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stle (or letter) of St. Jude, which is called general, as being addressed to all Christians in general, not (as the Epistle to the Romans, for instance, or the Epistle to the Corinthians) to any one particular Church. The Epistle is very short, but there are very few, if any, portions of holy Scripture more serious, and solemn, and awful. A portion of it you have heard read today. It is full of exhortations to Christians, to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once (for all) delivered unto the saints." And again: "building up themselves on their most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, to keep themselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." It is also full of warnings to Christians against the teachers "of false doctrine, heresy, and schism," leading, as such do at the last, to "hardness of heart, and contempt of God's Word and Commandment." It is also full of meaning to Christians against other grievous sins, which also, too often, grow up of the self-will of the hearer, and of the false doctrine of the teacher: "blindness of heart; pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy; envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness; fornication, and other deadly sin; the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil." Against such false teachers and un
godly livers, such are St. Jude's awful warnings to the Church. "There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ... these speak evil of those things which they know not; but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, (the first who shed man's blood,) and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, (the false prophet, who sought to curse those whom God had not cursed, even God's own people,) and perished in the gainsaying of Core, (in the wilful rebellion of Korah against Aaron, God's anointed priest, and Moses, and God.)... But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, (from the Church of Christ,) sensual, having not the Spirit."
But even here the Christian is not to forget compassion; holy fear and jealousy for the faith,
and hatred for sin, must be joined with pity for the wanderer and the sinner, especially whenever he shall seem to have wandered or sinned through weakness or ignorance, rather than wilfully and profanely. The Christian, and especially the Christian pastor, must distinguish between the deceiver and the deceived, between the wilful teacher of heresy and the unwilling follower. "And of some have compassion, making a difference and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Such are the warnings of St. Jude on the duty of Christians to save (at least) themselves, and (if possible) others also, from false doctrine, heresy, and schism.
And surely we must all feel that such are greatly needed by us, more or less needed perhaps by all. Strictness of faith has passed away from us, no less than strictness of life. Men have learnt to be careless about religious error, indifferent to religious truth, and tolerant even of heresy; even as (only in a yet greater degree than) they have learnt to be careless, and indifferent, and tolerant of evil and sinful practices. But the gospel of Jesus Christ, as His apostles preached it, is a religion of strictness; strictness of faith no less than strictness of life. And so the Church
hath ever taught, that "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith. . . . This is the Catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved."
And thus the words of the Church, and of the Creed of St. Athanasius, which we have this day repeated, are as an echo of the words of the apostle St. Jude, and of the words of our blessed Lord also, when He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." No doubt the Almighty and All-merciful God knoweth and readeth the hearts: He knoweth how far any are cut off from the Church and her means of grace, by their own sin or that of others; He knoweth how far any may have fallen into, or continue in, false doctrine and heresy, through their own sin or the sin of others; and He will judge all such. He will draw the line, which man may not draw, between what is in a man's own power and rests (under God) upon his own will, and what is not in a man's own power and will. And He will judge, in righteousness and in mercy also, both the servant who knew not his Lord's will and did commit things worthy of stripes, and the servant who knew his Lord's will, but prepared not himself, nor did according to His
will. But, after all, all holy Scripture, and all the teaching of Christ's Church in all ages, witness to this, that there is a grave and solemn responsibility resting upon us all in this matter, more than we usually allow, or like to allow; that God's truth is holy, blessed, and sanctifying to such as receive it, and very awful to such as deny it, or refuse to receive it; nay, that every part and portion of it is so; that we cannot refuse or deny any portion of it whatever, without more or less of sin and danger,-usually not without serious sin and fearful danger; that it is a serious matter to set aside any part of God's message by His apostles and by His Church.
Would that the lesson were not called for at this very day.
May God keep us from this sin and danger; may He give us grace so to be joined together in unity of spirit by the doctrine of His holy apostles, that we may be made an holy temple unto Him, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
JOHN HENRY PARKER, OXFORD AND LONDON.