Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

wisdom, and a spirit of knowledge, and a spirit of liberty : above all, it is a spirit of love, for God is love.

I spoke also of another sort of tribulations, through which we must enter into the kingdom of God: I mean those more acute feelings of hope and fear, and of anxiety about our conduct, which arise from our being more deeply impressed with the Spirit of the Gospel. Some persons are inclined to set all feelings of this kind to the account of bodily constitution : and there is no doubt that those who are weak and delicate do feel them much more keenly. But there is more in them than this, and naturally so. Strong men are often deeply affected by being placed in situations of intense interest in worldly matters, where great consequences depend on their conduct, and the reputation of their lives is on the issue. Now to him who believes the Gospel, his whole life is a situation, I do not say of such interest, but of interest infinitely greater; a situation in which his everlasting happiness or misery depends upon his conduct, and may be affected by the state of his heart and practice every hour. True it is that habit, and perhaps very often some portion of unbelief, keeps this out of our thoughts very commonly; but who can wonder that it should sometimes rush upon them, and that the effect should be then enough to stagger the firmest mind, and confound the wisest. Perhaps it is a most merciful dispensation that it should be so; the feeling of our own littleness and weakness, which in unbelievers leads only to a careless scoffing desperate bitterness, is in a Christian that valley of humiliation through which the way to the celestial city must pass ; he is humbled only to be the more exalted. In this state prayer and patience are the only remedies : it was a wholesome terror which checked the child when he was straying too widely and too confidently, and urged him to run back for protection to his father's arms. So not to those only who are leading a sinful life, but even to those who are labouring in Christ's service, it is useful that their eyes should be sometimes opened to the overwhelming awfulness of the situation in which we all daily stand ; that beholding God's perfect holiness on the one hand, and the vastness and darkness of the unknown world on the other, they may feel that their own best works and most earnest labour are as nothing amidst objects so infinite; and that indeed their only deliverance and safety can consist in throwing themselves wholly on the mercy of God, through Christ, believing in him, trusting to him, and clinging to him with an intensity of faith and love.

SERMON XXVI.

1 THESSALONIANS v. 23.

I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be pre

served blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the ordinary language of men, which the Scripture itself does not hesitate commonly to adopt, a two-fold division of our nature is recognized, man is said to be made up of body and soul. By the word “ Soul” are un

” derstood both his moral and intellectual faculties, those points in his being which distinguish him from other animals, and to cultivate which is the proper business of his life. It is thus used to signify the highest part of his nature; and therefore in the language of those who know the true objects of his highest faculties, and the exalted state to which they might be raised hereafter, it expresses his immortal part in contradistinction to that which is to perish with this present life. " Fear not them who can kill the body, and after that have no more

that they can do; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.” And again, “ What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul.”

But as the notions generally entertained respecting the highest part of our nature, its objects, and its future capacities, were in many respects highly erroneous : as our relation to God as our Maker and father was lost sight of, and He consequently was not regarded as the great object and centre of our being; and further, as from ceasing so to regard Him, men naturally lost all clear and lively hopes of immortality; the word “ Soul” in * its common acceptation among the Greeks, was inadequate

* The statement here given exactly corresponds with the explanation given by Suidas, of the expression ψυχικός άνθρωπος.-His words are as follow: έκ ψυχής και σώματος ο άνθρωπος όταν μεν ούν πράττη τι των το θες δοκούντων, πνευματικός λέγεται, και ουκ από της ψυχής ονομάζεται, αλλ' αφ' ετέρας μείζονος τιμής, της από του πνεύματος ενεργείας ου γαρ αρκεί η ψυχή εις κατόρθωμα, ει μη απολαύσοι της του πνεύματος βοηθείας.ώσπερ δε σαρκικός άνθρωπος λέγεται και τη σαρκί δουλεύων, ούτω ψυχικών καλεί ο Απόστολος τον τοίς ανθρωπικούς λογισμούς τα πράγματα επιτρέποντα, και την του πνεύματος ενεργείαν μη δεχόμενον.

to express the loftier and more enlightened conceptions of a Christian, with respect to his best faculties, and their most perfect state. We find, therefore, in several passages of the New Testament, that a third term is employed in addition to those of body and soul: and intended to express something superior to the soul in its common sense, as the soul is superior to the body. This third term is “ Spirit,” which, in the signification now alluded to, seems applicable to Christians only; and to denote that perfection of human nature which it was the object of the Gospel to accomplish : an understanding that should know God, and affections that should love him; or in other words, a spiritual creature capable of enjoying communion with the Father of spirits, and from that relation being naturally immortal ; “ for God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living; for all live unto him.”

Thus then when this threefold division of our nature is mentioned, the term body expresses those appetites which we have in common with the brutes; the term Soul denotes our moral and intellectual faculties, directed only towards objects of this world, and not exalted by the hope of immortality; and the term spirit takes these same faculties when directed towards God

Z

« ForrigeFortsæt »