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THE CHURCH TO AIM AT THE SAME OBJECT, ETC. 225
ON THE UNION OF PURPOSE AND DESIGN BETWEEN THE
HOLY SPIRIT AND THE CHURCH.
SECTION I. The Church to aim at the same Object as the Spirit. THE grand object of the Holy Spirit is the salvation of the world. For this, all his influences are intended: for this all his offices are adapted : for this all his means are contrived: and on the accomplishment of this all his feelings, dispositions, and inclinations are bent and fixed. The salvation at which the Holy Spirit aims, is a salvation that is practical in its operations, progressive in its effects, and to be perfected by the use of means. The salvation of the Spirit is not a salvation from sin in the abstract, for that would consist only in delivering the present system of the world from susceptibility to metaphysical evil; but it is salvation from sinning, and salvation from suffering the results of sinning. The world cannot be saved from “the curse of the law,” until it is saved from doing what the law curses. To save the world from the guilt of sin, is to save it from being guilty of committing it. Salvation from the power of sin is a perceptible and evident deliverance of the mind, the judgment, the volitions, and the affections, from the force of sinning inclinations, and from the influence which certain temptations were accustomed to exercise over them.
This salvation is a practical translation, from a state of alienation, condemnation, and slavery, to honorable acceptance with God, to the privileges and immunities of his approbation and blessing, to the elevation and dignity of holy character and ennobled mind, and to the stupendous and brilliant hopes of the eternal weight of glory. Such a saving achievement is not accomplished in a moment or a day; it is a process going on gradually and progressively in the temper and character of men, and in the sentiments and morals of the world: it is a course of operations altering men in life, and not a mystic series of proceedings, which priestly craft can hasten into quick completion, in the moments of death. Scriptural testimony and Christian experience assure us, that 226 THE CHURCH TO AIM AT THE SAME OBJECT, ETC.
in the arrangements of the Holy Spirit, the salvation of man and of the world is to be perfected by the instrumentality of means. These means, to be efficient, must be used, and used by men. We have no ground to expect that the Holy Spirit will use them in some miraculous manner: we do not expect HIM, for instance, to preach the gospel, or to publish and distribute Bibles and tracts, or to give lessons in our Sabbath Schools. If these means are to be employed at all, then they must be employed by the church, before the improvement and salvation of the world can be secured.
The united church of Christ is the commissioned apostle of the nations of the world. Its office in the world is really and fully apostolic. The two disciples, of whom the Holy Spirit said, “ Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul,” represented the office and the character of the entire church of Christ. Every church, and every member of every church, is “separated unto the Holy Spirit.” To be separated to the Spirit means to be set apart to the same objects, the same purposes, and the same designs as the Holy Spirit. “Know ye not that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself ?” that is, for his own purposes, his own measures, and his own work. “ Separated to the Holy Spirit!” - this is honorable distinction—this is tremendous responsibility. The Christian thus separated should live for nothing else: all his mind and all his heart are for the Spirit; his soul and his body are for the Spirit; all his judgment and all his skill must be for the Spirit; all his feelings and all his desires must be for the Spirit; all the capabilities, and all the senses, of his body, must be for the Spirit; all his time, property, character, influence, health, life, death, all, ALL must be for the Spirit. If he lives for anything else, he is unfaithful to the Spirit; he wrongs and injures — he grieves and vexes the Holy Spirit of God, by which he was sealed, and marked as the Spirit's own.
The church thus separated must live, move, and have its being for the Holy Spirit. All its members and all its officers must be for the Spirit; all its ordinances and all its insti. tutions must be for the Spirit; all its doctrines and all its discipline must be for the Spirit; all its prayers and all its acts must be for the Spirit. In prosperity and adversity, when it is weak and when it is strong, through good report and evil report, it must be for the Spirit. The object of the Holy Spirit is spiritual, and can be accomplished only by
spiritual means wielded by spiritual men : “ The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” These warriors are to have no shield but their faith, no helmet but their hope, no darts but prayer, no sword but the word of God. None but spiritual men will use these spiritual means to accomplish the spiritual work which has been entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit. No agent is qualified to use them, whose own heart is alienated from the Spirit. If persons will enter on the work of the Spirit, who have never surrendered themselves to the Spirit, the object of the Spirit will never be secured by their ministry. Spiritual men alone will mind the things of the Spirit; they alone have a relish for spiritual work, and they alone have the requisite taste, discrimination, desire, energy, and longing, for its accomplishment. It is only men separated to the Spirit, that will make the world spiritual, and bring it to be consecrated and separated to the same Spirit. The president of scientific societies separates for their work scientific men, and the Holy Spirit separates, for his spiritual work in the world, a spiritual church. Let every church and every Christian keep back no part of the price thus separated, and thus surrendered to the Spirit; let everything be employed as it was devoted, to the grand object of the Holy Spirit, the salvation of the world from sin.
$ 1. — The Prevention of Sin the Duty of the Church. The salvation proposed by the Holy Spirit to the world, consists in the remission or prevention of the punishment, which is due for the sins committed in time past through the forbearance of God, and comprises the prevention of wrongdotng for the future. The church, then, is to save the world, by informing it of the fact, and explaining the grounds of the suspension of the punishment, and also by supplying it with means, inducements, and advantages, for preventing the commission of the sins, which had provoked the anger of God and injured their own souls. No persons will attempt to convert and save the world, who do not believe that the world is sinful, that it is in the wrong, and in a state condemned by God: hence all the persons, who have either neglected, or opposed, aggressive movements of evangelization, have always thought and pleaded, that the world was good enough as it was, and that there was no occasion or call for saving efforts.
On the first sabbath of time, every thing in this world was very good, but hypothetically susceptible of evil. Soon after that hallowed day, evil entered into the world, and, since then, it has prevailed with tremendous and destructive success. From that day to this, a controversy has been maintained, between man and God, on the inquiry whose work it is to prevent sin. Man blames God for the existence of evil, and charges him foolishly with abetting, and even originating it; but God, both in the clear declarations of his word, and in the firm testimony of conscience, charges man himself with being the author, and the doer of all the sin that is in the world. In the scriptures, God calls upon every man to discharge his duty against this common enemy, and binds every man to hinder its incursions and to stop its progress. They who comply with God's demand and summons, take side with God, plead his cause, are his witnesses, and form his church. The paramount object of their being gathered together on God's side is that they should overcome evil with good. In this holy and benevolent project they are to“ resist unto blood, striving against sin,” that is, striving to prevent it, and to stop its influence and devastations. In these noble efforts, Christians are called to risk their ease, their rank, their property, their liberty, their health, and even their life. To prevent sin they are to resist to tears, to personal self-denial, to commercial loss, to temporal reproach, and, should the contest wax hot, even unto blood, and the surrender of life. God has, according to this reasoning, made the prevention of sin to be the work and the duty of men, and especially of his own people; and in no case has he ever taught them to expect him to prevent it by any exercise of his own immediate agency.
1. God has so constituted the universe that he never does interfere by power to prevent sin. The principle of moral government is “the royal law of LIBERTY,” and every subject of it is free. Liberty, and not force, is the law of the moral universe. The power of God is not the rule of his government: for we know that God can do many things which he never brings to pass. A man who expects God to effect all that he believes God able to do, is mad; that is, his mind is not in harmony with this universe, but is out of the boundaries of this system of things. Our own experience teaches us, that God will never do for man, what man can do himself. God can erect houses and build ships, but he does not: he can till the ground and hedge the fields, but he does not: he can prevent conflagrations and shipwrecks, but his power in these things is not the rule of his conduct: he can prevent poison from destroying, and strong drinks from intoxicating, but we have no encouragement to expect the interposition of his power for such purposes. It is his unchangeable and irrevocable will that the ways of trangressors shall be hard : to interfere, then, by power, to prevent the “hard” concomitants and results of transgression, would be to employ his omnipotence to derange his own system. Up to a certain point, he has put it in our power to prevent the operations of poison and of intoxicating drinks; but, even to that point, he will never introduce his own power to supply our deficiency and negligence. If the holiest man on earth were to take poison, the influences of the Holy Spirit would not be expected to prevent the poison from acting ; nor, if he were to take intoxicating drinks, could he expect the power of the Holy Ghost to prevent his disgraceful inebriation.
2. The natural evils found in the world are to be withstood and prevented entirely by the agency of man. When man was created he was put in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Eden, then, even in its best state, was susceptible of natural evil, were it only from luxuriance of growth, and the falling of the leaves. To control, direct, and manage such affairs, man was put in the garden to keep it. Why did not God keep it. Why did not God keep the trees from growing too luxuriantly, or prevent deciduous leaves from falling inconveniently? The only reason we can give is, he made man to keep it. And the man, who expects God to do everything, ought to ask himself seriously, “ Why did God make ME?” God made man to do something. If God intended to do that work himself, he would not have formed man to do it; and since he made man to do it, he will not interfere, by power, if it be left undone. The power of disease is to be subdued, the evils of national barbarism are to be cured, the night of popular ignorance is to be chased away, and the chains of political bondage to be snapped, not by a direct interposition of Omnipotence, but by the instrumentality of means employed by the agency of men themselves. Analogy and scripture show that moral evils, injuries, and wrongs, are to be controlled, subdued, and prevented by a similar agency. The moral evils of pride, ambition, covetousness, avarice, extortion, censoriousness,