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of Christ, or to retain the indwelling of the same! No more than our blessed Lord meant to be understood, that it was in the sinner's power to secure God's love, or to retain it when possessed, when he said to his disciples, “ Abide in me;" or the apostle who says, “ Keep yourselves in the love of God!” St. Paul herein shews the fervent desire he possessed with respect to the privileges of the church, that they might be fully enjoyed by her as a collective body, and individually in all her members; being convinced that by no other way than Christ dwelling in them can the believer exhibit his character, maintain his ground, and glorify and honour his God. By this they are enabled to walk worthy their high vocation; by this alone can they live up to the enjoyment of the exalted privileges of God's dear children. Consider, then, the address, as proceeding from an earnest solicitude of the apostle for his Master's glory, and for the welfare of his Master's family.
Our Lord Jesus Christ himself is declared to be “ The word of God," therefore we may not only consider the prayer as expressive of a desire the word of Christ, that is, that the revealed declarations of Jehovah's mind might dwell in those to whom he wrote, but also, that Christ, “ The Word,” might dwell in them. And, verily, the written word never has been, can, nor will be, of any essential value to the lost and ruined sinner, but as Christ dwells in the heart,-Christ essentially and emphatically, " The Word." When man sinned his bosom became the habitation of the devil, and from that time to the present satan reigns and rules in the children of disobedience. He then set up his throne there, and he continues to reign in darkness, till Christ dethrones the tyrant and takes up his residence.
It is the indwelling of Christ in the soul that constitutes the great difference between false professors, or the world at large, and the truly renewed soul. We do not understand, as some do, that Christ dwells corporeally in the believer; but faith is given him, enabling him to realize his interest in Christ, and to believe in his inhabitation in all his mediatorial characters and excellencies, in all the relations in which he stands to the church, in all the work he has done for her, and in all the sufficiency he possesses with which to maintain her safety and secure her everlasting felicity.
The apostle, also, most certainly intended the revealed will of God. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” It is only as this dwells in the heart that the other can be known or enjoyed. It is only as the Lord is pleased to make use of his revealed will, that an experimental acquaintance with Christ, as the all-sufficient Saviour is known. Thus the beauties of Christ are unfolded, the treasures of salvation are explored, and thus Christ dwells richly in the heart. The revealed will of God is Christ's word. It is his because he is the author of it: it was spoken by him. He is the substance and subject matter of it: there is not a promise through the whole but what is fulfilled, or shall be, as being his word. But for Him, nothing is expressed there that is at all calculated to do good to an immortal sou). If He be not the sum and substance of the whole, it contains nothing worthy the regard of fallen man. .
By the word of Christ we understand, all that God hath been pleased to reveal for the good of the church; but more especially those glorious, leading doctrines of the everlasting gospel, which may be considered as particularly alluded to. Such as, God's sovereign, free, unmoved, unalterable favour and love to his people in Christ Jesus: as most clearly expressed in the epistle to the Romans, viii. And this is Christ's word. If, believer, you would stand fast in this day of evil, see that the weight of your eternal interests rests on a base which can sustain the whole,-on a foundation which can never fail. If you would be assured of safe conduct amidst the intricacies and troubles of your journey, see that your guide has in point of wisdom and faithfulness a sufficiency to bear you through. Seeing, then, that the safety of a renewed sinner stands in the faithfulness of a covenant God in Christ,- let this word of Christ dwell in you richly!
It is the word of Christ, that he came into the world to finish the work given him of the Father to do. That work was,—to make an end of sin, to finish transgression, to magnify the holy law, to redeem the church, and to make a way for the escape of his dear people, from the curse of the law and the threatenings of divine justice, so that God in all things might be glorified. In Christ we behold, all the lost honours of the law restored, the church of God ransomed and redeemed, the powers of darkness vanquished, and the gates of heaven opened to every believer. Let this word of Christ, believer, dwell in you richly!
For the encouragement as well as for the information of the church, Christ has said, “ Without me ye can do nothing.” The sinner can neither know his need of, nor feel a desire to come to Christ, to receive comfort and enjoyment from him, without divine communication. He is as much indebted to divine influence for shedding light into the soul after regeneration, as he is for being quickened from the death of trespasses and sin into spiritual life. While the Father's love and favour is the base and bulwark of the soul's salvation, and the great Redeemer is the only medium through which that favour can be enjoyed, let the believer give all the honour of making that salvation known, and of encreased light and life, to the sovereign agency of God the Holy Ghost. Nothing will fortify the mind against the dangers and perplexities to which the child of God is exposed, as the knowledge and enjoyment of these precious truths. Is the world, the flesh, and satan, all combined against his spiritual interests !-- nothing can support the mind but such a knowledge as this,—that the almighty power of Jehovah is engaged to support in and finally deliver from all its troubles, and to bring the soul to the full enjoyment of the heavenly inheritance. Then, let this word of Christ dwell in you richly!
The disciples and followers of Christ, are called, as heirs to an eternal inheritance, not only into perplexity and sorrow, and therefore are encouraged to look to the word of Christ to be supported therein, but also, as heirs of glory, to the enjoyment of the kingdom prepared for them. Then, surely, it must be their greatest privilege to have their eye fixed upon it,--to realize that inheritance to their view,--to be drinking into the spirit of the employ of those who are already partakers. Let it be our desire and concern to be elevated far above, and lifted entirely from the transient scenes of time, into a faith's view of our eternal, heavenly home.
The apostle prays, that Christ may dwell in the hearts of the Colossian believers richly. This answers to the declaration of our blessed Lord, that he came that his sheep might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. And St. Peter prays, that those to whom he wrote might grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. It appears, there is not only such a thing as having Christ in the heart, but also having him richly there: so to dwell as to leave no room for a rival. And what else is worth seeking after ? --what else is worth living for?-what else in heaven will satisfy and employ our ransomed souls ? May the word of Christ so dwell in us richly, that we may be made useful to those with whom we have to do, that we may be enabled to communicate to our fellow travellers to Zion the great things the Lord hath done for our souls,-that we may be helpers of each other's joy,--that we may be mutually excited to gratitude and thanksgiving, and that God may be glorified in our day and generation.
Brethren! “ Hold fast the faithful word as you have been taught, that you may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to con vince the gainsayers.”
(For the Spiritual Magazine.)
A BRIEF REPLY TO GAIUS. Mr. Editor,
YOUR Correspondent having made a few remarks on my observations respecting the doctrine of the pre-existing soul of the Lord Jesus Christ, in a former number of your Magazine, I would ask my brother, as Paul did Agrippa, “Gaius, believest thou the scriptures: All that I had in view in writing the former was, if it were the will of God, to remove the stumbling-blocks that are too often thrown in the way of weak believers in Jesus, by those who lie in wait to deceive, and to call passengers who go right on their way, by their sophistical arguments, by which many weaklingsin faith are confused in their judgment, and caused to stumble at the word, and go on heavily, and the hearts of God's children are made sad whom he bath not made
My friend Gaius, are not the spirits of all created by God? Hath not the scriptures of truth declared, that in six days God created the heavens and the earth, and all things that are therein ? Are not the souls and bodies of men declared to be God's by creation? As it is written, “ He hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” In what part of divine revelation is it declared, that the spirits or souls of any were created before the six days spoken of in Genesis: Hath not the Holy Ghost by the apostle said, that God who cannot lie gave us (the whole church) life in Christ before the world was ? Did their souls or bodies, who are said to be loved with an everlasting love, actually exist before their creation ? If Gaius admits, as I have every reason to believe he will admit, that the church existed in the mind, will, and purpose of Jehovah, from all eternity, when they had no actual existence as composed of soul or body; why may not Christ, then, as the head of his body, the church, be said to be set up as future man and mediator from everlasting in the eternal decree, council and covenant of Jehovah, and not have a pre-existing created soul? Hath not God declared, that he calls things that are not (in existence) as though they were foreknown unto God were all his works before the foundation of the world. If so, he knew them before he created them.
I cannot, therefore, see any impropriety, friend Gaius, in rejecting the doctrine of a pre-existing soul of Jesus. For if the souls and bodies of all the elect were chosen and loved from all eternity, when they had no existence but in the mind of Jehovah; so I believe the body and soul of our most gracious Christ, which in the fulness of time he took into union with his divine person, pre-existed in the mind of Jehovah. Christ, as the head of his body, the church, is called, God's elect, God's servant, and the first-born among many brethren, he being the blessed object in whom the church was chosen from everlasting.
My reason for further objecting to the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul of Christ is, that it fatly contradicts the first part of divine revelation, concerning the creation of all things in six days. And although your Correspondent, Mr. Editor, enumerates a host of writers whom I have never read, my reading being nearly confined to the word of God, yet I can receive no man's testimony unless it is confirmed by the plain truth of God. If Gaius can bring from the word of truth a “ thus saith the Lord" to confirm the doctrine, I trust I shall not be found among the old and foolish kings who would no more be admonished ! I am fully persuaded the nearer we keep to the fountain, the purer the stream. Waters often get impregnated with the soils through which they run, which is exemplified in this our day by numberless publications
I have no doubt many good men and great men, (yet they were but men,) have embraced the doctrine of the pre-existence, under the idea of glorifying the Saviour ; but in my apprehension they have erred in the attempt, and I must differ from them. I have heard of a man, (perhaps Gaius knows him I do not) not a hundred miles from Wittlesea, who when he just began to preach appeared to come forth with much simplicity of gospel truth; and he has acknowledged that he first received the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul of Christ from the teaching of men: and from this stepping-stone he advanced till he now openly and publicly denies from the pulpit the Trinity of Persons in Jehovah. As the sands of my glass are nearly run out, and many of the infirmities of age are come upon me, I do not intend to enter the lists as a controversial writer ; but this I confess, I see no ground for such doctrine in the blessed word of God, nor can I perceive, according to the light it hath pleased my most gracious God to bestow on his servant, what edification or profit accruing from the doctrine of pre-existence to the church, or what glory to God.
Now as God's glory should be the grand aim of all his children, and the welfare of the church of God lay near their hearts, that doctrine which confuses and stumbles the weak cannot be profitable. May it be our endeavour, my unknown friend, to seek the glory of God and the edifying of the church, and not to please ourselves, is the earnest prayer, brother Gaius, of February, 1828.
ĻOVER OF TRUTH. P. S. Gaius objects, that the saints of old (if the pre-existence of the soul of Christ be denied) had only a decretal Mediator. Might it not as well be objected, they had only a decretal sacrifice or atonement? Was the Lamb of God actually offered up? True, there were types and figures; and Paul says, they were only shadows of good things to come, but the substance was Christ; and again, “ in these last days Christ hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Were the patriarchs, prophets, and saints of old, that lived and died before the actual offering up of Christ as a sacrifice for sin, saved or lost? I think Gaius will admit they were saved by faith in the promised Messiah: for they saw the promise at a distance, that is, a distance of time, as we poor mortals reckon time. Then it must be by the decretal act of Jehovah, before the sacrifice was actually offered, or atonement made.
If, according to friend Gaius's creed, there must be a pre-existing soul of Christ created or formed, some time (most certainly not from eternity, for I agree with him that that which is eternal must of necessity be of God,) as some have affirmed, or time before time began; this to a poor weak old man as myself appears a contradiction; for before time all was eternity, and when time shall cease eternity will still continue. I therefore humbly conceive, that if by the decretal act of God, as touching the actual sufferings and death of the everblessed Jesus, sinners were saved, and their spirits were with God in the enjoyment of the blessed fruit of a Saviour's death and righteousness, before the actual suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ; why not, by the decretal act of God, might not Christ be the appointed head of his church, and yet have no pre-existing created soul
I write not, Mr. Editor, for contention, God forbid. But, if it be his will, for the edification of his body the church: nor shall 1 again resume the subject.