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the might of touching the affections; that others, again, abound in cool and sober judgment, and have their access to good through the understanding; that some can only prevail by simplicity and fervent piety, seeing they are debarred from all outward advantages; that every
minister of Christ (in short) at this day, has his own measure of ability; and one has this gift, and another that ; when I see things like these, I
look to Scripture for a clew to unravel the ap1 Cor. xii. pearance of them, and seem to find it here : All
these things worketh one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
But when, beyond this point, I look again on this same present Church, and see, in instances almost innumerable, (as of old,) these gifts set in invidious array, one against another; learning much too apt to speak contemptuously of piety, and piety as much too ready to pass censorious verdict upon learning; those, whose strength is in the understanding charging such as appeal to the affections with enthusiasm ; and these retorting, in their turn, a hasty reproach of lukewarmness and indifference ; all (as it would appear) from want of duly appreciating and honouring the necessity and assistance of either
to other; and when, at the close of such a chap1 Cor. xii. ter, I hear the Apostle saying, Yet show I unto you a more excellent way,--and that way
is CHARITY; then it becomes sure, that the chapter is
31. and ch. xiii.
Ps. Ixxxiv. 10.
for us, and for our children, of some power towards effectual holiness; though we were neither Apostles, nor workers of signs and wonders, but only doorkeepers in the house of our God.
But it is necessary to pause upon a theme, which is inexhaustible. If the position taken in the outset has been, thus far, made good; if the exemplifications of it do really and fairly serve to their intended purpose; if Scripture does indeed thus show us to ourselves, and we cannot deny the truth of the resemblance; if it neither conceals deformity, to tempt us, nor yet drives us into extremity, so as to overwhelm us; if it neither threatens, nor promises too much;.could it have proceeded either from one that did not know us, or from one that did not love us?
There is yet another general view of its adaptation to the real state of human nature remaining to be taken, before we come to speak of its sufficiency for individual cases ; which view is to be seen in the characteristic speech and conduct of its successive ambassadors, both under the elder and the later dispensation. This, which offers a topic of much interesting reflection, will form the subject of the next Lecture.
JOHN ii. 25.
For he knew what was in man.
WE proceed to the last exemplification pro-
If the preceding statements, which have been advanced, be in any measure sound and just; if holy Scripture be truly represented as one continuous appeal from the Almighty to his creatures, made at sundry times and in divers manners to the same human nature; we shall expect, according to that harmony of colouring, that proportion which may reasonably be looked for, in a volume of inspired and everlasting truth, to find a suitable difference perceptible in the points above mentioned. We shall not look for exactly the same character and manner of address to their hearers, in the “Prophets,” in
our Lord,” and in his “ Apostles.” We shall look, indeed, for consistency of spirit in all; and
See Luke expect all to have their faces set the same way,
as though they would go towards Jerusalem ;
(agreeably to that which our Saviour has himJohn iv.37. self represented; And herein is that saying true,
One soweth, and another reapeth; the field of labour must be one;) but, with this, we may reckon upon finding their respective methods of procedure influenced by the consciousness of delegated power in each, and by the extent of their entrusted commissions.
For example; when Elijah challenged the 1 Kings worshippers of Baal to the trial by fire, he knew
well that his appeal would be answered from on high. He acted suitably to his commission; and the effect he desired was produced, at least, for the time. But when the Apostles James and John would have had recourse to a like demonstration, it stands on record, that they knew not the Spirit of the dispensation whereunto they were called. How much less could we expect to convince others, by appealing now to powers, which we could not command! or how could Scripture commend itself effectually to the reason and the conscience at once, if we found it countenancing any reference to present visible terrors, which we know, from the analogy of settled experience, to be no longer executed! A law, which should thus invalidate its own authority, would certainly fail of proof, that it “knew “what was in him, for whom it was intended.”
Luke ix. 54, 55, 56.