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taught, and the modifications and abbreviations of it, which so abound wherever the gospel has come, shows this most strikingly, and compels to the belief that this word is not of man. Man unguided by divine wisdom would have formed a system less offensive to human pride, less severe in its restraints on human desire, and less humbling to human reason. The stern purity, the sublime mystery, the elevating character of the doctrines of Christianity, so humiliating the natural man and so exalting God, when compared with those of unevangelical systems prevalent make it clear, that the latter are “the words which man's wisdom teacheth” but the former “the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth."
It is not, however, in these perverted systems or in those that hold them alone, that we discover evidence of that opposition of the natural heart to true Christianity, which proves man not its author.
We see the same among
EVANGELICAL SECTS. The doctrines accepted by these, may be, in general the true teaching of Christ and his apostles, and the principles of morality inculcated may accord with the inspired precepts, but there is still room left for the natural mind to show whither are its tendencies. Very few are they, if any, whose conceptions of truth come up to the standard of the New Testament teaching, and they who approximate more nearly to it, are persons who themselves most emphatically declare, that they have experienced enlightening from the divine Spirit. They never claim by unaided reason to have attained such understanding of divine truth. Among professed Christians there is a constant tendency to a lower view of truth and duty than that which the gospel plainly teaches.
Take the conception of Christian life and character entertained by the great mass of the members of our churches, and compare it with that which we ought to gain from a study of the precepts and examples of Christ and the apostles, and how great is the contrast. The form is often taken for the substance, and external duties How many
performed satisfy, when the devotion of the whole heart and life is required. Multitudes are the professed disciples of Christ, in charity esteemed sincere disciples, who, if brought to the test which Christ has given, and called to walk strictly by the letter and spirit of his precepts, would start back in alarm as if this were altogether too much to be demanded of them. And when they hear the faithful teacher set forth the duties, apply the tests, and delineate the features of true Christianity they are wont to say within themselves, this is a hard saying. Even if they admit the correctness of the representation, they look upon it as very severe, and call it “ close preaching," with an air and a tone which mark it as in their estimation unusual beyond what ordinary Christians are expected even to reach after, much less attain. They set their standard much lower.
auch lower. To ill
To illustrate more fully let us look at some particulars in which the ordinary conception of the Christian life falls below the divine standard. The gospel requires man to love God with all the heart and to have reference to his will and honor in every act. Christians adopt this in all its breadth, so that they inquire in every transaction of business, in every gratification of desire, in every movement of life what is God's will concerning it?
Many seem never to think themselves called to ask for the will of God respecting what they shall eat and drink, what apparel they shall wear, what houses they shall build, what furniture and equipage they shall provide, what journies they shall take, or in what places they shall reside. In many cases have known them to smile almost derisively at the singularity of the man who had the reputation of going to God in daily prayer for direction in such matters.
And yet does not the inspired word teach, “ Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God ?"
Again the Christian principle respecting property makes man a steward, to whom God has entrusted talents to be occupied for him. He is under command to use these possessions and conduct the business assigned him, as an agent for God. In every trade he makes, in every investment, in every labor, in every expenditure, he is
to consult the will of the great Proprietor, and to use all his capital for such
and to promote such ends as God desires. If we go to the counting-room, or the workshop, or the farm of the Christian men of business, and present this doctrine, how many will respond, “Yes, this is just the conception I have ever entertained of my calling, and in accordance with which I ever pro
Let any one who has doubt try the experiment
pose to act.”
The gospel gives as the second great command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This forbids all exalting of selfinterest above the interest of our fellow man, and calls on us in all our transactions of business, to have our neighbor's welfare equally in view with our own, in all our dealings to treat him as though he were another self. Very often do we Christians attempting to find apology for selfishness and maintaining their right to love themselves better than any beside, but do we often find in them a practical appreciation of the disinterested love enjoined in this command of Christ? Is it not a most palpable fact that the great mass of Christians do, in their conceptions of the Christian life and character, fall far below the standard set up in the gospel ?
And they who far excel the mass and rise high in their apprehension of holy obligation, do yet never reach that perfectness of conception, that, as they study more and more the teaching of the sacred pages, they do not find themselves attaining new views and loftier thoughts of true godliness. There are no Christians, not even the wisest and holiest, not even those whom unwilling skeptics are compelled to confess to be godly men, that ever set down contented in the belief that they have sounded the deepest depths, or soared to the loftiest heights of the truths of the divine volume. On the contrary, so long as they live they ever find it a well of living water, from which they can draw fresh supplies of holy thought and knowledge.
How shall we account for this transcendent superiority of the teachings of Scripture over the highest conceptions of even its friends and students but by ascribing its authorship to God himself ? We all know that the wisest and best of the church throughout all its history, have made it their study to attain the highest and noblest conceptions of man's duty and the true principles that should govern his life, and we know that none in all they have written or said, even with all the light of revelation to aid them, have excelled or even equalled the standard of the New Testament, while the mass have even fallen far beneath it, and is it possible for us to believe that man, unaided, in an age and among a people ignorant and barren of great truths and clear thought, could have conceived and established so perfect a system as the gospel? The utter improbability of such a supposition presents itself to us in a most striking manner, when we compare the teachings of Christ and the writings of the apostles, with the writings of Christians in the times immediately succeeding. Writers of this day, with all the light afforded by the works and history of the centuries since Christ came, occupy a much more advantageous position, than did the authors of the New Testament, inspiration aside, but they who wrote in nearly the same times stood more on a level.
And how do the writings of these ancient fathers compare with those of the New Testament? The contrast is most remarkable. The descent from the apostles to the fathers is not by an easy step but by a deep precipice. An almost immeasurable chasm separates them. When the last epistle of the apostles was written, it was most evident that inspiration ceased. No one in comparing with the New Testament the writings that followed, would be in danger of supposing that they belonged to the same class. The latter show plainly the power of the man of that
the former show divine wisdom. The gospel itself claims to be divine. The various authors are far from asserting themselves to have originated the system of doctrines they teach, but point us to God as the source of the truth they deliver., “Which things we speak, say they, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” “ I certify to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me, is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
For eighteen centuries since these words were spoken, enmity has sought to prove this gospel a delusion, worldly wisdom and philosophy have sought to improve it, human desire and preference have perverted it into false systems, friendly minds have sought to elaborate it into creeds and systems of morality, and love has striven to realize its conceptions in life and character ; but high above all these assaults of enmity, these criticisms of worldly wisdom and philosophy, these perversions of depravity, these elaborate systems of friendly minds, these imperfect lives and characters of professed disciples, the gospel towers in sublime excellence. Is it the work of man, like those of its friends and foes, or is it the work of God? Did Christ teach as a mere man, and are these narratives and epistles the work of the simple fishermen of Galilee and the disciples of Gamaliel, or did Christ teach as the divine Son of God, and apostles speak as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ?
ART. VII.—THE GERMAN PHILOSOPHY*.
This term is used in this article, to designate a certain class of opinions which appear to have recently originated in Germany, as the French Philosophy about the time of the French Revolution originated in France.
The German Philosophy differs from the French, in this respect, at least, that the French was infidelity, open and avowed. God was ignored, Christ was treated with contempt, and religion was discarded as a worthless delusion, a trammel to genius and a barrier to human enjoyment.
*Origin and History of the Books of the Bible. By Prof. C. E. Stowe, D. D. Life of Jesus. By Ernest Renan. The apostles. By the same author. American Encyclopædia.