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exertion, and urging us onward even to death itself.
What is it that animates the breast of the enterprising traveller, in his laborious researches?
Among his other pursuits during this busy session, he wrote several discourses on passages of Scripture, some of them were read to Mr. Lothian, others of them to a small number of his fellow students; but none of them, I believe, was used in any other way. They are all illustrative of the soundness and clearness of his mind; the accuracy and extent of his knowledge of the Scriptures; the philosophical turn of his thinking; and his prevailing disposition to connect all his pursuits with the missionary enterprise, in which even then, he ardently wished to engage. I am very much deceived if the following discourse, which I give as a specimen, will not be consid ered an extraordinary effort of so young a mind
2 COR. iv. 13.
"We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak."
There is a common proverb, that "the truth should not be always told." In other words, that it is not always a good reason for speaking that we believe. Although apparently at first sight a little paradoxical, this saying will be found like
most other proverbs, to embody the wisdom of very extensive experience.
There are some truths which concern only a few individuals, and in which the rest of mankind have no interest whatever. If there be nothing absolutely wrong, there is at least something very trifling in publishing such matters. And you cannot, perhaps, pitch upon a character more universally despised, than that of the busy-body or the tell-tale. Yet each of these deservedly detested characters, could, perhaps, allege in excuse for all his silly conversation, that he spoke because he believed.
There are other truths which, it would be not only idle and improper, but which it might be cruel, or even criminal to promulgate. That man could have but little tenderness or humanity in his disposition, who should assiduously relate the disgraces, or the crimes of a departed parent, to the surviving children; and we would not hesitate to pronounce it a breach of the second great commandment of the law, to expose to public view the defects in the private character of our neighbor. You are aware, indeed, that the latter action not only is a palpable transgression of the law of God, but comes under the cognizance even of human jurisprudence. Truth is a libel; and it would be no excuse in a court of justice, for the defamer of his neighbor's good name to affirm, that he had published only what he had good ground to believe.
You perceive then, that the quality of the motive which Paul affirms to have actuated him in his public speaking, and in his writings, must depend upon the character of those truths, which he so assiduously proclaimed. If they were truths
which concerned only a few individuals, or which," if they had a reference to all, were of comparatively insignificant importance, then it was folly in Paul to labor so hard, and to suffer so much to proclaim them; and, notwithstanding all the cogency of his reasoning, and the sublimity of his eloquence, we should, in such a case, be tempted to concur in the opinion of the eastern king, that after all he was but a learned madman.
If, again, the truths which Paul preached tended only to harrow up the feelings of markind, and to destroy what might be but early prejudices; but yet were prejudices with which those whom they influenced had associated all that they held dear as patriots, and all that they thought sacred in religion:-if these truths tended only to bring to light evils that had long been hidden, and which had even by the common consent of mankind been carefully concealed:-if, finally, they tended only to demonstrate to mankind that their wisdom was folly, and that their boasted virtue which they had hoped would open for them the gates of heaven, not only was altogether unable to expiate their crimes, but was itself too much tainted with impurity to find acceptance before God:-if this alone was the tendency of the truths which Paul preached, it was more than folly,-it was cruelty to proclaim them. Better far for the world, they had never been promulgated.
But I need not tell you that the doctrines which Paul preached were of a far different character.
It is true that they directly tended to produce all the seeming evils I have been describing; but God be thanked, this was not their only tendency. True, the feelings of the decent and the virtuous among mankind would be harrowed up, when they
were classed with the vilest of their species, and told that they had been wearing but the mask of virtue;-that the hidden man of the heart was utterly polluted; that God had concluded all under sin, and that therefore, all are under condemnation. True, the prejudices of the Jews, with all their associations of patriotism and sacredness, must have been shocked at being told that the descendants of Abraham were no longer God's chosen nation, but that the Gentiles were become fellowheirs with them of the promises. True, the apostles' preaching was, to the Jews, a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but this was not all, or I repeat it, the apostle was guilty of the greatest cruelty. But unto them who believe, both Jews and Greeks, it was the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
In order then to show that the simple belief of the truths of the gospel is sufficient reason for preaching them,-and preaching them, too, with all the unwearied diligence and fervent zeal which characterized the preaching of the Apostle Paul; and at the risk too, of all the losses and persecutions to which his ministry subjected him,-we shall attempt to show,
I. The perfection and excellency of the New Testament dispensation.
II. We shall also attempt to show, that the belief of the gospel is not only a sufficient reason for preaching it, but that it is the only right motive which can lead an individual to the choice of the ministry as his occupation.
The perfection and excellency of the New Testament dispensation may perhaps be most strikingly
illustrated by contrasting it with less perfect dis
We remark, then, that the doctrines of natural religion, (with a very few exceptions,) are so very dark and confused, as scarcely to warrant, and by no means to encourage its promulgation as a system, on the part of those who embrace it.
By the light of nature, it is true, we can clearly perceive the existence and some of the attributes of Deity. It is not to the doctrines of natural religion, taken individually, but to natural theology, itself, as a system of religion, that the foregoing remark is applicable. Had God never revealed himself to us by his Spirit, or by his Son, still we might have known something of his character from the works which he has made. And in contrasting the declarations of God's word with the language of his works, we conceive that men of different parties have fallen into opposite extremes. The mere philosopher would wish to convince us that nature speaks so audibly, and so unequivocally of her Sovereign, as to render all supernatural declarations of his will unnecessary; while, on the other hand, it must be confessed, that the advocates of a written testimony from above have sometimes, through a wish to magnify the importance of the communications of God's Spirit, depreciated that testimony which his works undoubtedly bear to the character of their great Creator. It is our wish to steer clear of these extremes; and, in attempting to do so, we cannot follow a safer course than that which the written testimony itself points out.
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth forth his handy-work.