« AnteriorContinuar »
right hand offend thee, cut it off, and their essential features according cast is from thee. Love not the to the state of science and manners. world, nor the things which are in That the terms of salvation are the world. Put off the old man, always the same is another proof which is corrupt according to deceit- of the immutability of religion. fal lusts, and be renewed in the spir. The gospel addresses mankind, as it of your minds, and put on the new being sinners. Christ declares man, which afier God is created in that his undertaking respects sinrighteousness and true holines8. Beners only. Therefore he proposes ye holy, for I am holy.” Now, dear salvation to all upon the same conbrother, are men of high birth and ditions. Repentance and faith are education, men of fashion and opu-' constantly represented to be ablence released from the obligation solutely necessary to salvation. of these holy precepts? Does the Christ and his apostles gave no inwhole burden lieupon the unlearn- timation, that it could ever be obed, the poor, the retired, the afflict- tained on any lower terms. They ed? Or has time exhausted the made no allowance in favour of force of precepts, which once had men possessed of high literary adpower to bind all, so that they vantages, and distinguished by the must now be considered as laws suavity of their manners, and the repealed, or fallen into disuse? exterior fairness of theircharacter.
What strange inquiries are Repent, and believe in the Lord Je. these? Yet they are naturally sug- sus Christ, is the solemn language, gested by the fashionable opinions which the gospel addresses to all of the day. Let us remember, men ; or if it makes any distincthen, that the rule of duty is un- tion, it is by declaring the uncomyielding and immutable. Proceed- mon difficulties, which impede the ing from God, it cannot conform salvation of the wealthy, the learnto the taste of the times ; it can- ed, the selfrighteous; and by sugnot be accommodated to the cor- gesting the greater divine power rupt inclinations of the heart. No and mercy, which in their case are man may add to it, or take from it. needful. And if the rule of duty, the stand- What, then, shall we say to ard of religion, is always the same, these things? Is not saving religthen religion is always the same. ion the same in all ages ? Are not For two things essentially differ- regeneration, repentance, and faith ent from each other cannot be the same things now, as they were conformed to the same standard. in the first period of christianity,
We are further taught, that re- and in the devout ages of New ligious affection, or conformity of England ? In short, is it not, in all heart to the doctrines and precepts times and circumstances, the same of revelation, is the effect of divine thing to obey the gospel of Jesus efficiency. Hence we infer that it Christ? is, substantially, the same in all You may derive another argu-' ages. It is a supposition inconsist. ment for the immutability of religent with the immutability of him, ion from the sameness of its eviwho worketh all in all, that he should dence. The evidence of religion in one age produce religious affec- more directly belongs to its doctions essentially different from trines, or those things which are those, which he produces in anoth- the objects of faith. Now the same er ; that virtue and piety, always evidence, which primitive christhe fruit of his Spirit should vary tians had of the divinity of the gospel, and of its particular truths, is, how may it be known whether this in substance, transmitted to us. struggle arises from the checks of Improved reason and philosophy natural conscience in an unrenew. have discovered nothing to invali- ed mind, or from a principle of date that ezidence, which satisfied grace in the soul ?" If the followprimitive believers respecting the ing thoughts on the subject seem peculiar tenets of revelation. If likely to afford any satisfaction to they had sufficient evidence, that by the Querist, they are at his and the offence of Adam his posterity your service. were made sinners; that all are by 1. The struggle which arises nature dead in trespasses and sins, from the checks of natural conand so the children of wrath ; that science in an unrenewed mind, Christ was set forth as a propitia- will generally be found to be partion for sin ; that none can be re- tial as to its object, having respect ceived into heaven without regenere only to some particular sin or ation ; that they, who are called, are sins, which may appear more heicalled of God according to his eter- nous in their nature, or more dannal purpose ; that they who repent gerous in their consequences, than and believe, owe their repentance, others. The conflict, in this case, their faith, and their consequent sale is not with what the scriptures vation to grace ; if they had suffi- term the body of sin : whereas the cient evidence of these positions, struggle that originates in a prinso have we. If they had such evi- ciple of grace is against sin unidence of Christ's divinity, as ren- versally : its object is that the old dered it proper for them to consid- man (i.e. the old nature altogether him, as God, and to address er) may be put off with his deeds. him as the suitable object of divine It is far from being a mere strug. worship; then we have such evi- gle against prominent vices ; it is dence, as renders the same proper an opposition which prompts the
There was no considera- true christian to search out and tion to justify Thomas in calling pursue the foe, and wherein the Jesus, his Lord, and his God, and severest conflicts are with the ladying Stephen in offering prayer tent evils of the heart, such as to the ascended Saviour, which does pride, unbelief, selfrighteousness, not warrant and require believers want of submission to the divine now to honour him with the same will, &c. There is no hypocrisy, religious worship.
allowed deceit, or indulgence of might be said of every christian
any sin whatever, in the true spirdoctrine. As truth is unchangea- itual warfare. ble in its nature, its evidence re- ,
2. The struggle between pasmains the same. To ancient be- sion and conscience in the breast lievers sufficient evidence was sat
of a natural man is generally unisfactory. It ought to be so to us. steady and variable. At certain I am your ever affectionate broth- seasons it is vigorous and strong ; er,
CONSTANS. at other times faint and feeble ; [To be continued.]
and then again, for perhaps a long season, altogether suspended :
whereas the conflict between na. From the Christian Observer.
ture and grace, between the flesh QUESTion.
and the Spirit, is more steady, “ When there is a struggle in regular, and uniform. The true the mind between right and wrong, stliever, communing daily witba
his own heart, and discover- and the grief of a sincere christianis ing with pain the secret work. to find in himself so many wayward ings of evil, gainis increasing con- tempers and dispositions not duly viction of the importance of perfe- subjected to its righteous and faluvering opposition in patience, vig- tary control. Against these he ilance, faith, and prayer. His ap- maintains an habitual and serious plications to the Throne of Grace conflict, and not merely to avoid are daily renewed, and thus, the condemnation, but also the polstrengthened with power and lution of fin ; no fimply withing might from above, he is enabled to secure future happiness, but lato maintain the good fight, not bouring to perfect holiness in the preluming to lay down his arms fear of God. In the ordinary till the days of his warfare (Job struggle, when the better principle riv. 14.) are ended.
feems for the moment to prevail, 3. The ordinary struggle in an and the duty pressed upon the conucrenewed mind originates chiefly science is performed, the obedience in fear, and is stronger in propor. is only like that of Saul, when he tion as the apprehension of danger forced himself to offer aburnt offer. is excited. It is, in fact, a strug. ing. When the solicitation to sin is gle between the judgment and the denied, it is but like the refusal of inclination, the one pointing out Balaam to go with the messengers the consequences; while the other of Balak, when he gladly would covets the pleasures, of fin ; the have accompanied them had he one prefling the importance and dared to do it. In short, to borrow neceffity, while the other shrinks a comparison, which I have fomefrom the performance of acknowl. where seen, whatever struggles an edged duties. There is nothing unrenewed man may have, fin is to in this ftruggle, which shews either him like precious wares in the ship, hatred of lin, or love of the divine which are only thrown over board law. The truth is, the heart is not (and that as sparingly as possible) divorced from evil habits and at- in a storm : but to one of a spiritutachments, and is therefore secret- al mind it is as the stagnant and ofly offended at the Atri&ness, spirit- fenfive water in the vessel, which uality, and extent of that law, the good mariner is assiduous to which condemns them : there is a pump out and clear away daily. latent displeasure in the foul, be- 4. Where the struggle between cause fin and happiness are not right and wrong arises only from made compatible. Now the con- the checks of natural conscience, it fiâ in a spifitual mind is ever at- is conducted, or carried on, by the tended with a hatred of sin, as a mere exertion of natural power thing evil in its nature, as well as the subject of it opposes solicitapernicious in its consequences. tions to evil, with purposes and refNot only the judgment condemns, olutions formed entirely in his own but the will opposes, and the af- strength : whereas, in the conflict fections are withdrawn from it. between the flesh and the fpirit, in The law of God, which in the oth- a renewed mind, the combatant is er case is matter of offence, is here strong in the grace that is in Christ not only acknowledged as holy Jesus. By the acting of faith, from and just, but approved as good time to time renewed, on the Sait is the delight of the inward man: viour to whom he is by that vital principle united, ne derives renew. dially hated, and its opposition to ed supplies of that spirit of power the new man more acutely and and might, whereby alone he can painfully felt. It is not therefore effectually be strengthened in the à fair inference from the cominner man, to fight the good fight, plaints alluded to, that sin is not and to crucify the flesh with its af- mortified or weakened, The befections and lusts.
liever may expect the opposition of Lastly. From the struggles oc- the enemy, and count upon the concasioned by the mere checksof nat- tinuance of the confiat, till the hapuralconscience no extensive or per- py period shall arrive when he will manent good effects ensue. How- receive the end of his faith, even the ever temptation may occafionally falvation of his foul. M. T. H. be refilted with effect, the power of the enemy is not broken or sub
From the Religious Monitor.* dued ; nor is there produced in the mind any habitual vigilance, tian world, who confine their re
There are many in the chriscircumspection, godly jealoufy, flections on religion almolt entire. fear, or abhorrence of evil. Sin, ly to its moral precepts ; while its in some form or other, fill reigns doctrines are disregarded, as comin the mortal body, and is obeyed paratively of little consequence, in the lults thereof, But in the confi&t, which arises from a prin- looked, as if they had been intend.
By fome, these are entirely overciple of grace in the foul, fubitan. ed only for the study of the profeff- . tial advantage is gained over the adversary: the malignity and de: lief of them had no connection with
; ceitfulness of sin are, in an increaf- the happiness of a future state. By ing degree, discovered, its fecret others, difcuffions concerning the motions are more clearly traced, real import of particular patrages and its subtle workings more effect- of scripture, and the nature of the ually frustrated. The soul learns more fully the importance of faith little attended to ; these being con.
doctrines deducible from them,are and prayer, of the continual ufe of fidered as points, in the decision of the christian armour, and of “looking unto Jesus.” By these
which, the private christian is not
means they that are Chrilt's are enabled
materially interested. Accordingto crucify the flesh with its affec ly, if these men form for themto crucify the flelh with its affec- felves any system of opinions contions and lulis, fo that all things cerning the meaning of the docbelonging to the old man do grad. trines of feripture, they profess to ually die
in them, while all things have no desire to convert others to belonging to the new man live and the belief of their peculiar sentigrow in them. This statement is not to be considered as invalidated ments, They leave every man to by the complaints of eminent chrif. be guided by the conviction of his tians concerning the power of fin own mind; and defpife, as the bigwithin them, by realon whereof
ots of a party, those who maintain they yet groan being burdened. the neceflity of believing, as the It is to be considered that, in pro
only true doctrines, one class of
religious tenets. portion to a man's real growth in
It is hardly neceffary to say any grace and holiness, fin not only will be more clearly seen, but more cor
* A Periodical Work published at Edinburgle,
thing in refutation of the first of there are some things, which God these opinions. He, who can deny hath seen fix to reveal to us only in inan'sobligation to believe the doc. part. But we shall endeavour to trides of the gospel ; who can re- prove that all, who allow christianjed, as useless, those truths, which ity to be a divine revelation, muk constitute the very essence of christo acknowledge that the grand charianity; and who can deprive its acteristick doctrines of the gospel, morals of their only pure and effi- original sin, the divinity and atonecient motives, deferves not the mentof Christ,justification through name of christian. He despises the faith, and the other essential points, authority of God, and refuses, with connected with these, in as far as daring ingratitude, the best bleff- they are necessary for enabling us ings of revelation; thecomforts and to apprehend them, are promulgathopes, which its do&trines inspire. ed in clear and unequivocal terms.
The second opinion however, in Before the gospel was preached, which it is maintained, that every mankind were involved in the most man may, safely adopt his own deplorable darkness and uncertainviews of the doctrines of scripture, ty with regard to every particular; whether they actually accord with which concerned their present hopes its teal intention or not, deserves and future happiness. Everything our more serious consideration, was obscure, and much was entire This is an opinion, common to ly concealed. The placability of many professors of christianity. It God, the efficacy of repentance, has the appearance of much liberal- and the existence of a future state, ity and candour ; and will certain- were all doubted, even by the wif. ly be approved of by everyone, who eft and most enlightened heathens. takes only a superficial view of the Compassionating men in this subjec ; when attentively examin- wretched condition, God was ed, however, it will appear to be pleased to bring life and immorfounded on the following fuppofi- tality to light by the gospel ; to tion also. That the language of liew them in a manner which fcripture on many of the essential could not be misunderstood, the doctrines of christianity is ambigu- sources of consolation, and the rule ous, that its import cannot be pofi- of duty ; to point out the way of tively ascertained by the candid in- access to him, and to direct their quirer, and that no interpretation of views to an eternal inheritance beit
, and no explanation of the mean- yond the grave. If, however, these ing of its doctrinescan be regarded, eflential truths were not plainly as exclusively true. If, therefore, discovered ; if the language, in we can shew that this supposition is which they are expressed, even afunsupported, the opinion, built up- ter all the inveligations of the on it, must fall to the ground. learned, be full of ambiguity ;
By denying such assertions, how- where are the advantages of reve. ever, we mult not be understood to lation? What light hath it shed on affirm, that the meaning of every a benighted world? What fure part of scripture is plain and obvi- consolation, what good hope hath ous. Many passages are necessari- it given to the fearful mind of ly obscure, from our imperfect guilty man? It hath declared to knowledge of the language and us indeed God's willingness to manners of the period, in which the pardon ; but hath left us, as besacred books were written ; and fore, in total uncertainty about