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and darkness, and the more unlikely is it that he will ever return.
The truths which must be received, with respect to man, are his guilt and helplessness; and with respect to God, are his holiness and his mercy. The man who believes in these truths, perhaps has not the joy of the Gospel, but he believes in the elements of the Gospel ; and when his affections are exercised by them, they are exercised in conformity with the spirit of the Gospel. But the Gospel itself is as intelligible as these its elements, and as intelligible also as any precept in the moral law. Its address to our natural principle of self-preservation is surely simpler than any moral exhortation can be-and the manifestation of the love of God, and of his abhorrence of sin, in the cross of Christ, is surely as intelligible as the commandment to love God, or the declaration that cursed is every one who continueth not in all the words of the law to do them." Why then may not the Gospel be preached, as well as the law, upon any occasion? There is something very inconsistent with reason in supposing, that abstract perceptive moral truths can be more intelligible, or more easily received, than the same moral truths when exemplified in the Gospel history. The same faculties qualify us for receiving impressions from both. There is however, a difference in the impressions made in these two ways. The impression received from the precept, is necessarily a cold, and joyless, and lifeless impression, because its object addresses merely the sense of duty. Whilst the
Gospel, not only addresses the sense of duty, but makes an irresistible appeal to every feeling of self-love, and every principle of gratitude and generosity. And let this also be remembered, that "It is by grace we are saved, through faith."
Now, it is very possible that a man may be in a state of confirmed hardness, and darkness, and unbelief, and yet have what may appear to himself and his friends very clear views of the Gospel. It has been already frequently repeated, that although moral actions are truly understood and believed only when there is an impression on the mind significant of the moral principle contained in them, yet their external form can be believed and talked about, when their principle is not at all perceived. Thus the outward form of the facts of the Christian history may be believed implicitly; and yet if the love of God is not perceived, and the freeness and undeservedness of the redemption through His Son,-the Gospel is not believed. But if actions are liable in this way to misinterpretation, words are even more so. A man may say that he believes the history of the Saviour, and that he receives it as a manifestation of the love of God, without being in the slightest degree hypocritical, and yet he may not be a believer. Love is a word symbolical of a particular state of feeling. A meaning therefore must be attached to it by every individual corresponding to his own state of feeling. If his state of feeling is disordered, of course the meaning attached to this word will be a wrong one. But
it often happens that we do not attach to our words even such meanings as our minds are capable of attaching to them. The meaning is perhaps a complex idea, and we cannot allow ourselves time to receive a full impression of it; whereas the word is short and convenient; and perfectly answers all purposes of conversation or reasoning. We accordingly use the word, and leave the meaning for another occasion, Now the Gospel is addressed not to our conversational or argumentative powers, but to our moral principles and natural feelings; and therefore it is not really received, unless the impression of its moral meaning is actually made on the mind. Oh, the waters, that proceed from this fountain are deadly waters, and many there are who drink thereat! Philosophical thinking minds are very apt, unconsciously, to fall into this error, especially such as fill the office of religious teachers, and most difficult it is to escape from its paralysing habit and influence. Who is there, even amongst serious thinkers, that does not often feel horrified at the lightness and unmovedness with which he can speak or write that name which represents the eternal Majesty of heaven, in conversation called religious, or in private study called theological! Could indifference, or improper warmth, or a vain desire of victory, find place in a mind, to which the idea of such an object as God was really present? Impossible-and yet how often are such feelings in the mind, when that word is in the mouth! It is evident in such a case that the great thing is not believed at the time. What
is the impression on the mind? None corresponding to the mighty object assuredly; the word only has impressed the mind as a logical datum. It is no doubt most convenient for the intercourse of life, and for the purposes of conversation and reasoning to have such symbolical abbreviations to represent our ideas; but it is a dearly bought convenience, if it cheats us out of the reality of heaven, by enabling us to converse about it, without thinking or feeling what it is.
He is at this
Oh what intalk of grati
What wonderful love was that which brought Christ from heaven to earth to die for sinners ? Do we think of this wonder and feel it at all! or when we speak of it even? moment looking into our hearts. difference he sees! But I do not tude; I ask, is there in our minds even an idea of Christ's love every time that we speak its name? Have we an impression corresponding to the fact, that had it not been for that love, we should all be within a few hours of eternal damnation? Have we this impression when we speak of his atonement?
Let the reader pause here and ask himself, how much of his religion is of this kind-how far his faith is conversant with words, and how far with things-how far it rests in mere sym. bols, and how far it embraces the spirit and meaning. What effect has your faith on your heart and conduct? If your faith is conversant with the true things of the Gospel, your heart will be growing in humble and holy peace, and your
conduct in conformity to the whole will of God. If these effects do not result from your faith look again at the Gospel, for you have not yet come in contact with it. A poor, ignorant, naked savage, who knows and feels so much as this, that he is a sinner, that God hates sin and yet has mercy on the sinner, knows and believes more of the Gospel, than the most acute and most orthodox theologian, whose heart has never been touched by the love of God.
No; it is impossible really to have clear views of the Gospel, whilst the affections are muddy. What adequate impression can an impure mind have of the holy love of God? Yet this is the chief attribute of God revealed in the Gospel, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The blessing here mentioned is not an arbitrary reward, irrespective of the character, to which it is promised. There is a connexion between purity of heart and communion with God on earth, as well as the beatific vision hereafter. The purest heart has the most correct faith, because it is susceptible of the truest impressions from holy love. It knows best what holy love means, and therefore it can believe best. Clear views of the Gospel do not consist in having our logical lines all drawn accurately from premises to conclusion but in having distinct and vidid impressions of the moral facts of the Gospel, in all their meaning, and all their importance, accompanied with the strong conviction of their independent reality. But how is purity of heart to be attained? It can only be attained by faith, Acts xv. 9. So then it