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structed orally. Their object is, properly, exhortation rather than teaching; and advice, or authoritative commands, in matters affecting the personal conduct and local affairs of the persons to whom they were addressed. The Epistles also contain arguments in evidence and defence of Christianity, adapted to the circumstances of the times and to the particular objections and prejudices of the Jews. In all these things, there is a marked difference between the style and subject of Christ's teaching and that of his Apostles.
It is clear, from internal evidence, that the Apostles themselves were habitually impressed with this fact, and even specially advert to it. Thus, Paul (Rom. xv. 14), “ And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that you are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge. * * * Nevertheless, I have written to you as putting you in mind.” (1 Cor. i. and iii.) “ I beseech you that there be no divisions among you; for one saith that I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided ? Was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptised in the name of Paul? Who is Paul, or who 'is Apollos, but ministers ?” In the same Epistle, chapter vii. he makes an express distinction between what he exhorted to in the way of prudence, and what be taught in the name of the Lord. Thus, speaking of marriage, “ under the present distress to which the church was subject, he advises celibacy, and quotes his own example; nevertheless, this was said, “not by commandment, but by permission," as being only his own opinion and advice. But in another matter he says, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband; and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife; but for the rest speak I, not the Lord.” Here it is obvious that he is not asserting any immediate or inspired source of instruction and authority; but referring to the doctrine which Jesus taught personally, when he abrogated the right of divorce which Moses had allowed the Israelites, and authoritatively confirmed the indissolubility of the marriage tie.
In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (i. 13), we
have a similar reference to the Gospels, or personal teachings of Jesus, as the supreme authority in the church :-“ For we write none other things unto you than what ye read and acknowledge, and I trust ye sball acknowledge to the end." Galatians i. 9, “If we, or any man, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than ye have received, let him be accursed.” 1 Thess. iv. “I beseech you by the Lord Jesus, that as
have received of us how to walk, so to do; for ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.” 1 Tim. vi. 2, “ These things teach and exhort; if any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, *** he is proud,” &c.
In all these, and similar instances, it appears that the Apostle has constantly on his mind, and assumes the thing to be understood, by all well informed Christians, that their faith and obedience were due solely to the doctrine and precepts of Christ, which they had the means of knowing before he wrote to them. He only applies the doctrine to particular cases, and exhorts them to be steadfast in their adherence to it. And how did they know it ? or for what purpose did our Lord teach personally, and did his attendants report his teaching, and the Evangelists record it, but to furnish the church with the principles of its faith, and the rules of its obedience ? We say, this fact is distinctly implied and alluded to in the whole style of the epistolary writings. It did not require to be formally asserted or advocated; because nobody was ignorant of it, or questioned it. And if, as in the church of Corinth, some sectarian spirits acted in contradiction to the general understanding, it was thought a sufficient refutation of their errors, to point out the inconsistency of their conduct in regard to this universal sentiment or catholic doctrine of the church.
The foregoing observations have a reference to the prima facie view of the case; to the style and tone of authority, contrasted in the instances of the Apostles and their Master; and to the marked difference between them. Is not this a presumption, or rather in itself a proof, that we should pay the highest regard to the doctrine of Christ, and interpret that of the Apostles in
subordination and conformity to it. In short, that the writings of the Apostles only hold a secondary place in the Christian system. And if so, then the practice of quoting detached texts from the Epistles, and giving to them the same weight as the words of our Lord, is unwarrantable, and should be put a stop to. This is the conclusion at which we aim, and wish to keep in view.
CONVERSATIONS AND TALES, ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHRISTIAN FAITH AND CHRISTIAN PRACTICE.
No. II.-FAITH AND Works. ALICE Mordaunt was, in the most beautiful sense of the word, a Christian, and her character presented a striking contrast to that of Minna. Never so happy as when contributing to the happiness of all around her, her whole life was a living sermon, a daily illustration of those blessed truths in which she herself gloried, delighted, and believed. Satisfied that Christianity is an active rather than a passive principle, she regarded devotional and religious exercises not as an end, but the grand means which God himself has laid down to preserve his children in the ways of holiness. Prayer she viewed as a sacred privelege; it was so natural to lift up the heart to Heaven, that no Christian, she thought, could live without these inward breathings; nevertheless, she knew that every one was not a true worshipper who did pray. Although, morning and evening, it was her delight regularly to engage in the duties of the closet, she would have esteemed it no sin to sacrifice these to any call upon her benevolence, remembering that had she neglected the performance of the latter, she could not have the Almighty's blessing with the former; and the words of the Saviour, “ Not every one who saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he who doeth the will of my Father who is in Heaven,” she could not forget. She particularly joyed in pious discourses, and was always happy when she met with a kindred mind with whom she could freely converse on sacred subjects; but she believed it constituted no portion of religion, to be constantly dilating upon the same topic; nay, if we conscientiously attended to our worldly avocations, such a thing, she fancied, was almost impossible. “ Nothing, engaged in with a Christian spirit,” she was in the habit of saying, 6 was a sin to the Christian;" therefore innocent amusements she occasionally partook of, while those elegant accomplishments which throw a charm over existence also shared a part of her attention, taking care ever to keep them within due bounds as to the time they occupied. Believing that all things are of God, that He compasseth us about on every side, and retaining an abiding sense of bis presence and protecting care-relying on the promises of Jesus, whose divine precepts she contemplated as the guide of her steps and the rule of her conduct,-- Alice was habitually cheerful and happy; all loved her; she had ever a kind word or look to bestow, and there was a something so sweet and winning in her whole deportment, that even Minna, in spite of herself, felt sometimes instinctively attracted towards her.
“I am glad, my dear cousin,” said Charles, on entering the library one morning, where Minna was seated, looking over some Scriptural representations, “to see you walk oftener with Miss Mordaunt; she is a sweet girl, and you must benefit greatly by her conversation." “ It is hardly possible,” answered she, drawing herself up with an air of importance, “to keep from associating with a person with whom one comes in daily contact. Alice may be a very good moral character; but what does that signify? She is not possessed of the true light, therefore can claim no right to the name of Christian.”
“ What do you mean by the true light,' Minna?"
6. That which I think you are all destitute of; for instance, like yourself, she has got none of the Spirit;' she is continually descanting upon personal righteousness, as if it were everything, and faith nothing; and believes, that what is no better than .filthy rags
can obtain for ber the favour of Heaven.” “ And yet what you denominate as no better than · filthy rags,' was esteemed by the Apostle to be in the sight of God of great price. How do you reconcile the two together ?” “ The inspired writer must have meant those good works that flowed from a right faith, and even they were never to be put in competition with the source from whence they spring.” At this moment, Mr. Mornton, accompanied by Alice, entered the apartment. Minna thought this a favourable opportunity for endeavouring to convert ber hearers, and continued a long harangue upon the necessity of belief, and the utter worthlessness of right practice.
“ My dear cbild,” said her father, “ stop; it is absolutely painful to listen to you. Why should you distort in such a manner the plain meaning of Scripture ? Does the example of Him who spake as never man spake, sanction sentiments like these? How different was his language, I must work the work of Him who sent me, while it is day; for the night cometh when no man can
Charles. “ And ought we to presume to be wiser than He whose whole life was a perfect exemplification of all that was great, and noble, and excellent ? man's faith stronger than his was? and did his supersede acts of beneficence and holiness ? Believe me, Minna, that would we inherit the promises, we must cherish those dispositions and affections which only can secure to us their enjoyment. Would we receive a crown that is imperishable, we must endure temptation as becometh the children of the Most High; would we reap, we must sow; would we obtain mercy from Heaven, we must be merciful to our fellow-men."
Alice. “ As without faith it is impossible to please God, so without holiness no man shall see the Lord. We cannot, therefore, how much soever we may desire it, separate the two. Faith, from its very nature, is an active principle. Were it otherwise, it would cease to be faith, and become some vague, self-delusive chimera, displacing that entire belief and trust in a gracious and all-wise Ruler which alone can yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness."
Minna. “ It is all very easy to talk upon the matter; but if you think to obtain eternal life by a few miserable deeds done in the body, or in any other manner than that which God has already laid down for our acceptance, you will be wofully disappointed: when Christ expired upon the cross our salvation was finished.”
Mr. M. “ You would make religion a very simple thing, my love; instead of watching, and praying that