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for nothing; and he knew that wherever a system of outward ceremonies was enforced, they would be looked upon as valuable, however much this value was in words denied; the question for ever recurring, "If they are not valuable, why should we take the trouble of performing them?" And this is an eternal argument against the use of many outward ceremonies, or the imposing of them by public authority; because men will believe our actions more than our words, and when we require them to do a great number of things, telling them at the same time that they are in themselves of no value, we do but lose our labour; they will not believe a contradiction; being obliged to do the things, they will feel sure that they are not done for nothing. And this is one of the ways in which Christ's Gospel has been undermined; first by the ceremonies of the Jewish law, but presently afterwards by other ceremonies nominally Christian, but which were not Christian, and could not be so, inasmuch as they attacked the very main principle of Christianity, which places our justification in something wholly different, in Christ, and our faith in Him, and not in any outward acts or ceremonies whatever. It is then quite true, that St. Paul in condemning circumcision did condemn the law of ceremonies and forms, maintaining most decidedly that all such things were a snare, which would lead us away from our justifi

cation by Christ. Did he mean then to say only this, and is his great doctrine of justification by faith, no more than a repetition of the old Scripture, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice," or, "the sacrifices of God are a troubled spirit," &c.? Let any man look at the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and see whether the law there spoken of means the ceremonial law. His Gospel, it is true, did contain in it the truth declared in many parts of the Old Testament, that ceremonies (in themselves) had no virtue, that he who trusted in them trusted on a broken reed, and would surely fall. But it contained another truth far greater, that as no man could be justified by the law of ceremonies, because of its inherent unprofitableness, so neither could any man be justified by the law of spiritual holiness, because of his imperfect fulfilment of it.

The fruit of the one tree, the tree of outward rites, grew within his reach, he could gather it, he could eat it; but it was like the apples of Sodom, fair only without, full of dust and emptiness within. But the fruit of the tree of holiness was a fruit unto life everlasting: he who eats of that fruit must live for ever; only it grew so high that man could not reach it; there it flourished in his sight, his eyes acknowledged its beauty, his soul knew that its taste was life, but his hands could not gather it. And if he had turned as

siduously to look after the fruits which fell to the ground, and had picked them up bruised and soiled as they were, and had eaten them, and called them the fruits of the tree of life even in that spoiled state, and said that by their virtue he should live for ever, what was he but deceiving himself, and mistaking the soiled and sadly injured fruit which he had picked up from the ground, mingled with the inevitable defilements of the earth on which it had fallen, for that pure and life-giving fruit which grew on the tree high up in the heavens, which would have been life to him indeed, but which no power or art of his could gather?

Therefore, and therefore only, not for any defect in holiness in itself, God forbid! not because virtue is not essentially divine, but because what we call holiness and virtue are but the bruised and spoiled fruits which have fallen to the earth, and are not the same precious things with the fruits which God calls holiness and virtue; therefore, that we should not bow down to a vain thing, and put our trust in what was not trustworthy; St. Paul declared that by the fruits of neither tree could we be justified, neither by the ceremonies of the law, for they were vain, nor yet by the moral commandments of the law, for though holy and mighty to save in themselves, yet we could not keep them. And therefore declaring that by the law, whether ceremonial or moral, there would no flesh be justified,

he set forth another justification, not of works, whether ceremonial or moral, but of faith in Jesus Christ, whom God gave as the propitiation for our sins. We have seen why he denied justification by works; because the works which we could do would not justify any man, and the works which could justify we could not do. And now we will proceed from this point on another occasion, to explain, so far as we can, and are enabled to understand and to express it, the positive truth itself of justification by faith.

Only in the mean time, what help is there but that what I have said shall seem to some hard and utterly unprofitable; to others, put drily, and after the manner of man's discussions, and not as the living and spiritual truth, the fountain of all holy and pure affections, the seed of all acceptable practice and feeling in the sight of God. So it is, and so it must be, for explanation must be addressed to the understanding, and must be in itself somewhat cold. It is for those who have perceived a truth by their understanding, to give it over, if I may so speak, to other parts of their nature to feed upon, to draw from it its proper fruits. And these fruits Christian truth has in abundance, although we may, it is true, refuse to gather them. But if you have understood and will remember what has been said to-day, and will carry it on in your minds to its conclusion next


Sunday, you will find, I trust, that the whole subject is nothing abstract, nor dry, nor cold; but deserves to be, and must be, the centre of all our religious affections, the mother of holiness and of love.

February 20, 1842.

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