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Title: Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation - A Book for the Times
Author: Citizen, An American
Language: English
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Transcriber's Note

There is a small amount of Hebrew, e.g. קדש and Greek, e.g. ἅγιος in
this book. If this text does not display correctly, you may wish to
adjust your font or browser settings.



            PHILOSOPHY
              OF THE
        PLAN OF SALVATION.

       A Book for the Times.


      BY AN AMERICAN CITIZEN.


     _A NEW EDITION REVISED._


   THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY,
       56, Paternoster Row;
  65, St. Paul's Churchyard, and
         164, Piccadilly.



PREFACE.


I. OCCASION OF THE WORK.

During some of the first years of the writer's active life he was a
sceptic; he had a friend who has since become well known as a lawyer
and legislator, who was also sceptical in his opinions. We were both
conversant with the common evidences of Christianity. None of them
convinced our minds of the Divine origin of the Christian religion,
although we both thought ourselves willing to be convinced by
sufficient evidence. Circumstances, which need not be named, led the
writer to examine the Bible, and to search for other evidence than
that which had been commended to his attention by a much-esteemed
clerical friend, who presided in one of our colleges. The result of
the examination was a thorough conviction in the author's mind of the
truth and Divine authority of Christianity. He supposed at that time
that, in his inquiries, he had adopted the only true method to settle
the question, in the minds of all intelligent inquirers, in relation
to the Divine origin of the Christian religion. Subsequent reflection
has confirmed this opinion.

Convinced himself of the Divine origin of the religion of the Bible,
the author commenced a series of letters to convey to his friend the
evidence which had satisfied his own mind beyond the possibility of
doubt. The correspondence was, by the pressure of business
engagements, interrupted. The investigation was continued, however,
when leisure would permit, for a number of years. The results of this
investigation are contained in the following chapters. The epistolary
form in which a portion of the book was first written will account for
some repetitions, and some varieties in the style, which otherwise
might not have been introduced.


II. REASONS FOR PRESENTING THE WORK TO THE PUBLIC.

Book-making is not the author's profession. But after examining his
own private library, and one of the best public libraries in the
country, he could find no treatise in which the course of reasoning
was pursued which will be found in the following pages. Dr. Chalmers,
in closing his Bridgewater Treatise, seems to have had an apprehension
of the plan and importance of such an argument; and had he devoted
himself to the development of the argument suggested, the effort would
have been worth more to the world than all the Bridgewater Treatises
put together, including his own work.

Coleridge has somewhere said that the Levitical economy is an enigma
yet to be solved. To thousands of intelligent minds it is not only an
enigma, but it is an absolute barrier to their belief in the Divine
origin of the Bible. The solution of the enigma was the clue which
aided the writer to escape from the labyrinth of doubt; and now,
standing upon the rock of unshaken faith, he offers the clue that
guided him to others.

A work of this kind is called for by the spirit of the age. Although
the signs of the times are said to be propitious, yet there are
constant developments of undisciplined and unsanctified mind both in
Europe and America, which furnishes matter of regret to the
philanthropist and the Christian. A struggle has commenced--is going
on at present; and the heat of the contest is constantly increasing,
in which the vital interests of man, temporal and spiritual, are
involved. In relation to man's spiritual interests, the central point
of controversy is the 'cross of Christ.' In New England, some of those
who have diverged from the doctrine of the fathers have wandered into
a wilderness of speculation which, were it not for the evil
experienced by themselves and others, ought, perhaps, to be pitied as
the erratic aberrations of an unsettled reason, rather than blamed as
the manifestations of minds determinately wicked. The most painful
indication connected with this subject is, that these guilty dreamers
are not waked from their reveries by the rebuke of men whose position
and relations in society demand it at their hands.

The west, likewise, is overrun by sects whose teachers, under the
name of Reformers, or some other inviting appellation, are using every
effort to seduce men from the spiritual doctrines and duties of the
gospel, or to organize them into absolute hostility against Christ.
These men are not wanting in intellect, or in acquired knowledge, and
their labours have prejudiced the minds of great numbers against the
spiritual truths of the gospel, and rendered their hearts callous to
religious influence. These facts, in the author's opinion, render such
a volume as he has endeavoured to write necessary, in order to meet
the exigencies of the times.

       *       *       *       *       *

*** The present edition has been carefully revised; and has been
slightly modified on one or two minor points, to which exception had
been taken, or which appeared obscure in expression.--1881.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                                                     PAGE
      I. Man will worship--he will become assimilated to
          the character of the object that he worships--
          Character of heathen deities defective and
          unholy--From this corrupting worship man has
          no power to extricate himself                          9

     II. The design and necessity of the bondage in Egypt       21

    III. Miracles--particularly the miracles which
          accompanied the deliverance of the Israelites
          from bondage in Egypt                                 25

     IV. What was necessary as the first step in the
          process of revelation                                 34

      V. The necessity of affectionate obedience to God;
          and the manner of producing that obedience in
          the hearts of the Israelites                          36

     VI. The design and necessity of the Moral Law              41

    VII. The development of the idea of holiness, and its
          transfer to Jehovah as an attribute                   45

   VIII. The origin of the ideas of justice and mercy, and
          their transfer to the character of Jehovah            53

     IX. The transition from the material system, by which
          religious ideas were conveyed through the senses,
          to the spiritual system, in which abstract ideas
          were conveyed by words and parables                   61

      X. The medium of conveying to men perfect instruction
          in doctrine and duty                                  66

     XI. Some of the peculiar proofs of the Messiahship of
          Christ                                                70

    XII. The condition in life which it was necessary the
          Messiah should assume in order to benefit the
          human family in the greatest degree, by his
          example and instructions                              75

   XIII. The essential principles which must, according to
          the nature of things, lie at the foundation of
          the instruction of Christ                             81

    XIV. Faith, the exercise through which truth reaches
          and affects the soul                                  82

     XV. The manifestations of God which would be necessary,
          under the new and spiritual dispensation, to
          produce in the soul of man affectionate obedience     89

    XVI. The influence of faith in Christ upon the moral
          disposition and moral powers of the soul             117

   XVII. The design and the importance of the means of
          grace--prayer--praise--preaching                     133

  XVIII. The agency of God in carrying on the work of
          redemption, and the manner in which that agency
          is exerted                                           146

    XIX. The practical effects of the system as exemplified
          in individual cases                                  150



PHILOSOPHY OF THE PLAN OF SALVATION.



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.


MAN WILL WORSHIP--HE WILL BECOME ASSIMILATED TO THE CHARACTER OF THE
OBJECT THAT HE WORSHIPS--CHARACTER OF HEATHEN DEITIES DEFECTIVE AND
UNHOLY--FROM THIS CORRUPTING WORSHIP MAN HAS NO POWER TO EXTRICATE
HIMSELF.

There are three facts, each of them fully developed in the experience
of the human family, a consideration of which will prepare the mind
for the investigation which follows. When considered in their relation
to each other, and in their bearing upon the moral interests of
mankind, they will be seen to be of exceeding importance. We will
adduce these facts, in connection with the statements and principles
upon which they rest, and show how vital are the interests which
depend upon them.


THE FIRST FACT STATED.

There is in the nature of man, or in the circumstances in which he is
conditioned, something which leads him to recognise and worship a
superior being. What that _something_ is, is not important in our
present inquiry:--whether it be a constitutional instinct inwrought by
the Maker--whether it be a deduction of universal reason, inferring a
first cause from the things that are made--whether it be the effect of
tradition, descending from the first worshippers, through all the
tribes of the human family--whether any or all of these be the cause,
the fact is the same--_Man is a religious being: HE WILL WORSHIP._

In view of this propension of human nature, philosophers, in seeking a
generic appellation for man, have denominated him a "religious
animal." The characteristic is true of him in whatever part of the
world he may be found, and in whatever condition; and it has been true
of him in all ages of which we have any record, either fabulous or
authentic.

Navigators have, in a few instances, reported that isolated tribes of
men, whom they visited, recognised the existence of no superior being:
subsequent researches, however, have generally corrected the error;
and, in all cases, when it has been supposed that a tribe of men was
found believing in no god, the fact has been stated as an evidence of
their degradation below the mass of their species, and of their
approximation to the confines of brute nature. Of the whole family of
man, existing in all ages, and scattered over the four quarters of the
globe, and in the isles of the sea, there is scarcely one
well-authenticated exception to the fact, that, moved by an impulse of
nature, or the force of circumstances, man worships something which he
believes to be endowed with the attributes of a superior being.


THE SECOND FACT STATED.

The second fact, connected as it is, by the nature of things, with the
preceding, assumes the highest degree of importance. It may be stated
in the following terms:--_Man_, by worshipping, _becomes assimilated
to the moral character of the object which he worships_. This is an
invariable principle, operating with the certainty of cause and
effect. The worshipper looks upon the character of the object which he
worships as the standard of perfection. He therefore condemns
everything in himself which is unlike, and approves of everything
which is like that character. The tendency of this is to lead him to
abandon everything in himself, and in his course of life, which is
condemned by the character and precepts of his god, and to conform
himself to that standard which is approved by the same criterion. The
worshipper desires the favour of the object worshipped, and this,
reason dictates, can be obtained only by conformity to the will and
the character of that object. To become assimilated to the image of
the object worshipped must be the end of desire with the worshipper.
His aspirations, therefore, every time he worships, do, from the
nature of the case, assimilate his character more and more to the
model of the object that receives his homage.

To this fact the whole history of the idolatrous world bears
testimony. Without an exception, the character of every nation and
tribe of the human family has been formed and modified, in a great
degree, by the character attributed to their gods.

From the history of idolatrous nations we will cite a number of
familiar cases, confirmatory of the foregoing statement, that man
becomes like the object of his worship.

A most striking instance is that of the Scythians, and other tribes of
the Northmen, who subdued and finally annihilated the Roman power.
Odin, Thor, and others of their supposed deities, were ideas of
hero-kings, bloodthirsty and cruel, clothed with the attributes of
deity, and worshipped. Their worship turned the milk of human kindness
into gall in the bosoms of their votaries, and they seemed, like
bloodhounds, to be possessed of a horrid delight when they were
revelling in scenes of blood and slaughter. It being believed that one
of their hero-gods, after destroying great numbers of the human race,
destroyed himself, it hence became disreputable to die in bed, and
those who did not meet death in battle frequently committed suicide,
supposing that to die a natural death might exclude them from favour
in the hall of Valhalla.

Among the gods of the Greeks and Romans there were some names, in the
early ages of their history, to which some virtuous attributes were
attached; but the conduct and character generally attributed to their
gods were marked deeply with such traits as heroism, vengeance,
caprice, and lust. In the later history of these nations, their
idolatry degenerated in character, and became a system of most
debasing tendency.

The heroism fostered by idolatry was its least injurious influence.
Pope's couplet, had he thrown a ray or two of light across the
background of the dark picture, would have been a correct delineation
of the character of pagan idols--

    'Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust;
    Whose attributes were rage, revenge, and lust.'

In some cases the most corrupt attributes of human nature, and even of
brute nature, were attributed to objects of worship, and while men
bowed down to them, they sank themselves to the lowest depths of vice.
The Egyptians might be named as an instance. The first patrons of the
arts and sciences were brute-worshippers; and it is testified of them
that bestiality, the lowest vice to which human nature can descend,
was common amongst them. The paintings and sculpture of their
divinities, in the mummy catacombs, are for the most part clusters of
beasts, birds, reptiles, and flies, grouped together in the most
disgusting and unnatural relations; a true indication that the minds
of the worshippers were filled with ideas the most vile and unnatural.

The ancient Venus, as worshipped by almost all the elder nations of
antiquity, was a personification of lust. The deeds required to be
done at her polluting fane, as acts of homage, ought not to be named.

In the best days of Corinth--'Corinth, the eye of Greece'--the most
sacred persons in the city were prostitutes, consecrated to the
worship of Venus. From this source she derived a large portion of her
revenues. The consequence was, that her inhabitants became proverbial
for dissoluteness and treachery.

To the heathen divinities, especially those placed at the head of the
catalogue as the superior gods, what theologians have called the
physical attributes of deity--omnipotent and omnipresent power--were
generally ascribed; but their moral character was always defective,
and generally criminal. As one of the best instances in the whole
mythology of the ancients, the Roman Jupiter might be cited. Had a
medal been struck delineating the character of this best of the gods,
on one side might have been engraved _Almightiness_, _Omnipresence_,
_Justice_; and on the reverse, _Caprice_, _Vengeance_, _Lust_. Thus
men clothed depraved or bestial deities with almighty power, and they
became cruel, or corrupt, or bestial in their affections, by the
reaction of the character worshipped upon the character of the
worshipper. In the strong language of a recent writer, 'They clothed
beasts and depraved beings with the attribute of almightiness, and in
effect they worshipped almighty beasts and devils.' And the more they
worshipped, the more they resembled them.

These testimonies concerning the influence of idolatrous worship, and
the character of the idols worshipped, are maintained by authorities
which render doubt in relation to their credibility impossible. Upon
this subject the wiser men among the Greeks and Romans have borne
unequivocal testimony. Plato, in the second book of the Republic,
speaks of the pernicious influence of the conduct attributed to the
gods, and suggests that such histories should not be rehearsed in
public, lest they should influence the youth to the commission of
crimes. Aristotle advises that statues and paintings of the gods
should exhibit no indecent scenes, except in the temples of such
divinities as, according to common opinion, preside over
sensuality.[1] What an affecting testimony of the most discriminating
mind among the heathen, asserting not only the turpitude of the
prevailing idolatry, but sanctioning the sensuality of their debauched
worship!

    [1] Aristot. Politica, vii. 18, ed. Schneider.

As Rome and Greece grew older, the infection of idolatry festered,
until the body politic became one mass of moral disease. The state of
things, in the later ages of these nations, is well stated by a late
writer of the first authority.[2] 'We should naturally suppose,' says
this writer, 'that among so great a variety of gods, of religious
actions, of sacred vows, at least some better feeling of the heart
must have been excited; that at least some truly pious sentiment would
have been awakened. But when we consider the character of this
superstition, and the testimony of contemporaneous writers, such does
not appear to have been the fact. Petronius' history of that period
furnishes evidence that temples were frequented, altars crowned, and
prayers offered to the gods, in order that they might render nights of
unnatural lust agreeable; that they might favour acts of poisoning;
that they might cause robberies and other crimes to prosper.' In view
of the abominations prevailing at this period, the moral Seneca
exclaimed--'How great now is the madness of men! they lisp the most
abominable prayers; and if a man is found listening they are silent.
What a man ought not to hear, they do not blush to relate to the
gods.' Again, says he, 'If any one considers what things they do, and
to what things they subject themselves, instead of decency he will
find indecency; instead of the honourable, the unworthy; instead of
the rational, the insane.' Such was heathenism and its influence in
the most enlightened ages, according to the testimony of the best men
of those times.

    [2] Tholuck on the Influence of Heathenism.

In relation to modern idolatry, the world is full of living witnesses
of its corrupting tendency. We will cite, in illustration, a single
case or two. The following is extracted from a public document, laid
before Parliament by H. Oakley, Esq., a magistrate in Lower Bengal.
Speaking of the influence of idolatry in India, he says of the worship
of Kalé, one of the most popular idols, 'The murderer, the robber, and
the prostitute, all aim to propitiate a being whose worship is
obscenity, and who delights in the blood of man and beast; and without
imploring whose aid no act of wickedness is committed. The worship of
Kalé must harden the hearts of her followers; and to them scenes of
blood and crime must become familiar.'

In China, according to Medhurst, the priests of Buddha understand and
teach the doctrine of the assimilation of the worshipper to the object
worshipped. They say--'Think of Buddha and you will be transformed
into Buddha. If men pray to Buddha and do not become Buddha, it is
because the mouth prays, and not the mind.'[3]

    [3] For a succinct statement of the universal prevalence of false
    religions, and their corrupting influence, see Ryan on the Effect
    of Religion upon Mankind, _passim_.

Two facts, then, are philosophically and historically true: First--Man
is a religious animal, and will worship something as a superior being.
Second--By worshipping he becomes assimilated to the moral character
of the object which he worships. And (the God of the Bible out of view
for the present) those objects have always had a defective and unholy
character.

Here, then, is one great source which has developed the corruption of
the family of man. We inquire not in this place concerning the origin
of idolatry; whatever or wherever was its origin, its influence has
been uniformly the same. As no object of idolatrous worship was ever
conceived to be perfectly just and benevolent, but most of them no
better than the apotheosis of heroes, or the deification of the
imperfect faculties and impure passions of human or brute nature, the
result followed, with a certainty as unerring as cause and effect,
that man, by following his instinct to worship, would becloud his
intellect and corrupt his heart. Notice how inevitable, from the
circumstances of the case, was the corruption of man's powers:--He was
led to worship by an instinct over which he had no control:--The
objects of his worship were, whether he originated them or not, all
of them of a character that corrupted his heart; thus the
gratification of his instinctive propensities inevitably strengthened
the corruption of his nature.

Now it is not our design to inquire whether, or how far, man was
guilty in producing this evil condition of things. In considering the
facts in the case, the inquiry which forces itself upon the mind
is--Were there any resources in human nature, or any means of any
kind, of which man could avail himself, by which he might save himself
from the debasing influence of idolatrous worship? In reply,


THE THIRD FACT IS STATED.

_There were no means within the reach of human power or wisdom, by
which man could extricate himself from the evil of idolatry, either by
an immediate or by a progressive series of efforts._

This fact is maintained from the history of idolatry, the testimony of
the heathen philosophers, and the nature of man.

1. Instead of man acquiring the power or the disposition, as the race
became older, to destroy idolatry--idolatry, from its first entrance
into the world, gained power to destroy him. Amid all the mutations of
society, from barbarous to civilised, and amid all the conflicts of
nations, and the changes of dynasties and forms of government, from
the first historic notices which we have of the human family down to
the era of Christ, idolatry constantly became more evil in its
character and more extended in its influence. It is well ascertained
that the first objects of idolatrous homage were few and simple, and
the worship of the earliest ages comparatively pure. Man fell into
this moral debasement but one step at a time. The sun, moon, stars,
and other conspicuous objects of creative power and wisdom received
the first idolatrous homage. Afterwards a divinity was supposed to
reside in other objects, especially in those men, and beasts, and
things which were instrumental in conferring particular benefits on
tribes or nations of men. And finally, images of those objects were
formed and worshipped. Images, which subsequently became innumerable,
were not so in the earliest historic ages. In some nations, they were
not allowed until after the era of the foundation of Rome.[4] As the
nations grew older, images, which were at the first but few and
clothed with drapery, became more numerous, and were presented before
the worshippers in a state of nudity, and in most obscene attitudes.
And, as has been before stated, their character, from being
comparatively innoxious, became, without exception, demoralising in
the extreme.

    [4] Plutarch says that Numa forbade the Romans to make statues of
    their gods.

2. During the Augustan age of Rome, and the age of Pericles and
Alcibiades in Greece--those periods when the mind had attained the
highest elevation ever known among heathen nations--the mass of the
people were more idolatrous in their habits, and consequently more
corrupt in their hearts, than ever before. The abominations of
idol-worship, of the mysteries, and of lewdness, in forms too vile to
name, were rife throughout the country and the villages, and had their
foci in the capitals of Greece and Rome. Jahn says, in relation to
this period, 'Deities increased in number, and the apotheosis of
vicious emperors was not unfrequent. Their philosophers, indeed,
disputed with much subtlety respecting the architect of the universe,
but they knew nothing about the Creator, the holy and almighty Judge
of men.'

Some of the more intelligent of the philosophers, perceiving the evil
of the prevailing idolatry, desired to refine the grossness of the
popular faith. They taught that the facts believed concerning the gods
were allegories. Some endeavoured to identify the character of some of
their deities with the natural virtues; while many of them became
sceptical concerning the existence of the gods and of a future state.
Those were, however, but isolated exceptions to the mass of mankind;
and had their views been adopted by others, they would only have
modified, not remedied the evil. But a contemporary writer shows how
entirely unavailing, even to modify the evil, was the teaching of the
philosophers. Dionysius of Halicarnassus says, 'There are only a few
who have become masters of this philosophy. On the other hand, the
great and unphilosophic mass are accustomed to receive these
narratives rather in their worst sense, and to learn one of these two
things, either to despise the gods as beings who wallow in the
grossest licentiousness, or not to restrain themselves even from what
is most abominable and abandoned, when they see that the gods do the
same.' Cicero, in one sentence, as given by Tholuck, notices both the
evil and its cause; confirming, in direct language, the preceding
views. 'Instead,' says he, 'of the transfer to man of that which is
divine, they transferred human sins to the gods, and then experienced
again the necessary reaction.' Such, then, is the testimony of the
philosophers in relation to the idolatry of their times. A few gifted
individuals obtained sufficient light to see the moral evil in which
men were involved, but they had neither wisdom to devise a remedy, nor
power to arrest the progress of the moral pestilence that was
corrupting the noble faculties of the human soul.

3. It was impossible, from the nature of man, that he should extricate
himself from the corrupting influence of idolatry. In this place we
wish to state a principle which should be kept in view throughout the
following discussion: _If man were ever redeemed from idolatrous
worship, his redemption would have to be accomplished by means and
instrumentalities adapted to his nature and the circumstances in which
he existed._ If the faculties of his nature were changed, he would not
be man. If his temporal condition were changed, different means would
be necessary; if, therefore, man, as man, in his present condition,
were to be recovered, the means of recovery, whether instituted by God
or man, must be adapted to his nature and his circumstances.

The only way, then, in which relief was possible for man was, that an
object of worship should be placed before the mind directly opposite
in moral character to those he had before adored. If his heart was
ever purified, it must be by tearing his affections from his gods, and
fixing them upon a righteous and holy being as the proper object of
his homage. But for man to form such an object was plainly impossible.
He could not transfer a better character to his gods than he himself
possessed. Man could not 'bring a pure thing out of an impure.' The
effect could not rise higher in moral purity than the cause. Human
nature, in the maturity of its faculties, all agree, is imperfect and
selfish; and, for an imperfect and selfish being to originate a
perfect and holy character, deify it, and worship it, is to suppose
what is contrary to the nature of things. The thought of the eloquent
and philosophic Cicero expresses all that man could do. He could
transfer his own imperfect attributes to the gods, and, by worshipping
a being characterized by these imperfections, he would receive in
himself the reaction of his own depravity.

But if some men had had the power and the disposition to form for the
world a perfectly holy object of worship, still the great difficulty,
as we have seen in the case of the philosophers, would have remained,
that is, a want of the necessary power to arrest the progress of
idolatry and substitute the better worship. To doubt the truth of the
prevailing idolatry was all that men, at the highest intellectual
attainment ever acquired in heathen countries, could do. And if they
had had power to convey their doubts to all minds in all the world, it
would only have been to place mankind in the chaotic darkness of
atheism, and leave them to be led again by their instincts into the
abominations of imperfect and impure worship.

The testimony, then, is conclusive, from the history of idolatry, that
the evil became greater every age--from the statement of the wisest of
the heathen, that they had no power to arrest its progress--and from
the nature of man, that it was not possible for him to relieve
himself from the corrupting influence of idolatry, in which he had
become involved.

From the foregoing facts and reasonings it is plain that the high-born
faculties of the human soul must have been blighted for ever, by a
corrupting worship, unless two things were accomplished, neither of
which it was in the power of human nature to effect; and yet both of
which were essentially necessary to accomplish the elevation of man
from the pit into which he had fallen.

The first thing necessary to be accomplished was, that _a pure object
of worship should be placed before the eye of the soul_. Purity of
heart and conscience would be necessary in the object of worship,
otherwise the heart and conscience of the worshipper would not be
purified. But if an object were presented, whose nature was infinitely
opposed to sin--to all defilement, both physical and spiritual--and
who revealed, in his example, and by his precepts, a perfect standard
to govern the life of man under the circumstances in which he was
placed, then man's mind would be enlightened, his conscience
rectified, and the hard and corrupt feelings of his heart softened and
purified, by assimilation to the object of his worship.--As, according
to the nature of things, an unholy object of worship would necessarily
degrade and corrupt the human soul; so, on the contrary, a holy object
worshipped would necessarily elevate and purify the nature of man.

The second necessary thing in order to man's redemption was, _that
when a holy object of worship was revealed, the revelation should be
accompanied with sufficient power to influence men to forsake their
former worship, and to worship the holy object made known to them_.
The presentation of a new and pure object would not cause men to turn
from their former opinions and practices, and become directly opposed
in heart to what they had formerly loved. A display of power would be
necessary, sufficient to overcome their former faith and their present
fears, and to detach their affections from idols, and fix them upon
the proper object of human homage.

It follows, then, that man must remain a corrupt idolater for ever,
unless God interpose in his behalf. The question whether he would thus
interpose, in the only way possible, to save the race from moral
death, depends entirely upon the benevolence of his nature. The
question whether he has done so may be answered by inquiring whether
any system of means has been instituted in this world, characterized
by sufficient power to destroy idolatry--revealing at the same time a
holy object of worship--and this revelation being accompanied by means
and influences so adapted to man's nature as to secure the result.

To this inquiry the future pages of this volume will be devoted. The
inquiry is not primarily concerning the truth of the Bible; but
concerning the only religion possible for mankind, and the only means
by which such religion could be given consistently with man's nature
and circumstances.



CHAPTER II.

THE DESIGN AND NECESSITY OF THE BONDAGE IN EGYPT.


There are certain bonds of union, and sources of sympathy, by which
the minds of a whole people may be united into one common mind: so
much so, that all hearts in the nation will be affected by the same
subjects, and all minds moved by the same motives. Any cause which
creates a common interest and a common feeling, common biases and
common hopes, in the individual minds which compose a nation, has a
tendency to unite them in this manner.

Some of the causes which have more power than any others to bind men,
as it were, into a common being, are the following:--The natural tie
of consanguinity, or a common parentage, is a strong bond of
affiliation among men. And there are others, which, in some cases,
seem to be even stronger than this; among these may be named a common
interest; a common religion; and a common fellowship in suffering and
deliverance. Any circumstance which educes the susceptibilities of the
mind and twines them together, or around a common object--any event in
which the interest, the feelings, the safety, or the reputation of any
people is involved, causes them to be more closely allied to each
other in social and civil compact.

The more firmly a people are bound together by these ties of union,
the more strength they will possess to resist opposing interests and
opinions from without; while, at the same time, everything national,
or peculiar to them as a people, will be cherished with warmer and
more tenacious attachment.

From the operation of this principle originates the maxim 'Union is
strength;' and whether the conflict be mental or physical, the people
who are united together by the most numerous and powerful sympathies
will oppose the strongest and the longest resistance to the
innovations of external forces. On the contrary, if the bonds of moral
union are few, and easily sundered, the strength of the nation is soon
broken, and the fragments easily repelled from each other.

According to this principle, in all cases in which a whole nation is
to be instructed, or prepared for offence and defence, or in any wise
fitted to be acted upon, or to act as a nation, it would be necessary
that the bonds of national union should be numerous and strong; and
that, as far as possible, a perfect oneness of interest and feeling
should pervade the nation.

So long as the human mind and human circumstances continue what they
are, no power in heaven or on earth could unite a people together,
except by the same or similar means as have been stated. If,
therefore, God designed to form a nation, either to be acted upon or
to act as a nation, he would put in operation those agencies which
would bind them firmly and permanently into one mass.

Now, mark the application of these deductions to the case of the
Israelites. About the period when the corruptions of idolatry were
becoming generally prevalent, Abraham, the Bible record states, was
extricated by Divine interposition. He was assured that his
descendants should suffer a long bondage, and afterwards become a
numerous nation. Abraham was their common ancestor, one whom they
remembered with reverence and pride; and each individual felt himself
honoured by the fact that the blood of the "father of the faithful"
circled in his veins. The tie of consanguinity in their case was bound
in the strongest manner, and encircled the whole nation. In Egypt
their circumstances and employments were the same; and, in the
endurance of a protracted and most galling bondage, they had a common
lot. Their liberation was likewise a national deliverance, which
affected alike the whole people, the anniversary of which was
celebrated by distant posterity with strong and peculiar national
enthusiasm.

Now, it has been said that the events of our colonial servitude, and
the achievement of American independence, are points in our history
which will ever operate upon our national character, impressing clear
views of the great principles of republicanism, and uniting all hearts
in support of those principles: how much more affecting and indelible,
then, was the impress made upon the national heart of the Israelites
by their bondage and deliverance! They were bound by blood, by
interest, feeling, hopes, fears, by bondage, and by faith.

And how firmly did these providences weave into one web the sympathies
and views of the Jewish people! It is a fact which is the miracle of
history, and the wonder of the world, that the ties which unite this
people seem to be indissoluble. While other nations have risen and
reigned and fallen; while the ties which united them have been
sundered, and their fragments lost amid earth's teeming population,
the stock of Abraham endures, like an incorruptible monument of gold,
undestroyed by the attrition of the waves of time, which have dashed
in pieces and washed away other nations, whose origin was but
yesterday, compared with this ancient and wonderful people.

In this manner was this nation prepared for peculiar duties, and to
discharge those duties under peculiar circumstances. Many of the
nations by which they were surrounded were more powerful than
themselves; all were warlike, and each had its peculiar system of
idolatry, which corrupted all hearts that came within its influence.
Hence the necessity that this people should be so united as to resist
the power and contagious example of surrounding nations, while they
were fitted to receive and preserve a peculiar national character,
civil polity, and religious doctrines; of all which they were to be
the conservators, amid surrounding and opposing heathenism, for many
ages.

Other facts might be added to the induction, which would make the
design, if possible, more apparent. If the Jews were to be the
recipients of new instruction--to obey new laws, and to sustain new
institutions, it would be desirable that their minds, so far as
possible, should be in the condition of new material, occupied by
little previous knowledge, and by no national prejudices against or in
favour of governmental forms and systems. Now, in the case of the
Jews, the habit of obedience had been acquired. They had no national
predilections or prejudices arising from past experience. In relation
to knowledge of any kind, their mind was almost a _tabula rasa_. They
were as new material prepared to receive the moulding of a master
hand, and the impress of a governing mind.

Now, as this discipline of the descendants of Abraham was the result
of a long concatenation of events, and could not have been designed by
themselves to accomplish the necessary end; and as the whole chain of
events was connected together and perfectly adapted, in accordance
with the nature of things, to produce the specific purpose which was
accomplished by them, it follows, as the only rational conclusion,
first that the overruling intelligence of God was employed in thus
preparing material for a purer religious worship than the world then
enjoyed; and, second, that a nation could have been so prepared by no
other agent, and in no other way.



CHAPTER III.

CONCERNING MIRACLES--PARTICULARLY THE MIRACLES WHICH ACCOMPANIED THE
DELIVERANCE OF THE ISRAELITES FROM BONDAGE IN EGYPT.


There has been so much false philosophy written concerning the subject
of miracles, that it is difficult for those conversant with the
speculations of writers upon this subject, to divest their minds
sufficiently of preformed biases, to examine candidly the simple and
natural principles upon which are based the evidence and necessity of
miraculous interposition.

The following statement is true beyond controversy: _Man cannot, in
the present constitution of his mind, have sufficient reason for
believing that religion has a Divine origin, unless it be accompanied
with miracles._ The natural inference of the mind is that, if an
Infinite Being act, his acts will be superhuman in their character;
because the effect, reason dictates, will be characterized by the
nature of its cause. Man has the same reason to expect that God will
perform acts above human power and knowledge, that he has to suppose
the inferior orders of animals will, in their actions, sink below the
power and wisdom which characterize human nature. For, as it is
natural for man to perform acts superior to the power and knowledge of
the animals beneath him, so reason affirms that it is natural for God
to develop his power by means, and in ways, above the skill and
ability of mortals. Hence, if God manifest himself at all--unless, in
accommodation to the capacities of men, he should constrain his
manifestations within the compass of human ability--every act of God's
immediate power would, to human capacity, be a miracle. But, if God
were to constrain all his acts within the limits of human means and
agencies, it would be impossible for man to discriminate between the
acts of the Godhead and the acts of the manhood. And man, if he
considered acts to be of a Divine origin, which were plainly within
the compass of human ability, would violate his own reason.

Suppose, for illustration, that God desired to reveal a religion to
men, and wished them to recognise his character and his benevolence in
giving that revelation. Suppose, further, that God should give such a
revelation, and that every appearance and every act connected with its
introduction were characterized by nothing superior to human power;
could any rational mind on earth believe that such a system of
religion came from God? Impossible! A man could as easily be made to
believe that his own child, who possessed his own lineaments, and his
own nature, belonged to some other world, and some other order of the
creation. It would not be possible for God to convince men that a
religion was from heaven unless it was accompanied with the marks of
Divine Power.

Suppose, again, that some individual were to appear either in the
heathen or Christian world--he claimed to be a teacher sent from God,
yet aspired to the performance of no miracles. He assumed to do
nothing superior to the wisdom and ability of other men. Such an
individual, although he might in gaining proselytes to some particular
view of a religion already believed, yet could never make men believe
that he had a special commission from God to establish a new religion,
for the simple reason that he had no grounds more than his fellows to
support his claims as an agent of the Almighty. But if he could
convince a single individual that he had wrought a miracle, or that he
had power to do so, that moment his claims would be established, in
that mind, as a commissioned agent from heaven: so certainly, and so
intuitively, do the minds of men revere and expect miracles as the
credentials of the Divine presence.

This demand of the mind for miracles, as testimony of the Divine
presence and power, is intuitive with all men; and those very
individuals who have doubted the existence or necessity of miracles,
should they examine their own convictions on this subject, would see
that, by an absolute necessity, if they desired to give the world a
system of religion, whether truth or imposture, in order to make men
receive it as of Divine authority, they must work miracles to attest
its truth, or make men believe that they did so. Men can produce doubt
of a revelation in no way until they have destroyed the evidence of
its miracles; nor can faith be produced in the Divine origin of a
religion until the evidence of miracles is supplied.

The conviction that miracles are the true attestation of immediate
Divine agency, is so constitutional (allow the expression) with the
reason, that so soon as men persuade themselves they are the special
agents of God, in propagating some particular truth in the world, they
adopt likewise the belief that they have ability to work miracles.
There have been many sincere enthusiasts, who believed that they were
special agents of Heaven, and, in such cases, the conviction of their
own miraculous powers arises as a necessary concomitant of the other
opinion. Among such, in modern times, may be instanced Emanuel
Swedenborg. Impostors also, perceiving that miracles were necessary in
order that the human mind should receive a religion as Divine, have
invariably claimed miraculous powers. Such instances recur constantly,
from the days of Elymas down to the Mormon, Joseph Smith.

All the multitude of false religions that have been believed since the
world began have been introduced by the power of this principle.
_Miracles believed_, lie at the foundation of all religions which men
have ever received as of Divine origin. No matter how degrading or
repulsive to reason in other respects, the fact of its establishment
and propagation grows out of the belief of men that supernatural
agency lies at the bottom.[5] This belief will give currency to any
system, however absurd: and without it, no system can be established
in the minds of men, however high and holy may be its origin and its
design.

    [5] Mohammedanism is no exception: as the wonders reported by the
    false prophet, though unseen, were _believed_. 'The Koran,' he
    said, 'is itself a miracle!'

Such, then, is the constitution which the Maker has given to the
mind. Whether the conviction be an intuition or an induction of the
reason, God is the primary cause of its existence; and its existence
puts it out of the power of man to accept a revelation from God
himself, unless accompanied by miracle. If, therefore, God ever gave a
revelation to man, it was necessarily accompanied with miracles, and
with miracles of such a nature as would clearly distinguish the Divine
character and the Divine authority of the dispensation.

The whole fulness and force of these deductions apply to the case of
the Israelites. The laws of their mind not only demanded miracles as
an attestation of Divine interposition; but at that time, the belief
existed in their minds that miracles were constantly performed.
Although they remembered the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, yet
they likewise, as subsequent facts clearly attested, believed that the
idols of Egypt possessed the attributes of Divinity. The belief in a
plurality of gods was then common to all nations. And although this
error was corrected, and perhaps entirely removed, by succeeding
providences and instructions, from the minds of the Jews; yet, before
the miracles in Egypt, while the God of Abraham was, perhaps, in most
cases acknowledged as their God, the idols of Egypt were acknowledged
as the gods of the Egyptians, and probably worshipped as the
divinities who had power to dispense good and evil to all the
inhabitants of that land. And in common with all Egypt, they, no
doubt, believed that the acts of jugglery, in which the magicians, or
priests of Egypt, had made astonishing proficiency, were actual
miracles, exhibiting the power of their idols, and the authority of
the priests to act in their name.

In view, therefore, of existing circumstances, two things were
necessary, on the part of God,[6] in order to establish belief in any
revelation to the Israelites:--First, that he should manifest himself
by miracles; and, Secondly, that those miracles should be of such a
character, as evidently to distinguish them from the jugglery of the
magicians, and to convince all observers of the existence and
omnipotence of the true God, in contradistinction from the objects of
idolatrous worship. Unless these two things were done, it would have
been impossible for the Israelites to have recognised JEHOVAH as the
_only living_ and _true GOD_.

    [6] When we speak of a thing as necessary on the part of God, it
    is said, not in reference to God's attributes, but to man's nature
    and circumstances.

It follows, then, that by the miracles which God wrought by the hand
of Moses, he pursued the only way that was possible to authenticate a
revelation in which his presence and power would be recognised. The
only point of inquiry remaining is, Were the miracles of such a
character, and performed in such a manner, as to remove false views
from the minds of the Israelites, and introduce right views concerning
the true God, and the non-existence of factitious objects of worship?

With this point in view, the design in the management and character of
the miracles in Egypt is interesting and obvious. Notice, first, the
whole strength of the magicians' skill was brought out and measured
with that of the miraculous power exerted through Moses. If this had
not been done, the idea would have remained in the minds of the people
that, although Moses wielded a mighty miraculous power, it might be
derived from the Egyptian gods, or if it were not thus derived, they
might have supposed that if the priests of those idols were summoned,
they would contravene or arrest the power vested in Moses by Jehovah.
But now, the magicians appearing in the name of their gods, the power
of Moses was seen to be not only superior to their sorceries, but
hostile to them and their idolatrous worship.

Notice, secondly, the design and adaptedness of the miracles, not only
to distinguish the power of the true God, but to destroy the
confidence placed in the protection and power of the idols.

The first miracle, while it authenticated the mission of Moses,
destroyed the serpents which, among the Egyptians, were objects of
worship; thus evincing, in the outset, that their gods could neither
help the people nor save themselves.

The second miracle was directed against the river Nile, another object
which they regarded with religious reverence. This river they held
sacred, as the Hindoos do the Ganges; and even the fish in its waters
they revered as objects of worship. They drank the water with
reverence and delight; and supposed that a Divine efficacy dwelt in
its waves to heal diseases of the body. The water of this, their
cherished object of idolatrous homage, was transmuted to blood; and
its finny idols became a mass of putridity.

The third miracle was directed to the accomplishment of the same
end--the destruction of faith in the river as an object of worship.
The waters of the Nile were caused to send forth legions of frogs,
which infested the whole land, and became a nuisance and a torment to
the people. Thus their idol, by the power of the true God, was
polluted, and turned into a source of pollution to its worshippers.

By the fourth miracle of a series constantly increasing in power and
severity, lice came upon man and beast throughout the land. 'Now, if
it be remembered,' says Gleig, 'that no one could approach the altars
of Egypt upon whom so impure an insect harboured, and that the
priests, to guard against the slightest risk of contamination, wore
only linen garments, and shaved their heads and bodies every day,[7]
the severity of this miracle as a judgment upon Egyptian idolatry may
be imagined. Whilst it lasted no act of worship could be performed;
and so keenly was this felt, that the very magicians exclaimed--"This
is the finger of God!"'

    [7] Every third day, according to Herodotus.

The fifth miracle was designed to destroy the trust of the people in
Beelzebub, or the Fly-god, who was reverenced as their protector from
visitations of swarms of ravenous flies which infested the land,
generally about the time of the dog-days, and removed only, as they
supposed, at the will of this idol. The miracle now wrought by Moses
evinced the impotence of Beelzebub, and caused the people to look
elsewhere for relief from the fearful visitation under which they were
suffering.

The sixth miracle, which destroyed the cattle, excepting those of the
Israelites, was aimed at the destruction of the entire system of brute
worship. This system, degrading and bestial as it was, had become a
monster of many heads in Egypt. They had their sacred bull, and ram,
and heifer, and goat, and many others, all of which were destroyed by
the agency of the God of Moses. Thus by one act of power Jehovah
manifested his own supremacy, and destroyed the very existence of
their brute idols.

Of the peculiar fitness of the sixth plague (the seventh miracle),
says the writer before quoted, the reader will receive a better
impression, when he is reminded that in Egypt there were several
altars upon which human sacrifices were occasionally offered when they
desired to propitiate Typhon, or the Evil Principle. These victims
being burned alive, their ashes were gathered together by the
officiating priests, and thrown up into the air, in order that evil
might be averted from every place to which an atom of the ashes was
wafted. By the direction of Jehovah, Moses took a handful of ashes
from the furnace (which, very probably, the Egyptians at this time had
frequently used to turn aside the plagues with which they were
smitten), and he cast it into the air, as they were accustomed to do;
and instead of averting evil, boils and blains fell upon all the
people of the land. Neither king, nor priest, nor people escaped. Thus
the bloody rites of Typhon became a curse to the idolaters; the
supremacy of Jehovah was affirmed, and the deliverance of the
Israelites insisted upon.

The ninth miracle was directed against the worship of Serapis, whose
peculiar office was supposed to be to protect the country from
locusts. At periods these destructive insects came in clouds upon the
land, and, like an overshadowing curse, they blighted the fruits of
the field and the verdure of the forest. At the command of Moses
these terrible insects came--and they retired only at his bidding.
Thus was the impotence of Serapis made manifest, and the idolaters
taught the folly of trusting in any other protection than that of
Jehovah the God of Israel.

The eighth and tenth miracles were directed against the worship of
Isis and Osiris, to whom and the river Nile they awarded the first
place[8] in the long catalogue of their idolatry. These idols were
originally the representatives of the sun and moon; they were believed
to control the light and the elements, and their worship prevailed in
some form among all the early nations. The miracles directed against
the worship of Isis and Osiris must have made a deep impression on the
minds both of the Israelites and the Egyptians. In a country where
rain seldom falls--where the atmosphere is always calm, and the light
of the heavenly bodies always continued, what was the horror pervading
all minds during the elemental war described in the Hebrew
record--during the long period of three days and three nights, while
the gloom of thick darkness settled, like the out-spread pall of
death, over the whole land! Jehovah of hosts summoned Nature to
proclaim him the true God--the God of Israel asserted his supremacy,
and exerted his power to degrade the idols, destroy idolatry, and
liberate the descendants of Abraham from the land of their bondage.

    [8] Against the worship of the Nile, two miracles were directed,
    and two likewise against Isis and Osiris, because they were
    supposed to be the supreme gods. Many placed the Nile first, as
    they said it had power to water Egypt independently of the action
    of the elements.

The Almighty having thus revealed himself as the true God, by
miraculous agency, and pursued those measures, in the exercise of his
power, which were directly adapted to destroy the various forms of
idolatry which existed in Egypt, the eleventh and last miracle was a
judgment, in order to manifest to all minds that Jehovah was the God
who executed judgment in the earth.

The Egyptians had, for a long time, cruelly oppressed the Israelites,
and to put the finishing horror to their atrocities, they had finally
slain, at their birth, the offspring of their victims; and now God, in
the exercise of infinite justice, visited them with righteous
retribution. In the mid-watches of the night, the 'angel of the
pestilence' was sent to the dwellings of Egypt, and he 'breathed in
the face' of all the first-born in the land. In the morning, the hope
of every family, from the palace to the cottage, was a corpse. What
mind can imagine the awful consternation of that scene, when an
agonizing wail rose from the stricken hearts of all the parents in the
nation? The cruel task-masters were taught, by means which entered
their souls, that the true God was a God not only of power but of
judgment, and as such, to be feared by evil-doers, and reverenced by
those that do well.

The demonstration, therefore, is conclusive, that in view of the
idolatrous state of the world, and especially of the character and
circumstances of the Israelites, the true God could have made a
revelation of himself in no other way than by the means, and in the
manner, of the miracles of Egypt; and none but the true God could have
revealed himself in this way.[9]

    [9] In accordance with the foregoing are the intimations given in
    the Bible of the design of the miracles of Egypt. By these
    exhibitions of Divine power God said--'Ye,' the Israelites, 'and
    Pharaoh shall know that I am Jehovah.'

    Miracles, moreover, were the evidence that Pharaoh required.--Ex.
    vii. 9, God said to Moses, that when he should present himself as
    the Divine legate, and Pharaoh should require a miracle, he should
    perform it accordingly.

    In relation to the destruction of idolatry, the design of Jehovah
    is expressly announced (Ex. xii. 12), 'Against all the Gods of
    Egypt I will execute judgment: I am Jehovah.'

    See also Ex. xviii. 11.



CHAPTER IV.

WHAT WAS NECESSARY AS THE FIRST STEP IN THE PROCESS OF REVELATION.


By the miracles of Egypt, the false views and corrupt habits of the
Israelites were, for the time being, in a great measure removed.
Previously they had believed in a plurality of gods; and although they
remembered the God of Abraham, yet they had, as is evident from
notices in the Bible, associated with his attribute of almighty power
(the only attribute well understood by the patriarchs) many of the
corrupt attributes of the Egyptian idols. Thus the idea of God was
debased by having grovelling and corrupt attributes superinduced upon
it. By miraculous agency these dishonourable views of the Divine
character were removed; their minds were emptied of false impressions
in order that they might be furnished with the true idea and the true
attributes of the Supreme Being.

But how, to minds in the infancy of knowledge respecting God and human
duty--having all they had previously learned removed, and being now
about to take the first step in their progress--how could the first
principles of Divine knowledge be conveyed to such minds?

One thing, in the outset, would evidently be necessary. Knowledge, as
the mind is constituted, can be communicated in no other way than
progressively; it would be necessary, therefore, that they should
begin with the elementary principles, and proceed through all the
stages of their education. The mind cannot receive at once all the
parts of a system in religion, science, or any other department of
human knowledge. One fact or idea must be predicated upon another,
just as one stone rests upon another, from the foundation to the top
of the building. There are successive steps in the acquisition of
knowledge, and every step in the mind's progress must be taken from
advances already made. God has inwrought the law of progression into
the nature of things, and observes it in his own works. From the
springing of a blade to the formation of the mind, or of a world,
every thing goes forward by consecutive steps.

It was necessary, therefore, in view of the established laws of the
mind, that the knowledge of God and human duty should be imparted to
the Israelites by successive communications--necessary that there
should be a first step, or primary principle, for a starting point,
and then a progression onward and upward to perfection.

In accordance with these principles, God, in the introduction of the
Mosaic dispensation, revealed only his essential existence to the
Israelites. In Exodus iii. 13, 14, it is stated that Moses inquired of
God, 'Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say
unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they
shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God
said, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the
children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.' In the Hebrew text,
the simple form of the verb is used, corresponding with the first
person present, indicative, of the English verb _to be_. Simply, 'I
am,' conveying no idea but that of personality and existence. WHAT HE
was, besides his existence thus revealed, was afterwards to be
learned. This was a revelation of Divine BEING--a nucleus of essential
Deity, as a foundation fact of the then new dispensation, upon which
God, by future manifestations, might engraft the attributes of his
nature.

Thus, at the outset of the dispensation, there was thrown into their
minds a first truth. God revealed his Divine existence; and the idea
of God, thus revealed, was in their minds, without any other attribute
being connected with it than that of infinite power--an attribute of
the Godhead which all men derive from the works of nature--which was
known to the patriarchs as belonging to the true God, and which was
now, by the miracles manifesting supreme power, appropriated to I
AM--Jehovah--the God of the Israelites.

Thus were this peculiar people carried back to the first principles of
natural religion--their mind disembarrassed from false notions
previously entertained, and the true idea of the supreme God and Judge
of men revealed. By these providences, they were prepared, in a manner
consistent with the nature of things and the nature of mind, to
receive a further revelation of the moral attributes of Jehovah, whom
they now recognised as the Supreme God.



CHAPTER V.

THE NECESSITY OF AFFECTIONATE OBEDIENCE TO GOD; AND THE MANNER OF
PRODUCING THAT OBEDIENCE IN THE HEARTS OF THE ISRAELITES.


The following principles in relation to the affections will be
recognised by consciousness as true in the experience of every man. As
they lie at the foundation of the moral exercises of the soul, and as
they relate to the sources and central principles of all true
religion, it will be necessary for the reader to notice them, in order
that he may see their application in subsequent pages.

1. The affections of the soul move in view of certain objects, or in
view of certain qualities believed to exist in those objects. The
affections never move--in familiar words, the heart never loves,
unless love be produced by seeing, or by believing that we see, some
lovely and excellent qualities in the object. When the soul believes
those good qualities to be possessed by another, and especially when
they are exercised towards us, the affections, like a magnetised
needle, tremble with life, and turn towards their object.

2. The affections are not subject to the will;[10] neither our own
will nor any other will can directly control them. I cannot will to
love a being who does not appear to me lovely, and who does not
exhibit the qualities adapted to move the affections; nor can I, by
command, or by any other effort of will, cause another being to love
me. The affections are not subject to command. You cannot force
another to love, or respect, or even, from the heart, to obey. Such an
attitude assumed to produce love would invariably produce disaffection
rather than affection. No one (as a matter of fact) thinks the
affections subject to the will, and, therefore, men never endeavour to
obtain the affections of others solely by command, but by exhibiting
such a character and conferring such favours as they know are adapted
to move the heart. An effect could as easily exist without a cause as
affection in the bosom of any human being which was not produced by
goodness or excellencies seen, or believed to exist, in some other
being.

    [10] We state the facts in the case, of which every man is
    conscious in his own experience, without regard to the theories of
    sects in religion or philosophy.

3. The affections, although not governed by the will, do themselves
greatly influence the will. All acts of will produced entirely by pure
affection for another are disinterested. Cases of the affections
influencing the will are common in the experience of every one. There
is probably no one living who has not, at some period of his life, had
affection for another, so that it gave more pleasure to please the
object of his love than to please himself. Love for another always
influences the will to act in such a way as will please the object
loved. The individual loving acts in view of the desires of the loved
object, and such acts are disinterested, not being done with any
selfish end in view, but for the sake of another. So soon as the
affections move towards an object, the will is proportionably
influenced to please and benefit that object; or, if a superior being,
to obey his will and secure his favour.

4. All happy obedience must arise from affection. Affectionate
obedience blesses the spirit which yields it, if the conscience
approve the object loved and obeyed, while, on the contrary, no
happiness can be experienced from obedience to any being that we do
not love. To obey externally either God or a parent, from no other
than interested motives, would be sin. The devil might be obeyed for
the same reasons. Love must, therefore, constitute an essential
element in all proper obedience to God.

5. When the affections of two are reciprocally fixed upon each other,
they constitute a bond of union and sympathy peculiarly strong and
tender:--those things that affect the one affecting the other, in
proportion to the strength of affection existing between them. One
conforms to the will of the other, not from a sense of obligation
merely, but from choice; and the constitution of the soul is such that
the sweetest enjoyment of which it is capable arises from the exercise
of reciprocal affection.

6. When the circumstances of an individual are such that he is exposed
to constant suffering and great danger, the more afflictive his
situation the more grateful love will he feel for affection and
benefits received under such circumstances. If his circumstances were
such that he could not relieve himself, and such that he must suffer
greatly or perish; and, while, in this condition, if another, moved by
benevolent regard for him, should come to aid and save him, his
affection for his deliverer would be increased by a sense of the
danger from which he was rescued.

7. It is an admitted principle that protracted and close attention
always fixes the fact attended to deeply in the memory; and the longer
and more intensely the mind attends to any subject, other subjects
proportionably lose their power to interest. The same is true in
relation to the affections. The longer and more intensely we
contemplate an object in that relation which is adapted to draw out
the affections, the more deeply will the impression be made upon the
heart, as well as upon the memory. The most favourable circumstances
possible to fix an impression deeply upon the heart and memory
are--First, that there should be protracted and earnest attention;
and--Second, that at the same time that the impression is made, the
emotions of the soul should be alive with excitement. Without these,
an impression made upon the heart and the memory would be slight and
easily effaced; while, on the contrary, an impression made during
intense attention and excited feeling will be engraved, as with a pen
of steel, upon the tablets of the soul.

Now, with these principles in mind, mark the means used to fix the
attention and to excite the susceptibilities of the Israelites, and,
while in that state of attention and excitement, to draw their
affections to God.

The children of Israel were suffering the most grievous bondage, which
had arrived at almost an intolerable degree of cruelty and injustice.
Just at this crisis the God of their fathers appears as their
Deliverer, and Moses is commissioned as his prophet. When the people
are convened and their minds aroused by the hopes of deliverance,
their attention is turned to two parties: one, Pharaoh, their
oppressor and the slayer of their first-born; and the other the God of
Abraham, who now appeared as their Deliverer, espousing their cause
and condescending personally to oppose Himself to their oppressor.
Then a scene ensues adapted in all its circumstances to make a deep
and enduring impression upon their memory and their hearts.--The God
of Abraham seems, by his judgments, to have forced the oppressor to
relent, and to let the people go. At this point hope and encouragement
predominate in their minds. Now their oppressor's heart is hardened,
and he renews his cruelty; but while their hopes are sinking, they are
again revived and strengthened, by finding that God continues to use
means to induce Pharaoh to release the captives. Thus, for a
considerable length of time, all the powers of excitability in their
nature are aroused to activity. Towards that being who had so
graciously interposed in their behalf they felt emotions of hope,
gratitude, love, and admiration. Towards their oppressor feelings of
an opposite character must have been engendered; and this state of
exciting suspense--the emotions vacillating between love and hatred,
hope and fear--was continued until the impression became fixed deep in
their souls.

Keeping in mind the fact, that the more we need a benefactor and feel
that need, the stronger will be our feelings of gratitude and love for
the being who interposes in our behalf--notice further: When, through
the interposition of the Almighty, the Israelites were delivered, and
had advanced as far as the Red Sea, another appeal was made to their
affections which was most thrilling, and adapted to call by one grand
interposition all their powers of gratitude and love into immediate
and full exercise.

The army of the Israelites lay encamped on the margin of the Red Sea,
when, suddenly, they were surprised by the approaching host of
Pharaoh;--before them was the sea, and behind them an advancing
hostile army. If they went forward, they would find death in the
waves; if they returned backward, it would be to meet the swords of
their pursuers. A rescue, by earthly means, from death or bondage more
severe than they had ever borne, was impossible. Just at this crisis
of extremity, Jehovah appears as their Deliverer. The bosom of the
pathless sea is cleft by the power of God. The stricken waters recoil
upon themselves on either side. The Israelites pass over in safety.
The Egyptian host enter, and are overwhelmed in the waters.

Now, it may be affirmed, without qualification, that, in view of the
nature and circumstances of the Israelites, no combination of means,
not including the self-sacrifice of the benefactor himself, could be
so well adapted to elicit and absorb all the affections of the soul,
as this wonderful series of events. That this result was accomplished
by these means, is authenticated by the history given in the Bible.
When the people were thus delivered, they stood upon the other side of
the sea, and their affections, in answer to the call which God had
made upon them, gushed forth in thanksgiving and praise. Hear the
response of their hearts, and their allusion to the cause which
produced that response:

'I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the
horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my
strength and song, and he is become my SALVATION. He is my God, and I
will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt
him.'--Ex. xv. 1, 2, etc.

Thus was the attention of the whole nation turned to the true God. An
impression of his goodness was fixed deeply in their memory, and their
affections drawn out and fastened upon the true object of worship. Now
this, as was shown in the commencement of the chapter, was necessary,
before they could offer worship either honourable or acceptable to
God. The end was accomplished by means adapted to the nature of the
human soul and to the circumstances of the Israelites; and by means
which no being in the universe but the Maker of the soul could use.
The demonstration is therefore perfect, that the Scripture narrative
is true, and that no other narrative, differing materially from this
in its principles, could be true.



CHAPTER VI.

THE DESIGN AND NECESSITY OF THE MORAL LAW.


At this stage of our progress it will be useful to recapitulate the
conclusions at which we have arrived, and thus make a point of rest
from which to extend our observations further into the plan of God for
redeeming the world. This review is the more appropriate as we have
arrived at a period in the history of God's providence with Israel,
which presents them as a people prepared (so far as imperfect material
could be prepared) to receive that model which God might desire to
impress upon the nation.

1. They were bound to each other by all the ties of which human nature
is susceptible, and thus rendered compact and united, so that
everything national, whether in sentiment or practice, would be
received and cherished with unanimous, and fervent, and lasting
attachment: and, furthermore, by a long and rigorous bondage, they had
been rendered, for the time being at least, humble and dependent.
Thus, they were disciplined by a course of providences, adapted to fit
them to receive instruction from their Benefactor with a teachable and
grateful spirit.

2. Their minds were shaken off from idols; and Jehovah, by a
revelation made to them, setting forth his name and nature, had
revealed himself as a DIVINE BEING, and by his works had manifested
his almighty power: so that when their minds were disabused of wrong
views of the Godhead, an idea of the first, true, and essential nature
of God was revealed to them; and they were thus prepared to receive a
knowledge of the attributes of that Divine essence.

3. They had been brought to contemplate God as their Protector and
Saviour. Appeals the most affecting and thrilling had been addressed
to their affections; and they were thus attached to God as their
almighty temporal Saviour, by the ties of gratitude and love for the
favour which he had manifested to them.

4. When they had arrived on the further shore of the Red Sea, thus
prepared to obey God and worship him with the heart, they were without
laws either civil or moral. As yet, they had never possessed any
national or social organization. They were therefore prepared to
receive, without predilection or prejudice, that system of moral
instruction and civil polity which God might reveal, as best adapted
to promote the moral interests of the nation.

From these conclusions we may extend our vision forward into the
system of revelation. This series of preparations would certainly lead
the mind to the expectation that what was still wanting, and what they
had been thus miraculously prepared to receive, would be
granted--which was a knowledge of the moral character of God, and a
moral law prescribing their duty to God and to men. Without this, the
plan that had been maturing for generations, and had been carried
forward thus far by wonderful exhibitions of Divine wisdom and power,
would be left unfinished, just at the point where the finishing
process was necessary.

But besides the strong probability which the previous preparation
would produce, that there would be a revelation of moral law, there
are distinct and conclusive reasons, evincing its necessity.

The whole experience of the world has confirmed the fact, beyond the
possibility of scepticism, that man cannot discover and establish a
perfect rule of human duty. Whatever may be said of the many excellent
maxims expressed by different individuals in different ages and
nations, yet it is true that no system of duty to God and man, in
anywise consistent with enlightened reason, has ever been established
by human wisdom, and sustained by human sanctions; and for reasons
already stated,[11] such a fact never can occur.

    [11] See chap. i. p. 9, _et seq._

But, it may be supposed that each man has, within himself, sufficient
light from reason, and sufficient admonition from conscience, to guide
himself, as an individual, in the path of truth and happiness. A
single fact will correct such a supposition. Conscience, the great
arbiter of the merit and demerit of human conduct, has little
intuitive sense of right, and is not guided entirely by reason, but is
governed in a great measure by what men believe. Indeed, faith is the
legitimate regulator of the conscience. If a man has correct views of
duty to God and men, he will have a correct conscience; but if he can,
by a wrong view of morals and of the character of God, be induced to
believe that theft, or murder, or any vice, is right, his conscience
will be corrupted by his faith. When men are brought to believe--as
they frequently do believe in heathen countries--that it is right to
commit suicide, or infanticide, as a religious duty, their conscience
condemns them if they do not perform the act. Thus, that power in the
soul which pronounces upon the moral character of human conduct, is
itself dependent upon and regulated by the faith of the individual.
It is apparent, therefore, that the reception and belief of a true
rule of duty, accompanied with proper sanctions, will alone form in
man a proper conscience. God has so constituted the soul that it is
necessary, in order to the regulation of its moral powers, that it
should have a rule of duty, revealed under the sanction of its Maker's
authority; otherwise its high moral powers would lie in dark and
perpetual disorder.

Further, unless the human soul be an exception, God governs all things
by laws adapted to their proper nature. The laws which govern the
material world are sketched in the books on natural science; such are
gravitation, affinity, mathematical motion. Those laws by which the
irrational animal creation is controlled are usually called instincts.
Their operation and design are sketched, to some extent, in treatises
upon the instincts of animals. Such is the law which leads the beaver
to build its dam, and all other animals to pursue some particular
habits instead of others. All beavers, from the first one created to
the present time, have been instinctively led to build a dam in the
same manner, and so their instinct will lead them to build till the
end of time. The law which drives them to the act is as necessitating
as the law which causes the smoke to rise upwards. Nothing in the
universe of God, animate or inanimate, is left without the government
of appropriate law, unless that thing be the noblest creature of
God--the human spirit. To suppose, therefore, that the human soul is
thus left unguided by a revealed rule of conduct, is to suppose that
God cares for the less and not for the greater--to suppose that he
would constitute the moral powers of the soul so that a law was
necessary for their guidance, and then reveal none--to suppose,
especially in the case of the Israelites, that he would prepare a
people to receive, and obey with a proper spirit, this necessary rule
of duty, and yet give no rule. But to suppose these things would be
absurd; it follows, therefore, that God would reveal to the Israelites
a law for the regulation of their conduct in morals and religion.

But physical law or necessitating instinct would not be adapted in
its nature to the government of a rational and moral being. The
application of either to the soul would destroy its free agency. God
has made man intelligent, and thereby adapted his nature to a rule
which he understands. Man has a will and a conscience: but he must
understand the rule in order to will obedience, and he must believe
the sanction by which the law is maintained before he can feel the
obligation upon his conscience. A law, therefore, adapted to man's
nature, must be addressed to the understanding, sanctioned by suitable
authority and enforced by adequate penalties.

In accordance with these legitimate deductions, God gave the
Israelites a rule of life--the Moral Law--succinctly comprehended in
the Ten Commandments. And as affectionate obedience is the only proper
obedience, he coupled the facts which were fitted to produce affection
with the command to obey; saying, 'I am the Lord thy God, which
brought thee out of the land of Egypt, and from the house of
bondage'--therefore, love me and keep my commandments.[12]

    [12] Deut. v. 6, _passim_.



CHAPTER VII.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE IDEA OF HOLINESS AND ITS TRANSFER TO JEHOVAH AS
AN ATTRIBUTE.


As yet the Israelites were little acquainted with any attribute of the
I AM--Jehovah--except his infinite power and goodness; and his
goodness was known to them only as manifested in kindness and mercy
towards themselves, as a peculiar people, distinguished from other
nations, as the special objects of the Divine favour. They had a
disposition to worship Jehovah, and to regard the rights of each other
according to his commandments; but they knew as yet little of his
moral attributes. Of the attribute of holiness--purity from sin, and
opposition of nature to all moral and physical defilement--they knew
comparatively nothing. After the law had been given, they knew that
God required worship and obedience for himself and just conduct
towards others, but they did not know that his nature was hostile to
all moral defilement of heart and life. And to this knowledge, as we
have seen in the introduction, they could not of themselves attain.

At the period of the deliverance from Egypt, every nation by which
they were surrounded worshipped unholy beings. Now, how were the Jews
to be extricated from this difficulty, and made to understand and feel
the influence of the holy character of God? The Egyptian idolatry in
which they had mingled was beastly and lustful; and one of their first
acts of disobedience after their deliverance showed that their minds
were still dark, and their propensities corrupt. The golden calf which
they desired should be erected for them, was not designed as an act of
apostasy from Jehovah, who had delivered them from Egyptian servitude.
When the image was made, it was proclaimed to be that God which
brought them up out of the land of Egypt: and when the proclamation of
a feast, or idolatrous debauch, was issued by Aaron, it was
denominated a feast, not to Isis or Osiris, but a feast to Jehovah;
and as such they held it.[13] But they offered to the holy Jehovah the
unholy worship of the idols of Egypt. Thus they manifested their
ignorance of the holiness of his nature, as well as the corruption of
their own hearts.

    [13] Ex. xxxii. 4, 5.

It was necessary, therefore, in order to promote right exercises of
heart in religious worship, that the Israelites should be made
acquainted with the holiness of God. The precise question, then, for
solution is, How could the idea of God's holiness be conveyed to the
minds of the Israelites? If it should be found that there is but one
way in which it could be originated, according to the nature of mind,
then it would follow, necessarily, that God would pursue that way, or
he would have to alter the human constitution, in order to communicate
a knowledge of his attribute of holiness. But, as it is matter of
fact that the constitution of the mind has not been altered, it
follows that that method would be pursued which is in accordance with
the nature of mind, to convey the necessary knowledge. Now all
practical knowledge is conveyed to the understanding through the
medium of the senses. Whatever may be said about innate ideas by
speculative philosophers, still all agree that all acquired knowledge
must reach the mind through the medium of one of the five senses, or
upon the occasion of their exercise. Through the senses the knowledge
of external objects is conveyed to the mind, and these simple ideas
serve as a material for reflection, comparison, and abstraction.

The etymology of the Hebrew language, as written by Moses, and spoken
by the Israelites, furnishes an interesting illustration of the origin
of the few abstract terms with which their minds were familiar. The
abstract ideas of the Hebrew tongue may even now, in most instances,
be traced to the object or circumstance whence they originated. Thus
the idea of power, among the Hebrews, was derived from the horn of an
animal; and the same word, in Hebrew, which signifies horn, likewise
signifies power, and may be translated in either way to suit the
sense. The idea was originally conveyed through the eye, by noticing
that the strength of the animal was exerted through its horn. The
force thus exerted, especially when the animal was enraged, was the
greatest which fell under their observation; and sometimes, in its
effects, it was disastrous and overwhelming. Hence, the horn soon
became a figure to denote power, and when the idea was once originated
and defined in their minds, they could apply it to any object which
produced a strong effect either upon the bodies or the minds of men.
An idea of power likewise originated from the human hand, because
through it man exerted his strength. The same word in Hebrew still
expresses both the object and the idea derived from it--'Life and
death are in the power of the tongue,' reads literally--'Life and
death are in the _hand_ of the tongue.' Sunshine, in Hebrew, is
synonymous with happiness, the idea being originated by experiencing
the pleasant feelings produced by the effects of a sunny day; and when
thus originated, it was applied to the same and similar feelings
produced by other causes. The abstract idea of judgment or justice is
derived from a word which signifies to _cut_ or _divide_; it being
originated by the circumstance that when the primitive hunters had
killed a stag, or other prey, one divided the flesh with a knife,
among those who assisted in the pursuit, distributing a just portion
to each. Thus, the act of cutting and dividing their prey, which was
the first circumstance that called into exercise and placed before
their senses the principle of justice, was the circumstance from which
they derived this most important abstract idea.

Other instances might be mentioned. These are sufficient to show the
manner in which the abstract ideas of the Hebrews were originated. And
so, every new idea which found a place in their understanding had to
be originated, primarily, by an impression made by external objects
upon the senses.

Further, all ideas which admit of the signification of more or most
perfect, can be originated only by a comparison of one object with
another. More lovely, or more pure, can only be predicated of one
thing by comparison with another which it excels in one of these
respects. By a series of comparisons, each one exceeding the last in
beauty or purity, an idea of the highest degree of perfection may be
produced. Thus one flower may be called lovely, another more lovely,
and the rose the most lovely; and the idea of the _superior_ beauty of
the rose would be originated by the comparison or contrast between it
and other flowers of less beauty. It is not said that the rose would
not appear lovely without comparison, but the idea of its _superior_
loveliness is originated by comparison, and it could be derived in no
other way.

With these principles in mind, we return to the inquiry, _How could
the idea of God's holiness, or moral purity, be conveyed to the minds
of the Jews?_

First, mark the principles--(1.) There was not an object in the
material world which would convey to the mind the idea of God's
holiness.--(2). The idea, therefore, would have to be originated, and
thrown into their mind, through the senses, by a process instituted
for that express purpose.--(3.) The plan to originate the idea, in
order to meet the constitution of the mind, must consist of a series
of comparisons.

Now mark the correspondency between these principles, founded upon the
laws of the mind, and that system devised to instruct the Israelites
in the knowledge of God.

In the outset, the animals common to Palestine were divided, by
command of Jehovah, into clean and unclean; in this way a distinction
was made, and the one class in comparison with the other was deemed to
be of a purer and better kind. From the class thus distinguished, as
more pure than the other, one was selected to offer as a sacrifice. It
was not only to be chosen from the clean beasts, but, as an
individual, it was to be without spot or blemish. Thus it was, in
their eyes, purer than the other class, and purer than other
individuals of its own class. This sacrifice the people were not
deemed worthy, in their own persons, to offer unto Jehovah; but it was
to be offered by a class of men who were distinguished from their
brethren, purified, and set apart for the service of the priest's
office. Thus the idea of purity originated from two sources; the
purified priest and the pure animal _purified_, were united in the
offering of the sacrifice. But before the sacrifice could be offered
it was washed with clean water--and the priest had, in some cases, to
wash himself, and officiate without his sandals. Thus, when one
process of comparison after another had attached the idea of
superlative purity to the sacrifice--in offering it to Jehovah in
order that the contrast between the purity of God and the highest
degrees of earthly purity might be seen, neither priest, people, nor
sacrifice was deemed sufficiently pure to come into his presence; but
the offering was made in the court without the holy of holies. In
this manner, by a process of comparison, the character of God, in
point of purity, was placed indefinitely above themselves and their
sacrifices.[14]

    [14] It is not argued that no other end was designed and
    accomplished by the arbitrary separation of animals into classes
    of clean and unclean. By this means the Jews were undoubtedly
    excluded from partaking in the feasts of the heathen around, who
    ate those animals which were forbidden to them. An excellent
    writer observes that it is characteristic of the wisdom of God to
    accomplish many ends by a single act of providence.

And not only in the sacrifices, but throughout the whole Levitical
economy, the idea of purity pervaded all its ceremonies and observances.
The camp was purified--the people were purified--everything was purified
and re-purified; and each process of the ordinances was designed to
reflect purity upon the others; until finally that idea of purity formed
in the mind and rendered intense by the convergence of so many rays,
was, by comparison, referred to the idea of God; and the idea of God in
their minds being that of an infinitely powerful and good Spirit, hence
purity, as a characteristic or attribute of such a nature, would
necessarily assume a moral aspect, because it appertained to a moral
being--it would become _moral purity_, or _holiness_. Thus they learned,
in the sentiment of Scripture, that God was of too _pure_ eyes to look
upon iniquity.

That the idea of moral purity in the minds of the Israelites was thus
originated by the machinery of the Levitical dispensation, is
supported, not only by the philosophy of the thing, but by many
allusions in the Scriptures. Such allusions are frequent, both in the
writers of the old and of the new dispensations; evidencing that, in
their minds, the idea of moral purity was still symbolized by physical
purity. The rite of baptism is founded upon this symbolical analogy:
the external washing with water being significant of the purifying
influence of the Holy Spirit. St. John saw in vision the undefiled in
heart clothed with linen pure and white; evincing that, to the mind of
the Jew, such vestments as the high priest wore when he entered the
holy of holies, were still emblematical of moral purity. In the
Epistle to the Hebrews, which is an apostolic exposition of the
spiritual import of the Levitical institution, so far as that
institution particularly concerns believers under the New Testament
dispensation, we have the foregoing view of the design of ceremonial
purification expressly confirmed. 'It was, therefore, necessary,' says
Paul to the Hebrews, 'that the patterns of things in the heavens
should be purified with these (that is, with these purifying processes
addressed to the senses), but the heavenly things themselves with
better sacrifices than these.' The plain instruction of which is, that
the parts and processes of the Levitical economy were patterns
addressed to the senses of unseen things in heaven, and that the
purifying of those patterns indicated the spiritual purity of the
spiritual things which they represented.

There is, finally, demonstrative evidence of the fact that the idea of
perfect moral purity, as connected with the idea of God, is now, and
always has been, the same which was originated and conveyed to the
minds of the Jews by the machinery of the Levitical dispensation. The
Hebrew word קדש _quadhosh_, was used to express the idea of purity as
originated by the tabernacle service. The literal definition is,
_pure_, _to be pure_, _to be purified for sacred uses_. The word thus
originated, and conveying this meaning, is employed in the Scriptures
to express the moral purity or holiness of God.[15] In the New
Testament this word is translated by the Greek term ἅγιος, _hagios_,
but the Hebrew idea is connected with the Greek word. In King James's
version this Greek word is rendered by the Saxon term _holy_--the
Saxon word losing its original import (_whole_, _wholly_), and taking
that of the Hebrew derived through the Greek. So that our idea of the
holiness of God is the same which was originated by the Levitical
ceremonies; and there is no other word, so far as I have been able to
examine, in any language which conveys this idea. Nor is there any
idea among any people that approximates closely to the Scripture idea
of holiness, unless the word received some shades of its signification
from the Bible.[16]

    [15] קדשי שם 'my holy name.'--Lev. xx. 3.

    [16] One of the principal difficulties which the missionary meets
    with, according to letters in the missionary reports, is, that of
    conveying to the mind of the heathen the idea of the holiness of
    God. They find no such idea in their minds, and they can use no
    words in their language by which to convey the full and true force
    of the thought. The true idea, therefore, if communicated at all,
    must be conveyed by a periphrasis, and by laboured illustration.
    This obstacle will be one of the most difficult to surmount in all
    languages; and it cannot be perfectly overcome, till the Christian
    teacher becomes perfectly familiar with the language of those whom
    he wishes to instruct.

Here, then, the idea of God's moral purity was conveyed by the Mosaic
economy in a manner in accordance with the constitution and the
condition of the Jewish mind. This same idea has descended from the
Hebrew, through the Greek, to our own language; and there is, so far
as known, no other word in the world which conveys to the mind the
true idea of God's moral purity, but that originated by the
institution which God prescribed to Moses upon the Mount.[17]

    [17] Ex. xxv. 9.

The demonstration, then, is conclusive, both from philosophy and fact,
that the true and necessary idea of God's attribute of holiness was
originated by the 'patterns' of the Levitical economy, and that it
could have been communicated to mankind, at the first, in no other
way.[18]

    [18] The foundation principle of that school of scepticism, at the
    head of which are the atheistical materialists, is, that all
    knowledge is derived through the medium of the senses, and that as
    God is not an object of sense, men can have no knowledge of his
    being or attributes. Now these deductions show that the truth of
    revealed religion may be firmly established upon their own
    proposition.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE ORIGIN OF THE IDEAS OF JUSTICE AND MERCY, AND THEIR TRANSFER TO
THE CHARACTER OF JEHOVAH.


Although holiness and justice convey to the mind ideas somewhat
distinct from each other, yet the import of the one is shaded into
that of the other. Holiness signifies the purity of the Divine nature
from moral defilement; while justice signifies the relation which
holiness causes God to sustain to men, as the subjects of the Divine
government. In relation to God, one is subjective, declaring his
freedom from sin; the other objective, declaring his opposition to
sin, as the transgression of the Divine law. The Israelites might know
that God was holy, and that he required of them clean hands and a
clean heart in worship, and yet not understand the full demerit of
transgressing the will of God, or the intensity of the Divine
opposition to sin. God had given them the moral law, and they knew
that he required them to obey it; but what, in the mind of God, was
the proper desert of disobeying it, they did not know. They had been
accustomed, like all idolaters, to consider the desert of moral
transgression uncertain and unequal. Now they had to learn the
immutable justice of the Supreme Being--that his holiness was not a
passive quality, but an active attribute of his nature, and not only
the opposite, but the antagonist principle to sin.

_In what manner, then, could a knowledge of the Divine justice, or of
the demerit of sin in the sight of God, be conveyed to the minds of
the Jews?_

There is but one way in which any being can manifest to other minds
the opposition of his nature to sin. A lawgiver can manifest his views
of the demerit of transgression in no other way than by the _penalty_
which he inflicts upon the transgressor. In all beings who have
authority to make law for the obedience of others, the conscience is
the standard which regulates the amount of punishment that should be
inflicted upon the disobedient; and the measure of punishment which
conscience dictates, is just in proportion to the opposition which the
lawgiver feels to the transgression of his law; that is, the amount of
regard which he has for his own law, will graduate the amount of
opposition which he will feel to its transgression. The amount of
opposition which any being feels to sin is in proportion to the
holiness of that being, and conscience will sanction penalty up to the
amount of opposition which he feels to crime.

If the father of a family felt no regard for the law of the sabbath,
his conscience would not allow him to punish his children for
violating, by folly or labour, a law which he did not himself respect.
But a father who felt a sacred regard for the Divine law, would be
required by his conscience to cause his children to respect the
sabbath, and to punish them if they disobeyed. The penalty which one
felt to be wrong, the other would feel to be right, because the
disposition of the one towards the law was different from that of the
other.

The principle, then, is manifest, that the more holy and just any
being is, the more opposed he is to sin, and the higher penalty will
his conscience sanction as the desert of transgressing the Divine law.
Now God being infinitely holy, he is, therefore, infinitely opposed to
sin; and the Divine conscience will enforce penalty accordingly.

This is the foundation of penalty in the Divine mind. The particular
point of inquiry is, _How could the desert of sin, as it existed in
the mind of God, be revealed to the Israelites?_

If the penalty inflicted is sanctioned by the conscience of the
lawgiver, it follows, as has been shown, that the opposition of his
nature to the crime is in exact proportion to the penalty which he
inflicts upon the criminal. Penalty, therefore, inflicted upon the
transgressor, is the only way by which the standard of justice, as it
exists in the mind of God, could be revealed to men.

The truth of this principle may be made apparent by illustration.
Suppose a father were to express his will in relation to the
government of his family, and the regulations were no sooner made than
some of his children should resist his authority and disobey his
commands. Now, suppose the father should not punish the offenders, but
treat them as he did his obedient children. By so doing he would
encourage the disobedient, discourage the obedient, destroy his own
authority, and make the impression upon the minds of all his children
that he had no regard for the regulations which he had himself made.
And further, if these regulations were for the general good of the
family, by not maintaining them he would convince the obedient that he
did not regard their best interests, but was the friend of the
rebellious. And if he were to punish for the transgression but
lightly, they would suppose that he estimated but lightly a breach of
his commands, and they could not, from the constitution of their
minds, suppose otherwise. But if the father, when one of the children
transgressed, should punish him and exclude him from favour till he
submitted to his authority, and acknowledged with a penitent spirit
his offence, then the household would be convinced that the father's
will was imperative, and that the only alternative presented to them
was affectionate submission, or exclusion from the society of their
father and his obedient children. Thus the amount of the father's
regard for the law, his interest in the well-being of his obedient
children, and the opposition of his nature to disobedience, would be
graduated in every child's mind by the penalty which he inflicted for
the transgression of his commands.

So in the case of an absolute lawgiver: his hostility to crime could
be known only by the penalty which he inflicted upon the criminal. If,
for the crime of theft, he were to punish the offender only by the
imposition of a trifling fine, the impression would be made upon every
mind that he did not, at heart, feel much hostility to the crime of
larceny. If he had the power, and did not punish crime at all, he
would thus reveal to the whole nation that he was in league with
criminals, and himself a criminal at heart.

So in relation to murder, if he were to let the culprit go free, or
inflict upon him but a slight penalty, he would thus show that his
heart was tainted with guilt, and that there was no safety for good
men under his government. But should he fix a penalty to
transgression, declare it to all his subjects, and visit every
criminal with punishment in proportion to his guilt, he would show to
the world that he regarded the law, and was opposed directly and for
ever to its transgression.

In like manner, and in no other way, could God manifest to men his
infinite justice and his regard for the laws of his kingdom. Did he
punish for sin with but a slight penalty, the whole universe of mind
would have good reason to believe that the God of heaven was but
little opposed to sin. Did he punish it with the highest degree of
penalty, it would be evidence to the universe that his nature was in
the highest degree opposed to sin and attached to holiness.

Now, whatever may be said in relation to the application of these
principles to future rewards and punishments, one thing will be
apparent to all, which is all that the present argument requires to be
admitted, that is--the mind of man would receive an idea of the amount
of God's opposition to sin, only by the amount of penalty which he
inflicted upon the sinner.

Having ascertained these premises, we return to the inquiry, _How
could the demerit of sin in the sight of God, or the idea of God's
attribute of justice, be conveyed to the minds of the Jews?_

The people had now, in a good degree, a knowledge of what sin is. In
addition to the light of natural conscience, which might guide them to
some extent in relation to their duties to each other, they had the
moral law, with the commentary of Moses, defining its precepts, and
applying them to the conduct of life. Their minds were thus
enlightened in relation to sin in the following particulars. First,
those acts which were a transgression of the positive precepts of the
law; Second, omissions of duties enjoined in the law; and, Third, many
acts which the spirit of the law would condemn, but which might not
be defined in any particular precept, would now be noticed by
enlightened conscience, as sin against Jehovah, their holy benefactor,
and the giver of the law.

Having thus been taught what was sin of commission and omission, one
obvious design of the institution of sacrifices,[19] and one which has
been perceived and understood, both by the Jews and Gentiles, was to
convey to the mind the just demerit and proper penalty of sin.

    [19] The question whether the sacrifices, and the particular
    regulations concerning them, were of Divine origin, does not
    affect the argument. Whether they were originally instituted by
    Divine command, or whether Moses, acting under Divine guidance,
    modified an existing institution and adapted it to the Divine
    purposes, both the design, and the end accomplished, would be the
    same. There are good reasons, however, for the opinion, that
    sacrifices for sin were of Divine appointment.

There were three classes of sacrifices in the old dispensation in
which death was inflicted. The first, which Gentiles as well as Jews
were permitted to offer, was the holocaust, or whole burnt-offering,
which was entirely consumed by fire. Sacrifices of this description
seem to have been offered from the earliest ages. They were offered,
as the best informed think, as an acknowledgment of, and atonement
for, general sinfulness of life. They seem to have had reference to
the fact that men constantly violate known duty, and do many things
which the light of nature and conscience teaches them not to do.

After the whole burnt-offering, was the sin-offering, sacrificed for
an atonement, when the individual had transgressed any specific
precept of the moral law.

The trespass-offering differed only from the sin-offering, as the
learned suppose, in this, that it was a sacrifice for sins of
omission, or for the non-performance of duty, while the sin-offering
was made for a violation of the specific precepts of the moral law.
Whether the design of the different classes of sacrifices was as above
specified or not, is not material, further than it shows how nicely
the forms of the Levitical economy were adjusted to meet that varied
consciousness of sin which the precepts of the law and an enlightened
conscience would produce in the human soul. The material point to
which attention is necessary, with reference to the present
discussion, is that by which the death and destruction of the animal
offered in sacrifice were made to represent the desert of the sinner.

When an individual brought a sacrifice, he delivered it to the priest
to be slain. He then laid his hands upon its head, thereby, in a form
well understood among the Jews, transferring to it his sins; and then
the life of the sacrifice was taken as a substitute for his own life.
He was thus taught that the transgression of the law, or any act of
sin against God, was worthy of death; and that the sacrifice suffered
that penalty in his stead.

Further: the Jews had been taught that the blood of the sacrifice was
its life; or rather the principle upon which the life of the body
depended. Upon this subject they had the following express
instruction--'For the life of the flesh is the blood: and I have given
it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it
is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.'[20] Now, this
blood, which the Jews were thus taught to believe was the life of the
sacrifice, was repeatedly sprinkled by the priest upon the mercy-seat
and towards the holy place; thus presenting the life of the sacrifice
immediately in the presence of God (the ineffable light, or symbol of
God's presence, rested over the mercy-seat between the cherubim);
signifying--as plainly as forms, and shadows, and external types could
signify, that life had been rendered up to God to make atonement for
their souls.

    [20] Lev. xvii. 11.

Thus the idea was conveyed to their minds through the senses, that the
desert of sin in the sight of God was the death of the soul. And while
they stood praying in the outer court of the tabernacle, and beheld
the dark volume of smoke ascending from the fire that consumed the
sacrifice which was _burning in their stead_, how awful must have been
the impression of the desert of sin, made by that dark volume of
ascending smoke! The idea was distinct and deeply impressed, that
God's justice was a consuming fire to sinners, and that their souls
escaped only through a vicarious atonement.

As a picture in a child's primer will convey an idea to the infant
mind, long before it can be taught by abstract signs, so the Jews, in
the infancy of their knowledge of God, and before there were any
abstract signs to convey that knowledge, had thrown into their minds,
through the senses, the two essential ideas of God's justice and
mercy: His justice, in that the wages of sin is the death of the soul;
and His mercy, in that God would pardon the sinner, if he confessed
his sin, acknowledged the life of his soul forfeited, and offered the
life of the sacrifice as his substitute.

In this manner an idea of the desert of sin was conveyed to the minds
of the Jews; God's law honoured, and the utter hostility of the
Lawgiver to sin clearly manifested; and God's mercy was likewise
revealed as stated in the preceding paragraph. Thus, in a manner
accordant with the circumstances of the Jews, and by means adapted in
their operation to the constitution of nature, was the knowledge of
God's attribute of justice, and the relation which mercy sustains to
that attribute, fully revealed in the world; and in view of the nature
of things, it could have been revealed in no other way.[21]

    [21] Inquiring readers of the Old Testament often find many things
    announced in the name of God, which must seem to them inconsistent
    with the majesty of the Divine nature, unless they view those
    requirements in the light of the inquiry, 'What impressions were
    they adapted to make upon the Jewish mind?' There are but few
    readers of the Old Testament who read on this subject
    intelligently. In this remark we do not refer to the historical or
    preceptive portions of these writings, but to the elements of the
    Mosaic institution. In order to see the design of many items of
    the system, we must consider those items as exhibitions to the
    senses, designed chiefly, perhaps only, to produce right ideas, or
    to correct erroneous ones then existing, in the minds of the Jews.
    The inquiry ought not to be, What impressions are they adapted to
    produce upon our minds concerning God? but, What impression would
    the particular revelation make upon _their_ minds? An instance or
    two will illustrate these remarks.

    The adaptation to accomplish a necessary end is apparent in the
    scene at Sinai. The Israelites had been accustomed to an idolatry
    where the most common familiarities were practised with the idol
    gods. The idea of reverence and majesty which belongs to the
    character of God had been lost, by attaching the idea of divinity
    to the objects of sense. It was necessary, therefore, that the
    idea of God should now be clothed, in their minds, with that
    reverence and majesty which properly belong to it. The scene at
    Sinai was adapted to produce, and did produce for the time being,
    the right impression. The mountain was made to tremble to its
    base. A cloud of darkness covered its summit, from which the
    lightnings leaped out and thunders uttered their voices. In the
    words of a New Testament writer, there was 'blackness, and
    darkness, and tempest.' It was ordered that neither man nor beast
    should touch the mountain, lest they should be visited with death.
    The exhibition in all its forms was adapted to produce that sense
    of majesty and awe in view of the Divine character which the
    Israelites needed to feel. To minds subjected to the influence of
    other circumstances than those which affected the character of the
    Israelites in Egypt, such manifestations might not be necessary;
    but in the case of the Jews, accustomed as they had been to
    witness a besotting familiarity with idols, these manifestations
    were directly adapted to counteract low views of the Divine
    character, and to inspire the soul with suitable reverence in view
    of the infinite majesty and eternal power of the Being with whom
    they had to do.

    The testimony of the Bible in relation to the design of the
    exhibition at Sinai corroborates the views that have been given.
    'When the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off. And they
    said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not
    God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people,
    Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be
    before your faces, that ye sin not.'--Ex. xx. 18-20.

    The scene which occurred afterwards, evinced the necessity of this
    exhibition, and developed the result of the proof [trial] that was
    made of their character. In the absence of Moses, they required an
    image of Jehovah to be made, and they feasted and 'played' (this
    last word having a licentious import) in its presence. Thus, after
    trial of the strongest exhibitions upon their mind, some of them
    proved themselves so incorrigibly attached to licentious idolatry,
    that they desired to worship Jehovah under the character of the
    Egyptian calf. They thus proved themselves unfit material, too
    corrupt for the end in view; and they were, in accordance with the
    reason of the case, destroyed.

    Another conviction necessary to be lodged in the minds of the
    Israelites, and impressed deeply and frequently upon their hearts,
    was faith in the present and overruling God. This was the more
    necessary, as no visible image of Jehovah was allowed in the camp.
    There were but two methods possible by which their minds could be
    convinced of the immediate presence and power of God controlling
    all the events of their history. Either such exhibitions must be
    made that they would see certain ends accomplished without human
    instrumentality; or they must see human instrumentality clothed
    with a power which it is not possible in the nature of things it
    should in itself possess. The circumstances connected with the
    fall of Jericho will illustrate the case. The people were required
    to surround the city, by a silent procession during seven days,
    bearing the sacred ark, and blowing with rude instruments which
    they used for trumpets. On the seventh day, the people were to
    shout after they had compassed the city seven times; and when they
    shouted, according to a Divine promise, the walls of the city fell
    to the ground. Now, here was a process of means in which there was
    no adaptation to produce the external effect, in order that the
    INTERNAL effect, the great end of all revelation, might be
    produced--that they might be taught to recognise Jehovah as the
    present God of nature and providence, and rest their faith on him.

    If the Israelites had, in this case, used the common
    instrumentalities to secure success--if they had destroyed the
    wall with instruments of war, or scaled its height with ladders,
    and thus overcome by the strength of their own arm, or the aid of
    their own devices, instead of being led to humble reliance upon
    God, and to recognise his agency in their behalf, they would have
    seen in the means which they had used a cause adequate to produce
    the effect, and they would have forgotten the First Cause, upon
    whose power they were dependent. Second causes were avoided in
    order that they might see the connection between the First Cause
    and the effect produced--human instrumentality stood in abeyance,
    in order that the Divine agency might be recognised. Thus they
    were taught to have faith in God, and to rely upon the presence
    and the power of the Invisible Jehovah.



CHAPTER IX.

THE TRANSITION FROM THE MATERIAL SYSTEM, BY WHICH RELIGIOUS IDEAS WERE
CONVEYED THROUGH THE SENSES, TO THE SPIRITUAL SYSTEM, IN WHICH
ABSTRACT IDEAS WERE CONVEYED BY WORDS AND PARABLES.


Human language has always advanced from its first stage, in which
ideas are acquired directly through the medium of the senses, to the
higher state, in which abstract ideas are conveyed by appropriate
words and signs. When an idea is once formed by outward objects, and a
word formed representing that idea, it is then no longer necessary or
desirable that the object which first originated the idea should
longer be associated in the mind with the idea itself. It is even
true that the import of abstract ideas suffers from a co-existence, in
the mind, of the abstract thought with the idea of the object which
originated it. Thus the word spirit now conveys a distinct idea to the
mind of pure spiritual existence; but the distinctness and power of
the idea are impaired, by remembering that the word from which it was
derived originally signified wind, and that the word itself was
originated in the first place by the wind. So in other cases, although
the ideas of abstract and spiritual things can be originated,
primarily, only from outward objects, yet when they have been
originated, and the spiritual idea has been connected with the sign or
word conveying its proper sense, it is desirable, in order to their
greater force and perspicuity, that their connection with materiality
should be broken off in the mind.

In all written languages this advancement from one stage of perfection
to another, by the addition of abstract ideas, can be traced; and
experience teaches, incontrovertibly, that the advancement of human
language, as above described, and the advancement of human society,
are dependent upon each other.

The preceding principles being applied to the subject under
consideration, it would follow that the Mosaic machinery, which formed
the abstract ideas, conveying the knowledge of God's true character,
would no longer be useful after those ideas were originated, defined,
and connected with the words which expressed their abstract or
spiritual import. It would follow, therefore, that the machinery would
be entirely dispensed with whenever it had answered the entire design
for which it was put into operation. Whenever the Jews were cured of
idolatry, and had obtained true ideas of the attributes of the true
God, then the dispensation of shadows and ceremonies, which 'could not
make the comers thereunto perfect,' would, according to the reason of
things, pass away, and give place to a more perfect and more spiritual
dispensation.

We find, accordingly, that the machinery of the tabernacle was
gradually removed, it never having existed in perfection after the
location of the tribes in Palestine. They sojourned in the wilderness
until those who had come out of Egypt died. The generation who
succeeded them had the advantage of having received their entire
education through the medium of the Mosaic institution, and thus of
being freed from vicious habits and remembrances contracted in
idolatrous society.

Afterwards the Prophets held an intermediate place between the
material dispensation of Moses and the pure spirituality of that of
Christ. In the prophetic books, especially the later ones, there is an
evident departure from a reliance upon the external forms, and an
application of the ideas connected with those forms to internal states
of mind. Their views of the old dispensation were more spiritual than
the views of those who lived near the origin of the institution. And
in the dispensation of the Messiah, the Prophets evidently expected
clearer light and purer spirituality.

The state of the case, then, is this: The old dispensation was
necessary and indispensable in itself, and in its place; but it was
neither designed nor adapted to continue. The knowledge of Divine
things which it generated was necessary for all men, but as yet it was
circumscribed to a small portion of the human family. The point of
inquiry now presents itself: _How could this essential knowledge
concerning the Divine Nature and attributes be extended throughout the
world?_

There would be but two methods possible--either the same processes,
and the same cumbrous machinery (which were a 'burden' that an apostle
affirmed neither he nor his fathers were able to bear) must be
established in every nation, and kindred, and tribe of the human
family, and thus each nation be disciplined and educated by itself, or
one nation must be prepared and disciplined, their propensity to
idolatry destroyed, the ideas coined in the die prepared by Jehovah
thrown into their minds, and then, being thus prepared, they might be
made the instruments of transferring those ideas into the languages of
other nations.[22] If the Almighty were to adopt the first method, it
would exclude men from benevolent labour for the spiritual good of
each other; and besides, the history of the process with the Jews, as
well as the reason of the thing, would indicate that the latter method
would be the one which the Maker would adopt.

    [22] There is a common, and to some minds, a weighty objection
    against the truth of revealed religion, stated as follows:--If God
    ever gave a religion to the world, why did he not reveal it to all
    men, and reveal it at once and perfectly, so that no one could
    doubt? If this had been possible, it might not have been
    expedient; but the nature of things, as we have seen, rendered it
    impossible to give man a revelation in such a manner.

But, in order to the diffusion of the knowledge of God by the latter
method, some things would be necessary as pre-requisites, among which
are the following:

1. That the Jews, who possessed these ideas, should be scattered
throughout the world, and that they should be thus scattered long
enough before the time of the general diffusion of Divine knowledge to
have become familiar with the languages of the different nations where
they sojourned. This would be necessary, in order that, by speaking in
other tongues, they might transfer into them their own ideas of Divine
things, by attaching those ideas to words in the respective languages
which they spoke, or by introducing into those languages words and
phrases of Hebrew origin conveying the revealed ideas. Whether the
different languages were acquired by miraculous or by human
instrumentality, there would be no other way possible of transferring
ideas from one language to another, but by the methods above
mentioned.

2. It would be necessary, before the Jews were thus scattered, that
their propensity to idolatry should be entirely subdued, otherwise
they would, as they had frequently done before, fall into the
abominable habits of the nations among whom they were dispersed.[23]

    [23] Idolatry is one of the most unconquerable of all the corrupt
    propensities of the human soul. Miracles under the new
    dispensation had scarcely ceased--the apostolic fathers were
    scarcely cold in their graves, before idolatrous forms were again
    superinduced upon the pure spirituality of the holy gospel; and in
    the papal church the curse continues till this hour.

3. The new and spiritual system should be first propagated among
those who understood both the spiritual import of the Hebrew language,
and likewise the language of the other nations to whom the gospel was
to be preached. It was necessary that the new dispensation should be
committed, first to the Jews, who were scattered in the surrounding
nations, because, as we have seen, they were the only individuals
immediately prepared to communicate it to others.

Now the following facts are matters of authentic history.

1. By instruction and discipline the Jews were entirely cured of the
propensity to idolatry--so much so that their souls abhorred idols.

2. They were, and had been for many generations, dispersed among all
nations of the Roman world; but still, in their dispersion they
retained their peculiar ideas, and multitudes of this peculiar people
assembled out of all countries, at least once a year, at the city of
Jerusalem, to worship Jehovah; and it was while the multitudes were
thus assembled that the gospel was first preached to them; and
preached, as was proper it should be, by power and miracle, in order
that those present might know assuredly that the dispensation was from
heaven.

3. The new dispensation was likewise introduced, in the first place,
among the Jews who continued to reside in Palestine, and when a
sufficient number of them were fully initiated persecutions were
caused to arise which scattered them abroad among the nations; and the
Gentile languages not being known to them, they were miraculously
endowed with the gift of tongues, that they might communicate to
others the treasures of Divine knowledge committed to them.

Thus, when the old dispensation had fulfilled its design in
disciplining the Jews, in imparting first ideas, and thus, as a
'schoolmaster,' preparing the people for the higher instruction of
Christ; and when the fulness of the times had come that the means and
the material were prepared to propagate the spiritual truth of the new
dispensation, then the Mosaic cycle would appropriately close--it
would not be consistent that it should remain longer, for the plain
reason given by Jesus himself, that new wine should not be put into
old bottles, nor the old and imperfect forms be incorporated with the
new and spiritual system.

Therefore it was that so soon as the new dispensation had been
introduced, and its foundations firmly laid, Jerusalem, the centre of
the old economy, with the temple, and all things pertaining to the
ritual service, was at once and completely destroyed, and the old
system vanished away for ever. It would not have been expedient for
God to destroy the old system sooner, because it was necessary to
engraft the new system upon the old; and it ought not to have remained
longer, for the reasons above stated.[24]

    [24] It was necessary that the old system should be destroyed at
    this time in order to throw the Jews upon Christ as the sacrifice
    for their sins. Under the old dispensation the sacrifices for sin
    were allowed to continue to the end. From this sacrifice they were
    taught to hope for pardon. An idea had been, by the process which
    God himself instituted, originated in their mind, that death must
    ensue for sin; but by transferring their sins to the head of the
    sacrifice, it died as a vicarious expiation, and they lived. It
    had become a part almost of the Jewish mind, that they could not
    hope for pardon, unless the sacrifice was offered. They felt that
    their life was forfeited by sin, and they were unpardoned until
    the sacrifice was made, and it could be made nowhere else but at
    Jerusalem. Now God destroyed Jerusalem, and caused the offering
    for sin to cease, and entirely annihilated the possibility of
    their ever again expiating their sins by the bloody sacrifices;
    they were therefore shut up to the doctrine of Christ's sacrifice
    for sin. By the destruction of Jerusalem the alternative was
    presented to the Jews--Accept of Christ's sacrifice, or you have
    no propitiation for your sins.



CHAPTER X.

THE MEDIUM OF CONVEYING TO MEN PERFECT INSTRUCTION IN DOCTRINE AND
DUTY.


The knowledge which the old dispensation was designed to generate had
been transmitted into the minds of the Jews; and the Jews had been
prepared to transmit the abstract import of those spiritual ideas into
other languages. The Mosaic institution, having accomplished its
design, was about to 'vanish away,' and give place to the new
dispensation, which would end the series of God's revealed
instructions, by giving men a perfect system of religion, accompanied
by those aids and influences which would be adapted to develop and
perfect man's moral powers, and render him, in his present condition,
as perfect as his nature and his circumstances would allow.

At this point of our progress the inquiry presents itself--_What can
we learn, from the present constitution of things, concerning the
medium or instrumentality that God would adopt in giving mankind a
perfect system of religion?_

When the ideas that conveyed the knowledge of God were understood by
the people, human language would then become the proper medium of
communication. The very fact that the ideas were generated and thrown
into language, evinces that language was designed eventually to be the
medium through which they should be transmitted to the world. When the
ideas were prepared, as has been stated, then all that would be
necessary, in order to the further and more perfect communication of
knowledge, would be, that men should have a teacher to use this
language--to expand, illustrate, and apply these ideas; and by these,
give definitions, and illustrate and spiritualize other ideas when
necessary.

Further: man's senses are constituted with an adaptation to the
external world; and his intellectual constitution is adapted to
intercourse with his fellow man. The delicate bony structure of the
ear, which conveys sounds from the tympanum to the sensorium, is
nicely adjusted by the Maker to appreciate and convey the tones and
modulations of the human voice. Human gesture, likewise, and the
expression of the countenance and the eye, are auxiliary to human
language in conveying instruction. The nature of man, therefore, is
adapted, both physically and intellectually, to receive knowledge by
communications from one of his own species. If God designed that an
angel should instruct the human family, one of two things would have
to be done--either the human constitution would have to be elevated
and adapted to intercourse with a being of a higher order in the scale
of creation, or that being would have to let down his nature to human
capacity, and thus adapt himself to intercourse with human natures.
And it would even be requisite that the teacher should not assume the
highest condition of humanity in order that his instructions should
accomplish the greatest general good; nor should his communications be
made in the most cultivated and elevated style of language. If he
would instruct the common mind in the best manner, he must use common
language and common illustrations; and if God (blessed be his name)
were himself to instruct human nature, _as it is_, the same means
would be necessary.

Another step--Man is so constituted that he learns by example better
than precept. Theory without practice, or precept without example,
does not constitute a perfect system of instruction. The theory of
surveying, however perfect it may be taught in college, never makes a
practical surveyor. An artist may give a most perfect theory of his
art to his apprentices or those whom he wishes to instruct in a
knowledge of his business; but if he would have them become practical
artists themselves, he must, with tools in hand, practise his own
instructions before the eyes of the learner. In the language of the
trades, he must 'show how it's done.' Such, then, is the nature of
man, that in order to a perfect system of instruction there must be
both precept and example.

Now there can be but one perfect model of human nature. And man could
not be removed to some other planet, nor out of his present
circumstances, to be instructed. If the Almighty, therefore, designed
ever to give a perfect and final system of instruction to mankind, it
could be done only by placing in this world a perfect human nature--a
being who would not only give perfect precepts, but who would practise
those precepts before the eyes of men. If such a being were placed
among men, who, amid all the perplexities, difficulties, and trials
which affect men in their present condition, would exhibit perfect
action of body, heart, and mind in all his relations of life, and in
all his duties to God and man--that would be a model character,
practising the precepts of the Divine law in man's present
circumstances. The example of an angel, or of any being of a different
order from man, would be of no benefit to the human family. Man must
see his duties, as man exemplified in his own nature. Human nature
could be perfected only by following a perfect model of human nature.
But, with the rule of duty in his hand, and a model character before
him, man would have a system of instruction perfectly adapted to his
nature, and adapted to perfect his nature. If God, therefore, designed
to give man a final and perfect system of instruction, he would adopt
the method thus adapted to the constitution which he has given his
creatures.--Now, Jesus Christ is that model character. He assumed
human nature--came to the earth, man's residence--expounded and
illustrated the law in human language; gave it its spiritual import,
and applied it to the different circumstances and conditions of human
life. He removed the false glosses which the ignorance and the
prejudices of men had attached to it; he modified or rescinded those
permissions or clauses which were accommodated to the darkness of
former times, and the imperfections of the Jewish system: and then, by
applications the most striking and definite, he showed the bearing of
the rule of duty upon all varieties of human action.

And further: the law being thus defined and applied, in order that the
world might have a model character, he conformed himself to all its
requirements. And in order that that model might be a guide in all the
varied circumstances in which some of the family of man might be
placed, Jesus placed himself in all those circumstances, and _acted_
in them. Is man surrounded by a sinful and suffering world? So was
Jesus. Does he desire to know how to act in such circumstances? Jesus
ministered occasionally to the temporal wants of men, and laboured
continually to promote their spiritual good. Is man popular? So was
Jesus; and he used his influence to purify his Father's house. Is man
forsaken by his last friend? So was Jesus; and he upbraided and
murmured not, but sought consolation in communion with the Father.
Does man visit and dine with the learned and the religious formalists
of the age? So did Jesus; and in his conversation he maintained the
claims of spiritual religion, and reproved man's hypocrisy and
formality. Does man sit down in the cottage of the poor? So did Jesus;
and he encouraged and comforted the inmates with spiritual
instruction. Is man present when a group of friends are assembled on
an occasion which warrants innocent enjoyment? So was Jesus; and he
approved their social pleasures. Is man called to sympathize with
those in affliction? So was Jesus; and '_Jesus wept_.' Thus by land
and by sea, in all places and under all circumstances, wherever any of
earth's children are called to act, Jesus--the model Man--is seen
living and moving before them: and his voice falls upon their ear with
the mingled cadence of authority and encouragement, 'FOLLOW ME.'

The demonstration, then, is manifest, that, through the medium of
Jesus Christ, man has received a perfect system of instruction; and a
final and perfect revelation of duty to God and man could be given in
no other way.



CHAPTER XI.

SOME OF THE PECULIAR PROOFS OF THE MESSIAHSHIP OF CHRIST.


We have now arrived at a point in our subject where the light of
history will aid in our investigations. The facts which history
furnishes, and which will elucidate the present point of inquiry, are
the following: First, the Jewish prophets lived and wrote centuries
before the period in which Jesus appeared in Judæa. This fact is as
certain as any other item of human knowledge.

A second fact is--The Jews, about the time of Christ's appearance,
expected with more earnestness and desire than usual the appearance of
their Messiah, who, they supposed, would deliver them from subjection
to Gentile nations, and place the Jewish power in the ascendant among
the nations of the earth. They generally supposed that as a king he
would reign with great dignity and power, and, as a priest, preside
over, not abrogate, the ceremonial law. Although some of the common
people may have had some understanding of the true nature of the
Messiah's kingdom, yet the prominent men of the nation, and the great
body of the people of all classes, were not expecting that the kingdom
of Christ would be purely spiritual, but that it would be mainly
temporal. And, indeed, it was necessary that they should not have a
clear conception of the worth and spirituality of the Messiah's
dispensation previously to his coming; because if they had had such a
conception, the imperfections and darkness of their own dispensation
would not have been borne. It is contrary to the nature of mind when
it is enlightened, to delight in, and employ itself longer about, the
preparatory steps that lead it to the light.

The facts in the case, then, were, first, The prophets lived and wrote
centuries before the era of Christ; and, second, On account of
intimations, or supposed intimations, in their prophecies, the Jews
were expecting the Messiah about the time that Jesus appeared in
Judæa. With the question concerning the inspiration of the prophets,
we have just now nothing to do. Whether they were inspired or not,
their books contained the matter upon which the Jews founded their
expectations of the appearance of the Messiah. With the question how
the Jews could mistake the character of the Messiah, we have also now
nothing to do; although the solution of the question would not be
difficult. The simple facts which require attention are--The
prophecies existed; and in those prophecies a Ruler was spoken of, of
most exalted character, whose dominion would be triumphant, universal,
and endless--whose doctrines would be pure and spiritual; and whose
administration would be a blessing, not only to the Jews, but also to
the Gentiles--and yet, his life would be humble and not suited to the
feeling of the Jews--his sufferings extreme; and that he would
terminate the old dispensation, and die for the sins of the
people.[25]

    [25] Isaiah liii. Dan. ix. 24-27. Micah v. 1, 2. Mal. iii. 1-3.
    Zech. ix. 9, 10. Isa. ix. 1-7.

Now, in view of these facts, _In what character would the true Messiah
appear, when he assumed his duties as the Instructor of mankind?_

If he had appeared and conformed to the views which the Jews
entertained of a temporal Messiah, it would have been direct evidence
that he was an impostor; because the Jewish views of his character and
reign, as all can now see, were selfish, ambitious, imperfect, and
partial. Now, a teacher sent from God to give the world a perfect
religion could not conform to such views; but an impostor, from the
nature of the case, could have conformed to no other standard than the
views of the people. If an impostor wished to pass himself upon the
Jews as their Messiah, he must assume that character and conform to
that conduct which he knew they expected in their Messiah. For an
impostor to assume a different character from that which he knew the
nation expected their Messiah would bear, would have been to use means
to frustrate his own plans, which would be impossible; because man
cannot have a governing desire for attainment of an end, and at the
same time use means which he knows will frustrate the accomplishment
of his own object. An impostor, therefore, in the state of expectancy
which existed at that time in Judæa, could not do otherwise than
conform himself to the character which the nation were expecting
their Messiah would possess.

Mark the two points. The prophets gave a delineation of the character,
life, and death of the Messiah. This delineation the Jews
misinterpreted, or applied to several individuals; so that they were
expecting in their Messiah a character entirely different from that
described by the prophets.

Now mark the application of these points. If Christ had conformed to
the views of the Jews there would have been three direct testimonies
that he was not from God. (1.) Because their views were partial,
prejudiced, wicked. (2.) He could not have conformed to their views,
and sustained at the same time the character of a perfect
instructor.[26] (3.) He would not have fulfilled the predictions of
the prophets concerning him. But, on the other hand, if he conformed
to the prophets, and assumed the character of a perfect teacher, his
rejection by the Jews was absolutely certain.[27] It follows,
therefore, legitimately and conclusively, that Jesus Christ was the
Messiah of God, because he pursued that course which would, from the
nature of the case, result in his rejection by the nation; which
conduct, in an impostor, would be impossible--but in the true Messiah
it was the necessary course.

    [26] See chap. x.

    [27] The fact that Jesus conformed to the prophets, established
    the truth of the prophecies; because, by conforming to them, he
    suffered death; while by his death, in accordance with the
    prophets, the world gained the evidence that he was the true
    Messiah. To give life as a testimony to falsehood, is impossible,
    either in a good or in an evil being.

But further: it was necessary that Jesus should establish his claim as
the Messiah by miraculous agency.[28] But owing to the peculiar state
of the Jewish nation at that time, there would be great difficulty in
doing this, for the following reasons.--If he, as Moses did, had come
publicly before the nation at Jerusalem, and by miracles of great
power, frequently repeated, and extending their influence throughout
all the land, had forced conviction upon the minds of all the Jews
that he was the true Messiah, the immediate and inevitable result
would have been, that they would have raised one universal revolt
against the Roman power, and would have hurried the Saviour of sinners
into the office of the King of the Jews; and then bowed down to him as
the temporal sovereign of the Jewish nation. But, notwithstanding this
error of the Jews, and the results to which it would directly tend,
still it would be necessary in order to meet the constitution of
things, that Christ should manifest, by exhibitions of miraculous
power, the credentials attesting the Divinity of his mission. The
inquiry then arises, _How could Jesus perform miracles, and at the
same time prevent revolt in the nation?_

    [28] See chap. iii. On Miracles.

The circumstances of the case would render it necessary that his
miracles should not be attended by that publicity and power which
would lead those who had the influence of the nation in their hands,
and who were blind to the true design of his mission, into revolt and
destruction. It was likewise necessary, on the other hand, that they
should be sufficiently frequent, and of sufficient power, to convince
the candid who witnessed them that they were the seal of heaven to the
mission of Jesus. When Christ wrought miracles, therefore, he would
have to aim at one end, and endeavour to prevent another--the end
aimed at, that the impression might be made on honest minds, that he
was the true Messiah; the end avoided, that the rulers of the nation
might not, on account of his mighty miracles, rally round him as their
temporal king, and thus hurry themselves and their nation to premature
destruction.

Now, the character and conduct of Jesus accord entirely with the
foregoing deductions, made out from undoubted historical facts. That
he performed many miracles, and yet suppressed their extensive
publicity, is frequently noticed in the New Testament. Jesus,
therefore, had the peculiar marks of the true Messiah; and, in view of
the peculiar condition of the Jewish nation at that time, the true
Messiah could have assumed no other character, and pursued no other
course of conduct, than that exhibited in the life of Christ.[29]

    [29] Another item might be added to this demonstration, showing
    that in order to the ultimation of the plan of salvation, it was
    necessary that Jesus should so manifest himself and manage his
    ministry, that a part of the Jews should receive him as the
    Messiah, and a part reject him.



CHAPTER XII.

THE CONDITION IN LIFE WHICH IT WAS NECESSARY THE MESSIAH SHOULD ASSUME
IN ORDER TO BENEFIT THE HUMAN FAMILY IN THE GREATEST DEGREE, BY HIS
EXAMPLE AND INSTRUCTIONS.


Selfishness is a fundamental evil of human nature, the existence of
which is acknowledged by all men. It is not an evil which belongs to
any one class of human society. It is generic; and moves all ranks;
each individual looks upon those who stand next or near him in
society, and desires equality with, or superiority over them in
wealth, or popularity, or power. The law of reason and of God requires
that men should endeavour to elevate those below them up to their own
condition; selfishness is the opposite principle, which urges men to
elevate themselves over others. If the militia captain could follow
the desires of his nature, and ascend from one condition to another
until he stood upon the floor of the senate chamber, he would find
that the desire which led him to take the first step, had only
increased its power by gratification, and was still goading him on to
rise higher; and he would stop nowhere while life lasted, until he
perceived further efforts useless or dangerous. This selfish pride and
desire for self-aggrandizement is detrimental both to the individual
and to the social interests of men. Wherever selfish ambition exists
in any degree of strength, it generates misery to the individual and
to others about him. There are not, perhaps, more miserable men in the
world than are some of those who have gained to some extent the
object of their ambition, and are seated in the halls of legislation.
Their minds are constantly anxious in making some effort, or devising
some plan, by which they may promote the schemes in which they are
engaged. And every time the hopes of one are realised, the stings of
envy, and jealousy, and concealed hate, rankle in the bosoms of some
others. In the humbler walks of life, the evil exists, perhaps in a
less degree, but still it exists; and its existence is the bane of
human happiness, and the cause of human guilt.

Now, this wicked desire of human nature to aspire after elevated
worldly condition, rather than after usefulness of life and goodness
of heart, would be either fostered or checked by the condition in life
which the Messiah assumed among men. In proportion as his condition
was elevated, pride and the desire of elevation would be fostered in
the hearts of his followers. In proportion as his condition was humble
and depressed, pride of heart would be checked in all those who
received and honoured him as their Master and Teacher.[30]

    [30] See chap. v.

Suppose that the Messiah had presented himself in the condition
anticipated by the Jews; surrounded by the pomp and parade of a
powerful temporal prince; sustaining the earthly dignity and splendour
of the ancient monarchs of the dynasty of David. Now, had such a
Messiah appeared in Judæa, it is perfectly certain, from the character
of human nature, that his earthly circumstances would have a tendency
to cherish in the people, as a nation, and as individuals, the bad
principles of pride and ambition. Worldly pomp and circumstances would
have had the sanction of the highest authority in the person of their
Messiah; and it would have induced the desire in all hearts to elevate
themselves as nearly as possible to his temporal condition. The pride
of the human heart would have been fostered and not humbled. Instead
of causing the middle walks of life to be grateful and contented in
their condition, it would have produced in them an anxiety to stretch
themselves upwards. And instead of causing those already elevated to
benefit the worthy poor, it would have caused them to have no sympathy
for any of the human family in low estate; because theirs was a
condition the opposite of that assumed by the great model which they
loved and admired. And instead of causing the poor to feel a greater
degree of contentment, and to avoid repining at their lot, the
circumstances of the Messiah would have deepened their dejection, and
rendered them less happy in their depressed condition; because their
condition would hinder them from approach to, or fellowship with, the
Heaven-sent Instructor. A teacher, therefore, believed to be from
heaven, who should assume an elevated condition in the world, instead
of being a spiritual blessing to the whole family of man, by promoting
in their bosoms humility and sympathy for each other, would have been
a spiritual curse, by producing haughtiness and hardness of heart in
the rich, ambition in the middle classes, and hopeless dejection in
the poor.

Suppose the Messiah had come in the character which the Greeks
admired; that, assuming the seat of the philosophers, he had startled
the learned world by disclosing to them new and sublime truths.
Suppose he had, by the power of far-reaching intellect, answered all
the questions and solved all the difficulties which perplexed the
minds of the disciples of the Porch and the Academy. In such a case
his instructions would have been adapted to satisfy the minds of a few
gifted individuals, but they would not have been adapted to benefit
the minds of many, nor the heart of any of the great mass of mankind.
Vain of their wisdom already, the character of the Messiah would have
been adapted to make the philosophers more so; and instead of blessing
them, by humbling their pride, and giving them a sympathy with their
fellow men, it would have led them and their admirers to look upon
those who were not endowed with superior mental qualities, as an
inferior class of men.

But, if the Messiah could not have appeared in the condition desired
by the Jews, nor in that admired by the Gentiles, the inquiry
arises--What condition in life would it be necessary that the Messiah
should assume, in order to benefit the human family in the highest
degree by the influence of that condition? In view of the foregoing
deductions, the solution is obvious: _In that condition which would
have the most direct influence to destroy selfishness and pride in the
human heart, and to foster, in their stead, humility, contentment, and
benevolence._

Now, in view of this result, deduced directly from the acknowledged
character of human nature, turn your attention to the earthly
circumstances of Jesus, and see how he brought the whole weight of his
condition in life to bear against selfishness and pride of heart.--He
was born in the lowest possible circumstances. His life was the
constant rebuke to every ambitious and proud feeling of the human
heart; and his death was one esteemed by men the most ignominious. No
one who openly acknowledged and had fellowship with Jesus of Nazareth,
as his Teacher and Master, could do so until the natural pride of his
nature was subdued. It was impossible for a man to find fellowship
with Jesus unless he humbled himself, because in no other state could
his feelings meet those of Christ. 'Take my yoke upon you,' said
Jesus, 'and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye
shall find rest unto your souls.'

Thus did Jesus place himself in a condition which rendered humility
absolutely necessary in order to sympathy with him--in the condition
directly opposed to pride of heart, one of the most insidious enemies
of man's happiness and usefulness. And as it is an acknowledged and
experimental fact that the soul finds rest only in meekness, and never
in selfishness and pride of mind, therefore, the demonstration is
perfect, that Christ assumed the only condition which it was possible
for him to assume, and thereby destroy pride and misery, and produce
humility and peace, in human bosoms.

Profane history and the New Testament Scriptures confirm the foregoing
views. Tacitus, speaking of the primitive Christians, alludes to them
with marked contempt, as the followers of one who had been crucified.
His manner evinces clearly not only his own feelings, but it is a good
index to the feelings of a majority of the people of that proud and
idolatrous age; and it establishes, beyond all controversy, the fact,
that no one could declare himself a follower of Christ until, for
truth and for Christ's sake, he was willing to be considered base in
the estimation of the world. The elegant Pliny likewise bears direct
testimony to the humility and integrity of life which characterized
the early disciples of Christ.

A great number of passages in the New Testament confirm the preceding
views. It is only necessary to say that the apostles understood not
only the effect of their Lord's circumstances, in life and death, upon
the minds of men, but they understood likewise the philosophy and the
necessity of the case. Says Paul--'It became (or was expedient for)
Him, from whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing
many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect
through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are
sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call
them brethren.'--That is, the humble and self-denying life and death
of Jesus was necessary, because it would have a sanctifying effect in
counteracting the evils in the hearts of men. It was necessary for him
to become their brother man, and assume a certain character and
condition, in order that, by their becoming one with him, they might
be sanctified and made happy and useful.

Thus, while the Jews required a sign, and the Greeks sought after
wisdom, the apostles preached Christ crucified; understanding the
philosophy, the efficiency, and the necessity of their doctrine. And
so long as the world lasts, every man who reads the New Testament,
whether saint or sinner, will be penetrated with the conviction that a
vain, aspiring, selfish spirit is incompatible with the religion of
Jesus.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES WHICH MUST, ACCORDING TO THE NATURE OF
THINGS, LIE AT THE FOUNDATION OF THE INSTRUCTION OF CHRIST.


The Messiah having come in the proper character, displayed the proper
credentials, and assumed the necessary condition, the question arises,
What may we learn from the character of God and the nature of man
concerning the fundamental principles which would govern the teaching
of Jesus?

God is righteous and benevolent; it therefore follows that he would
connect happiness with righteousness and goodness in his creatures.
Were he to do otherwise, it would be causing the happiness of man to
arise from a character different from its own, which, as God is good,
would be impossible, because it would be wicked.

Further, man is so constituted that, as a matter of fact, his true
happiness depends upon righteousness of life and benevolence of heart.
When his will accords with his knowledge of duty, or when he acts as
he knows is right towards God and his fellow men, there is peace and
even complacency of conscience. Peace and complacency of conscience is
the happiness which, according to man's moral constitution, arises
from righteousness, or right acting, in life. And when man exercises
benevolent feeling--has love in his heart to God and men, this
exercise of benevolent affection produces happiness. Now there can be
no such thing as happiness of spirit except it arise from these
sources. And when these sources are full and flowing, and thus unite
together--when there is perfect love and a perfect life, the soul is
rendered happy. A single unrighteous act of will or malevolent feeling
of heart will destroy this happiness; a single emotion of hatred or
ill-will, or a single evil act, known to be such, towards any of God's
creatures, will destroy the peace of the soul. Even hatred to an
enemy, or the desire of revenge, or any emotion but good-will, injures
the soul's happiness.

Thus, in constituting the human soul, God, in accordance with his own
character, has caused its happiness to depend upon righteousness and
goodness.

Now, then, a teacher sent from God must recognise these fundamental
principles, and give him instruction in view of them. The happiness of
the human soul, which is its _life_--its first, and best, and only
good, could be produced in no other way. The whole force, therefore,
of Divine instruction would be designed and adapted to accomplish this
necessary end. The legitimate development of God's nature, exercised
towards man, would produce such instructions and such an example; and
the best good of the human soul rendered it necessary that they should
be given.

It is not said that, as in the schools of philosophy, the constant
inquiry and search should be for the 'greatest good.' The very effort
to obtain happiness in this way would destroy its existence. Happiness
is not objective but subjective; no direct effort could gain it; it is
the result of the right action of the moral powers. It would not be
necessary, therefore, that those instructed should even understand the
principles which governed their instructor. It would be sufficient if
the instruction were designed and adapted to promote righteousness and
goodness: the happiness of the soul would follow as a result, whether
or not the recipient of the instruction understood the principles
which governed his teacher.

Now the whole power of Christ's instruction was directed to this
point. It was distinguished in this respect from all other instruction
ever given to mankind. I say unto you, Love your enemies. Do good to
them that despitefully use you. Be anxious about no worldly good. The
weightier matters of the law are righteousness and the love of God.
Love and obey God, and love and do good to your neighbour: this is the
law and the prophets. Seek first the kingdom of heaven and its
righteousness, and all other things will be added to you. That is,
seek first righteousness and the love of God, and the necessary result
will grow out of these exercises--happiness, or life, will be added as
a consequence.

Thus was the whole force of the Saviour's teaching and example
designed and adapted to produce righteousness and benevolence; and as
these are the only exercises from which man's true happiness can
arise, it follows that the principles involved in the instruction of
Christ, connecting happiness with holiness, are the only principles
which can, in accordance with the character of God and the
constitution of man, produce the greatest good of the human soul.
Jesus, therefore, was the Christ of God; because the Christ of God
could found his instructions on no other principles,--the principles
which are fundamental in his teaching being those which alone can
produce the happiness of the soul in accordance with its own moral
nature, and in accordance with the moral character of God.



CHAPTER XIV.

FAITH, THE EXERCISE THROUGH WHICH TRUTH REACHES AND AFFECTS THE SOUL.


When Christ, man's perfect and spiritual Instructor, had come, and
introduced the great doctrines of the spiritual dispensation, the next
necessary step in the process was, that those truths should be brought
to impress the soul, and influence the life, and so produce their
proper effects upon human nature. The inquiry then presents itself:
_In what way could the truths of the gospel be brought into efficient
contact with the soul of man?_

There are but two ways in which truth can be brought into contact with
the mind. The one is sometimes called knowledge; the other, faith, or
belief of testimony. In the earlier and ruder ages, men were
necessarily moved more by knowledge, derived from their own
observation and experience, through the medium of their senses; but
as mankind increased in number, important truth was conveyed by one
man or one generation communicating their experience, and another man
or another generation receiving it by belief in their testimony.
Perception and faith are the only modes by which truth can be brought
into contact with the soul; and their effects are nearly the same upon
man's conduct and feelings, with the following remarkable exception:
Of facts which are the subjects of personal observation, every time
they are experienced, the effect upon the soul grows less; while, on
the contrary, those facts which are received by faith, produce, every
time they are realised, a greater effect upon the soul. By constant
sight, the effect of objects seen grows less; by constant faith, the
effect of objects believed in grows greater. The probable reason of
this is, that personal observation does not admit of the influence of
the imagination in impressing the fact; while unseen objects, realised
by faith, have the auxiliary aid of the imagination, not to exaggerate
them, but to clothe them with living colours, and impress them upon
the heart. Whether this be the reason or not, the fact is true, that
the more frequently we see, the less we feel the power of an object;
while the more frequently we dwell upon an object by faith, the more
we feel its power. This being true, it follows that faith would be the
method best adapted to bring the sublime truths of the new
dispensation to bear upon the souls of men. And further, as the
dispensation is spiritual, and has relation to unseen and eternal
things, faith becomes the only medium through which they can be
conveyed to the soul.

Furthermore, man is so constituted that his faith, or belief, has an
influence not only over his conduct in life, but, likewise, over the
character and action of the moral powers of the soul.

Faith governs the _conscience_.

We have said, in another place, that a true conscience depends upon a
true faith. No proposition in morals is more plain. It is not our
design to inquire what leads, or has led, men to a wrong faith.
Whatever may be the cause of any particular belief, it is
incontrovertible that, if a man believes a thing to be right,
conscience cannot condemn an act performed in view of that belief.
Conscience is so modified and guided by a man's faith, that it will
sanction and command an act in one man which it will forbid and
condemn in another. A Roman Catholic believes that he ought to pray to
the Virgin Mary to intercede for him with God; and if a good Roman
Catholic were to neglect his worship to the saints, his conscience
would smite him, until, in some instances, he confessed his sin with
tears. Now, if a good Protestant were to pray to saints, or to any
other being but God, his conscience would smite him for doing that
which the conscience of the Roman Catholic smote him for not doing. So
the heathen mother will conscientiously throw her infant into the
Ganges, or under the wheels of Juggernaut, while the conscience of a
Christian mother would convict her of murder were she to do the same
act. Conscience seldom convicts those whom Christians call impenitent
persons for neglecting to pray, while the moment a man becomes a true
believer, he will be convicted of guilt if he neglects the duty. So
certainly and so clearly is it true, that a man's conscience is
governed by his faith.

Faith governs the _affections_.

As man is constituted, no power in the universe can move his
affections to an object until he believes that the object possesses
some loveliness or excellency of character. The heart is affected just
as much by the goodness of another, if we _believe_ that goodness to
exist, as it would be if we _knew_ that it existed. No matter, in the
case of the affections, whether the object in reality possesses the
good qualities or not, if they are fully believed to exist, the
affections will act just as certainly as though they really did exist.
The affections are constituted to be governed by faith. And they act
most powerfully, as was demonstrated in a previous chapter, in view of
good qualities existing in another, who, under certain circumstances,
exercises those qualities towards us. The fact, then, is apparent,
that the conduct of man's life is influenced by what he believes; and
especially that the character and action of the moral powers of his
nature are governed by the principle of faith.

Another most important fact in connection with this subject is, that a
man's interests, temporal and spiritual, depend upon what he believes.
The nature of man and the nature of things are so constituted, that
the belief of falsehood always destroys man's interests, temporal or
spiritual, and the belief of truth invariably guides man right, and
secures his best and highest good.

Perhaps the most absurd and injurious adage that has ever gained
currency among mankind, is 'that it is no difference what a man
believes, if only he be sincere.' Now, the truth is, that the more
sincerely a man believes falsehood, the more destructive it is to all
his interests, for time and eternity. This statement can be confirmed
in every mind beyond the reach of doubt.

First, _The influence of believing falsehood on temporal and social
interests_.

We will state some cases of common and constant occurrence, in order
that the principle may be made obvious.

A gentleman of property and the highest respectability, in the course
of his business transactions, became acquainted with an individual,
who, as the event showed, was a man destitute, in a great degree, of a
conscientious regard for truth. The persuasions and false
representations of this man led the gentleman referred to, to embark
almost his entire fortune with him in speculations in which he was at
that time engaged. While this matter was in progress, the friends of
the gentleman called upon him, and stated their doubts of the
individual's integrity who solicited his confidence, and likewise of
the success of the enterprises in which he was asked to engage. The
advice of his friends was rejected--he placed confidence in the false
statements of the individual referred to--he acted upon those
statements, and was, consequently, involved in pecuniary distress. In
this case, the gentleman not only sincerely believed the falsehood to
be the truth, but he had good motives in relation to the object which
he desired to accomplish. He was a benevolent man. He had expended
considerable sums for charitable and religious uses, and his desire
was, by the increase of his property, to be enabled to accomplish
greater good. In this case he was injured likewise by believing what
others did not believe. The individual who seduced him into the
speculation, had endeavoured to lead others to take the same views and
to act in the same way; they did not believe the falsehood, and were,
consequently, saved; he believed, and was, consequently, ruined.

When the English army under Harold, and the Norman under William the
Conqueror, were set in array for that fearful conflict which decided
the fate of the two armies, and the political destinies of Great
Britain, William, perceiving that he could not, by a fair attack, move
the solid columns of the English ranks, had recourse to a false
movement, in order to gain the victory. He gave orders that one flank
of his army should feign to be flying from the field in disorder. The
officers of the English army believed the falsehood, pursued them, and
were cut off. A second time, a false movement was made in another part
of the field. The English again believed, pursued, and were cut off.
By these movements the fortunes of the day were determined. Although
the English had the evidence of their senses, yet they were led to
believe a falsehood--they acted in view of it; the consequence was,
the destruction of a great part of their army, and the establishment
of the Norman power in England.

How often does it occur that the young female, possessing warm
affections and being inexperienced in the wiles of villains, is led to
believe falsehood which destroys her prospects and her happiness while
life lasts! Under other circumstances she might have been virtuous,
useful, happy. By false indications of affection her heart is won--by
false promises of faithfulness and future good her assent to marry is
gained; and then, when too late, she discovers that her husband is a
villain, and she is forsaken, with a broken heart, to the cold
sympathies of a selfish world. No matter how many hearts, besides her
own, are broken by her error; no matter how sincere, or how guileless,
or how young; she sincerely believed the falsehood, and is thereby
ruined. Nothing in heaven or on earth will avert the consequences. If
she had doubted, she would have been saved. She believed, and is
consigned to sorrow till she sinks into her grave.

Secondly, _The belief of falsehood in relation to spiritual things
destroys man's spiritual interests_.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the whole heathen world, ancient
and modern, have believed in and worshipped unholy beings as gods.
Now, from the necessities of the case, as demonstrated in the
introductory chapter, the worshipper becomes assimilated to the
character of the object worshipped. In consequence of believing
falsehood concerning the character of God, all heathendom, at the
present hour, is filled with ignorance, impurity, and crime. As a mass
of corruption spreads contagion and death among all those who approach
it, so certainly does the worship of unholy beings taint the soul, and
spread moral corruption through the world. 'Can a man take coals into
his bosom, and not be burned?'--Neither can the soul hold communion
with beings believed to be unholy, and not itself become corrupt. The
fact is so plain that it is not necessary to detail again the
impurities, the vices, the tortures, the self-murders, and the
unnatural affections of the heathen world, in order to show the deadly
evils, both to the body and soul, which arise from the belief of
falsehood in relation to spiritual things. It must be obvious to
everyone that, if the heathen believed in one holy and benevolent God,
their abominable and cruel rites would cease. It follows, therefore,
that it is the belief of falsehood that causes their ignorance and
corruption.

Thus it is invariably and eternally true that the belief of truth will
lead a man right, and secure his temporal, spiritual, and eternal
interests; and on the contrary, the belief of falsehood will lead a
man wrong, and destroy his interests in relation to whatever the
falsehood pertains, whether it be temporal or eternal.

The preceding premises being established, the following conclusions
result:

1. The entire man, in his body and soul, his actions and moral
feelings, is governed by what he believes; and that, in relation to
things that should have a constantly increasing influence over the
spirit, faith is a more powerful actuating cause than sight, because
the one gains while the other loses power by repetition.

2. That the belief of falsehood, concerning any human interest, is
fatally injurious; while the belief of truth is eternally beneficial.
And that the more sincerely any one believes error, the more certainly
he destroys his interests, whether temporal or spiritual: while, on
the contrary, the more sincerely a man believes truth, the more
certainly and powerfully are his interests advanced. The living God
has connected evil with the belief of falsehood, and good with the
belief of truth; it is a part of the constitutional law of the moral
universe; and there is no power in existence that will stop the
consequence from following the antecedent.

Mark it--That doctrine which rectifies the conscience, purifies the
heart, and produces love to God and men, is necessarily true; because,
as it has been demonstrated that righteousness and benevolence are the
greatest good of the soul, and likewise that the greatest good must
depend on the belief of truth, therefore the conclusion is inevitable
that that doctrine which, being believed, destroys sin in the heart
and life of man, and produces righteousness and benevolence, is the
truth of God. No matter whether men can comprehend all its depths and
relations or not, if it destroys sin wherever it takes effect by
faith, and makes happiness grow out of right living and right loving,
from the constitution of things--from the character of God--from the
nature of man--that doctrine is the TRUTH OF GOD. And that doctrine
which hinders this result, or produces a contrary result, is the
falsehood of the devil.[31]

    [31] John viii. 44.

4. Therefore Christ laid at the foundation of the Christian system
this vital and necessary principle, 'He that believeth and is baptized
shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned,'--saved in
accordance with the moral constitution of the universe, and damned
from the absolute necessities existing in the nature of things.



CHAPTER XV.

THE MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD WHICH WOULD BE NECESSARY, UNDER THE NEW AND
SPIRITUAL DISPENSATION, TO PRODUCE IN THE SOUL OF MAN AFFECTIONATE
OBEDIENCE.


Man's mental and moral constitution was the same under the New as
under the Old Testament dispensation. The same methods, therefore,
which were adapted to move man's nature under the one, would be
adapted to do so under the other. The difference between the two
dispensations was, the first was a preparatory dispensation, its
manifestations, for the most part, being seen and temporal; the
second, a perfect system of truth, spiritual in its character, and in
the method of its communication. But whether the truths were temporal
or spiritual, and, whether they were brought to view by faith or
sight, in order to produce a given effect upon the soul, or any of its
powers, the same methods under all dispensations would be necessary,
varied only to suit the advancement of the mind in knowledge, the
differences existing in the habits and circumstances of men, and the
character of the dispensation to be introduced. For instance: under
one dispensation--it being in a great measure temporal, preparatory,
and imperfect--love might be produced by making men feel temporal
want, and by God granting temporal benefits: while under a spiritual
and universal system, men must likewise feel the want, and receive the
benefit, in order to love; but the want felt and the benefit conferred
must be of a spiritual character.

Under all dispensations, an essential requisite, after the way for its
introduction was prepared, would be such manifestations of God to men
as would produce love in the human heart for the object of worship and
obedience. 'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,' is the first
great law of the universe; and God cannot be honoured, nor man made
happy, unless his obedience be actuated by love to the object of
obedience.[32] Now the manifestations of mercy, under the old
dispensation, were mainly temporal in their character, and limited in
their application to the Jews. But God's special goodness to them
could not produce love in the hearts of the Gentiles. The
manifestations in Egypt were, therefore, neither adapted in their
character, nor in the extent of their design, to the spiritual and
universal religion of Jesus Christ. But one part of the Mosaic economy
was universal and immutable in its character. The moral law is the
same for ever in its application to all intelligent beings in the
universe. It is plain to reason that, whatever means may be adopted to
bring men to rectitude of conduct or to pardon them for offences, the
rule of right itself, founded upon the justice and holiness, and
sustained by the conscience, of the Eternal, must be immutable and
eternal as its Author; and the means, manifestations, and influences,
under the different dispensations, are expedients of mercy, designed
and adapted to bring men to act in conformity with its requirements.

    [32] See chap. iv. on Affectionate Obedience.

How, then, under the new dispensation, and in conformity with its
spiritual and universal character, could love for God be produced in
the human heart?

We will here, again, as the subject in hand is most important, notice
some of the conditions upon which affection for an object may be
produced in the heart.

The will is influenced by motives and by affection; and all acts of
will produced entirely by pure affection, are disinterested acts.
There is, probably, no one living, who has attained to maturity of
years, but has, at some period of life, felt affection for another, so
that it was more gratifying to please the object of his affection than
to please himself. Love for another always influences the will to do
those things which please the object loved; and the acts which proceed
from affection are disinterested, not being done with any selfish end
in view, but to conform to the will and meet the desires of another.
The moment the affections are fixed upon an object, the will is drawn
into union with the will of the object loved; and if that object be
regarded as superior, in proportion as he rises above us in the scale
of being, to obey his will and secure his regard becomes a spontaneous
volition of the soul; and the pleasure that arises from affectionate
compliance with the will of a worthy and loved object, does not arise
because it is sought for, but from the constitution the Maker has
given to the human soul; it is the result of its activity, produced in
accordance with the law of love.

All happy obedience must arise from affection, exercised towards the
object obeyed. Obedience which arises from affection blesses the
spirit which yields it, if the conscience approve of the object
obeyed. While, on the contrary, no being can be happy in obeying one
whom he does not love. To obey a parent, or to obey God, from
interested motives, would be sin. The devil might be obeyed for the
same reasons. All enlightened minds agree to what the Bible confirms,
and what reason can clearly perceive, without argument, that love for
God is essential to every act of religious duty. To tender obedience
or homage to God, while we had no love for him in our hearts, would be
dishonourable to the Maker, and doing violence to our own nature.

When an object presents itself to the attention, whose character
engages the heart, then the affections flow out, and the soul acts
sweetly in this new relation. There is a bond of sympathy between the
hearts of the two beings, and those things which affect the one affect
the other, in proportion to the strength of the cherished affection.
One meets the desires and conforms to the will of the other, not from
a sense of obligation merely, but from choice. And in thus giving and
receiving affection, the soul experiences its highest enjoyment, its
greatest good; and when the understanding perceives, in the object
loved, perfections of the highest character, and affection of the
purest kind for those that love him, the conscience sanctions the
action of the heart and the obedience of the will, and all the moral
powers of the soul unite in happy and harmonious action.

We return, now, to the problem--Under the spiritual dispensation of
Christ, how could the affections of the soul be awakened by faith, and
fixed upon God their proper object?

The principle has been stated, which everyone will recognise as true
in his own experience, that the more we feel the want of a benefactor,
temporal or spiritual, and the more we feel our inability to rescue
ourselves from existing difficulties and impending dangers, the more
grateful love will the heart feel for the being who, moved by
kindness, and in despite of personal sacrifices, interposes to assist
and save us.

Under the Old Testament dispensation the affections of the Israelites
were educed and fixed upon God in accordance with this law of the
soul. They were placed in circumstances of abject need; and from this
condition of suffering and sorrow, God delivered them, and thus drew
their hearts to himself. Now the Jews, as has been noticed, supposed
that the Messiah would appear, and again confer upon them similar
favours, by delivering them from their state of dependence and
subjection as a nation. But a temporal deliverance of this kind, as
has been shown, was not consistent with the design of Christ's perfect
and spiritual dispensation, which was designed to save men from sin
and spiritual bondage, and restore them to spiritual happiness by
restoring them to affectionate obedience to the only living and true
God.

The inquiry, then, presents itself, as a feeling of want was
necessary, in order that the soul might love the Being who supplied
that want--and as Jesus came to bestow spiritual mercies upon
mankind--_How could men be brought to feel the want of a spiritual
Benefactor and Saviour?_

Allow the thought to be repeated again--According to the constitution
which God has given the soul, it must feel the want of spiritual
mercies before it can feel love for the Giver of those mercies; and
just in proportion as the soul feels its lost, guilty, and dangerous
condition, in the same proportion will it exercise love to the Being
who grants spiritual favour and salvation. How, then, could the
spiritual want be produced in the souls of men, in order that they
might love the spiritual Benefactor?

Not by temporal bondage and temporal suffering, because these would
lead men to desire a temporal deliverance. The only possible way by
which man could be made to hope for and appreciate spiritual mercies,
and to love a spiritual deliverer, would be to produce a conviction in
the soul itself of its evil condition, its danger as a spiritual
being, and its inability, unaided, to satisfy the requirements of a
spiritual law, or to escape its just and spiritual penalty. If man
could be made to perceive that he was guilty and needy, that his soul
was under the condemnation of the holy law of a holy God, he would
then necessarily feel the need of a deliverance from sin and its
consequences; and in this way only could the soul of man be led to
appreciate spiritual mercies or love a spiritual benefactor.

Mark another fact, in connection with the foregoing, which is to be
especially noticed, and which will be developed fully in subsequent
pages--The greater the kindness and self-denial of a benefactor
manifested in our behalf, the warmer and the stronger will be the
affection which his goodness will produce in the human heart.

Here, then, are two facts growing out of the constitution of human
nature--First, the soul must feel its evil and lost state, as the
pre-requisite condition upon which alone it can love a deliverer;
Secondly, the degree of kindness and self-denial in a benefactor,
temporal or spiritual, graduates the degree of affection and gratitude
that will be awakened for him.

Now, in view of these necessary conditions, mark the means which God
has used, and the manifestations which he has made of himself, in
order to secure the supreme love of the human soul.

In the first place, _The soul is brought to see and feel its evil and
lost condition, and its need of deliverance_.

At the advent of Jesus, the Roman world was in precisely the condition
which was necessary to prepare it for his doctrines. The Jews had the
moral law written in their Scriptures, and recognised it as the will
of Jehovah; and the Gentiles had its requirements, concerning their
duty to each other, and their duty to worship, written upon their
hearts. Both the doctors among the Jews, and the schools of philosophy
among the Gentiles, especially those of the Stoics, taught the
obligatory nature of many of the important moral duties which man owes
to man. No period in the history of the heathen mind ever existed
before or since, when man's relations to man were so clearly
perceived.[33] The Jews, however, had these advantages, that while the
few intelligent Gentiles received the instruction of the philosophers
in relation to morals as truth, it was truth without any higher
sanction than that of having been spoken by wise men, and therefore it
contained in itself no authority or weight of obligation to bind the
conscience; while they had the Moral Law as a rule of duty, sanctioned
by the authority and infinite justice of Jehovah. Thus the moral
virtues assumed the sanction of religious duties; and they had not
only the moral precepts thus sanctioned, but, having been taught the
true character of God, their religious duties were likewise united in
the same sacred decalogue.

    [33] For the views of the different schools of Grecian and Roman
    philosophy at this period, and the amount of their indebtedness to
    the Jewish Scriptures, see Enfield's History of Philosophy.

There was, however, in the application of the law, one most important
and vital mistake, in relation to what constituted human guilt. The
moral law was generally applied as the civil law, not to the acts of
the spirit, but to the acts of the body. It was applied to the
external conduct of men, not to the internal life. If there was
conformity to the letter of the law in external manners, there was a
fulfilment, in the eyes of the Jew and the Gentile, of the highest
claims that God or man held upon the spirit. No matter how dark or
damning were the exercises of the soul, if it only kept its sin in its
own habitation, and did not develop it in action, the penalty of the
law was not laid to its charge. The character of the spirit itself
might be criminal, and all its exercises of thought and feeling
sensual and selfish, yet if it added hypocrisy to its guilt, and
maintained an outward conformity to the law--a conformity itself
produced by selfishness--man judged himself, and others adjudged him,
guiltless. Man could not, therefore, understand his own guilt, as a
spiritual being, nor feel his condemned and lost condition, until the
requirements of the holy law were applied to the exercises of his
soul.

Now, Jesus applied the Divine law directly to the soul, and laid its
obligation upon the movements of the will and the desires. He taught
that all wrong thoughts and feelings were acts of transgression
against God, and as such would be visited with the penalty of the
Divine law. Thus he made the law spiritual, and its penalty spiritual,
and appealing to the authority of the supreme God, he laid its claims
upon the naked soul. He entered the secret recesses of the spirit's
tabernacle; he flashed the light of the Divine law upon the awful
secrets known only to the soul itself; and with the voice of a God, he
spoke to the 'I' of the mind: 'Thou shalt not will, nor desire, nor
feel wickedly.'

When he had thus shown that all the wrong exercises of the soul were
sin against God, and that the soul was in a guilty condition, under
the condemnation of the Divine law, he then directs the attention to
the spiritual consequences of this guilt. These he declared to be
exclusion from the kingdom and presence of God, and penalty which
involved either endless spiritual suffering, or destruction of the
soul itself. The punishment which he declared to be impending over the
unbelieving and impenitent spirit, he portrayed by using all those
figures which would lead men to apprehend the most fearful and
unmitigated spiritual misery.

Before the impenitent and unpardoned sinner there was the destruction
of the soul and body in hell--consignment to a state of darkness,
where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched--cursed and
banished from God into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and
his angels--agonising in flame, and refused a drop of water to
mitigate the agony. Now, these figures, to the minds both of Jews and
Gentiles, must have conveyed a most appalling impression of the misery
that was impending over the soul, unless it was relieved from sin, and
the consequent curse of the law. Jesus knew that the Jews, especially,
would understand these figures as implying fearful future punishment:
he therefore designed to do, what was undoubtedly accomplished in the
mind of everyone that believed his instruction, which was, to produce
a conviction of sin in the soul, by applying to it the requirements of
the spiritual law of God, and by showing that the penalty consequent
upon sin was fearful and everlasting destruction. We say, then, what
everyone who has followed these thoughts must perceive to be true,
that the instruction of Jesus would necessarily produce, in the mind
of everyone that believed, a conviction that he was a guilty and
condemned creature, and that an awful doom awaited his soul, unless he
received pardon and spiritual deliverance.

Thus, then, by the instruction of Jesus Christ, showing the spirituality
and holiness of the Divine law, and applying it, with its infinite
sanctions, to the exercise of the soul, that condition of mind was
produced which alone could prepare man to love a spiritual deliverer;
and there is no other way in which the soul could have been prepared, in
accordance with truth and the constitution of its own nature, to
appreciate the spiritual mercies of God, and love him as a spiritual
Saviour.

The law and the truth being exhibited by Christ in the manner adapted
to produce the condition of soul pre-requisite to the exercise of
affection for spiritual deliverance--now, as God was the author of
the law, and as he is the only proper object both of supreme love and
obedience; and, as man could not be happy in obeying the law without
loving its author, it follows, that the thing now necessary, in order
that man's affections might be fixed upon the proper object of love
and obedience, was, that the supreme God should, by self-denying
kindness, manifest spiritual mercy to those who felt their spiritual
wants, and thus draw to himself the love and worship of mankind. If
any other being should supply the need, that being would receive the
love; it was therefore necessary that God himself should do it, in
order that the affection of believers might centre upon the proper
object.

But, notice, that in order to the accomplishment of this end, without
violating the moral constitution of the universe, it would be
essentially necessary that the holiness of God's law should be
maintained. This would be necessary, because the law is, in itself,
the will of the Godhead, and God himself must be unholy before his
will can be so. And whatever God may overlook in those who know not
their duty, yet, when he reveals his perfect law, that law cannot,
from the nature of its Author, allow the commission of a single sin.
But, besides, if its holiness were not maintained, man is so
constituted that he could never become holy. Every change to a better
course in man's life must be preceded by a conviction of error; man
cannot repent and turn from sin till he is convicted of sin in
himself. Now, if the holiness of the law, as a standard of duty, was
maintained, man might thus be enlightened and convicted of sin, until
he had seen and felt the last sin in his soul; and if the law allowed
one sin, there would be no way of convicting man of that sin, or of
converting him from it; he would, therefore, remain, in some degree, a
sinner for ever. But, finally and conclusively, if the holiness of the
law was not maintained, that sense of guilt and danger could not be
produced which is necessary in order that man may love a spiritual
Saviour. Jesus produced that condition by applying to the soul the
authority, the claims, and the sanctions of the holy law. It is
impossible, therefore, in the nature of things, for a sinful being to
appreciate God's mercy, unless he first feel his justice as manifested
in the holy law. Love in the soul is produced by the joint influence
of the justice and mercy of God. The integrity of the eternal law,
therefore, must be for ever maintained.[34]

    [34] The preceding views are confirmed, both by the character of
    the moral law, and by its design and exposition, as given by the
    apostles of Christ. The moral law, or the rule and obligation of
    moral rectitude in the sight of God, which is revealed in the
    Scriptures, and interpreted by Christ as obligatory upon the
    thoughts and feelings of the soul, is not only in its nature of
    perpetual and universal obligation, and adapted to produce
    conviction of sin in every soul that is sensible of transgressing
    its requirements; but the Scriptures expressly declare that it was
    designed to produce conviction of sin in the soul, in order to
    prepare it to receive the gospel.

    The moral law is set forth in the Scriptures as holy, just, and
    good in its character; and whatever may be its effects upon the
    soul itself, that its character is such no intelligent being in
    the universe can doubt, because it requires of every one perfect
    holiness, justice, and goodness; it requires that the soul should
    be perfectly free from sin in the sight of God: and, as we have
    seen, God ought not to allow one sin; if he did, the law would not
    be holy, nor adapted to make men holy. But the more holy the law,
    the more conviction it would produce in the mind of sinners. If
    the law extended only to external conduct, men would not feel
    guilty for their wrong thoughts, desires, or designs; and if it
    extended only to certain classes of spiritual exercises, men would
    not feel guilty for those which it did not condemn; but if it
    required that the soul itself--the spiritual agent--the 'I' of the
    mind--should be holy, and all its thoughts and feelings in
    accordance with the law of love and righteousness, then the soul
    would be convicted of guilt for a single wrong exercise, because,
    while it felt that the law was holy, just, and good, it could not
    but feel condemned in breaking it. When Christ came, therefore,
    every soul that was taught its spirituality would be convicted of
    sin. One of two things men had to do, either shut out its light
    from their soul, and refuse to believe its spiritual and perfect
    requirements, or judge and condemn themselves by those
    requirements. And while the law thus showed sin to exist in the
    soul, and condemned the soul as guilty and liable to its penalty,
    it imparted no strength to the sinner to enable him to fulfil its
    requirements; it merely sets forth the true standard, which is
    holy in itself, and which God must maintain; and, by its light, it
    shows sinners their guilt, condemns them, and leaves them under
    its curse.

    Now, the Scriptures declare that this is the end which, by its
    nature, it is adapted to accomplish, and that it was revealed to
    men with the design to accomplish this end, and thus lead men to
    see and feel the necessity of justification and pardon by Jesus
    Christ. The Scripture says, 'It is easier for heaven and earth to
    pass than one tittle of the law to fail.' 'The law worketh wrath:
    for where there is no law, there is no transgression.' 'Moreover
    the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin
    abounded grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto
    death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto
    eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.' Mark the following--'Now
    we know that what things soever the law saith it saith to them who
    are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the
    world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the
    law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law
    is the knowledge of sin.'

    The argument of the apostle in vindicating the holiness of the
    law, while it, at the same time, produced conviction and
    condemnation, is conclusive. 'What shall we say then? Is the law
    sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I
    had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet;
    (that is, I should not have felt covetousness to be sin, except
    the law had condemned it as such;) for I was alive (that is, not
    consciously condemned) without the law once; but when the
    commandment came, sin revived, and I died; and the commandment,
    which was ordained to life, (that is, which required the soul to
    be holy and therefore alive to God,) I found to be unto death. For
    sin, taking occasion by the commandment, (or acts shown to be sin
    by the commandment,) deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the
    law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was
    then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin,
    that it might appear sin, (that is, sin which did exist in the
    soul, was made to appear in its true evil character,) working
    death in me by that which is good; (that is, the holiness of the
    law showed the evil of sin;) that sin by the commandment might
    become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual:
    but I am carnal, sold under sin.' And then, for deliverance from
    this bondage, he looks to Christ--'For the law of the Spirit of
    life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and
    death,' etc. And mark again--'Is the law then against the promises
    of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could
    have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law
    (that is, while the law showed the soul unholy and condemned to
    spiritual death, it provided no means for the relief of the
    sinner--no influence by which love and holiness could be produced
    in the heart). But the Scripture (that is, the revelation of law
    in the Scriptures) hath concluded all under sin, that the promise
    by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But
    before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the
    faith which should afterwards be revealed; wherefore the law was
    our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be
    justified by faith.'

    Now, from the above Scriptures it is evident that the apostle
    understood the law not only to be adapted, but designed by its
    Author, to show the soul its guilty and lost condition, its
    inability to free itself from the condemnation to which it was
    liable, and to prepare it, at the proper time, to love and trust
    in Christ for salvation from sin, and spiritual death, the
    consequence of sin.

How, then, could God manifest that mercy to sinners by which love to
himself and to his law would be produced, while his infinite holiness
and justice would be maintained?

We answer, in no way possible, but by some expedient by which his
justice and mercy would both be exalted. If, in the wisdom of the
Godhead, such a way could be devised, by which God himself could save
the soul from the consequences of its guilt--by which he himself could
in some way suffer and make self-denials for its good; and, by his own
interposition, open a way for the soul to recover from its lost and
condemned condition, then the result would follow inevitably, that
every one of the human family who had been led to see and feel his
guilty condition before God, and who believed in God thus manifesting
himself to rescue his soul from spiritual death--everyone, thus
believing, would, from the necessities of his nature, be led to love
God his Saviour; and mark, the greater the self-denial and the
suffering on the part of the Saviour, in ransoming the soul, the
stronger would be the affection felt for him.

This is the central and vital doctrine of the plan of salvation. We
will now, by throwing light and accumulating strength upon this
doctrine from different points, illustrate and establish it beyond the
possibility of rational doubt.


_1. The testimony of Jesus that it was necessary man should feel the
want, in order to exercise the love._

Jesus uniformly speaks of it as being necessary that, previously to
accepting him as a Saviour, the soul should feel the need of
salvation. He does not even invite the thoughtless sinner, or the
Godless worldling, who has no sense of the evil or the guilt of sin,
to come to him. Said Jesus, 'I came not to call the righteous, but
sinners to repentance.' 'They that are whole need not a physician, but
they that are sick.' 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.' 'If any man thirst, let him come
unto me and drink.' 'Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness for they shall be filled.' Thus, the points which have
been shown to be necessary, from the constitution of things, in order
to the soul's loving God, are presented in the same light by Jesus
himself; and upon the principle which they involve, he acted during
his ministry.


_2. The testimony of the Scriptures that God did thus manifest himself
as suffering and making self-denials for the spiritual good of men._

'God was in Christ,' says the apostle, 'reconciling the world to
himself;' that is, God was in Christ doing those things that would
restore to himself the obedience and affection of everyone that
believed. Christ represents himself as a ransom for the soul, as
laying down his life for sinners. He is represented as descending from
a state of the highest felicity; taking upon him the nature of man,
and humbling himself even to the death of the cross, a death of the
most excruciating torture; and thus bearing the sins of men in his own
body on the tree, that through his death God 'might be just, and the
justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.'

It was thus, by a self-denial surpassing description, by a life of
labour for human good, accomplished by constant personal sacrifices,
and tending at every step towards the centre of the vortex, he went on
until, finally, life closed to a crisis, by the passion in the garden,
the rebuke, and the buffeting, and the cruel mockery of the Jews and
the Romans: and then, bearing his cross, faint with former agony of
spirit, and his flesh quivering with recent scourging, he goes to
Calvary, where the agonised Sufferer for human sin cried, 'IT IS
FINISHED;' and gave up the ghost.

Such is the testimony of the Scriptures; and it may be affirmed,
without hesitancy, that it would be impossible for the human soul to
exercise full faith in the testimony that it was a guilty and needy
creature, condemned by the holy law of a holy God; and that from this
condition of spiritual guilt and danger, Jesus Christ suffered and
died to accomplish its ransom--we say a human being could not exercise
full faith in these truths and not love the Saviour.


_3. The atonement of Christ produces the necessary effect upon the
human soul, in restoring it to affectionate obedience, which neither
philosophy, law, nor perceptive truth could accomplish._

The wisdom of Divine Providence was conspicuous in the fact that,
previously to the introduction of Christianity, all the resources of
human wisdom had been exhausted in efforts to confer upon man true
knowledge and true happiness. Although most of the great names of
antiquity were conspicuous rather for those properties which rendered
them a terror and a scourge to mankind; and although society, among the
ancients, in its best state, was little better than semi-barbarism, yet
there was a class in society, during the Augustan and Periclean ages,
and even at some periods before the last-named, that was cultivated in
mind and manners.

From this class, individuals at times arose who were truly great--men
distinguished alike for the strength, compass, and discrimination of
their intellect. In all the efforts of these men, with the exception
of those who applied themselves exclusively to the study of physical
phenomena, the great end sought was the means or secret of human
happiness. All admitted that human nature, as they found it, was in an
imperfect or depraved condition, and not in the enjoyment of its chief
good; and the plans they proposed by which to obtain that happiness of
which they believed the soul susceptible, were as various and diverse
from each other as can be imagined. No one of these plans ever
accomplished, in any degree, the end desired; and no one of them was
ever adapted to, or embraced by, the common people. The philosophers
themselves, after wrangling for the honour of having discovered truth,
and making themselves miserable in the pursuit of happiness, died; and
man was left unsatisfied and unhappy, philosophy having shed only
sufficient light upon his mind to disclose more fully the guilty and
wretched state of his heart.

There are, perhaps, two exceptions to these remarks as applied to the
great minds of antiquity: those are Socrates and his pupil Plato.
These men, with a far-penetrating insight into the constitutional
wants of man, contemplating the disordered and unhappy condition of
human nature, and inquiring for a remedy adequate to enlighten the
mind, and give the heart a satisfying good, perceived that there was
not in the resources of philosophy, nor within the compass of human
means, any power that could reach the source of the difficulty, and
rectify the evil of human nature, which consisted in a want of
benevolent affection.[35] Inferring from the nature of man what would
be necessary, and trusting in the goodness of the Deity to grant the
requisite aid, they expressed their belief that a Divine Teacher would
come from heaven, who would restore truth and happiness to the human
soul.[36]

    [35] That Plato had some idea of the want, and none of what was
    necessary to supply it, may be seen in the fact that in order to
    make men love as brethren, which he saw to be necessary, he
    recommended a community of wives to the members of his ideal
    republic.

    [36] In Plato's dialogue upon the duties of religious worship, a
    passage occurs, the design of which appears to be, to show that
    man could not, of himself, learn either the nature of the gods, or
    the proper manner of worshipping them, unless an instructor should
    come from heaven. The following remarkable passage occurs between
    Socrates and Alcibiades:--

    _Socrates._--To me it appears best to be patient. It is necessary
    to wait till you learn how you ought to act towards the gods, and
    towards men.

    _Alcibiades._--When, O Socrates, shall that time be? and who shall
    instruct me? for most willingly would I see this person, who he
    is.

    _Socrates._--He is one who cares for you; but, as Homer represents
    Minerva as taking away darkness from the eyes of Diomedes, that he
    might distinguish a god from a man: so it is necessary that he
    should first take away the darkness from your mind, and then bring
    near those things by which you shall know good and evil.

    _Alcibiades._--Let him take away the darkness, or any other thing,
    if he will; for whoever this man is, I am prepared to refuse none
    of the things which he commands, if I shall be made
    better.--_Platonis Alcibiad._ ii.

It is strange that among philosophers of succeeding ages there has
not been wisdom sufficient to discover, from the constitutional
necessities of the human spirit, that demand for the instruction and
aid of the Messiah which Socrates and Plato discovered, even in a
comparatively dark age.

There are two insuperable difficulties which would for ever hinder the
restoration of mankind to truth and happiness from being accomplished
by human means. The first, which has been already alluded to, is that
human instruction, as such, has no power to bind the conscience. Even
if man were competent to discover all the truth necessary for a
perfect rule of conduct, yet that truth would have no reformatory
power, because men could never feel that truth was obligatory which
proceeded from merely human sources. It is an obvious principle of our
nature that the conscience will not charge guilt on the soul for
disobedience, when the command proceeds from a fellow man who is not
recognised as having the prerogative and the right to require
submission. And besides, as men's minds are variously constituted, and
of various capacities, there could be no agreement in such a case
concerning the question, 'What is truth?' As well might we expect two
schoolboys to reform each other's manners in school, without the aid
of the teacher's authority, as that men can reform their fellows
without the sanction of that authority which will quicken and bind the
conscience. The human conscience was made to recognise and enforce the
authority of God; and unless there is belief in the Divine obligation
of truth, conscience refuses to perform its office.

But the grand difficulty is this:--Truth, whether sanctioned by
conscience or not, has no power, as has been shown, to produce love in
the heart. The law may convict and guide the mind, but it has no power
to soften or to change the affections. This was the precise thing
necessary, and this necessary end the wisdom of the world could not
accomplish. All the wisdom of all the philosophers in all ages could
never cause the affections of the soul to rise to the holy, blessed God.
To destroy selfish pride, and produce humility--to eradicate the evil
passions, and produce in the soul desires for the universal good, and
love for the universal Parent, were beyond the reach of earthly wisdom
and power. The wisdom of the world in their efforts to give truth and
happiness to the human soul, was foolishness with God; and the wisdom of
God--Christ crucified--was foolishness with the philosophers, in
relation to the same subject;[37] yet it was Divine philosophy: an
adapted means, and the only adequate means, to accomplish the necessary
end. Said an apostle, in speaking upon this subject: 'The Jews require a
sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified,
unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness: but
unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of
God, and the wisdom of God.' The Jews, while they required a sign, did
not perceive that miracles, in themselves, were not adapted to produce
affection. And the Greeks, while they sought after wisdom, did not
perceive that all the wisdom of the Gentiles would never work love in
the heart. But the apostle preached 'Christ crucified,' an exhibition of
self-denial, of suffering, and of self-sacrificing love and mercy,
endured in behalf of men; which, when received by faith, became 'the
power of God, and the wisdom of God,' to produce love and obedience in
the human soul. Paul understood the efficacy of the cross. He looked to
Calvary and beheld Christ crucified as the sun of the Gospel system. Not
as the moon, reflecting cold and borrowed rays; but as the Sun of
righteousness, glowing with radiant mercy, and pouring warm beams of
life and love into the open bosom of the believer.

    [37] From an observation of one of the Fathers, it would seem that
    after the Gospel had been preached among the Greeks, many of them
    perceived its adaptedness to accomplish the end for which they had
    sought in vain. 'Philosophy,' says Clemens, of Alexandria, 'led
    the Greeks to Christ, as the law did the Jews.'

    Concluding paragraph of the apology of M. Minucius Felix in
    defence of Christianity, A.D. 250:

    'To conclude: the sum of our boasting is, that we are got into
    possession of what the philosophers have been always in quest of;
    and what, with all their application, they could never find. Why,
    then, so much ill-will stirring against us? If Divine truth is
    come to perfection in our time, let us make a good use of the
    blessing; let us govern our knowledge with discretion; let
    superstition and impiety be no more; and let true religion triumph
    in their stead.'


_4. Analogy between the moral and physical laws of the universe._

The laws which govern physical nature are analogous to those which the
gospel introduces into the spiritual world. The earth is held to the
sun by the power of attraction, and performs regularly its circuit
round the central sustaining luminary: maintaining, at the same time,
its equal relations with its sister planets. But the moral system upon
the earth is a chaos of derangement. The attraction of _affection_
which holds the soul to God has been broken, and the soul of man,
actuated by selfishness--revolving upon its own centre only--jars in
its course with its fellow spirits, and crosses their orbits; and the
whole system of the spiritual world upon earth revolves in disorder,
the orbs wandering and rolling away from that centre of moral life and
power which alone could hold them in harmonious and happy motion. Into
the midst of this chaos of disordered spirits, God, the Sun of the
spiritual world, came down. He shed light upon the moral darkness, and
by coming near, like the approaches of a mighty magnet, the attraction
of his mercy, as manifested in Christ crucified, became so powerful,
that many spirits, rolling away into darkness and destruction, felt
the efficacy, and were drawn back, and caused to move again, in their
regular orbits, around the 'Light,' and 'Life,' and 'Love' of the
spiritual system.

If free agency could be predicated of the bodies of the solar system,
the great law which governs their movements might be imposed on
them--_of attraction to the Sun, and mutual attraction among
themselves_. Similar is the great law of the spiritual world: 'Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, and thy neighbour as
thyself.' Now, if a planet had broken away from its orbit, it would
have a tendency to fly off for ever, and it never could be restored,
unless the sun, the great centre of attraction, could, in some way,
follow it in its wanderings, and thus by the increased power of his
attraction, as he approached nearer to the fallen planet, attach it to
himself, and then draw it back again to its original orbit. So with
the human spirit; its affections were alienated from God, the centre
of spiritual attraction, and they could never have been restored,
unless God had approached, and by the increased power of his mercy, as
manifested in the self-denial, sufferings, and death of Christ, united
man again to himself, by the power of affection, that he might thus
draw him up from his misery and sin, to revolve around him, in harmony
and love, for ever.

If this earth had, by some means, broken away from the sun, there
would be no way possible of recovering it again to its place in the
system but that which has been mentioned--that the sun should leave
his central position, and approach the wandering orb, and thus, by the
increased power of his attraction, draw back the earth to its original
position. But the sun could not thus leave the centre of the system
without drawing all the other planets from their orbits by the
movement to recover the lost one. The relations of the system would be
broken up, and the whole solar economy sacrificed, if the universal
and equal law of gravitation were infringed by the sun changing his
position and his relations in the system.

Further, the established laws of the physical universe would render
it impossible that any other planet should be the instrument of
recovering the earth to the sun. If another planet should approach the
earth while thus wandering, the increased power of attraction would
cause the two globes to revolve round each other; or if the
approaching planet was of greater magnitude, the earth would revolve
as a satellite round it. But this would not be to restore the earth to
its place in the system, nor to its movement round the sun, but to fix
it in a wrong position and a wrong movement, and thus alienate it for
ever from the central source of light and heat. It follows, therefore,
that in accordance with the established laws of the solar system, the
earth could never be recovered, but would fly off for ever, or be
broken into asteroids.

There would, therefore, be no way possible for the recovery of the
earth, unless God should adopt an expedient unknown to the physical
laws of the universe. This, all who believe that God is almighty, and
himself the Author of those laws, will allow that he might do. That
expedient must not destroy the great laws of the system, upon which
the safety of all its parts depends, but an augmented force of
attraction must be thrown upon the earth from the sun itself, which
would be sufficient to check the force of its departing momentum, and
gradually draw it back to its place. If a portion of the magnetic
power of the sun could be thrown into the earth, an adhesion would
take place between it and the earth, and then, after the cord was
fastened, if that body of attractive matter could ascend again to the
body of the sun, the earth would receive the returning impulse, and a
new and peculiar influence would be created to draw it back to its
allegiance to the sun. If, as has been said, the power came from any
other body but the sun itself, or attracted towards any other body,
the earth would lose its place in the system for ever.[38]

    [38] These illustrations are not to be applied to the mode of
    existence, or subsistence, in the Godhead; but as God is the
    Author of both the physical and moral laws, and as the attraction
    of gravitation in physics corresponds with the attraction of
    affection in morals, an analogy of what would be necessary under
    one, is taken to what was accomplished by Christ under the other.

So in the moral world: God's relations to the moral universe must be
sustained. The infinite justice and holiness of the Divine law must
not be compromised. The end to be gained is, to draw man, as a
revolted sinner, back to God, while the integrity of God's moral
government is maintained. Now _affection_ is the attraction of the
moral universe. And, in accordance with the foregoing deduction, to
reclaim alienated man to God would be impossible, unless there should
be a manifestation of the Godhead in the world to attract to himself
man's estranged affections; and then, after the affinity was fastened
by faith, by his ascending again to the bosom of the Deity, mankind
would thus be gradually drawn back to allegiance to Jehovah.


_5. Illustrations from nature and the Scriptures._

The plan of salvation is likened to a vine which has fallen down from
the boughs of an oak. It lies prone upon the ground; it crawls in the
dust, and all its tendrils and claspers, which were formed to hold it
in the lofty place from which it has fallen, are twined around the
weed and the bramble, and having no strength to raise itself, it lies
fruitless and corrupting, tied down to the base things of the earth.
Now, how shall the vine arise from its fallen condition? But one way
is possible for the vine to rise again to the place from whence it had
fallen. The bough of the lofty oak must be let down, or some
communication must be formed connected with the top of the oak, and at
the same time with the earth. Then, when the bough of the oak was let
down to the place where the vine lay, its tender claspers might fasten
upon it, and, thus supported, it might raise itself up, and bloom and
bear fruit again in the lofty place from whence it fell. So with
man--his affections had fallen from God, and were fastened to the base
things of the earth. Jesus Christ came down, and by his humanity
stood upon the earth, and by his Divinity raised his hands and united
himself with the Deity of the everlasting Father: thus the fallen
affections of man may fasten upon him, and twine around him, until
they again ascend to the bosom of the Godhead, from whence they fell.

It was thus that prophets, evangelists, apostles, and the Son of God
himself, presented the Divine scheme of human redemption. Christ is
the 'Branch' by which the vine may recover itself from its prone and
base condition: he is the 'Arm of the Lord' by which he reaches down
and rescues sinful men from the ruins of the fall: 'through whom,'
says Peter, 'ye believe in God' [that is, believe in God manifested
through Christ], 'that raised him up from the dead, and gave him
glory, that your faith and hope might be in God.' Says Paul, 'Your
life is hid with Christ in God.' Jesus himself proclaimed that the
believer should have within him 'a well of water, springing up into
everlasting life'--that is, he that believeth in Christ crucified, the
hard heart within him will be struck by the rod of faith, and in his
soul there will be a well of pure and living affection springing up to
God for ever. And again: 'Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on
me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me, and he that seeth me
seeth him that sent me'--that is, Christ was _God acting_, developing
the Divine attributes through human nature, so that men might
apprehend and realise them. God might have been as merciful as he is
if Christ had never died; but man could never have known the extent,
nor felt the power, of his mercy, but by the exhibition on the cross.
His mercy could have been manifested to man's heart in no other way.
And men cannot love God for what he truly is, unless they love him as
manifested in the suffering and death of Christ Jesus. 'I am the Way,
the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.' 'If
ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also; and from
henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.'


_6. The preceding views established by reductio ad absurdum._

It is necessary that man should know the character of the true God,
and feel the influence of that character upon his mind and heart. But
human nature, as at present constituted, could not be made to feel the
goodness of God's mercy unless God--blessed be his name!--should make
self-denials for man's benefit; either by assuming human nature, or in
some other way. And is it not true that God could make self-denials
for men in no other way than would be plain to their apprehension,
except by embodying his Godhead in human nature? Mercy can be
manifested to man, so as to make an impression upon his heart, in no
other way than by labour and self-denial. This principle is obvious.
Suppose an individual is confined, under condemnation of the law, and
the governor, in the exercise of his powers, pardons him: this act of
clemency would produce upon the heart of the criminal no particular
effect, either to make him grateful, or to make him better. He might,
perhaps, be sensible of a complacent feeling for the release granted;
but so long as he knew that his release cost the governor nothing but
an act of his will, there would be no basis in the prisoner's mind for
gratitude and love. The liberated man would feel more gratitude to one
of his friends, who had laboured to get petitions before the governor
for his release, than to the governor who released him. To vary the
illustration: Suppose that two persons, who are liable to be destroyed
in the flames of a burning dwelling, are rescued by two separate
individuals. The one is enabled to escape by an individual who,
perceiving his danger, steps up to the door and opens it, without any
effort or self-denial on his part. The other is rescued in a different
manner. An individual, perceiving his danger and liability to death,
ascends to him, and by a severe effort, and while he is himself
suffering from the flames, holds open the door until the inmate
escapes for his life. Now, the one who opened the door without
self-denial may have been merciful, and the individual relieved would
recognise the act as a kindness done to one in peril; but no one would
feel that _that_ act proved that the man who delivered the other
manifested any special mercy, because any man would have done the
same act. But the one who ascended the ladder and rescued, by peril,
and by personal suffering, the individual liable to death, would
manifest special mercy, and all who observed it would acknowledge the
claim; and the individual rescued would feel the mercy of the act,
melting his heart into gratitude to his deliverer unless his heart
were a moral petrifaction.

What are, in reality, the facts by which alone men may know that any
being possesses a benevolent nature? Not, certainly, by that being
conferring benefits upon others, which cost him neither personal labour
nor self-denial; because we could not tell but these favours would cease
the moment they involved the least degree of sacrifice, or the moment
they interfered with his selfish interests. But when it requires a
sacrifice, on the part of a benefactor, to bestow a favour, and that
sacrifice is made, then benevolence of heart is made evidently manifest.
Now mark--any being who is prompted, by benevolence of heart, to make
sacrifices, may not lose happiness, in the aggregate, by so doing; for a
benevolent nature finds happiness in performing benevolent acts.
Self-denials are, therefore, not only the appropriate method of
manifesting benevolence to men, but they are likewise the appropriate
manifestations of a benevolent nature. Now, suppose God is perfectly
benevolent; then, it follows in view of the foregoing deductions, in
order to manifest his true nature to men, self-denials would be
necessary, in order that men might see and feel that 'God is love.' It
is clear, therefore, that those who reject the Divinity of Christ, as
connected with the atonement, cannot believe in God's benevolence;
because God is really as benevolent as the self-denials of Christ
(believed in as Divine) will lead men to feel that he is: nor can they
believe in the mercy of God in any way that will produce an effect upon
their hearts. To say that the human heart can be deeply affected by
mercy that is not manifested by self-denial, is to show but little
knowledge of the springs which move the inner life of the human soul.
Man will feel a degree of love and gratitude for a benefactor who
manifests an interest in his wants, and labours to supply them; but he
will feel a greater degree of grateful love for the benefactor who
manifests an interest in his wants, and makes self-denials to aid him.
To deny, therefore, the Divine and meritorious character of the
atonement, is to shut out both the evidence and the effect of God's
mercy from the soul.

In accordance with this view is the teaching of the Scriptures. There
is but one thing which is charged against men, in the New Testament,
as a fundamental and soul-destroying _heresy_, and that is, not
denying the Lord, but 'denying the Lord that bought them.' It is
rejecting the purchase of Christ by his self-denying atonement which
causes the destruction of the soul, because it rejects the truth which
alone can produce love to the God of love.

But further: the facts have been fully proved, that God Jehovah, by
taking a personal interest in the well-being of the Israelites, and
labouring to secure their redemption, secured their affections to
himself; and that his acts of mercy produced this effect was
manifested by their song after their final deliverance at the Red Sea.
'I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the
horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my
strength and song, and he is become my salvation.' In like manner,
Jesus Christ secured to himself, in a greater degree, the affections
of Christians, by his self-denying life and death, to ransom them from
spiritual bondage and misery. The Israelites in Egypt were under a
temporal law so severe, that while they suffered in the greatest
degree, they could not fulfil its requirements: they therefore loved
Jehovah for temporal deliverance. The believer was under a spiritual
law, the requirements of which he could not fulfil, and therefore he
loved Christ for spiritual deliverance. This fact, that the supreme
affection of believers was thus fixed upon Christ, and fixed upon him
in view of his self-sacrificing love for them, is manifest throughout
the whole New Testament--even more manifest than that the Jews loved
Jehovah for temporal deliverance. 'The love of Christ constraineth
us,' says one: thus manifesting that his very life was actuated by
affection for Jesus. Says another--speaking of early Christians
generally--'Whom [Christ] having not seen, ye love; in whom, though
now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and
full of glory.' The Bible requires religious men to perform religious
duties, moved by love to Christ: 'And whatsoever ye do, do it
heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye
shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord
Christ.' Mark--these Christians were moved in what they did, what they
said, and what they felt, by love to Christ: love to Jesus actuated
their whole being, body and soul. It governed them.

Now, suppose that Jesus Christ was not God, nor a true manifestation
of the Godhead in human nature, but a man, or angel, authorised by God
to accomplish the redemption of the human race from sin and misery. In
doing this, it appears, from the nature of things, and from the
Scriptures, that he did what was adapted to, and what does, draw the
heart of every true believer--as in the case of the apostle and the
early Christians--to himself, as the supreme or governing object of
affection. Their will is governed by the will of Christ; and love to
him moves their heart and hands. Now, if it be true that Jesus Christ
is not God, then he has devised and executed a plan by which the
supreme affections of the human heart are drawn to himself, and
alienated from God, the proper object of love and worship: and, God
having authorised this plan, he has devised means to make man love
Christ, the creature, more than the Creator, who is God over all,
blessed for evermore.

But it is said that, Christ having taught and suffered by the will and
authority of God, we are under obligation to love God for what Christ
has done for us. It is answered, that this is impossible. We cannot
love one being for what another does or suffers on our behalf. We can
love no being for labours and self-denials in our behalf, but that
being who voluntarily labours and denies himself. It is the kindness
and mercy exhibited in the self-denial that moves the affections; and
the affections can move to no being but the one that makes the
self-denials, because it is the self-denials that draw out the love of
the heart.

It is still said, that Christ was sent by God to do his will and not
his own; and therefore we ought to love God, as the Being to whom
gratitude and love are due for what Christ said and suffered. Then it
is answered: If God willed that Christ, as a creature of his, should
come, and by his sufferings and death redeem sinners, we ought not to
love Christ for it, because he did it as a creature, in obedience to
the commands of God, and was not self-moved nor meritorious in the
work; and we cannot love God for it, for the labour and self-denial
were not borne by him. And further: If one being, by an act of his
authority, should cause another innocent being to suffer, in order
that he might be loved who had imposed the suffering, but not borne
it, it would render him unworthy of love. If God had caused Jesus
Christ, being his creature, to suffer, that he might be loved himself
for Christ's sufferings, while he had no connection with them, instead
of such an exhibition, on the part of God, producing love to him, it
would produce pity for Christ, and aversion towards God. So that,
neither God, nor Christ, nor any other being, can be loved for mercy
extended, by self-denials to the needy, unless those self-denials were
produced by a voluntary act of mercy upon the part of the being who
suffers them; and no being, but the one who made the sacrifices, could
be meritorious in the case. It follows, therefore, incontrovertibly,
that if Christ was a creature--no matter of how exalted worth--and not
God; and if God approved of his work in saving sinners, he approved of
treason against his own government; because, in that case, the work of
Christ was adapted to draw, and did necessarily draw, the affections
of the human soul to himself, as its spiritual Saviour, and thus
alienate them from God, their rightful object. And Jesus Christ
himself had the design of drawing men's affections to himself in view,
by his crucifixion: says he, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men unto me.' This he said, signifying what death he
should die: thus distinctly stating that it was the self-denials and
mercy exhibited in the crucifixion that would draw out the affections
of the human soul, and that those affections would be drawn to himself
as the suffering Saviour. But that God would sanction a scheme which
would involve treason against himself, and that Christ should
participate in it, is absurd and impossible, and therefore cannot be
true.

But if the Divine nature was united with the human in the teaching and
work of Christ--if 'God was in Christ,' [drawing the affections of
men, or] 'reconciling the world unto himself'--if, when Christ was
lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, he drew,
as he said he would, the affections of all believers unto himself; and
then, if he ascended, as the second person of the Trinity, into the
bosom of the eternal Godhead--he thereby, after he had engaged, by his
work on earth, the affections of the human soul, bore them up to the
bosom of the Father, from whence they had fallen. Thus the ruins of
the fall were rebuilt, and the affections of the human soul again
restored to God, the Creator, and proper object of supreme love. Oh
the length, and the breadth, and the depth, and the height, of the
Divine wisdom and goodness, as manifested in the wonderful plan of
salvation! 'Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in
the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the
Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.' Amen.
Blessing and honour, dominion, and power, be unto Him that sitteth
upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen and amen.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE INFLUENCE OF FAITH IN CHRIST UPON THE MORAL DISPOSITION AND MORAL
POWERS OF THE SOUL.


It has been demonstrated that the teaching and atonement of God the
Saviour would draw to him, by faith, the affections of the human
heart. We will now inquire what particular effect that faith in Christ
which works by love has upon the moral disposition, the conscience,
the imagination, and the life of believers. Would faith in Christ, as
a Divine, suffering Saviour, quicken, and regulate, and harmonize the
moral powers of the soul?

_1. The influence of faith in Christ upon the moral disposition of
the soul._--When its disposition is affected, the soul is affected
to the centre of its being. By disposition is meant the desires or
predilections of the heart, which influence the choice of the will
to do good or evil. The radical difference of character in spirits
depends upon their disposition. The spirit that has a settled love
for sin and hatred for holiness is a devil, whether it be in time or
eternity--embodied or disembodied. And that spirit which has a
settled love for holiness is a benevolent spirit, in whatever
condition it exists. A devil or malignant spirit is one that seeks
its gratification in habitually doing evil. A holy being, or
benevolent spirit, is one that finds its gratification in habitually
doing good. Whatever, therefore, affects the moral disposition of
the soul, affects, radically, the character of the soul. It becomes,
therefore, a question of the deepest interest--What effect will
faith in Christ have upon man's moral disposition?

The solution of this inquiry is not difficult. Is Jesus Christ holy?
All Christendom--sceptics and believers--answers in the affirmative.
Now the love of a holy being will, as a necessary result, counteract
unholiness in the heart. Holiness is the antagonistic principle of
sin. The soul cannot love a holy being, and at the same time cherish
those principles and exercises which it is conscious are offensive to
the soul of the beloved object. From the nature of the case, love to
holiness will produce opposition to sin. Love is the fulfilling of the
law, and sin is the transgression of the law; so that, while the soul
is entirely actuated in all its exercises by pure love to Christ,
those exercises of the heart cannot be sinful.

When the heart is attached to any being, especially when that being is
lovely and pure in his character, it becomes averse to everything
which, from its evil nature, causes suffering to the object of its
affections. There are few things which will cause one to feel so
sensibly the evil of sin as to see that his sins are causing anguish
to one that he loves.

It is said of Zeleucus, a king of the ancient Locri, that he enacted a
law, the penalty of which was that the offender should lose both his
eyes. One of his sons became a transgressor of that law. The father
had his attachment to his son, and regard to the law he himself had
promulgated as righteous in its requirements and in its penalty. The
lawgiver, it is said, ordered his son into his presence, and required
that one of his eyes should be taken out, and then, in order to show
mercy to his son, and at the same time maintain the penalty of the
law, he sacrificed one of his own eyes as a ransom for the remaining
eye of his child. Now we do not refer to this case as a perfect
analogy, but to show the moral effect of such an exhibition of justice
and self-sacrificing mercy. As man is constituted, it is perfectly
certain that this transaction would produce two effects; one upon the
subjects of the king, which would be to impress upon every heart that
the law was sacred, and that the lawgiver thus regarded it. This
impression would be made much more strongly than it would have been if
the king had ordered that his son should lose both his eyes; because
it manifested, in the strongest manner possible, his love for his son,
and his sacred regard for his law. If he had allowed his son to
escape, it would have exhibited to his subjects less love for his
law; and if he had executed the whole penalty of the law upon the son,
instead of bearing a portion of it himself, he would have manifested
less love for his son. The king was the lawgiver; he therefore had the
power to pardon his son, without inflicting the penalty upon him, and
without enduring any sacrifice himself. Every mind, therefore, would
feel that it was a voluntary act on the part of the king; and such an
exhibition of justice and mercy, maintaining the law and saving his
son by his own sacrifice, would impress all minds with the deepest
reverence for the character of the lawgiver, and for the sacredness of
the law.

But another effect, deep and lasting in its character, would be
produced upon the son who had transgressed the law. Every time that he
looked upon his father, or remembered what he had suffered for his
transgression, it would increase his love for him, increase his
reverence for the law, and cause an abhorrence of his crime to arise
in his soul. His feelings would be more kind towards his sire, more
submissive to the law, and more averse to transgression.

Now this is precisely the effect necessary to be produced, in order
that pardon may be extended to transgressors, and yet just and
righteous government be maintained. If civil law had some expedient
by which, with the offer of pardon, some influence could be exerted
upon the heart of the transgressor which would entirely change his
character; an influence which would make him love the law he had
transgressed, hate the crime he had committed, hate himself for
committing it, and implant within him the spirit of an obedient and
faithful subject--if such an effect could be produced by pardon, then
pardon would be safe; because there would be some means, or some
moral power, connected with it, that would, at the same time that the
pardon was granted, change the moral disposition of the criminal from
that of a rebellious to that of a faithful and affectionate subject.
This expedient the civil law can never have. Such an expedient was
that of Zeleucus, the self-sacrificed lawgiver and father. Such an
expedient, in some respects, in the moral government of God, is the
atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 'He,' says the prophet, 'was
bruised for our iniquities;' says the apostle, 'He bare our sins in
his own body on the tree;' says himself, 'This is my body broken for
you.' Now two effects would follow this exhibition of the
self-sacrificing love of Christ. One in the heart of the believing
sinner; every time he realized by faith that the Divine Saviour
suffered the rebuke, the scorn, and the cross, as a sacrifice for his
sins, he would regard the Saviour with greater love; and sin, which
caused the suffering of his Divine Benefactor, he would regard in
himself and others with greater abhorrence. Another effect which
would result would be that all the holy beings in the universe, if
they had knowledge of the self-sacrifice of God the Saviour, as an
atonement to maintain the law and redeem sinners, would be inspired
with greater reverence for the eternal law, and greater aversion to
sin. Thus would the faith of Christ affect the moral disposition of
believers, and of all holy beings throughout the universe; drawing
the believer back to holiness and obedience, and adding a new motive
to confirm holy beings in happy allegiance.

The language of the apostle confirms this view: 'What the law could
not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own
Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the
flesh'--that is, the law, although it had power to show to the mind
the evil and the guilt of sin, had no power to produce in the heart an
aversion to it; but Christ coming in the body, and dying for sin, in
that way reaches man's moral feelings, and creates a sentiment of
condemnation of, or aversion to, sin in the heart of every believer.

A feeling cannot be manifested by intellect or will. A communication
of knowledge, or law, does not manifest feeling so that it produces
feeling in others. The moral feelings of God were manifested by the
sacrifice of Christ; and that manifestation, through the flesh,
affects the moral feelings of man, assimilates them to God, and
produces an aversion to sin--the abominable thing which God hates.
Blessed faith! which, while it purifies the heart, works by the sweet
influence of love in accomplishing the believer's sanctification.

_2. The influence of faith in Christ upon the moral sense, or
conscience of believers._--To a mind endowed with the higher qualities
of reason, there can be no more interesting thought than that noticed
in a previous demonstration; which was, that a man's conscience is
guided by his faith. Conscience is the highest moral faculty, or
rather the governing moral power of the soul; and this governing
faculty is regulated and controlled by faith. Man's conscience always
follows his religious belief, and changes with it, and grows weak or
strong with it. Now, as God has so constituted the world that the
affections, and likewise the conscience, are affected and controlled
by faith; and the purity of the one, and the integrity of the other,
and the activity of both, depend upon what man believes: this being
true, no mind can avoid the conviction, that the principle of FAITH,
which Christ has laid at the foundation of the Christian system, is
from the nature of things, the only principle through the operation of
which man's moral powers can be brought into happy, harmonious, and
perfect activity. But this happy effect, as has been shown, can be
produced only by faith in the truth; and besides, it is an intuition
of reason, that God certainly would not make the soul so that its
moral powers would be controlled by faith, and then cause that faith
in falsehood should perfect and make happy those powers. Such a
supposition would be a violation of reason, as well as an impiety. In
searching, therefore, for the answer to the inquiry, What is truth? as
it concerns the spiritual interests of man, the direct process of
solution would be, to inquire what effect certain facts, or supposed
facts, would have upon the moral disposition and moral powers of the
soul; and that faith which quickens and rectifies those powers, as we
have noticed, is necessarily truth.

We come now to the inquiry, _What effect has faith in Christ--in his
Divinity, in his teaching, and in his atonement for sin--upon the
conscience of believers?_

The answer is plain. In those who received Christ as possessing
supreme authority as a Divine Teacher, their faith would so affect
their conscience, that it would reprove for every neglect of
conformity to the example of Jesus. The moment faith recognises Christ
as a Divine instructor, that moment conscience recognises his
instruction and his example as obligatory to be received and
practised. To the believer, the teachings and example of Christ have
not only the force of truth, recognised as such by the understanding,
but they have likewise the authority of supreme law, as coming from
that Divine Being who is the rightful Lawgiver of the soul. Now, then,
if faith in Christ would regulate the conscience according to his
example and precepts, the only inquiry which remains is, Were the
example and precepts of Christ a perfect rule of duty towards God and
men? This inquiry has been the subject of examination in another
chapter, in which the fact was shown--which has been generally
admitted by all men, believers and sceptics--that Christ's example of
piety towards God, and kindness towards men, was perfect. When this is
admitted, the consecutive fact follows, whether men perceive it or
not, that in the case of all who receive him as their Lord and
Lawgiver, the conscience would be regulated according to a perfect
standard, and guided by a perfect rule.

But further--While it is true that a knowledge of duty guides the
conscience, and a knowledge of the Divine authority of the lawgiver
binds it, by imposing a sense of obligation, it is likewise true that
faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice has peculiar efficacy to
strengthen this sense of obligation. Two men may have an equal
knowledge of duty, and yet one feel, much more than the other, a sense
of obligation to perform it: whatever, therefore, increases the sense
of obligation, increases the power of conscience, and thereby promotes
in a greater degree active conformity of the life to the rule of duty.

The atonement of Christ increases the sense of obligation, by waking
into exercise gratitude and hope in the soul of the believer.
Gratitude gives the conscience a power in the soul where it exists,
which could arise from no other source. Conscience reproves for the
neglect of known duty; but to neglect duty, when it involves the sense
of gratitude to the kindest of benefactors, is to arm the moral sense
of the soul with a two-edged sword. When the lawgiver is likewise the
benefactor, conscience rebukes, not only for wrongdoing, but for
ingratitude. One step further--

When the being who claims our obedience is not only our benefactor,
but the object of all our hopes, the power of obligation is still
further increased. To disobey a being whom we ought to obey, would be
wrong; to disobey that being, if he were our self-denying benefactor,
would be ingratitude added to the wrong; and to disobey that being, if
from him we hoped for all future good, would be to add unworthiness to
wrong and ingratitude. Thus, faith in Christ Jesus combines the sense
of wrong, of ingratitude, and unworthiness, in the rebuke which
conscience gives to the delinquent believer; and obedience to the
Redeemer's example and precepts is enforced by the united power of
duty, gratitude, and hope.

Further, and finally--Conscience recognises the fact that our obligation
of gratitude is in proportion to the benefit conferred. If a benefactor
has endured great sacrifices and self-denials to benefit us, the
obligation of gratitude binds us the more strongly to respect the will
and feelings of that individual. Conscience feels the obligation of
gratitude just in proportion to the self-denials and sacrifices made in
our behalf. If a friend risks his interest to the amount of a dollar, or
an hour of time, to benefit us, the obligation of gratitude upon the
conscience is light, but still there is a sense of obligation; but if a
friend risks his life, and wades through deep afflictions, to confer
benefits, the universal conscience of man would affirm the obligation,
and would reprobate the conduct of the individual benefited, as base
and unnatural, if he did not ever after manifest an affectionate regard
for the interests and the desires of his benefactor.

Thus, by faith in Jesus Christ, the conscience is not only guided by a
perfect rule, but it is likewise quickened and empowered by a perfect
sense of obligation. Christ is the Divine Lawgiver; therefore it is
right to obey him. He is our Benefactor; gratitude, therefore,
requires obedience. But as our Benefactor he has endured the utmost
self-denial and sacrifice for our sake, therefore we are under the
utmost obligation of gratitude to return self-denial and sacrifice for
his sake; or, in the words of an apostle, 'He died for all, that they
which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him
which died for them, and rose again;' and, added to this, our hope of
all future good rests in the same Being that right and gratitude
require us to obey and love. Thus does a perfect faith in Christ
perfect the conscience of believers, by guiding, quickening, and by
producing a perfect sense of obligation.

_3. The influence of faith, in Christ upon the imagination._--There
are few exercises of the mind fraught with so much evil, and yet so
little regarded, as that of an evil imagination. Many individuals
spend much of their time in a labour of spirit which is vain and
useless, and often very hurtful to the moral character of the soul.
The spirit is borne off upon the wings of an active imagination, and
expatiates among ideal conceptions that are improbable, absurd, and
sinful. Some people spend about as much time in day-dreams as they do
in night-dreams. Imaginations of popularity, pleasure, or wealth
employ the minds of worldly men, and perchance the Christian dreams of
wealth, and of magnificent plans of benevolence, or of schemes less
pious in their character. It is difficult to convey a distinct idea of
the evil under consideration, without supposing a case like the
following:

One day, while a young man was employed silently about his usual
pursuits, he imagined a train of circumstances by which he supposed
himself to be put in possession of great wealth; and then he imagined
that he would be the master of a splendid mansion surrounded with
grounds devoted to profit and amusement--he would keep horses and
conveyances that would be perfect in all points, and servants that
would want nothing in faithfulness or affection--he would be great in
the eyes of men, and associate with the great among men, and render
himself admired or honoured by his generation. Thus his soul wandered,
for hours, amid the ideal creations of his own fancy.

Now, much of men's time, when their attention might be employed by
useful topics of thought, is thus spent in building 'castles in the
air.' Some extraordinary circumstance is thought of by which they
might be enriched, and then hours are wasted in foolishly imagining
the manner in which they would expend their imaginary funds. Such
excursions of the fancy may be said to be comparatively innocent, and
they are so, compared with the more guilty exercises of a great
portion of mankind. The mind of the politician and of the partisan
divine is employed in forming schemes of triumph over their opponents.
The minds of the votaries of fashion, of both sexes, are employed in
imagining displays and triumphs at home and abroad; and those of them
who are vicious at heart, not having their attention engaged by any
useful occupation, pollute their souls by cherishing imaginary scenes
of folly and licentiousness. And not only the worthless votaries of
the world, but likewise the followers of the holy Jesus, are sometimes
led captive by an unsanctified imagination. Not that they indulge in
the sinful reveries which characterise the unregenerate sons and
daughters of time and sense; but their thoughts wander to unprofitable
topics, and wander at times when they should be fixed on those truths
which have a sanctifying efficacy upon the heart. In the solemn
assemblies for public worship, many of those whose bodies are bowed
and their eyes closed in token of reverence for God, are yet mocking
their Maker by assuming the external semblance of worshippers, while
their souls are away roaming amid a labyrinth of irrelevant and sinful
thought.

It is not affirmed that the exercises of the imagination are
necessarily evil. Imagination is one of the noblest attributes of the
human spirit; and there is something in the fact that the soul has
power to create, by its own combinations, scenes of rare beauty, and
of perfect happiness, unsullied by the imperfections which pertain to
earthly things, that indicates not only its nobility, but perhaps its
future life. When the imagination is employed in painting the beauties
of nature, or in collecting the beauties of sentiment and devotion,
and in grouping them together by the sweet measures of poetry, its
exercises have a benign influence upon the spirit. It is like
presenting 'apples of gold in pictures of silver' for the survey of
the soul. The imagination may degrade and corrupt, or it may elevate
and refine the feelings of the heart. The inquiry, then, is important.
How may the exercises of the imagination be controlled and directed,
so that their influence upon the soul shall not be injurious, but
ennobling and purifying? Would faith in Christ turn the sympathies of
the soul away from those gifted but guilty minds:

            'Whose poisoned song
    Would blend the bounds of right and wrong;
    And hold, with sweet but cursed art,
    Their incantations o'er the heart,
    Till every pulse or pure desire
    Throbs with the glow of passion's fire,
    And love, and reason's mild control,
    Yield to the simoom of the soul?'

When the conscience had become purified and quickened, it would be a
check upon the erratic movements of the imagination; and when the
disposition was corrected, it would be disinclined to every unholy
exercise; so that, in the believer, the disinclination of the will and
the disapprobation of the conscience would be powerful aids in
bringing into subjection the imaginative faculty. But, more than this,
faith in Christ would have a direct influence in correcting the evils
of the imagination. It is a law of mind, that the subject which
interests an individual most, subordinates all other subjects to
itself, or removes them from the mind and assumes their place. As a
group of persons, who might be socially conversing upon a variety of
topics, if some venerable individual should enter and introduce an
absorbing subject, in which all felt interested, minor topics would be
forgotten in the interest created by the master subject;--so when
'Christ crucified' enters the presence-chamber of the believer's Soul,
the high moral powers of the mind bow around in obeisance; and even
imagination folds her starry wings around her face, and bends before
Immanuel. When the cross of Christ becomes the central subject of the
soul, it has power to chasten the imagination, and subdue its
waywardness by the sublime exhibition of the bleeding mercy in the
atonement. The apostle perceived the efficacy of the cross in subduing
vain reasoning and an evil imagination, and alludes to it in language
possessing both strength and beauty, as 'casting down imaginations,
and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of
God, and [mark] bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience
of Christ.'

That these views are not idle speculations, but truthful realities, is
affirmed by the experience of every Christian. When the imagination is
wandering to unprofitable or forbidden subjects, all that is necessary
in order to break the chain of evil suggestion, and introduce into the
mind a profitable train of thought, is to turn the eye of the soul
upon the 'Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.' By the
presence of this delightful and sacred idea every unworthy and hurtful
thought will be awed out of the mind.

Thus does faith in the blessed Jesus control and purify the imagination
of believers.

_4. The influence of faith in Christ upon the life: leading man to
such conduct as would eventually accomplish the salvation of the whole
human family._

It is certain that men have all the faculties which, if rightly
directed, would be necessary to enable them to benefit and bless each
other. Suppose one individual did all in his power to do others good
and make them happy, who can limit the amount of consolation which
that man might impart to the children of want and sorrow; or the
amount of light he might shed upon the minds of the ignorant; or the
rebukes and warnings he might sound in the ears of those who persisted
in sin? Suppose a whole community of such individuals, denying
themselves the selfish ease and worldly pleasures which the children
of this world seek after, and devoting their lives to spread around
them the blessings and benefits of the gospel--should individuals or
communities desire thus to devote their lives to benevolence instead
of selfish effort, it is certain the Creator has endowed them with
every faculty necessary to the accomplishment of such a work. They
have hearts to love their fellow-men; they have reason and knowledge
to learn themselves, and then to instruct others. They can travel to
where the ignorant and the needy dwell, either at home or abroad; or,
if they feel disqualified personally to do this, they have hands to
labour for the means to send others on errands of benevolence
throughout the world. That men have been created with the faculties,
therefore, to diffuse the blessings which they possess, throughout the
world, no one can doubt.

But, secondly--Men are so constituted, that the exercise of those
faculties, in a manner that would bless others, would likewise produce
a blessing in their own souls. It is a fact in experience, as well as
philosophy, that the exercise of any power of the soul, gives
increased strength to that power. By exercising their selfish and
malevolent feelings, men become continually more selfish and
malevolent; while, on the contrary, by exercising self-denial and the
benevolent feelings, men become continually more benevolent.
Selfishness, all admit, is an evil in the heart. Self-denial is its
antagonist principle; and it is by invigorating the latter by
exercise, that the former evil principle is to be eradicated. It
would, therefore, be the greatest benefit to those who possessed
blessings, to induce them to exercise benevolence by communicating
them to others.

It follows, therefore, that not only the greatest good of the guilty
and the ignorant requires self-denying benevolence in those who have
the means and the power to enlighten and guide them to truth and
happiness; but likewise, that the greatest good of those possessing
blessings is, to impart them to others. 'It is more blessed to give
than to receive;' because, by the exercise of self-denial to do good,
benevolence is strengthened in the soul; and from benevolent exercises
arises the blessedness of the spirit. Men are constantly making
sacrifices to advance their own aggrandizement, and thus, by
increasing their own selfishness, they make themselves more miserable:
the great end to be gained, is to lead them to make sacrifices for
others, and thus, with others, bless themselves.

Now, no one doubts that the whole human family, in the days of Christ,
needed the blessing of an enlightening and purifying religion. And no
one doubts that the ultimate end of a religion from heaven would be
the greatest ultimate good of the entire race. Three things, then, are
obvious: 1. That a religion from heaven would be designed ultimately
to bless the whole world. 2. That the best good of mankind, as a
family, required that they should be the instruments in disseminating
this religion among themselves. 3. That the principle of self-denial,
or denying ourselves the ease and pleasures of selfishness, in order
to perform acts of benevolence, is the great principle by which the
operation of spreading this religion would be carried on.

Now, Jesus Christ professed to give a universal spiritual religion;
one which encircled in its design, and was to bless by its influence,
the whole family of man; and faith he set forth as the great
motive-power of the whole plan. The question then is--Would faith in
Christ lead men to that method of living and acting, and to the
possession of those views and feelings, which would make them
instrumental in benefiting each other, and which would destroy
selfishness and promote the happiness and interest of the whole
family of man, in accordance with the three principles above
specified?

1. It has been shown that the example and precepts of Christ become
the guide to conscience, and the rule of faith and practice for all
believers. What, then, has Christ said and done, to induce men to do
each other good, and to unite the race of man in one harmonious and
happy family?

The gospel of Christ possesses all the characteristics of a universal
religion. _It is adapted to human nature: not to any particular
country or class of men; but, as has been shown, to the NATURE of the
race._ Its truths are intelligible, and may be understood by all men,
and transferred into all languages. It is spiritual in its character;
designed to affect the mind and heart of man; so that wherever
intelligent beings are to be found, there it may be introduced into
the heart by faith, to correct the spiritual evils of their nature,
and produce happiness in the soul.[39]

    [39] See Reinhard's Plan: sect. 17, 22.

The precepts and teachings of Jesus are designed and adapted to
harmonize the race of man into one happy family. Instead of the
abominations and folly of polytheism, he presented before the minds of
men one common object of worship; and so exhibited the character of
that object, by presenting before the world a grand spectacle of
self-denying mercy, that the exhibition was adapted to attract the
attention of all, and draw all hearts to one centre of affection.

In all his instructions to regulate the conduct of men, he viewed them
as brethren of the same great family, and taught them to consider
themselves as such. No retaliation was to be offered for injuries
received, but the injured child was to appeal only to the great Parent
of the family. No one might treat another as his enemy: and no one was
to cease in efforts to do good to another, unless he perceived that
those efforts were treated with contempt, and instead of benefiting,
had a hardening effect upon the heart.

2. Their lives were to be spent in efforts to impart those blessings
which they possessed, to their brethren of the human family who
possessed them not. Instead of the unhallowed and anxious struggle
which worldly men manifest to raise themselves to power over their
fellows, their efforts were to be directed to the opposite end--to
raise the ignorant and the needy to the enjoyment of the blessings and
privileges which they possessed.

This active and constant effort to extend the blessings which they
possessed to others, and to relieve men from their vices and
ignorance, was not to stop with their own kindred, or nation, or
tongue, nor to be restricted to the grateful, or the deserving; in
this respect, their philanthropy was to be modelled after that of
their heavenly Father, who causeth his sun to shine upon the just and
the unjust. It was to continue during life, and to extend to the ends
of the earth. And in proportion as men were found in a condition of
ignorance and want, in the same proportion they were to make
benevolent exertions to elevate and bless them.

Now, every one can see, that if these precepts were obeyed, strife
between individuals and nations would cease, and the glorious process
of benevolent effort would go on, until the last benighted mind was
enlightened, and the last corrupted heart purified by the power of the
faith of Christ.

_It was necessary, in connection with these precepts, that some motive
should be presented to cause men to deny themselves, in order to act
in accordance with them._ Now it has been shown that the believer acts
in view of the character and will of Jesus. Christ, therefore, in
order to give these precepts moving power upon the souls of men,
identified himself with his needy creatures, and sanctioned the duty
which he prescribed to others, by conformity to it himself; so that
these precepts, given to govern men's conduct in this life, he made
the rule of judgment in heaven's court of equity, and by them the
decision will be made out, which will settle, finally, the spiritual
destiny of men. 'Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of
these my brethren, ye did it not unto me.' Thus Christ identifies
himself with the most needy of mankind, and receives an act of
kindness done to them, as done to himself. When the love of Christ,
therefore, constrains men, he has so exhibited his will, that it
constrains them to act for the good of each other. Those that love
Jesus, therefore, and expect his favour, must serve him by doing good
to others.

Moreover, Christ has sanctioned these precepts by his own example.
His life was a life of self-denying labour, for the benefit of our
race; and his command to everyone is--'Deny thyself, take up thy
cross, and follow me.' Thus, by Christ's precepts, by his example,
and especially by his identifying himself with those in need, that
method of life is sanctioned which alone could make man the
benefactor of his fellows--unite the human family in one happy
brotherhood--and make them blessed in doing each other good, in the
faith of Christ.

Those that love Jesus will desire to do his will--will find their
happiness in obeying him; and that will is, that they should labour to
benefit his creatures. Those who believe in and love Jesus will have
their conscience regulated by his precepts and example. Thus, the
conscience of believers is set (if I may so express it), so that it
will regulate the movement of their life in such a manner, as finally
to work out the salvation of a world lying in wickedness.

It follows, therefore, that faith in Jesus Christ is directly designed
and adapted to strengthen men's benevolent affection, and to produce
in believers that active desire and effort for the good of others
which will necessarily produce the dissemination of the light and love
of the gospel throughout the whole habitable world.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE DESIGN AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


1.--PRAYER.

It has been shown that, constituted as we are, the manifestations made
of the character and attributes of God in the Scriptures are adapted
to produce the greatest good in the human spirit; and in order that
that good may be effected, it is necessary that the truths of the
Scripture be brought into contact with the soul, that it may be
impressed and influenced by them. The truths and manifestations of
revelation are the elements of moral power, which, apprehended by
faith, are effective in purifying the fountain of life in the soul,
and in rectifying and regulating its exercises; it follows, therefore,
that the requirement to bring those truths before the mind in a
particular manner would be a duty necessarily connected with the
revelation of the doctrines, as directions for taking the medicine are
connected with the prescription of a physician into whose hands a
patient has submitted himself. Now, prayer, or worship, is one method
by which the truths and manifestations of revelation are directly
brought before the contemplation of the soul. Prayer brings the mind
to the immediate contemplation of God's character, and holds it there,
till by comparison and aspiration the believer's soul is properly
impressed, and his wants properly felt. The more subtle physical
processes and affinities become, the better are the analogies which
they furnish of processes in the spiritual world. The influence of
believing prayer has a good analogy in the daguerreotype. By means of
this process, the features of natural objects are thrown upon a
sensitive sheet, through a lens, and leave their impression upon the
sheet. So when the character of God is, by means of prayer, brought to
bear upon the mind of the believer--that mind being rendered sensitive
by the Holy Spirit--it impresses there the Divine image. In this
manner the image of Christ is formed in the soul, the existence of
which the Scriptures represent as inspiring the believer with the hope
of glory.

In the introductory chapter it was shown that the impulse which leads
men to worship proves a curse to the soul, where the objects worshipped
are unholy, and that the only remedy for the evil was the revelation of
a holy object for the supreme homage of the human soul. So soon as a
righteous and benevolent God is presented before the mind, then prayer
becomes a blessing instead of a curse to the soul. Look at the subject
in the form of a syllogism:

Man, by worshipping, becomes assimilated to the moral character of the
object that he worships:

The God of the Bible, as manifest in Christ Jesus, is the only
perfectly righteous and perfectly benevolent Being ever worshipped by
man.

Therefore, man can become righteous and benevolent in no other way but
by that worship which will assimilate him to the God of the Bible.

And further, as it has been demonstrated that righteousness and
benevolence produce the rectitude and the happiness--the greatest
good--of the soul, man can gain the great end of his being only by
that worship which assimilates his nature to the moral image of God.

It follows, therefore, that prayer is a necessary and most important
means of grace--a duty growing out of the nature of the case, and a
duty upon which depends, in a great measure, the well-being of the
human spirit. The apostle understood the philosophy of this subject
when he said: 'But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the
glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to
glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.' Therefore it is that the
commandment that men should pray is presented in the Bible in every
variety of language; and it is constantly repeated by the inspired
writers and by the Son of God himself, who commended, by his precepts
and example, private, social, and public prayer; and who taught by a
parable that 'men ought always to pray, and not to faint.'


_The importance of strong desire and importunity in prayer._

It is impossible to produce grateful feelings by granting a benefit
for which the recipient has no desire. If a child asked for bread when
it was not hungry, and if, while the child had no feeling of want, its
unfelt request was answered by its father, it could neither appreciate
the gift nor be grateful for it. The soul is so constituted, as has
been fully shown, that it must really feel the need of the benefit
before it can appreciate its importance, or be grateful for the favour
received. So it is in the case of the suppliant in prayer: if he has
an anxious desire, a spirit of importunate solicitude, for the
blessing which he asks, when he receives it, gratitude and praise
will, as the consequence of gratified desire, spring up in the heart.
Now, mark, if there were not a feeling of importunate desire in the
mind of the suppliant, God could not be glorified, nor the creature
benefited, by an answer to prayer. God could not be glorified, because
his goodness would not be felt and acknowledged in the answer. And the
creature could not be benefited, because it is the feeling of
gratitude and praise in his own heart which constitutes the spiritual
blessing, so far forth as the suppliant himself is concerned; and this
exercise is produced only so far as it is preceded by dependent and
anxious desire for the blessing sought. When the supplication is for
spiritual blessing upon another individual, two minds are blessed by
the answer, the individual prayed for and the individual who prays.
And if a thousand individuals desired spiritual mercies for that soul,
God would be glorified by a thousand hearts, and a thousand hearts
would be reciprocally blessed by the answer. The time may come when
all the angels in heaven, and all the saints upon earth, will be
blessed by mercy bestowed upon a single individual; when the last
unregenerated sinner stands in solitary and awful rebellion upon the
earth, should tidings be circulated through earth and heaven that he
had submitted himself to God, and that his affections began to take
hold on Christ, every being in the universe who had strongly desired
the conversion of the last sinner would feel the thrill of 'glory to
God and good-will to men' arise in his soul. It follows, therefore,
that a fervent, importunate state of mind is, from the nature of the
case, necessary, in order that God may be glorified, and man blessed,
by the duty of prayer. It was in view of these constitutional
principles that Jesus constantly taught the necessity of desire and
importunity, in order that mercies might be received in answer to the
supplication of saints.[40]

    [40] Matt. vi. 6; Luke xi. 5-10, and xviii. 1-14.


_The importance of faith and a spirit of dependence upon God, as
concomitants of acceptable prayer._

The necessity of faith, as a primary element in all acceptable
religious exercises, has already been noticed. A feeling of entire
dependence upon God for spiritual mercies is the only right feeling,
because it is the only true feeling. As a matter of fact, the soul is
entirely dependent upon God for spiritual mercies; truth, therefore,
requires that our dependence should be acknowledged and felt.

But further, without faith in God as the immediate bestower of mercies
in answer to prayer, he could not be honoured for blessings received.
Suppose two individuals desired with equally strong feelings the same
blessing, and that both received it: each would rejoice alike in its
reception; but suppose there was this difference in their state of
mind--one regarded the blessing as coming immediately from God in
answer to prayer, the other did not: the result would be that the one
who had faith in God would be filled with love to his Maker for the
mercy, the other would rejoice in himself, or, at least, he would not
rejoice in God. In the one case, God would be honoured and praised for
his acts of grace; in the other, he would neither be honoured nor
loved for his goodness. We do not present this illustration as
applicable in all its bearings--because we do not suppose that the
unregenerate ever truly desire spiritual blessing till they are
convinced of sin--but it will make the point clear to the reason of
everyone, that God cannot be honoured without faith; and, therefore,
'without faith it is impossible to please him.'

It is necessary, according to the foregoing view of the subject, in
order to offer acceptable prayer, that men should possess a spirit of
faith and dependence upon Christ. The principle upon which Christ
acted in relation to this subject, as well as his instruction
concerning the duty of prayer, fully confirm the preceding thoughts.
He seldom performed an act of mercy, by miracle or otherwise, unless
those who received the mercy could see the hand of God in the
blessing:--'If thou canst believe, thou mayest be cleansed,' was his
habitual sentiment. As if he had said--Your desire for the blessing is
manifest by your urgent requests: now, if you can have faith to see
God in the blessing, so that he will be honoured and praised for
conferring it, I will grant it; but if you have no faith, you can
receive no favour.

And, again, in order that the believer might be brought into a state
of dependence, and have his faith quickened every time that he
presented his supplications to God, Jesus said, looking forward to the
time when he would have perfected his ministry and atonement--'In that
day ye shall ask me nothing,--whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my
name'--that is, depending on me, the atoning, interceding Saviour--'he
will do it;' and in another place he promised, 'Whatsoever ye shall
ask in my name, that will I do.' Thus does the instruction of the
Saviour make the believer entirely dependent upon Christ himself when
he approaches the mercy-seat of the Most High. As the Jews were
constantly to call to mind the deliverance from Egypt, in order that
their feelings might be moved to love, dependence, and faith towards
their temporal deliverer, so Christians are to call to mind the
deliverance from spiritual bondage by the sacrifice of Christ, in
order that they may realize their dependence, and be inspired with a
spirit of faith and love towards their spiritual Deliverer. And
because believers can thus depend upon Christ, and feel the mercy of
God as it is manifested in the atonement, they are constituted priests
'to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.'


2.--PRAISE.

The truth which has been demonstrated in previous chapters is again
assumed, that the manifestations of God, in Christ Jesus, would, when
brought into efficient contact with the soul, produce that active
holiness in the heart which is man's greatest good. And as the end to
be accomplished depends, under God, on those truths which are
developed in the great plan of mercy being impressed upon the mind and
the heart, it follows that those means would be used which, from their
nature, are best adapted to give influence and impressiveness to the
great truths of revelation.

The influence of music upon the emotions of the soul is well known to
every one--

    'There is in souls a sympathy with sounds;'

the soul is awakened, and invited by the spirit of the melody to
receive the sentiment uttered in the song. Sweet, affecting music--not
the tone of the piano, nor the peals of the organ--but a melodious
air, sung by strong and well-disciplined voices, and accompanied by
the flute and viol--such music reaches the fountains of thought and
feeling; and,

    'Untwisting all the links that tie
    The hidden soul of harmony,'

it tinges the emotions with its own hues, whether plaintive or joyous;
and it fosters in the heart the sentiment which it conveys, whether it
be love of country or of God, admiration of noble achievement, or of
devoted and self-sacrificing affection.

The power of music to fix in the memory the sentiment with which it is
connected, and to foster it in the heart, has been understood in all
ages of the world. Some of the early legislators wrote their laws in
verse, and sang them in public places; and many of the earliest
sketches of primitive history are in the measures of lyric poetry. In
this manner the memory was aided in retaining the facts; the ear was
invited to attend to them; imagination threw around them the drapery
of beauty, dignity, or power; and then music conveyed the sentiment,
and mingled it with the emotions of the soul. It was in view of the
power of music, when united with sentiment adapted to affect the
heart, that one has said: 'Permit me to write the ballads of a nation,
and I care not who makes her laws.'

When the effects of music and poetry upon the soul are considered, we
can perceive their importance as means of fostering the Christian
virtues in the soul of the believer. They should be used to convey to
the mind sublime and elevating conceptions of the attributes of
Jehovah; to impress the memory with the most affecting truths of
revelation, and especially to cherish in the heart tender and vivid
emotions of love to Christ, in view of the manifestations of Divine
justice and mercy exhibited in his ministry, his passion, and his
sacrifice.[41]

    [41] 'The proper drapery for music is truth. It is its only
    apparel, whether as applied to God, or as used for the cultivation
    of man.'--_Erasmus._

There cannot be found, in all the resources of thought, material which
would furnish sentiment for music so subduing and overpowering as the
history of redemption. There is the life of Jesus--a series of acts
Godlike in their benevolence, connected at times with exhibitions of
Divine power and of human character, in their most affecting aspects.
And as the scenes of Christ's eventful ministry converge to the
catastrophe, there is the tenderness of his love for the disciples,
the last supper, the scene in Gethsemane; the Mediator in the hall of
judgment, exhibiting the dignity of truth and conscious virtue amidst
the tempest of human passion by which he is surrounded. Then the awful
moral and elemental grandeur of the crucifixion; the Saviour, nailed
to the cross by his own creatures, crying, 'Father, forgive them, for
they know not what they do;' and then, while darkness shrouds the sun,
and 'nature through all her works gives signs of woe,' he cries, 'It
is finished, and gave up the ghost.' Thus did the dark stream of human
depravity roll,

    'Till a rainbow broke upon its gloom,
    Which spanned the portals of the Saviour's tomb.'

Such exhibitions of sublimity and power, when clothed with the
influence of music, and impressed upon a heart rendered sensitive by
Divine influence, are adapted to make the most abiding and blessed
impressions.

    'My heart, awake!--to feel is to be fired;
    And to believe, Lorenzo, is to feel.'

It follows, from the preceding views, that in selecting the means to
impress the mind with religious truth, and the heart with pious
sentiment, music and poetry could not be neglected. There is not in
nature another means which would compensate for the loss of their
influence. We do not mean to say that their influence is as great as
some other means in impressing the truths of revelation upon the soul;
but their influence is peculiar and delightful, and without it the
system of means would not be perfect.

We see, therefore, the reasons why music and poetry were introduced as
a means of impressing revealed truth, both under the old and the new
dispensations. Moses not only made the laws, but he made, likewise,
the songs of the nation. These songs, in some instances, all the
people were required to learn, in order that their memory might
retain, and their heart feel, the influence of the events recorded in
their national anthems.

Music held a conspicuous place in the worship of the temple; and under
the new dispensation, it is sanctioned by the express example of
Jesus, and specifically commanded by the apostles; the example is
given in connection with the institution of the eucharist, which was
to commemorate the most affecting scene in the history of God's love;
and the command is in such words as indicate the effects of music upon
the heart: 'Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving
thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of
our Lord Jesus Christ.' Upon this subject, as upon some others, the
apostolic churches fell into some abuses; yet the high praises of God
and the Lamb have always been celebrated in poetry and music by the
church of Christ. One of the first notices of the Christians by pagan
writers speaks of them as 'singing a hymn to Christ, as to a God;'
thus showing that the principles established in the preceding views
were recognised by the early disciples, who used music as a means of
fostering in their hearts love to the Saviour.

As in the case of the primitive Christians, so every regenerated heart
delights in such spiritual songs as speak of Christ as an atoning
Saviour. And those only are qualified to write hymns for the church
whose hearts are affected by the love of Jesus. On this account some
of the hymns of Cowper, Charles Wesley, Watts, and Newton, will last
while the church on earth lasts, _and perhaps longer_. Thousands of
Christian hearts have glowed with emotion, while they sang,

    'There is a fountain fill'd with blood,
      Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
    And sinners plunged beneath that flood
      Lose all their guilty stains.'

Or,

    'Rock of ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in thee.'

Thousands have been awakened to duty and to prayer, by that solemn
hymn,

    'Lo, on a narrow neck of land,
    'Twixt two unbounded seas I stand,
      Yet how insensible!'

And it would not have been possible for any but a Christian poet to
have written the lines,

    'Her noblest life my spirit draws
    From his dear wounds and bleeding side.'


3.--PREACHING.

It has been said that the truths and manifestations of revelation are
the elements of moral power, which, being brought into efficient contact
with the soul, are effective in rectifying and regulating its exercises.
A medicine may be prepared in which are inherent qualities adapted to
remove a particular disease; but in order to the accomplishment of its
appropriate effect, it must be brought to act upon the body of the
patient. And if the disease has rendered the patient not only
unconscious of his danger, but has induced upon him a deep lethargy of
mind, it would be necessary that the physician should arouse his dormant
faculties, in order that he might receive the medicine which would
restore him to health. So with the moral diseases of the soul; the
attention and sensibilities of men must be awakened, in order that the
truth may affect their understanding, their conscience, and their heart.
Whatever, therefore, is adapted to attract the attention and move the
sensibilities, at the same time that it conveys truth to the mind, would
be a means peculiarly efficient to impress the gospel upon the soul.

There are but two avenues through which moral truth reaches the soul.
And there are but two methods by which it can be conveyed through
those avenues. By the living voice, truth is communicated through the
ear; and by the signs of language it is communicated through the eye.
The first of these methods--the living voice--has many advantages over
all other means, in conveying and impressing truth. It is necessary
that an individual should read with ease in order to be benefited by
what he reads. The efforts which a bad reader has to make, both
disincline him to the task of reading, and hinder his appreciation of
truth. Besides, a large proportion of the human family cannot read,
but all can understand their own language when spoken. In order,
therefore, that the whole human family might be instructed, the living
speaker would be the first, and best, and natural method.

The living speaker has power to arrest attention, to adapt his
language and illustrations to the character and occupation of his
audience, and to accompany his communications with those emotions and
gestures which are adapted to arouse and impress his hearers.

It is evident, from these considerations, that among the means which
God would appoint to disseminate his truth through the world, the
living teacher would hold a first and important place. This result is
in conformity with the arrangements of Jesus. He appointed a living
ministry, endowed them with the ability to speak the languages of
other nations, and commissioned them to go into all the world, and
preach the gospel to every creature.

In connection with this subject, there is one other inquiry of
importance. It concerns not only the harmony of the gospel system with
the nature of things, but likewise the harmony of apostolic practice
with what has been shown to be necessary in order that the truths of
the gospel might produce their legitimate effect upon the mind.

It has been demonstrated that a sense of man's guilt and danger must
exist in the mind before there can be gratitude and love to the being
who removes the guilt and rescues from the danger. It has likewise
been noticed, as a self-evident principle, that before repentance
there must be conviction of sin. A sense of guilt and error must
necessarily precede reformation of life. A man cannot conscientiously
turn from a course of life, and repent of past conduct, unless he sees
and feels the error and the evil of that course from which he turns.
To suppose that a man would turn from a course of life which he
neither thought nor felt to be wrong or dangerous, is to suppose an
absurdity; it follows, therefore, that the preacher's first duty, in
endeavouring to reclaim men to holiness and to God, would be, in all
cases, to present such truths as were adapted to convict their hearers
of their spiritual guilt and danger. As God has constituted the mind,
repentance from sin and attainment to holiness would for ever be
impossible on any other conditions.

But the same truths would not convict all men of sin. In order to
convict any particular man, or class of men, of sin, those facts must
be fastened upon with which they have associated the idea of moral
good and evil, and concerning which they are particularly guilty.
Thus, in the days of the apostles, the Gentiles could not be convicted
of sin for rejecting and crucifying Christ; but, it being a fact in
the case of the Jews that all their ideas of good and evil, both
temporal and spiritual, were associated with the Messiah, nothing in
all the catalogue of guilt would be adapted to convict them of sin so
powerfully as the thought that they had despised and crucified the
Messiah of God.

On the other hand, the heathen, upon whom the charge of rejecting
Christ would have no influence, could be convicted of sin only by
showing them the falsehood and folly of their idolatry; the holy
character of the true God, and the righteous and spiritual nature of
the law which they were bound to obey, and by which they would finally
be judged. The first preachers of the Gospel, therefore, in conformity
with these principles, would aim first, and directly, to convince
their hearers of their sins, and in accomplishing this end, they would
fasten upon those facts in which the guilt of their hearers more
particularly consisted. And then, when men were thus convicted of
their guilt, the salvation through Christ from sin, and its penalty,
would be pressed upon their anxious souls; and they would be taught to
exercise faith in Jesus, as the meritorious cause of life, pardon, and
happiness.

Now, the apostolical histories fully confirm the fact that this
course--the only one consistent with truth, philosophy, and the nature
of man--was the course pursued by the primitive preachers.

The first movement, after they were endowed with the gift of tongues
and filled with the Holy Ghost, was the sermon by Peter, on the day of
Pentecost, in which he directly charged the Jews with the murder of
the Messiah, and produced in thousands of minds convictions of the
most pungent and overwhelming description. At Athens, Paul, in
preaching to the Gentiles, pursued a different course. He exposed the
folly of their idolatry, by appealing to their reason and their own
acknowledged authorities. He spoke to them of the guilt which they
would incur if they refused, under the light of the Gospel, to forsake
the errors which God, on account of past ignorance, had overlooked. He
then closed by turning their attention to the righteous retributions
of the eternal world, and to the appointed day when man would be
judged by Jesus Christ, according to his gospel.

The manner in which the apostles presented Christ crucified to the
penitent and convicted sinner, as the object of faith, and the means
of pardon, and the hope of glory, is abundantly exhibited in the Acts
of the Apostles, and in their several epistles to the Churches.

Thus did God, by the appointment of the living preacher as a means
of spreading the Gospel, adapt himself to the constitution of his
creatures; and the apostles, moved by Divine guidance, likewise
adapted the truth which they preached to the peculiar necessities
and circumstances of men.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE AGENCY OF GOD IN CARRYING ON THE WORK OF REDEMPTION, AND THE
MANNER IN WHICH THAT AGENCY IS EXERTED.


God having thus devised the plan, and manifested the truth, and
instituted the means of redemption, the inquiry naturally presents
itself: In what way would he put the plan into operation, and give
efficiency to the means of grace?

We cannot suppose that God would put his own institution beyond his
power, or that he would leave it to be managed by the imperfect wisdom
and the limited power of human instruments. God would not prepare the
material, devise the plan, adapt the parts to each other, furnish the
instruments for building, and then neglect to supervise and complete
the structure. God has put none of his works beyond his power; and
especially in a plan of which he is the Author and Architect, reason
suggests that he would guide it to its accomplishment. The inquiry
is--By what agency, and in what way, would the power of God be exerted
in carrying into efficient operation upon the souls of men the system
of saving mercy?

In relation to the character of the agency, the solution is clear. The
agency by which the plan of salvation would be carried forward to its
ultimate consummation would be spiritual in its nature, because God is a
Spirit, and the soul of man is a spirit, and the end to be accomplished
is to lead men to worship God 'in spirit and in truth.'

In relation to the mode of the Spirit's operation, some things belong to
that class of inquiries upon which the mind may exert its powers in
vain.--The mode by which God communicates life to any thing in the
vegetable, animal, or spiritual world lies beyond the reach of the human
intellect. But although man cannot understand the _modus operandi_ of
the Divine mind in communicating life, yet the manifestations of life,
and the medium through which it operates, are subjects open to human
examination. Whether the influence of the Spirit be directly upon the
soul, or mediately by means of truth, the end accomplished would be the
same. The soul might be quickened to see and feel the power of the
truth; or, by the spirit, truth might be rendered powerful to affect the
soul. The wax might be softened to receive the impression, or the seal
heated, or a power exerted upon it, to make the impression on the wax;
or both might be done, and still the result would be the same. It is not
only necessary that the metal should be prepared to receive the
impression of a die, but it is likewise necessary that the die should be
prepared and adapted to the particular kind of metal--the image and the
superscription of the king put upon it--the machinery prepared and
adapted to hold the die and apply it to the metal; and after all these
things necessary are done, the coin can never be made unless power is
exerted to strike the die into the metal, or the metal into the die. So
it is in the processes of the spiritual world; the material [mankind]
must be prepared. The die [the truth of the gospel system] must be
revealed and adapted to the material; and the image to be impressed upon
human nature [the Lord Jesus Christ] and the superscription [glory to
God and good-will to men] must be cut upon the die. Then the means of
bringing the truth into contact with the material must be provided; and
after all these preparations and adaptations, there must be the power
of the Holy Spirit to guide the whole process, and to form the image of
Christ in the soul.

The foregoing is a complicated analogy, but not more complicated than
are the processes of the animal and spiritual world. Look at the human
body, with its thousands of adaptations, all of them necessary to the
system, the whole dependent upon the use of means for the supply of
animal life, and yet deriving from God its rational life, which operates
through and actuates the whole. In like manner the Spirit of God
operates through and guides the processes of the plan of salvation.

The Scriptures reveal the truth clearly, that the Spirit of God gives
efficiency to the means of grace. And not only this, but he operates
in accordance with those necessary principles which have been
developed in the progress of these chapters. Christ instructed his
disciples to expect that he would send the Holy Spirit; and when he is
come, said Jesus, 'He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness,
and of judgment;' that is, the Holy Spirit will produce conviction of
sin in the hearts of the unsanctified and impenitent:--the office-work
of the Spirit of God in relation to the world is to convince of sin.
In relation to the saints he exercises a different office. He is their
Comforter. He takes of the things that belong to Jesus, and shows them
to his people.[42] That is, he causes the people of God to see more
and more of the excellency, and the glory, and the mercy manifested in
a crucified Saviour; and by this blessed influence they 'grow in
grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.' Christ, by his ministry
and death, furnished the facts necessary for human salvation: the Holy
Spirit uses those facts to convict and sanctify the heart. Paul, in a
passage already noticed, alludes to the influence of the Spirit
operating by the appointed means of prayer, or devout meditation. 'But
we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the
Spirit of the Lord.'

    [42] John xvi. 7-14.

Further: At what juncture, in the progress of the great plan of
salvation, would this agency be most powerfully exerted? We answer, at
the time when the whole moral machinery of the dispensation through
which the effect was to be produced was completed. Whatever is
designed and adapted to produce a definite result as an instrument
must be completed before it is put into operation, otherwise it will
not produce the definite effect required. An imperfect system put into
operation would produce an imperfect result. Here a special effect was
to be produced; it was necessary, therefore, that the truth should be
revealed, and the manifestations all made, before the power was
imparted to give them effect.

Under the new dispensation the greatest and most imposing manifestations
were the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus: had the system
been put into operation before these crowning manifestations were made,
the great end of the gospel would not have been accomplished. It
follows, then, that the material would be first prepared, the
manifestations made and adapted to the material, the appropriate means
ordained, and then the agency of the Spirit would be introduced to guide
the dispensation to its ultimate triumphs, and to give efficiency to its
operations.

These deductions harmonise with the teachings of the Scriptures.

First, they expressly teach that without the agency of God no perfect
result is accomplished.

Secondly, they everywhere represent that the Divine agency is exerted
through the truth upon the soul, or exerted to awaken the soul to
apprehend and receive the truth.

Thirdly, the Spirit was not fully communicated until the whole economy
of the gospel dispensation was completed. The apostles were instructed
to assemble at Jerusalem after the ascension, and wait till they were
endued with power from on high. On the day of Pentecost the promised
Spirit descended. The apostles at once perceived the spiritual nature
of Christ's kingdom. They spoke in demonstration of the Spirit, and
with power. Men were convicted of sin in their hearts. Sinners were
converted to Christ by repentance and faith; and under the guidance
of that Divine Spirit, the plan of salvation moves on to its high and
glorious consummation when 'the kingdoms of this world shall become
the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.' 'Amen: even so, come
Lord Jesus.'



CHAPTER XIX.

CONCERNING THE PRACTICAL EFFECTS OF THE SYSTEM.


The evidence which the Lord Jesus Christ proposed as proof of the
Divinity of the gospel system was its practical effect upon
individuals who receive and obey the truth. 'If any man will do his
will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.' If a sick
man calls a physician, who prescribes a certain medicine, which, by
his receiving it according to the directions, cures him, he then knows
both the efficacy of the medicine and the skill of the physician.
Experience is evidence to the saints of the Divinity of the system;
and its effects, in restoring the soul to moral health, is evidence to
the world of the Divine efficacy and power of its doctrines: 'By their
fruits ye shall know them.' In closing our volume, therefore, we have
now only briefly to inquire what are the ascertained practical effects
of faith in Christ?

We shall not refer to the moral condition of man in countries under
the influence of the gospel, compared with his condition in pagan
lands. We will not dwell upon the fact which, of itself, is sufficient
to establish at once and for ever the Divine origin of evangelical
religion, and the truth of the distinctive views developed in the
preceding chapters--that the most holy men and woman that have ever
lived have been those who exercised most constant and implicit faith
in Christ. Passing these facts, important in themselves, we will close
our volume by a statement of facts concerning the present influence of
faith in Christ upon individuals now living, and subject to the
examination of any one who might be sceptical upon the subject.

The following is a true statement of the influence of the religion of
Jesus upon several individual members of a village church in one of
the United States. It is composed of members of common intelligence,
and those in the common walks of life. Other churches might have been
selected in which, perhaps, a greater number of interesting cases
might have been found. And there are other individuals in this church
that would furnish as good an illustration of the power of the gospel
as some of those which are noticed below. This church has been
selected, because the writer had a better opportunity of visiting it
in order to obtain the facts than any other in which he knew the power
of the religion of Christ was experienced.

With the individuals spoken of I am well acquainted, having frequently
conversed with them all on the subjects of which I shall speak. Their
words in all cases may not have been remembered, but the sense is
truly given.

CASE 1.--An old man who has been a professor of religion from early
life. He was once a deacon, or elder, of the church. Twenty years ago he
was struck with paralysis, by which he has been ever since confined
almost entirely to his room. His situation is one that, to a mind which
had no inward consolation, would be irksome in the extreme. His books
are the Bible and one or two volumes of the old divines. He is patient
and happy; and speaking of the love of Christ almost invariably suffuses
his eyes with tears. He delights to dwell on religious subjects; and to
talk with a pious friend of the topics which his heart loves gives him
evident delight. Recently, his aged wife, who had trodden the path of
life with him, from youth to old age, died in his presence. She died,
what is called by Christians, a triumphant death; her last words were
addressed to her children who stood around--'I see the cross,'--a gleam
of pleasure passed over her features, her eyes lighted up with peculiar
brightness; she said, 'Blessed Jesus, the last hour is come: I am
ready;' and thus she departed. At her death, the old man wept freely,
and wept aloud; but his sorrow, he said, was mingled with a sweet joy.
How desolate would have been the condition of this poor cripple for the
last twenty years without the consolations of faith in Christ! And when
his aged wife died, who had for years sat by his side, how appalling
would have been the gloom that would have settled upon his soul, had not
his mind been sustained by heavenly hope! His case shows that the
religion of Christ will keep the affections warm and tender even to the
latest periods of old age, and give happiness to the soul under
circumstances of the most severe temporal bereavement.

CASE 2.--A converted atheist. I knew that there were those in the world
who professed to doubt the existence of a God; but I had met with no one
in all my intercourse with mankind who seemed so sincerely and so
entirely an atheist as the individual whose case is now introduced. The
first time that I met him was at the house of his son-in-law, a
gentleman of piety and intelligence. His appearance was that of a
decrepid, disconsolate old man. In the course of conversation he
unhesitatingly expressed his unbelief of the existence of a God, and his
suspicion of the motives of most of those who professed religion. I
learned from others that he had ceased in some measure to have
intercourse with men--had become misanthropic in his feelings, regarding
mankind in the light of a family of sharks, preying upon each other; and
his own duty in such a state of things, he supposed to be to make all
_honest_ endeavours to wrest from the grasp of others as much as he
could. He used profane language, opposed the temperance reformation, and
looked with the deepest hatred upon the ministers of religion. His
social affections seemed to be withered, and his body, sympathizing, was
distorted and diseased by rheumatic pains.

1. This old man had for years been the subject of special prayer on the
part of his pious daughter and his son-in-law; and he was finally
persuaded by them to attend a season of religious worship in the church
of which they were members. During these services, which lasted several
days, he passed from a state of atheism to a state of faith. The change
seemed to surprise every one, and himself as much as any other. From
being an atheist, he became the most simple and implicit believer. He
seemed like a being who had waked up in another world, the sensations of
which were all new to him; and although a man of sound sense in business
affairs, when he began to express his religious ideas, his language
seemed strange and incongruous, from the fact that, while his soul was
now filled with new thoughts and feelings, he had no knowledge of the
language by which such thoughts are usually expressed. The effects
produced by his conversion were as follows--stated at one time to
myself, and upon another occasion to one of the most eminent medical
practitioners in this country:--One of the first things which he did
after his conversion, was to love, in a practical manner, his worst
enemy. There was one man in the village who had, as he supposed, dealt
treacherously with him in some money transactions which had occurred
between them. On this account, personal enmity had long existed between
the two individuals. When converted, he sought his old enemy--asked his
forgiveness--and endeavoured to benefit him by bringing him under the
influence of the gospel.

2. His benevolent feelings were awakened and expanded. His first
benevolent offering was twenty-five cents, in a collection for
charitable uses. He now gives very liberally, in proportion to his
means, to all objects which he thinks will advance the interests of
the gospel of Christ. Besides supporting his own church and her
benevolent institutions, no enterprise of any denomination which he
really believes will do good fails to receive something from him, if
he has the means. During the last year, he has given more with the
design of benefiting his fellow-men than he had done in his whole
lifetime before.

3. His affections have received new life. He said to me, in conversation
upon the subject: 'One part of the Scriptures I feel to be true--that
which says, "I will take away the hard and stony heart, and give you a
heart of flesh." Once I seemed to have no feeling; now, thank God, I can
feel. I have buried two wives and six children, but I never shed a
tear--I felt hard and unhappy; now my tears flow at the recollection of
these things.' The tears at that time wet the old man's cheeks. It is
not probable that, since his conversion, there has been a single week
that he has not shed tears; before conversion he had not wept since the
age of manhood. An exhibition of the love of Christ will, at any time,
move his feelings with gratitude and love, until the tears moisten his
eyes.

4. Effect upon his life. Since his conversion he has not ceased to do
good as he has had opportunity. Several individuals have been led to
repent and believe in Christ through his instrumentality. Some of
these were individuals whose former habits rendered a change of
character very improbable in the eyes of most individuals. One of
them, who had fallen into the habit of intemperance, is now a
respectable and happy father of a respectable Christian family. He has
been known to go to several families on the same day, pray with them,
and invite them to attend religious worship on the Sabbath. And when
some difficulty was stated as a hindrance to their attendance, he has
assisted them to buy shoes, and granted other little aids of the kind,
in order that they might be induced to attend divine service. Since
the first edition was issued, a most remarkable fact concerning this
old man has come to the knowledge of the author. When converted, one
of his first acts, although he had heard nothing of any such act in
others, was to make out a list of all his old associates then living
within reach of his influence. For the conversion of these he
determined to labour as he had opportunity, and pray daily. On his
list were one hundred and sixteen names, among whom were sceptics,
drunkards, and other individuals as little likely to be reached by
Christian influence as any other men in the region. Within two years
from the period of the old man's conversion, one hundred of these
individuals had made a profession of religion. We can hardly suppose
that the old man was instrumental in the conversion of all these
persons, yet the fact is one of the most remarkable that has been
developed in the progress of Christianity.

5. Effect upon his happiness. In a social meeting of the church where
he worships, I heard him make such an expression as this: 'I have
rejoiced but once since I trusted in Christ--that has been all the
time.' His state of mind may be best described in his own characteristic
language. One day he was repairing his fence. An individual passing
addressed him: 'Mr. ----, you are at work all alone.' 'Not alone,' said
the old man, 'God is with me.' He said that his work seemed easy to him,
and his peace of mind continued with scarcely an interruption. I saw him
at a time when he had just received intelligence that a son who had gone
to the south had been shot in a personal altercation in one of the
southern cities. The old man's parental feelings were moved, but he
seemed, even under this sudden and most distressing affliction, to
derive strong consolation from trust in God.

6. Physical effects of the moral change. As soon as his moral nature had
undergone a change, his body, by sympathy, felt the benign influence.
His countenance assumed a milder and more intelligent aspect. He became
more tidy in his apparel, and his 'thousand pains,' in a good measure,
left him. In his case, there seemed to be a renovation both of soul and
body.

This case is not exaggerated: the old man is living, and there are
a thousand living witnesses to this testimony, among whom is an
intelligent physician, who, hearing the old man's history of his
feelings, and having known him personally for years, the obvious
effects which the faith in Christ had produced in this case, combined
with other influences by which he was surrounded, led him seriously to
examine the subject of religion, as it concerned his own spiritual
interest. By this examination he was led to relinquish the system of
'rational religion' (as the Socinian system is most inappropriately
called by its adherents), and profess his faith in orthodox religion.

CASE 3.--Two individuals, who had always been poor in this world's
goods but who are rich in faith. Many years ago, they lived in a new
settlement where there were no religious services. The neighbourhood,
at the suggestion of one of its members, met together on the Sabbath,
to sing sacred music, and to hear a sermon read. Those sermons were
the means of the conversion of the mother of the family. She lived an
exemplary life, but her husband still continued impenitent, and became
somewhat addicted to intemperance. Some of the children of the family,
as they reached mature years, were converted; the husband, and
finally, after a few years, all the remaining children, embraced
religion. From the day of the husband's conversion he drank no more
liquor, and, he says, he always afterwards thought of the habit with
abhorrence. The old people live alone. The old woman's sense of
hearing has so failed that she hears but imperfectly. When the weather
will allow, she attends church regularly, but sometimes hears but
little of the sermon. She sits on the Sabbath and looks up at the
minister, with a countenance glowing with an interested and happy
expression. She has joy to know that the minister is preaching about
Christ. The minister once described religion possessed as a spring of
living water, flowing from the rock by the way-side, which yields to
the weary traveller refreshment and delight; the old lady, at the
close, remarked, with meekness, 'I hope I have drunk, many times, of
those sweet waters.'

Except what concerns their particular domestic duties, the conversation
of this aged pair is almost entirely religious. They are devout, and
very happy in each other's society; and sometimes in their family
devotions and religious conversations their hearts glow with love for
God. They look forward to death with the consoling hope that they will
awake in the likeness of the glorious Saviour, and so 'be for ever with
the Lord.'

CASE 4.--A female was early in life united with the church, and
conscientiously performed the external duties of Christian life. She
had for many years little if any happiness in the performance of her
religious duties, yet would have been more unhappy if she had not
performed them. She married a gentleman who, during the last years of
his life, was peculiarly devoted. During this period, in attending
upon the means of grace she experienced an entire change in her
religious feelings. She felt, as she says, that 'now she gave up all
for Christ. She felt averse to everything which she believed to be
contrary to his will.--To the will of Jesus she could now submit for
ever, with joyful and entire confidence.--She now loved to pray, and
found happiness in obeying the Saviour.' She made, as she believes, at
that time an entire surrender of all her interests, for time and
eternity, to Christ, and since then her labours in his service have
been happy labours. Before they were constrained by conscience, now
they are prompted by the affections. She does not think she was not a
Christian before. She had repented in view of the law, but she had
not, till the time mentioned, exercised affectionate faith in
Christ.[43] She now often prays most solicitously for the conversion
of sinners and the sanctification of the church. She loves to meet
weekly in the female circle for prayer, and labours to induce others
to attend with her. Her little son, nine years of age, is, as she
hopes, a Christian; and her daughter, just approaching the years of
womanhood, has recently united with the church. Two years since her
husband died under circumstances peculiarly afflicting. She prayed for
resignation, and never felt any disposition to murmur against the
providence of God. She sometimes blamed herself that she had not
thought of other expedients to prolong, if possible, the life of one
that she loved so tenderly; but to God she looked up with submission,
and said in spirit: 'The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I
not drink it?' Her husband she views as a departed saint, whom she
expects to meet in a better world. She cherishes his memory with an
affection that seems peculiarly sacred, and the remembrance of his
piety is a consoling association connected with the recollections of
one now in heaven.[44]

    [43] Are there not many in all the churches who have been
    convicted of sin, and who have perhaps repented, but have not
    exercised full faith in Christ?

    [44] That the marriage bond becomes more sacred, and the
    reciprocal duties of affection more tender, between two hearts
    that both love Jesus, I have no doubt. The feelings of this pious
    widow favour the supposition; and the facts recorded in the
    biographies of Edwards, Fletcher, and Corvosso, fully confirm it.

A single incident develops the secret of that piety which gives her
peace, and makes her useful. One of the last times that I saw her she
stated, in conversation upon the subject, that a short time before she
had read a Sabbath school book, which one of her children had received,
in which was a representation of Christ bearing his cross to Calvary.
While contemplating this scene, love and gratitude sprang up in her
heart, which were subduing, sweet, and peaceful beyond expression. How
is it, reader, that the contemplation of such a scene of suffering
should cause such blessed emotions to spread like a rich fragrance
through the soul, and rise in sweet incense to God? It is the holy
secret of the cross of Christ, which none but the saints know, and
even they cannot communicate.[45]

    [45] Thomas à Kempis endeavoured to give expression to the
    consciousness of the Divine life in the soul--'Frequens Christi
    visitatio cum homine interno, dulcis sermocinatio, grata
    consolatio, multa pax,' etc. ['The frequent presence of Christ in
    the inner man is sweet converse, grateful consolation, much
    peace,' etc.]



CONCLUSION.


Allow the author to say, in closing, that it is his opinion that, in
view of the reasonings and facts presented in the preceding pages,
every individual who reads the book intelligently, and who is in
possession of a sound and unprejudiced reason, will come to the
conclusion that the religion of the Bible is from God, and Divinely
adapted to produce the greatest present and eternal spiritual good
of the human family. And if any one should doubt its Divine origin
(which, in view of its adaptations and its effects as herein
developed, would involve the absurdity of doubting whether an
intelligent design had an intelligent designer), still, be the
origin of the gospel where it may, in heaven, earth, or hell, the
demonstration is conclusive that it is the only religion possible
for man, in order to perfect his nature, and restore his lapsed
powers to harmony and holiness.


THE END.


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Transcriber's Note

Variations in spelling are preserved as printed.

Minor punctuation and typographic errors have been repaired.

The Hebrew text of the footnote on page 51 has an error where it appears
that a samech has been used instead of a mem (final). On the assumption
that this is a printer error, it has been fixed: שס amended to שם.

The asterism in the preface is represented with *** in this version of
the e-book.





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