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pleases their taste, or is approved by their judgment. But Jesus Christ, being filled with the Spirit of God, taught with commanding authority. · I and the Father are one,' says he. “I speak not of myself, but of him that sent me. Whoso keepeth my sayings, shall not taste of death.'
What heathen philosopher ever dared to come forward, as a teacher of mankind, with such weighty words as these ? But it will be found, that however a few among mankind may be disposed to listen to calm reasonings, the great mass is most effectually taught what is fair and what is base, what is useful and what destructive,' by the voice of well-founded authority.
The Scriptures, especially those of the New Testament, have long obtained this authority. We read them, not as we read any other book, of the wisest of mortals; not as judges, empowered to condemn or approve; but as pupils or dependents listen to the commands of an acknowledged master, whom they, at the same time, love and fear; and whose commands they are sensible, are for their good, however disagreeable the duty which they prescribe. We consult them as an oracle. But we do not so consult the Dialogues of Plato, or the Manual of Epictetus.
“There are," says the author of the Light of Nature pursued, “many excellent sentiments of God and morality interspersed in the writings of the ancients: but those writings are studied by few, and read chiefly for curiosity and amusement, regarded as ingenious compositions, showing a sagacity and justness of thought in the authors.
Quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non.
They make some impression in the reading, which quickly dies away again, upon laying the book 'aside; as Tully tells us was his case, with respect to Plato upon the immortality of the soul. Whereas the Testament is the first book we are taught to read, to receive as the oracle of God, containing the way to salvation, which, at our almost peril, we must not disregard, and the truth whereof it is a sin to doubt: therefore, whatever is drawn thence, comes accompanied with a reverence, and idea of great importance, which give a force to the impression. Let a man take for his thesis the stoical maxim, " Things out of our power are nothing to us,” and descant upon the imprudence of solicitude and anxiety for future events, which we can no ways prevent or provide against, it will not work the effects which the very same discourse might do, pronounced from the pulpit, upon the text, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.'”
Where is the uninspired philosopher, who can address mankind with the authority of St. Paul ?
My speech and my preaching,' says he to the Corinthians, 'is not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but with demonstration of the Spirit and power, that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (accompanying and enforcing my words.) We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this world knew, but which God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit, the Ta Baon tov Okov, the depths of God. We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God; which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom
Phese lane Spirit
teacheth, explaining the things of the Spirit,' (the instructions of the Spirit,) in the language of the Spirit.'? Again, to the Ephesians he says, “The mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets, by the Spirit.'3 · For this cause,' he adds in another place, “thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.'4 He gives also a menacing admonition to those who should despise his directions, as despising not man, but God. 'He that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath given unto us his Holy Spirit.'s
Such is the commanding authority with which Christianity addresses itself to men, including, in its peculiar doctrines and sublime mysteries, the finest ethics, though not systematically delivered, which the world ever saw. Let it be considered what an advantage it is to have even the best heathen morality inculcated with the sanction of commandments from the all-wise and all-powerful Creator. Such is now the case where Christianity prevails. And would it be wise, even in a political sense, though policy is a very inferior consideration, to suffer a mode of teaching men to be just and good, thus efficacious, thus firmly and extensively established, to fall into neglect ? When will the politicians of the world again obtain so powerful an engine? What have they to substitute, if they break or take away the main spring
See Wolf. Cur. Critic. in Loc. and Chapman's Eusebius. ? ) Cor. ii. 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13. 3 Ephes. iii. 5. 4 1 Thess. ii. 13.
5 1 Thess. iv. 8.
of this most efficacious long-tried machine ? I beg leave to apologize for using so degrading a term. I am speaking, in their own language, to the worldly-wise, who despise the gospel.
Some universal, authoritative code of moral law is wanted to instruct the million, high and low, rich and poor, with great and certain effect. What teacher, from the schools of philosophy, ancient or modern, if he deprive us of Christianity, can supply the defect? Will he not strive to supply it, but suffer mankind to lapse into ignorance, barbarism, and brutality ? He may give us a laboured system. But nothing which the most ingenious and learned can invent, however excellent its rules and precepts, can gain the advantage which Christianity already possesses by its authority alone. Time, and the concurrence of whole nations, have combined with its own excellence to render it impressive beyond any human system. It is adapted to the poor and unlearned, of which the majority of mankind, in all ages and countries, consist. It speaks to them as a voice from heaven, and it will be heard.
But its authority inust be infinitely increased, when men shall be convinced that the written gospel is accompanied at the present hour, and will be to the end of time, with the ministration of the Spirit, the actual operation of the Holy Ghost, vivifying and illuminating the divine principle within us. Christian philosophy is a sun; while all other, to use the poet's language, is, comparatively, but darkness visible.
Christ taught as one having authority. Christ spake as never man spake; and they who hear him with faith, will, through the operation of the
Holy Ghost, possess a wisdom and a happiness which man never knew how to bestow, and can never take away.
Morality, or Obedience to the Commandments of God
in social Intercourse and Personal Conduct, remarkably insisted upon in the Gospel.
That most injurious calumny, which asserts that the doctrine of grace is unfavourable to the purest virtue and the most beneficent behaviour in civil society, must be refuted in the mind of every reasonable and impartial man, who attends to the following passages of Scripture :
• He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. If ye love me, keep my commandments. If a man love me, he will keep my words. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. Every man that has this hope in him, purifieth himself. Little children,