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which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die." The terms righteous and wicked, here, are evidently not based on any covenanted relations, such as those of the Jewish people to God; but on personal character and actual conduct. We find here, verbally at least, the unmitigated language of the old Jewish law: "This do and live." Should we adopt this passage of Scripture as our standard and test, all might seem clear and easy upon the subject. But this facility is only deceptive; we are met at once by the proofs of the alloyed and imperfect nature of all human deeds, and are forced to yield at once to Paul's conclusion that "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." The question then arises, Has not the gospel in some degree modified the austere demands of this law? Has it not substituted for it a gentler code, having more pity for the weakness of human purposes and efforts? If so, we must, in deciding on this subject, lay by the ancient code; and judge according to the later and more lenient rule. But, some one will say: Surely the gospel cannot be more favorable to sin than the law. Not more favorable, and yet more lenient. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Of which grace an apostle says, "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." It does not appear then that we shall best follow the spirit of the gospel by endeavoring to conform our opinions to all the strictness of this ancient rule.

True, the beloved disciple seems to lay down the same rule when he writes: "Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous;" from which it may plausibly be argued, that an immaculate life alone could entitle one to claim that name of righteous. But he also writes, "My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Now we think that no one will dispute that John and his brethren might properly be called right


Yet it appears they might have sins which would need an advocate with the Father. Can we not perceive here the spirit of a divine tenderness, which, while with one uplifted hand it averts the sweeping, merciless sword of the ancient law that strikes at all sin, with the other draws the sinner away from his guilty course, seeking by the sweet counsel of mercy to win his soul wholly to virtue? By the Apostle's language in this place, however, we are given clearly to understand that we can not distinguish the righteous as those who do not sin. Hence results the conclusion that the question before us is by no means to be decided wholly by men's conduct. We might bring many facts to confirm this view. For example, Paul, in Gal. vi. 1, gives directions in what manner the man who is "overtaken in a fault" is to be dealt with, plainly shewing that among the righteous, (for such must the members of those early churches be accounted,) there were sins; or in other words, that the righteous were not to be distinguished by their never doing wrong.

We find then, that we cannot practically establish the distinctive line between the righteous and the wicked, upon the outward acts of men. For, leaving the question whether the wicked ever do good acts, we have certainly ascertained that the righteous !sin, and are admonished, and as sons chastened accordingly. This view seems so abundantly sustained by the whole scope of the New Testament, that it would appear to be needless to argue the point further. Yet, as it may seem to conflict with the important rule given by our Saviour, when he said of men, "By their fruits shall ye know them," it may be proper to devote a moment to the consideration of the relation which the decision we have just announced sustains to this divine maxim. Let us notice, in the first place, the widely different purpose of the two propositions. The rule of our Saviour just referred to, is intended to teach us how to judge of others. The rules which we are searching for, are designed mostly to help us to decide a matter of more immediate importance to ourselves, namely, our own spiritual condition. They place us on that most important stand-point, to which the Scriptures are to a great extent adjusted, where we may carefully consider our own relations to divine truth. They lead us to consider the bearing



of the rules and doctrines of the divine word on our own hearts and consciences. One prominent purpose which this discussion may, it is hoped, subserve, is to bring this subject more closely home to our people, and to lead us to ask ourselves, Have we entered into the kingdom of Christ, or are we still standing without?

We think that the test which we seek can be found by every man in his own heart. To the same view looks the apostolic injunction: "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." We must search out that deep ground in the heart on which rest all our professions, confessions, and confidence in our religious state.

After so many preliminaries, let us now announce distinctly where we think this dividing line, which separates the righteous from the wicked, is to be found. It is in the leading or prevailing intent of the heart; the attitude, so to speak, of the soul. It is defined in the following words of Paul: Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness." So when we determine within ourselves to adhere to Christ and his doctrine, to make his law our rule of life, and his example our pattern, we may then justly style ourselves righteous, and claim to ourselves the priv ileges of that state, although we find at times the law in our members warring against the law in our minds, and subjecting us, as momentary captives, not as willing servants, to sin.

When we speak, as above, of a determination to adhere to Christ, we intend of course an abiding decision, and not a mere momentary resolve. We mean that this shall be and remain the ruling motive and predominating desire of the soul. We mean that the face shall be continually set Zion-ward, and the soul be true to the deep influences of Christian love.

The magnetic needle thus is true to the pole; other and more powerful influences nearer at hand, may cause it to swerve; yet still it struggles to turn towards the centre of its vital loyalty; and when the distracting substance is withdrawn, returns trembling to point again towards the pole, in obedience to its permanent inner law. When

we find that this virtue exists in it, we do not hesitate to pronounce that it is a magnetic needle, in contradistinction to all common needles, even though it may be for the time deflected from the true point.

So the righteous man may be drawn away from his faithfulness to the Christian law; in the world's conflicting influences he may tremble, and waver, and cry for help; but when he settles it is on loyalty to duty, devotion to truth, faith in Christ, and love to God. And if a man finds this loyalty in his heart, he may appropriate to himself those messages of the divine word which speak to the righteous. Then may he place himself along side the early Christian, and join him in repeating these words, a meditation on which has led to the writing of this article: "Seeing then that we have a great high-priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. iv. 14, 15, 16. But how can he hold fast a profession who dares not, even in his secret soul, to make one. He does not draw the gospel to his bosom, but holds it at arms-length from him. It is a great error of our denomination that we repudiate these Christian tests and professions. The mischief of this error is seen in the fact that a large number of our most amiable and devoted men and women, are placed in a false position, where they neither enjoy the privileges, nor attain to the ripeness, of Christian character, which is their proper due. It is painful to know that such persons often hesitate or are unable to give a definite answer when asked if they are Christians, or have experienced religion. Whereas if they did justice to themselves, and to that Christian truth in which they trust, and to which they are loyal, they should give a most decided or at least hopeful affirmative. Grant if you will that the current questions upon this topic are often deeply tainted with cant, and disfigured with misconceptions and formalism. Still beneath all this they contain the root of a question of the deepest importance. It is one which every person should be

ready to "answer to every man that asketh a reason of the hope that is in him, with meekness and fear." 1 Pet. iii. 15.

The apostolic direction, that such hopes, and their reasons, are to be stated with meekness and fear, brings to mind another practical objection which operates among us to deter many of our best spirits from any attempt to decide definitely their spiritual state. This religious state is often claimed, and its consequences, or more frequently its supposed consequences, are asserted with such a tone of spiritual arrogance as to disgust a really religious mind. The ineffable airs of spiritual aristocracy with which a party, who style themselves "we saints," lord it over another portion of God's heritage, which with whining pity they style "you sinners," is indeed utterly repulsive to a mind which has truly caught the spirit of Christian humility and gentleness. But we deeply wrong ourselves if we permit this folly to prevent us from enjoying, and professing, Christian confidence and hope, and giving our reasons therefor with meekness and fear.

Surely we may conceive that one should say in his own heart, or profess to the world, that he is in the kingdom of "God's dear Son;" that he has "passed from death unto life;" that he is "born of God ;" that he has “purified his soul in obeying the truth;" without any spiritual pride, boasting, or arrogance. Indeed, is it not easy to see how these professions must inspire one, who rightly conceives of them, with a more complete self renunciation, and a more heartfelt humility. And are we prepared to say that none now may claim and appropriate to themselves these primal expressions of our faith. Is it indeed become impossible that any one should claim, except under the charge of arrogance, spiritual pride, or undue pretension, that to him is fulfilled those words of our Saviour so profoundly deep in their meaning of spiritual help and divine peace: he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John xiv. 23. Who would dare formally to maintain such a theory? Who dares believe that the spiritual world has receded into some such cold, drear winter solstice, far away from God? And what

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