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l>ut those who have the Spirit of Christ, and even these are not fiilly conformed to it in this life. 'Yet our Lord does not accommodate the law to our imperfections, but sets before us the perfect rule, that we may continually aim at it; be convinced of sin upon every deviation; found all our hope upon his most perfect obedience; and through his mediation have continued recourse to our heavenly Father for pardon.
Some by righteousness here understand Christ's obedience to the law in our stead, q. d. "Except my righteousness, (which is yours by imputation,) exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye slall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven." But we cannot admit this sense, 1. Because it appears unnatural that Christ should compare his own righteousness with that of Scribes and Pharisees. 2. Because had he : aeant his own righteousness, he ,;7ould have absolutely affirmed its j erfection; but the way in which he speaks of this righteousness evidently implies that it might be deficient, and to such a degree as to exclude from the kingdom of heaven. The words are evidently intended to stimulate his disciples to true holiness. 3. The whole scope and drift of the discourse clearly shows, that he means our own personal righteousness, See ver. 16, 19, 48. ch. vii. 24. The whole of this and the following two chapters are taken up in showing wherein we must exceed the Scribes and Pharisees in our conformity to his law; and this verse is as it were (toe introduction or text to the whole following contrast.
By the kingdom of heaven we are to understand, not simply the visible appearance of Christ's kingefom upon earth, because hypocrites may enter therein; but the glorified state of that kingdom, o»r the heavenly happiness.
.Let us then consider in a few radical particulars wherein our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees.
1. The Pharisees were destitute of the true principle of righteousness, the love of God. Our Lord says to them, " I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you," John v. 12. "Ye have both seen and hated both me and my Father," ch. xv. 24. They could not love Gad, because they did not believe in his Son, and so had not a discovery of the true character of God which excites love. Being therefore destitute of the principle of the first table of the law, all their pretensions of zeal for his honour and worship were of no consequence.
2. They wfcre destitute of the true love of their neighbour. The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith Hnfeigned. Love is the fulfilling of the law. But they were destitute both of true benevolence to mankind in general, and also of true charity to their brethren, it being only a factious or party love, and not springing from love to God or the truth. Our Lord shows in the parable of the man who fell among thieves, how confined they were in their mercy and benevolence — They preferred sacrifice to mercy—And hated Christ's disciples even as they hated himself, John xv. 20. Being therefore destitute of the true principle of righteousness, they must have been essentially defective in all the outward expressions of it. And so we find,
3. They were hypocritical in the worship of God. In their prayers—their alms—and their fasting, &c. all -which they did to be seen of men, Matt. vi. 1—19. Hypocrisy was a leaven which contaminated all they did, and Christ warns his disciples against it, Luke xii. 1. See kow he exr poses the Pharisees in this respect, Matt, xxiii. 24—29.
4. They were proud and selfrighteous. They justified themselves, Luke xvi. 15.—received honour one of another, John v. 44.—loved the praise of men, ch. xii. 43.—compared themselves among themselves, aud advanced their claim upon God in proportion as they excelled in the arts of hyprocrisy, and imposed upon others. They trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others, Luke xviii.9.
5. They were covetous, Luke xvi. 14. and so derided our Lord's doctrine of laying up treasures in heaven. They devoured widow's houses, Matt, xxiii. 14. and defrauded their parents under pretence of a religious ccrban. However anxious about eternal life, and strict as to the outward letter of the law, they preferred the earthly life to it, and minded earthly things. Our Lord warns his disciples to beware of this leaven of the Pharisees, Luke xii. 15.
6. They were harsh and uncharitable in their judgment of others, Matt. vii. 1—6. and monopolised the favour of God to themselves, though they were guihy of the things they condemned in others, Rom. ii. 1—4.
7. They were unmerciful, as our Lord shows in the case of him that fell among thieves—devoured widows houses—bound heavy burdens on other mens shoulders—preferred sacrifice and tything to mercy, Matt, xxiii. 23. and were of a persecuting spirit, ver. 34.
8. While, on the one hand, they made void the divine law by their traditions; they were, on the other, intolerant and zealous about lesser things, to the neglect of the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith, Matt, xxiii. 23. And hence Jesus reproached them, that they could
"strain at a gnat and swallow a camel," ver. 24.
These things sufficiently evince the very defective nature of the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and may serve to justify our Lord's declaration, that unless the righteousness of his professed disciples, exceeds theirs, as they can have no satisfactoryevidence to their own minds that they are of the truth, so neither shall they ultimately attain eternal life. For though Christ's righteousness and not their own, is the meritorious ground of their pardon, acceptance, and title to his kingdom; it remains an eternal truth that without personal holiness no man shall see the Lord; for Christ "gave himself for his people, that he might redeem them from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." Titus ii. 14.
On this subject it may be further remarked, that
1. The righteousness of the Pharisees has often been magnified beyond the truth, sometimes for a good, and at other times for a bad purpose. Tor instance, it has been improperly magnified for a laudable purpose, when the object has been to shew that all our zeal for religion, external strictness, and austerity of behaviour, will avail us nothing without faith in Christ—as well as to shew to what lengths men may proceed in a semblance of devotion and yet be only hypocrites! On the other hand it has been extolled by some, for the unworthy purpose of countenancing levity and irreligion, and throwing a slur upon serious practical godliness!
2. The Lord Jesus Christ never censures the Pharisees for any part of their strictness in adhering to the law of God, but for their hypocrisy and disregard of it. To give evidence, therefore, that we are really Christ's disciples, it will not be sufficient to ridicule their grimaces, aud convert ourselves into buffoons or religious harlequins, as some professors have foolishly done: we must be stricter than the Pharisees in our attention to "every thing that Christ has commanded"—obeying from the heart that form of doctrine into which we have been moulded; accounting all his commandments, even the very least of them, concerning all things to be right; and hating every false way. And while thus actively engaged in the work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, let us look veil to the principle from which all our obedience proceeds—for if it be any other than that of love to his name, our most splendid performances will not be owned by him, when he comes again to take an account of his servants and reward their labours. And even after all that we have done from the purest motives, and principles the most disinterested, the only language that befits the most eminent saints on earth is, " We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do."
No. in. From a most powerful conviction of its unspeakable importance, the mind still lingers upon the subject, discussed in our last number. (See Vol. II. p. 206—8.) With a view of illustrating some remarks contained in the aforesaid paper, wc present to our readers the following Tale, and send it forth with an ardent prayer, that it may have the effect intended— which it is hoped, will be sufficiently obvious from the perusal.
A TALE. "my dearest Anna, leave your amusements for a moment, and take this small parcel to the poor woman at the cottage, where we were yesterday,"—said Mrs. Howard, to a lovely little girl
who was seated in the corner of the parlour, actively engaged in some ingenious childish contrivance for beguiling the time. Mrs. Howard had occasion to repeat her command—" I cannot go now —indeed I cannot" replied Anna, "I must finish what I am doing— and—and—the Cottage is so far.'' Mrs. Howard remonstrated, and again insisted that she should instantly depart on her errand to the Cottage. The child sat down on the ground, and bursting into tears of passion, declared in a voice almost inarticulate with sobs that she would not go. At this moment the door opened and Mr. Howard entered. Upon enquiring the cause of the scene, which presented itself to his eyes, he approached his protegee, and with a grave, but affectionate expression of countenance, thus addressed her. "My child, is this keeping the promise which you made to me but the other day 1 Have yon forgotten that the eye of your Father in Heaven is ever fixed upon you, and how displeasing to that pure and perfect Being, must be your present conduct? You have preferred amusing yourself with trifles, to the pleasure of being the messenger of comfort to a poor woman; and now, as a punishment for your disobedience, you shall not take the parcel at all to the Cottage. If you continue a wilful, passionate and disobedient child, God will have no pleasure in you, and you will be «;iven up to the badness of your own heart as you advance in life." In vain Anna begged permission to go to the Cottage—rose, and with tears of shame and regret intreated that Mrs. Howard would pardon her: acknowledging with artless expressions of sincerity how unworthy of her kindness she had shown herself. The servant was however dispatched on the" errand of benevolence, and the repentant girl found that the punishment was too severe, to endanger the repetition of a similar offence.
Mr. Howard was a gentleman of independent fortune, who had late in life, attached himself to a most worthy and amiable woman. He had no family—but regarded the infant Anna (who had been left by a deceased Clergyman, to his affectionate care) as his own child. It was the delight of his existence to form her young mind, and give to society a blessing of no ordinary cast; a soul, imbued with the fear of God, and the ardent and enthusiastic love of virtue. He had undertaken a task of very considerable difficulty. Similar scenes to that which has been mentioned, were of frequent occurrence. The disposition of his little protegee was naturally perverse, and obstinate in no common degree, and it indeed required all Mr. Howard's patience, and pious perseverance —all the most strenuous and energetic exertion of every good principle in the good man's heart, to enable him to succeed in working upon materials of a nature so resisting. But what will not earnest endeavour, aided by the blessing of God, accomplish in a good cause! By instilling with anxious and unceasing care, the principles of religion into her mind—by engrafting the holy and pure precepts of the word of God upon her growing faculties—by accustoming her from the earliest moments of reflection, to check every rising passion—every improper thought and feeling from a principle of the fear of God— he, in a manner changed the bias to what was evil, and completing by example what he had so carefully and continually carried on by precept, with the most inexpressible delight, he saw the happy effects of his exertions in the amendment of one so dear to him. This to a mind like Mr. Howard's was a reward, beyond expression
great. He felt, that were it but for this single act of his life, lw had not lived in vain: and with the gratitude of the heart he gave thanks to God, who had given to his care a deposit -so precious, and enabled him to fulfil the last injunctions of his friend with such fidelity and succe ss. To have so powerfully contributed to the saving for the service of God, and the good of society, one, who otherwise might have grown up a wild and uncultivated plant, spreading the balefulness of its poison, to the utter destruction of all around it—or (dropping metaphor) to have been so actually instrumental in making a human being a blessing, and a delight to all who knew her, who, in all probability would have destroyed her own present and future happiness, and been a sure mean of involving others in her own guilt and misery, had nature been allowed to work unchecked within her—was no small joy—was no trifling consolation to a man, who wished well to his fellow creatures, and who knew that the chief end of his existence was to glorify God, in thought, word, and deed, continually.
Anna became as her years increased the delight of the whole village, in the vicinity of which Mr. Howard resided. She was foremost in every exercise of Christian charity, and benevo. lence—hers were not the qualities which were calculated to excite the envy, and consequently the enmity of those around her—on the contrary, she was the admiration of the little circle in which she moved; and though in the course of her career, there were many rising principles of evil, with which she had still to contend, yet the conflict was short and most generally successful. The careful manner in which she had been educated, acting with reason, and the indwelling grace of God, to overthrow in its earliest rising every temptation to actions, displeasing in the sight of that Being, to whom she ever remembered that there must be given, of all her thoughts and actions, an awful account.
It is said that Heroines, such as we have drawn ours, are the most insufferable of all characters which fiction ever can attempt to adapt to its purpose. Be it so, in the opinion of critics who think proper to make assertions, and put forth dogmas, without once deigning to prove them, or who never think of considering their subject
but in a contracted or distorted light. We do not see, why to a mind attached to virtue, virtuous images should be insipid and unentertaining: we cannot discover? how the tragedy queen arrayed in her gorgeous robes, strutting about, flinging daggers, and high flown words around her, should be a more interesting personage than the female, whose exertions are all devoted to being good and doing good, however lowly her situation in life—however small to her may have been the external gifts of nature and fortune.
xi Series of Discourses on the Christian Revelation, viewed in connection with the Modern Astronomy. By Thomas Chalmers, D. D.
Minister of the Tron Church, Glasgow. London. Sold by Gale and Fenner, &c. 1817. pp. 275. Octavo, 8s. boards. The friends of Christianity are under lasting obligations to Dr. Chalmers for his meritorious exertions in repelling the assaults which, from time to time, have been made upon the citadel of their spiritual privileges by the FreethinkingGentlemen, Messrs. Hume, Voltaire and Gibbon; as well as by a subsequent host of puny scribblers, who, without any merit of their own, except that of a bold and daring confidence, have servilely paced in the steps of their great leaders, and returned to an attack where much more powerful efforts had failed of success. It is now about four years, we think, since he drew up the article, " Christianity" for the use of Dr. Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopcedia, in which he exhibited a general view of those arguments which go to prove the New Testament to be the authentic record of an actual communication from God to man. That excellent treatise has VOL. III.
since been repeatedly published in a separate form, and is justly entitled to all the commendation that can be bestowed upon it. Having nobly defended the ramparts on that side of the city, Dr. Chalmers now comes forward again, equipped in all the armour which learning, and science, and the energy of argument, and the charms of a most persuasive eloquence can bestow, to defend the sacred cause of truth against an insidious attack which has been, and still is, levelled against her, by persons lying in ambush; and we do not scruple to affirm that his success is in every respect as complete in the present instance as it was in the former.
The genius and spirit of infidelity is one of the most curious and interesting phenomena, that can engage the attention of a reflecting mind; and its history in our own country since the Reformation brought the Scriptures to light, would, if properly executed, form a most amusing publication. When we turn our minds to the subject, and calmly enquire, what are the avowed pretensions of Christianity—what benefits does it propose to confer upon the human race, that should induce an impartial M