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N°. VII.




The similarity of the Epistle of Jude and one part of the Second Epistle of Peter, has attracted the attention of, I may say, all critical and most (even attentive) readers of scripture. All manner of speculations and methods of accounting for it have been resorted to and discussed, which I shall not now direct the attention of your readers. My increasing conviction is, that any one reading the word of God, with the help of the Holy Ghost, will know far more of it than any learned speculator. Such a one, in virtue of the way he takes it up, has not the key to scripture, and misses the proofs even of its divine authorship which shine out with unhindered brightness to one taught of God. It must be remembered that science on points of learning has no occupation where things are not obscure, and hence lives in doubt and darkness. Where

thing is clear and certain there is no use for it. My object will be here rather to notice the peculiar character and object of the epistles. I will only add this remark: the little attention I have been able to pay to the wanderings of the human mind, has convinced me that the blessed word of God has not only furnished direct truth from Him which is its most sweet and gracious Object, but it has met all the errors into which the working of the human mind about God had led it. When once one becomes ever so little familiar with these wanderings, the corrective analogies of scripture statements, the way in which the manner of teaching the truth meets them all, cannot fail to strike the mind. Infidels, who did not fail of course to find them out, and who had no sense at all of the holiness and grace which shines in the word and assures the simple mind who is its Author, and occupying themselves with mere external circumstances connected

with it, alleged they were borrowed from Egyptians, Alexandrian Jews, and I know not who else. Grave and serious men-as Gale's “ Court of the Gentiles," and the like-sought to shew that the Gentiles had borrowed them from the Jews. I do not myself believe either to be correct. Noah and the first patriarchs had a large knowledge of God as then revealed in creation, judgments and testimony; of promises, warnings, sacrifice, etc.: and as to the early events of divine history, they were much more familiar with the details than we are. But man did not like to retain God in His knowledge, and idolatry was set up, and with many traditions of these early times preserved, and various deeds of wickedness which made the mighty men which were of old the

men of renown" of after-ages, as scripture speaks, preserved in their memory, an immense system was established, in which shreds of ideas of the true God, mental speculations about Him, facts as to the deluge, its character, causes, and author, dim remembrance of Paradise, vivid recollections of wickedness before the flood, and of the persons spared in it, the greatness of men's rebellion exalting the men of renown into gods (while yet they are treated as reprobate, so as to puzzle mythologists), the sun, moon and stars brought in, peopled by the imagination with a personified existence of the departed great ones; a knowledge that the serpent was the cause of the evil and of knowledge, yet therefore worshipped as God, hence the flood looked at as vengeance, yet mixed with the serpent having to say to it; the deitication of the ark itself as a preserving mother connected with the earth itself as the womb of nature and of all things; and all this mixed up with the most degraded and degrading superstitions that corrupt human nature could indulge in, practised, yet mystified into abstract notions—all

were used by Satan to obscure and confound the mind, and leave to conscience, which he could not help, some possible, shady, Tartarus and Elysium, or the transmigration of souls, and, as Paul declares, some unknown god to be declared to them. The whole process is exactly depicted in Rom. i. Volumes of heathen mythology may be read—the whole result is there depicted. It is the most


perfect picture of it all, not a moral element of it lost. Now this to me is divinely perfect; it knows, judges the whole scene, and dismisses it with that just estimate, leaving the mind free to appreciate in the clear atmosphere of the true God's presence, and breathing that pure air, all that grace and truth can reveal in the

of Jesus Christ, and the gospel of His grace, to enjoy the truth. This is merely a striking example of what scripture is in this respect. I do not believe that there is a maze of falsehood (sometimes with elevated approximations to truth in the way of knowledge, but never to any relationship of man with God), not an error by which Satan has deluded man and kept him thus from God, which is not met in the word. We may have more need for this than we are perhaps aware of. My conviction is, that the world for the non-entity of infidelity cannot satisfy it-will fall back into delusions of mystical and mythological idolatry in a way very little suspected. Men will have no need to believe this. It may be a mental speculation for some, an image for the imagination for others, a habit acquiesced in by all; the power of Satan riveting the delusion on the mind. It has a hold which is not faith, but which is power over the mind of man. How many believed the golden image in the plain of Dura was a God? How many refused to bow down to it? And when once set up, acquiesced in, when for mercenary motives men have bowed to it, and thus their moral


power is lost; when power enforces it, amusements and ease, and national associations or hopes interest in it men ready to accept it, explaining it by mental subtleties connected with the mysterious power of nature, and, having abandoned conscience and the true God, having lost Itis safeguard, -Satan's network is complete, and the superior influence he exercises over their mind, besides the apparent wonders he may work, binds them without escape to that which they do not perhaps believe nor love: they cannot, -but are entangled in-like from interest, while they despise and fear. Allow me to make a remark here. One may ask, How should the blessed word of God occupy itself with all these horrible perversities. We have to be simple concerning evil, and wise

concerning that which is good ? Surely we are. And this is exactly what scripture has happily made men comparatively, wherever it has been received. These miserable horrors have died down even from society as a system, and been forgotten. Thank God it has ! It has been a deliverance of man even outwardly in relationship with God. And it is one of the perfections of scripture, that it has done it by the revelation of good, so as not to enter into, though briefly judging, in its moral character, the evil it met with in the world, and, as I have already said, has thus left the mind free to be occupied with good. God forbid that the saints should get out of this blessed position. It is just their special blessed privilege from God; and I believe the word to be their complete arming in every aspect, supposing always the strength and aid of the Holy Ghost-grace working in the heart. And see how wise in this is scripture, that is, our God in His word. When this kind of evil is met with, it is discovered and judged. A man versed in the mischief, finds it alluded to, judged, guarded against by the form of some truth. The simple saint gets the truth itself in all its power, and never learns the mischief at all. The moment one has learned it, it is condemned and shewn to be false. Man, in reasoning would have displayed—developed—all the evil to answer it, and filled the mind with it; but He who is goodness and light can dispel evil and darkness according to the perfectness of His divine wisdom, by the display of Himself, yet in such sort that no one but must see they are opposite to what he does display, if the mind has them before it: yet he who enjoys the good and the light has no need to turn to the other to know light is light, and goodness good. The measure in which God does touch on these confines of darkness is the measure in which in grace it is needed by men. Now the light of Christianity-I do not say its living power merely-has banished all these spectres of evil in their obvious and direct power; or rather they are become spectres, furnish the materials for mythological dictionaries, classical lore, and learned

spe. culation, Asiatic researches, Egyptian hieroglyphics, pantheons, or the newest raised winged bulls of Nineveh, to be gazed at in a museum. The public mind knows it. only thus; and hence the saint's mind has no connexion with it. But it was not so when the scriptures were written, the public mind was full of them, though philosophers began to speculate and to scorn, and many to be weary of them.

Still habits were all formed on them. When Paul healed an impotent man they were going to offer him sacrifice; and the dignified silence of Barnabas set him up to their minds as Jupiter; and the fervent discourse of Paul established him in their eyes as Mercury. If he was stung by a viper, Nemesis (vengeance) would not suffer him to live; and when he received no harm, they changed their minds, and said he was a God. As to the mass, this system was connected with power, and when they saw power, they still attributed it to what were devils, and not God; and so imbedded was this in their mind, that even speculative minds, the noveltyhunting Athenians, thought he was a setter forth of new Gods, because he preached Jesus and the resurrection, taking the last, I suppose, for a goddess. And so did this seek to encroach, through man, on the divine work to spoil it, that the spirit of Pythoness will announce Paul and Silas, the instruments and servants as those of the Most High God, not speaking indeed of Jesus, but accrediting herself by associating her testimony with them. And your Simon Magus would purchase this preferable power which threatened to eclipse his own, the hollowness of which he knew well enough to be surprised at the reality. The power of Satan was met by something like itself, only true and divine. When the mind now pries into the evil then prevalent, it discovers the allusion. Scriptures do take up the fables of idolatry which were then clothed with the energy of Satanic power, and alludes to and judges them. They preceded the judgment pronounced upon them, and the forms in which truth was expressed so as to condemn them, and deliver the enslaved mind. Jewish ceremonialism was a laborious system to preserve by most gracious care some men at least in the knowledge of the true God, and that knowledge by them, when the degradations of abominable idolatries were carrying all before them, till the true Light

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