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vidence', and so affords an additional evidence of the truth of the revealed system by its harmony, also serves to quiet and console, and moreover to awe and warn us. Doubt and difficulty, as regards evidence, seems our lot; the simple question is, What is our duty under it? Difficulty is our lot, as far as we take on ourselves to inquire; the multitude are not able to inquire, and so escape the trial; but when men inquire, this trial at once comes upon them. And surely we may use the parable of the Talents to discover what our duty is under the trial. Do not those who refuse to go by the hints and probable meaning of Scripture hide their talent in a napkin? and will they be excused?
3. Now, in connexion with what has been said, observe the singular coincidence, or rather appositeness, of what Scripture enjoins as to going by faith in religious matters. The difficulties which exist in the evidence give a deep meaning to the exhortation. Scripture is quite aware of the difficulties. Objections can be brought against its own inspiration, its canonicity, against revealed doctrines, as in the case of the Jews against the Messiahship of JESUS CHRIST. It knows them all it has provided against them, by recognizing them. It says, "Believe," because it knows that unless we believe, there is no means of divine knowledge. If we will doubt, that is, if we will not allow evidence to be sufficient which merely results in a balance on the side of revelation; if we will determine that no evidence is enough to prove revealed doctrine but what is overpowering; if we will not go by evidence in which there are (so to say) three chances for revelation and only two against, we cannot be Christians; we shall miss CHRIST either in His inspired Scriptures, or in His doctrines, or in His ordinances.
To conclude: our difficulty and its religious solution are contained in the sixth chapter of St. John. After our LORD had declared what all who heard seemed to feel to be a hard doctrine, some in offence and disgust left Him. Our LORD said to the
1 For the reasons of this indirect mode of teaching, the reader is referred to Tract 80.
Twelve most tenderly, "Will ye also go away?" St. Peter promptly answered, No: but observe on what ground he put it: "LORD, to whom shall we go?" He did not bring forward evidences of our LORD's mission, though he knew of such. He knew of such in abundance, in the miracles that He did: but still questions might be raised about the miracles of others, such as Simon the sorcerer, or of vagabond Jews, or about the force of the evidence from miracles itself. This was not the evidence on which he rested, but this,-that if CHRIST was not to be trusted, there was nothing in the world to be trusted; and this was a conclusion repugnant both to his reason and his heart. He had within him ideas of greatness and goodness, holiness and eternity, -he had a love of them,-he had an instinctive hope and longing after their possession. Nothing could convince him that this unknown good was a dream. Eternal life was the object which his soul, as far as it had learned to realize and express its wishes, supremely longed for. In CHRIST he found what he wanted. He says, "LORD, to whom shall we go?" implying he must go somewhere. CHRIST had asked, "Will ye also go away?" He only spoke of leaving Himself; but in St. Peter's thought to leave Him was to go somewhere else. He only thought of leaving Him by taking another god. That negative state of neither believing nor disbelieving, neither acting this way nor that, which is so much in esteem now, did not occur to his mind as possible. The fervent Apostle knew not what scepticism was. With him, his course was at best but a choice of difficulties,-of difficulties perhaps, but still a choice. He knew of no course without a choice,-choice he must make. Somewhither he must go : whither else? If CHRIST Could deceive him, to whom should he go? His ways might be dark, His words often perplexing, but still he found in Him what he found nowhere else,-amid difficulties a realization of his inward longings. "Thou hast the words of eternal life." So far he saw. He might have misgivings at times; he might have permanent and in themselves insu. perable objections; still, in spite of such objections, in spite of the assaults of unbelief, on the whole, he saw that in CHRIST which was positive, real, and satisfying. He saw it nowhere
VOL. V.- .-85.
else. "Thou," he says, "hast the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have known that thou art the CHRIST, the SON of the Living God." As if he said, "We will stand by what we believed and knew yesterday,--what we believed and knew the day before. A sudden gust of new doctrines, a sudden inroad of new perplexities, shall not unsettle us. We have believed, we have known: we cannot collect together all the evidence, but this is the abiding impression on our minds. We feel that it is better, safer, truer, pleasanter, more blessed to cling to Thy feet, O merciful SAVIOUR, than to leave Thee. Thou canst not deceive us; it is impossible. We will hope in Thee against hope, and believe in Thee against doubt, and obey Thee in spite of gloom."
Now, what are the feelings I have described but the love of CHRIST? Thus love is the parent of faith. We believe in things we see not, from love of them: if we did not love, we should not believe. Faith is reliance on the word of another; the word of another is in itself a faint evidence compared with that of sight or reason. It is influential only when we cannot do without it. We cannot do without it when it is our informant about things which we cannot do without. Things we cannot do without, are things which we desire. They who feel they cannot do without the next world, go by faith (not that sight would not be better), but because they have no other means of knowledge to go by. "To whom shall they go?" If they will not believe the word preached to them, what other access have they to the next world? Love of God led St. Peter to follow CHRIST, and love of GoD and CHRIST leads men now to love and follow the Church.
Let us then say, If we give up the Gospel, as we have received it, in the Church, to whom shall we go? It has the words of eternal life in it: where else are they to be found? Is there any other religion to choose but that of the Church? Shall we go to Mahometanism or Paganism? But we may seek some heresy or sect: true, we may: but why are they more sure? are they not a part, while the Church is the whole? Why is the part true, if the whole is not? Why is not that evidence
trustworthy for the whole, which is trustworthy for a part? Sectaries commonly give up the Church's doctrines, and go by the Church's Bible; but if the doctrines cannot be proved true, neither can the Bible; they stand or fall together. If we begin, we must soon make an end. On what consistent principle can I give up part and keep the rest? No: I see a great work before me, professing to be the work of that God whose being and attributes I feel within me to be real. Why should not this great sight be,-what it professes to be,-His presence? Why should not the Church be divine? The burden of proof surely is on the other side. I will accept her doctrines, and her rites, and her Bible,-not, one and not the other, but all,-till I have clear proof that she is mistaken. It is, I feel, God's will that I should do so; and besides, I love these her possessions,—I love her Bible, her doctrines, and her rites, and therefore I BELIEVE.
END OF THE FIRST PART OF THESE LECTURES.
These Tracts are continued in Numbers, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. G. F. & J. RIVINGTON,
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published, will be found more or less to uphold or elucidate the general doctrines inculcated in these Tracts :
Bp. Taylor on Repentance, by Hale.—Rivingtons.
Vincentii Lirinensis Commonitorium, with translation.-Parker, Oxford.
Pusey on Cathedrals and Clerical Education.-Roake & Varty.
Pusey on Baptism (published separately).-Rivingtons.
Herbert's Poems and Country Pastor.
Evans's Scripture Biography.-Rivingtons.
Le Bas' Life of Archbishop Laud.—Rivingtons.
Jones (of Nayland) on the Church.
Bp. Bethell on Baptismal Regeneration.-Rivingtons.
Bp. Beveridge's Sermons on the Ministry and Ordinances.-Parker, Oxford.
Bp. Jolly on the Eucharist.
Fulford's Sermons on the Ministry, &c.-Rivingtons.
Larger Works which may be profitably studied.
Bishop Bull's Sermons.-Parker, Oxford.
Wall on Infant Baptism.-Do.
Bingham's Works.-Straker, London.