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intellectual and the moral character,of the state both of the sentiments and dispositions. The command, then, to “ let that mind be in us which also was in Christ Jesus," is equivalent to an injunction, to conform ourselves in the whole frame of our mind and temper to him; to form our opinions and dispositions on the model of his; that so, thinking as he thought, and feeling as he felt, we may act as he acted. The duty enjoined, thus naturally divides itself into two parts,—the adoption of the sentiments, and, the cultivation of the dispositions, which were characteristic of Christ Jesus.
1st, To have that mind in us “which was in Christ Jesus,” is to adopt his sentiments as our own. When two persons are agreed in their opinion on any subject, we say they are of the same mind. When we are called on, then, to be of the same mind as Christ Jesus, it plainly intimates, that our mode of thinking should be conformed to his.
Our Lord's sentiments on many important subjects may be learned from his discourses as recorded by the evangelical historian. But these are not to be considered as the sole source from which our knowledge of our Lord's mode of thinking is to be derived. Whatever is found in the apostolical writings is to be considered as an infallible expression of the Saviour's judgment. “We,” says the apostle Paul, “we have the mind of Christ *.” The whole of the scriptural revelation is to be viewed in the same light. It is the " word of Christ ;” and it was “ the Spirit of Christ” who was in the ancient prophets, and dictated to them their oracles t.
Had no revelation been made respecting the great principles of religion and morals, it would no doubt have been the duty of man to have endeavoured, by the diligent exercise of his own faculties, to discover as much as possible of the character and will of God, and he must have rested in those conclusions, which, upon the whole, appeared to him most probable. But, on the supposition that God has made a revelation of his will by. Christ Jesus, and has put that revelation into our hands, along with the most satisfactory evidence that it is what it professes to be, it is plain, that man's duty, as to the formation of relia gious opinion, is reduced simply to the discovery of the meaning of this revelation, and the unreserved submission of the understanding to its dictates when discovered. This is to have the mind in us which also was in Christ Jesus."
* I Cor. ii. 16.
of Col. iii. 16.; 1 Pet. i. 11.
In some instances, the most unprejudiced inquirer into truth may find a difficulty in discovering what is the sense of divine revelation with respect to a partieular subject. In this case, hesitation is not only allowable, but praiseworthy; for it is indeed the same principle which sets the mind completely at rest when the meaning of revelation is clearly discovered, and which prevents the formation of a fixed opinion while that meaning remains unknown, or but imperfectly discovered. These cases are, however, comparatively of rare occurrence; and it may be laid down as a general principle, that it is our duty to adopt, with out reserve, the views of truth exhibited in the word of Christ, in opposition equally to a proud dependence on the unassisted exertions of our own minds, and a base subjection to the authority of others,
There are some men, who, while they profess to believe in the authority of the Scriptures as a well-authenticated revelation of the mind of Christ, receive or reject its doctrines according to a self-formed stan
dard of what is true or false, reasonable or absurd. They do not, perhaps, directly contradict the declarations of Scripture; but they do the same thing in effect, by explaining away their obvious meaning. This is not to have “the mind of Christ” in us, but to have a mind of our own. Such a mode of conduct is obviously not only criminal, but absurd; as we are far less liable to be deceived in judging of the evidence of a divine revelation, than of the abstract principles of religious and moral truth, and as it plainly implies in it, that what is acknowledged to be a divine revelation, is at once unnecessary and unfit to answer the purpose for which it was intended.
There are others who, professing to believe the Holy Scriptures to be the revelation of the mind of Christ, seem yet afraid to receive the doctrines they teach, simply as they teach them, but must have them modified according to the views of individuals or bodies of men, whom they have learned to consider as the stan. dards of orthodoxy. The question with them is not so much, what says the scripture on a particular subject, but how does such an individual or body of men interpret
the scriptures ? This is not to have the mind of Christ, but the mind of other men in us. sons may be materially right, but they are formally wrong. The principles they hold may be true, but they are not to them “the mind of Christ,” They have “received for doctrines the commandments of men.”
In opposition to both these classes, he who “lets the mind be in him which also was in Christ Jesus," endeavours to discover the true meaning of the Holy Scriptures, that he may thus know the mind of Christ; and, having discovered it, he cheerfully acquiesces in it, however inconsistent with his preconceived opi
nions, the probabilities of reason, or the authority of the wise and learned. He sits down at the feet of Jesus, and learns the law at his mouth. He is disposed to say, with a truly great man, “Propose me any thing out of this book, and require whether I believe or no, and seem it never so incomprehensible to human reason, I will subscribe it with hand and heart, as knowing no demonstration to be stronger than this, God hath said so, therefore it is true *."
In order to our minds being thus moulded into the form of Christian doctrine, it is necessary that we seek that faculty of spiritual apprehension, without which the mind of Christ cannot be discerned ;-that we cultivate a serious and humble temper of mind ; that we peruse the scriptures attentively, believingly, and devoutly ;--that we improve all the means in our power, for discovering the true meaning of the Holy Scriptures ;-that we earnestly seek, and confidently expect, the continued influence of the Holy Spirit ; and that we conscientiously apply the knowledge obtained to the regulation of our tempers and conduct t.
The importance of this conformity of sentiments to Christ Jesus, has been very much underrated by many professed Christians. The doctrine of the innocence of error has been strenuously maintained ; and we have been told, that if in our temper and conduct we rea semble Jesus, it matters not much what our opinions be. Such sentiments originate in confined and confused notions, both of human nature and Christian truth. In a being constituted like man, there is no securing right tempers and good conduct, but by implanting just sentiments. It is in the nature of things impossible, that we should be conformed to the dispositions and behaviour of Christ, but through the transforming influence of his doctrines. Hence the frequent representations in scripture, of the importance of a right state of the understanding, as a necessary means of producing a right state of the affections and conduct. Hence the frequent declarations of the necessity and importance of knowledge and faith, and of the criminality and fatal consequences of ignorance and unbelief *.
+ John v. 39; Isa. xxxiv. 16; 1 John iv. l; Eph. i. 17, 18; 1 Cor. iii. 19; James i. 5; John vii. 17.
2d, To have that mind in us which also was in Christ Jesus, is to cultivate those tempers and dispositions by which he was distinguished. It has been remarked, by a very able writer, that “in the whole business of man’s redemption, wonderful in all its parts, its beginning, its progress, and its completion, the most wonderful
part of all is the character of Christ : a charac ter not exempt from those feelings of soul and infirmities of body which render men obnoxious to temptation, but in which the two principles of piety to God and good will to mankind maintained such an ascendency over the rest, that they might seem by themselves to make the whole. This character, in which piety and benevolence, upon all occasions, and in all circumstances, overpowered all the inferior passions, is more incomprehensible to the natural reason of the carnal man than the deepest mysteries—more improbe ble than the greatest miracles; of all the parts of th gospel history, most trying to the evil heart of unbelief the very last thing which a ripened faith receives, but of all things the most necessary to be well
* The reader will do well to consult the concluding paragraphs ok “ Chalmers on the Evidence and Authority of Revelation."