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his disciples, “Having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them to the end." The bounty of Jesus Christ resembles that of his eternal Father, who calls, justifies, and in the end glorifies, those whom he first predestinated; and on this, as on one of the principal foundations, St. Paul establisheth our hope for the future : “ God, having begun a good work in us, will perform it to the day of Christ;" and elsewhere, “ God is faithful, who hath called you to the fellowship of his Son." 3. It was by a principle of wisdom and foreknowledge, that Jesus Christ sought this paralytic patient in the temple, in order to teach him his duty, to furnish him with the means of doing it, and to give him a more particular knowledge of the friend who had healed him; for he well knew that a tender faith, such as this man's was, had need of fresh and continual aid, as a young plant needs a prop to support it against winds and storms.
In like manner, if you had to examine these words of Jesus Christ to the Samaritan woman, “Go and call thy husband,” John iv. 16; you might examine the intention of Jesus Christ in this expression. He did not speak thus because he was ignorant what sort of a life this woman lived: he knew that, to speak properly, she had no husband. It was then, 1. A word of trial; for the Lord said this to give her an opportunity of making a free confession, - I have no husband.” 2. It was also a word of kind reproof; for he intended to convince her of the sin in which she lived. 3. It was also a word of grace ; for the censure tended to the woman's consolation. 4. It was, farther, a word of wisdom ; for our Lord intended to take occasion
.; at this meeting to discover himself to her, and more clearly to convince her that he had a perfect knowledge of all the secrets of her life; as he presently proved, by saying, “ Thou hast well said, I have no husband ; for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.”
Were you going to explain the ninth verse of the first of Acts, where it is said, “ When Jesus was taken his disciples beheld him," it would be proper to remark the sentiments of the disciples in that moment, and to show from what principles proceeded that attentive and earnest looking after their divine Master, while he ascended to heaven.
Having given the text of Claude, I add, that however solicitous a commentator on Claude
be to preserve a separate and distinct service to each of his Topics, yet some of them have so close a correspondence, in various points, that it is not a little difficult to avoid confounding them together. Like the colours of the iris, they so unite and blend into each other as almost to defy any very precise discrimination of their respective limits. This is particularly the case in reference to the Topic which now comes to be considered. The principles of a word or action fall, in some measure, under the fifth Topic, · Things implied ;' but if there are some points in which they meet, and in which the one appears to be merged in the other, there are other points in which they differ so materially as to demand for each a separate consideration. Implication obviously includes many things which are very different from principles, as you will see by consulting Lecture XIII., Topic V.; and, on the other hand, it may frequently be necessary to recur to principles when they cannot with propriety be treated as things implied in the text. The Topic “Principles” has likewise an affinity with the nineteenth, “Grounds and Causes." Mr. Robinson evidently confounds them together; for, in commenting on the nineteenth Topic, he says, “ Principles (12th) are sometimes best urged by implication" (5th)! Even Claude himself preserves not on this Topic his accustomed precision ; for, in his second example, he abandous the term principle for that of intention, and proceeds to illustrate, not the principles of the text quoted, but the intention of our Saviour
in his address to the woman of Samaria; thus confounding our present Topic with the fourteenth, “ The end proposed.” Now after these interchanges of terms, which must I think have confused many a student, if we should here so far succeed as to assign to our Topic a distinct and valuable province, calculated to promote variety in the elucidation and enforcement of divine truth, a practical benefit will be secured, and so far the object of the Lecture will be attained.
The word principle is undoubtedly derived from principium, the beginning; the element of some given truth; the source or origin of any thing: sometimes defined in the schools to be that from which any thing is done or known; or, in their own words, “ Unde aliquid est fit aut cognoscetur.” That is, the principles of a word or action lead us to something out of which such a word or action had its rise, or in consequence of which it was so said or done, and on the truth of which the justness or propriety of the word or action turns. Thus, for instance, we are accustomed to observe that the Scriptures proceed throughout upon this principle, that man is a degraded, ignorant, and guilty being. This, as you will have frequent occasion to remark, is assumed in all its doctrines, precepts, covenants, and promises, because they would otherwise possess neither importance nor meaning, being applicable only to fallen creatures.
Now doctrines are laid down by some one; precepts are enjoined by some authority; but principle lies in the thing itself, and can only be discovered by close reflection. On the first reading of a text, such principle, though calculated to throw much light on the text or subject, may not be very obvious. However, it is the duty of every preacher to study his text with labour and patience, examining its connexion, and endeavouring to ascertain the precise meaning of the words which the Holy Ghost has taught. The old saying is here appropriate : Veritas in puteo. Sometimes
the well is deep, and, if our contemplations do not give length enough to the bucket-chain, we shall not reach the water, but must get some one else to reach it for us : a method by no means the most creditable. Even when we have satisfactorily ascertained the meaning of a text, we may still trace it back to its elementary principles, in order to elicit such observations as may be adapted to place the subject in a clearer or in a stronger light. " That there are such things as principles," says Mr. Howe, “is beyond all doubt. There is nothing, no created thing, but has its principles : principles of being there are belonging to it. Every complete substance that exists in the world, and is a created one, must be supposed to have such principles; the principles from which it did proceed, and principles of which it does consist. There are also principles of knowledge as well as of being. There is no piece of knowledge, no sort of science, but has its principles, as you know; and therefore religion, Christian religion; theology, Christian theology, must have its principles too. It is a science, a practical one, and of most absolute and universal necessity; and its principles must therefore be supposed of the most absolute and universal necessity too.” Now if the mathematician, by tracing back the steps of his demonstration to certain axioms and first principles, proves that the conclusions at which he had arrived are just and accurate, why may we not expect that a frequent recurrence to elementary principles on the part of the Christian minister will answer a similar purpose. Here, however, it is proper to observe that we do not examine the principles of a text, as we do the arguments and declarations of men, to see whether what is recorded or declared be true or false : our aim is simply to render its meaning more apparent and luminous; to show the reasonableness or excellency of that which is certainly true; for no proposition can be more self-evident than this, that whatever God has revealed must of necessity be free from error.
When therefore any thing is declared, the justice or the excellency of which, from the omission of those circumstances in which it originated, is not at first apparent, we in this case trace back our inquiry to the principle on which the declaration turns, till we discover such considerations as may be adapted to illustrate the subject of our inquiry. Thus, with regard to the moral law, we may argue from our Topic to convince those who suppose
6 that its claims are abrogated by the gospel ; and that when it is declared that believers are not under the law, but under grace, it is the intention of the Holy Ghost to affirm, not only that we are redeemed from the curse of the law, but that it no longer has any claim
upon us ; that it ceases to be a rule of life.” Now, whatever part of the law we contemplate, it requires very little argument to prove that it stands not on the basis of merely arbitrary appointment, like the ceremonial law, which was temporary, and passed away when the ends for which it was given had been accomplished. All the requirements of the moral law may be traced back to the original law of our being, by which we should have been bound even though no written law had ever been given, and from which nothing can ever release us. blessed Lord himself, in his memorable reply to the lawyer who sought to ensnare him, traces the law to its original principles, and declares that the substance of the law was comprehended in love to God and love to man: to which we were evidently bound by the law of our creation.
In the same manner, if the preacher were desirous of convincing his audience of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, upon the authority of the law of God and its denunciations against erery offender (Gal. iii. 10), he might revert to such first principles as love to God, &c., and comment upon them, showing that nothing but confusion could result from the breach of such primordial principles, and that the sanctions of the law are absolutely necessary for the best interests of man.
Thus we may argue to