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of mere worldly virtue, they will be made to feel that it exhibits a faithful image of their moral condition, detects the lurking hypocrisy of their hearts, and holds them up to their own contemplation, under the ignominious aspect of worthless pretenders and paltry formalists. When they hear its reiterated references to those who deal "guilefully;" who offer God the service of the body while "their hearts are far from him;" who present " vain oblations, but delight not in obeying the voice of the Lord;" who have a " form of godliness, but deny the power thereof;" who are, to all human appearance, " fair and honest," while their inward man is denied with wickedness, and inhabited by " vain thoughts;" when, I say, they hear the frequent references of the " Word of truth" to such persons, and have brought before them the many illustrations of their hollow and deceitful character which it furnishes, can they fail to see that it truly represents their own likeness, and displays before their mind's eye, in vivid l>ut faithful delineation, those secret imaginations and hidden artifices, which they thought were coniined to their own knowledge? When they are directed in their thoughts to our Lord's description of the Pharisees, who u fir a pretence made long prayers, and paid tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, while they omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith;" who "made clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but were within full of extortion and excess ;" and who, while "they appeared outwardly righteous unto men, were within full of iniquity and hypocrisy," is it possible for them to escape from the impression that they are themselves virtually described? No; their similitude is set before them true to the life; and however fain they may be to avert their inward sight from its bloated aspect, they are compelled to acknowledge its correctness, and thus to testify the detecting power of the Gospel.
I might adduce other and not less striking illustrations of the description which, in our text, is figuratively afforded of the "Word of truth." It would be no difficult matter, indeed, to shew that it is a mirror in which every variety and class of character are exhibited in their moral features; or, in a word, that no man can attentively look into it without feeling that its reflective power is such, as to present him to himself, in the actual reality of his spiritual condition, without the least exaggeration in the blemishes or in the virtues that may attach to liira.
In conclusion, my brethren, I would put the question to each of you,—To what purpose have you heard the Gospel? Some of you have sat for a shorter, and others for a longer period under its preaching. I dwell not upon that; but having listened to its revelations, having enjoyed the privilege of its instructions, having stood, as it were, before its glass, what, I ask of every one of you, has been the result? It surely cannot be that you have come Sabbath after Sabbath to the house of God, and retired as often without carrying
away salutary thoughts in your memories, and serious impressions in your hearts. You must, at least, have seen your guilty and polluted condition set before you in all the reality of truth; and having seen it, is it possible that you can have remained satisfied with that condition, or that you have left at the doors of the sanctuary all thought and concern about it? Is it possible that you can have allowed those truths which are fraught with the interests of eternity, to be overshadowed or banished by the vanities of earth? And can you, whether you may have been the slaves of vice, the advocates of a self-righteous dependence, or dealers in hollow formality, can you, after seeing the deformity of such characters in the mirror of the Gospel, still contentedly consent to be of their number? Alas 1 it may be so—the Word of truth declares it,—for a man may be a "hearer and not a doer of the Word," because he forgets it. And it concerns you far above all earthly interests to take heed unto your way according to God's Word. If you have any wish to be freed from those defects which you may see in your character; if you have any wish to be prepared for appearing in the presence of unspotted holiness, without those stains which must render you subject to its consuming indignation, it behoves you to take a steady and impartial view of yourselves in the mirror of the Gospel, and to resolve, in the faithful application of the means which are therein prescribed, that yon may be thoroughly purified, and furnished with every ornament of the Christian character. To continue to forget the condition in which the " Word of truth" exhibits you, is just the way to ensure your fixture in that condition; and though you may be blind to the fact, it is not the less true, that every time you turn away from the representations of the Gospel, you are increasing the danger of being left to that state of judicial infatuation, which is realised by those to whom the Gospel is said to prove the "savour of death unto death."
THE EARLY PROTESTANT CHURCH OF
By The Rev. John G. Lorihxr,
Minister of St. David's Church, Glasgow.
In a former paper, I gave a shoit account of the Protestant Church of Fraiice, from its origin to its greatest glory in 1571, when it could count above 2000 congregations, many of them very numerous. The progress was exceedingly rapid, and indicated the outpouring of the Spirit of God in a remarkable manner. But matters were not long permitted to remain in this prosperous condition. Provoked, it would seem, by the amazing growth of the cause of God, the great adversary of the Church stirred up the most violent opposition against her members, and, doubtless, their own shortcomings also lent an important influence in bringing down upon them the heavy chastisement under which they were now destined to groan. No sooner had the Church of France become eminent for character and numbers, than she became eminent for her sufferings. The day of affliction often follows quickly upon the day of prosperity.
Various arc the forms of persecution which the Church of Koine has employed, but the present was, perhaps, one of the most savage and cowardly of the whole. A scheme was devised for treacherously cutting off the whole Protestant population—at least the influential portion—at a blow; and to a considerable extent the scheme was successful. I allude to the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day, in 1572,—a massacre which was begun at Paris, at midnight, upon unoffending Protestants collected into the capital on false pretences, and which was afterwards extended to the country, lasting for days and months, and destroying not less than sixty or seventy thousand persons. The first who fell was Admiral Colignv, eminent at once for his rank and his piety. Many Christian men imagine, that persecution must always render good service to the Church of Christ, that the blood of the martyrs must always prove the seed of the Church. But various sad cases, and this among others, shew that the experience is not universal. The Protestantism of France was deeply and permanently injured by the exterminating persecution to which it was subjected, and so did it fare with the early Protestantism of Italy and of Spain. "Multitudes," says Quid:, " were frighted out of their native land, and others were frighted out of their religion. In such a dreadful hurricane as that was, no wonder if some leaves, unripe fruit, and rotten withered branches, fell to the earth and were lost irrevocably." The leading Protestants, in point of rank and political influence, were destroyed, and so the body of the people were left the more exposed to the violence of their enemies. Unlike the Protestants of Scotland, those of France never, even in their greatest strength, rose to such numbers as to divide the population of the country into any thing like equal parts, nor to acquire such power as seriously to affect the movements of the ruling party. Government was always in the hands of Popery, and almost always hostile, and so the suffering was great, an(2 apparently without end. For six years after the massacre, the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the Protestant Church was discontinued. It was not safe to meet; and when, in 1578, the Synod did assemble at St. Foy, no special notice was taken of the recent persecution. The only allusion is to be found in the appointment of a general fast, in the course of which it is said, " For as much as the times are very calamitous, and that our poor churches are daily menaced with many and sore tribulations, and that sins and vices arc rising up and growing in upon us in a most fearful manner, a general day of prayer and fasting shall be published, that our people may humble themselves before the Lord." While the brave and heroic manner in which the Protestant Church stood out the savage persecution to which we have referred, proves how enlightened and sincere was the profession of faith which her members generally maintained, the fearful increase of wickedness, of which the fast appointment speaks, was doubtless the frufc of the persecution. When the Protestants were reduced in number and discouraged in spirit,—when apostasy deteriorated the character of many of their friends, and enemies were emboldened to act as they pleased, and to triumph in cruelty, it is not wonderful that crime broke out in fresh virulence, and that the country was marked with the presence of an angry God. Nothing very remarkable occurred in the history of the Protestant Church till 1598, or twentysix years after the fearful massacre of St. Bartholomew. During all that protracted period, the Protestants might be said to be an oppressed people,—any liberties which they enjoyed were by mere sufferance, and were ever liable to be, nay, wer», frequently invaded. The most arbitrary n:ul unreasonable restrictions were imposed upon their meetings for divine worship,—still they maintained their ground. For several years after the massacre, the diminution of their numbers was not very serious,
though their spirit may have declined. By a sinjukr providence of God, the ministers were spared from tie destruction of the persecution, as if reserved for another harvest, and this tended to keep the people tojretler. A new and greatly improved edition of the ProtesUt version of the Scriptures, revised by the College of Pastors and Professors of the Reformed Church at Gtneva, of whom Beza was one, was published at this time, and, under the divine blessing, exerted a favorable influence in maintaining and diffusing a knowleCjt of the truth. But other influences were in operation. which were destined to affect the Protestant Cburo most perniciously. Before considering these, we efaall quote a few facts and circumstances from the proceedings of the National Synods, or General Assemblies oi the Church, which were held from the period of tie massacre, in 1572, till the year 1598. These assemblies were only six in number in a course of twenty-Hi years; but they serve to illustrate the character of the Church, and frequently present her in an interesting light.
Well aware that, under God, a chief share of tie prosperity of the Church is ever dependent upra thi character of her ministers, the Protestants of France, with great wisdom, continued to devote much of thesi attention to the qualifications and faithfulness of tbeii religious teachers. There is no subject which is more frequently, or earnestly, pressed upon individual; or. Churches, than the necessity of educating toun? m; for the ministry,—the poverty and danger which weft associated with the profession, the decline of the Churi, and the temptation of other pursuits, seem to have recdered such calls peculiarly urgent.
"Whereas divers persons do solicit this Nation! Synod to supply the congregations, who have sent thea hither, with pastors, they are all answered, that at rr ■ sent we are utterly unable to gratify them, and ti»:, therefore, they be advised to set up propositions of the Word of God, (». e. religious services,) and to akf special care of educating hopeful young men in leading, in the arts, languages, and divinity, who may boreafter be employed in the sacred ministry; and tbev almost humbly to petition the Lord of the harvest t>~ send labourers who may get it in."
"Because there is every where a visible decay, mi a great want of ministers, and that some provision nay be made for a succession, the Churches shall be adoenished by our brethren, the provincial deputies, thl such as are rich, would maintain some hopeful scholars at the Universities, who being educated in the hV.* arts and sciences, and other good learning, may be foe. for, and employed in, the sacred ministry."
"The deputies of every province arc charted teavise and press their respective provinces, to look estfully to the education of their youth, and to see toft that schools of learning be erected, and scholastic emrises, as propositions and declamations, be perform*, that so their youth may be trained up and p-epareti !•" the service of God and of his Church in the holjEnistry.
"The colloquies shall be exceedingly careful, th»' that article of our discipline, concerning the maintKance of poor scholars designed for the ministry, be urgently observed, and that they make report of it B;their Provincial Synods, and the Provincial Synods^* give account thereof unto the National, that soitw be manifested how they have performed their tint; this particular. But forasmuch as the expedients effitained in that article are not sufficient for thisf; and the Church's stock is very mean and low, tbe K ther consideration hereof is referred unto the GeK". Assembly at St. Foy."
Indeed, so zealous was the Church in this Bhw that she resolved to apply to the King of Navarre a the Prince of Conde, and other lords profeasne ;Reformed Religion, and to beseech them to eonCii*. literally " towards the maintenance of poor scholars ud candidates for the ministry ; "—" and all churches are exhorted to press this duty vigorously upon their richer and more substantial members." Nay, to such an extent did the zeal of the Church reach, that where a Protestant had acquired a right to tithes, he was entreated to consecrate them, not to private profit, but to pious uses, such as tie " education of scholars who be the seminary of the Church ;" and he was censured if he refused. And when a suitably qualified minister wis found, he was not allowed to secularize himself, poor as his outward provision might be. It was expressly decreed, that a minister should be permitted neither to exercise the office of a judge nor to practise medicine. And as soon as any minister departed from the faith, or refused to submit to the discipline of the Church, he was set aside. At one Synod, we read of seven ministers being deposed, and at another of twenty-four; the latter number included " vagrants." In some cases there may have been harshness, but the circumstances of the times required zeal and determination, and it is not easy always to separate these from severity. The directions addressed to ministers, as to tlie manner in which they should preach and catechise, are good.
"Churches shall be admonished more frequently to practise catechisings; and ministers shall catechise by *liort, plain, and familiar questions and answers, accommodating themselves to the weakness and capacity of their people, without enlargements, or handling of comn:')!i places. And such Churches as have not used this ordinance of catechising, are hereby exhorted to take it up. lea, and all ministers shall be obliged to catechise their several flocks at least once or twice a-yeur, and shall exhort their youth to submit themselves unto it conscientiously. And as for their method in preaching and handling the Scriptures, the said ministers shall be eiliorted not to dwell long upon a text, but to expound and treat of as many in their ministry ;is thoy can, fleeing all ostentation and long digressions, and heaping up of parallel places and quotations j nor ought they to propound divers senses and expositions, nor to allege, unless very rarely and prudently, any passage of the Fathers; nor shall they cite profane authors and stories, that so the Scriptures may be left in their full and sovereign authority."
While thus in earnest to render the labours of the ministry as effective and interesting as possible, the Church of Franco did not undervalue the Word of God. She hailed the new translation of the Scriptures, and encouraged the brethren of Geneva to continue their explanatory observations; and when the copies became ■are and expensive, she rejoiced in an edition being irought out at Rochelle, and entreated the printer that ie have " a singular care that it be done most accuratev and correctly."
"Reserving liberty unto the Church for a more exet translation of the Holy Bible, our Churches, imitatigthe primitive Church, arc exhorted to receive and se, in their public assemblies, the last translation, reised by the pastors and professors of the Church of ■eneva. And thanks shall be presently given unto lonsieur Rotan, and by letters unto our brethren of ieneva who have, at the desire of our Churches, so ippily undertook and accomplished this great and good ork: and they be further entreated to amplify their )tes for the clearer and better understanding of the maining dark places in the sacred text: and ministers the respective provinces are ordered to collect those ilicult passages, and to make report of them unto the xt National Synod, who shall consider which most eds explication.
With regard, again, to the sanctification of the Sabth another of the great means of spiritual good, we id that she wa3 not iiisciijiblc. Living in the heart
of a Popish country, where the Sabbath is uniformly desecrated, the Protestants of France may not have entertained such just and scriptural views of the sanctity of that day as other Protestants who are placed in more favourable circumstances; but the following deliverance indicates serious concern for the honour of the Lord's day.
"Whereas public notaries in divers Churches, keep open doors on the Lord's day, and pass all manner of contracts and transactions, whereby very many souls are taken off together with themselves from the religious sanctification of the Lord's holy Sabbath, it is decreed by this Synod, that for time to come the said notaries shall pass no manner of contracts on the Lord's day, unless it be contracts of marriage, last wills and testaments, articles of agreement between dissenting parties, and the amicable terminating of vexatious lawsuits, and such other business as cannot possibly be delayed; under which head fall in matters of necessity and mercy, and such contracts may be dispatched on the most holy days, provided always that such writings be not drawn up, nor executed, during the time of divine service, and of the public worship of God; and their offices shall be shut, if possible, whilst they be thus employed."
Nor was the concern less for the honour of God's name.
"All swearers, who, in passion or hastiness, do take the name of God in vain, and others who affront the divine Majesty, shall be most sharply reproved; and if, after one or two admonitions, they do not refrain, they shall be suspended the Lord's Table. And all outru;;eous blasphemers, forswearers, and such like persons, shall in no wise be tolerated in the Church, but upon the first offence shall be punished with suspension from the Lord's Supper, and if they continue in their ungodliness, they shall be publicly excommunicated. And this assembly voted unanimously, that when the deputies «1" the provinces shall be returned to their several respective homes, they shall cause this article to be read in all the Churches, in the audience of all the people."
ALL CHRISTIANS ARE NOT ALIKE.
By The Rev. Duncan Macfahlan,
The extraordinary diversity of character observable among true Christians, has often led to misapprehension, and we fear, on some occasions, to misrepresentation. Religion itself is the same in every case, but its effects are almost necessarily different. Speaking of religion in the abstract, it is pure and unmixed, but the very moment that it becomes the property of man, it appears under all the peculiarities of individual character and special circumstances. Men of different constitutional tendencies will, under the same teaching, both feel and act differently. Two men laid on sick-beds and suffering from different complaints, may, with great similarity of Christian attainment, be the one cheerful and the other depressed. Those who, like Timothy, have known the Scriptures from their childhood, and those who, like A polios, have been taught in advanced life, are not likely to speak, or even to act in all respects alike. Then, there are differences arising from the peculiarities of the teacher or class of teachers, under whose ministry different individuals have been instructed; and this will bo the case, even when these belong to the same Church, and teach substantially the same doctrines. But beyond these, there are different churches or denominations; and even such of them as may be accounted orthodox, will nevertheless differ materially in the particular cast of Christian character given to their members. The expressions " I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ," must be founded on certain alleged differences; and these, whether real or imaginary, will give a special cast to the religious character of individuals. And then there is beyond all of these manifold diversities of character, growing out of different states of society j as among persons of different ranks, different countries, and different apes. The absolute neglect of differences so great and diversified, would obviously lead to very erroneous impressions; and where they are but little attended to, the effect must be proportionally the same. However, we have sometimes observed what we were disposed to account misapprehensions of religious character; and even misrepresentations founded upon these; and all of them springing mainly from this source. We have heard truly Christian men desiderate in others, what was little else than a portion of their own peculiarities, and condemn in others, things not more special than those which they would have them to possess. We have thus been sometimes reminded of the feelings of men but little acquainted with the natural history of their own race; of the negro looking upon the European as less perfect than himself, because different in colour and features j and of some of the wise Europeans, doubting whether a poor Bushman be in reality of the same race with themselves. It is not abstract reasoning, but an abundant detail of the natural history of man, which will dispel such illusions respecting his outward appearance; and as little do we expect, that mere doctrinal and controversial discussions will lead to a similar result respecting the moral and religious character of men. Instead of these, therefore, it is our wish merely to detail a few of the varieties in question; and in doing so, to draw our illustrations mainly from Scripture example or from what we may have personally observed or read in works of authority, and which may be verified by all to whom the subject is a matter of interest.
THE RELIGION OP ABSTRACT STATEMENTS NOT THE RELIGION OF THE HEART.
All are to a greater or less extent familiar with the difference which exists between Christianity as a system, and the Christianity of the heart. When we speak of the former, we mean the doctrines and duties of revelation, forming together one general system. When we speak of the latter, we mean the moral furniture of a renewed heart. This last indeed cannot be properly spoken of, in the abstract. The Christianity of the heart, though an expression, has properly no separate existence. It is intended merely to express the condition of the heart, under the influence of religion. The one, therefore, is the revelation of God's will in the word, and the other the operation of that will in the heart. Both of them are dependent on the Spirit of God. He speaks in the word, and speaking effectually through the word, he operates upon the heart. But these very facts lead to a difference. He speaks singly through the word; the will of the inspired writer not being allowed to mingle with the will of God. But he speaks not through the heart. He operates upon the heart. Like the clouds of heaven bearing from place to place their watery treasures, were those originally intrusted with divine communications. They merely received and transmitted them to others. The things revealed are still carried from place to place, and by the blessing of God, they descend on many a heart, with generating and fructifying power. But as the natural rain, which watereth alike the mountain and the valley, the corn field and the comparatively barren heath, giveth not to the plants of each their particular form and character, but these remain dependent on soil and other special circumstances; so the same Gospel truth produceth in different men and classes of men effects apparently different, that is, different in form and special character. In all, there is
the seed of the word, and that seed begetteut a common likeness, and that likeness becomes more and more perfect, with the progressive conformity of each individio!. to the image of their common head. But till this h perfected,—" till we all come in the unity of the tai, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfw man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness t< Christ," there will be a difference even in religiss character. And as this process of perfecting will na be completed till death, so neither will this assimite'! of Christian character. The wood, and the hav, uid tta stubble, must first be burned up, and the gold and aim must be purified from their dross. They mu«t be si purified, as that the image of Christ will be fully reflected in them. But even then, all difference will w. be obliterated. Abraham is still Abraham, ihouyk h< has now received the promise ; Lazarus is still Ltaru-. though resting in Abraham's bosom. And they, Wikj come from the east and from the west, from tic nor: J and from the south, have each their special hymn < i praise. However, one of the very mark*, which Got! has impressed on all his works, is that of endless u:i yet graduated variety. The heavens would declare lea brightly the divine glory, if they did not exhibit > variety of starry lights and an assemblage of system* which the wisdom of man shall never fully grasp. Atone of the main evidences of a divine cause, in the subjects of natural history, is just their endless wrifty, combined as this is with order and consistency, mating the whole harmonious. And so doubtless will ■'. also be in the new creation.
The difference thus noticed, between the absnvstatements of the Word, and the concrete forms of is human heart, may be abundantly illustrated from ft-' Scriptures themselves. Divine wisdom has so arnm.f that we have in the same revelation, statements of Gwl; will, and descriptions of the operations of that will ■ the heart. These statements are to be found tbroaflout the Scriptures, and so are the examples; tlnursabling us to compare them together. We tare, f« example, the revelations communicated to the patrisitfcv and with these, we have the character of an Bw* and a Noah, an Abraham and a Lot, an Isaac «nd» Jacob, a Job and his friends. Then we have the Moi' dispensation, with its more abundant revelations ml j<! corresponding examples; its Moses and Aaroa; * Joshua and Samuel; its David and Josiah; its Elijji and Elisha; its Daniel and Nehemiah, and its SimW and Anna. And then we have the revelations of & New Testament, and under their teaching, we ha«e^ apostles of our Lord; Paul and his companions, rath * Bamabas and Timothy; and with these many in pri51life, such as the Roman Centurion; the Philippian Juk* Lydia the seller of purple, and those particularly ma' tioned in the different epistles. Now let any one rwL first the revelations communicated to the patriarchs, In then the history of some of the most noted under tfc dispensation, and he will not fail to rise with very afferent impressions. And let him do the same, resptfing what occurs under the Mosaic economy, and thrif we mistake not, the difference will be gtef But if from these he proceed to the Christian, it « be greater still. Read, for example, our Lord's itcourses, and then examine the sentiments and feelnir*' his disciples, who constantly waited on his miniand see how different they are! Or take again the 6courses and epistles addressed to the apostolical Churd*and then read the account given of these in such ef-* as those addressed to the Corinthians and Gslf* and you will not fail to observe differences sufndf ■tumbling. One cause is, that while the abstract so ments of the Word are altogether perfect, the sub*"" of their teaching, even when divinely influenced,»" <lceedingly imperfect. "Noah was a just man and r*; feet," when compared with "his" own "j
and yet he has left heliind him a blot of character, associating lis name with a vice chiefly prevalent among the godless and profane. "Lot" is described as "just," aid as being " vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked" in Sodom, and yet he fell into transgressions foul and unseemly, even in the estimate of the world. Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed, and had besides many precious seasons of communion with tne Highest, and yet was he, in some respects, rightly called a "supplanter," for he discovered, on various occasions, more of the feelings and policy of this world, than of one who felt himself to be altogether as a stranger and pilgrim. Job was declared by Jehovah himself to be "perfect and upright," beyond any then living, .ind vet, when sorely tried, even his religious feelings were deeply tinged with the characteristics of fallen humanity. Moses also was meek above all men, and vet he sinned at Meribah, and left his bones, with those uf other transgressors, in the wilderness. Samuel was from his birth dedicated to the service of God, and his V,fe, so far as it is recorded, is almost spotless, yet in his old age, he committed the government to his sons, and they proved unfaithful, and this led to one of Israel's _T€atest sins—their seeking a king to the rejection of Almighty God. David also was anointed with holy oil when but a youth, and, in some respects he proved a man "after God's own heart;" yet, as a man, he fell into very heinous and scandalous offences. But it were tedious, and perhaps unprofitable, to recount the special blemishes of all the characters adduced. "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are," and among the disciples even of our Lord, there were, besides the traitor, a doubting Thomas, an ambitious James and John, and a Peter who denied his master. And if such were the faults and blemishes, even of the most perfect, how much more of such as were comparatively laden with iniquity! The eye of Jehovah seeth the precious seed, though small and'buried in the earthliness of our nature; bi-it in the eye of man, many doubtless would be castaways, who are truly the Lord's servants.
There is another view of such examples as these wtich ought not to be overlooked. They are all different from the Word in its pure and abstract character, buat they also differ one from another. Compare the religious character of Peter with that of John, or T lomas with that of Paul, and how marked the difference 1 And thus it would also prove, were we to examine all the other examples referred to. They would be all found to agree in the substantial* of religion, and ill to disagree in constitutional character and circumJances.
Sow this ought, in the first place, to silence the .ceptical objection, that there is no truth in religion, iecau.se the lives of men do not strictly agree with tlie emulations of the Word. The objection itself proves very important doctrine of the Bible, namely, that of ur fallen condition. If the influences of religion reeived no moral tinge from the impurities of the heart, nis would doubtless be held to disprove the alleged orruptions of our fallen nature. But seeing that, be le truth ever so pure, and the natural character of the [dividual ever so amiable, the effect is imperfect and ears upon it marks of moral impurity, we ought not to axon otherwise than that the heart is itself impure. .nd apart from this reasoning, it ought to be evident, tea to such as deny all such doctrines, that the chapter of a simple principle is one thing, and the effects r that principle, modified and determined by other -inciples, is something wholly different. Seed presely the same, if sown upon different soils, and cultiited according to special methods, will yield, not difrent crops, but crops differing greatly one from another, nd the same medicine administered to patients, differg in constitution and circumstances, will operate very -ffexently. And if it be thus with the things that grow
out of the ground, and even with the body, it is not to be wondered at, that it should be so with the soul.
Another prevailing error, which ought to be corrected by a knowledge of these facts, is the persuasion, that because no believer does in all points come up to the description of the Word, and because some do greatly deviate from it, we are to regard the whole as a matter of contemplation, rather than realization. We fear that there are many who regard declarations of the Word, respecting the inhabitation of the Spirit, the union of the soul with Christ, and intimate communion with God, as either figurative language designed to mean much less, or as intended to be to us a matter of contemplation merely, and not to describe any thing which is the common property of every believer. And we have sometimes observed, that when the actual experience of Bible Christians was referred to, they put it off by alleging that they lived during an age of miracles, and that such things arc! not now to be expected. Now with regard to this allegation, the best answer is, that the same Word which records those examples, expressly declares that the experience in question was to belong to every true believer, and that if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, that man is none of his. And then the difference observed between the abstract statements of the Word, and the actual experience of individuals, is resolved into the matters explained in this section. There must be a difference between religion as spoken by God and felt by man, a difference not essential but in form, and strongly apparent. And there will be a difference between different individuals, though of the same like precious faith. And therefore we infer, that such us are thus prejudiced against what may, for distinction's sake, be called heart religion, do fearfully deceive themselves. Suppose the mathematician, accustomed only to his diagrams and abstract speculations, to be let forth, for the first time, on a voyage of discovery; and suppose him to judge of every thing he saw, simply from his generalized notions of what every thing ought to be, how very inapt, though substantially correct, would all his opinions prove themselves to he. And just so is it with the merely speculative professor. He has only principles in the system of his belief. But to understand these, he must see them in operation. He must experience their power on his own heart, and he must observe it among others.
A Summary, in review, of the First Chapter of Peter's Second Epistle.—The whole of the chapter hath been a sweet garden of grace and mercy. The first flower was a salutation, and that is a wish of mercy. The second, a promise, and that is a word of mercy. The third, a consolation, and that is a work of mercy. The fourth, an exhortation, and that is the way to mercy. The fifth, a witness of our election, and that is an assurance of mercy. The sixth, an induction to heaven upon earth, and that is a high degree of mercy. The seventh, a testimony from heaven, and that was the voice of mercy. The eighth, a word of performed prophecy, and that was an argument of mercy. The ninth, an illumination of the Gospel, and that is a light of mercy. The last is the glory of heaven, and that is the full day and perfection of mercy. Through these blessed degrees, my discourse hath brought you; first, we began with peace, then dwelt long with grace, and lastly, are come to glory. This peace possess your consciences, this grace beautify your hearts, and this
glory crown all your souls Abams.
The Source of Dependence in Prayer—When you send your prayers, be sure to direct tbem to the care of the Redeemer, and then they will never miscarry.—. Matt. Henhy,