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Pray permit me to read to you the splendid description of this heavenly attribute, as dictated by the Spirit of the Almighty; and were it possible that you could not be won by its virtues, you could not fail to be so by the bright promises it offers.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. ·
“ ' For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
"She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
“ 'Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
“ 'Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.'*
“ How beautifully, and how graciously, is this divine spiritual gift introduced by the two verses that immediately precede the passage in which it is so highly extolled. To yourself, my dear Madam, in your present affliction, they must present a source of the purest consolation; like the fountain opened by Moses in the burning wilderness of Sin, to the thirst-expiring Israelites :
My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord ; neither be weary of His correction :
"For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth ; even as a FATHER the son in whom he delighteth.''
Nothing, my dear friend,” replied the lady, with emotion, so much soothed and re-established the mind of my poor sick husband, and indeed impressed my own also, in your conversation with him yesterday, as the cheering illustrations you
* Prov. iii. 13-18.
drew from the Bible of Jehovah's forgiving compassion, and the Saviour's atoning love to His fallen creatures. I am fully aware that the sole condition on which we can claim such blessings is, 'repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.' But that God should be graciously willing to pardon at all such sinners as we are, after so many multiplied transgressions committed against the light of knowledge—so many responsibilities of power and affluence disregarded- such frequent despite done to the Spirit of grace,-is, indeed, a miracle of mercy.”
“ Most truly is it so," answered her pious instructor; “but if God's forbearance and mercy were no better than those of man towards his fellow creatures, our condemnation would be
We should never see the light of life. But the longsuffering mercy of God our Saviour surpasses knowledge.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ?
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord '*
“ This is the sublime and inspired language of that favoured apostle who was privileged to see the glorious vision of his Saviour, after our Lord had risen from the dead.
If, however, any human being, right-minded, but depressed by constitutional fearfulness, should feel, after reading such passages as those I have quoted, still inclined to despair,
Rom. viii. 35-39.
let him ponder over the grace and the promise of God to his Church, contained in the following two verses, and hush his fears for ever :
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.'”*
And, now,” observed the lady to her kind monitor, “while I desire to express to you my grateful thanks for thus exhibiting before me such an illustrious and consolatory display of the Divine goodness, in the various Scriptures which you have in so Christian a manner brought to my notice, I am anxious to lead your attention to the principal subject for which I solicited this interview. The point to which I allude, and on which I am desirous of obtaining your opinion, for the purpose of clearing up a difficult passage of the Bible, is that of the seeming discrepancy, as to doctrine, between St. Paul and St. James, respecting `justification by works.'
“ You very rightly call it a ' seeming discrepancy,'” replied Mr. Gracelove; “ for, in strict truth, there is no discrepancy at all between them. The two apostles mean the self-same thing, but expressed in different language, and by a different mode of stating the same argument. That such is the scriptural fact,” he continued, “it is only necessary to observe, that both the apostles illustrate their meaning by the very identical instance of Abraham, who was called emphatically the “friend of God.' This at once, in my humble opinion, decides the controversy with respect to the supposed difference of doctrine between them. When St. Paul speaks of justification by faith,—when he says, ' Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness,'—and that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham,'* he does not mean it to be understood that it is a simply barren faith-a bare assent of the understanding, wholly unproductive of the fruits of obedience. For He that has enjoined upon the heart the principle of faith, has also said, — Keep the commandments.' But if, while a man expresses his belief in God, and in his dear Son Jesus Christ, he rebels against those commandments, this is doing no more than the devils do, who believe and tremble.' This surely, therefore, could not be the faith of St. Paul. If, then, the apostle meant a faith working by love, an obedient faith, which, while it believes, obeys also the laws of the Great Being who ordained that faith, then is there no difference whatever between St. Paul and St. James. And that the apostle of the Gentiles did so mean, there can be no doubt whatever in the mind of any one who reads carefully his Epistles with a teachable spirit. But, as I observed before,” repeated our friend, "the circumstance of both the apostles having appealed to the self-same instance--that of Abraham, of whom it is again said, “they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham,'-in confirmation of their doctrine, is an incontestable evidence that the doctrine in question was one and the same.
* Isa. xlix. 15, 16.
“I have, however," he proceeded, “ an opportunity of presenting you with two authorities on this interesting subject very much superior to my own, in the persons of two celebrated divines of our church. I have, fortunately, brought the book with me containing their opinions, and, with your permission, I will go to my room for it, and will read them for your edification, as I feel convinced you will confess to be the case.'
After an absence of two or three minutes, our friend returned with the book, and, resuming his chair, turned at once to the passage in question.
* Gal. iii. 7.
“ The first opinion I-shall give you," he said, addressing the lady, “is that of Archbishop Secker, which, with your leave, I will read to you in his own words. His Grace writes thus:
“When St. Paul says, that men are justified by faith, without the deeds of the law ;' (Rom. iii. 28,) and St. James, that 'by works a man is justified, and not by faith only;' the former means, that believers in Christ will be saved without the observance of the Mosaick law, or the perfect observance of the natural law, to which our sinful natures cannot attain; and the latter means, that believers in Christ will not be saved by their faith singly, without a sincere, though imperfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel. For it seems there were some of wrong minds, who fell into an error, which indeed none of right dispositions could; and hearing the apostles say, that men were not under the law, but under grace,' (Rom. vi. 14,) and that Christ hath made us free' from what the Jews were bound to, (Gal. v. 1,) either imagined or pretended, that their Christian liberty exempted them from all law, and even from that of the civil magistrate. This was a most pernicious opinion. And not only St. James here declared against it, and St. Peter, too, in his Epistle, but St. Paul is very express, that though with respect to the Mosaick rites, Christians are without law, yet they are not without law' in regard ' to God, but under the law to Christ,' (1 Cor. ix. 21,) and, by His command, under that of men also. This, then, is the doctrine of the New Testament; that, according to the tenour of the Gospel, neither the observance of the Mosaick law will justify men, nor the non-observance of it condemn them; but that a thorough change of heart and life from evil to good, effected by the power of God's almighty grace, is the one thing needful; ' for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision ; but a new creature.'' (Gal. vi. 15.)
“ Such is the enlightened view,” said Mr. Gracelove, “enter