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was not forbidden by this divine precept. In this place I may ask, does it not appear from the conduct of many, that the commands, “Judge not that ye be not judged," and“ Speak not evil one of another," are so interpreted as not to forbid the most censorious judging and reviling of those who dissent from their opinions ?

I may now inquire respecting the propriety of quoting Paul's language respecting the natural man, to account for the differences of opinion between persons of different sects. I may remark,

1. That the greater part of the disputes among Christians result from the ambiguity of words and phrases, while each admits the text to be true in the sense which he supposes was intended by the inspired writer.

2. If the words of Paul may properly be applied by either party, the ground is common, and the other party may retort the insinuation.

A case may now be stated to test the principle, or the propriety of such a proceeding.

Two persons are disputing on the words of Christ, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” One supposes the words to mean that he would suffer a vicarious punishment for mankind. The other believes that he died for us, but not in that sense of the words, yet in a sense which he thinks far more to the honor of God. These men happen to be of different characters, as well as of different opinions. One of them is meek and humble; the other self-sufficient-he trusts in himself that he is righteous and despises others. Now which of these men will be the more likely to account for the difference of opinion by insinuating that the other is a natural man? In this case no candid and intelligent person can hesitate for a moment. On which side soever the self-sufficient person may be, as to the meaning of the text, he will be the one to reproach his brother as a

“ natural man." Candor, however, requires me to admit, that there may

have been instances in which good men in other respects have been so bewildered by custom, theory, or party feelings, as to adopt such an unchristian mode of proceeding. But I believe it to be a truth, that such a course is much more frequently resorted to by self-righteous hypocrites, than by men of truly Christian feelings; and that it behooves those who are in the habit of thus accounting for a dissent from their opinions, seriously to inquire how their conduct can be reconciled with gospel love and humility, and whether they are not in fact, in that deplorable state which they are so forward to impute to others.

Should any still imagine that it was the intention of Paul to represent every unconverted man as naturally incapable of knowing the true meaning of gospel precepts and doctrines, and that this is the reason why he misinterprets them; I may ask, on what ground can he be justly condemned for not receiving and obeying the truth? What better excuse can any man possess, for not doing the will of God than this, that he is naturally incapable of understanding the meaning of divine precepts and prohibitions ?

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If there be any blame in such a case, on whom does it fall ? on the creature, or his Creator?

Besides, if the natural man has no perception of the truth, how can he be said to hate the truth? Can he hate that which he does not perceive ? Should it be said that it is not the true meaning of Scripture that he hates, but a false meaning which he gives to the words ; what is this but saying in other words that it is falsehood, and not truth, that the sinner hates ?

Where there is no law there is no transgression, and surely there is no law to him who has not natural understanding to perceive what a law forbids or requires. The following are divine precepts—“Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not steal.” These are among

“the things of the spirit of God." But if the natural man perceives not their meaning, why should he be punished for apparent transgression ?

Some perhaps will plead that the words of Paul do not extend to such plain precepts and prohibitions, but are to be limited to the doctrines of the gospel. But how is this known ? The precepts and prohibitions of God are surely the best tests of the moral character, and they are as properly " the things of the spirit,” as the doctrines revealed. Besides, no man is blameable for not believing a doctrine which he does not and cannot understand, any more than for not obeying a precept which he never saw nor heard.

If the "things of the spirit of God," do not include all that is revealed by the spirit, who shall draw the line or set the limits between the things meant, and the things not meant? I may further observe, that he most important doctrines of the gospel are as plain and easy to be understood as the precepts and prohibitions. “Unto us there is but one God, the Father," is as plain as the first and great commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,” &c. “ Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God," is as plain as the precept, “ All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even the same to them.Now what is there in either of these doctrines or precepts which is not intelligible to an unconverted man, and as intelligible to him as to the converted, so far as mere intellect is concerned in understanding them? And are not these doctrines and precepts in fact understood by thousands of wicked men, as they are understood by good men ? The feelings aná relish of the heart

be very

different in the two classes of people. To the one the doctrines and precepts may be sources of delight, while the other regards them with indifference, and treats them with disrespect. If I understand the Scriptures, the defect of the sinner consists not in the want of natural understanding to “know his master's will,” but in the want of an obedient temper of heart.

It will perhaps be pleaded by some that Scripture propositions have an internal sense, different from the natural meaning of the words, and that this is what the natural man cannot discern. There are undoubtedly many passages of Scripture which have a mean. ing different from the common acceptation of the words. Our Lord once said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews who heard him supposed him to mean their splerdid house for worship, which they said had been forty-six years in building. “How beit," says the Evangelist," he spake of the temple of his body.” Now what is there in this internal sense, when thus explained, that is not easy to be understood by any unconverted man of common sense ? All the parables of Christ have a meaning distinct from the literal sense of the words. This may be called the internal sense, but when this sense is explained, it

may be as intelligible to a wicked man as to a good man. In explaining the parable of the sower, Christ said, “The seed is the word.” Now this is just as plain to an unconverted man as if he had said, “The seed is wheat.” When Jesus uttered the parable of the vineyard," the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him." Why so ? Not because they could not understand the meaning, but because “they perceived that he had spoken the parable against them.” Now this parable was one of “the things of the spirit of God," and yet these wicked Jews “perceived” the meaning, without waiting for an explanation. Those who were “cut to the heart" by the dying speech of Stephen, seem clearly to have understood what he spoke against them, though they were so wicked that they stoned him to death for his faithful reproofs and admonitions,

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