Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

rience, through the operations of Grace, producing repentance, and obtaining forgiveness, &c.

But innocence alone cannot constitute the Divine Image: for, as it would be highly injurious to the Divine Charac-' ter, to assert that God is no more than an innocent Being, so it must be evident that the Divine Image does not consist in innocence alone.

No one will pretend that the little child is in a sensible communion with God, or clearly sensible of his Divine influence ; which was the case with Adam. Again ; the desires of the infant, in its purest state of innocence, are directed to objects of sense

to the gratification of its creaturely appetites. But such was not the case with Adam, in his primitive state, nor is it the case with the true Christian.

And as the text does not contain any allusion to the primitive condition of man, so, on the most close examination, it cannot be made to prove that infants are in that condition, or that they are not, in common with the rest of the human family, objects of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ, and partakers of the benefits derived from Him.

If we impartially reflect on the present condition of the human race, we shall find, in the pagan darkness which overspreads a large portion of the world, a striking evidence that the natural state of man is very different from that in which Adam was placed in the beginning. That portion of mankind have not the knowledge of God, his attributes, and their own relations to Him, either by intụition, or by their reasoning faculties. If every individual were furnished with the same knowledge in Divine things, that Adam had, and admitted into the same near relation to the Deity, and communion with Him, there could be no such thing as a nation of pagans : for even if all should ultimately fall, still there would be a portion of the life of every individual, in which he would know God, as Adam

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

did in the beginning. Neither, if reason and our rational faculties could naturally lead up into this exalted state, would it have been said by the apostle, that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither indeed can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. ii. 14.Nor should we find this declaration realized in all conditions, as to outward circumstances, from the highest refinements of civilized life, to the most degraded state of uncultivated nature.

Those who are occasionally found in heathen countries, with enlightened minds, have arisen out of darkness and ignorance, by the operations of the Grace of God that brings salvation, and which the apostle expressly declares has appeared to all men. They become such by a slow progress of improvement, and of that change which is called regeneration, and the new birth—and 'not as an original state. Thus these heathen nations illustrate what human nature is, and show the insufficiency of those faculties which constitute it, to renew them into the Divine Image. They show that human nature itself, is fallen, is low and grovelling-still tending downward, “as the sparks fly upward.”

But the human family was not left destitute, in this miserable condition : « In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John iv. 9, 10. “ For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Rom. v. 6. “Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; even so, by the righteousness of One, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.Rom. v. 18. Here the disease and the

remedy are brought into contrast by the apostle, to show that the latter was exactly adapted to the former. As, in the fall, the capacity of enjoying communion and fellowship with God was lost ; so, through Jesus Christ, it is restored. As, in the first, we were unable to do any good thing, but were naturally joined and united to evil, forward and propense to all iniquity, servants to the power and spirit of darkness; so, in the remedy provided, “ we are so far reconciled to God by the death of his Son, that we are put into a capacity of salvation, having the glad tidings of the Gospel of Peace offered unto us; and we are called and invited to accept the offered Redemption. In which respect we understand these Scriptures : He slew the enmity in Himself. He loved us first. Seeing us in our blood, He said unto us, Live. He who did no sin, his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree ; and died for our sins, the Just for the unjust.” (Vide Barclay's Apol. Prop. 7. $ III. Also Eph. ii. 15. 1 John iv. 10. Ezek. xvi. 6. 1 Pet. ii. 22, 24. and iii. 18.

And as the guilt of Adam is not imputed to us, till we make it ours by our own transgressions ; so, in order to obtain perfect Redemption, we must experience Regeneration. That Divine Principle which is the purchase of Christ's death, and which is called by the apostle, Grace, and by the evangelist,the Light of men,” must be brought into operation in us, taking the rule and government of our hearts, and setting us free from the “ law of sin and death.” “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again.”. 2 Cor. v. 15.

Thus we consider Redemption in a twofold sense; both which in their own nature, are perfect, though in their application to us, the one is not, nor can be, without respect to the other. The first is the Redemption performed and accomplished by Christ for us, in his crucified body, with

[ocr errors]

us.

out us ; the other is the Redemption wrought by Christ in

This last follows the first in order, and is a consequence of it, proceeding from it as an effect from its cause. So, as none could have enjoyed the last, without the first had been, (such being the will of God,) so also can none now partake of the first, or secure to himself the true benefits of it, but as he witnesseth the last. Wherefore, as to us, they are both causes of our justification ; the first the procuring, efficient, the other the formal cause. Vide Barclay's Apol. pp. 204, 205.

The condition in the fall, may also be considered in a twofold sense : 1st. As we are in the image and likeness of Adam, Gen. v. 3. the soul being connected with an animal body, possessing sensations, appetites, and passions, tending to* excess, and exposed to the influence of the grand enemy : and 2ndly, As we yield to temptation, and come under the government or power of the devil, as Adam did. As these two states comprehend the whole ground of moral evil, so the means provided, through Jesus Christ, apply to this whole ground :—First, as to what Christ has done for us without us, placing us once more in a capacity to receive salvation ; conveying to us a measure of Grace, which will bring salvation to all who do not reject it, but submit to its operations : and lastly, as this work is effected in us, and that change of heart is produced, which constitutes the new creature.

So then, when we consider the present condition of the human family, we find that, on commencing our existence, we inherit or receive two principles, one of evil and the other of good. These two principles are as seeds, not having yet germinated. The mind itself is very much in the same state ; being without knowledge, and very much without understanding. As the capacities of the mind enlarge, and its faculties are brought into action, these two principles also begin to work and a conflict and warfare

take place. The soul being distinct from both of these principles, has the power of choosing which it will serve. If the good is chosen, it being the stronger, binds, brings down, and casts out the other, and brings the soul into complete redemption, both from sin, and from its consequences. But if the evil is preferred—as we cannot serve two masters”-the Grace becomes rejected ; and though it still, again and again, revisits the soul, breaking its fetters and giving it ability to subdue the powers of darkness, yet, if still slighted or neglected, it finally leaves us to ourselves, and the government of that principle of evil which we have preferred; for the Divine determination remains unaltered : “My Spirit shall not always strive with man. Gen. vi. 3.

Thus we are left without excuse. Though we do not commence our existence with that degree of knowledge, that strength of intellect, and enlarged religious stature, which characterized the first man ; and, in many other respects, we are sunk far, very far, below his primitive state; yet the Grace afforded is sufficient for us—sufficient for our preservation from sin, from the first dawn of life to its final close.

And here it may be proper to apply the caution : “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.Matt. xix. 6. For Redemption is to be obtained only through the. means which God has provided by Jesus Christ. Had it not been for what Christ “has done for us without us," we could not have had the Seed of Grace; for it is “the gift of God,” which we could not obtain for ourselves. Without this, the visitations and operations of the Spirit of God in our hearts could never have been known, and consequently this redeemed state could never have been experienced. Neither, on the other hand, as moral agents, can what Christ has done for us, without us, secure salvation. The

« AnteriorContinuar »