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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 mare 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 convince the gainsayers."
(For the Spiritual Magazine. J
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 manyweaklings in 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 hath not made sad.
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 He 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, be 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 flatly 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 tm he now openly and publicly denies from the pulpit the TrinS of Persons in Jehovah. As the sands of my glass are nearly run out, and many of the infirmities of ^TM.TMTM^lTMi connot intend to enter the lists as a controversial writer; but this I con fess 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 GK bestow on ghis servant what edification or profi Lcruing from the doctrine of pre-existence to the church, or what
glNyow aSod's glory should be the grand aim of all his children, and °he 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 gory of God and the edifying of the" church, and not to please ourselves, .s the earnest prayer, brother Ga.us, of ^ ^^
February, 1828. ".
P. S. Gains objects, that the saints of old (if the F^tenceJ 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, bui the substance was Christ; and again," m 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 srn! saved or lost? 1 think Gaius will admit they were saved by faith in he promised Messiah: for they saw the promise at a distance, that « a distance of time as we poor mortals reckon time. Then it must be hiTtfe decretTact of Jehovah, before the sacrifice was actually offered, or atonement made. , . .
1 !according to friend Gaius's creed, there must be a pre-ex.stong soul of Christ created or formed, some tm.e 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; thfs to a poor weak old man as myself appears a contradiction ;fo before time all was eternity, and when time shall cease eternity mU still continue. I therefore humbly conceive, that if by the decretal a of God, as touching the actual sufferings and death of the everblessed Jesus, sinners were saved, and their spirits were with God m the enjoyment of the blessed fruit of a Saviour's death.and righteousness btJore the actual suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Chns; 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.
■An Apology for the Ancient Fulness and Purity of the Doctrine of the Kirk of Scotland: a Sermon preached on the occasion of a Fast, appointed by the Presbytery of London, to be held in all their Churches on the First Day of the present Year, because of the low ebb of Religion among the Children of the Scottish Church residing in these Parts. By the Rev. Edward Irving, M. A. Minister of the Scotch Church, London. Nisbet.
As we some time since wrote in praise of a volume by the Rev. Edw. Irving, we cannot in the notice of this Sermon express our dissent from many of its sentiments, without entering a little into particulars. In his explanatory comment on "the ancient fulness and purity of the doctrine of the Kirk of Scotland," we apprehend the author has done injustice to the principles of the Scottish Reformers, —and that in no inconsiderable degree, in reference to their statement of the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, and the person of Christ. It unhappily appears to be the object of the Rev. Gentleman, whatsoever be the topic of discourse, to introduce some novelty, or to venture some speculation, whether for the purpose of elucidation, or for the sake of mere effect, we will not attempt to predict. So far as he writes in agreement with sound doctrine, we rejoice to commend his labours; but when he oversteps the boundaries of eternal truth, we hasten to lift the warning voice, and to call attention to the profitless pursuits of an immature judgment.
"The first great declension on the subject of doctrine which we have to lament in our church, and indeed in all the churches, is in that which is the foundation of all other doctrines ; to wit, the doctrine of the Trinity, which, in the first ages, was deemed of such importance as to occupy almost exclusively the attention of the first four councils of the church: yet now it is become an unopened mystery, believed chiefly upon tradition, when believed at all, and, even when believed, seldom apprehended as the great fountain of christian truth. Divines of these days shrink from it, as a profound abyss in which nothing is to be found but darkness and dismay. There is, indeed, a controversy still maintained for the Divinity of Christ, by the quotation of texts, but seldom by any deep arguments drawn from the nature of the Godhead itself, or from the work of the redemption and regeneration of the creature; and it is maintained not so much for its own dignity and use in theology, as for the securing of the doctrine of the atonement, which hath swallowed up almost every other doctrine, and become the great indulgence of ignorance and idleness, which, in a selfish age, will ever be the case. But as to the personal subsistences in the Trinity, and their personal offices in the great work which is accomplishing the purpose of God, as to the Unity of the Divine substance, notwithstanding these personal distinctions and offices, and as to the sublime theology of our fathers, thence derived, concerning the covenant made between the Father and the Son, and carried into effect by the Holy Spirit;—these subjects are as much lost to the studies of our divines, and excluded from their public discourses unto the people, as if
Vol. IV.—No. 47. 2 T
they belonged to the speculations of the later Platonists, or the refinements of the school divines: and yet I hold them to be the first principles and cardinal points of all orthodox theology.
"From the darkness which God hath spread over these, the rudiments of doctrine, innumerable deficiencies and errors have proceeded, of which I shall mention a few. First—The doubts and waverings which exist upon the subject of election arise all from not comprehending the office of the Father, and his prerogative to be alone self-originated, the originator of the Son; and through him of the Holy Ghost: for, if this were rightly and fully apprehended, then his prerogative of first-will and self-origination in all things revealed by the Word and Spirit, could never come into doubt; and for this all.originating will, what is election but the specific name proper to that of the eternal counsel opened in this present age of the church, which endureth until the Lord shall come again?"
Much of this is very excellent: and, alas! that the subject of lamentation should be so justly chosen. The idea of the doctrine of the atonement having 'swallowed up' almost every other doctrine, and become 'the great indulgence of ignorance and idleness,' is rather above our comprehension. That of the prerogative of the Father to become, 'the originator of the Son,' and through him of the Holy Ghost,' is so near akin to the language of an anti-trinitarian, that we but re-quote it to shew our great surprise and utter astonishment.
We too often have occasion to render the mighty argument of scripture in favour of "the mystery of God4" to require enlargement in this place; and we therefore turn to Mr. Irving's views of the person of Christ. He is speaking of the eternal purpose of God to bring all things into subjection to the second Person in a creature-form.
"To the attainment of which end, the second Person must come in the fallen state of the creature, and so become its Jesus or Saviour by triumphing over its sinfulness and its infirmity; after which, in reward of his humiliation, and in virtue of his triumph, as the first-born of the fallen creatures, he receiveth from his Father, now become his God, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and so is constituted the Christ, or the Anointed One; who thenceforth anointeth with holiness and power all the creatures whom the Father willeth to save: when also, he virtually becometh the Lord, because no higher place or power can be attained unto, than to possess in full right the gift of the Holy Ghost; who, as he is the first life, so also he is the second life of all things. But here, the Father, to assert his own first place of sovereign rule, and all-origination in the redemption, as in the creation and the fall, and for other great ends which we stay not to enumerate, instead of giving the Son at once the sceptre of the kingdom, gave him the seat at his own right-hand, and said unto David's Lord, "Sit thou here, till I make thine enemies thy footstool;" and the Son—to shew that in his exaltation also he is but second in respect to origination, as in his eternal generation and in his humiliation—the great Head of the worshippers, and the great pattern of the subjects, did consent to remain a Lord declared, but not a Lord installed, until the times of his Father should be accomplished, when he shall be brought in the second time in glory and majesty, a Priest no longer within the veil, but a Priest upon the throne of David. Now, I do solemnly declare, that this endless theme of the person and work of Jesus Christ the Lord, and the infinite mystery of his Name, seemeth to have become hid from the public ministry of the great body of the preachers of that church whereof I am a minister. It is a bold word to utter, and a fearful one; but the time no longer endureth palliation, and I say it advisedly, with all the risks npon niv head."