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as respects new forms and applications of these doctrines; but as regards the doctrines themselves, progress is neither possible nor desirable.
3. The doctrines of the New Testament are inevitable truths. The Scriptures do not limit the power of the Almighty, when they affirm, that God cannot lie. Neither is it any such limitation to say, that while man retains his present nature—his present capacities of desire and growth, not even infinite wisdom and power can dispense with the principles of Christianity. There are many important truths, or facts in the Bible which, had the Deity willed, could have been otherwise. As instances, the crucifixion of Christ, as a means of revealing the infinite forgiveness of the heavenly Father, and the resurrection of Christ, as a means of confirming, to the sensible perceptions of men, the great truth of life and immortality,'' --we justly esteem truths of momentous importance. Yet, no one can doubt, that infinite wisdom could have secured these results by different instrumentalities. But the doctrines of Christ admit of no substitutes. God himself can furnish no other truths as taking their places. From the necessities of his being and the nature of man, the fundamental truths of Christianity are inevitable, and cannot be de. stroyed.
As a summary of our progress thus far, we find that by the Christian doctrines (using the term in the common way,) we are to understand only the fundamental truths or principles of the New Testament; and these doctrines have certain marked characteristics :-first, they are uni. versal truths-in the sense in which they are true of any one human being, they are true of every human being; second, they are eternal truths--they have no limit as regards duration, are not intended to fulfil a transient mission, and then to pass away; and third, they are inevitable truthsspringing necessarily from the nature of God and the nature of man, not even infinite Wisdom can substitute other truths in their stead. We now proceed to the relation which these doctrines sustain to the duties or precepts, which the gospel teaches as obligatory in human practice.
First of all, and as preliminary to the object now before us, we may consider, that the method of making life holy, is, what the term impliesma method. In its relation to
every human being, Christianity has a specific object-the inducing of a righteous character. In aiming to reach this result, it has a method-it works by rules. These rules comprise the practical precepts of the New Testament. In general terms, therefore, we may say, that the relation of Christian doctrine to Christian precept, is that of science to art-of any particular science to its corresponding art-of any particular principle to the practical rule which grows out of it, and is predicated upon it. The principles of Christianity-which, as we have seen, are its doctrines—are the principles of holiness of life; and the precepts of Christianity are the corresponding rules of holiness of life. A righteous character may be termed an incarnation of Christian truth or doctrine—it is this truth made vital in a human soul. So to speak, this doctrine is the material out of which a right character is construct. ed. Now this transmutation (if the word may be allowed) of Christian principles or truths into human character, as we have before implied, is methodical-is according to specific rules; and these rules, we repeat, are the New Testament precepts.
The question now presents itself, What is the method our words have implied ? By what process does Christian doctrine incarnate itself in human character, thus induc. ing holiness of life? We will briefly attempt to amplify the answer to this question, under these two heads : first, the doctrines of Christianity explain and justify its precepts; and second, they give these precepts vitality and effect in human action.
1. First, then, Christian doctrine explains and justifies the Christian precepts to the human understanding. It would be a comparatively easy task to retain in the memory, all the verbal requirements of the New Testa. ment; but the man who knows nothing of its principles or doctrines, can see neither justice nor propriety in those requirements. The man who does not apprehend the character of God as the wise Ruler and the good Father, cannot comprehend why he is under any obligation to obey his law. The obligations to love God and one another, take their rise in the relations which we sustain to God and one another. Of course, without a comprehension of these relations, the obligations which spring
them caland, for them
from them can have no rational, but only an arbitrary, significance; and, for the same reason, whatever obedience we may render them, can be only mechanical, not natural and spontaneous. So long as the school-boy's knowledge is confined to the rules of his arithmetic, he may indeed succeed in solving the problems given him for solution ; but he can give no reason why conformity to those rules should lead to correct results. The rule can seem to him but an artificial method, and his use of it will be purely mechanical. He cannot understand why any other rule will not answer the purpose equally well. When, however, he rises from a bare knowledge of the rule, to a knowledge of the principle on which the rule is based—when from the verbal method, he rises to a comprehension of the relations of numbers—when, so to speak, he rises from the precepts to the doctrines of his arithmetic the rule is instantly intelligible, is explained to the understanding. Now, as we have before said, the duties of life spring from the relations we sustain to God and one another. Christian doctrine is but another name for the science of these relations; and he who does not understand this doctrine, cannot, of course, feel the force of the duties authenticated by them. The savage can learn to repeat the verbal commandment to love God and his neighbor ; but his understanding cannot take in the truths, that God loves him, and that all inen are brethren. Thus with us all; only so far as we understand the deep things of God, can we perceive authority in the revealed obligation to obey his will. The doctrines of Christianity thus explain and justify its precepts.
2. The moral precepts derive vitality and effect from Christian doctrine. It is possible to conceive of a man thoroughly appreciating the relations he sustains to God and to his brother, and hence appreciating the duties which come from those relations, and yet give those duties no matter of heed in his life. He views them simply with a cold intellectuality. Now in the case of such a man, the one thing wanting is right emotion—the ever-present impulse to obey the precepts, the justice of which he already perceives; and this emotion finds its occasion in the Christian doctrines. The nature of man is emotive, as well as intellectual; and, under the proper conditions,
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is as susceptible of impulses as of convictions. The truths of the gospel are not less quickening to the soul, than enlightening to the intellect. The law by which it wakes up the latent feeling of the heart, is not less certain in its operation, than that by which it works conviction in the understanding. It is the prerogative of truth to make itself felt, as well as understood. The sun of the solar system not only sends light to make visible the forms, and methods, and beauties of the physical world ; it also communicates warmth whereby the susceptibilities of the soil are quickened into life, and verdure, and loveliness. So in the Christian system ; the sun of gospel doctrine does more than send light along the pathway of duty, rendering the reasonableness of moral duties cognizant to the understanding—it also communicates warmth to the heart, dissolving its icy indifference, and quickening into effective impulses the affections otherwise latent in the soul. Thus do the precepts of the gospel derive vitality and effect from its doctrines.
As a general inference from our inquiries thus far, it would seem that practical Christianity is but the embodiment of the doctrines of Christ, in the human character ; and hence it is only in theory, never in practice, that the precepts of Christianity can be separated from its doctrines. If, indeed, it may be possible, as doubtless it is, so to teach the latter, as to lead to no practical result, it certainly is not possible to elevate the human character to the Christian standard, without a constant application of the Christian principles. The most thoroughly practical man, is, for that reason, the most thoroughly doctrinal. The sanctity of a righteous life derives its origin from the principles of the gospel faith.
Christian doctrine thus becomes a matter of practical significance it becomes the direct instrument of regeneration in a world of folly and sin. Let its essential character, therefore, and also its practical relations, be distinctly apprehended. Let it become a guide to man in the pathway of duty-furnishing him with a sufficient reason for every precept made obligatory upon him. And let it be more than a guide ; let it be also an impulsema regenerating, resistless impulse, that it may prove to be what it is declared to be the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.
G. H. E.
The Man, Luther.
1. The Table Talk; or, Familiar Discourse of Martin Luther. Translated by William Hazlit, Esq. London: David Bogue, Fleet street, 1848.
2. Histoire de la Reformation du Seizième Siècle. Par J. A. Merle d'Aubigné, ete.
A FEW years ago, there were collected at the Luther Festival in Berlin, in a single room of the Royal Library, more than eight thousand volumes relating to the great Reformer and his works. About few men, either ancient or niodern, have so many books been written. He is a prominent fact in the history of the world, to which the attention of the curious and the thoughtful is directed. He stands at the pivotal point between the old and the new times. Many a patient, laborious German, loyal to human worth, has considered his life well spent in helping his fellow men to a better acquaintance with the kingly leader of the Reformation. Those eight thousand volumes, accumulating as it would seem in regular geometric ratio, loudly and in confusion proclaim to each generation, that there has been a man in the world worthy of studious attention and high respect. If, however, from each one of those works the author's conception of Luther could come forth as a spirit, taking a form adequate to express its internal meaning, there would be seen issuing out of that room, in the Royal Library of Berlin, such a ghostly troop as the imagination of Milton himself could not body forth ;" black spirits and white would be wildly mingled, unable to recognize in each other the faintest resemblance, or to conceive that they were sent into the world on the same mission.
He who enters some sectarian cavé, swearing at the door to regard the space within as the whole universe, cuts himself off from the highest sympathy of real men, and unfits himself for acting any noble part in the history of the world. Give us a man who is an honest seeker of realities, of the solid facts of this universe ; or, in other words,