« PrécédentContinuer »
from ours, as we do of Paganism from philosophy, Mr. Evans observes, his?” pp. 18, 19.
that they are of inestimable value There are some forcible remarks
to the Christian scholar, not only in this sermon, on the imperfect from disclosing to him the peculiar degree in which Christian doc
points upon which a revelation trines are felt and experienced in was required to bear, not only the heart, even by those who know from the interest which they excite them traditionally; and the familiar by the heart-moving comparison of manner in which we accustom our
the original light of nature with selves to speak of the most awful
our acquired illumination from doctines of Revelation-such as re
the Gospel, but principally because demption, grace, the atonement, they have almost exhausted the future retribution, the Divinity of storehouse of human thought upon Christ—without considering, or
these subjects. But the modern being affected by, the import of composite theories of morals, above the terms which we use. The con
alluded to, he shews are destitute clusion very affectingly calls upon of all these advantages. Their the youthful part of his academical inventors have thought to supply audience, to consider, together with the great deficiency of the ancient the blessing, the responsibility also systems (the want of a motive arising out of a liberal education, of obligation sufficiently obvious, and to guard themselves against strong, and permanent), by calling its abuse; to appreciate the exceed- in from Revelation the doctrine ing value of the word of God; and of a state of future retribution: to esteem the knowledge of it to but against this plan, Mr. Evans be infinitely surpassing all other contends, there lie insurmountable knowledge, since it communicates objections, not only from reason, spiritual health, and imparts the but from the Revelation itself, joyful assurance of immortality, whence they have borrowed. and thereby “ confers the blissful
“ There is an objection in reason, first, feelings of eternal youth upon the because, in a system of philosophy, all mind.”
ought to be traceable to one source. And The second sermon carries on
this character forms the great beauty of the remarks with which the pre- ciple, therefore, a future state, to which
all the ancient systems. On such a princeding one commenced, as to the
the system attaches the final motive of singular adaptation of the Holy obligation, ought to be demonstrable, Volume to the purpose of teaching equally with the rule of life, from the
But every one knows a practical and permanent rule of light of nature.
that it is not. Thus the system is delife, with a view more particularly ranged, and its logical unity dissolved, by to shew in what manner the great the introduction of an entirely foreign and doctrine of Revelation, that of independent principle. Christ crucified, bears upon the
“ A second objection on the ground of
reason, is, that our assent to the doctrine social duties. Some preliminary of a future retribution implies an adeobservations are suggested, as to quate notion of the Divine justice. But the inconsistency of those Chris- this (as in the case of other of God's attian writers who have attempted to tributes) must be derived from our notions
Thus we are conestablish systems of moral philoso- ducted by such a system in a vicious phy derived chiefly from the prin- circle: we must have formed an adequate ciples of natural reason, but bor- notion of human justice before we can rowing partially the light of Reve- assent to the position of a future retribulation. The text is that apposite of a future retribution before we can pos
tion; and we must assent to the position declaration of St. Paul, in 1 Cor. ii.
sess ourselves with an adequate notion “ I determined not to know any of human justice. But the objections thing among you, save Jesus Christ,
“« How singular is the oversight of and him crucified.” With respect Paley, in laying down, or rather adopting, to the several systems of ancient his fundamental definition ; Virtue is
from the very Revelation itself, to which “ For, let us supply what they may they profess themselves indebted, are of a assert to be an unintentional omission: still more serious cast.
then, since of course a system of mo“In borrowing this doctrine from Reve- rality, is applicable to all mankind, their lation, they have entirely neglected to position stands thus : That all men, by take with them the foundation upon observing the duties which the system has which it rests,-the cross of Christ. It laid down, will enjoy the future happiness has accordingly shared the fate of all facts which has been procured by the cross of which are introduced detached from the Christ. But where is such a position to natural relation of surrounding circum- be found in Scripture? Where has it stances : it droops and dies, as a tree which promised a state of future happiness to has been transplanted without its roots; all mankind, upon living up to those duand, as far as the planters are concerned, ties? Its promises are confined excluthe roots have been left to perish too. sively within the pale of the Christian For what is now their position, as they lay covenant; and the salvability of any with. down their transplanted doctrine of a state out can be but the suggestion of a chariof future happiness? However stated, it table hope, or (granting the very utmost) amounts to this, that a man may be saved a fit subject of argument for such as are by the law which they thus establish. It prepared to engage in an interminable are is difficult to see how this materially differs controversy. from the opinion, so severely reprobated by “ Thus, even upon putting the most our Church (and in that reprobation every favourable construction upon the systems Christian church and person will join), of this class, we are obliged to conclude namely, that every man shall be saved by that their foundation rests upon a position the law or sect which he professeth; so of which they affirm the certainty from that he be diligent to frame his life ac- Revelation, but which, in fact, is not to cording to that law, and the light of na- be found in any part of its records. ture.'
This is, indeed, removing the “ It may, however, still be asserted, that offence of the Cross, by removing the such systems, though not applicable to all Cross itself; for (as our Article proceeds mankind, may serve to point out a rule of to say) • Holy Scripture doth set out unto moral conduct to the Christian, supplying us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby directions where the Scriptures are not men inust be saved.'
practically explicit, presuppose natural “Let it however be allowed, for argu- principles, or perhaps are silent altogether. ment's sake, that this consequence from The state of the question thus narrowed their system has been too closely pressed; brings us back to the point which was let it even be granted that advantage has proposed to be examined, and will render been taken of unintentional omission, of much assistance to the course of argument, neglect of fortifying points, of latitude of by setting off in more prominent relief language. Still the effect cannot be dis- the peculiarities with which the doctrine puted, which is, to instil into minds not of Christ crucified, invests all those duties culpably unwary, the above pernicious which are the subjects of moral philosophy. opinion, and to lead them to think the “Let it be borne in mind, that, accord. grand and essential facts of Christianity ing to the latter systems just discussed, Pour Lord's incarnation, death, and bu- the motive which obliges the Christian is rial, an useless shew, a cumbrous ma- the simple one of a certain expectation of chinery, the employment of which seems future reward or punishment. According derogatory to the wisdom of Almighty to the Gospel it will appear to be one God. Is it considerate? is it charitable? much more complex; or at least (even is it dutiful to our Crucified Master, to granting this to be the final motive) that employ, or allow to be employed, a care- it can never be acted upon by him, except lessness of expression pregnant with such in association with a number of others of dreadful consequences ?
a certain class. Their rule of life, also, is Putting, however, the best colour upon sought among the principles of nature : all this, still we find another objection in the Gospel it presupposes these, but behind, which cannot be set aside by any is not confined to them: so that the plea of mere looseness of language.
Christian, calculating from these principles
only, would as certainly fall into error, as the doing good to mankind, in obedience he who omits important elements in any to the will of God, &c.' Who would deduction of science. They suppose only suppose that he had never defined the
two persons, man and God: the Gospel term “good, one of the most thorny in interposes a third, the Son of God; and morals; one whose application was a dis- this, of course, immediately gives a new tinguishing feature of difference between complexion to the whole question, the two most famous schools of antiquity ? “God the Father has made the proBesides (an unpardonable fault in a defi- mise of everlasting happiness to men, nition), it is already included in the term upon obedience to his will*, for and • will of God, as any one will see immediately, by merely substituting the words, * Where, then, does Mr. Evans place acting towards,' for doing good to.'" faith? Does he forget its office? Does
through the merits of his only begotteu No! that life he looks forward to through Son, Jesus Christ, who, by taking our a long and permanent chain of objects, nature upon him, suffered death upon the every link of which has been designed to cross, in order to procure for man that move both his heart and understanding ; inestimable blessing. But the Father, • through his holy incarnation, through his notwithstanding this reconciliation, has no holy nativity and circumcision, through immediate communication with man : he his baptism, fasting and temptation, will turn away his ear from every note through his agony and bloody sweat, of praise or prayer, he will avert his face through his cross and passion, through from every posture of supplication which his precious death and burial, through his is not addressed to him through the me- glorious resurrection and ascension, and diation of the Son,—through him he bids Through the coming of the Holy Ghost.' him look for every blessing now and to This is his perspective; down this long come, to the new relation which he has alley of glorious and heart-stirring facts, established with mankind to confess him- he contemplates the life to come, and self indebted for all, on him to hang all through this only, as a Christian that his hopes, and having his heart impressed hopes for salvation, dare he look forward with the cross of Christ, his thoughts fixed to everlasting happiness. On a basis so in earnest contemplation of what his Sa- widely different from that proposed by the viour has said, done, and undergone, and moral philosopher, rest the duties of the thus imbued, as it were, with his pre
Christian, even when the former has bor. cious blood, to proceed to return.
rowed the grand doctrine of eternal life.” “ It is evident, therefore, that the will pp. 30-38. of God is not to be sought hy the Chris- Mr. Evans justly remarks, that tian merely among the natural relations
a comparison between passages in of man to inan. Those relations, indeed, still subsist; but they are all drawn by the writings of philosophers, and Christ towards himself, and acted upon passages of Scripture enforcing the by his influence. Besides their mutual same precept, would strikingly ilmotions, they have also another and gene- lustrate the bearing of the doctrine not this cause, they are not within the of Christ crucified upon our pracsystem of Christianity. Every act of the tice. But we cannot agree with Christian inust have sure reference to an him when he proceeds to bring act of Christ's displayed by him in his forward what he considers “a pasojourn upon earth, and destined to exert
rallel still more convincing and its influence upon him, as mystically effecting his spiritual station, as directly striking,”—“two rules of life in operating by example, as urgently pro- the New Testament;" namely,“one muting by command. Thus, is God's will which must have guided men before ibat we should be gratefully disposed to the Gospel dispensation was combe sought in the mere elements to which the moral philosopher would direct us ? pleted by the descent of the Or shall we not rather carry into our Holy Ghost, and another by which practice that deep and settled feeling to they were influenced afterwards, which human language cannot give a as members of that covenant :” name, that which we imbibe through every pore of mind from the contemplation of
“the former prevailing in the the character and office of the Son of God? Gospels, the latter in the Epis..
" It is evident also, from the above con- tles.' This disjunction of the sideration, that, as to motive, the Chris. Epistles from the Gospels, of the tian cannot, dares not, look at everlasting writings of St. Paul or St. Peter happiness, without combining in the same view the cross of Christ. As consistently from the Sermon on the Mount, may he expunge from his Creed, every we think wholly untenable, and article intervening between • God the FatberAlmighty,' and the life everlasting.' that there prevails a more explicit
not a little dangerous. It is true he mean to omit it? or does he intend exposition of some points since to include it in the general expression, life and immortality were fully "obedience to God's will;" for certainly brought to light in the Gospel ; it is the will of God that we believe on Jesus Christ whom he has sent.
but by no means to an extent to understand the passage aright, it sounds
allow us to speak of “two rule of as if constructed upon the untenable prin- life;" for, strictly speaking, we ciple of Christianity being a remedial law. believe there was essentially but It would require some study to make it tantamount to the Scripture declaration; when the first promise was given
one rule of life, from the time “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
to Adam, or when Abel offered his CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 349.
prefigurative sacrifice, to the period mind be in you, which was also in Christ
to be equal with
Jesus, who, being in the form of God, sented upon Calvary, and the God: but made himself of no reputation, knowledge of it was proclaimed and took upon him the form of a servant, to the world by the Apostles. If and was made in the likeness of man: Mr. Evans had confined his con
and being found in fashion as a man, he
humbled himself, and became obedient trast to the comparative clearness
unto death, even the death of the cross. of the exposition, instead of the Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted alleged diversity of the principle, him, and
him, and given him a name which is above we should have concurred in his every name: that at the name of Jesus statement; and perhaps, after all, every knee should bow, of things in hea
ven, and things in earth, and things under he does not mean much more than the earth ; and that every tongue should this. Applying his remarks with confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the this limitation, they are so pecu- glory of God the Father.'
Never before, assuredly, was such an liarly beautiful and appropriate appeal made to the heart of man-it that we gladly extract a portion rouses it, as it were, with the thrilling of them.—.
strain of the trumpet. The humble man
is raised from the dust to sit with angels. “ The comparison of a very few pa- To what beggarly elements indeed do we rallel passages will be sufficient for the
return upon resuming the principles of purpose.
the moralist,- we seem to have fallen at “In his sermon on the mount (Luke once from heaven to earth. vi. 37) our Saviour says, ' forgive, and “ Thus we find in Scripture a moral ye shall be forgiven.' Here is a moral system infinitely more pure and perfect precept, whose obligation (in addition to than any production of human 'hands, that imposed by the law of nature) arises coming from the lips of its Deliverer with from the authority of the Deliverer, and infinitely more authority, addressed also the promise from God with which he ac- to a people which believed in the life to companies it. But when we meel with come,- we find this in the same book the same precept in the Epistles, we find actually superseded by one which rests it grounded immediately upon Christ upon the fact and doctrine of Christ crucrucified. Thus, in his Epistle to the cified. What shall we think, then, not Colossians, (iii. 12) St. Paul urges them only of the pretension, not only of the
to put on bowels of mercies, kindness, inutility, but of the mischievous antihumbleness of mind, meekness, long. christian tendency of those systems which suffering; forbearing one another, and we have been discussing." pp. 40–42. forgiving one another, if any man have a “ Thus it has been endeavoured to shew quarrel against any: even as Christ for- the nature of the doctrine of Christ crugave you, so also do ye.'- Where we see cified, as bearing upon those duties which both the rule and the motive which are the moralists assume as their province. peculiar to the Gospel. Again, in the In the course of this investigation there same sermon, (Matth. v. 42) our Lord has surely appeared no inclination to unthus lays down the duty of charity. “Give dervalue and deny the usefulness of moral to him that asketh thee, and from him philosophy. So far from it, that an acthat would borrow of thee turn not thou quaintance with the study, as based upon away' Here is a moral precept enforced the mere light of nature, has been careby the same authority as that above fully stated, at the outset, to be essential quoted. Let us now turn to the Epistles. to the character of the Christian scholar, In bis second Epistle to the Corinthians of the well-appointed defender of his (viii. 9) St. Paul is pressing them to con- faith. But to those systems, which by tribute to the necessities of the saints, borrowing a truth, but not the whole and thus lays down the grounds of their truth, from revelation, obscure the light duty : For ye know the grace of our of nature at the same time that they stain Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was the purity of the Gospel, to them it is rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, freely confessed that an equal deference that ye through his poverty might be has not been paid. Nor can he who ad. rich.' Again we are presented with the dresses you sufficiently express, even in doctrine of Christ crucified.
the most earnest terms of deprecation, “ Let one more example suffice. Our his full sense and dread of their baneful Lord, enforcing the duty of humility upon effects. Alas! what they are too well his disciples, says (Luke xiv. U), Who- calculated to produce, requires no addisoever exalteth' himself shall be abased, tional encouragement. By the corrupt and he that humbleth himself shall be infirmities of our nature we are already exalted.' But how does his Apostle ex. but too well disposed to dwell slightly hort to the same duty ? He thus charges upon the great doctrine of Christ crucified, the Philippians (ii. 5, &c.), 'Let this to have recourse to any other base than
this for a rule of life, and, like the wilful unlearn. And one of the most delightful leper, to prefer A bara and Pharfar to all feelings with which God rewards our spi. the waters of Israel.” pp. 48, 49. ritual improvement, is the discovery at The conclusion is thus forcibly noblest faculties, one in which alone we
length of a task which can satisfy our and beautifully expressed :
find them to act in perfect unison with “A celebrated father of the church concentrated effect, and this our com(Chrysostom), in remarking on the ac- plicated mental frame to shew forth all complishment of these words of the pro- the harmony designed by the hand of its phet, and his rest shall be glorious,' Creator. It is a feeling analagous to that says, in his fanciful manner, the very of manhood, when it finds the proper form of his death is more glorious than direction and combined effect of those a diadem. Therefore, kings, putting off powers which had been lavished sepathe diadem take up the cross, the symbol rately, and without object, on the trifles of his death : on the purple, the cross; of childhood. For example, the Christian on diadems, the cross; in prayers, the who had forinerly found, as he thought, cross ; on arms, the cross; on the holy his powers of understanding so vigorous, table, the cross; and in every quarter of so acute, so suitably employed in the the world the cross shines more glorious questions of policy, literature, or science, than the sun.' What in bis days was discovers now that they were coarse, fast quitting the heart, and taking its place blunt, inadequate, and 'unsuitably emamong the baubles of outside shew, de. ployed, compared with those to which in generating into the sign of a wretched the service of the Spirit they have now superstition, let us, in accordance with ripened, when his judgınent has grown purer times, resume spiritually in our bo- up to that intuitive and exquisite discernsoms; when we rise, the cross; when ment of God's will,--that nice selection we lie down, the cross ; in our thoughts amid the daily mass of occasions placed the cross; in our studies the cross; in before him of what shall contribute best our conversation the cross; every where, to his own spiritual health, and most and at every time, the cross, shining more redound to the honour and glory of his glorious than the sun. Yea, let this, in Saviour, setting apart with unhesitating our warfare below, become our sign, and distinction, profitable from unprofitable, in this we shall conquer.” pp. 52, 53. - holy from unholy,—-lasting from fleetThe three remaining sermons
ing, what is of God from what is of are in the same earnest spirit; spent no longer 'on unpractical dreams,
man ; when his power of abstraction is and are well adapted, by their im- but grasps real spiritual essences; when pressive and able manner, and his foresight pushes far beyond the bountheir energetic appeals to the daries of life ; and when his power of
attention has become an absorption, by heart and conscience, to impress which he can shake off at will the distractthe mind of the youthful student ing intrusion of the world.” pp. 63–65. and aspirant after literary at- In the fourth sermon, on tainment; to direct him to judge comparative Opportunities of the aright of the relative value of the earlier and later Church,” Mr. various kinds of knowledge which Evans argues that we have no reaare inviting his attention; and to son to complain that we have fallen excite him to the diligent improve- on times less auspicious for our ment of his talents, and his op- spiritual welfare than those of priportunities of acquiring informa- mitive Christianity, every period tion, as a matter in which con. having its relative advantages and science is concerned, and the disadvantages. In particular, he healthful state of his heart and shews that the gift of miraculous affections. We copy two or three powers did not of itself confer on passages as specimens. In speak- the early church any more sure ing, in the third discourse, on the ground of faith, or more powerful analogy of the natural and spi- stimulus to spiritual energy, than ritual birth, Mr. Evans offers the the ordinary privileges of the prefollowing remarks. We fear that sent period. Alluding to the pethe latter part of them applies culiar necessity which exists, in a better to the aspirations of the day of outward peace to the church, Christian, than to his actual at- of guarding against irregular extainments.
citements of imagination and vain “We have not only to learn, but to speculations, for which in periods