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tonous solemnity; rather than, by affecting what we do not feel, to incur the certain displeasure of our Master, and the probable contempt of our most judicious hearers."
“That a minister may lead the devotions of his people in the most suitable and edifying manner, it seems indispensable that he should possess a mind deeply imbued with Divine truth ; a mind, into the very frame and texture of which the doctrines of Revelation are wrought; and a heart thoroughly broken and humbled for sin, and tremblingly alive to the voice of God, and ever glowing with celestial fire.”
Such were Dr. Payson's views of the nature of prayer; and to his own ardent and persevering prayers must be ascribed, in a great measure, under God, his distinguished and almost uninterrupted success ; and next to these, to the undoubted sincerity of his belief in the truths which he inculcated. His language, his conversation, and his whole deportment, were such as brought home, and fastened on the minds of his hearers, the conviction that he believed, and therefore spoke. So important did he regard such a conviction in the attendants on the ministry, that he made it the topic of one of his addresses to his clerical brethren, and it formed the basis of his own ministerial character. On this subject, he remarks : “ Since men naturally hate those truths which duty requires us to preach, it becomes us to see that their hatred derives no excuse or palliation from our temper or practice. They must, if possible, he constrained to feel a conviction, that, in declaring these offensive truths, we are actuated-not by mercenary views, nor by bigotry, moroseness, or severity of temper—but, by an imperious sense of duty, and by a tender, deep, and unfeigned concern for the glory of God and the salvation of their souls; that we are not marking out one path for them and another for ourselves, but that we watch for their souls as those who know that they must give an account; and that we habitually and uniformly seek, not their wealth, their applause, their friendship, but their salvation. That it is possible, in most instances, to produce and maintain this conviction in the minds of men, is evident from facts. That the first preachers of the Gospel succeeded in doing it, cannot be denied. While they were accused of almost every other crime, they seem never to have been even suspected of insincerity. They could say publicly, without fear of contradictionfor they knew that their whole conduct, and even the consciences of their enemies, bore testimony to the truth of their assertions We believe, and therefore speak;' Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men :' • If we be beside ourselves, it is to God; and if we be sober, it is for your cause ;' 'for we seek not yours, but you :' 'and we will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly we love you, the less we be loved.' 'As of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God speak wein Christ.'
For we are manifest unto God, and we trust also are manifest in your consciences.'
“But the situation of things in the present day is somewhat different. While we are seldom charged with other faults, we are not unfrequently suspected, and even accused, of insincerity; of not really believing what we preach. It is a melancholy fact, that multitudes among us appear to consider the ministry merely as a profession; and to suppose that we preach the Gospel only because it is, in the view of men, a professional duty. They seem not to imagine that we expect, or even wish, that they should believe the message which we bring. To account for this melan. choly fact is no part of my present design. Whether it is owing to the bold assertions of our enemies, to the prevalence of sectarianism and infidelity, or to something in our own conduct, is not for me to determine ; but certain it is, that ministers of our denomination are, by very many,
Christ. Observ. No. 377. 2 M
regarded as mercenary hirelings, who “prophesy for reward, and divine for money. Surely, then, it becomes us, my fathers and brethren, to do every thing in our power to remove these injurious impressions, and to convince both our hearers and others, that, like the Apostles, 'we believe, and therefore speak.'
“ The means necessary for the production of this effect next demand our attention..... We must imitate the examples of the Apostles ; and exhibit the influence of that faith which the Scriptures describe, in the discharge of our public official duties. In the performance of these duties we must not confine ourselves within those limits which sloth or negligence first introduced, and which custom has sanctioned: we must not restrict our labours to the stated and ordinary services of the sanctuary. These our hearers expect : for these they imagine that we are paid : their regular performance is therefore considered, and justly so, as affording no proof of our sincerity. To evince the reality of our belief, something more is necessary. We cannot reasonably expect our hearers to believe that we sincerely and earnestly desire their salvation, while we do nothing more to promote it than custom, or a regard to our reputation, requires : nor is it easy to conceive how they can suppose that we really believe them to be constantly exposed to endless, remediless ruin, while we warn them of their danger on the Sabbath only, and appear to forget their perilous situation during the remainder of the week. If we wish them to feel convinced that such is their situation, and that we really believe it to be so, we must shew them that we fix no limits to our labours but those which necessity prescribes.
“Of little, if any, less importance is it, that we exhibit the influence and effects of faith, in our manner of performing ministerial duties. However frequently or plainly we may warn our hearers, if we address them only in a cold, unfeeling manner, we can scarcely expect them to feel convinced of our sincerity. Such, evidently, was not the manner in which the first preachers of Christianity inculcated its doctrines. To say the least, some degree of apparent earnestness, zeal, and fervour, seems requisite, to stamp our public discourses with an air of sincerity. Mankind are so constituted, that it is exceedingly difficult, indeed almost impossible, for them to believe that a speaker is in earnest, who does not appear to be interested in his subject, or who delivers interesting and important truths in a manner which betrays a total want of feeling."
Dr. Payson goes on to describe the faithful and zealous minister in prayer, in preaching, and various other aspects; and had the description been drawn by any other hand, the friends of Dr. Payson, it is said, might well have supposed that he himself sat for the picture, so accurately did the grand features of his ministerial character correspond with the delineation. He was always in earnest ; “ commending himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
(To be concluded.)
THE CHRISTIAN'S FAITH AND ABRAHAM'S IDENTICAL.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It is declared by the Apostle Paul, Galatians iii. 9, "So, then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” As the force of this pas. sage depends upon the character of the individual mentioned in it, it will be convenient to remind the reader of the principal events of Abraham's life, as narrated by the sacred historian in the book of Genesis ; since it is presumed that the Apostle, when drawing the character of Abraham, had
access to no documents illustrative of his history except those which are” in our own possession.
Abraham was born at Ur, a city of Chaldea, A.M. 2008. His family were idolaters, for “ they served other gods” (Joshua xxiv. 2); but the sacred history does not record that Abraham himself was at any period of his life an idolater; though the Arabian and Jewish legends are minute in detailing the particulars of his alleged conversion : these, however, cannot be adduced as reputable authorities. While sojourning at Ur, the Lord said unto him, “ Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: so Abraham departed, as the Lord had said unto him.” (Gen. xii. 1, &c.) He first mi. grated to Charran, from whence, after a few years, he prepared, in obedience to a Divine command, to go to Palestine. In his progress he first settled at Secbem; where God appeared to him, and promised to give him the land of Canaan; and where, as in other places of his temporary abode, he built an altar to the Lord. He afterwards migrated southward, till a famine drove him into Egypt. Here, fearing the dissolute character of the inhabitants, he directed Sarah, his wife, to call herself his sister ; by which means, as he had anticipated, she was seized for the king's harem. The plagues with which God visited the royal house during Sarah's detention occasioned inquiries, which led to her restoration to her husband and to his dismissal from the country. After the famine he returned to Canaan, where, from prudential motives, he and Lot agreed finally to separate. Soon after, in an encounter, in which the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, amongst whom Lot dwelt, were concerned, Lot was taken prisoner. Abraham armed his people, and rescued his brother, but refused to appropriate to himself the spoils. He had afterwards another vision from God (Gen. xv. 1); and upon his complaining that he was childless, a promise was given that he should have a son whose seed should be countless as the stars of heaven (verse 5). The promise was, however, delayed so long, that Sarah, probably in despair, induced her husband to take to him, after the customs of the Eastern nations in those days, her handmaid, by whom he had a son, called Ishmael. When Abraham was a hundred and Sarah was ninety years old, the Lord again appeared to him; established his covenant with him and his seed; changed his own name and Sarah's to others more expressive; promised that Sarah should bring forth a son, to whom the preceding promise had reference ; and instituted circumcision, as the sign of the covenant between God and his people. At this time Abraham oca cupied his former encampment at Hebron. Here, as he one day sat at the door of his tent, three mysterious strangers addressed him, whom he received into his tent, and entertained with Eastern hospitality. The chief of them again repeated the Divine promise of a son ; and announced the ruin which impended over the licentious cities amongst which Lot had taken up his abode : Abraham expostulated to save them, but their guilt was too universal to admit of the exercise of mercy. He now left the plain of Mamre and went to Gerar, where Abimelech reigned. Here, too, a similar scene occurred to that in Egypt, Sarah being again called his sister. This year Isaac was born ; and Abraham, according to the covenant, circumcised him. More than twenty years afterwards, God commanded him to sacrifice his son upon mount Moriah. With this awful command the patriarch firmly complied ; and the victim was about to be immolated, when the father's hand was arrested by the words, “Lay not thy hands upon the lad, neither do thou any thing to him.” Afterwards, from an especial motive, he obtained his niece as a wife for his son Isaac. He died aged a hundred and seventy-five years.
This rapid sketch will supply us with the preliminary materials requisite
for expounding the passage above quoted; but it is necessary to ascertain, from the Epistle in which the quotation occurs, what is the particular argument from which it is a deduction or inference : “ So, then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”
The object of St. Paul's letter to the Galatian church, which he himself had founded, supposes that his converts there were relapsing into the ceremonies of the Jewish ritual, through the seductions of evil designing men; and it was the Apostle's endeavour to lead them back to the simple principles of the Christian faith. “ I marvel," says he, “ that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ” (Gal. i. 6, 7). He then recapitulates the leading particulars of his own life, before and after his conversion to Christianity. Pursuing a line of argument in which he shews the inefficacy of the Jewish ceremonies—“knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (chap. ii. 19)—he asks, in reference to their first reception of Christianity, “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith ? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye made perfect by the flesh ?”-“ By the flesh" (that is, by ceremonial rites and observances). “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. Know ye not, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham ? And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So, then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” (chap. iii. 2, &c.)
From the above quotations it appears that the doctrine of the passage under discussion is that of a sinner's justification before God by faith in Jesus Christ. We may therefore slightly paraphrase the words as meaning, “So, then, they which are justified by faith are blessed with Abraham, who was also justified by faith.”
And what is justifying faith ?
It were superfluous to go back to describe the creation of man, his fall and guilt, his helplessness and misery, and his eternal banishment from the presence of God, which indeed inevitably resulted from the impossibility of there being any friendly connexion between a perfectly holy Being and one now morally defiled. The question of the possibility of a return to the favour of the Almighty, we may naturally suppose would instantly suggest itself to our first parents after their fall. Nor were they left long under the awful weight of uncertainty : they were almost instantly relieved from it by a gracious promise, which was doubtless understood by them sufficiently for all practical purposes : “ The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head :” which promise, after a long interval of types and shadows, was fulfilled in the incarnation, sufferings, and atonement of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In virtue of His sacrifice, the pardon of his sins was placed within reach of the sinner, but connected with our Saviour's own declaration, " He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; he that believeth not, shall be damned” (Matt. xvi. 16.) With regard to baptism, we may adopt the judi. cious and scriptural language of our Church, that it is “ an outward and visi. ble sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof." There remains, therefore, only to notice the portion of our Lord's declaration (“he that believeth”) which contains the doctrine of justification by faith, corresponding with the language of the Apostle quoted at the
commencement of this paper; and to shew that the faith which the Apostle was urging upon the Galatians was the same in kind with that which procured for Abraham the high appellation of " the friend of God.”
The simple import of the theological phrase, “justification by faith,” is, that the sinner is made just or holy in the sight of God in consequence of his faith *. The expression, “ in consequence of his faith,” may be misunderstood; for the sinner is justified entirely through the merits of Christ, and not for any thing which he can do to win back the Divine favour : but, with this explanation, the phraseology adopted may be safely used, it being in fact that which is generally found in the New Testament.
But what is faith, the effects of which are so incomprehensibly great as to convert perfect impurity to perfect purity it The simple and usual meaning of the term is belief. But how can belief produce such a mighty change as this in man? The question, however, put merely in this form, does not exhibit a small part even of the difficulties of the case. Scripture teaches us that man is now so radically corrupt in his moral principles as really and literally to prefer evil to good; and this truth is illustrated by the whole history of mankind : the highest efforts of human eloquence, exhibiting the beauty of virtue and its reward, and the deformity of vice and its punishment, so as to enlist the judgment on the side of purity, would not prevent men from going-in the expressive language of an inspired writer, “as an ox to the slaughter”-to those very scenes of pollution which they had professed to believe were so hateful and destructive. This view makes the question of the power of belief beyond the grasp of human reason. The frail being above pourtrayed does, we admit, in one sense believe that virtue is desirable, and vice is to be abhorred : but the effects of faith, as required in the Gospel, are not in any degree produced by it. The subject may be variously illustrated.
Let us go to a man, not in the season of reckless gaiety of heart and worldly dissipation, but in the hour of self-dissatisfaction and disquietude on account of his past history and future prospects. Tell him, in the language of the Bible (which we assume he professes to credit), that he is a guilty and polluted sinner in the sight of a holy God; declare to him the terrors of the law of God, which he will acknowledge to have broken in every part; reason with him of “righteousness and temperance and judgment to come;" arouse still more, if possible, his fears ; then preach to him the remedy for his guilt; and, in sincerity of heart, he will profess to believe every word that has been uttered : yet to-morrow will he be found again running the round of his guilty pleasures. Manifestly this is not the kind of faith which can justify in the sight of God.
Again : suppose I have possessed an estate on which, to put the strongest case, I have spent all the years of my life, and with all the parts of which, therefore, I must be intimately conversant. I meet with an individual with whom I am acquainted passing across one of my fields for the sake of shortening his path to a distant place which he is anxious to reach: Istop him, and inform him, that, although if he could go by that way he would
• Our correspondent, we fear, has not studied “theological phrases " quite accurately. He says that justification“ is being made just or holy.” If he bad but turned to the word “justify,” in Brown's Dictionary of the Bible, he would have found it truly stated, that “ to justify is to declare one (just or) righteous; but it never signifies to render one holy.” So Cruden, on the same word, with scores of divines and annotators. Our Homilies use the word justice for righteousness, which conveys the scriptural sense without the ambiguity which attaches to the word righteousness as now often popularly used. It is true that by living faith we are made holy, for holiness is its fruit; but this is not the meaning of our being “justified " by faith, or accounted righteous through faith, which is quite another idea.
+ Here again our correspondent seems to confound justification with sanctification.