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for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of him (who is) our great God und Saviour (even) Jesus Christ. 2 Pet. i.i. • To them that have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of him (who'is) qur God and Saviour (even) Jesus Christ.
That this interpretation may be established beyond the possibility of mistake, it will be proper to consult the writings of the ancient Greek Christians; for although they differed from each other, and from the New Testament, in some of the doctrines which they professed, yet, if the rule given by Mr. Sharp is correct, it will of course follow, that they were unanimous in the testimony; that the form of expression, to which the rule applies, is used only where a single person or thing is the object of description; because the role inerely informs is what was the invariable usage of their native tongue.
The task of examining these writings, Mr. Wordsworth has performed. The result will be best learned by extracting the substance of a few passages occurring in his Eetters to Mr:Sharp:
We have the consolation to find that no other interpretation than yours (Mr. Sharp's) was ever heard in all the Greek churches, p. 26. I am persuaded that I have observed more than a thousand instances of the form ho Christos kui Theos, Eph. v. 5; (i.e. him (who is) Christ and God); some hundreds of instances of ho megas Theus kai soter, Titus ii. 13;(i. e, him (who is) our great God and Saviour); and not fewer than several thousands of the form ho Theus kai soter, 2 Peter 1.1; (i.e. him (who is God and Saviour); while not even in a single case where the sense could be determined, have I seen any of them used when the writer is speaking of more than one person. The testimony of many of these writers is so decisive, that it could not have been more explicit had it been forged for the purpose of establishing the truth of Mr. Sharp's rule. Thus, Theodoret, citing Titus ii. 13, says 'He,' the Apostle, "hath called the same l'erson the Saviour, and the great God, and Jesus Christ.
Christ then is God. Important doctộine! because, if there were no more grace for the convinced sinner than can be treasured up in mere man, he might rejoice to have his por tion under rocks and mountains *. To tell such a one that Jesus is not God, is to tell him that there is no blood of sufficient value to atone for his sins : that no righteousness can be found to justify his soul : it is to bind him in everlasting chains of darkness till the judgment-day, and to make him anticipate the bitter pains of eternal death.
Christ is God. Blessed truth!" then all which he hath done and suffered, is of infinite value: a basis more immoveable than
* Ower on Divine Communion,"
that which supports the lofty mountain, presents itself as the foundation of the Christians hope.
* Here is firm footing, - here is solid Rock.' The Fountain which is opened, and pours forth streams of mercy, is exhaustless as the nature of the most High.
THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. . Mr. Editor,
Having been engaged in the work of preaching the gospel for nearly forty years, and feeling that, according to the course of nature it cannot be long ere I shall have to give an account of my stewardship, your readers will accept of a few serious and affectionate tlioughts on this important subject.
A remark which I once heard from the lips of that great and good man, the late Mr. ABRAHAM BUOth, has often recurred to my recollection. I fear (said he) there will be found a larger proportion of wicked ministers than of any other order of professing Christians !-It did not appear to me at the time, nor has it ever appeared since, that this remark proceeded from a want of charity, but rather a deep knowledge of the nature of Christianity, and an impartial observation of men and things. It behoves us, not only as professing Christians, but as ministers, to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith!' It certainly is possible, after we have preached to others, that we ourselves should be cast away! I believe it is very comion for the personal religion of a minister to be taken for granted; and this may prove a temptation to him to take it for granted too. Ministers, being wholly devoted to the service of God, are supposed to have great advantages for spiritual improvement. These they certainly have; and if their minds be spiritual, they may be expected to make greater proficiency in the divine life than their brethren.
But it should be remembered, that if they are not spiritual, those things which would otherwise be a help, will prove a hindrance. If we study divine subjects merely as ministers, they will produce no salutary effect. We may converse with the most impressive truths, as soldiers and surgeons do with blood, till they cease to make any impression upon us.
We must meditate on these things as Christians, first feeding our own souls upon them, and then imparting that which we have believed and felt to others; or whatever good we may do to them, we shall receive none ourselves. Unless we mix faith with what we preach, as well as with what we hear, the word will not profit us. It may be on these accounts that ministers, while employed in watching over others, are so solemnly warned against neglecting themselves : "Take heed to yours
selves, and to all the flock, &c. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee' *.
It is a very discriminating account of the work of the ministry that is given us in 2 Cor. iv.5: "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord ; and ourselves your servants for Jesus'sake. It may prove in the end that this is the charace ter of every faithful pastor, and that every one who is not faithful, preaches himself rather than Christ Jesus the Lord. It is true that none, except a few gross impostors, would think of holding up themselves as the way of salvation instead of Christ; but there are more ways of preaching ourselves than this : Christ may be the topic of our preaching, and the object of our commendation, while self is the governing principle of the whole discourse.
If worldly advantuge be our object, whatever be the subjectmatter of our preaching, we certainly preach ourselves and not Christ. It is true there is but little food for this lust in the far greater part of our congregations, whether in or out of the establishinent; yet there doubtless are cases in which it is otherwise. Some have made their fortunes in this way; and if such was their end, they have had their reward. If this had not been a possible case, Paul would not have disavowed it as he does : Not a cloke of covetousness, God is witness !
If we make the ministry subservient to a life of ease and indolence, we preach ourselves rather than Christ. We may get but little for our labour, and yet, being fastidious of a life of sloth (if a life it can be called) it may be more agreeable to us than any other pursuit. It is from this disposition that many ministers have got into the habit of spending a large part of every week in gossiping from house to house; not promoting the spiritual good of the people, but merely indulging them selves in idle talk. I might add, it is from this disposition and practice that a large proportion of the scandals among ministers have arisen. Had there been no danger from these quarters, we should not met with another of Paul's solemn disavowals : Our exhortation was not of uncleanness.'
If the applause of our hearers be the governing principle of our discourses, we preach ourselves, and not Christ. To be acceptable is necessary to being useful; and an attention to manner with this end in view is very proper ;-but if the love of fame be our governing principle, our whole ministry will be tainted by it. This subtile poison will penetrate and pervade our exercises till every one perceives it, and is sickened by it, except ourselves. It will inflate our composition in the study, animate our delivery in the pulpit, and condescend to fish for applause when we have retired. It will even induce us to deal in flattering doctrine, dwelling on what are known to be
Acts xx. 28. 1 Tim iv. 16.
favourite topics, and avoiding those which are otherwise. It is a great matter to be able to join with the apostle in another of his solemn disavowals, For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know,-nor of men sought we glory.'
Finally, If our aim be to make proselytes to ourselves, or to our party, rather than converts to Christ, we shall be found to have preached ourselves, and not him. We certainly have seen much of this species of zeal in our times :- Men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them* Nor do I refer merely to men who would be thought singularly evangelical, and even inspired of God; who are continually holding up themselves as the favourites of Heaven, and denouncing judgments on all who oppose them; and the tenor of whose preaching is to persuade their admirers to consider themselves as the dear children of God; and all who disapprove of them as poor blind creatures, knowing nothing of the gospel. Of them and their followers I can only say, 'If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant;'-but men who have paid great attention to the Scriptures, and who have preached and written many things on the side of truth, have nevertheless given but too evident proof of the tenor of their labours being aimed to make proselytes to themselves, or to their party, rather than conyerts to Christ.t
We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord! Let Christ be not only the theme of my remaining ministry, but the exaltation of him and the enlargement of his kingdom the great end of my life! If I forget thee, O my Saviour, let my right hand forget; if I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth !
THE BARREN FIG-TREE.
REFLECTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR. Mr. Editor,
It is difficult for one who has for many years presented your readers with a New Year's Gift, to devise always a new form of address; but if the parable of the barren fig - tree'
* Acts xx. 30.
+ Mr. Fuller, in bis Letters on Sandemanianism, has made some important observations on this subject. There is not a surer mark (he says) of false religion, than its tendency and aim being to make proselytes to ourselves, rather than converts to Christ.'-— Speaking of Sandemanianism, he says • That there is neither tendency in the system, nor aim in those who enter fully into it, to promote the kingdom of Christ is manifest, and easily accounted for. They neither expect, nor, as it should seem, desire its progress; but even look with a jealous eye on all opinions and efforts in favour of its enlargement; as though, should it be greatly extended, it must peeds be a kingdom of this world! See the whole ith Letter of this excellent work, of which we gave our opinion at some length, vol. 18, p. 321; and which is not yet known in proportion to its merits and utility.
has been often, with great propriety, applied to this season of the year, it has perhaps not so frequently been followed up to the precise point which the divine Author supposes
year opening with the tree become fruitful, and enjoying his blessing ; -- or, remaining barren, cut down for the fire.
I. ' The spared tree became fruitful.' Who that observes how Christ's kingdom is increasing, can doubt that, during the past year, the culture bestowed on many a once barren tree, bas so happily succeeded, that the year 1812 opens upon them, bearing fruit pleasant to God and profitable
Like the tree of life, which bears twelve manner of fruits suited to every season, this tree now presents to the gardener and owner,
1. ‘Fruits of repentance.'- These have not, like the forbidden fruit, pleasant colours tempting to the eye, but a
but a plain russet bue; nor can it be devied that, at first, they seem bitter to the taste; but they prove sweetness and health to the soul. T The man, whose symbol is here represented, opens his eyes on the first of January, exclaiming, Alas ! to think that the year 1812 should be the first that ever opened upon me, bearing any fruit that could be pleasing to a holy taste! Ah, how. many New Year's Days saw I the axe of vengeance lifted up over my guilty soul, and heard the angry God say, “ Lo, these many years have I come seeking fruit and finding none, cut it down; why cumberethit the ground?” The constant intercession, Spare it another, and another year, did not affect or improve me; but year after year rolled away, while I cumbered the ground, and brought forth no fruits of affection for him who spared my worthless life! What means were employed to render me fruitful! - but how were they perverted by my obstinate barrenness. Lo, that whole years of diligent attentions from parents, friends, and ministers, were thrown away on me! But, to think that mercy should at length prevail, that I should be able to indulge the hope, that he who said, on the first of January, 1811, Spare it this year also, that I may dig about it and dung it: and if it bear fruit,'—spake the words of happy omea, which Heaven has confirmed, - Ah, well might I resemble the fabled balsam tree, and drop continual tears of đeep contrition for years of guilty barrenness.
2. · Fruits of holiness are now found on the tree which has not been spared in vain.' The first year's produce of the fruittrees in the land of Canaan were not to be eaten by men, but were considered holy to God. Exact emblem of the peculiar devotion with which the Man of whom we speak consecrates this first year of his new and better life to the divine glory! Formerly, the man was satisfied with the customary salutation,' A happy new year to you;' but now all his solicitude is, that it may be a boly new year; for this he sets apart season of solemn fasting and prayer. Some, led by what