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OF NO. XXVII.
I. CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE THE SOLE BASIS OF CHRISTIAN
II. CHRISTIAN UNION,..
Christian Union; or an Argument for the Abolition of
Thoughts on Evangelizing the World. By THOMAS H.
Fraternal Appeal to the American Churches, together
Union; or the Divided Church made One. By the Rev. JOHN HARRIS, Author of "Mammon," "The Great Teacher," &c.
Religious Dissensions; their Cause and Cure; a Prize Essay. By PHARCELLUS CHURCH, Author of “Philosophy of Benevolence."
The Principle of Christian Union. By WILLIAM Hague.
III. WRITINGS OF REV. WILLIAM BRADFORD HOMER,...... 364
Writings of Rev. WILLIAM BRADFORD HOMER, late Pastor of the Congregational Church in South Berwick, Me. With a Memoir, by EDWARDS A. PARK, Bartlet Professor in Andover Theological Seminary.
IV. THE GREAT COMMISSION,.
The Great Commission: or the Christian Church constituted and charged to convey the Gospel to the World. By the Rev. JOHN HARRIS, D. D., President of Cheshunt College, Author of "Mammon," "The Great Teacher," &c. With an Introductory Essay, by WILLIAM R. WILLIAMS, D. D., Pastor of Amity Street Church, New York.
V. LIFE OF WILLBUR FISK, D. D., .....
The Life of WILLBUR FISK, D. D., First President of the Wesleyan University. By JOSEPH HOLDICH.
VII. LETTERS TO A SON IN THE MINISTRY,..
Thirty-four Letters to a Son in the Ministry. By Rev.
VIJI. PRESENT COLLEGIATE SYSTEM IN THE United States, 466
Thoughts on the present Collegiate System in the United States. By FRANCIS WAYLAND.
IX. LITERARY INTELLIGENCE,.
THE CHRISTIAN REVIEW.
CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE THE SOLE BASIS OF CHRISTIAN MORALITY.
THERE are two versions of Christianity, one of which is contained in the truth of the gospel, and the other is written on the fleshly table of the believer's heart. One is the faith, as contained in the documents written by infallible pens; and the other is the same faith, as wrought into the feelings, mental processes, and active character of living human beings. There is, however, a perfect agreement between the two, just as there is between a man's countenance and its reflection from a faithful mirror. The Christianity of the heart and character is a true reflection of that which is contained in the word of God.
Now, it is a question of some interest, whether the latter can subsist without the former. This question resolves itself into two parts: First, whether virtue has acquired from the gospel any new elements; and second, if it has acquired new elements, whether, being known, they can be made to flourish among men, without the aid of those peculiar doctrines, which distinguish the gospel as a system of belief. As to the first part of this question, we suppose it cannot be denied, that our Saviour and his apostles did raise the standard of life and conduct, or require elements in the constitution of a virtuous
VOL. VII.-NO. XXVII.
and approved character, that have never been required beyond the influence of their teaching. The Christian morals command universal respect; every one is anxious to be thought to regulate his conduct by them; and even infidels are often heard to say, "we hate your canting hypocrites; but if you will practise on the precepts of your religion, you will merit esteem." This shows that the morality which the Bible aims at grafting upon the character, is so adapted to nature and to the moral sense in men, that they are forced to reverence it as the best in the world, however they may hate the system of doctrines with which it stands associated. They assume that a man can act up to the gospel standard of excellence, as well without as with the belief of its peculiar doctrines.
But, we expect to make it appear in this article, that, as the law of supreme love to God and equal love to men, as illustrated in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, presented human duty under new and extraordinary aspects, so influences and truths equally extraordinary are necessary to enable poor, weak human nature to reach and maintain the noble elevation. We deny not to men the ability of coming up to the lower standards that prevail aside from the gospel; for these are suited to the passion and caprice of a corrupted heart and character; and if a stream cannot go above its fountain, it certainly can rise as high. It is the extraordinary features of the morality itself, therefore, that create the necessity of extraordinary influences in maintaining it.
It is a widely disseminated opinion, that it is immaterial what a man believes, provided his conduct only be good. This arises, no doubt, from the conflicting views of Christian doctrine, which are entertained among persons of an equally pious and blameless life. Whereas, it will be found, either that none of those different views are of a character materially to counteract the effect of the cardinal doctrines of Christ ; or, their ultimate tendencies are not yet seen; or, so much of truth as has found its way to the heart and conscience has more influence upon the life, than the theoretical errors with which it is intermixed; or, there is an unseen defect at the core of that virtue which wears a fair exterior; or, something else exists in the case to show that it is not an exception to the rule, that only the truth as it is in Jesus, shining upon the understanding, can promote true holiness of life.
Owing to superficial views of the subject, however, or to the seductive influence of the errorists with whom they are promiscuously intermixed in society, even true Christians are too much inclined to fall in with the infidel-current of thinking, that nothing of the gospel is really indispensable but a life conformed to its moral code. Some of them do, indeed, plead for the spiritual affections, as necessary to complete their idea of such a life. They remember the purity and childlike simplicity of their renovated affections, their instinctive shrinking from sin, the love and joy that glowed in their hearts, and the ecstacies of their first communion with God; and it seems to them that if these were gone, nothing would remain but the useless residuum of unmeaning forms and heartless virtue. Nor is it surprising, that these glowing recollections of their first love should sometimes betray them into an undue leaning towards emotion, to the neglect of those doctrines and even duties, which are necessary to feed the flame. Alas! there are too many whose religion expires with the effervescings of excitement. Thus, while some confine their ideas of religion to its outward virtues, others have a morbid longing for fervors of feeling, as the element beyond which every plant of heaven and holiness must die; not considering, that these revelations of Christ within them depend upon the contemplation of him as he is presented in the truth of the gospel. And their efforts for the promotion of personal religion are chiefly confined to the fruitless endeavor of fanning a flame of expiring feeling, in the absence of the fuel adapted to make it burn.
We use the term, doctrine, for a general truth, including under it various specifications. Each of these specifications is what we call a fact, being a particular statement, which is referable to the doctrine from which it branches off. Thus, for instance, the passage, "All men are gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one," is a doctrine, being a general truth, relating to the whole human species. But that David was shapen in iniquity, that Saul breathed out threatening and slaughter against the church, that Judas betrayed, and Peter denied, the best of Masters, and that this and that sin was charged upon this, that, or the other individual, community or nation, are each of them facts which are referable