Hebrews 6:1
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith in God,
Sermons
A Summons to Christian ProgressW. Jones Hebrews 6:1, 2
A Dissatisfaction MeetingKing's Highway.Hebrews 6:1-3
Christian PerfectionPreacher's AnalystHebrews 6:1-3
ConfirmationM. F. Sadler, M. A.Hebrews 6:1-3
Dead WorksC. Stanford, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
Ever OnwardR. S. Barrett.Hebrews 6:1-3
First PrinciplesJ.S. Bright Hebrews 6:1-3
ForwardH Phillips, B. A.Hebrews 6:1-3
ForwardHebrews 6:1-3
Foundation-StonesC. Stanford, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
Go on unto PerfectionR. Boog, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
Is Perfection AttainableR. F. Horton, M. A.Hebrews 6:1-3
Laying on of HandsC. Stanford, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
Leaving First PrinciplesGeo. Peck, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
Low AimsJr. Trapp.Hebrews 6:1-3
Mercy in CleansingC. Stanford, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
Of the Fundamentals of ChristianityS. Clarke, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
On Apostolic PerfectionCanon Liddon.Hebrews 6:1-3
On Progress to PerfectionT. Laurie, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
Passing .From Elementary PrinciplesW. Jones, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
PerfectionJ. Hooker.Hebrews 6:1-3
Perfection Aids PerfectionJ. Upham.Hebrews 6:1-3
Perfection GradualR. B. Nichol.Hebrews 6:1-3
Pressing Forward to the EndD. Young Hebrews 6:1-3
Progress in Divine KnowledgeF. Wagstaff.Hebrews 6:1-3
RepentanceRowland Hall.Hebrews 6:1-3
RepentanceH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 6:1-3
Spiritual DwarfsC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 6:1-3
The Doctrine of BaptismsC. Stanford, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
The Impulse of PerfectionC. J. Vaughan, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
The Instinct of PerfectionC. J. Vaughan, D. D.Hebrews 6:1-3
The Soul's True ProgressHomilistHebrews 6:1-3
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, etc. Our subject has two main branches.

I. THE BEGINNING ALREADY MADE IN CHRISTIANITY. Here are six first principles or elements of Christianity, with which those persons to whom this letter is addressed are supposed to be acquainted. These elementary principles may be classified in three groups of two in each group.

(1) Two initial experiences of the Christian life.

(2) Two Christian symbolic customs.

(3) Two Christian doctrines of future events. Let us briefly notice each of these first principles.

1. "Repentance from dead works." Expositors differ as to whether these are the works of the Law, or the works of sin, which indicate spiritual death and lead on to eternal death. Probably the writer means the observances of the moral and ceremonial laws of the Jews, by which they sought to attain unto righteousness and to commend themselves unto God. And in our own times there are those who endeavor by the performance of righteous and praiseworthy actions to merit acceptance with God. Such works are dead unless they spring from a heart in vital sympathy with God. Repentance from these works is the renunciation of them as a ground of acceptance with God, and the withdrawal of our faith from them.

2. "Faith toward God. That this is the Christian faith in God is clear from the earlier clause - the principles of the doctrine of Christ." Probably, as Alford suggests, the best exposition of this faith in God is found in the words of St. Paul: "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, iris faith is reckoned for righteousness" (Romans 4:5). It is faith in God as revealed in Jesus Christ. And as by repentance the Christian abandons the dead works of the Law as a reason for his acceptance with God, so by this faith he enters into vital and saving relation to the living God.

3. "The teaching of baptisms," or washings. There are three, or more, interpretations of this clause. That the baptisms are

(1) the baptism of John and the Christian baptism;

(2) the baptism of water and that of the Holy Spirit;

(3) the various washings of the ceremonial law of the Jews, and probably including the baptism of John and Christian baptism.

The nature and significance of these washings in their relation to Christianity would certainly be taught to Jewish converts to the Christian faith. The chief point for us is this, that all these washings and baptisms were symbols of spiritual cleansing. The one essential baptism, which is also the fulfillment of all other baptisms, is that of the Holy Spirit.

4. "The teaching of the laying on of hands. This may mean, as Alford says, the reference and import of all that imposition of hands, which was practiced under the Law, and found in some cases its continuance under the gospel." To us, however, it seems more probable that it indicates the impartation of spiritual gifts, and especially the gift of the Holy Ghost, of which the laying on of hands was the outward symbol, as in Acts 8:15-17; Acts 19:6; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6.

5. "The teaching of resurrection of the dead. This doctrine was brought into clear light by the great Teacher. The hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice," etc. (John 5:28, 29). The apostles also declared it: "There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." Our Lord's resurrection forcibly confirmed the doctrine.

6. "The teaching of eternal judgment. A future and general judgment is certain. Jesus Christ pictorially described it (Matthew 25:31-46). St. Paul asserted it: God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness," etc.; "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ Each one of us shall give account of himself to God." This judgment is characterized as "eternal," probably because it is "part of the proceedings of eternity, and thus bearing the character and stamp of eternal." Its awards, moreover, are eternal (Matthew 25:46). Now, these six things belong to the beginning of Christian teaching and life; they are "first principles of the oracles of God." And they are to be left. How? Not in the sense of discarding them, but of advancing beyond them. Or, as in the figure employed in the text, they constitute a foundation, and are to be left behind as the foundation of a building is left as the superstructure rises towards completeness. "When we have once become settled in the first principles of our religion," says John Howe, "we need not be always exposing them to a continual extort (nation; for when shall that building be finished, the foundations of which must be every day torn up anew, upon pretence of further caution and more diligent search? Or when will he reach his journey's end, who is continually vexed with causeless anxieties about his way, and whether he began a right course, yea or no?"

II. THE GOAL YET TO BE ATTAINED IN CHRISTIANITY. "Let us go on unto perfection," or full growth, or maturity. This may be said to comprise:

1. Maturity of Christian knowledge. Advancement beyond the elementary principles unto the higher and deeper truths of the oracles of God. A clearer apprehension and a wider comprehension of religious truth.

2. Maturity of Christian experience. The truth apprehended by the intellect must be assimilated by the heart and soul. Mental perceptions must grow into spiritual convictions. From repentance and faith the Christian must press on into the enjoyment of "the fullness of the blessing of Christ" (cf. Ephesians 3:16-19).

3. Maturity of Christian conduct. The truth apprehended by the intellect and experienced in the heart, must be expressed in the life and practice. Growing religious faith and feeling should be manifested by words and actions of ever-increasing conformity to the holy will of God. In this respect let us imitate the example of St. Paul: "[Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect," etc. (Philippians 3:12-14). - W.J.







Leaving the principles.
I. HERE IS A STATEMENT MADE WITH REGARD TO THE FIRST PRINCIPLES OF THE RELIGION WE PROFESS. He tells where they are revealed, and what they are. And, first, he would have his readers to understand that the principles of the doctrine of Christ are the "first principles of the oracles of God"; he uses the two expressions interchangeably, as if they both meant the same thing. His immediate object was to assert that the " doctrine of Christ," at which the Hebrews stumbled, was in reality no fresh revelation, but that all its rudiments had been taught in their own Mosaic Scriptures. A deep truth was contained in the saying of the ancient Church, "There were Christians on earth before there were Jews." Even from Paradise to Patmos, "the principles of the doctrine of Christ" have been taught with increasing gradations of development, as "the first principles of the oracles of God" — old, as well as new. This being established, Paul proceeds to enumerate these principles; and he appears to state them miscellaneously, without reference to their natural station or logical order.

1. And, first, "Repentance from dead works." Dead works are works performed by one whose life is separated from the life of God. Thus separated, men may have the quality of manliness, but not of godliness; towards one another there may be melting love, heroic daring, unbending justice, most magnificent generosity; but whatever they may be with regard to men, with regard to God they are dead. Alienated from His life, even good works are dead works; dead while they live; dead as the dead leaves on the dead bough, parted from its parent stem. It is the doctrine of a merely human religion, that while we should repent of our evil works, we should trust in our righteous works for heaven. But it is the doctrine of Christ that we should repent of all the works wrought while our souls were dead in sin; and when we feel the quickening thrills of a new life, this repentance will take place.

2. But, secondly, turning from sin implies turning to God. We shall have no disposition to renounce our dead works until, united to the living God by faith, we are partakers of His life. Faith towards God, therefore, is another elementary principle of the oracles. To have "faith towards God " is to feel able to say, "I think, I will, I speak, I act as I do, because I have faith towards God"; it is to feel His Spirit touch us, to have the most affecting sense of His society, to act as under His inspection, to be alive to His presence as the most intense of all realities, giving the zest to every pleasure, the light to every beauty, the soul to every scene; to trust Him for the food, and raiment, and home, both of our mortal and immortal nature; to make Him the confidant of every weakness, and want, and woe; to revive beneath the sun-burst of His smile, and to mourn at the hiding of His face.

3. But we shall never bare faith towards God, or approach Him in the way that has been just described, until our infected spirits have applied to a fountain of cleansing. So another essential principle is "the doctrine of baptisms." Those baptisms told not only of sin, but of a fountain opened for sin; and we know where that precious fountain flows. Rejoice to think that it is a fountain, and not a scanty supply.

4. But the doctrine, or the true meaning of the laying on of hands, was another principle of the doctrine of Christ. It conveyed a doctrine, and the doctrine was that he who would be saved must, by b is own personal act and deed appropriate the work of Him who is our Saviour by being our substitute,

5. The resurrection of the dead is another essential article of faith, and one, like the rest, peculiar to inspired revelation. Nature does not teach it. It never dawned on the proud thoughts of philosophy. Even those beautiful mysteries of the spring, which are sometimes thought to teach, inferentially, the doctrine of a resurrection, convey no teaching sufficiently defined to still the agonies of doubt or sorrow. The changes they witness and the charms they show are revivals, not resurrections. But in the oracles of God all the great problems that affect the destiny of man receive a full solution, and all the questions that come from his breaking heart meet with a distinct response. The resurrection of the dead is a "doctrine of Christ." The Emperor Theodosius having, on a great occasion, opened all the prisons and released his prisoners, is reported to have said, "And now, would to God I could open all the tombs and give life to the dead!" But there is no limit to the mighty power and royal grace of Jesus. He opens the prisons of justice and the prisons of death with equal and infinite ease: He redeems not the soul only, but the body. From the hour of the "laying on of hands," the entire man has been saved.

6. But, once more: the eternal judgment has ever been a primary article of revelation. Though analogy, intuition, and universal opinion rosy have furnished grounds to justify belief in it as a probable event, only the "oracles of God" could unfold its principles, or announce its absolute certainty. This they have ever done. He, through whose sacrifice our souls have received a "baptism" — He who has become our substitute by "the laying on of bands," bearing all the pressure of our responsibility, and binding Himself to be answerable for us at the judgment-day — will be Himself our Judge. But there are some of you who have no right to these anticipations. You have not made provision for the great hereafter. By that tremendous phrase, "eternal judgment," consider your ways and be wise!

II. And now, passing from the doctrinal statement, let us give attention, to THE PRACTICAL APPEAL.

1. "Not laying again the foundation." The teacher, in this phrase, at once indicates the course he intends to adopt in his own instructions, and the conduct he would prescribe to those who study them. "Not laying again the foundation." God will not lay it again in His purposes; you are not to be for ever laying it again your mind and memory; as it is settled in the heavens, so let it be settled here. as new. This being established, Paul proceeds to enumerate these principles; and he appears to state them miscellaneously, without reference to their natural station or logical order.

1. And, first, "Repentance from dead works." Dead works are works performed by one whose life is separated from the life of God. Thus separated, men may have the quality of manliness, but not of godliness; towards one another there may be melting love, heroic daring, unbending justice, most magnificent generosity; but whatever they may be with regard to men, with regard to God they are dead. Alienated from His life, even good works are dead works; dead while they live; dead as the dead leaves on the dead bough, parted from its parent stem. It is the doctrine of a merely human religion, that while we should repent of our evil works, we should trust in our righteous works for heaven. But it is the doctrine of Christ that we should repent of all the works wrought while our souls were dead in sin; and when we feel the quickening thrills of a new life, this repentance will take place.

2. But, secondly, turning from sin implies turning to God. We shall have no disposition to renounce our dead works until, united to the living God by faith, we are partakers of His life. Faith towards God, therefore, is another elementary principle of the oracles. To have "faith towards God" is to feel able to say, "I think, I will, I speak, I act as I do, because I have faith towards God"; it is to feel His Spirit touch us, to have the most affecting sense of His society, to act as under Hits inspection, to be alive to His presence as the most intense of all realities, giving the zest to every pleasure, the light to every beauty, the soul to every scene; to trust Him for the food, and raiment, and home, both of our mortal and immortal nature; to make Him the confidant of every weakness, and want, and woe; to revive beneath the sun-burst of His smile, and to mourn at the hiding of His face.

3. But we shall never have faith towards God, or approach Him in the way that has been just described, until our infected spirits have applied to a fountain of cleansing. So another essential principle is "the doctrine of baptisms." Those baptisms told not only of sin, but of a fountain opened for sin; and we know where that precious fountain flows. Rejoice to think that it is a fountain, and not a scanty supply.

4. But the doctrine, or the true meaning of the laying on of hands, was another principle of the doctrine of Christ. It conveyed a doctrine, and the doctrine was that he who would be saved must, by his own personal act and deed appropriate the work of Him who is our Saviour by being our substitute.

5. The resurrection of the dead is another essential article of faith, and one, like the rest, peculiar to inspired revelation. Nature does not teach it. It never dawned on the proud thoughts of philosophy. Even those beautiful mysteries of the spring, which are sometimes thought to teach, inferentially, the doctrine of a resurrection, convey no teaching sufficiently defined to still the agonies of doubt or sorrow. The changes they witness and the charms they show are revivals, not resurrections. But in the oracles of God all the great problems that affect the destiny of man receive a full solution, and all the questions that come from his breaking heart meet with a distinct response. The resurrection of the dead is a "doctrine of Christ." The Emperor Theodosius having, on a great occasion, opened all the prisons and released his prisoners, is reported to have said, "And now, would to God I could open all the tombs and give life to the dead!" But there is no limit to the mighty power and royal grace of Jesus. He opens the prisons of justice and the prisons of death with equal and infinite ease: He redeems not the soul only, but the body. From the hour of the "laying on of hands," the entire man has been saved. 6. But, once more: the eternal judgment has ever been a primary article of revelation. Though analogy, intuition, and universal opinion rosy have furnished grounds to justify belief in it as a probable event, only the "oracles of God" could unfold its principles, or announce its absolute certainty. This they have ever done. He, through whose sacrifice our souls have received a" baptism" — He who has become our substitute by "the laying on of hands," bearing all the pressure of our responsibility, and binding Himself to be answerable for us at the judgment-day — will be Himself our Judge. But there are some of you who have no right to these anticipations. You have not made provision for the great hereafter. By that tremendous phrase, "eternal judgment," consider your ways and be wise!

II. And now, passing from the doctrinal statement, let us give attention, to THE PRACTICAL APPEAL,

1. "Not laying again the foundation." The teacher, in this phrase, at once indicates the course he intends to adopt in his own instructions, and the conduct he would prescribe to those who study them. "Not laying again the foundation." God will not lay it again in His purposes; you are not to be for ever laying it again in your mind and memory; as it is settled in the heavens, so let it be settled here. "Not laying again the foundation." You are not to forget it, so as to have to learn it again; you ale not to doubt it, so as to need to be convinced of it again; .you are not to forsake it, so as to have to return to it again. "Not laying again the foundation." You are not to be like an insane or unskilful builder, who excavates the foundation of his work, tears it from its place, and takes it to pieces, being doubtful of its materials, or uncertain of its sufficiency to sustain the superincumbent weight; and who, always engaged in destroying the foundation, and laying it again, makes no progress with his building.

2. "Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ." At first sight the meaning of this clause is not obvious, and it seems to clash with those connected with it. There are different ways of leaving an object. his fathers house, never to return We may leave it as the spendthrift son leaves we may leave it as the deserter leaves the shield which he is "vilely east away"; we may leave it as education and refinement leave ignorance and rusticity; but not so ale we to leave these first principles of our faith. We are to leave them as the scholar leaves the letters of the alphabet — leaving them only to use them; leaving them that he may bring clot all their powers, and employ them in startling combinations, as the instrument for acquiring or diffusing thought. We are to leave them as the plant leaves its root, when it towers into a majestic tree, leaving it only that it may the more depend upon it; and, day by day, drawing from it those fresh supplies of vital sap which it pours into the fresh leaves, fresh boughs, ever fresh and ever beautiful formations of that life which refreshes the hungry with its clusters, or the weary with its shade. We are to leave them as the builder leaves his foundation, that he may carry up the building, stone above stone, story above story, tower above tower, from the dusky basement to the sun-lit pinnacle; always leaving the foundation, yet always on it, and on it with the most massive pressure, and the most complete dependence, when most he leaves it.

3. "Let us go on unto perfection." It is obvious that there can be no reference, in this a word "perfection," to the justifying work of Christ on our behalf. That is perfect from the first moment we believe. At once we receive perfect forgiveness, and a perfect title to the "inheritance in light." But, although justification is complete, sanctification has yet to be carried on. To borrow the idea of a transatlantic writer: "A perfect title to a piece of property puts a man in possession of it just as absolutely on the first day when it was given as twenty years after. When a man gives a flower, it is a perfect gift; but the gift of grace is rather the gift of a flower seed." It contains within it all the Divine germs necessary for growth. And we are asked to cherish it, that it may go on unto perfection, as the seed goes on to the perfection of a full-blown flower.

4. The word employed to indicate the manner of arriving at this end is richly significant. "Let us go on to perfection," should rather be rendered, "Let us be carried on." "The word is emphatical, intimating such a kind of progress as a ship makes when it is under sail. ' Let us be carried on ' with the full bent of our minds and affections, with the utmost endeavours of our whole souls. We have abode long enough by the shore; let us now hoist our sails, and launch into the deep." Perhaps we feel discouraged by the labour, and alarmed by the very glory of our calling. The one may seem too much for us to exercise, and the other too great for us to hope for. Almost despairing of our ability to go forward, we may even now be thinking of going back. But if we are unable to go on, we are surely able to be carried on to perfection. And the Eternal Almightiness is even now at .our side.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

We must leave these first principles as the pupil leaves the alphabet when he is brought to the process of combining letters into syllables, and syllables into words, and of words constructing sentences, and of sentences making a discourse. We must leave them as the architect leaves the foundation, and proceeds to erect upon it his superstructure. We must leave them as the mathematician leaves his axioms, and proceeds to the construction of his demonstration. To what purpose would the pupil have learned the elements of 'language if he should rest in them? Where the use of continuing to con them over without proceeding any further? What benefit would result from the labour and expense of laying the best foundation if it remain unappropriated — if no building be reared upon it? How long might the mathematician occupy himself in ascertaining the axioms of the science without coming at a single valuable result? And what advantage will accrue to us, or the world, from our acquiring the mere elements of Christianity without reducing them to practice, pushing them out to their ulterior results, and connecting them with the higher principles of a spiritual life?

(Geo. Peck, D. D.)

How? Not casting it for ever behind our backs: suffering it quite to slip out of our memories. We must remember even the principles of religion to our dying day; but we must not insist in those, and set down our staff here, but as good travellers go on forward. As if one should say to a grammar scholar, "Leave thy grammar, and go to logic, rhetoric, philosophy, to more profound points of learning," his meaning is not that he should leave his grammar quite, and never think of it any more, but that he should pass from that to greater matters. As if one should say to a traveller going to London, that sits eating and drinking at Colchester, "Leave Colchester, and go on to London," so leave this doctrine of the beginning of Christianity, leave your A B C, be not always beginners, but proceed till ye come to some maturity.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

Let us go on.
I. THE NECESSITY FOR THIS EXHORTATION. Do not old habits, which Christian earnestness should have obliterated, begin to creep into the light again? Do not sins and temptations, which you thought you had mastered, rise up and gain power over you once more?

II. THE MEANING OF THIS EXHORTATION. Having taken Christ, we must not merely receive His pardon, but we must live upon Him.

III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF NEGLECTING THIS EXHORTATION. If we do not yield up all to Christ. we shall easily drift away from Him. We must go forward, or we shall fall farther away, till we sink into irremediable ruin. The awful solemnity of this passage (vers. 4-6) we cannot possibly exaggerate

(H Phillips, B. A.)

Progression marks all God's works. In nature there is no perfect rest. There is change in everything — change which partakes of the character of progress; for even that which we regard as decay is but part of a new creative process. This universal law of progression holds good in the realm of truth; there is a going on, a climbing higher and yet higher in knowledge even of the divinest kind. Indeed we may say that, the more exalted the subject, the more absolute is the necessity that knowledge should ever be progressive — the more impossible it is that we can quickly and at once attain to the fulness of perfect wisdom.

I. THERE ARE MANY THINGS CONNECTED WITH CHRIST AND HIS TRUTH WHICH ARE NOT COMMUNICATED TO THE SOUL IN CONVERSION, BUT WHICH MUST BE ACQUIRED FROM TIME TO TIME THROUGHOUT OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE. Great truths always come one by one. They are not discovered but by those who diligently search for them, and they are often the product of laborious toil. The apostolic injunction bids us do something more than" strike out blindly." It bids us intelligently and deliberately leave the elements of Wisdom, and "strike out" towards the perfection of knowledge. It bids us break away, as it were, from our state of pupilage, and go on to the fulness of the knowledge of Christ. It lifts a corner of the veil which hides from us the infinitude of Divine wisdom, and urges us to press onward until our whole soul is filled with His love and grace.

II. In this " going on unto perfection " it is desirable that we should clearly recognise the fact that GOD IS A TEACHER WHO USES MANY BOOKS. To the observing eye and to the teachable heart God is manifested everywhere. In complying, then, with this counsel to the Hebrews, let us seek for the fuller revelation of spiritual truths wherever God has written them. Let us regard the Bible, not merely as a fruitful field where we can quickly thrust in the sickle and reap upon the surface, but also as a rich mine, in whose deep recesses lie hidden many a costly gem, which our labour and our study, under the Divine blessing, may bring to the light. Let us look at the letter as the case which encloses the spirit — remembering that while "the letter killeth, it is the Spirit that giveth life." Let us also look for and discover truths of deep spiritual meaning in the incidents of daily human experience.

III. It should also be duly borne in mind that ALL TRUTHS POSSESS A MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP, and that each has its influence in the work of perfecting the Christian character Truth is one, though it may possess many branches. Walking by a wide river, bearing on its bosom the mightiest navies of the earth, it would be interesting to speculate concerning the numerous rills and brooklets which, miles away, in different counties, contributed to that expanse of water. From mountain, moor, and glen those waters have been flowing day after day, meeting and mingling with others, ever growing and gathering strength, until the result is that which we see at our feet So are truths gathered from different sources, mingling their powers to influence the soul and bear it to the ocean of perfect wisdom and eternal love.

IV. THIS PROGRESS IN DIVINE KNOWLEDGE IS SOMETHING QUITE DISTINCT FROM CHANGEABLENESS IN DOCTRINE. To leave the principles, or first elements, of the doctrine of Christ is not to depart from the soundness of the faith. It is to leave the first few miles of the road behind as we press forward towards the end of our journey. It is to leave the foundation which has been laid firmly in the ground, in order that the building may rise higher and higher in beauty and majesty, until the topmost stone is laid in its place. It is to lay aside the alphabet of the language that we rosy devote ourselves to the riches of its literature, and add to our supply of knowledge from the ample stores of learning of which that alphabet is the key.

V. PROGRESS IN DIVINE KNOWLEDGE IS ESSENTIAL TO THE FULL ENJOYMENT OF THE PRIVILLEGES OF THE CHRIST'S LIFE. In other words, spiritual knowledge is essential to spiritual health. Digging deep into the riches of spiritual truth, we discover that which not only stays the anxious throbbing of the heart, but which lifts the soul nearer and nearer to the Source of truth — to God Himself. As among men the possession of knowledge operates for the most part so as to elevate and refine the tastes, so to drink deeper at the stream of heavenly wisdom is to become in spirit more heavenly, and in character more Divine. It is said of Christ, that "in Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," and that He was "the express image of the Father's person." What Jesus was in an infinite degree, the Christian who is full of Divine wisdom and rich in knowledge is also in his degree. Be, too, reflects the image of the heavenly. He, too, gives forth rays of reflected but Divine light. The life that is in the soul of him who is going on unto perfection is Divine in its influence as well as its nature. It is of that man the world takes knowledge that he has been with Jesus, and that he has sat at His feet and been taught in His school.

(F. Wagstaff.)

Homilist.
I. THE STARTING-PIECE.

1. Evangelical repentance.

2. Godward faith.

3. Spiritual chansing.

4. Reliance on Christ.

5. A future state.

6. Eternal retribution.

II. THE RESTING-PLACE. "Perfection."

1. Accuracy of Divine knowledge.

2. Conformity to the Divine will, so far as known.

3. The prospects of an ever-brightening future.

(Homilist.)

It is an interesting thing to watch an ocean ship get out from London docks. How helpless she is! She cannot use her machinery. Her sails are furled. She is pushed forward and backward. She is pulled along by puffing tugs. She stops to let other vessels pass. She waits through weary hours. She moves on again. But she is hindered and limited and retarded. But some progress is rewarding her perseverance. She is getting more room. She begins to ply her engines. But she must go slowly. She must be cautious. Then there is more liberty; there are fewer obstructions and fewer conditions. The liver is wider. The city is being left behind, with its din and its sin. The fresh air revives the sailor. He unfurls his canvas. He moves steadily on to the line where river fades into sea. He hears the music of the surf beating upon the sand. He sees the white-caps marching across the blue prairies of ocean. And at last the gallant ship, emancipated, seems to stretch herself and expand herself, and swell and sway and bow in ecstasy, as she speeds her way over the billowy fields of her native heath and boundless home. Thus it is with the soul that is escaping from the trammels of the flesh, and the limitations and the conditions imposed upon it by the world. How slow its progress is at first! How it is pushed forward and falls backward! How crippled is the soul's splendid machinery! How awkward its movements! Its sails are furled. It must submit to be helped by things smaller than itself — by trivial rules and puerile helps. It stops; it waits. It stands to for obstructions. But it moves on. It makes a little progress. The channel is getting wider. The shores of earth are getting further away. There is more room, more freedom. The engines move. The sails are thrown out. The fresh air of grace gladdens the sailor, and tells him that the city of sin is fading in the distance. The ocean of liberty is reached at last. The Lord takes the helm. The Spirit of God fills the sails, and then, emancipated and free, unloosed from the devil's imprisonment, unshackled from the habits and slavery of flesh, unlimited and unconditioned by the world's conventionalities, the glad soul rejoices on the bosom of God, which is the soul's ocean, which is the soul's home.

(R. S. Barrett.)

At Chicago Mr. Moody held a "Dissatisfaction Meeting "for pastors and their flocks who were not satisfied with their spiritual condition. It was said to be overshadowed with the presence of God as few assemblies have been since the day of Pentecost.

(King's Highway.)

Perfection
Here we may see the germ of what afterwards became at Alexandria and elsewhere the catechetical system of the primitive Church. Wherever converts to Christianity were the rule, it was necessary to protect the sacrament of baptism against unworthy reception by a graduated system of preparation and teaching, each stage of which represented an advance in moral and intellectual truth. Hence the several classes of catechumens or hearers, who were allowed to listen to the Scriptures and to sermons in church; kneelers who might stay and join in certain parts of the divine service; and the elected or enlightened who were taught the Lord's prayer, the language of the regenerate, and the creed, the sacred trust committed to the regenerate saints. They were now on the point of being admitted by baptism into the body of Christ. Then at last as the τελειοι or the Perfect they entered on the full privileges of believers, they learned in all their bearings the great doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Eucharist. They were thus placed in possession of the truths and motives which shaped must powerfully Christian thought and life. The Christians who are receiving elementary instruction are termed babes. They cannot understand, much less can they utter, the discourse of righteousness. The Christians who have received the higher instruction are perfect. They can digest the solid food of Christian doctrine. Their spiritual senses have been trained by habit to appreciate the distinction between the good and the evil, which in this connection are other names for the true and the false. Therefore leaving the principles or the first discourse about Christ, let us go or be borne on unto perfection. "Perfection." What does he mean by it? Certainly not here moral perfection, the attainment in general character and conduct of conformity to the will of God, for this would be no such contrast to the first principles of the doctrine of Christ as the sentence of itself implies. The perfection itself must be in some sense doctrinal perfection; in other words, the attainment of the complete or perfect truth about Christ, as distinct from its first principles: of these first or foundation principles six are enumerated, and they are selected it would seem for the practical reason that they were especially nee, led by candidates for baptism: the two sides of the great inward change implied in conversion to Christ, repentance from dead works — dead, because destitute of religious motive — and faith resting upon God as revealed in His Son; the two roads whereby the converted soul enters upon the privilege of full communion with Christ, the doctrine about baptism, which distinguish-s the Christian sacrament from the mere symbols of purification insisted upon for proselytes by the Baptist and by the law, and the laying on of hands which we now call confirmation; and finally the two tremendous motives which from the first cast their shadow across the light of the believer — the coming resurrection, and the judgment, whose issues are eternal. These three pairs of truths are precisely what the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews meant by the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, and therefore by perfection he must have meant something beyond these truths. He meant, no doubt, a great deal else, but specifically and in particular he meant the doctrine of Christ's Melchisedekian priesthood, in its majestic contrast to the temporal and relatively inefficient priesthood of Aaron, and with its vast issues in the mediatorial work, whether of atonement or of sanctification as carried out, the latter to the very end of time, by the great High Priest of Christendom. Now the point on which the text insists is the going forward from the first principles to the truths beyond. The apostolic writer does not say, "Let us go on unto perfection." He does say, "Let us be borne on" — θερώμεθα. He does not say, "Be courageous, be logical, push your premises well till you have reached their conclusions." He does say, "Let us all" — teachers and taught — "let us all yield ourselves to the impulse of such truth as we already hold" — θερώμεθα. It will carry us on, as we try to make it really our own, it wilt lead us to fresh truths which extend, which expand, which support it. We cannot select one bit of this organic whole, baptize it by some such names as "primary," or "fundamental," and then say, "This, and this only, shall be my creed." If the metaphor be permitted, the truck, all of whose limbs are cut off thus arbitrarily, will bleed to death. Where everything depends upon spiritual activity, non progredi est regredi. They who shrink from apostolic perfection will forfeit their hold sooner or later on apostolic first principles. Let us trace this somewhat more in detail. We have seen what were the first principles insisted upon among the first readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews. They belong to a disciplinary system of the Apostolical Church. They were selected on practical rather than on theological grounds. But what would probably be the first principles of an inquirer feeling his way upwards towards the light, under the circumstances of our own day? What would be the truths that would greet him on the threshold of faith, as the catechumen of our times, whom conscience and thought are training with hope for the full inheritance of the believer? They would be, in all probability, first, belief in a moral God. It is something, no doubt, to believe in a Cause who is the cause of all besides Himself it is more to believe in aa Intelligence who is the parent of all created intelligences. But religion, properly speaking, begins when man bows down in his secret heart before One who, being boundless in power and infinite in wisdom, is also justice, sanctity, love. And thus, perhaps, simultaneously, the modern catechumen would be arrested by the character of Jesus Christ as it lies on the surface of the Gospels. These, we will suppose, are the catechumen's two first principles. They are now beyond controversy, at least for him. They seem to be all that he needs, and he says to himself that a simple faith like this is also a working faith. He can at least limit, or try to limit, and leave the spheres of abstract and metaphysical discussion to those who will explore them. but alter all this, a time will come when he finds that he must go forward, if he is not to fall back. For he observes, first of all, that this world, the scene of so much wickedness and so much suffering, is hard indeed to reconcile with the idea of a God all-goodness and all-powerful, if, indeed, He has left, or is leaving, it to itself. If He is all-good, He surely will unveil Himself further to His reasonable creatures. Nay, He will do something more. His revelation will be, in some sort of sense, an efficacious cure. Exactly proportioned to the belief in the morality of God is the felt strength of this presumption in favour of a divine intervention of some kind, and the modern catechumen asks himself if the Epicurean deities themselves would not do almost as well as some moral God, who yet, in the plenitude of His power, should leave creatures trained by Himself to think and to struggle, without the light, without the aid, they so sorely need. This is the first observation, and the second is that the character of Jesus Christ, if attentively studied, implies that His life cannot be supposed to fall entirely within the limits, or under the laws, of what we call " Nature." Fur if anything is certain about Him, this is certain, that He invited men to love Him, to trust Him, to obey Him, even to death; and in terms which would be intolerable if, after all, He were merely human. Had He been crucified and then had rotted in an undistinguished or in a celebrated grave, the human conscience would have known what to say of Him. It would have traced over His sepulchre the legend, "Failure." It would have forthwith struck a significant balance between the attractive elements of His character, and the utterly unwarranted exaggeration of His pretensions. But, our modern catechumen's reflections should not end here, for the character of God, and of Jesus Christ, in the Gospels is, in one respect, like the old Mosaic Law, which provokes a sense of guilt in man by its revelation of what righteousness really is. The more we really know about God and His Son, the less can we be satisfied with ourselves. It is not possible for a man whose moral sense is not dead, to admire Jesus Christ, as if He were some exquisite creation of human art — a painting in a gallery, or a statue in a museum of antiquities — and without the thought. "What do His perfections say to me?" For Jesus Christ shows us what human nature has been, what it might be, and in showing us this, He reveals us as none other, He reveals us individually to ourselves. Of His character, we may say what St. Paul says of the law, that "it is the schoolmaster to bring us to Himself," for it makes us profoundly dissatisfied with self — if anything can possibly do so — it forces us to recognise the worthlessness and the poverty of our natural resources, it throws a true, though it may be an unwelcome, light upon the history of our past existence, and thus it disposes us to listen anxiously and attentively for any fresh disclosures of the Divine mind that may be still in store for us, or already within our reach. And thus it is that the first principles which we have been attributing to our catechumen prepare him for the truths beyond these, that Divine goodness, those perfections of the character of Christ, which bear the soul onwards and upwards, towards acceptance of Christ's true Divinity, and, as a consequence, of the atoning virtue of His death upon the Cross. These momentous realities rest, indeed, on other bases, but they bring satisfaction, repose, and relief to souls who have attentively considered what is involved in the truths which were at first accepted. They proclaim that God has not left man to Himself, that God does not despise the work of His own hands, they unfold His heart of tenderness for man, they justify by the language which Jesus Christ used about Himself and about His claims, the faith and the obedience of mankind, and they enable us to bear the revelation of personal sin in which His character makes within each separate conscience that understands it, because we now know that " He was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." But does the advance towards perfection stop at this point? Surely not. Where so much has been done, there is a presumption in favour of something more, if more be needed. The Divine Christ has died upon the Cross, the victim for the sins of men. What is He doing now? The past has been forgiven, but has no provision been made for the future may not recovery itself be almost a dubious boon if it be followed by an almost inevitable relapse? And thus it is that the soul makes a further stage in its advance to perfection. The work of the Holy Spirit in conveying to men the gift of the now humanity exhibited by the perfect Christ, and this, mainly through the Christian sacraments, opens at this point before the believer's eye. It is by a sequence as natural as that from Christ's character to His divinity and atonement, that we pass on from His atonement to the sacramental aspect of His mediatorial work. The new life which He gives in baptism, "As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ" — the new life which He strengthens in the Eucharist, "He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me" — these great gifts are but an expansion of what is already latent in the recognised perfection of His human character; awed the apostolic ministry, the channel and the guarantee of their reality, is not less a part of that perfection of truth to which intelligent faith conducts the soul. And the Christian creed has not said its last word to the soul of man until, besides assuring his reconciliation and peace with God, it has satisfied his desire for union with the Source of life. Who — let me say it once more — who does not see that our Lord's human character can only be described as perfect, if His right to draw the attention of men in terms which befit only a superhuman person, be frankly conceded? Who does not know that the existence of a moral God, the Maker and Ruler of this universe, is more clearly and forcibly contested by a large class of influential writers than any subordinate or derived truths what. ever — that whatever may have been the case in the last century, atheism is even more earnest in rejecting, in our own day, the specific doctrines and the creed which comes from Jesus Christ? Surely, then, it is our wisdom, as Christian believers, while the day of life lasts, to make the most, and not the least, of such religious truths as we know. What must not He, who is their object, think — and surely He is thinking on the subject now — what must He not think of those many magnificent intellects which He has endowed so richly, unto which He has granted such opportunities of exercise and development, who yet know almost as little about Him as the children in our national schools, and who make no effort to know more; but have studied, with eager enthusiasm, all forms of created life, all the resources of nature, all the intricacies of the laws of human thought, while He, the Author of all, He, who is the Infinite and the Everlasting, is, as it would seem, forgotten. It is not much to ask of a serious Christian to endeavour to make his own, each day, some little portion -f that knowledge which will one day seem incomparably more precious than any other. Half an hour a day costs something in a busy life; but it will not be held to have involved a very great sacrifice when hereafter we are face to face with the unchanging realities, and know in very deed what is meant by perfection.

(Canon Liddon.)

Preacher's Analyst.
We have two things here alluded to — progress and attainment. The progress is a walk, a journey, a contest. The attainment is a complete state of Christian character. This is to be our ideal at which we are to aim.

I. THE NATURE OF THE PERFECTION HERE ALLUDED TO.

1. The elements of the Christian life are not to absorb our attention and interest. The alphabet of Christianity is all wry beautiful and necessary. If a professing Christian were to leave off at faith, he would be but a poor Christian indeed.

2. The high-r elements of Christian virtue are to be assiduously cultivated. We know that these are not natural to the human mind. Complete control over the evil passion of the heart, holiness of life, restrained temper, perfect forgiveness, perfect love to man and God, are not easy to be acquired.

II. SOME PARTICULARS OF THE STEPS TO BE TAKEN IN ATTAINING THIS CONDITION.

1. An increase of faith.

2. An accession of light. Without more light, there is no possibility of progress.

3. An increase of knowledge.

III. NOW, TO ARRIVE AT THIS STARE OF PROGRESSION, THERE MUST BE —

1. An unwearied practice of the details of Divine truth.

2. A. constant dependence on the Holy Spirit.

3. An unceasing study of the character of Christ.

4. Continuous prayer.

(Preacher's Analyst.)

Man is endowed with a capacity of intellectual, religious, moral improvement; and to cultivate knowledge, piety, and virtue is the chief end of his being. In each stage of the awful mysterious career of human existence every Christian may conceive his Creator addressing him as He did an ancient patriarch, "I am the Almighty God: walk before Me, and be thou perfect." Progress towards perfection, it is next to be noticed, will conduce much to our honour and our happiness. Reflect, Christians, how favourable your lot is to improvement, compared with that of those who lived in days of pagan darkness, or at a period less remote. On you the glorious light of revelation shines. &re you desirous to exalt your views, to elevate your affections, to ennoble your characters? Respect and attend the public institutions of religion, for they are powerful means of human improvement. Further, let us make progress in virtue. Flourishing like the palm-tree, human nature, in its career of intellectual, religious, and moral improvement, adorns the terrestrial globe. "Sin is a reproach to any people, while righteousness exalteth a nation." Christians, "let us go on to perfection"; for it is highly conducive to our delight as well as to our dignity. Does not every one feel himself happier as he grows wiser and better? A passion for knowledge has added much indeed to the felicity of many a life spent in security, far from the bustle of the world, and with little solicitude about literary fame. The love of virtue is no less productive of happiness. "Blessed are they who do His commandments." Again, to prompt you to rise by progressive steps to higher and higher degrees of virtue, think frequently of those venerable men who persevered in the paths of rectitude, and have now received a crown of life. When we recollect the graces of the faithful, let us study also to act a consistent part, and give the enemies of the gospel no cause to remark, that though our principles may be orthodox, our conduct is wrong; that we glow with benevolence when nothing is to be given, and are only captivated with virtue when at a distance from temptation. Further, to animate our progress towards perfection, let us think of them who are to succeed us in the scene of life. Will not posterity record with delight those characters which excellence adorned? Therefore let them never see guilt like a malignant demon, sitting in triumph over the ruins of their fathers' virtues. As an additional motive to comply with the exhortation which the text contains, reflect that the spirits in glory will mark your progress with gladness and applause. "Never did refined Athens exult more in diffusing learning and the liberal arts through a savage world, never did generous Rome please herself more with the view of order established by her victorious arms," than the hosts of heaven will rejoice at the improvement of men. Finally, I beseech, you to make progress, for behold the angel of death is approaching to strike the blow which shall terminate your days.

(T. Laurie, D. D.)

I. FORM A JUST NOTION OF THE TRUE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. View it as delineated by the inspired writers, and learn from them what the Christian ought to be. They speak of him as the child of God; not only as "born of God," but as "bearing the image of his heavenly Father." But not confining themselves to these general representations, the inspired writers descend to enumerate the various excellences in temper and conduct, which combine to form the character of the Christian. He is one who has "laid aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings." He has "put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering"; he is filled with the fruits of the Spirit, which are "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."

II. GUARD AGAINST LOSING ANY ATTAINMENTS YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY MADE. Sinful habits once laid aside, and again resumed, adhere more closely than ever, and will baffle all ordinary efforts to throw them off. If you now exercise any grace, or practise any duty in which you were formerly deficient, let no consideration tempt you to relinquish it.

III. TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO EXERCISE THE GRACES AND VIRTUES WHICH YOU DO IN ANY DEGREE POSSESS. Are yon conscious of devout and reverential feelings towards God? Cherish and strengthen these feelings by habituating yourselves to these exercises of devotion. In your dealings with mankind are you just and honest? Do men fail in what is their duty towards you? Let that be your opportunity of cultivating the meek and quiet spirit, and of practising patience and gentleness towards them.

IV. FREQUENTLY REVIEW YOUR CHARACTER, AND EXAMINE WHAT PROGRESS YOU ARE MAKING IN THE GRACES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

1. For our aid and direction in acquiring these graces we have set before us the character of God, the conduct of Jesus Christ, the laws and precepts of the gospel.

2. It will be of great use to compare your character as it now is with what you recollect it formerly to have been.

V. Let all your efforts after moral improvement be made in HUMBLE DEPENDENCE UPON GOD, ACCOMPANIED WITH PRAYER TO HIM, AND A CONSCIENTIOUS ATTENDANCE ON THE ORDINANCES OF RELIGION. These exercises tend in the most direct manner to cherish the pious and Divine affections of love, of gratitude, of faith, of hope.

(R. Boog, D. D.)

We count those things perfect which want nothing requisite for the end whereunto they were instituted.

(J. Hooker.)

We see this in everything. We see it in the little pastimes of children playing in the market-place — practising their baby games, and never resting till they can catch upon their battledore their fifty or their hundred. We see it in the cricket-field and on the rifle-ground — we see it in the hunt and at the billiard table: what time, what toil, what patience, what disappointment, is grudged, if at last there may be perfection? We see it in the young scholar's devotion to his reading, to his composition. Some may study, some may compete, for the sake of the prize or the emolument, for the fame or the advancement. But we do a great injustice if we doubt that hundreds of the nobler youth of England would toil equally, and struggle equally, for the mere sake of knowing and of being. What is it which makes the great advocate, the eloquent orator, always tremble before speaking, and oftentimes lash himself afterwards? This, too, is not all of vanity and greed of praise; this is not all of eagerness to display self and mortification if the display be unsuccessful; much more is it, in real men, because there lives and glows in them, like a consuming fire, the ambition of perfection — a perfection which they never feel themselves to attain, just because nothing short of perfection will satisfy them. So it is with every painter, sculptor, writer, poet, who has in him that spark of genius by which art works and thought breathes.

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

What else is it which gives its impulse to trade, and makes all the difference in that occupation of the million, between success and failure, between eminence and stagnation? The bad tradesman — you may know him by it — sees nothing insufferable in imperfection, and thinks his customer unreasonable if he looks for the absolute. "It will do," is his motto: it will do if the colour almost matches, if the dress nearly fits, if the dropped stitch, if the accidental flaw, can scarcely be noticed. You know that that workman cannot rise, will always be outstripped, must come to want — why? because he has no instinct of perfection, and therefore he lacks the first requisite of attainment. On the other hand, so strong is this motive in the body of human life, that you will find men engaged in large transactions willing to pay almost any price for a scarcely appreciable improvement in the screw of an engine or the catch of a machine, just because it is an approach, next to imperceptible, towards a perfection which real men of business never despise, and which therefore the ingenious never find unremunerative.

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

It is a low and unworthy strain in some to labour after no more grace than will keep life and soul together, that is, hell and soul asunder.

(Jr. Trapp.)

There was once in London a club of small men, whose qualification for membership lay in their not exceeding five feet in height; these dwarfs held, or pretended to hold, the opinion that they were nearer perfection of manhood than others, for they argued that primeval men had been far more gigantic than the present race, and consequently that the way of progress was to grow less and less, and that the human race as it perfected itself would become as diminutive as themselves. Such a club of Christians might be established in most cities, and without any difficulty might attain to an enormously numerous membership; for the notion is common that our dwarfish Christianity is, after all, the standard, and may even imagine that nobler Christians are enthusiasts, fanatical and hot-blooded, while they themselves are cool because they are wise, and indifferent because they are intelligent.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When God tells us that we are to he " holy," "perfect," "without blemish," we are bound to believe that His command can be obeyed, and we ought not to be satisfied until we make the command an actuality. Could there be a sadder hindrance than that teachers of Divine things should lead men to suppose that God's purpose cannot be accomplished — that these words are mere figures of speech? Does God enjoin on us what is impossible? Convince a man that anything is impossible and he will not attempt it. A strong swimmer may plunge into the English Channel to cross to France, but where is the bravest swimmer who would plunge into the Atlantic to swim to America? Brave explorers do track the Greenland snows to explore the North Pole, but do we attempt to explore the North Star? Convince a man that the thing is possible, and sacrifice will be as meat to the noble soul, but impossibility dashes all effort to the ground.

(R. F. Horton, M. A.)

Brave soldiers die with their face to the foe. Looking back never conquered a city, nor achieved a work of art, nor wrote a book, nor amassed a fortune. The silent inward cry of the world's great men has ever been: On, my soul, right on.

The acorn does not become an oak in a day. The ripened scholar was not made such by a single lesson. The well-trained soldier was not a raw recruit yesterday. It is not one touch of the artist's pencil that produces a finished painting. There are always months between seed-time and harvest. Even so the path of the just is like the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

(R. B. Nichol.)

We may not only say, in general terms, that there may be a growth in perfection, but may assert further, that the thing which is most perfect, if it be susceptible of growth at all, will have the most sure and rapid growth. Which grows most and in the best manner — the flower which is whole and perfect in its incipient state, or that which has a canker in it, or is otherwise injured or defective in some of its parts? Which will grow the most rapidly and symmetrically — the child which is perfect in its infancy, or one which is afflicted with some malformation? illustrations and facts of this kind seem to make it clear that the spiritually renovated state of mind, which is variously called holiness, assurance of faith, perfect love, and sanctification, may be susceptible of growth or increase. It is not only evident that there is no natural or physical impossibility in it, but, as has been intimated, we may go farther, and lay it down as a general truth that perfection in the nature of a thing is requisite to perfection in degree. And accordingly, although it is possible for a person who is partially holy to grow m holiness, a person who is entirely holy, although he may be assailed by unfavourable influences outwardly, will grow much more.

(J. Upham.)

Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works
1. The first, in order of nature, is faith towards God. For this must evidently be the first principle of all religion, the beginning and corner-stone even of the foundation itself (Hebrews 11:6). This is the first principle, not of the doctrine of Christ only, but also of the law of Moses, of the institution of the patriarchs, of the precepts of Noah. of the relic, ion of nature itself, even among those who never had the benefit of Divine revelation. This truth is found written in the most legible characters, not in the inspired Scriptures only, but in the writings of the philosophers, in the discourses of the learned, in the consciences of the unlearned, in the hearts of all reasonable men, in the instincts of animals, in the motions and proportions even of the inanimate world itself. And is it not a shame that men, that men endued with reason and understanding, who enjoy moreover the light of the gospel revelation, should need to have this foundation laid for them any more? Which is the same folly as if a man should deny there was any light in the world, while he himself walked in the brightness of the sun shining in his strength; or like the foolish philosopher of old, who pretended to dispute against the being of motion, while he himself was on all sides surrounded with its visible and perpetual effects.

2. The next principle in order of nature, though first mentioned by the apostle in the text, is repentance from dead works. And this is a natural consequence of having faith towards God. For he who believes in God must consequently believe that obedience is necessary to be paid to His commands. And then they who perform not that obedience must be confessed to deserve the severest punishment. Which punishment there is no possible means for the offender to avoid, but by a timely repentance; and the only satisfactory evidence of the truth of that repentance is a departure from dead works to serve the living God. This. therefore, is the second principle of religion, or of the doctrine of Christ: a principle absolutely necessary to be laid as the foundation of all virtue, the lowest degree whereof is the forsaking of vice; and yet it is such a foundation as, if it always be laying, it is evident men can never go on to any perfection. It is equally necessary, therefore, that Christians should repent, and yet that they should not stand in need of being always repenting. Always repenting; not of daily infirmities, which are unavoidable, but of new and great crimes continually repeated. Of repentance from these, I say, the Scripture never supposes a Christian to stand frequently in need.

3. The next fundamental principle of Christian religion here mentioned by the apostle is the doctrine of baptisms and of laying on of hands. Repentance is the indispensable duty of all sinners, and the original mercy of God affords ground of hope, even to natural reason, that such repentance will be accepted. Yet since hope, in the nature of the thing itself, differs necessarily from the certainty of knowledge, therefore it has pleased God to confirm this natural hope by the certainty of an express revelation in Christ that He will accept the repentance of sinners. And this assurance He has commanded to be sensibly conveyed to us by a very significant rite in the sacrament of baptism, which sacrament is for that read-on styled in Scripture the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. To this the apostle adds as a constant appendage the laying on of hands, because by that rite newly baptized persons were in the apostle's times endued with the Holy Ghost.

4. The last principle of the doctrine of Christ mentioned here by the apostle as the foundation of all religion is the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. I mention these two together as but one, because in the nature of things they are necessarily connected with each other. For the resurrection of the dead is only in order to judgment, and eternal judgment is a certain and necessary consequence of the resurrection from the dead.

(S. Clarke, D. D.)

The grace of evangelical repentance does not break the heart and leave every bit of the broken parts still stone, but it melts the heart and changes every principle of it. If you break a flint stone every portion of the stone is still flint, but if you melt it in the fire every particle of it becomes changed. So it is with the heart of man: the Lord does not break it, but by the fire of Divine love He gloriously changes the heart, and it becomes entirely new.

(Rowland Hall.)

Repentance is neither base nor bitter. It is good rising up out of evil. It is the resurrection of your thoughts out of graves of lust. Repentance is the turning of the soul from the way of midnight to the point of the coming sun. Darkness drops from the face, and silver light dawns upon it. Do not live, day by day, trying to repent, but fearing the struggle and the suffering. Manly regret for wrong never weakens, but always strengthens the heart. As some plants of the bitterest root have the whitest and sweetest blossoms, so the bitterest wrong has the sweetest repentance, which, indeed, is only the soul blossoming back to its better nature.

(H. W. Beecher.)

When anything is separated from its source there must be death. Separate the stream from its fountain and there is death. Separate the branch from the tree and there is death. Separate the body from the soul and there is death. Separate the soul from God and there is death. There may be natural life. but there is spiritual death. The intellect lives, the will lives, the heart lives, the conscience lives, the instrumental faculties of action are all alive, but all the works to the production of which they combine, not being instinct with the love of God, are dead works.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

The doctrine of baptisms.
If the sons of Aaron, before they were invested with the priestly garments, or entered upon the functions of their sacred office, plunged in ceremonial waters; if the proselyte from heathenism, before he took his station amongst the Temple worshippers, or was naturalised amongst the holy tribes, always did the same; if the Israelite who had contracted legal impurity from the stroke of leprosy, the touch of death, or from contact with any other unhallowed thing, always did the same; if on the occasion for the performance of those ceremonies which sealed the recovered leper's right to be received into society again, the priest dipped the mystic dove in water, then flung it up into the air to soar away on glistening wing to the rocky covert or the shady grove, symbol of the ransomed spirit in its flight to heaven; if these and other baptisms were administered under the Mosaic economy, all these baptisms held a doctrine, and the first part of the doctrine they taught was, that our nature, and the whole of our nature, needs cleansing to fit it for the presence of God.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

"The doctrine of baptisms," however, was not merely that man is vile, but that God is merciful. Those baptisms told not only of sin, but of a fountain opened for sin, and we know where that precious fountain flows. It was opened on Calvary, and from that hour to the present, baptism there — the baptism of the soul — has been the only essential baptism, the only act by which, through the eternal Spirit, the penalties of sin are all remitted, and all its pollutions finally cleansed away.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

Laying on of hands
Here you see we have some truth or other — some first principle or other — respecting the " laying on of hands," following close upon some "doctrine of baptisms." Now the only laying on of hands that we read of in the rest of the New Testament is that which took place in the instances of the Samaritans and of the twelve upon whom St. Paul laid his hands, except the laying on of hands when ministers are ordained to their office. Now I do not think that this latter is only alluded to here, and for this reason: the writer of my text is evidently speaking of six matters or principles, or foundations, as he calls them, which concern all men equally, so that all men who profess Christ's doctrines should realise their importance, and be grounded in all needful truth respecting them. All men are to repent — all to believe in God — all to be baptized — all will rise again — all will be judged. Now, associated with these five other first principles, which all men undeniably have to realise, we have this "laying on of hands." It seems to me, then, that it must allude primarily to (or at least that it cannot exclude) that laying on of hands by the chief ministers of the Church, of which, in those early times, all the baptized partook. We now come to consider the question, Was it discontinued after the apostles' time? So far from this, we have the testimony of two very early writers of the Christian Church — one living about 200 years after Christ, the other about 250 — that each baptized person living in their time was confirmed. The first of these, , after describing the ceremonies in use at baptism, goes on to say, "Next to this the hand is laid upon us, calling upon and inviting the Holy Spirit through the blessing." , about fifty years after a martyr for the truth of Christ's gospel, bears similar testimony to the practice throughout the Church in his day. These are his words: "Which custom has also descended to us, that they who are baptized may be brought by the rulers of the Church, and by our prayer, and by the laying on of hands, may obtain the Holy Ghost, and be consummated with the Lord's signature." It is quite clear, from the testimony of these writers, that in their days every baptized Christian had the hands of the chief pastor laid upon him, as a sort of supplement to his baptism, and as a means whereby he might receive a further gift of God's Spirit. It has, however, been sometimes said that we cannot argue from the example of the apostles in favour of confirmation at the hands of our present bishops, because, when the apostles laid their hands on the early converts, the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost were given; and we now lead those who come in prayer and faith to expect only those ordinary gifts of God's grace whereby they may be strengthened to maintain the conflict common to all sincere followers of Christ. This reasoning appears to me both shallow and faithless. The Spirit which God gives is one, though the manifestations of His power are various. In order that the heathen might know assuredly that the doctrine of the despised and persecuted sect of the Christians was from God, the early followers of Jesus were empowered to work miracles, and to speak with other tongues; but when the need for the exercise of such gifts was over, the gifts were withdrawn. God intended His Church to walk by faith, not by sight; and if He had kept up the miraculous gifts as they were in the first ages, it would have walked by sight. But, though God withdrew certain manifestations of the Spirit's presence, He did not withdraw the Spirit Himself. And the rite of laying on of hands was to give the Spirit, who would manifest Himself, according to His own will and wisdom, in the person who received Him. Here, then, was a rite ordained for the communication of the Spirit, who would manifest His presence according to the needs of the individual who received Him, and of the Church of which that individual was a member. Because, then, we do not expect in confirmation all His gifts, are we not, therefore, to expect gifts or manifestations suitable for us and our times? If we really, and without reserve or equivocation, accept the Bible as our guide; and if we believe, as we must, that the greatest gift that God can now bestow upon us is that of His Spirit; then we must necessarily seek that Spirit in every way in which God gives us reason to think that He is communicated. The needs of our nature — our fallen, and weak, and corrupt nature-should make us eagerly embrace the use of any means, however inadequate they may outwardly appear. And then, too, we may be morally certain, that if the Holy Spirit had intended that after the apostles were removed by death this rite should be discontinued, He would have strictly enjoined upon the Church its discontinuance. You honour God in this ordinance when you believe that He has ordained it as a means in which to bless you; and when you believe that He has not deserted His Church, but that He is as effectually present with the Church now as He was with the Church in the apostles' time; so that such a rite as this is as profitable to the prayerful and believing soul now as in the times of St. Peter and St. John. If God's Word is true, then you have a life-long fight before you — a fight with the world and its allurements, and the flesh and its craving lusts, and the devil with his spiritual temptations to unbelief in God's mercy upon the one hand, or else to presumption upon God's mercy, that Christ will save you in your sins, on the other. To maintain your conflict with such adversaries you will require all God's grace and strength. Add to your other daily prayers, then, some hearty and distinct petition that in the approaching solemn rite you may receive a particular strength suited to your need.

(M. F. Sadler, M. A.)

It was prescribed in the old Hebrew service-book that when a person brought his sacrifice to the altar, he should lay his hand upon its head, and lean upon it with all his weight. While thus standing, with his hand laid upon the victim, and his face directed to the Temple, he repeated this formula: "O Lord, I have sinned, I have done perversely; I have done thus and thus" (here naming, either mentally or audibly, the specific sins of which he had recently been guilty, and for which he now sought pardon), "I have done thus, and thus, but I return by repentance to Thee, and let this be my expiation." If several persons united in one presentation, each one in succession placed his hand upon the victim, and in turn offered this prayer. On the great day of atonement the high priest did the same thing in the name of all the people whom he officially represented. He placed troth his hands upon the various victims that were to be offered in sacrifice, and more especially upon the "Azazel," the mystical goat, which, as if bearing the sins which had been confessed over it, was then led away from the crowd of watchers, past the last dwelling, past the last tree, until both goat and leader disappeared in the glow of the great white wilderness, that lay like the land of the curse beyond. This laying on of hands was not a mere ceremony, but a sermon. It conveyed a doctrine, and the doctrine was that he who would be saved must, by his own personal act and deed, appropriate the work of Him who is our Saviour by being our Substitute.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

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