Abbildungen der Seite

tween Christians and Christians, love is unquestionably one great connecting and communicating principle. There are others, indeed; but, on our part, the greatest of these is charity, orlove; and love is the bond of perfectness. Let no one say that such a union is unbecoming the dignity of Christ. Dignity is enbanced by condescension, and moral great. ness never appears to such advantage as when engaged in acts of kindness and grace. The church with Christ at its head, may be viewed as a great family of love.. As from the sea there is a constant efflux of waters, by means of evaporation, descending in dews and showers to refresh the earth; and as from the earth there is a constant reflux of waters to the ocean; as from the heart, as the great fountain and organ of life, there is a ceaseless propulsion and flowing forth of blood, circulating to the extremities of the bodily system; and as from the extremities there is a constant return of blood back again to the fountain of the heart; in like manner from Christ, in whom dwells all fulness, there is a constant communication of life-giving influence to souls throughout the church universal; and from the souls of those who constitute the church univer. sal, there is individually and collectively a constant return of admiration, gratitude, and love to him, as the great liv. ing and life-giving Head who first loved them. The in. tercourse of believers with heaven, is an intercourse and interchange of love. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost love them, and make their abode with them; and as God is love, be that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. The intercourse of Christians with each other, as far as it is spiritual, is an intercourse and interchange of love. The communion of saints, as well as fellowship with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is a fellowship and communion of love. Throughout the church there is thus established a common tie, a common life, a common mind, a common heart-a community of interest and feeling; and love is the moving spring of all. Contemplating the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, Christians are changed into the same image, and are constrained by the same influence. From all souls throughout the church there is a constant exhalation of affection to Christ, ad. miring him for his excellencies, and adoring him for his wondrous grace; and from heart to heart, froin society to society, from nation to nation throughout the church, there is a constant reciprocation and flowing forth toward each other, of mutual sympathy and tenderness, of prayerfulness and benediction, of kindness and good offices. The affectionate interchange of greeting and of prayer which they delight to employ respecting each other is--and he has not the heart of a Christian who does not adopt and feel it,—“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”

Mysterious, powerful, and sweet is the principle of di. vine love! Shed abroad by the Spirit on the soul, it draws forth, by its heavenly influence, a rich luxuriance of purity, and peace, and joy, as the genial sunshine of the spring draws forth the buds, and bloom, and odours of the garden, to, repair the desolations of winter. It elevates, refines, and ennobles, our nature. It enlarges the heart when contracted, warms it when cold, animates it when dead, and inspires it with energy and vigour. - It renders difficult things easy, bitter things sweet, it makes . our duty our delight, and enables us to run with alacrity and cheerfulness in the ways of the divine commandments. Constrained by its influence, we glory in the cross of Christ,--we confess his name boldly before men,- we take pleasure in his service,-hold sweet fellowship with his people, rejoice when called to act or to suffer in his cause, and for his sake,—and in its inward movements and exercise we feel the delightful witness of our love to Christ, and of Christ's love to us—that we are the Be. loved's, and that the Beloved is ours.

How should we pant after higher measures of this ce. lestial principle! Come, O! Spirit of divine love, and warm and inflame our breasts; and make us to feel how happy the heart is that owns thine undivided sway, and how easy and sweet all things are to them that truly love Christ Jesus! Never, O my God! can we be completely happy until we love thee with our whole heart, and our neighbour as ourselves.

' " Love divine !. immeasurable Love!

Stooping from heaven to earth, from earth to hell,
Without beginning, endless, boundless Lore!
Above all asking, giving far, to those
Who nought deserved, who nought deserved but death."



No. I.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God.”--2 Tim. ii. 16.

The inspiration of the Scriptures is a phrase sometimes used to express generally that they are from God in their origin and authority; and, at other times, to express more particularly to what extent or degree they are to be con. sidered the dictation of the Holy Spirit. At present we shall not refer to the extent of inspiration-that subject may come beforę us hereafter-We merely refer to the evidences that the Scriptures are a divine communication, on which the Christian should be informed. This is a subject which has been too much neglected by the majority of professed believers in our times. We should fear that many of them have been at no pains whatever to understand it. Yet it is of the utmost importance, that every Christian should be's ready to give an answer to every man that asketh a reason of ihe hope that is in him," touching the Scriptures in both their divine authority and blessed revelations. The points on which he should be informed are the followingthe genuineness, authenticity, inspiration, and canonicity of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. And on each of these we shall offer a few suggestions.

I.--The Scriptures are genuine. We say that a book is genuine when it is really the production of the person whose name it bears, and to whom it is attributed. For example, the first five books of the Old Testament are at. tributed to Moses, and we prove them to be genuine when we show that they were actually written by him. So also the Gospels are genuine, having been written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, to whom they are ascribed. And the same may be said of the Epistles of Paul, or any other portion of the Scriptures.

The advantage of being able to prove that the inspired books are genuine is, that it procures for them the respect and authority due to the names of their writers, and it affords, at least, presumptive evidence, that what they con. tain is true. Hence, it was customary, in a dark and evil age, to write hooks in the names of the apostles, or their

associates, or some other distinguished servants of God; and thus to attempt to gain for forgeries the authority of the names in which they were written.

The evidence for the genuineness of the Scriptures is very abundant. It is of the same kind with that by which we prove the genuineness of any writings whatever. For instance, if we are required to prove that the books attributed to Homer, or Virgil, oř Luther, or Calvin, were really written by them, we appeal to the testimony of those who lived in their time, or in a subsequent age; and if we find a decided agreement, we feel ourselves warranted to receive the compositions as genuine. We never think of questioning this universal consent of witnesses. So with the Scriptures, we are able to show that all antiquity attri. butes the different books to the persons whose names they bear. There is as much concord of testimony, with regard to them, as any ancient writings whatever. Indeed, con sidering how much more ancient many of the books in the Scriptures are than any other writings, it is remarkable that the evidence, is so satisfactory. They have been borne down to our times on a stream of harmonious testimony; the different books, with comparatively little controversy, being attributed to the persons whose names they bear. To be fully satisfied on the subject, it is only necessary to consult the catalogues of these books preserved from the most ancient times. As might be expected, the evidence is more full for the books of the New Testament than those of the Old. But this is fully compensated for by the cir. cumstance that Christ and his Apostles, who are infallible authority, have quoted largely from the Old Testament Sviptures, and, in many instances, named the persons to whom the books were then ascribed, as being really their authors, · But it is not essential to the divine authority of an inspired book that we should be able to name its author. For instance, we are uncertain who may be the authors of several of the Psalms that bear the name of David ; but our Lord has stamped the whole collection as divine, and, therefore, they are authority to us, though unable to name the authors. Where this can be done, however, it is satisfactory.. And with such satisfaction we are favoured generally respecting the Scriptures. ::.

II.--The Scriptures of the Old and New Testamentare authentic. : A book is authentic when it relates facts truly

as they occurred. It may be genuine and not authentic, when it is the production of the professed author, but is incorrect in its statements. And it may be authentic without being genuine, when it relates the truth, though we are mistaken respecting its author. When we are able to show that a book is both genuine and authentic, it is thereby invested with full, authority; and the evidence for the books of the Scriptures in these respects is most abundant. Particularly full is the evidence of their authenticity. We are able to show that their narratives are agreeable to all the records that have been preserved of the times to which they relate that there is nothing in them contrary to what was likely to happen in the circumstances that they bear upon them all the marks of simplicity, consistency, and artlessness, by which true histories are always charac. terized--and that every discovery which modern investiga, tion has made, respecting the times that are past, confirms their statements. The evidence, indeed, is so full for the authenticity of the Scriptures, that it has afforded the most unhesitating satisfaction to all reasonable men. And if any profess to think it unsatisfactory, they must, to be consistent, doubt the truth of all history, sacred and profane. But all that has yet been said does not establish the peculiar claims of the Old and New Testament. Writings may be both genuine and authentic without being entitled to any authority over the conscience. They may relate what is true they may be the productions of the persons to wbom they are attributed-and yet not be a rule of either faith or practice. Besides being genuine and authentic, therefore, we remark

III.-The Scriptures are inspired. By the inspiration of the Scriptures we mean that they are the dictation of the Holy Ghost, . " Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”—2 Pet. i. 21. The Scrip. tures have proceeded directly from God, and hence claim authority over the conscience and the life. The evidence by which this is proved, is the most various and irresist. ible, and we shall suggest a brief and general view of it.,

1. The wise and good of all ages have acknowledged the Scriptures to be inspired. By this consideration they are at least entitled to respect; nor in such circumstances should their claims be lightly regarded or dismissed. The character of those who have rejected the Scriptures, will

« ZurückWeiter »