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Theological Notes and Queries.
[The utmost freedom of independent thought is permitted in this department. The reader must therefore use his own discriminating faculties, and the Editor must be allowed to claim freedom from responsibility.]
MAN'S POWER OF RESISTING
REPLICANT. In answer to QUERist, No. 13, p. 269 and 316. It is much to my surprise that I am referred to the Article on Matt. xvii. 24–27, for a reply to my inquiry. On the contrary, it was this Article that suggested the question ; for I there read (page 183) "It [the Temple tax] was not the tax of a heathen despot, to support a pagan temple, or to carry on the horrid trade of war. I cannot suppose that Christ would have yielded to such impious and unrighteous imposts, He would have resisted such iniquitous demands."
Now, as the Cæsars were certainly heathen despots; and as the Roman revenues did certainly go to maintain an idolatrous religion, and a gigantic system of military conquest; it seems to me that, either our Lord's sentence respecting the payment of the Tribute
REPLICANT. In answer to QUERIST, No. 16, p. 270. The query of P. M. H. is one which may fairly be discussed. The Querist evidently assumes that man has the power of resisting temptation. Believing that such a doctrine is a thoroughly Biblical one and that it is only the reasonable act of an intelligent being to state the grounds of his faith, perhaps you will permit me to make a few remarks in reference to the suggestions on pages 316, 17.
To every sane man in all climes and ages, the Great Creator has given a moral compass to enable him to avoid the wrong and follow the right. This moral compass we call conscience. The Decalogue was clearly declared to man in the full recognition of his possessing this inward monitor. It is the office of conscience to guide and to govern the volition and actions of man. “It was upon the authority of the law of natural conscience that Paul appealed to the Romans.” The whole Bible in fact is one grand continuous argument in favor of the moral freedom and independence of man.
It is trite to call this world a probationary state, but it is one in the fullest sense of the
money (Matt. xxvii. 17.)* must be understood as prohibitory ; or, supposing it undecisive, some other Scripture must contain such a prohibition; or the writer of the Article referred to has assumed an untenable position. The question is one of immense practical importance; and it challenges a direct and definite reply.
E. J. J.
* Numisma census.
words. As the material world is and holiness in man? I am liv. beautifully and wonderfully adap- | ing under a moral government in ted to develop and meet the re- which I find temptation is essenquirements of man's physical na- tial to my spiritual well-being. ture, so is the moral system Unless temptation assails me in devised by the Almighty, marvel- an alluring and powerful form, it lously fitted to meet all the wants does not probe and try my moral of, and to test and strengthen, nature, and therefore can prove of man's spiritual nature.
no earthly or heavenly virtue to Between the cradle and the me.—How true is the remark that grave we are daily, on this re- has been made by one of our livvolving planet, undergoing a great ing preachers that, training process.
Our highest faculties and deepest feelings are
“The virtue of many men is but vice
sleeping," continually being appealed to. It is ever onwards and upwards, or Temptation is the only effeconwards and downwards. We
tual instrumentality for qualifyhave no stand-point in time. For ing man for a higher state of every thought, word and deed we
existence. It brings out his chaare held accountable.
racter, and by it alone is a man Cowper in the lines
found to be just or unjust, pure
or unclean, true or false. Job's “ Binding nature fast in fate Left free the human will,"
history strikingly illustrates the
truth of this view. Temptation forcibly expresses the respon- brought out the triumphant god. sibility of man. With all our liness of the man. Sin is temptafreedom and accountability we tion yielded to. How incumbent are nevertheless by no means in upon us it is to be ever vigilant ; a state of isolation.
for whilst we have here no abidThe thought of the resources ing city, an active, deadly influwhich are within the reach of ence, that never slumbers or rests, every one of us is almost over- is unceasingly trying and proving whelming. There is the Great Father, the loving Redeemer, the In ethics as in physics the Great Guiding Spirit around us Father of all maintains a due reand above us. Man has only to lation between cause and effect. give an upward, earnest, appeal- He who tempers the wind to the ing, glance for aid, and he secures shorn lamb will assuredly never it.
allow a man to be tempted in any Almighty love and wisdom called way beyond his power—that is, us into being, and God's ways beyond his ability or strength to are, and ever have been, just to resist. man. Our moral dignity is in our To speak of irresistible temp, own hands and under a merciful tation, is to utter a solecism and discipline we must work out our to involve the speaker in inextriown salvation by availing our- cable difficulties. If a temptation selves of the ordained means and be possibly irresistible-man's rekeeping the divine law.
sponsibility terminates, and the Without diverging into the government of God would not question of the origin of evil, i harmonize with the principles of would ask whether its existence eternal justice. is not absolutely necessary to the Poor man if he cannot but development and growth of virtue! yield, verily God's law is too hard
for him. Temptations beset him to which he must succumb Man is tempted beyond his strength to withstand, and to be overcome by temptation becomes literally a legitimate mode of expression.
In such a case man is clearly reduced to the creature of circumstances. His will is governed by his motives, and his motives have their origin in the influences and events of the hour.
Now the experience of all men will oppose this and declare it counterfeit. God is always good ; and although every one of us has had to do battle with dark thoughts and knows the potent influence of temptation we must all confess that no sin has been committed by us that we were compelled to commit.
Sin is the transgression of law; and whenever
have been tempted to do the wrong, we have always had the power, the strength, the ability to say-no. When we have yielded and sinned, in the sad hour of sin we were exercising the fearful prerogative of our nature, and there was the right path before us. Conscience moreover tells us that inasmuch as the deed was wrong, not a compulsory one, it was indeed our own act and avoidable.
The goodness of the Creator and the freedom of the creature are deduced from the doctrine of the querist, and it subordinates temptation to the welfare of man and the glory of God.
The doctrine specially manifests the necessity for cultivating good principles and a prayerful and watchful spirit. Life is short and uncertain, and our warfare a spi. ritual one. “Resist the devil and he will flee.” Let us glory in our freedom; and whilst realizing the momentous responsibilities which weigh upon us, may we not rely upon our own arm of flesh, but rely upon Him who is King over all now and for ever.
The doctrine is a scriptural one. May it conduce to our progress in Christian truth and excellence. “By their fruits shall ye know them.” ORA ET LABORA.
Queries to be answered in our next
Pulpit and its Three Handmaids.
HISTORY, SCIENCE, ART.
THE EVILS OF VANITY AS ILLUSTRATED IN HAYDON THE ARTIST.
The life of Haydon, a modern painter of considerable celebrity, furnishes a painful example of the mischief which results from an over estimation of our own abili. ties. The autobiography of the
number. 21. Is the Magisterial character of God as distinguished from His Parental anything more than a theological fiction? If so, Is there any just reason for supposing that He ever does, or ever can do in that capacity anything different to what His Love as the Infinite Father would dictate !
unfortunate artist is written with much honesty, and discloses the source of his deep sorrows, whilst it records them. In early life he manifested a great aversion to the ordinary duties of life. When he commenced his career as a painter, he adopted what he loved
to speak of as “the grand style." a disposition on his part to allow There can be no difference of " the grand style
to intrude opinion among reasonable men, elsewhere besides his studio. In that one of the first duties of 1820 the artist believed that he every mortal man who cannot was entering on a career more live without eating, and cannot splendid than had ever been the be comfortable without suitable lot of an English painter. His clothing and lodging, is to en- picture, “ The Entry of Christ deavor to provide these essentials into Jerusalem,” was exhibited for himself, and those dependent in London and was received with on him. If a hero, here is to be unqualified and enthusiastic apmanifested the first effort of his probation. It met with a recepheroism; if a genius, here should tion equally favourable in Edinbe witnessed the earliest flights burgh and Glasgow. By the mere of his genius ; if a poet, here is display of this celebrated painting, room for his primary struggle the artist cleared the sum of two after what is beautiful.
thousand two hundred pounds. Poor Haydon was far more dis- This large amount, with all that posed to cast his share of the he had received from numerous common burden on his immediate
sources, did not relieve him from acquaintance, or on the common- pecuniary embarrassment. His wealth. The smaller and the friends were now numerous, and larger circle, not having as yet many of them were wealthy :sufficient evidence of his pre- from these he obtained, as loans, eminent worth, were somewhat considerable sums of money. All tardy in supporting him in this these however proved insufficient. manner. It was quite evident he He borrowed therefore from those could paint well; and if he would who were not so patient, and was condescend to paint portraits, soon placed in the King's Bench and such other pictures as his Prison. He was released through friends and the public wanted, the generosity of those who adthere were those who would re- mired his genius, and pardoned imburse him liberally. Such his follies. But a haughty spirit efforts however were regarded by soon led him to do battle with Haydon as beneath his notice; the “ Academy," and so to esand he was consequently in great trange many of his best friends. danger of starving, whilst en- His sufferings became extreme, gaged in painting some great and much of his time was spent picture by which his fortune was in prison ; indeed he long reto be made, and his name immor- garded it as his home. Within its talized. It is evident, however, precincts he painted the “Chairing that he did possess great power,
of the Member,” depicting on canand that circumstances did largely vass a mirthfulness to which his favor him. About the year 1814 soul had long been a stranger. Haydon received five hundred Other pictures were executed in guineas for one of his pictures, the same undesirable abode. The named “The Judgment of Solo- artist, gifted as he undeniably mon.” The sum was sufficient was, could not now extricate himto pay off such debts as he ought self from the thorny mazes into not to have contracted, and would which his own pride of heart bad have secured him credit enough led him. to proceed in his efforts undis- Had he secured correct views turbed. Unfortunately there was of his powers and of his vocation,
his path in middle and later life Oh, but the more venerable for might have been exceedingly thy rudeness, and even because pleasant. As it was the way be- we must pity as well as love thee! came exceedingly dreary, toilsome Hardly-entreated Brother! For and threatening. He had been us was thy back so bent, for us accustomed to keep a journal, and were thy straight limbs and fingers had therein faithfully recorded so deformed : thou wert our conthe aspirations he indulged, often script, on whom the lot fell, and hopeful and lofty indeed. How fighting our battles wert so marwould his spirit have revolted red. For in thee too lay a Godwith horror, if, in 1820, created form, but it was not to be journal, as afterwards completed unfolded; encrusted must it stand by his own hand, could have been with the thick adhesions and despread in vision before him! In facements of labor; and thy Midsummer 1846, he made the body, like thy soul, was not to latest entries in the book which know freedom. Yet toil on, toil had often been opened to receive on; thou art in thy duty, be out the glowing anticipations of his of it who may; thou toilest for the sanguine spirit. They read thus : altogether indispensable, for daily
" June 21st,-Slept horribly. bread. A second man I honor, and Prayed in sorrow, and got up in still more highly: him who is agitation. " June 22nd,-God seen toiling for the spiritually forgive me! Amen. Finis of indispensable ; not daily bread, B. R. Haydon.”
but the Bread of Life. Is not We pass no judgment on the he too in his duty ; endeavoreternal state of the sufferer. No
ing towards inward harmony; doubt his brain was seriously revealing this, by act or by word, affected by the miserable priva- through all his outward endeations and degradation through vors, be they high or low? which he had long been passing. Highest of all, when his outward But whilst we leave the soul with and his inward endeavor are God, the Judge of all, we feel one: when we
name him sadness of heart that Haydon, artist ; not earthly craftsman possessed of talents so great, only, but inspired thinker, who should have been so terribly in- with heaven-made implements jured by his own fatal error. conquers heaven for us! If the Benjamin Smith.
poor and humble toil that we have food, must not the high
and glorious toil for him in re“ Two men I honor, and no turn, that he have light, have third. First: The toilworn crafts- guidance, freedom, immortality ? man, that with earth-made imple- These two, in all their degrees, I ment laboriously conquers the honor: all else is chaff and dust, earth, and makes her man's. which let the wind blow whither Venerable to me is the hard it listeth. Unspeakably touching hand ; crooked, coarse ; wherein is it, however, when I find both notwithstanding lies a cunning dignities united ; and he that virtue, indefeasibly royal, as of must toil outwardly for the lowest the sceptre of this planet. Ven- of man's wants, is also toiling erable too is the rugged face, all inwardly for the highest. Subweather-tanned, besoiled, with its limer in this world know I rude intelligence; for it is the nothing than a peasant saint, face of a
man living manlike. could such now anywhere be met
THE MOST HONORABLE.