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knowledge of the will of God; but is there any merit in that knowledge, is there any saving efficacy in it, that we thus pride ourselves and rest in it? When, therefore, we enlarge on the fulness and freedom of God's offers of salvation, through Jesus Christ, let us remember that they are to those, who so called, have taken up the covenant, and endeavoured by God's assistance to fulfil, on their parts, the conditions of it. St. Paul reproaches the Jew that, while teaching others in many of the most vital questions and observances, he was himself untaught. How often may we apply this to ourselves, and stop the rising rebuke, or turn it into our own breasts, to see whether there also there is not much to learn ; there also much to rebuke and eradicate.
Lastly, among those who are without, the Gentiles of modern days, who should be won by our Christian bearing, that seeing our good works, they may glorify our Father which is in heaven, how often do we who profess the name of Christ, cause that most holy name to be blasphemed ! how often do we forget our holy calling, and give way to those worldly feelings that bring scandal on our profession! These are the faults with which the Jews are reproached : the same sins, my brethren, lie at our own door. Let us then listen to the apostle, and as we now enjoy those privileges which distinguish the Israel of God, endeavour so to exercise ourselves in our religion, that we may be Christians not merely according to the letter, but in the heart and the spirit, and our praise be found, not merely with men, but with God.
SERMON II I.
ROMANS, III. 28.
“We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."
There is probably no passage in the Scriptures, at the doctrine of which so many have stumbled and fallen, or any that has been so perverted and misunderstood as this. Time will not permit me to enter fully into it. It is for us to keep the strait road, however narrow, and to endeavour by exhortation and example to draw into it those who have erred. There is, however, one fertile and prevailing source of error, to which I may briefly allude—the separation of the word of God into texts and passages; this has led to much of that variety of interpretation and difference of opinion, which has unhappily divided the Christian world. A few words are often torn away from the passage in which they occur, and adapted, without reference to the object or the argument of the writer, to the point which it may be attempted to prove. Thus has error crept into the Church, and those divisions grown up amongst us, which every sincere Christian so bitterly deplores. We have not come to the Scriptures to inquire, and thence form our opinions ; but we have formed our opinions, and then come to the Scripture to support them. Now it is the first principle of our religion, that our wisdom and knowledge must be humbled : we must count ourselves fools; that is, so put away all preconceived opinions, as to come to Christ for instruction in the first principles of truth. It is not that in ignorance we are to comprehend mysteries, but that we are not to allow those acquirements which partake of our passions to prejudice us; and we are to acquire from the Scriptures a knowledge of religious truth with
the same guileless simplicity that distinguishes children. How directly at variance with this is our practice! Instead of inquiring with a view to conviction, and, in cases of difficulty, availing ourselves of such assistance as may be offered, it has been too much the practice, first, to embrace a set of opinions, or advance a particular line of doctrine, and then exert our ingenuity, even to the perversion of Scripture, in supporting it.
Thus have extreme opinions prevailed. Their asserters might have learned, by refering to that source from whence they pretended to derive them, to moderate their views; while those perhaps who have most widely differed, would have discovered, in a calm comparison of their own, or their adversary's opinions with Scripture, that the difficulties raised on either side had been so raised by their own ingenuity, which the simple doctrine of the Scripture would have reconciled.
The application of these remarks I would make to the passage under consideration, and