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a wrong method of interpreting the did not affect ihe course of the argusacred writings. A judicious work ment; and we should ever bear in on the interpretation of Scripture mind that our Saviour and his apowould be a valuable treasure to the stles adapted, for the most part, their Christian world: it might be the instructions to the occasion, without instrument, under the grace of God, attempting to treat religion in a of leading many serious inquirers to systenatic order.
The following the knowledge of the truth, and of passages will at once illustrate and uniting discordant sects in the bonds confirm the rule. In St. Luke, eh. ix. of Christian charity. The subject ver. 50, our Saviour says, “ He that is too large to be fully discussed in a is not against us is for us;” but in St." periodical work; nor do I feel by any Matthew, ch. xv. ver. 30, “ He that means able to grasp the whole of ji. is not with me is against me.” How A few detached observations is all are these propositions to be recon-. that I propose to offer; but they ciled ? By taking one of them in will not prove wholly useless, if they some limited sense ; and the occahave no other effect than that of sion on which the first was delivered leading some other person to treat evidently points out the limitation the subject in a more regular and which it requires— And John ancomprehensive manner. For the swered and said, Master, we saw present, I shall only suggest, and il- one casting out devils in thy name; lustrate by examples, a few canons and we forbade him, because he of construction applicable to the followeth not with us. And Jesacred' writings in general. I may, sus said unto bim, Forbid him not : perbaps, at some future period, re-' for he that is not against us is sume the subject by discussing some for us. “ Forbid him not"-that further rules of interpretation, rela- is the precept-forbid hini not to ring more particularly in our Sa- do good in my name—and the reaviour's mode of instruction, and son follows — for he that is not others relating to the epistolary against us is for úg:” he who does writings of the apostles. It is a not oppose me, proniotes my cause: trite observation, that every passage let my Gospel be preached, even should be construed by the context; though of strife and contention. but, trite as it is, commentators on Here our Saviour inculcates forScripture (I should rather say, wri. bearance towards those who, from ters on controverted points of divi. whatever motives, promote the pronity), rarely apply it to all the uses gress of his kingilom: but in the of which it is capable. It is, indeed, passage from St. Matthew he teaches a fundamental rule of construction, us, that mere indifference will not and most of the following observa- avail to our salvation'; that they tions may be considered as illustra- who would obtain the reward, must tions of it.
profess the character of bis disci1. The first canon which I pro- ples; that they who do not confess pose for interpreting Scripture is lim before men, and espouse his this:--A proposition, which is used cause in this world, will be treated merely as a link in a chain of rea- as his enemies at the day of judgsoning, is often expressed in more ment. general terms than would be re- The manner in which St. James quired to establish the conclusion, and St. Paul state the doetrine of which the writer is proving; in this justification will furnish another ilcase, the proposition is not necessarily lustration of this canon of criticism. to be taken in the widest sense of St. James says, “ Ye see how that which the words would admit: it by works a man is justified, and not may be subject to various limitations, by faith only,” (ii. 24.); and St. Paul, which the wriier did not think it • Therefore we conclude that a man necessary to express, because they is justified by faith without the deeds
of the law:" and it is a little singular, obedience to the commands of God, that each of the apostles illustrates however apparently severe and irrehis position by the instance of Abra. concileable with his promises; “ and ham. But the apparent discrepancy by works was faith made perfect," will be removed, if we exainine brought forth into action, and shewn the course of their reasoning. St, to be a lively and efficacious prinJames is endeavouring to prove that ciple in the soal? “And the Scripfaith without works is a dead faith, ture was fulfilled, which saith, Abraa faith which will not avail to sal- ham believed God, and it was imvation.“ What,” he asks,“ doth puted to him for righteousness : and it profit though a man say he hath he was called the friend of God. faith, and have not works? Can Ye see, then, how that by works a faith”- can such a faith "save man is justitied, and not by faith him. If a brother or sister be naked, only.” Ye see that by works a man and destitute of daily food, and one is justified, --proves biş title to be of you say unto them, Depart in acquitted before God, by works evipeace : be ye warmed and filled : dencing that faith which is imputed notwithstanding ye give them not to the believer for righteousness; by those things which are needful to such works a man is justified, and the body; what doth it profit?" "not by faith only, not by a mere What sincerity, what worth is there barren profession, or even a mere in soch professions of kindness? speculative belief, which does not What benefit do they confer on those intluence the life and conduct. Such who are the objects of them? “Even appears to be the course of St. so faith, if it bath not works, is dead James's reasoning. St. Paul, on the being alone;" alt professions of other hand, is proving to the Jews, faith, which do not evidence their that they, as well as the Gentiles, truth by a holy life and conversa- must be saved by faith : and his ara tion, are false, vain, and unprofitable. gument is this; “ All have sinned “ Yea, a man may say" to such a and come short of the glory of God;" professor, “ Thou hast faith,"-or all have broken the moral law of pretendest to have it-" and I have God; no one, therefore, can be works : shew me thy faith without saved by that law, which exacts a thy works;" give me, if thou canst, perfect obedience; and thence he some other proof of it; "and I will concludes “ that a. man is justified shew thee my faith by my works. by faith without," apart from, disThou believest there is one God; tinct from, “ the deeds of the law."" thou doest well: the devils also be. In order to be justified before God, lieve apd tremble.” Wherein doth he must have that faith which God thy faith differ from theirs, if it pro- will impute to him for righteousness; duce not the fruits of righteousness a faith, however, which worketh by and holiness? “ But wilt thou love, and maketh those who are inknow, O vain man, that faith with- fluenced by it zealous of good works. out works is dead,” wholly unprofit- II. The passage of St. Paul, to able to salvation? “Was not Abra.. which I have just referred, will ham, our father, justified;" did he serve to illustrate another rule, not sbew forth a living faith unto which may sometimes guide us in justification; " by works, when he interpreting the Scriptores. The had offered Isaac, his son, upon the first rule was, that à proposition, altar?” Did he not by that act of occurring in the course of an arguholy obedience prove and display ment, is not necessarily to be taken that living faith in the truth and in the widest sense which ihe words power and promises of God, which will bear; the second is, that it must " was imputed to him for righteous- be understood in a sense sufficiently
“ Seest thou how faith large to bear cut the conclusion wrought with his works," producing which it is intended to prove. Thus, and by way
in the first part of the epistle to the as a dead man has for the pleasures Romans, the Apostle's object is to of sense ; he has no longer any enshew, that the Jews as well as joyment in it; he hates it, abhors it, the Gentiles need the salvation dreads it, avoids it as the greatest of which is by Christ Jesus: and his evils; be no longer lives in it." argument is this: “All have sinned Yet we find this same error, and come short of the glory of God;” which St. Paul thus refutes, still therefore all, both Jews and Gen- existing in the present day. The tiles must be " justified freely enemy of vital religion ascribes it through the redemption that is in to the true servants of God : the Christ Jesus.” (Rom. iji. 23, 24). Antinomian actually adopts it. We This conclusion will not follow from might also notice other errors of a the premises, unless we understand similar description. St. Paul exthe Apostle to lay it down as an horts us to “ work out” our "own universal proposition that “all have salvation with fear and trembling;” sinned."
encouragement (lest III. A third principle of construc- we should sink under the difficulties tion to be observed with respect to of the undertaking) adds, “ for it is the Scriptures, relates to those doc. God that worketh in you, both to trines which are peculiar to reveal. will and to do of his good pleasure." ed religion.
While we receive (Phil. ii. 12, 13). While the selfthem not as mere matters of specu- righteous seek, and seek in vaio, to lation, but as active principles in- work out their own salvation, with fluencing the heart and conduct, and out depending on the grace of God, leading us cheerfully to obey the working in them; others seem to practical precepts which the sacred give their whole attention to the writers derive from them; we encouragement conveyed in the latar should use great caution whenever ter part of the passage. Because we attempt to deduce from them, God worketh in us, they seem to by the mere force of reason, prace infer, in direct opposition to the tical conclusions not warranted by apostle, that we need not work, and the word of God.-An erroneous to forget that we are exhorted to inference, thus rashly drawn from “ watch and be sober,” to “watch the doctrine of grace, is noticed and and pray," to " strive to enter in at reprobated by St. Paul in his epistle the strait gate." to the Romans. After laying it I have often lhought, that if we down “ that where sin abounded attended more to this rule of congrace did much more abound: that struction, we should hear less of the as sin hath reigned unto death, even controversy between Calvinists and so might grace reign through righ- Arminians. Without entering into teousness unto eternal life, by Jesus minute distinctions upon abstruse Christ our Lord,” (v. 20, 21); he points of doctrine, Christians would immediately asks ; "What shall we cordially unite in drawing from say then? Shall we continue in sin, them the practical lessons to which that grace may abound? God for the sacred writers constantly make bid : how sball we, that are dead to them subservient. Waving all spesin, live any longer therein?" " The culative questions as to the nature objection, as if he had said, “is of the Divine decrees, and the unibuilt on ignorance of that grace versality of Christ's redemption, which is to reign, through righte- they would agree, that all who
The grace of which I would be saved inust use “all dilia speak, consists in the renewal of the gence to make” their “calling and heart unto holiness, as well as in election sure;" that salvation is to the pardon of sin: and he, who is be obtained only through the alone a partaker of this grace, is dead ment of the Son of God, and the unto sin; he has lost his faste for it, sanctifying influence of the Holy
Spirit; and that to man, therefore, and whither we are going :
« In the belongeth the deepest humility, to sweat of thy face shalt thou eat God all the glory. While bringing bread till thou return unto the forth the fruits of holiness, and pre- ground; for out of it wast thou serving, through Divine grace, a taken: dust thou art, and unto dust conscience void of offence both to. shalt thou return." wards God and towards man,” the Also, the holy patriarch Abraham Calvinist would feel an assurance, did well remember this name and and the Arminian a well-grounded title, dust, earth, and ashes, appointhope, that God, who once loved him, ed by God to all mankind : and would love him to the end, and therefore he calls himself by that enable him to finish his course with name, when he makes his earnest joy. From this trust in God, they prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah. would both derive support and con. And we read that Judith, Esther, solation in the pilgrimage of life. Job, Jeremiah, with other holy men At the same time, well knowing and women in the Old Testament, tbat “ without holiness no one did use sackcloth, and cast dust and shall see the Lord,” and that he ashes upon their heads, when they who is living in habitual and allow- bewailed their sins. They cried to ed sin, is living in a state of con- God for help and mercy, with demnation, they would carefully these ceremonies, that thereby they examine themselves by the standard might declare to the whole world, of God's word, lest their hope what an humble and lowly estimashould be fouod to be built pot on tion they had of themselves, and the Rock, but on the sand, and how well they remembered their should fail them at the judgment true name and title; their vile, corday: they would be instant in rupt, frail nature, dust, earth, and prayer, and constantly pressing for- ashes. And God commanded his ward to higher degrees of holiness, Prophet Isaiah to make a proclamathat so the evidences of their faith iion to the whole world: and Isaiah might be more clear, and their hope asking, • What shall I cry?” the might become " the anchor of the Lord answered, “ Cry, that all flesh soul, sure and stedfast.”
grass," and that all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field :
the grass withereth, the flower fadeth, FAMILY SERMONS. No. XXXVII. because the Spirit of the Lord blow
eth Rom. iii. 23.-All have sinned and
upon it. Surely the people is
grass. And the holy man Job, come short of the glory of God. having biniself had great experience The Holy Ghost, in writing the of the miserable and sinful estate of Scriptures, seems in nothing more man, declares the same to the world diligent than to pull down the in these words: “ Man that is born vain glory and pride of man, which of a woman is of few days, and full of all vices are the most universally of trouble: he cometh forth like a. grafted in all mankind, even from flower, and is cut down: he fleeth the first infection of our father also as a shadow, and continueth Adam. Therefore are we often not. And dost thou open thine eyes taught in Scripture, to guard against upon such an one, and bringest me this old rooted vice, and to culti. into judgment with thee? Who can vate the contrary virtue of humility; bring a clean thing out of an unto know ourselves, and to remem. clean? Not one.” Job xiv. 1-4. And ber what we are of ourselves. In all men, of their depravity and natural the book of Genesis, God gives us proneness, are so universally given to all, in our great father Adam, a title sin, that, as the Scripture saith, which may serve to shew us, as in “God repented that he had made a glass, what and whence we are, man,” And by their sin his indigna
tion was so much provoked, that he plainly allows, that he bad need to drowned all ihe world with a flood, be washed of Cbrist. He extols and except Noah and bis little house- glorifies his Lord and Master Christ, hold. It is pot without great cause and humbles himself as unworthy to bat the Scriptures so many times call loose the latchet of his shoes. Such all men in the world by this word, also does St. Paul confess himself earth. Thus He plainly named us, to be of himself, giving, as a most who knows best, both what we faithful servant, all praise to his are and what we ought of rigbt to Master and Saviour. In like manbe called. And to the same effect be ner the blessed St. John, in bis own declares, speaking by his faithful apo- name and that of all other holy men, stle St. Paul : "Both Jews and Gen- makes this open confessions If tiles are all under sin ; as it is writ- we say that we have no sin, we.deten, There is none righteous, no, not ceive ourselves, and the truth is not one : there is nope that understand. in us. If we confess our sins, God eth, there is pone that seeketh atter is faithful and just to forgive us our God. They are all gone out of the sins, and to cleanse us from all unway, they are together become un- righteousness. If we say that we profitable; there is none that doeth have not sinned, we make him good, no, not one. Their throat a liar, and his word is not in us."
open sepulchre; with their The Wise Man also, in Ecclesiastes, tongues they have used deceit; the makes this general confession – poison of asps is under their lips: • There is not a just man on earth whose mouth is full of cursing and that doth good aod sinneth not.” bitterness: their feet are swift to And David is ashamed of bis sin, shed blood: destruction and misery but not to confess his sin. How are in their ways; and the way of often and how earnestly does he impeace have they not known : there plore God's great mercy for bis great is no fear of God before their eyes.” offences, and entreat that God would Rom. ii. 10-18.
not enter into judgment with him ! And in another place, St. Paul And again, how well does this holy thus writes : “ God hath concluded man weigh his sins, when he adall men in unbelief, that he might mits, in the nineteentb Psalm, that have mercy on all.". The Scripture they are so many, and so secret, that shuts up all under sin, that the pro- it is impossible, without the Divine mise by faith of Jesus Christ should help, to understand them. Having be given unto them that believe. St. this just and deep view of his sins, Paul, in many places, paints us in yet feeling himself unable fully to our true colours, as " children understand them, he prays to God of wrath," even when we are born, to cleanse him from his secret faults, and as unable of ourselves to think the knowledge of whieh he conld a good thought. And the Wise Man not oiherwise atlain to. And inese saith in the book of Proverbs," the lis sins he rightiy traces from their just man falleth seven times a day." original root and spring, saying, Job, that tried and approved man, " Behold I was shapen in iniquity, distrusted all his works. St. John the and in sin did my mother conceive Baptist, though sanctified from his me:” Our Saviour Christ sajib, that mother's womb, and praised before “there is none good but God," and he was born, being called great be that we can do nothing that is good fore the Lord, filled even from his without him ; nor can any man birth with the Holy Ghost, the pre- come to the Father but by Christ. parer of the way of our Saviour He commands us also to say, "When Christ, and declared by him to be we have done all that it was our “ more than a prophet, and the duty to do,” that we are still “ ungreatest that ever was born of profitable servants.” He prefers the woman;" yet John the Baptist penitent Publican before the proud