Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

tivities and states-the law of its mode of existence. It is that out of which habit grows, from which every single action ultimately proceeds. There is a nature in the lion, the dog, the tiger, which determines their manner of life-a nature in all beings, which makes them as they are. Without it there could be no character, no habits, no consistent operations. All action would be fortuitous. and arbitrary. In itself we cannot define it, belonging as it does to that class of things which, incomprehensible in themselves, and incapable of being represented in thought, are yet matters of necessary belief. But as there are, within the sphere of our daily experience, various generic dispositions, each of which serves as the basis of very different habits, there is nothing incredible in supposing that there may be one great central disposition, in which all others are grounded. The general temper of sadness has numberless manifestations; the same is true of joy; and there may be a temper or tone of mind in which all virtuous activities are united. To

illustrate the all-pervading influence of holiness as a nature, the Scriptures employ the striking analogy of life. When we ask the question what is life, we soon become sensible that we are dealing with a subject that eludes the capacity of thought. We cannot seize it in itself; we see its effects; we witness its operations; we can mark the symptoms which distinguish its presence. But the thing itself no mortal mind can apprehend. We can only speak of it as the unknown cause of numberless phenomena which we notice. Where is life? Is it here and not there? Is it there and not here? Is it in the heart, the head, the hands, the feet? vades the man-it is the

dispensable condition of the

It evidently per

condition, the in

organic action of

every part of the frame. The body may be perfect in its structure: it may have every limb, and nerve, and muscle, and foreign influences may be made to mimic the operations of life; but if life be not there, these actions, or rather motions, are essentially distinct from those of the living man. In like manner

holiness pervades the soul. Though not a habit, nor a collection of habits, it is the indispensable condition of them all. It is not here nor there, but is diffused through the whole man—the understanding, the will, the conscience, the affections-it underlies all dispositions and habitudes, and is felt in all the thoughts and desires. All moral qualities inhere in it, as properties inhere in substance. It is to the moral faculties of man what extension is to matter the very form of their existence.

The

As natural life has its characteristic functions, so spiritual life has its distinguishing tendencies. They all point to God. very essence of a holy nature is sympathy with the Divine perfections—a state of the soul which harmonizes with the Divine willwhich attracts it to God-which produces a communion, a fellowship, a familiarity, if I may so speak, that instinctively detects the impressions of God, wherever they are found. It is fundamentally the principle of LOVE to Him; its true expression is that of union with

Him; and even where there is no direct reference to His name, it gives tone and complexion to all moral and intellectual exercises. This love to God, not as a single habit, not as a series of particular affections, but as the ground-form of all, as the fundamental law of their manifestation, is the nearest approach we can make to the description of holiness as a state. This is the reason why fellowship with God must be the perfection of a holy being. Love demands it. Communion is the life of love; and this, too, is the reason why love is said to be the fulfilling of the lawnot that benevolence or any individual sentiments of kindness-not even that gratitude to God or the adoration and praise of His excellencies, as single and independent exercises, fulfil the law, but that state of the soul which is in deepest harmony with God, and finds its full manifestation only in a sense of union and correspondence with Him, contains the elements of all true virtue. Here is their centre of unity, and their point of divergence. Schleiermacher was right in making the es

sence of religion, subjectively considered, to be feeling, in the extended sense which he has given to that term; but he was wrong in making that feeling, a sense of absolute dependence upon God. Had he put love for dependence, and distinguished between it as a pervading tone of the mind, and as manifested in special operations, his analysis would have coincided substantially with that of the beloved Apostle: He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him. So also there is a subjective unity in sin. Depravity, like holiness, is a generic state-the law of a mode of existence and operation. It is denominated in the Scriptures death, and the term is happily chosen, as it impressively exhibits its pervading influence upon all the powers and faculties of the man. The ques

tion of total depravity could never have been raised, if the Scripture notion of depravity had been steadily apprehended. It must

either be total or not at all. The man who is dead is dead all over. As the ground-form of holiness is love to God, or rather the spirit

« ForrigeFortsæt »