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not rise from the dead; or, Moses did not understand Sir Isaac Newton's theory of the planetary system, therefore Christ did not rise from the dead? And yet to this may very much be reduced which has been put forth as destructive of Christianity. For, if it disprove not that fact, it disproves nothing.' — Vol. 1.
Our next extract is of a passage which contains a very just remark respecting the comparative light of nature and of revelation beautifully expressed.
There is no comparison between the importance of that knowledge of God which the great bulk of mankind has derived from nature, and that which it owes to revelation. In fact, they owe all to revelation; nor without it did even the wisest ever attain, nor in all probability ever would they have attained, to any thing like a just and complete view of the religious instructions of nature. The natural only became understood as it was illustrated by the supernatural.
The mind seems always to repose on regularity, and is only roused by interruption to inquire into causes and tendencies. Miracles were the exciting cause of the devout contemplation of ordinary events. The most beautiful translation into human language of the voice of nature, of that speech which star uttereth to star, and day to night, in their maker's praise, is to be found in the writings of those whose minds were formed by the extraordinary interpositions of Judaism. He who most effectively taught to consi
der the lilies of the field how they grow, so as to infer the care 1 of the heavenly Father over his rational offspring, was the subject of prophecy, a worker of miracles, and exhibited in his own person the resurrection of the dead. Even if there be actually no more religious truth than nature teaches, it is the merit of Christianity to have made millions know that truth, to have brought it forth from the seclusion of the philosopher's cell, and sent it to sojourn among the peasantry of the village, or cry aloud in the streets of the crowded city. But the very nature of the case implies that revelation is much more than this; it is the addition of a comparatively new class of facts, of the utmost importance, confirming in various ways the deductions from other sources, and bearing out many an inference, and suggesting many a hope, which could have been derived from no other source whatever.' — Vol. 1. pp. 20 – 22.
There are three sermons on the · Progressive Character of the Gospel, as shown in its power to accommodate itself to, and keep pace with, the general improvement of mankind." In the first of these the writer takes the example of a child, and having described the suitableness of this religion to its young understanding and wants, proceeds to show how, as it advances to manhood and to the highest intellectual eminence, it still finds the Christian revelation infinitely adapted to its powers and its wants. We wish we had room for a longer extract.
* Take the next higher gradation of intelligence, that of the child grown up to manhood, but without those advantages of education, the loss of which is amongst the heaviest privations of poverty. The mind may be stunted, but even under the most unfavorable circumstances it does grow, though it be but slowly. Judgment does become stronger, comprehension does become larger, observation does become keener, though scarcely more than the first sealed page is opened of the book of knowledge. The mind of the man, even of such a man as this, wants more in religion than that of a child. And whatever he wants, he finds. He finds it not in a distinct revelation, or portion of the revelation, for his use. There is not one book set apart for the child, and another for the man, like a succession of lessons at school. But he finds what he wants in the same book, the same narrative, the same passages, as those which furnished out the religion of the child. They mean more than they did then, because he needs, and can discern, more in them. He has become conscious of sin ; he has felt the consequences of sin; he wants assurance of pardon, and there it is; in that very tale of the Father and his wandering Son, over which he wept in innocent sympathy and filial feeling, and over which he weeps now tears from a penitent heart in the reception of God's mercy to a returning sinner. He has had his difficulties about the world ; the regularity of some things, the irregularity of others; the falling out of like events to the good and the wicked; the frequent prosperity of the unrighteous; for all these are obvious enough to the observation of humble life, and painful and puzzling are they often. He goes to Christ; and the very words which told the child of God's having a Father's care, have become, have grown into, the doctrine of a Providence. He has become fearfully aware of the strength of his passions, the effect of circumstances of temptation, the power of evil habit : he wants more energy of self-restraint; he wants motive; and there it is for him, directing him to watch his heart; telling him of death, of judgment, of recompense, of punishment. His lot in this worid is labor, and sorrow its frequent accompaniment. It is not so bright as it was to his young eyes, and all that relates to another world grows on him in importance. The very word “rest,” meaning so little to the child, has become to him a precious promise. The change is like that of the Apostles after the resurrection of their Master. The Christ of his admiration and love is no longer merely a benignant man upon the earth; his Christ is in heaven, and therefore the comforter is sent down into his heart. Yet all this is the self-same religion; the self-same story, told in the self-same words; but the mind has more strength, more experience, more wants, more capacities; and that same plain tale that delighted the child, proves that it can minister to all these, supply and fill them all, pervade the whole of the extended space, and be the religion of man; of uncultivated man; but of man, thinking, sinning, sorrowing, and hoping; and that with as much facility and perfectness as it was the religion of the very child.' Vol. 11. pp. 6–8.
The following is a specimen of the manner in which he treats doctrinal subjects in connexion with the character of Christ.
• All Christian's have seen in his character the pattern of per: fection. They were right. All Christians have felt it draw towards him the affections of their hearts; all love Christ : they are right in that too. And then they have generally represented the Deity with most unlike qualities and attributes; and in that they have gone wrong; the more wrong the farther they departed from this rule. And this is the fundamental error of the prevalent systems of religion; the basis of the worst corruptions of the Gospel. If, instead of speculating on the divinity of Christ's nature, they would but reason consistently on the reflected divinity of his character, how speedily would our theological differences be brought to a close, and all minds and hearts be irradiated by “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!
-Theologians say that God avenged the honor of his broken laws, and satisfied the claims of his justice, and made a needful opening for the exercise of his mercy to the repentant sinner, by imputing the sins of mankind to Christ, and visiting their punishment on his head.
They never learned that either, by observing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. His heart and life neither exhibited nor recognised any such moral principle as this sort of vindictive justice. It was not thus that he dealt with those who offended against him. Nothing could be so prompt, rich, and free, as his forgiveness, unless that of God, as he taught, and we believe it to be exercised, in the parable of the prodigal son. Had the principle, ascribed by this faith
- p. 286.
to God, been that of Christ, how would he have acted, for instance, when Peter denied him? Think of the enormous discrepancy which his then adopting it would have introduced into the gospel. Suppose him forgiving Peter, notwithstanding those tears of bitterness, and that subsequent life of devotion to his cause, only on condition that John, the beloved disciple, should, in his own mind and body, endure some penalty of heavy anguish, the outpouring of the vials of Jesus' wrath for the apostasy of Peter, imputed to him; would this have strengthened the precept to love Christ? Would this have been a scene for us to admire and venerate ? Yet if God be the God of vindictive justice, thus should his glory have shone in the face of Jesus Christ. It was a purer light that beamed from his eye, when, in the midst of his false asseverations, “the Lord turned and looked
Peter.” That glance of affectionate upbraiding, of reproachful tenderness, of frank forgiveness, shone into his heart, as it does still into ours: “that is the true light.” When the yet unconverted Paul was rushing on in his career, it is true the glorified appearance of Jesus struck him to the earth. But it was no blow of vengeance. Though he had aided in the infliction of death on Christians, there was no demand of blood for blood, his own, or that of a substitute; it was the blaze of mercy which blinded his eyes to irradiate his mind; it was the voice of godlike compassion which said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And then, with godlike generosity, came his apostolic commission and his Master's promise. Now, I say, that if we are to see, as this same Paul tells us in the text, glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”; if the moral character of Jesus be really a picturing forth to the world of the moral attributes of the Deity; then the common doctrines of atonement and satisfaction are utterly inconsistent with that character and those attributes, and have nothing to do with that eternal life which is in the knowledge of the Father, the only God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent.' - Vol. 1. pp. 289 – 291.
We would gladly take much from the next discourse, on The Power of Christ's Character, but must confine ourselves to one brief
passage. 'I verily believe that the charatcer of Christ has operated materially, and will increasingly so, in preventing unbelief in some minds, and mitigating the hostility of unbelief in others. How many there have been, who, while they rejected Christianity, have yet paid homage to the beauty of the Saviour's character! They could not wage war with that. They felt as Titus when he would have spared the temple, while he gave
Jerusalem to desolation, and its sons to slaughter or captivity. Respect for the character of Christ draws a line of demarcation between the different classes of unbelievers. It almost universally distinguishes the nobler from the baser sort; the skeptic from the scoffer; the infidelity of misguided minds from that of vicious passions. And I have known its efficacy, where other means had failed, in preserving, and even in converting, from unbelief.' - pp. 305, 306.
There seems to us great sweetness in the paragraphs which follow.
'On two occasions, especially, we are informed that Jesus wept; the one a case of private, the other of public calamity. The first was at the grave of Lazarus ; — of Lazarus, his personal and intimate friend, in whose house he had abode, and with whom he had taken sweet counsel; - of Lazarus, whom he loved, and his affection was of no ordinary strength; whose sisters were looking up to him in all the first helplessness and agony of bereavement; and for whom many voices were raising the wail of lamentation over a lost benefactor ; that wail which, proclaiming the worth of the blessing that is gone, though it may be at last balm for the mourner's wounded soul, at first deepens and aggravates the smart to intensity. Then he wept ; wept though he knew that Lazarus was about to rise; though his prayer was heard and granted for the aid of Omnipotence; though he was advancing towards the spot where he should pronounce the wondrous command to the dead,
Come forth,” and where the dead heard and obeyed that command, and came forth.”
The other occasion sprung out of this. Lazarus had been raised; the fame of the miracle had gone abroad; the feast of the passover was close at hand; Jesus had fulfilled his personal ministry; there remained to the Jewish nation but the choice of his solemn acceptance as the Messiah, or his rejection ; he avowed his pretensions to that character; he approached Jerusalem sitting upon an ass's colt, in the simple state of her ancient sovereigns; an immense multitude attended his
progress; they descended the Mount of Olives; and there lay Jerusalem before them in all her extent, her beauty, and her pride; her white towers and palaces glittering in the sun; the city of God, with his peerless temple majestically rising above all other buildings, as if awaiting and looking for the coming of the Messenger of Jehovah's covenant, to give it a holier consecration, and kindle in its empty ark a brighter glory of the Lord; and then the popular enthusiasm burst forth like a torrent; and