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TO THE EDITOR.
The paper in your July number, by the Rev. B. M. Hall, under the above title, though in many respects valuable, will not as a whole “abide" scrutiny. To Mr. Hall's position, except so much as relates to the metaphor of "God's building," and the inferences he draws from it, I have nothing to object. By this figure God's people are represented as compacted, or builded together, under the idea of a spiritual house, or holy temple. This is God's building. He is its originator and proprietor; and it rests on Jesus Christ as its foundation. This, by the grace of God, Paul had laid at Corinth. He had preached Christ there, and thus founded the Church-God's holy temple; he then left it for others to proceed with the building, but with the caution, “Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” What authority has Mr. Hall for saying that ministers only are the builders here cautioned—that in that discussion the apostle says not one word of any work or labour performed by any but ministers? Are not ministers as really a part of God's building as the laity? Are not the latter as really, though not as prominently, co-workers with God as the former ? This is confessedly true, and for this reason (commentators to the contrary notwithstanding) it must accord with Paul's representation. He says, “If any man build on this foundation," while Mr. Hall says, “any minister.” Nor can we see why Paul does not mean “precious stones,” instead of " valuable stones, such as are fit for building purposes." Are gold and silver any more fit for building purposes than precious stones ? and yet they are first named, as if principally used in the building. It is not a common stone-house of which Paul speaks, but a holy temple, the materials of which are represented by things most valuable and precious.
"But what are we to understand by these metaphors ?" is the main question. Mr. Hall, consistently enough with his restriction respecting co-workers with God, but not with the scope and design of the apostle, thinks that only persons are meant,—that “gold, silver, precious stones” represent real Christians, and "wood, hay, stubble,” false professors; and that nothing else is included. A few objections to this view will show its fallacy. l. It excludes all ministers from “God's building;" that is, from the temple or Church of Christ. They are workmen, and as such no part of the materials of the building. 2. It confines to ministers this whole matter of reward and loss, and at the saine time makes it consist only in the satisfaction derived from “turning many to righteousness," and the disappointment and sorrow of seeing converts so spurious or unfaithful as to be a burned up" at last. 3. It holds the minister responsible for the character of his converts; for he only is the subject of reward and loss. 4. While it confines the reward and loss to the minister, and holds him responsible for the character of his converts, it applies the test-the "fire"-to the converts themselves. Hear Mr. Hall: “This house, as a whole, and every builder's part in particular, is to be inspected. The gospel, or the preaching of the gospel, including both public and private teaching, with all the means which a minister uses in the prosecution of his work, are his implements -his tools. These are not in this discussion considered as his work. His work is seen as a result, and as such it will be subjected to the test. To speak metaphorically, the building is designed to be fire-proof; and the test must be applied to the materials which compose it, and not to the implements with which the labourers wrought.” Here the materials—the converts—are spoken of as if mere inanimate matter, capable of standing the fire, or of being burned up, but in no other sense the subjects of reward or loss; and, indeed, as utterly irresponsible as gold, silver, or precious stones. But the builder--the minister-is responsible; is to receive reward, or suffer loss, according as he has erected a fire-proof building or otherwise. Yet this reward or loss is in no sense positive, but merely relative; the increase or diminution of satisfaction arising from the success or failure of his building. 5. Paul's rule is, reward according to labour; Mr. Hall's, according to success. “If any
man's work abide," &c.; that is, says Mr. Hall, if any minister “turn many to righteousness," and they are saved, he shall receive a reward; and the reverse. But Paul says every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. If he labour as a co-worker with God, and if men are perverse, and will neither hear nor heed; or if, after converts “run well” for a season, they become “weary in well-doing,” he is not to lose his reward.
The above sentiments are fairly attributable to Mr. Hall's exposition, but they vary widely from the sense of the text. I will not, however, seek to invalidate one exposition without attempting a better. The Corinthians evidently took wrong views, both of their ministers and of themselves. Of the former they expected too much, while they failed to recognise their own responsibility. In correcting these errors, Paul shows that their ministers, as to any abstract ability, were “nothing,"—that though he planted and Apollos watered, God only gave the increase, whil themselves, as to purpose or aim, were "one." Attention is thus turned from the instruments to the great efficient Cause, as a means of healing their schisms. Then, to inculcate a sense of responsibility, he teaches,-you are of the Church, “God's building." of this Jesus Christ is the foundation, which I have laid. I have preached Christ to you, and of you have founded the Church at Corinth. I now leave it for others to build on this foundation: and every one of you may be a builder—a co-worker with Godmay be used as an instrument in rearing this building, and as such may receive & reward according to your labour. Added to this is the caution, “Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon,” which is enforced, not only by the promise of reward, but also by the admonition, "The fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is."
“Take heed,”- cease to listen to the perversions of false teachers, and to be split up about your ministers; and be no longer enervated and corrupted by carnal indulgences. On the contrary, believe in Christ, and build your faith and hopes on him as the only sure foundation. Then recognise and cultivate a sense of personal responsibility; co-work with God, and thus seek to do good. You will thus become a spiritual, useful people, instead of what your are—a carnal, divided, feeble people.
The above is the sum of the apostle's caution, which is enforced by the following motives :1. God, whose is the building, and who employs human instrumentalities in its erection, will own your pious labours, and crown them with “increase," and then give a reward, not according to the increase, but to the labour. Whether men hear or forbear, is with themselves. So, likewise, with genuine converts; if they do not endure to the end, they must answer. Labour and reward is yours. Meet your responsibilities in your own proper sphere as a minister or layman, believe in Christ, and co-work with God, -and beyond this you have no account to render. Your “ labour” is to be the measure of your reward, not your success, only so far as your failures are your fault. 2. “ Take heed," --build on Christ, and co-work with God, seek the divine impress, and to meet your responsibilities; and do all in view of a severe scrutiny; for the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is.” Not only every minister's, but every man's; that is, each individual's work is to be tried. If it does not bear the test; if he has so far lost sight of the only foundation, and of his personal responsibility, as to remain carnal and feeble, a mere “babe in Christ," when he should have been “strong in the Lord,” " he shall suffer loss.” He is in Christ, and so shall be saved ; " yet so as by fire :” like him who barely escapes with his life, while his house and its contents are " burned up."
The following, among many others that might be cited, are cases in point: A Romanist builds on Christ, and is saved; but is barely rescued from the ruins of that apostate Church. The system to which he subscribed, and his associations, prevent his doing any good, or becoming other than a babe in Christ. All is gone, " burned up,” but simply himself.
Again: a Christian lapses into worldliness, so that his character and life exhibit the lowest Christian model : he falls and rises, sins and repents, but is finally saved; "yet so as by fire.” He not only did no good, but much harm,was a heavy weight and a stumbling-block,-his life wasted, talents buried, capacities undeveloped, so that he must suffer the loss of all, but his own rescue from the burning flames of merited wrath.
Once more: a man resists the convictions of truth and duty all his life. He neither builds on Christ nor co-works with God, but gives his whole influence to the spread of error and the ruin of souls, but finally believes in Christ, and is saved ; " yet so as by fire.” Beyond a bare deliverance, he has neither developed capacity nor title to reward; but time, capabilities, and influence, are all gone everything " burned up" but himself.
What, then, is represented by “gold, silver, precious stones ?” We answer, Not persons nor doctrines, as such, but the aggregate of Christian character and influence. If a man builds on Christ, and co-works with God, the result is a renewed heart and an upright life. Without the former, capacity is not developed ; and without the latter, no salutary influence is exerted: the former makes future enjoyment possible, and the latter gives title to it. The "works” which issue from a devout, sanctified heart, will “ abide,”—will not "burn up," will receive "reward.” The “ increase,” in such case, will be modified by the capa bilities, zeal, circumstances, and the extent to which efforts are resisted. But as character and pious labour shall bear the test of the "fire,” so will the reward be measured. So, on the other hand, “wood, hay, stubble,” represent erroneous views, and a consequent weak faith and faltering life. The result is small developments of capacity, and little or no co-labour with God, to entitle to reward. “Loss,” therefore, must be suffered in the same ratio, and that by the burning, searching fire of scrutiny, that will sit in judgment on both heart and life.
G. R. SNYDER
ART. VIII.-SHORT REVIEWS AND NOTICES OF BOOKS.
(1.) “ The Life of Alfred the Great” forms the latest volume of Bohn's Antiquarian Library. (New-York: Bangs, Brother & Co., 13 Park Row.) It is a translation from the German of Dr. R. Pauli, who has gone to the sources of information and mastered them, with true German research. The character of Alfred is one of the most remarkable in all history; and this book affords the best view of it that has yet appeared in English. Appended to the life is given the Anglo-Saxon version of Orosius, commonly attributed to Alfred, with the literal English translation, and an Anglo-Saxon alphabet, glossary, and outline of grammar; so that the book affords a very good manual for beginners in Anglo-Saxon.
(2.) “ The Old House by the River" (New-York: Harper & Brothers; 1853; 18mo., pp. 318) contains a number of sketches of nature, life, and manners, very beautiful in style and finish. The tone of the work is healthful rather than sentimental; it is pervaded by a fresh and genial feeling of sympathy “ for man, and woman, and sun, and moon, and stars throughout the year."
(3.) Messrs. BLANCHARD & LEA, of Philadelphia, have issued a new edition of “ Physical Geography, by Mary SOMERVILLE,” (12mo., pp. 570.) The work is so well known that it is only necessary for us to say that this edition is taken from the third and last London edition; and that the American editor has made many valuable additions.
(4.) “Father Garazzi's Lectures in New-York; also the Life of Father Gavazzi, corrected and authorized by himself.” (New-York: Dewitt & Davenport; 1853; 12mo., pp. 299.) It might be inferred from the title-page that the lectures contained in this volume are published under the authority of Gavazzi; but he has expressly disclaimed them, as being so imperfect and inaccurate as to present a mere caricature of what he did say. Only the biography was revised by himself; and this may be relied upon as a fair and truthful account of the eventful career of the Italian priest and patriot.
(5.) “ Autobiography of Rev. James B. Finley; or, Pioneer Life in the West, edited by W. P. STRICKLAND, D. D.,” (Cincinnati: Methodist Book Concern; 1853; 12mo., pp. 455,) is a book full of the stirring incident that char. acterizes every truthful record of American frontier life. It is among the many wonderful phenomena of this country's history, that the man is yet living and labouring, who was himself one of the pioneers in the colonization of the West—now the West no longer; for the region over which Mr. Finley's graphic narrative carries his delighted readers is now the abode of a vast population, and supplies, of itself, large numbers of adventurous spirits, who go out in search of that ever-receding “West,” Mr. Finley's account of his father's adventurous career, as settler and pastor in Kentucky and Ohio, and of his own life in the woods, has all the interest of romance. He tells his story in a simple and straight-forward style, which carries one inevitably along with the narrative. Besides the history of Mr. Finley's early life, and of his ministry in the Methodist Episcopal Church, the work contains memorials of Asbury, M'Kendreo, Young, Finley, (I. P.,) Christie, and of the two Wyandott chiefs, Manuncue and Between-the-logs. The old chief” tells us at the close of the volume that he has many reminiscences concerning the Indians that have never yet been published.” We trust that he will not abandon the pen until his whole stock is exhausted. We engage to read all the books he may write, and that our children will read them too. At the same time, we hope that he will omit all ill-authenticated or borrowed stories, like those of “ Peter Cartwright,” and “ The Missionary and the Robber," in his present volume.
(6.) “ Class-book of Physiology, by B. N. Comings, M. D., (New-York: D. Appleton & Co.; 1853; 12mo., pp. 270,) is an admirable text-book, for the use of schools and families, on the structure and functions of the organs of the human body, illustrated by comparative reference to those of inferior animals. It is largely illustrated by steel and wood engravings.
(7.) “ The Romance of Abelard and Heloise, by O. W. Wight,” (New-York: D. Appleton & Co.; 12mo., pp. 266,) gives a story whose hold upon human interest never flags. It has been told over and over again, in every language, and in almost every form of prose and verse; and yet every new recital of it is listened to with avidity. Mr. Wight's style is too florid and ambitious for a narrative which is so full of all stimulants to human feeling as to need no adventitious aids : such a tale is best told simply.
(8.) “ Narrative of a Journey round the World, by F. GERSTÆCKER," (NewYork: Harper & Brothers; 1853; 12mo., pp. 623,) is a true world-journey, by a man of cosmopolitan sympathies, and fine powers of observation and description. Sailing from Bremen he landed at Rio, sailed thence for Buenos Ayres, crossed the Cordilleras in winter, suffered more than the traveller's usual hardships in Chili, reached San Francisco at the time of its greatest fever of excitement, tried the gold-diggings and failed, sailed for the South-Sca Islands, and luxuriated among them for a while, thence to Australia, and finally to Java, with a vivid description of which island his adventurous story closes. The narrative is somewhat long-winded; but by the incident with which it abounds, the unfailing good-humour of the writer, and the clear