« ForrigeFortsæt »
to the divine family and become the sons of God, by faith we are sanctified and transformed from glory to glory into the likeness of God. Yet this is the principle which many presume to deride, and which all our modern liberals treat as of small account. But the error lies in their false or inadequate estimates of the Christian character itself, and till these are corrected, in vain shall we look for any just conception of the importance of faith.
Now if faith is so important to the Christian character, can we doubt whether it is necessary to acceptable obedience ? Yet it is the current doctrine of liberalism, that evangelical faith is by no means essential, and that all the duties of piety and benevolence may be fully discharged by the man who is an utter stranger to the principle. This sentiment, we allow, may not always be so plainly or strongly expressed; but its meaning, its spirit, is avowed in the sneer, the sarcasm, the virulent invective, or the indulgent pity bestowed on all who are zealous in leading the world to Christ. Now to this sentiment, however expressed, we oppose these two explicit declarations of the apostle“ Without faith it is impossible to please God,” and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” No language can be more decisive. It pronounces faith to be the principle of all acceptable obedience, and strikes at the root of that unprincipled system which professes the Christian name, but repudiates all that is peculiarly Christian. Farther, it will be allowed, we presume, that the heart must be the source of acceptable obedience: now Peter expressly assures us that it is
ith which purifies the heart. And the same apostle exhorts the brethren in these terms- " Wherefore having purified your souls by obeying the truth, (that is, by faith,) through the Spirit, to unfeigned brotherly love, ye will love one another from a pure heart continually.”*
Nay, faith is the sustaining principle of our spiritual life, for thus Paul gives his own experience -“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me; and the lite which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” But if it sustain the life itself, will it not operate in all its motions, feelings, and exercises. Indeed whoever reads the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews must be satisfied that faith is the all-informing principle of new obedience. It was faith that animated, as with one soul, that noble army of patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, and confessors. It was faith that inspired their zeal in labours, their patience in sufferings, their courage in conflict, their hope in death. And “ faith that worketh by love is ever the vital, all-pervading energy
of new obedience. It enters into the most secret intimacies of the divine life, animates all the duties of practical religion, invigorates every enterprise of spiritual benevolence, and, in the day of trial, will enable us still to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” But destitute of this sav. ing grace, what principle of the heart, what act of the life, what attribute of the character can be accepted in the sight of God? The Bible declares-Not one. « Without faith it is impossible to please him.” The character may be embellished with many specious accomplishments, the heart may be framed to the nicest sensibility, and the life may be refined from the grosser pollutions of the world, yet one thing is lacking, and this the Lord requires. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is the grand requirement of the Gospel; it is “a kind of universal command that runs through all this dispensation of heaven to the children of men, and therefore to reject it is to be guilty of a kind of universal disobedience," and discovers, even through the guise of many plausibilities, a determined alienation of the heart from God." Nay, these very plausibilities, these conventional virtues, however useful or amiable in the sight of men, may be the very elements of rebellion against God; for he who seeth not as man seeth, has inscribed
upon them all, “ Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” We feel we shall be pitied and despised for the weakness and uncharitableness of this sentiment, but we have learned to believe God rather than men, and we know that the judgment of charity must be the judgment of truth.
(TO BE CONCLUDED IN OUR NEXT.)
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN. Sir,
Being lately on a visit to a friend in the ministry in the North-West of the province, I was particularly struck with the appearance of the singing clerk of his congregation, and was led to wonder that an individual so advanced in life (for he is above eighty years of age) should enter with so much heart and earnestness upon the duties of his official calling. Upon a more intimate acquaintance, however, I
soon discovered the secret of the old man's enthusiasm. I found that he had been from early life the teacher and precentor of the congregation—that he still retained an ardent love of psalmody-and was impressed with the importance and solemnity of sacred song. Indeed I was never more surprised and gratified than when the old man sung with much feeling, in my hearing, the subjoined verses of his own unaided composition. He had made them long ago, and taught them to his pupils, by whom they were usually sung as a concluding exercise before the dismission of the school. It occurred to me that they deserved more general circulation, and that you, perhaps, might lend a page or two of your periodical for that purpose. There is a great charm in their simplicity, and they have a quaint and harmonious flow about them that it is impossible not to admire. I am sure they will be acceptable to many, especially to your country readers, and I am not with. out the hope that some of our other teachers of sacred music will adopt and use them as a happy commendation of their art. How desirable when young people come together to improve themselves in psalmody, the science of heaven," that they should be impressed with the importance, the devotional tendency, and scriptural authority of the exercise : and how much more seemly would it be to close their meetings for practice by the singing of the verses here subjoined, than to mingle, as is sometimes done on such occasions, the sacred with the profane, in hurried and abrupt succession. I shall only further add, that these stanzas may
be the tune of “The King's Anthem,” so generally and favourably known.
G. Children who do incline
My duty there to know, To sing sweet songs divine, That I may wiser grow, I pray give ear:
In wisdom's ways.
At wisdom's gate ;
All who this work refrain,
When ?tis too late.
From Job we find;
For saints designed.
This sacred music art
Was stamped on Adam's heart, Sung in Judea's plains,
The Gospel plan;
Let Christians all agree
Who died for man:
While Judas went away,
A hymn was sung;
This left a pattern bright, Set music on its feet,
Which should our hearts invite, And wrote his psalms complete, To sing psalms day and night, For every age.
With heart and tongue. Moses the Red Sea cross'd, Silas and Paul they sung, While Pharaoh's hosts were lost, When bound in prison strong, Drowned in the seas;
Hymns at midnight; Miriam marched along,
Their sacred holy strains With her triumphant song, Loosed all the prisoners' chains Likewise her maidens young The jailor by this means Sung hymns of praise.
Was brought to light. In Samuel's book we read
Martyrs, bound to the stake, The sweet song Hannah made, Who for the Gospel's sake And sung the same;
Were put to death, Her silent prayer address'd, Sung in the burning blạze, She obtained her request,
Une ancient penman says, And with a son was blest,
With psalms and hymns of praise, Samuel by name.
Sung their last breath. Barak and Deborah,
Our singing here abounds
With much uncertain sounds,
On this dark shore;
But through eternity All love and harmony,
No jarring sounds shall be
In the Lamb's company
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN. SIR, I PROCEED with the same freedom which
have kindly permitted me to use in the two preceding Numbers of your valuable publication, to throw together a few remarks on the most profitable mode, under God, of addressing an audience from the pulpit in the public ministrations of the sanctuary.
1. The effective preacher deals with the consciences of the people. So did the Apostle Paul: “by manifestation of the truth commending himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God."-2 Cor. iv. 2. The conscience, it is almost at once the object of the follower of Paul to grasp and search, and so to make ready the sinner for the reception of the Saviour. Truth, conscience, and God are the solemn and eternal realities with which he has to do. He has no time to lose-souls are perishing the judgment is at hand-he knows not whether he may have another opportunity of preaching to the assembly before him—whether some of those who now hear him may not be removed far beyond the reach of his voice, or whether he himself may not be called to give an account of his stewardship before the returning sabbath. He therefore brings his whole soul to bear upon every sermon which he preaches. Having learned that now God commandeth all men every where to repent,' for that “now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation," he presses repentance upon his audience,-he* entreats-beseecheswarns-remonstrates—by the
of God-by the love of Christ-by the terrors of the law—by the long-suffering patience of the Lord, experienced in past years-by all the motives which the Scripture addresses to the minds and hearts of sinners; he urges them to “repent and believe the Gospel.” He does not, like some preachers, deal in long introductions to his discourses. He does not deem it necessary to give a critical analysis of the text, to find fault with the present translation of the Bible, and suggest improvements-to enter upon a laboured and ingenious disquisition on some abstract truth, which not one twentieth portion of his hearers are able, or will give themselves the trouble to understand, and which would profit them nothing if they did understand it. He feels convinced, that by thus disappointing or wearying the attention of an audience at the very outset of his address, he could have little hope of regaining it afterwards.
Neither does he, like others, give a dry and didactic essay, to which the text is prefixed as a motto; and after the announcement of which, the people listen for a few moments, and then perceiving that nothing interesting is to be expected, quietly give themselves over to their own meditations, and seem to forget the presence of the preacher until the welcome intimation of an approaching conclusion strikes upon their ears, when they assume the attitude of devout attention, and listen with the greatest apparent anxiety for the few moments that elapse till the sermon, of which there is hardly, one solitary fragment abiding on their memories, come to its expected and much-desired end.