ePub 版

nights, ill health, unwelcome news, the faults of servants, contempt, ingratitude of friends, malice of enemies, calumnies, our own failings, lowness of spirits, the struggle in overcoming our corruptions; bearing all these with patience and resignation to the will of God. Do all this as unto God, with the greatest privacy...... It being much more easy to prevent than to mortify a lust, a prudent Christian will set a guard upon his senses. One unguarded look betrayed David. Job made a covenant with his eyes.

Evil communications corrupt good manners. Sensuality unfits us for the joys of heaven. If that concupiscence which opposes virtue be lessened, a less. degree of grace will secure innocence.....

Self-love would wish to be made perfect at once; but self-love is what God would destroy by a course of wholesome trials. Our disorder is an excessive love for ourselves, and for this world. God orders or permits a train of events to cure us of this self-love. The cure is painful, but it is necessary.

We suffer from His love. He is a Father, and cannot take pleasure in our misery..... All ways are indifferent to one who has heaven in his eye. He that does not practise the duty of self-denial, does not put himself into the way to receive the grace of God.....

Virtues of a Holy Life. Fervency in devotion ; frequency in prayer; aspiring after the love of God continually; striving to get above the world and the body ; loving silence and solitude, as far as one's condition will permit; humble and affable to all; patient in suffering affronts and contradictions; glad of occasions of doing good even to enemies ; doing the will of God, and promoting His honor to the utmost of one's power; resolving never to offend Him willingly, for any temporal pleasure, profit, or loss. These are virtues highly pleasing to God. There is no pleasure comparable to the not being captivated to any external thing whatever.....Always suspect yourself, when your inclinations are strong and importunate. It is necessary that we deny ourselves in little and indifferent things, when reason and conscience, which is the voice of God, suggests it to us, as ever we hope to get the rule over our own will. Say not, it is a trifle, and not fit to make a sacrifice of to God. He that will not sacrifice a little affection, will hardly offer a greater. It is not the thing, but the reason and manner of doing it, viz. for God's sake, and that I

may accustom myself to obey His voice, that God regards, and rewards with greater degrees of grace. (Life of Mr. Bonnell, p. 122.) Rom. xv.

3. “ Even Jesus Christ pleased not Himself ;” as appears in the meanness of His birth, relations, form of a servant, the company He kept, His life, death, &c..... They who imagine that self-denial intrenches upon our liberty, do not know that it is this only that can make us free indeed, giving us the victory over ourselves, setting us free from the bondage of our corruption, enabling us to bear afflictions, (which will come one time or other), to foresee them without amazement, enlightening the mind, sanctifying the will, and making us to slight those baubles, which others so eagerly contend for.

Mortification consists in such a sparing use of the creatures, as may deaden our love for them, and make us even indifferent in the enjoyment of them. This lessens the weight of concupiscence, which carries us to evil, and so makes the grace of God more effectual to turn the balance of the will. (Norris's Christian Prudence, p. 300.)

(To be continued.)

The Feast of St. Andrew.

These Tracts are published Monthly, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.




[ocr errors]

GILBERT & RIVINGTON, Printers, St. John's Square, London.



In referring to Scripture for the proof of points relating to the doctrine of the Church, we sometimes find the force of our arguments evaded by the objection that, although the texts and passages we refer to seem to prove the points for which they are cited, we still appear to be giving them an undue prominence in our system. It is admitted, for instance, that the Epistles to Timothy and Titus prove an Episcopal form of Church government: that certain passages in the First Epistle to the Corinthians indicate the existence of a certain order of Church service, &c.; but then these passages are thought to occupy a subordinate place in the records of the New Testament, while our doctrine of the Church would put them prominently forward. This is, doubtless, a point to be well considered; for the apostolic rules of Scripture teaching and interpretation, must be faithfully observed : “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God," or "prophesy,” let him prophesy "according to the proportion (or analogy) of faith."

Now, to meet this difficulty, let it be considered that the restoration of a doctrine so evidently important in its bearings as that of the Church, must necessarily produce a great change upon a system out of which it has been lost. We have been accustomed to a Ptolemaic theory of our spiritual system; we have made our own little world the centre, and have ranged the doctrines of Scripture around it, according to the relation they seem severally to bear to our own individual profit. We find ourselves called upon to adopt an opposite theory ; to take for the centre of our


system a body which we had been used to regard as a mere satellite attending upon our own orb. No wonder if we feel our notions deranged ; if every thing seems put into a new place ; that which before was primary, now made subordinate; and vice versá. This is no more than we might naturally expect: the only question for us to settle is this ;. does the theory which is proposed for our acceptance bring facts to support it? The maintainer of the Copernican theory, perhaps, directs our attention principally, or even exclusively, to objects which we had else comparatively neglected, or entirely overlooked. But this is no fatal objection to his views. The satellites of Jupiter might seem to hold a subordinate place in the solar system, and their eclipses to be comparatively uninteresting phenomena : and yet the examination of them led, we know, to great and important discoveries. Just so, some apparently insignificant text, lying in the depth of Scripture, far removed, as we think, from the centre light of Christian doctrine, may be the means of suggesting to us most important considerations, -of impressing upon us the conviction that we have been going upon a false theory, and leading us to a truer notion of the system in which we are placed. We do well, indeed, to weigh carefully the meaning of the texts which are brought before us, and to examine the deductions which are founded upon them, whether they follow naturally from the premises. But we do not well if we allow ourselves to be prejudiced against the evidence which is brought from Scripture, merely because it is contrary to our pre-conceived notions ; because it seems to put us in a strange country, exalting the valleys, and making low the mountains and hills, turning Lebanon into a fruitful field, and causing the fruitful field to be counted, in comparison, as a forest. This is not to inquire after truth in the spirit of true philosophers, or, which is the same thing, of little children. And for such only is knowledge in store ; · such" only “is the kingdom of heaven."

For illustration of these remarks I would refer to the passages in St. Matthew's Gospel, which are first pressed upon our notice, when our attention is turned to the evidence of Scripture respecting the nature and office of the Christian Church. First and foremost, of course, is the well known promise to St. Peter,

[ocr errors]

(chap. xvi. 18.) “Upon this rock will I build my Church." It is argued by the Churchman, that the obvious sense of the word ’Exkinoia ( Assembly), as it would strike an unprejudiced reader, is that of a visible body; and that this sense is confirmed by the use of the term in chap. xviii. 17. Again, we are referred to the remarkable passage, (chap. xxiv. 45–51.) “Who then is that faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season. Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing,” &c. It is asked, whether we do not find traces here of a line of ministry to continue in Christ's “Church” and "household" until His coming again. And we are bidden to compare with this

passage that final promise of our Lord to his Apostles, with which the Gospel concludes, (chap. xxviii. 20.) "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world," as confirming the proof of an uninterrupted succession of the Apostolical ministry. From these passages, then, put together, we seem to derive some idea of the Church as a Visible Spiritual Society, formed by Christ himself; a household over which He has appointed his servants to be stewards and rulers to the end. But then this view is drawn from what might seem a few insulated passages, occurring in a Gospel which we have been accustomed to look to for what we think more practical truths. And how do they affect us? We do not like to have our minds called off to such external relations. The interpretation offered us of these passages, seems, indeed, correct, and the argument grounded on them legitimate : but after all they are but a few scattered passages, referring to points which we consider of inferior importance, and not entitled to have so much stress laid upon them, or to be made foundations of a system.

But now, discarding prejudice and theory, let us calmly and teachably take up the Gospel of St. Matthew, in the hope, by diligently comparing of spiritual things with spiritual, to obtain an insight into its true meaning. Let us take the passage

first referred to. The promise is made to St. Peter : it may be well, therefore to look through the Gospel, and collect the scattered notices of this Apostle. We shall thus ascertain whether the promise would seem to have been made to St. Peter individually,

« 上一頁繼續 »