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life.” The great principle is laid down by Christ that a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth, and the practical application by Paul is that, when God gives wealth, He intends it to be used, like all His other gifts, in subservience to His glory and the good of men. We find the same twofold style of teaching regarding prayer, chastity, patience, and the leading virtues of the Christian character. Certain mandates are delivered respecting them of terrible incisiveness, which cut so deep indeed into the propensities of man and the customs of society, that they appear impracticable when looked at nakedly; but in searching the Scripture we come upon balancing truths which take off the hard edge of the commandment, and bring it into harmonious adjustment to the varied necessities of life; and hence it happens that the timid believer, who is at first staggered by the apparent harshness of the Divine commandments, discovers after a while that they admit of wonderful adaptation to the exigencies of life, and that, though they stand out in virgin purity, like the snow-clad peaks of the Alps, never condescending to accommodate them
selves to any form of human evil, they do not harshly override the intricate mechanism of social life, but rather mould it so as to prove the truth of that Scripture: “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
If we are right in this view of the Bible, it will follow that man will draw from it various lessons at the different stages of his spiritual growth. When his eyes are first opened to the supreme importance of eternal things, he is apt to despise altogether temporal things; he hears only such language as this : “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” “This world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God continueth ever." There is no room to attend to such minor injunctions as, “We exhort you to be quiet and to do your own business and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.” Like the early Christians, who lived in daily expectation of the coming of the Lord, and thus neglected their temporal concerns, he sees no importance in man's earthly relationships while his mind is absorbed with the things of eternity; but gradually he comes to see that God does not mean to divorce us from this world, and that we are to use it while not abusing it, and he finds the Bible full of minute instructions about the duties of life. His horizon expands, and the life beyond is not seen in violent antagonism to the life below, but rather as its complement and full development; he sees the gracious purpose of God running through all things, and voices from the eternal world reach him even in the workshop and at the plough. Now this spiritual growth is entirely in accord with the laws of our nature, and the Bible, in providing for it, shows consummate knowledge of man: it has, in a very true and real sense, an exoteric and an esoteric circle ; not like the philosophies of old, which despised the vulgar and declined to stoop from their oracular heights, but proceeding by a gentle gradation so that the babe may find milk and the man strong meat. Nor is human learning needed in order to understand the deep things of God, but only the teaching of the Holy Spirit, who is promised to all who ask Him. CHAPTER VI.
VARIETIES OF OPINION INEVITABLE FROM THE
STRUCTURE OF THE BIBLE.
TT must be evident to any one who reflects upon
1 these facts, that the materials lie ready for numerous schools of thought among even true believers. Those who are in the stage of spiritual infancy will not see truth in the same light as those in spiritual manhood; the worldly Christians who have not progressed far will stumble at the lofty utterances of those who have been within the veil. Even the intellectual differences of man will be reflected in the interpretation of the Bible: the narrow matterof-fact mind will lean toward hard literal interpretation; the imaginative mind will prefer the figurative; the recluse who shuns the world will look at human life with a tinge of monasticism;
The busy man of affairs will find in the Bible an endless repertory of practical maxims for daily life. In the free play of Christian society sects and churches must necessarily arise embodying those types of character, and their statements of Divine truth, and their applications to human life, will vary within the degrees we have indicated, without overstepping the bounds of genuine orthodoxy. We thus see a true reflection of Scriptural teaching in bodies so far apart as the Calvinists and the Quakers; and even the High Church and the Plymouth Brethren have a meeting-point in the Bible, and occupy a large common groundprobably much larger than they would respectively admit.
There is, in fact, a great resemblance between political and Christian societies, in respect of their variety of structure and creed. One who looked cursorily over the nations of the world might conclude that there are no axioms of political science—so extraordinary a diversity of government does he see; but the more careful student will find many points of resemblance between the most diverse, and, what is more important, a steady progress towards certain cardinal ideals of order, liberty, and intelligence. He will also find a fitness