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the word of God, a solemn prayer be offered up for that aid of the Holy Spirit which is alike promised to every sincere believer in Jesus Christ.
Instead of any abstract discourse upon these hints, let us select a particular case for testing their value. I will therefore take the verse which is parallel to that quoted and expounded by your correspondent, as one which will very well suit my purpose. "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent" (Matt. xxvii. 51). Let us apply these principles to this verse. First, We are required to understand the literal import of all the words and phrases in this verse.-There can be no question about the literal meaning of an earthquake, and the rending or splitting of rocks. But the "veil of the temple" is a less common phrase, and requires a knowledge, not only of the literal meaning of its component words, "veil" and temple," but also of the internal arrangements of the Jewish temple. In the tabernacle of Moses there were three veils or hangings. Two of them only were preserved in Solomon's and the second temple. This is intimated by St. Paul, Heb. ix. 3; from which it appears that the second veil was "the veil." Hence then we may now fully understand the literal meaning of the words "the veil of the temple was rent in twain." Secondly, The passage occurs in a plain historical narrative, and not in a didactic or poetical writing.-This consideration is of the utmost importance; for if the facts here recorded were not real events, and literally true, then, by the declaration of the Apostle himself (1 Cor. xv. 15), Christianity is false. Hence then it is absolutely necessary that we should obtain the literal meaning of all historical passages.
Thirdly, The sacred writer's object, in the history of which this verse forms a part, is to give an accurate account of the circumstances of our Lord's crucifixion. This is undeniable, for in the whole account he does not deduce one moral or spiritual inference. It is, in fact, the purest historical narration.
Fourthly, Let us then, in endeavouring to expound it, pray that the Spirit would lead us into all truth, and therefore into the truth of these words.
"The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." If words have any meaning, then do these record the simple unmixed fact of the rending of the veil by a miracle. Divines have considered this to be not only a miracle, to be classed with the earthquake, the rending of the rocks, and the darkening of the sun; but also as an emblematical occurrence, by which was signified that the death of Christ had abolished the dispensation of Moses, had accomplished the types of the Levitical priesthood, had laid open a free access to the holy of holies, and annulled the distinction between Jew and Gentile. I presume that your correspondent believes the literal fact; but he also makes it an emblem of something else. Which of the expositions is right? Or by what authority does a man deduce any inference from a simply revealed fact, upon which no comment has been made in the word of God? The peculiar purpose for which we consider the miracle of the rent veil to have taken place, is not, I feel quite sure, suggested to us by a wild ungoverned imagination in search after novelties, but is actually taught us by the Holy Spirit himself. The eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews may be considered as a practical illustration of the rending of the veil of the temple, and of the consequent desecration (so to speak) of the holy of holies. But whether this veil had been torn or not in a miraculous manner, yet was its further uselessness demonstrated by the death of Christ. It was a familiar and minute illustration of a great truth, the proof of which did not depend upon the occurrence of such a miracle, that the peculiar sacred use of the holy of holies was for ever
abrogated. The practical inference, therefore, from this miracle, as deduced for us elsewhere by the Holy Spirit, lies level to the understanding of a child. The remaining miraculous facts recorded in the verse require no remarks: no simple mind would be at a loss for a moment to comprehend the natural inferences which arise from them. They are plainly collateral testimonies of the truth of the death of Christ. They display the mighty power of God, and leave a salutary impression of sacred awe upon the mind of the reader. They operate with useful force in some measure upon us, as they did upon the centurion; extorting from us his declaration, "Truly this man was the Son of God."
On the necessity of the first principle above mentioned, an instance occurs in your correspondent's exposition. He says, " And the veil; something through which we see imperfectly." Such an explanation may serve for the colloquial signification of the word, but by no means, I should think, for the KaraжεTασua of the Jewish Temple. The purpose of this veil surely was to conceal entirely, and not imperfectly, the holy of holies.
My principal object in selecting this parallel passage, rather than the one chosen by your correspondent, was, to shew how untenable is his system of exposition. Let him carry it through the whole verse, and he will surely discover its fallacy.
In explanation of the above four principles, I will just add a few words upon the second. The Psalms are poetical. In Ps. cxiv. 6, we read, "The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs." Now the literal meaning of this verse is manifestly inapplicable. It is merely a poetical figure, by which is signified the gladness of universal nature at some great event, of which the divine Psalmist is speaking; which, in this case, is the passage of Israel from Egypt. This is, however, perfectly intelligible, even to the popular reader; and, indeed, the less highly educated and civilized classes of society usually deal most in figures, and are most impressed by them. Again, in didactical writing, a passage frequently occurs in the midst of an argument, the whole of which must be understood before the force of any particular part of it can be fully apprehended.
J. E. G.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
THE Archbishop of Dublin, in his work on the Spirit of Romanism, has shewn that it naturally works in every Protestant as well as Popish heart; and the same may with equal truth be affirmed of the spirit of Pharisaism. That spirit is essentially comprised in one characteristic— religious boasting; and is exhibited in one simple form of speech, "Thank God I am not as other men:" "Stand by, I am holier than thou." It may assume various aspects: it may call itself Calvinistic or Arminian, Puritan or Episcopalian; it may cloak its pride before men by the most humbling language before God; it may affect to be "Orthodox" or "Evangelical;" but, take what shape it may, it is Pharisaism still.
To trace this Proteus through all its forms would exceed the limits and design of the present brief communication; but there is one disguise in which it is peculiarly sinful and offensive, and which, for want of a better name, may be called Evangelical Pharisaism. There are professors of religion who in reference to God speak in words the most lowly; who claim no merit; who acknowledge that they have nothing good in themselves; who ascribe all that they do and feel and say, so far as it is
consistent with the will of God, to His grace working in them; but who, in comparing themselves with their fellow-men and fellow-Christians, habitually indulge in the most egotistical and self-laudatory Pharisaism. It is true that their boasting takes a religious, and even self-abasing turn. They do not pretend to be by nature wiser or holier than other men: they attribute it entirely to the distinguishing grace of God that they have so much clearer insight into spiritual matters than their fellow-Christians; that they are so much more simple in their aim, so much more distinguishing in their judgments, and so much more anxious for His glory. It is his grace, they acknowledge, that has made them to differ. They did not become thus established in their own strength; their competency to judge so much better than the most pious and heavenly-minded of their neighbours, is entirely his gift. But that they do thus differ, that they have this competency, they never once doubt. Their decisions are authoritative. They enter into no argument, at least upon equal terms: their opponent, they say, will see the matter, if it shall please God to reveal it to him; and there they leave it; never once doubting that they are right and that he is wrong, or condescending to reflect that he may have studied as much, prayed as much, and been Divinely taught as much as themselves. Surely this is the very spirit of Pharisaism; Satan clothing himself, for the purpose of deception, under the form of an angel of light.
This spirit is, I fear, much too prevalent in some quarters of what is vaguely called "The Religious World." As an exemplification of my meaning, I will offer an illustration from a paper which now lies before me. It is the very first article of the first number of a religious newspaper set up in Dublin, under the title of "The Christian Journal," and is entitled "New Bible Society." Of this "New Bible Society," or its conductors, I know absolutely nothing, not even by name; and I took up the journal in which their advertisement appears only casually, and have never seen another number: so that I merely remark upon the paper in question as illustrating the position above stated, and as shewing how religious men may modestly accuse themselves of all the virtues and graces of the Christian character; thanking God that they are not like their brethren, and setting forth how much their knowledge and practice exceed those of the most godly men who differ from them in opinion.
The conductors of this projected institution say that "they do not "other Bible societies, they insinuate, do-" regard themselves simply as a mercantile society, a shop, or a mute machine." They go on, almost parodying the form of speech of the Pharisee in the Gospel, to shew how greatly they exceed in spiritual wisdom and holy deeds the Publican Bible Societies of the land; and after enumerating many excellencies they add : "In all the foregoing particulars the New Bible Society will stand distinguished from the Hibernian Bible Society, and the British and Foreign Bible Society. It will be a Society, as its rules set forth, which will make it a first object to glorify God. It will introduce as little of mercantile principles as may be consistent with a just appropriation of the funds entrusted to its care, always assuming that the subscribers desire that the glory of God should stand paramount to every other consideration. It will commence all its meetings with prayer to God for his blessing, and under Divine assistance will endeavour to carry on all its proceedings in the same spirit. . . . . . . . It will receive into its councils only those who (as far as human discernment can accomplish it) are actuated by the love and fear of God, and who desire to honour Him in the spirit of the Rules it has adopted." "The designation of this society shall be 'The New Bible Society;' the object of which is to promote the glory of God, and the
salvation of men, by an extensive circulation of the Holy Scriptures, which are given by inspiration of God, and are able to make men wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. The direction of this society shall be undertaken in the faith and fear of God the Father, and of God the Son, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, and in continual dependence on God the Holy Ghost, that He would direct, sanctify, and govern all its proceedings, and make them to serve the blessed Name of the one living and only true God."
It is not intended in this paper to enter into the question of the constitution of the Hibernian or British and Foreign Bible Society; but when it is remembered during how many years thousands and tens of thousands of eminent Christians have rejoiced in the mercy of God in putting it into the hearts of his servants to devise and carry on these institutions, for the diffusion of his Sacred Word; and when it is remembered also, how many holy and venerable men have been connected with these institutions, who, it may reasonably be presumed, were as anxious for the glory of God and the salvation of men, and felt as strongly their need of Divine assistance, as the writers, whoever they are, of the paper just quoted; it is surely very like the spirit of the Pharisee to write in the above manner, and to take credit to themselves that all that they and their subscribers are doing is wise and holy, and that all that is done by other Christians is prayerless, graceless, and dishonouring to God. Have men who credit the Bible, or know their own hearts, so little sense of their own weakness, as to put forth the bold declaration that "the business of this society SHALL be undertaken in the faith and fear of God the Father? &c." Alas! how can any man thus venture to publish at the corners of the streets, for himself and his confederates, that their doings shall be thus preeminently pure? Does not such a declaration savour rather of Pharisaic self-confidence, than of Evangelical humility? How much more seemly had been a prayer, such as that which immediately precedes, that such might be their conduct; or a humble resolution, that, God being their helper, it should be so: instead of which, we have a presumptuous assertion that the writers will be all that they state, whereas their Christian brethren in other institutions are but Publicans in comparison.
It were easy to offer many other illustrations of the subject; but the above may suffice, at least to introduce it. Cruden says, in his Concordance, that "the Pharisees take their name from a Hebrew word which signifies division, or separation ;" and this feature of Pharisaism has always marked its progress, under every form, either of Formalism or Evangelism.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
SARGENT'S LIFE OF THOMASON.
(Continued from page 362.)
We left Mr. Thomason stranded on the coast of India, and entering the scene of his important labours deprived of his little property, and glad to escape with his life. But he was not destitute of Christian friends, who gladly welcomed him to Calcutta; particularly Mr. Brown, whose first interview with him is thus described by Mr. Thomason himself:
"We both sat down, but it was long before my tears suffered me to speak. They were tears, as I told him, not of sorrow, but of joy and thankfulness, wonder and
praise. He told us to look around the walls—the furniture and the house were ours. It was a house built in faith and prayer as the residence of a missionary, out of the contributions of a number of poor persons who, many years past, had subscribed towards a fund for the support of the Gospel, and united their prayers that God would send them a minister. Need I say that every chair and table spoke to us with a voice that thrilled through our hearts and overwhelmed us. Truly we could then praise God for our shipwreck. We could see a good reason for the dispensation. It was plain that God had thrown us upon this praying people, that he had cast us from the rest of the world, and laid us under the obligations of Christian love, in order that we may be devoted to the sacred charge of feeding his sheep. He has placed us in circumstances where every thing is actually the fruit of faith and love, in order to teach us that we have but one thing to do. Mr. Brown introduced us into the church and vestry, where many had assembled the evening before, to thank God for our deliverance, and pray for a blessing on the minister preserved to them. Since we came here, we have had nothing to do of a worldly nature; all care has been taken from us by our Christian friends. Think not of our hardships, losses, dangers, but of the honour He has put upon us in sending us to a praying people-sending us with loss of all, to persons who supply our wants with tears of thankfulness; let not a thought of assisting us enter your minds-know all of you, we stand in need of nothing but your prayers: these we implore.'" pp. 155, 156.
It is very interesting to observe his frequent recurrence to his shipwreck as a source of gratitude to God, on account of its beneficial effects upon his mind and ministry. Thus, he says in a letter to Mr. Simeon:
"I hope I am beginning to understand the gracious dealings of God, and to feel the unspeakable importance of my situation as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I bless God the shipwreck has not been wholly forgotten, though I only feel beginning to improve it. If the Lord himself had not been on our side, even such a mercy would have been wholly forgotten. Experience shews us that except he give us grace to improve his dispensations, no judgments, no mercies, no warnings, will avail any thing. In our almost miraculous escape from the deep, God has given us a new and impressive call, for which we have reason to bless his name; but more especially have we reason to bless him for not having suffered it to escape from our wretched hearts. It has in some measure led us to renewed earnestness and deep humiliation before God, and now at the end of five months I feel a growing sense of gratitude to the Lord for having brought us to India in the way he has. Many of our friends at home have pitied us, but indeed it is a great matter of joy. I value it as a most precious jewel, and would not on any account recover from the deep what we have lost, even were it in my power. The Lord moves in a mysterious way, but all his doings are in faithfulness and mercy. We were coming to India flushed with hope, full of ardour and sanguine expectations, much animal fervour, and an amazing portion of self-sufficiency. He casts us upon a rock; it was a hard blow and it spoke loudly, Mind what you are about.' We were richly furnished with books and stores of various kinds; he takes them all from us; sends us here as cast-aways, completely stripped of every thing but our trust in him and hope in his word. Blessed be his name, I say again and again, that he gives us also a heart to think of these things, and to pray for a right improvement of them. The searchings of heart on this occasion have been very salutary, though painful; and we can testify to the praise of his grace, that we are labouring with new earnestness, new zeal, new love, new thankfulness, to live wholly for God." pp. 159, 160.
At the moment in which we are writing, it is encouraging to compare the present circumstances and prospects of India with the following picture, sketched five-and-twenty years since.
"Mr. Thomason's services in his church began at eight in the morning, and again at eight in the evening of the Sabbath-day, an arrangement which diminished fatigue, and exempted him even in the hot season from overpowering exhaustion. On Thursday evenings he had a service; and on Saturday evenings he assembled the children in the church, accompanied by their parents and friends. Another evening of the week was allotted to visiting those who were decidedly religious: they met together at different houses for the purpose of hearing the Scripture expounded, and prayer. But the state of society was adverse, he wrote to Mr. Simeon, to the progress of the Gospel. In addition to the common difficulties arising from the character of the heart, there are obstacles here which are tremendous. The civil servants of the Company hold the highest rank; you may call them the nobility—then come the merchants, the shop-keepers, the half-casts. These form so many circles of distinction, and so many sorts of pride, which have a sad effect in checking a free intercourse among the people. With certain unavoidable exceptions, these do not mix together, and will hardly be seen together. The religious people I have found in