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penances and sacrifices of self-instituted worship, been designed.
This was virtually tho question which was engaging and beginning to agitate the mind of Europo at the commencement of the sixteenth century, and soon produced that discord and division which He foretold who was Himself "the truth," and had appeared to testify it in our world—" I came not to send peace on the earth, but a sword." The tyranny of Rome, which had at that time reached its height, and spread its delusions over almost every land, had framed and imposed the huge error on the mind of the nations, (or at least had attempted so to do,) that the above momentous inquiry was to be answered by the merit of human doings; and that these, according to a fixed scale of rising or declining value, which it held in its own hands, would secure just so much, and no more, of the favour and goodwill of an offended God. It had set itself up to bo both mediator and judge between the consciences of men and tho supremo tribunal of the universe, and affected to dispense peaco and pardon in its own name, and in tho name of the Infinite Majesty, to erring mortals, on the ground of penances to be endured, or works to be performed, or payments to be made, in obedience to its own demands, and in accordance with its own prescribed rules. This daring usurpation it had sustained now for some ages past, and this awful delusion it had spread with all tho diligenco of priestcraft, and all the " deceivablenes3 of unrighteousness," through the nations around. It was an error of gigantic magnitude, and of dire consequences! At once it robbed the Almighty of his glory, and man of his hope. It sullied the perfection of tho Divine law, and undermined all its claims. It contemned the rights of eternal justice, and darkened the lustre of eternal love. It reduced to a nullity the cross of Emmanuel, and left mercy, in its noontido splendour there, shorn of all its beams.
The grace of God was frustrated: the work of Christ was suspended: tho offers of a free and full salvation were withheld: and tho " glad tidings " of redemption were misrepresented or unknown. Tho results were disastrous. It was insult to Heaven — mockery on earth. The soul had no rostingplace: human hope no anchor: the guilty conscience no relief: and prayer no reason, and no plea, at tho foot of the Divine throne. All was darkness —all was confusion—all was lost! A wreck had happoned to the dearest interests, aspirations, and prospects of humanity; and in the midst of tho calamity no other than a spurious help and feigned deliverance was at hand; whilst of that help none could avail themselves, for, in addition to its own feebleness and insufficiency, it set up a rival to the only powor that could avail, and the only arm that could bring salvation.
The question was, Is it " of works," or "ofgrace?" Is it of God, or of man? Of Christ, or of the sinner ?— that righteousness which justifies: which procures acceptance before the supreme Lawgiver, and causes man to be treated as if he had never sinnod and never fallen? On whom shall a feeble creature, immortal, accountable, and guilty, depend? On himself, or another? On his own doings and sufferings, or on those which constitute the righteousness and atonement of the Son of God?
Just at this time, God was working in secret for tho solution of this inquiry, and preparing an instrument by his providence and Spirit for the manifestation of it before Europe and the world. There was a young man in the heart of Gormany, in a convent at Erfurth, amongst the secluded and solitary there, on whose soul this tremendous question had long weighed with more than ordinary power, and whoso deepest feelings it had agitated, even as the lake is tossed by tho violent storm. It had impelled him from one expedient to another; aud through all tho successive stages of a liberal education it had followed him, to rise and deepen with his progress in the knowledge of himself, of literature, of science, and of the ecclesiastical studies of the day. In all these he had sought rest, aud found none. It haunted his spirit by night and noon; in solitude and in society; in the family and in the school; in the university, alid now in the convent to which he had betaken himself With the hope of finding refuge there. There were no means which he left untried, aud no imposed form of devotion, or attention to the external coromonies of religion, With which he was not willing to comply. He was an earnest disciple of tho Church of Homo. He had readily observed all her prescribed rites and ordinances: and of fastings, penances, and prayers, he might have said, as one before him had of the institutions of Pharisaism, " All these have I kept from my youth.'' But miserable comforters were they all. He found no peace within. They left liiin a stranger to light, to hope, to consolation; and the storm agitated bis bosom still. He saw, ho felt the overhanging wrath of God. The thunders of Sinai sounded in his cars; and its awful lightnings flashed conviction deeper into his soul. He wept, ho prayed, he wrestled, he feared, he fainted! It was a9 if the fountains of the great deep were broken up within him; whilst over him the heavy clouds were gathoriug, and tho rising waves of grief and despondency wore threatening soon to overwhelm him. Again he retired: again he wrestled: again he disputed with the world, the flesh, and the devil. To work out his owu salvation was all his thought, all his aim, all his hope. He had no other idea: at that time he had no other resort. Distressed, distracted, and alone, he threw himself ou the cold floor of tho monastery in which he lived, while over and auon the sigh of liia spirit burst forth to break its silence
with tho anxious inquiry, "How BhaU man be just with God?"
Deliverance Was near. That gracious Being that "Bliowetli mercy," was at hand. "He will not contend for ever, neither will he bo always wroth, lest the spirit should fail beforo him, and the soul which ho hath made." He " will not suffer us to be tempted above What we are able, and will with the temptation also make a way for our escape." There was a Bible in the room of the convent in which the sufferer lay. He turned his eyes upon it. It was chained; but it was liberty to the captive, and the opening of tho prison to one that was bound. Ho read therein. He moistened it with his tears, and perfumed it with his prayers. Not more carefully did his father dig in the mines of Mansfeldt for the precious ore, than tho young Luther now searched the Scriptures, that he might And therein the " pearl of great price." Ho sought, and found. One precious truth after another engaged his astonished and enraptured view. He read: "Not by works of righteousness which wo have done, but according to bis mercy, he saved us by the washing of water and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cloaUseth from all sin." "The Lord our righteousness." "Him thatcometli to nie I will in no wise cust out."
It was euough. It was all his salvation; all bis desire. Henceforth and for ever, that sacred volume shall bo tho guide of his inner man, aud the light of bis soul. Ho studied it by night; he perused it by day. Sometimes a whole day was occupied in pondering ono of the precious truths he had discovered therciu, especially when it bore upon the great subject of his mental controversy, and the question of his personal acceptance with God. Gradually bis mind was illumined; his heart found peace; and the burden of his guilt fell as lie stood aud gar.ed upon the Crucified Que. At onoe he saw the awful delusion in which, for years, he had heen trained; and as he persevered and meditated, the "mystery of iniquity " became more and more revealed to his view, lie descried his fearful mistake. His eyes were opened just on the brink of the precipice to which Rome had conducted him, and from which all her strategy and power could not deliver him. Her superstitions had propounded to him an enormous lie, Instead of the truth of God, and it could not stand. The falsehood was now exposed. The proud fabrio of human merit fell, and left him alone in its ruins. The self-inflictions of a voluntary humility could bring him no relief. The grace of Christ alone could save. The righteousness of Christ alone could justify. And like Jonah, as he escaped from the belly of hell, he joyfully exclaimed, " Salvation is of the Lord 1"
Such was the process by which the great Reformer discovered and felt the doctrine of justification by faith in the perfect righteousness of the Bon of God. in him it was the heart of humanity conflicting with Rome. In this ho was the representative man, struggling through the darkness, bursting the fetters, and at length escaping the gloom, and coming into the liberty of the children of God.
Not to himself alone, not in vain for others, was that cardinal truth of Christianity and brightest beam of Holy Writ thuB revealed to the mind of Luther, and so powerfully Impressed on his inmost soul. It had been presented to him, and its infinite importance and value had been apprehended by "him, in a way and amidst circumstances that were calculated to brighten the discovery, and seal the impression on his heart. A sense of his own vileness and guilt, his native helplessness and misery, had produced a feeling of utter selfdespair, and disclosed to his view the absolute insufficiency of any works or attainments of his own, and of those of all other created beings, to bring peace
to his mind, or seouro his acceptance with a holy God. In vain was he recommended to rites and penances, to confession and absolution, to the priests and to the fathers, to the halls of science, or to the shrines of the saints. They could not supply his want. They could not relievo him of his burden. They could not calm the tempest of his soul. But the rising of tho "bright and morning Star" did. The glories of the Sun of Righteousness dispelled all the illusions of his mind, and dissipated tho mists of error, darkness, and doubt, in which he had been so long involved. Now he saw "the truth," and the truth had made him free. That truth, that one glorious truth of salvation, had taken deep hold of his spirit, and it was to be his theme, his charter, his guide, and his aim, through all the future days of his life. It had brought joy and peace to him in believing. It had ended the strife where wit and reason failed. It had healed his wounded spirit, and bound up his broken heart, and poured the halm of consolation over all the powers of his being, when nothing else could have ministered such relief; and how now could he but rejoice over it, and be enamoured with it, and view it as the most precious gift of God's lovo to man? All his hopes, and joyB, and treasure were there. It had proved to him "the day-spring from on high," and as lifo from the dead,—"As the light of the morning when the sun ariseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by dear shining after rain."
Happy was it for himself, for tho Church of God, for Europe, for the world, that it was so. In the soul of Luther it was like the mustard-seed cast into the earth, which was to spring, and rise, and become an expanding tree, in whose branches multitudes might find shelter and repose. It Wbb the opening of a well of water, which was to " spring up into everlasting life," and overflow its boundaries to irrigato the nations in its course thitherwards. It did. God had given to the youthful monk of Wittemherg a mind formed for great purposes, and the accomplishment of glorious things. Large, elastic, indomitable, and aspiring, it was the very mind to receive, to grasp, and then to propagate, a truth of infinite moment to the spiritual interests of his generation. Cultivated by education, exercised in the schools of philosophy and of literature, familiar with all the prescriptions and impositions of Borne, and endowed with courage which nothing could intimidate or dismay, he seemed the very man to wage war with any species of oppression 'or deceit which bore upon the moral prospects of mankind. Moreover, he had now been taught in the sohool of grace. He had sat at the feet of the great Teacher. When Christ has need of a special instrument to perform his work, he prepares it by suitable previous discipline, and thus brings it forth, as a polished shaft in his quiver, to execute his designs. And so he did with his appointed servant now. That mental process through which he had passed; that deep insight which he had obtained into the spiritual necessities of his own nature; that awful conflict with himself and with Satan, the very remembrance of which was anguish to his soul, had but prepared him to embrace, with more than joyous welcome, the blessed truth of redemption, and to resolve that, having bought it so dearly, neither earth nor hell should again wrest it from his hands. Accordingly, he held it fast, and " sold it not." Not all the attractions of superior power, nor the promises of ecclesiastical promotion, could induce him to part with it; nor all the threats of imperial wrath, or indignant Home, induce him to renounce it. "They would have forgiven me all," said ho on one occasion, "if I would but have written down six letters—Rtvoco" (I recant). But no. It is impossible. He is willing
to suffer all things for the gospel's sake He will endure the reproaches of some, the pity of others, the scorn of more. He will fight with men, " as with beasts at Ephesus." Ho will withstand Tetzel to the faco, and confront him for his horrid traffic in indulgences, and such soul-destroying ware. He will write his theses, and affix them to the door of the church at Wittemberg, that all may see them. He will attend a " Council, and vindicate them there." He will go to Worms, " though he should have to encounter as many devils as there were tiles on the houses of the city." He will burn the Pope's bull in the view of all Christendom, for the glorious tmth which he has found, and for its propagation throughout Europe and tho world.
Such was tho man—the man of God —the man of his age—the man of his generation. He honoured God, and God honoured him. The same graco that distinguished Saul of Tarsus among the apostles, rendered Luther pre-eminent among the Reformers. A dispensation was committed to him. He had one great mission to fulfil, one special work to perform. It was to "bear the name of Christ," and to exalt His merit as the only and all-sufficient Saviour, "before the Gentiles and kings," and the children of his people. For this he lived; for this he laboured; for this he suffered. It was to spread the doctrine of complete justification through the righteousness of Christ, imputed to, and received by faith alone, that he dared and endured all. This was the key-stone of the arch he threw —the foundation of the structure he reared—the compass of his voyage— the polar star of his horizon. He saw its fulness—its Divine authority—its adaptation to the necessities and weakness' of our fallen nature, and he durst not "hold that truth in unrighteousness," by withholding it from his fellow-men. It glowed in all bis sermons; it pervaded all his writings. To illustrato it, amidst prodigious labours, he published his "Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians;" and in his solitude in the Castlo of Wartburg, translated into his native tongue the whole record of the wonderful works of God. That was a boon Germany had never received before; a gift in which her sons rejoice to thi9 day. It diffused, it has perpetuated, it enshrines the truth for which Luther contended, and the might of which enabled him to evade all the stratagems, and endure ail the fury, of the apostate Church of Rome. And when she shall have exhausted all the resources of her deceit and her tyranny, and tho fountains of her corruption are dried up, and of her imposing hierarchy nothing is loft but the rains, that truth shall survive, to tell the secret of her fall, and to disclose tho power that inflicted the mortal blow. She gave not God tho glory. She laid prostrate- in the dust the finished work of the eternal Son, to exalt in its stead an imaginary righteousness and merit of her own. She took from man the only ground of his hope, and left him in tho moral universe, a debtor of ten thousand talents to his righteous Sovereign, with nothing to pay. She had been intrusted with the deed of Heaven's conveyance, which brought tho pardon down, free, full, and irrevocable;
but this she had concealed, defaced, and buried beneath the accumulated heap of her superstitions and traditions, the rubbish of ages. But that revelation of eternal love "cannot be hid." Like the orb of day, when he conquers tho mist of a wintry sky, or as ho emerges from his ocean bed, it shall still warm the earth and spread light over the nations. As " tho Article of a standiug or falling church," which the illustrious Reformer pronounced it to bo, judged by that staudard, the mystic Babylon shall fall never to rise again; whilst tho church of the living God shall lift up her head, and triumph in her glorious inheritance, tho Bacred deposit intrusted to her care. That deposit is the cardinal truth of salvation, "moro precious than rubies, and all the things that can be compared to it,"—than "the chief things of the ancient mountains, and the precious things of tho lasting hills;" that truth which alone can give peace to the conscience, hope in life, victory in death, and the prospect of eternal happiness beyond it. "Being justified freely by his grace," through faith in the Beloved. "Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." "In tho LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory."
DR CHANNING AND SOCINIANISM.
Socisianism has often been characterized as "tho half-way house to Infidelity." Of late years it has been giving many proofs of the legitimacy of its claims to this unenviable distinction, in the eagerness manifested by 6ome of its disciples to perform any service that might help to undermine the authority of revelation, and advanco the cause of unbelief. Theodore Parker in America, the Martineaus in England, and others of the same school
whom we might name, are now among its most efficient promoters. Disregarding the indestructible evidence by which tho Bible is proved to be from God, they are labouring to bring it down to the level of other books,—like them, containing somewhat that is good, with much that is either questionable or bad, and requiring, therefore, tho discriminating exercise of the human reason to embrace the one and reject tho other. Of course, while the