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XXXIV.

The tree is known by its fruit.

Matthew, xii. 33.

This text is frequently in the mouth of the Solfidian. “ As the tree,” says he,“ is known by its fruit, so is a man's faith by his works. If his faith be sound, his works will of course be good."--And thus far the doctrine is certainly just and scriptural. But the Solfidian goes a step further. He lays the stress upon faith, as a justifying principle; and considers works in no other light, than as a test of that principle. In this I cannot think him quite scriptural. That good works are a test of the purity of a man's faith, is very true: but that they ought to be considered in a somewhat higher light, is, I think, true also; and this very text may be brought to prove it. The tree, according to his own interpretation, stands for faith-the fruit for works. Now of these two, the tree, and its fruit, which is most excellentWhich is the cause, and which the effect? Which is the mean, and which the end ? Considered in these lights, the fruit is certainly of most consequence.

end ?

We suppose works therefore to be the effect, of which faith is the cause. We suppose works to be the end, for which faith is only the mean.

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XXXV.

If any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer;

he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass : for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein ; he being not a forgetful hear. er, but a doer of the work; this man shall be blessed in his deed.-James, i. 23, 24, 25.

The apostle St. James compares looking inte the perfect law of liberty, or reading the scriptures, to a man's looking at himself in a glass. Let us examine the apostle's beautiful allusion, and see what kind of men are pointed out.

In the first place, men often look into a glass through pride. They admire their own persons : they have over-weening opinions of themselves : they think themselves handsomer than any other persons.

They who look into a glass with these views, represent those men, who read the scriptures with high notions of their own worth. Instead of abasing themselves, or humbling themselves for their deficiencies, their attention is laid out only on such passages, as tend to raise them in their own conceit. Such a reader of scripture was the Pharisee of old. He saw in it enough to thank God, that he was not like other men.-By looking into the scripture, he found that he had no transgressions, as he thought, of any consequence to answer for--that he was strict in the performance of the most punctilious matters and that, in fact, on comparing himself with others, he found a mighty difference in his own favour.

Others again look into a glass through vanity. They wish to trick out their persons by ornaments—to set themselves off to the best advantage-to gain the admiration of all, who see them.

These are often men of learning, who read the scripture to shew their skill in criticism ; and raise their reputation by curious inquiries. They look into the perfect law of liberty, to shew what acute lawyers they are in expounding its deeper doctrines : or in drawing from it some refined system which is probably of no value either to themselves, or others. They are engaged in some

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controversy—they are eager to lead the way in some debate-and seek for applause by their nice interpretations, and happy accommodation of different texts. In the mean time it is probable, that neither religion, nor scripture, are in the least assisted by their learned labours. Like some necromancer of old, they raise a spectre, that they may have the credit of laying it; though it would otherwise have vanished of itself, without doing mischief to any one.

But besides those who look into a glass through pride and vanity, there is another set of men who are chiefly characterized by the apostle's comparison--such as look into a glass so carelessly as to answer no end at all. They straightway forget what manner of men they are.

Now these are by far the most numerous set of christians. They never consider the perfect law of liberty as a law intended for their use. The pleasures of the world so entirely engage them, that they think not of any higher concern. They feel nothing of their soul about them : all relates to their body.

Besides these ill-disposed, and careless examiners, there are others, whom the apostle's comparison supposes to look into a glass merely to adjust any impropriety, which they may discover

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