« ForrigeFortsett »
We need not wonder that he, who could undervalue a supreme regard to the word of God, or set aside any portion of it, should be permitted to go astray and symbolize in some things at one time with Tractarianism, and at another with Neology. As to his charge against his brethren of 'Bibliolatry, and especially towards the Old Testament, being as foolish as the superstitions of the Catholics,' we can only grieve, that a devout Christian who had signed the sixth and seventh Articles of the Church of England, could so rashly make such a charge against faithful ministers, prizing above all books the book of God. It is not a charge against them, but a charge against David (Psa. i. 2.), against St. Paul (Col. iii. 16 ; 2 Tim. iii. 15—17.), against our blessed Master (Luke xvi. 29; John v. 39.), and against God himself. Deut. vi. 6—9. Satan's subtiltý here is manifest. Love to the whole Bible is a mainspring of the safety, the usefulness, and the true honour of faithful Christians. May that love ever be the distinguished characteristic of the Evangelical body!
It is a total mistake to imagine, that talents of mind are the chief means for diffusing Divine truth in the world. The system of God is wholly different. It pleases him by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, and the foolishness of God is wiser than men. No man can, by his wisdom, talents, learning, classical attainments, powers of his own mind, understand and receive the things of God. 1 Cor. ii. 14. And, however
despised the faithful followers of Christ may be, God chooses them to bring to nought the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence. Let the first and second chapters of the first Epistle to the Corinthians be read with humble faith and earnest prayer. It meets all the rash disdain of talented men, towards those whom God uses for the advancement of his kingdom, and it may preserve the reader from the snare of such powerful minds as Dr. Arnold's, some of whose sentiments, with all his originality, ability, zeal, and, what is far better than these, his true piety, are seriously erroneous, and calculated to weaken and destroy the faith of a simple Christian. Even in this life God has promised, I will raise up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece (Zech. ix. 13); and, in the life to come, our Saviour has twice assured us, men's judgments will be strangely reversed, Many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Matt. xix. 30 ; xx. 16.
Yet, let not the reader mistake here. The highest talents, the deepest learning, the utmost powers of intellect, yea, and all the dominion, and wealth, and possessions of this world, and all its discoveries, and all its hidden resources, have been, are, and shall be, consecrated through simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the grace of his Spirit, in an entire and willing surrender to all his revealed word. Thus, the whole man, body, soul, and spirit, with all his powers, have been, and will be, presented as a living sacrifice to God, which is our reasonable service. Everything is redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and will, in the fulness of time, be joyfully yielded to God, and glorify his name. Every knee shall bow to Christ, and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. When the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man shall be made low, then he that glorieth will not glory in his talents, or trust in his abilities, or despise weaker brethren, but according as it is often written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (Jer. ix. 23, 24; 1 Cor. i. 31 ; 2 Cor. x. 17). The truth has yet to be fully opened out to the Church, that, in Jesus, are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. ii. 3.), and that the richest treasures of all science are only to be discerned in connexion with him to whom all power is given in heaven and earth.
What we all need, whether with naturally-powerful minds or with weak minds, is Divine teaching. Look, then, at those graces which the minister receives under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, which, combined, make a devoted and eminently successful minister in blessing the Church and the world.
THE SPIRIT OF POWER : the opposite to cowardice, for God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power. A full testimony is to be borne against sin in the world, and sin in the children of God. The spirit of the ministerial office is in this a spirit of boldness. We may see this in the Baptist. He boldly reproved the king on his throne in his most beloved sin. There is to be no cowardly shrinking from duty ; but we must be bold in our God to speak the Gospel to men with much contention. We see this courage in Micah, when he says, Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment and of might, to declare unto Judah his transgression, and to Israel his sin. Micah iii. 8. Would we be really useful, there should be a plain unequivocal rebuke of open sin, and a firm testimony against it, under the sense of its danger to the sinner, its real evil to others, and its dishonour to God. Ministers are set for the defence of the Gospel, and must imitate the courage of that blessed Master, who twice drove the
uyers and sellers out of the temple, and who could say the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. John ii. 13—17; Matt. xxi. 12, 13. They must seek to pluck men as brands from the burning. Jude 23.
Peace with indifference to error, from love of ease, and quiet, and fear of contention, may be much more offensive to God than our occasioning divisions, by contending for the truth. Matt. x. 34; Rev. iii. 15, 16. Indifference to error from unsettled principles is equally dangerous. The word of God is given to make us strong in faith, and to preserve us from a doubtful mind. Let us not hesitate to act on its plain statements, according to the proportion of faith, in the full assurance that it is firmer than heaven and earth. Let us get a clear perception of our duty from that word, and not reckon
upon consequences, but discharge our duty, and leave all events to God. We have to do with the great God; the constant sense of his presence, and the constant desire to please him, will give great courage in every part of our ministry. In this spirit, the martyr Stephen lived and died. Acts vi. 8. It is not talent and a brilliant genius that makes a ministry powerful. Every thing that attracts admiration only to the preacher, diminishes the power of the word. Hence St. Paul came, not with excellency of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. Oh the blessing of a really powerful ministry in converting and building up faithful Christians ! To be mighty in the Scriptures, like Apollos, is true Christian eloquence and power. And to be always labouring fervently in prayer, like Epaphras, gives divine energy and strength in our ministry,
THE SPIRIT OF LOVE is the corrective to the abuse of power ; vehemence without love, or where love is but dimly seen, is of little use. It may break things to pieces, but it will build nothing up. Truth in love is the key to all hearts, and the warm life-blood of the Church. Glowing, fervent love to all men, and especially to the household of faith, arising from supreme love to God, will carry us in a right spirit through all our trials. There will be, indeed, a distinction in the kinds of love, as we see in our Lord himself, and that even to his own disciples. There is a real love, sincere and true to all men, however wicked or opposed to us ;