Imágenes de páginas

Daniel Wilson, from this text; a course of the Holy Spirit, in his agency passage which, though it seems to on the heart and mind of man, first to relate more directly to the acknow- illuminate and convince-then to conledgment of our Lord's character vert--then to sanctify ;-or, in other and mission, may, without impro- of their natural condition, and of the

words, first to lead men to a perception priety, be viewed in the larger ac

character of the Gospel; to teach them ceptation given to it by Mr. Wil- their sinfulness and spiritual inability; son, as including generally a dis- and to pour into their hearts the grace position of ingenuous obedience to of contrition and penitence; then to the Divine commands. In this guide them as conscious transgressors view also the proposers of the St. to the Great Sacrifice of Calvary, to reDavid's Premium seem to construe pose by faith in the death and merits of it; though they have somewhat nar

the Saviour alone for pardon and acrowed their ground, and abridged ceptauce with God; and then to bestow

upon them that peace which accom. the evangelical import of the passage, by the wording of their panies a true and lively faith-to sanc

tify them by his gracious influencesthesis. The expression, " a moral and to render them fruitful in every life," is by no means tantamount, good word and work, as becometh those in the ordinary signification of the who being bought with a price are uot term, to “ doing the will of God," their own, but are bound in point of which includes, among other things, duty, and are also anxious in covformi. the exercise of those regenerate and ty with their renewed nature, to live no holy dispositions implanted in the longer unto themselves, but unto Him soul by ibe Holy Spirit, from which who loved them, and gave Himself for alone true morality, that is Christian spiritual process do not always follow

them. But the successive stages of this inorality, can proceed.

each other in the strict order assigned In the Essay before us, the au- to them by artificial systems of theolothor, though taking his thesis as he gy: sometimes the understanding, somefound it, has, in the course of his times the will, sometimes the affections, argument, almost necessarily been seem to take the lead. The graces of led to enlarge its more obvious sig- love, joy, faith, zeal, mility, viginitication. His Essay might be en. lauce, kuowledge, thouglı co-existing titled, “ The influence of an inge

in the heart of every true Christian, do nuous desire to know and perform not always unite in equal proportions, i he will of God, and of those de- fined intervals. They inutually act and

or follow each other at accurately devout habits which accompany such

re:act, augmenting each other by their a desire, upon the judgment in reciprocal influence; so that what was matters of faith.” We shall cite originally an effect, becomes'iu its turn a few passages illustrative of the a cause, and gives birth to new causes manner in whicb le bas endea- and effects in perpetual succession. voured to prove his position; re

“ These remarks apply in an especial ferring our readers to our review manner to the three Christian graces of Mr. Wilson's discourse, already of Knowledge, Faith, and Obedience. mentioned, for our own opinions Strictly speaking, there must be some on the general subject, which it be failla : " he that cometh to God must

degree of knowledge before there can will not be necessary to repeat on

first know that He exists, and that He The present occasion.

is a rewarder of them that diligently The Essay is introduced by the seek Him. There must also be faith following preparatory remarks. before there can be genuine obedience;

for faith is the only true source of Chris. • In tracing the origin and progress tian virtue. Yet, on the other hand, of religion in the humau soul, it is im- our Lord teaches us, that ' if any mau possible to reduce it to a series of pre- will do the will of God,'—ibat is, will cise and invariable operations, and to commence a course of humble and inallot to each of our faculties and powers genuous obedience,-' he shall know of its definite share in the general process. the doctrine : his practical attention to it seems indeed to be the ordinary duty shall prove the harbinger of new

an ex

accessions of spiritual information: and vain-glory, to which various other evil not of information only, but of faith principles might be added, are proved also; for the Scriptures accurately trace by scriptural testimony to be capable up the want of faith to a moral as well of subverting faith, and even of conas merely mental obliquity : they speak ducting men to the awful extremes of of an evil heart of unbelief,' — contradiction, derision, and blasphemy." pression which, however peculiar it pp. 7, 8. may seem, will, upon investigation, be

The next stage of the argument fonnd perfectly philosophical, and con.

applies to those less obvious apsistent with the phenomena of daily fact and experience.

proaches to infidelity which some* We shall illustrate the subject un

times display themselves in Antider consideration, by a series of re- nomianism, Socinianism, and kinmarks bearing upon the two following dred heresies; and to those more propositions :

decorous sins- sins of the heart, “ First, That unholiness either of or sins of the intellect—which may heart or life has a powerful influence greatly impede the spiritual perin deptaving the judgment in matters of ceptions, and vitiate ihe spiritual religion; and

taste, even where there is no “ Secondly, That a humble and conscientions endeavour to do the will of templatiou 10 palliate the grossGod,' is eminently conducive to the

er enormities of a profligate life.

Stubborn pertinacity, presumption, progress both of faith and spiritual understanding." pp. 144.

levity, self-confidence, and a proud

dictatorial and dogmatical spirit, The writer begins with the grosser

are all hostile, both to a reverential instances of moral turpitude, as submission to scriptural authority connected with infidel principles. and to the formation of just conBut these are not the only sources clusions from scriplural premises. of infidelity; for as there are vices Pride, in particular, is specified as of less revolting aspect than treason baving ever been at war with a and assassination, so there are vari.

devout admission of the peculiar ous approaches towards a rejection doctrines, and a practical obediof the Gospel, of a more specious

ence to the precepts of the Gospel. character than the open blasphemies

“ How often do we find, even in the of a profligate Atheism.

case of persons who are not vicious in “ There is not an anti-christian or an their lives,-nay, who perhaps preserve unchristian principle, which may not a respectable decorum of couduct,lead to a corresponding anti-christian that the heart is prejudiced against a or unchristian creed. The more malig, practical admission of Divine Truth, pant passions will have this effect; as at least of its more peculiar and myswe find from Acts xiii. where we are terious doctrines, on account of the informed (ver. 48), that the Gentiles Scriptures not making their appeal to

were glad, and glorified the word of mankind in such a manner as to gratify the Lord, and believed; but the Jews the pride of the intellect! They tind (ver. 15), “being filled with envy, spake themselves required to believe promptly against those things which were spoken and implicitly upon the strength of a by Panl, contradicting and blasphem- Divine declaration; they are enjoined ing.'-The selfish passions also may pro- to admit, without hesitation or scruple, duce the same effect. Thus the Pha- many things that they cannot fully unrisees, who were covetous, heard all derstand; and they are invited, yea, these things, and derided him.' (Luke commanded, on pain of eternal conxvi. 14.)-Tbe proud and vain and am- demnation, to embrace exactly the bitious passions also may have the same same faith which has been professed by effect.' They did not confess Him, thousands of the most illiterate of man. lest they should be put out of the syna. kind ;-in common, it is true, with men gogne; for they loved the praise of men of the highest order of thought, and the more than the praise of God.' 'How most extensive range of literatnre ; but can ye believe that have honour one of still a faith which owns no submission to another?'-Thus enmity, covetousness, human intellect, and refuses to bow its

lofty claims before the tribunal of any of mind), le will not snbmit to the doecreated mind, however wide its grasi) trines of the Cross of Christ, or adore or exalted its powers. A nivd vain of that mystery of godliness' which is iss intellectual superiority, and monub. involved in every part of the disclo. dned loy the grace of God, will not süres of Revelation. pp. 13, 14. easily be persuaded to snbmit to this ;

The author next proceeds to it will recoil from such an uwreserved self-dedication; it will dewaud some.

shew that gross vices, on the one tiring more conciliating to the pride of band, and mental sins, on the the baman heart; and will venime pë. other, (!0 which two classes of remptorily to set down as false, what. impediments the preceding reever cannot be inferred by the deduc- marks chiefly apply.) are not the tions of uninspired reason, or, at least, only forms of moral evil which may which, when revealed, cannot be fa- cloud the judgment in malters of thomed and fortified by human phi, faith; for inat even the ordinary losophy," pp. 11–13.

Habits in which the great body of This position is thus illustrated: mankind pass their lives, without

any suspicion of their evil ten“ To what but to this cause, com. deney, may powerfully exert the bining indeed with some other subordia

same influence; nay, íhat the sinnate ones, must we attribute the vele. ment opposition which has always been discover, within bis own bosom,

cere Christian himself may often carried on against ibat fundamental article of the Christian system, and of strong proofs of the effect of unhoour Protestant Church-the doctrine liness of heart or cooduct, in obof justification solely by faith? The scuring his spiritual understanding bumble practical Christian, whether aud weakening his faiib. poor or ricb, illiterate or learned, dis

“No sooner does he relax in his covers no moral danger attending this

Christian vigilance, no soover does he doctrine : so far from it, he feels it to

become secularized in his temper, be in his own case, and observes it 10

no sooper does he grieve the Holy be iu the case of others, not only very Spirit by pride, or lukewarmoess, or full of comfort, but a powerful motive

the neglect of prayer, or idatiention to to love, to gratitude, and to good any known duty, or indulgence in any works; and he is perfectly convinced, known sin,--than he finds ibat he canthat if any persons would so far abuse

pot realize, as at more devout moments, it as to say, “Let us sin that grace may

the sentiments which become his holy abound, they understand not its real profession; he perhaps feels inclined nature - inuch less are they among to harbour a secret wish that lie may those who have a scriptural right to

have too strictly construed the selt. take to theniselves the blessings which denying character of the Gospel; bis it exhibits. But the mere intellectual mind begins at times to waver respect. reasoner, experiencing nothing of the ing some of its essential traths; and practical efferts of the Gospel in his

while thus under the influeuce of temp. own soul, affectedly recoils at such a

tation, he may even venture for a dvetrine. It is not enongh to prove

moment to qnestion its Divine au. that it is revealed in the sacred scrip- thority.” pp. 15, 16. tures; it must also comport with his long.cherisbed prejudices and prepos.

Having endeavoured to prove the sessions, or, as he considers them, bis fact, the author proceeds to acseasonable deductions: be most set count for it. He particularly urges that the doctrine has some other basis three reasons why an unliallowed to rest apoo than mere authority, even state of the moral and spiritual through that authority be the anthority volitions ordinarily presents so of God himself; for till he can fully complete a barrier to the attaindemonstrate the propriety of tẠis Di.

meni of religious truth; namely, vine arrangement, and solve every difficulty which a presumptuous intel because it prevents a conscientious lect way consider as flowing from it application of mind to the subject; (which he is least of all likely to do because it argues a waot of due While kercwaius in bis present atlitade preparation and aptitude of heutt for receiving instruction ; and be- devotion. lo short, while his whole cause the teaching of the Holy constitution remains onder the dominion Spirit, by whose guidance alone of sin, there must necessarily be a corwe can have a right knowledge in responding inaptitude for úttaining a The concerns of our salvation, will riglit judgment on religious subjects; not be afforded to any but the

for such subjects, it most ever be remeek and bonest inquirer. The of mathematical or physical science,

membered, are not, like the deductions moral inaptitude of a corrupt heart merely speculative ;-no--they powerfor estimating aright the character fully afect the life and actions; they of the Gospel, is thus illustrated:- involve the operation of the will and « How is it possible that a dispen- them can be entered upon with advan

affec joas; and therefore the study of sation of which the prominent feature is righteousness and true holiness,' tage only where there is a suitable preshould approve itself either to the judg. paration of heart;' and such a preparament or the heart of a being whose per.

tion, it is obvions, can never exist where ceptions are clouded by moral prejudiee

a preference for the ways of sin is deand the love of sin? For example; the

liberately cherished." pp. 21-23. Scriptures every where exhibit to us

The narratives of Cornelius and the excellency of the law of God: but the Ethiopian Eunuch are dwell kow can this excellency be duly felt by one who regards that law witli abhior. upon in corroboration of the fore rence, on acconnt of the restraints going argumenls. The testimony which it imposes npon his unbridled of these memorable instances is appetites? The Scriptures again con

also adduced in reply to some of stanily speak of the happiness of a life the principal objections which may of devotion to God: but how can this be alleged against the positions on be admitted by one who places his hap- which tbe Essay is founded. piness exclusively in earthly gratifications ? The Scriptnres declare that 'to

Should it be urged, for example, ou be carnally minded is death, bat to be the one hand, by any systematic docspiritually minded is life and peace :' triválist, that an endeavour, however but how can this be credited by one

ingenious, to obey the commands of whose whole practice proceeds apon God, while there still remains great quite a contrary estimate? The Scrip- doctriual ignorance in the mind, is not tures speak throughout of sin, in all its likely to lead beyond mere formalisme modifications, as an evil of enormous

or pharisaism; nay, is even less favout. magnitude : but to such a person no

able to a humble reception of the Goevil is apparent, except indeed so far spel, than a state of allowed vice; these as the temporal interests of society are remarkable instances, in which the Al concerned. The Scriptures describe mighty was pleased to honont such a the equity of God in visiting every

teachable disposition of mind with pebreach of his laws with the severest in- culiar approbation, and to gratify the fiction of judgment: but to a man in desires of these penitent inquirers by the state of mind we are describing, miraculously sending to them the knowsuch a proceeding appears far from ledge of the truth, will prove the fallary equitable: and he even ventures perhaps of so unscriptural an hypotlesis. The to think it nothing short of tyranny to case of the Scribes and Pharisees, of inflict punishment for what he calls the whom our Lord said that pablicans and innocent propensities' of the human sinners should enter the kingdom of character. The Scriptures speak of God before then, was of a very differ. whatever is holy, whatever resembles ent kind. In those hanghty selt.justiGod, as excellent and lovely: bat tbe tiaries there was no disposition consciindividualia qıtestion perceives no love- entiously to perform even the ordinary liness in any ihing of the kind : on the duties of morality: they subverted the contrary, he views a life of piety as "Divine Law by vain traditions and both morbid and misanthropical; and superstitions ; and far from exhibiting would gladly prcfer ihe vain pleasures any tenderness of conscience, any disof a sinful, as well as a transitory, ex. position to practise what they already isteyce to what he is pleased to consider knew, and to look bumbly for furtber she gloom and austerity of scriptural inslruction, tbey were perfecily con

tented with their own attainments, principle, thus superceding the neces. and even made use of their knowledge sity for correctness of religions doctrine in order to relax by disingenuous glosses and faith, we may shew that these very the obligations of the system which they narratives teach quite a different lesson; professed. It is obvious that such cha. for Philip expressly said, “If thon beracters possessed nothing in common lievest with all thine heart, thon mayest with the devout and diffident inquirer to be baptized ;' and he answered and whom exclusively the promises of Divine said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the illumination are made.

Son of God. And lastly, should it be “ Or should it be urged, on the other urged that if practical obedience have hand, by a far more numerous class of such a tendency to lead to scriptural objectors, that moral conduct is all that kuowledge, the agency of the Holy is necessary for human salvation; should Spirit is rendered unnecessary, it is obit be said, in contradiction to the decla- vions to reply from the same narratives, rations of Scripture, and the language that it was the Holy Spirit who, thongh of our established church, that 'every unseen by mortal eyes, implanted and man shall be saved by the law or sect fostered the rising graces of Cornelins which he professeth, so that he be dili- and the Ethiopian Eunuch, who further gent to frame his life according to that provided the means for their instruction, law, and the light of nature;' we have who opened their hearts to receive it, here two remarkable cases in which God and who is expressly mentioned as saw fit in a most conspicuous manner to having been present by his Divine inevince the necessity of Divine revela- fluences with both these devout men at tion in geueral, and particularly of faith their baptism; thus shewing throughout in the atonement of our Lord Jesus the whole process of their conversion, Christ, and the other distinguishing doc- the need of his own all-powerful agency, trines of the Gospel, by sending chosen even while he saw fit to employ the servants expressly to instruct Cornelius ordinary means of prayer, and fasting, and the Ethiopian Eunuch in points of and preparatory dispositions, and the this nature, notwithstanding their pre study of the Scriptures, and the Chrisvious devoutness and moral deportment. tian ministry and sacraments, to effect

“ In short, should it be argued that, his gracions purposes.” pp. 33–38 upon the hypothesis which it has been

Upon the whole review of this the object of these pages to enforce, any point of Christian faith or practice is subject, we are inclined to think rendered unnecessary, we may confi. that some religious persons attridently appeal to the two examples under bute far too little importance to consideration to prove the contrary. those devout affections, those teachShould it be doubted, for exawple, whe- able dispositions, and that moral ther an ivgenuous desire to obey the integrity of deportment, which often will of God, even before we are fully characterise the first stages of true acquainted with it, is an important and conversion to God; especially where characteristic mark of incipient con.

the temper is naturally amiable and version, we may adduce the history of

the conduct exempt from vicious Cornelius and the Ethiopian Eunuch, to

habits. Hence the bruised reed is shew how conspicuous a place such a disposition occupied in the first stages often broken, and the smoking flax of their religious inquirics. Or should quenched. An ingenuous inquirer, it be nrged, that if practical obedience if he fall into the society of such be of so much importance, there is no persons, instead of being taken by great necessity for prayer or sacred the band as a brother, and "shewn stndy, we may remind the objector that the way of God more perfectly," is it was while the Roman Centurion was at once proclaimed a pharisee, and fasting and praying, and the Ethiopian a deliberate impugner of the essenTreasurer was diligently reading the

tial doctrines of the Gospel; docScriptures, that God was pleased to mark bis approval of their conduct by trines for the humble and practical sending them the means of further in- reception of which bis heart may struction. Or should it be objected have been prepared by the Holy that the preceding remarks would re. Spirit long before he has attained . duce religion to mere ingenuousness of clear views of their relative-bear

« AnteriorContinuar »