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which we are bound to accept; that if we do accept it in faith and love, we shall be saved; but if we turn from it, and refuse obedience, we shall be lost. They know as much as 'this, and this they say is enough. Under the influence of truths and motives such as these, they are working out their own salvation; and they look with distrust, perhaps contempt, upon those who, passing over these weightier matters, are prying into the deep things of God.

It is true of both these classes of persons that they regard God as speaking and acting, in his word, in only one capacity or character; they endeavour to square all that he says to that; and what cannot be made to square with it they either ignore or throw away. And as they fail to ignore the same classes of passages, the result is that they widely differ in their understanding of the scriptures, and fall into altercations and disputes. Now, the only remedy for this state of things is for them to set up the distinction on which we have insisted, and carry it with them through the Bible. We do not believe in two Gods, but in one, who, the better to display his character and perfections, speaks and acts in two different capacities. He certainly is the creator and supreme disposer of all things. He formed his plan in eternity; his purpose shall stand ; and he “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” It will not do for us to ignore representations such as these, or to pass them slightly over, or to attempt to explain them away. If we do so, we shall lose the noblest views of God those which fill all heaven with rapturous adoration, and which he has revealed for our comfort while here below.

On the other hand, it is certain that God is a moral governor over free, intelligent, active beings, who are bound to serve and obey him, and who, having revolted from him, are bound to return to him in penitence and love, as a compassionate moral governor. God invites us, in all sincerity and earnestness, to return and accept the overtures of his grace. Let us believe God in all that he says of himself,

and in all that he says to us. Let us take in, so far as we may, that full view of his character and glory which he has set before us. So shall we be, neither Antinomians nor Arminians, nor one-sided heretics of any description; but may hope to grow up “ into the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

We have said that the distinction on which we have insisted is one of great importance practically. We must regard our God in the capacity of sovereign and supreme disposer, in order that we may gain the most exalted conceptions of him, and under all circumstances may repose and rejoice in him. There are times when we want to see God as an uncontrollable sovereign, seated on the circuit of the heavens, and rolling into effect his undisturbed decrees; bringing light out of darkness and good out of evil, and causing the wrath of man to contribute to his praise. There are times when, if we could not take these high and ennobling views of God, we should bave no ground of bope or comfort left.

At the same time, we love to regard the Almighty as a righteous moral governor, as a most beneficent ruler, as our heavenly Father, wbo has given us the best of laws, and whose government over us is perfectly wise and good. More especially do we love to regard him in the dispensations of his grace, opening a way for the recovery of the lost, and calling to his wandering children to return unto him and live. Without these views of God, we might adore and fear him, but we could not love him as we ought. We could not be melted, as we now should be, in the ever warming, cnlivening beams of his tenderness and love.

If we mistake not, the Christian world affords examples of the danger of taking in but partial conceptions of God, of entertaining a one-sided view of his character. To say nothing of those who so represent the sovereignty of God as to cut off entirely the free-agency of man; or of those, on the other hand, who so cxalt the human will, as to leave God no certain control over the hearts and actions of crea

tures; there are undoubtedly pious persons, sincere Christians, whose characters suffer on account of the partial, imperfect views which they are led to take of the Supreme Being. Here, we will suppose, is a class of Christians, to which we have before referred, whose minds dwell chiefly on the sovereignty of God. They think much of his sovereign purpose and providence. They rejoice that “the counsel of the Lord standeth forever, and the thought of his heart to all generations"; that he “is of one mind, and none can turn him, and whatsoever his soul desireth, even that he doeth." The effect of dwelling almost exclusively upon topics such as these, is to form a particular type of Christian character - trustful, stable, firm, and for the most part joyful; but still hard, rigid, wanting in gentleness, tenderness, sometimes in conscientiousness, and in a wakeful, active concern for the good of souls. Persons of this character will sometimes put over to the sovereignty of God what they ought to be using means to accomplish themselves.

At the other extreme we find a class of Christians who, owing to wrong instruction, prejudice, or some other cause, think little of what is called the sovereignty of God. They do not understand it, are afraid of it, and, as it presents itself to their minds, feel no complacency in it. They prefer to dwell on another class of subjects, such as the goodness of God, more especially as manifested in the work of redemption; on the love of Christ in consenting to come into the world and die for sinners; on the freeness and universality of the gospel offers ; on the invitations and motives of the gospel, and on the obligations of men, everywhere, to yield to these motives and secure everlasting life. Now, the dwelling perpetually on considerations such as these true and important as they may be in themselves — tends to form a particular type of Christian character, and a very different type from that last exhibited. These Christians will be earnest and active, certainly, at times. Their love, zeal, and engagedness will rise very high. And yet, perhaps, they will be fitful, unstable, driven about by gusts of feeling,

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or the force of circumstances, like a ship without anchor, ballast, or helm. They need those high views of the sovereignty of God, to which they have never yet attained, to steady them, to sustain them, to give them comfort in seasons of darkness as well as of light; to lead them to adore and fear God as well as love him ; to confide in him as well as actively serve him ; in short, to give proportion and symmetry to their Christian character, and form them in a meetness for heaven.

The two classes of persons to whom we have referred are supposed, both of them, to be truly pious; and the characters of both are formed (as every person's must be) according to the views which they respectively entertain. And the characters of both are one-sided, out of proportion, because they have been led to entertain partial, one-sided views of God. We must habitually think of God, not only as the supreme disposer, but as a righteous moral governor ; not only in the steady march of his glorious sovereignty, but in his tender love and pity for dying men. We must think of him in his whole character, as he has revealed himself to us in his works and in his word ; and then, if we are Christians indeed, our hearts will be formed into his whole image and likeness.

As the two aspects in which we have been led to view the divine character are very distinct, so the duties resulting from them are distinct also. We are to adore and fear, in view of the divine sovereignty. We are to submit to it, and rejoice in it. We are to stay ourselves upon it at all times, so we shall not be greatly moved.

But as active beings, free moral agents, bound to avoid the evil and choose the good, and to do good to the utmost of our ability, we have to do with God, chiefly, as a moral governor. His holy law binds us. This is to be, at all times, our standard of character and rule of life. We have indeed broken it, and incurred its fearful penalty, but as a kind, paternal, moral governor, God is not willing to give us up. He has opened a way of recovery for us, and in all

the benignity of his infinite heart, is crying after us to be wise : “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” “ Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Our first and immediate duty to our great moral governor, is to listen to those accents of mercy, and comply. Tenderly invited, we must come with the whole heart, and receive the waters of life freely.

And having received this living water ourselves, we must do all in our power to impart it to others. The views which the scriptures give us of the sovereignty of God, will be no hinderance to us in this mighty work. Who was ever a more firm believer in the sovereignty of God than the apostle Paul ? And yet who ever burned with a more ardent desire, or labored with a more untiring fidelity, for the salvation of souls? Happy the gospel minister, happy the private Christian, who takes the same view of the divine character with the apostle Paul, and forms his own character after the same model.




On the question of the brethren or brothers of our Saviour, three different opinions have been entertained and are still current among commentators : 1) They were only cousins of Jesus, sons of either a sister of Mary or a brother of Joseph; 2) They were younger children of Joseph and Mary, or uterine brothers of Jesus; 3) They were children of Joseph by a former marriage, and hence step-brothers of

1 In our English Version of the Bible the word “brothers” never occurs, but always “ brethren" instead. But in modern English the former is used for natural, the latter for moral or spiritual relationship. See the Dictionaries.

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