the meaning of that hard saying. That we resent not evil; but that whosoever shall smite us on the one cheek, to him we turn the other also.' This pattern, besides its internal excellence, for it is the statutes of the Lord embodied and walking among men in human foru, comes recominended by every consideration that can awaken religious awe, conciliate aitachigent, and allure to imitation. It is the example of God manifest in the flesh, who came down from Heaven to teach us how to live, and how to die: - it is the example of our best Frie::dl, who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the free : it is an example, the imilation of which rescues poverty from repronchi, -- sheds mild ani holy lustre on genius, - turns je arm of power into a shield to the oppressed, — directs the silent stream of concealed beneficence to live withered roots of the widow's vineyard, and gradually prepares the mind for that high state of being and blessedness to which we are called. It is on this Hütelles tie that Christians should form their actions; for we are disciples only in proportion to the measure of his imate that we bear. The features of this image who can delivtate? The pencil of a master may paint the pea-blcom wet with the dew of the morning; but where i the master in Isracl who :ball pourtray tie moral likeness of Jesus of Nazareth, the
glory of the human race, fairer than the sons of men, and, in the bright circle of religious excellence, altogether lovely? Who shall depict his unshaken confidence in his Father in the darkest hour? What in Job was merely matter of holy purpose, « Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,' Jesus, in all its extent, exemplified; for the last act of his departing soul was an act of confidence in his God: "Father, into thy hands I come mend my spirit !' Who can describe the devotional risings of bis heart, after he spent the live-long night in fellowship with his God? Sometimes, in the morning too, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place for prayer. The star of day, as the rose of India, saw no object in purity and gentleness of lustre so like herself as was the heavenly suppliant. What shall we say of the humility and meckness with which he washed the feet which his hands had made; and endured the contradiction of sinners, whom his frown could have consumed !
of his perfect resignation to his Father's will, and his silent patience under his Father's wrath! -- of his unwearied love to men, for whose relief his wonder-working arm was stretched out all the day long; and for whose salvation his blood was shed on the tree! - of the unbending firmness of his soul, which flattery could not enfeeble, nor terror crush! - But read his life; and, while you muse, may the fire burn, and the holy purpose be formed, of making his life the standard of your morals, and the pattern of your unceasing imitation! Ofien say to yourself, How would my Lord and Saviour have aeted, had he been placed in my situation? Would he have loved so coldly, forgiven so reluctantly, suffered injuries so peevishly, prayed so formally, resisted temptations so feebly as I have done? Why then should I? I, who have his example like a torch to guide and enkindle my heart; his grace to support me, — and his promise of glory, honour, and immortality to animate and strengthen me! -- Thus beholding in the glass of evangelical history the glory of the Lord Jesus, -- and loving with growing ardour the object we contemplate, we shall be changed from glory to glory, till the lovely imaye be superinduced upon our own souls in all the fulness of which humanity is susceptible.
Works proceeding from such principles, regulated by a law so holy, just, and good, and formed on a model so fair an l perfect, must be pleasing to God, useful to men, indications of the high health of the soul, and the earnest of her approaching glory and blessedness.
CRITERION OF PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY. Mr. Editor,
In looking into one of the periodical journals a few months since, I met with a few observations on one of Mr. Foster's Essays, ' On the Aversion of Men of Taste to Evangelicai Religion.'
This excited my curiosity, having myself some objections to the piece in question, wherein I think he has conceded! too much to men of taste, and shewn too much anxiety to render the doce trine of the cross palatable to men of worldly wisdom. This writer, however, objects to Mr. Foster on grounds widely different; and my attention was particularly attracted by the following paragraph :
Os reading the title of Mr. Foster's Essay,' says this writer, my first object was to discover what he meant by men of taste;' and I find that Mr, F. means persons whose feelings accord with a literary or philosophical standard. In other words, men of taste' mean literary and philosophical men; and consequently men of judgment, who are most capable of discerning the truth or fälschood of any proposition. Of such men, a remarkable fact is here stated : They do entertain an aversion to what is called Evangelical Riligion. Now, Sir, is not this a strange argument against it? Must it not be granted, that if men of literature, philosophy, and judyment object to Christianity in a particular form, this is prima facie evidence that that form cannot be the right one.'
To investigate the motives that may influence different persons to receive or reject our views of Christianity, is no part of the design of these strictures. Here the Searcher of the h art alone can be the proper Judge. On a theme so su preniely ini portant as religion, on-which it is so much the interest of every individual to seck and know what is truth, the utmost caution should be userl, and the utmost candour exercised. Leaving therefore this subject, let us attend to.matters of fact. ..Men of taste,'-, Mr. Foster informs us, ' have an aversion to Evangelical Religion,' " This must be,' we are also told, regarded as prima facie evidence, that this form of Christianity is not the righi one.' It is a fact that must be acknowledged, and ought to be lamented, that great numbers of men of taste have been averse to real piety. They have shewn a strong a version to the principles whence it springs, and the means by which it is promoted.
The fact which Mr. Foster states, stands on incontrovertible testimony. It is of very ancient date, as early at least as the apostolic age; for an unexceptionable witness informs us, We preach Christ crucified; to the Jews a stumbling block. and to the Grecks foolishness. That there were men of taste' at Athens and at Rome will not be disputed ; and it appears from what this very apostle asseris, that they were despisers of Primitive Christianity. Their character is stated at large in ! Cor. i. 17-31. Now, according to the reasoning of our author, this must be prima facie evidence against the apostolic doctrines; or else, that it affords a pretty strong presumption of the identity, or at least strong similarity, of what is now called Evangelical Religion, with the principles of the apo-tolic age. It were something, if this writer, or any of his brethren, could produce presumptions
equally strong for their own sentiments. It is, however, well known to men of reading, that the whole host of liberal critics, from Socinus to Mr. Belsham, have not been able, with a very free use of the torture, to do more than extort a few indirect and reluctant glances at the peculiarities of their creed.
On the principles of the writer, what appears to have constituted the offence of the Cross,' was the simple fact of the crucifixion of Jesus. This, it will be allowed, had great weight with many; but there are several reasons which shew it is far from being ihe only cause of the apostolic ministry being called Foolishness. This must refer to the subject, and not to any mere circum- . stance. It appears that ancient prophecy had foretold this aw. ful fact *: Christ himself often refers to it; and the apostle Paul frequently mentions it in different views, as in Rom. ix. 33; X. 1-3; I Cor. i. 23-25, and in many other places.'
One would naturally expect, that men of taste,' who are best able to judge of the truth or falsehood of any proposition, would not fail to make a distinction between the circumstances in which an individual had been placed, and the truth of his opinions. They had done so in the case of Socrates, and, no doubt, in many other cases. The mere fact then of the crucifixion of the Founder of Christianity, would only prejudice the mob against his doctrines. Men of taste and discernment would have acted differently. Such prejudices would only be found in alliance with Ignorance and Superstition.
From the apostle's solicitude, lest, by the use of any extraneous ornaments of style, or accommodation with the temporizing teachers of the day, the offence of the cross should cease,' it ap. pears that there was something offensive to the ta le of the age, so interwoven with the subject, that this very circumstance is alluded to as characterizing genuine Christian preaching; and the several explanatory clauses introduced in this connection very natura'ly lead us to this conclusion. The manner in which the preaching of the cross is mentioned in many places, and referred to in many others, as the ground of a sinner's hope, and the grand motive to Christian obedience, would incline an unbiassed mind · to regard this as the grand peculiarity of the genuine apostolic
faith. It is remarkable that Paul, in referring to this subject, does not say, 'I am determined to make known t nothing among the Corinthians but Jesus Christ, although he was crucified but he makes the cross the subject of his ministry, the foundation of his hope, and the source of his most joyful exultation ; and from the character and description of the persons who gladly received this doctrine, and to whom it was made the power of God and the wisdom of God, we may see that its rejection by men of taste, so far from being prima facie evidence against it, was
Isaiah viii. 14.
+ See Macknight's Harmony, on Mark xiii. 32.
an awful confirmation of prophecy, and a glorious display of the sovereign and discriminating grace of Jehovah !
Having already, probably too long, exercised the patience of your readers, I forbear, Mr. Editor, any enlargement on the benefits flowing to sinners through The medium of the cross of Christ. Allow me, however, just to mention what appear to me fair and legitimate deductions from the foregoing fact. They are the following: - That we may by this test judge, with tolerable accuracy, what was genuine primitive Christianity; and who make the nearest approaches to it in our own day: that the unlearned have equal moral capabilities of understanding and receiving the true doctrines of Christianity as the most profound scholars: that there may be many moral hindrances to the proper reception of Christian truth, united with extensive learning, various talent, high estimation with the world, and great literary fame: that such in reality has been the case since the introduction of the Christian dispensation : that this, so far from being prima facie evidence of the falsehood of any particular form of Christianity, is a strong presumption in its favour, as being the genuine primitive system : that as wilful error on such a subject involves the most awful consequences, we should seriously and diligently cultivate a spirit of humble enquiry and ardent prayer to Him who has proinised, “That the meek he will guide in judgment, and teach his way. Whether that system, the principal character of which lies in undervaluing the sacred writings, or that which regards them as the only and sufficient rule of faith and practice, be best calculated to promote such a spirit, all must judge for themselves. I remain yours, &c.
- Translated from a respectable Publication at Basle, A person who worked in a brewery quarrelled with one of his fellow-workmen, and struck him in such a manner that he died upon the spot. No other person was witness to the deed. He then took the dead body and threw it into a large fire under the boiling-vat, where it was in a short time so completely con. sumed that no traces of its existence remained. On the following day, when the man was missed, the murderer observed very coo!ly, that he had perceived his fellow-servant to have been in. toxicated ; and that he had therefore probably fallen from a bridge which he had to cross in his way home, and been drowned. For the space of seven years after, no one entertained any suspicions of the real state of the fact. At the end of this period, the murderer was again employed in the same brewery, He was then induced to reflect on the singularity of the circum.