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not, then he is unsound and dangerous. Let him stand still, and they will “ stand by him;" but if he goes on towards perfection, he must go alone, for they will not follow. Or, to take St. Paul's figure, they had need of milk when they began, for they were babes; and they have need of milk now, and not of strong meat, for they are babes still. They are defined by the Apostle as being “unskilful” (inexpert, unversed) “in the word of righteousness.” “Strong meat,” in which their elementary milk is compacted, and lost in a higher, fuller substance, they cannot take. Of the fulness, depth, and harmony of “the word of righteousness,' they have no comprehension. They know it in its most rudimentary and superficial character, and nothing more. Like persons who have only a phenomenal knowledge of nature and no actual knowledge; so their knowledge of the Word is surface-knowledge, and not the knowledge of its inner contents. They have some acquaintance with “the letter” of Scripture; but about “the treasure hid in that field,” they do not trouble themselves. And they take care to disown those who do.
The thing to be regretted about these babes, is, that they are babes in nothing but knowledge. The meekness, simplicity and innocence of babes,
they have long since lost. In understanding they are childish, but in loquacity and self-will they are old men
They have stood still at the beginning so long, that, if they are still to be called “babes in Christ,” they are very dry, tough, uninteresting babes, and must be carefully distinguished from the genuine “new-born babes” of the Church.
It is very unhappy both for themselves, and the interests of the Church, that these crude beginners, these thick-skinned babes, who cannot, will not, be taught, set themselves up for judges. They jealously guard and defend the pulpit, carefully reserving it for a sound a, b, c teacher. Babes in the pews and babes in the pulpit, have made a baby-Christendom. Thanks be to God, the exceptions are many, and rapidly on the increase.
IV.-As to what are the rudiments of Christian doctrine,—the initatory principles of the doctrine of Christ,—it is well for us that the Apostle has not left it an open question. But before we enter upon his catalogue of these rudiments, let the reader be admonished against drawing a false inference. Let us take heed that we err not, by lightly estimating the principles which we are called upon to leave.
Their importance cannot be over-estimated. They are essential to a right
beginning, and therefore, they are essential to the right end. They are the ground-work of all future progress. And the ground-work not only comes first in time, but continues to be of first importance. First principles are not to be left in the sense of being given up, or renounced; but left as a foundation is left, from which the edifice is upbuilt. This is indeed precisely St. Paul's definition of what he means by “leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,”—namely, "not laying again the foundation."
He presents to us Elementary Christianity under six heads ; linking them together, two and two: namely, repentance and faith ; baptism and laying on of hands ; resurrection and judgment.
1.—“Repentance from dead works, and Faith towards God." By nature every man is an apostate spirit, not subject to the law of God, but subject to the law and motions of the false god, “the prince of the power of the air:"-as the first essential therefore, to his salvation, he is commanded to repent, that is, to change his mind, and his whole spiritual state and relations.
Under the conviction of his ruined estate, he tears himself away from his standing, as it is by nature, in order that he may re-adjust his relation with God. He perceives that there is nothing in
himself, nor in the course of nature, which can heal his disordered spirit. He repents. He turns both from nature, and from himself. Neither his judgment, nor affections, will consent to be a mere child of nature any longer. He must come out of his natural condition. It is Egypt, it is Sodom, it is a curse, and not a blessing to him. pudiates, therefore, his first nature, in the hope that God will help him to a wholly new nature. He wishes to be transferred from nature, into the kingdom of God's Dear Son.
This is repentance. It is the soul passing out of the state of reprobation into that of election.
It is called “repentance from dead works;" because, while he continues in his natural condition, whatever be his works, whether works of virtue, or works of vice, they are works of death, and they will end in death. Outwardly religious acts are as certainly dead works, as sinful acts, if the affections of the soul are not freely turned towards God. The genuine penitent loathes and abhors his fair-seeming round of “dead works." In a word, he repents of all dead works by disowning himself. Not only his works are sin, but he is sin, dead in sin: how then can he bring forth living fruit, until he is made alive?
"Faith towards God."---Repentance breaks
up the soul's relation with the false god; Faith is the soul's relation with the Living and True God. Repentance is man turning from death; by Faith he turns to the Source of Life. The only life which he has hitherto known, he knows now to be death,—the great tempting death. The flow of his life has been towards whatever is visible : now it flows “towards God," the Invisible. In the purpose and affections of his spirit, he adheres to Christ, that he may find God, and that the Spirit of God may reach him. His penitent desires make a tender appeal to the pity of God; and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, sets him free from the law of sin and death, which is in his own nature. The life of his deadly injustice is thus supplanted by his life of faith, which is equally the life of justice and grace. What can be more unjust than to live without God? “Faith towards God” is the fallen creature's first act of justice. “The just live by faith.”
2.—“The doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands," are the second twain in elementary Christianity. Faith introduces the soul to a divine bath, in order to its regeneration. But why are “ baptisms" spoken of? Is there not a baptism into repentance, and a baptism into faith ?baptism into death and baptism into life? Not