Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

accepted and regenerated till he believes in Christ. It is only when he trusts in Christ that forgiveness is sealed upon his conscience, and the sin that dwelleth in him ceases to have the dominion. There is an inseparable connection between these blessings. No man can receive one without the other. Yet in the order of nature justification is first vouchsafed. It is, indeed, absurd to suppose that the Holy Ghost will so renew us in the spirit of our minds as to make us partakers of the divine nature, while we remain under the curse of God's violated law. But when we are “accepted in the Beloved," there is no “charge” against us; we are as fully justified as if we had never committed a single sin, but had actually fulfilled all righteousness; and hence there is nothing to hinder the communication of the Holy Spirit in all his plenitude of regenerating power. This salvation is matter of personal consciousness. There is the Spirit of adoption in the believing heart, crying, "Abba, Father;" and per. 'manently happy are the men whom the Son thus makes free by an application of his blood, and the mighty working of the Holy Ghost.

Little did Mr. Wesley and the few devout people who met with him a hundred years ago in a private house in Aldersgate-street imagine what important results would arise from the events of that evening. From that hour he was a new man. He found what he had long desired, a conscience calm and tranquil, and a heart purified from sin. Up to that period he had wearied himself in ineffectual struggles to gain the mastery over the evils of his own nature. His sincerity and his outward conduct were indeed unimpeachable ; for the gratuitous insinuation, that he was guilty of some immoral act in Georgia, which has been recently advanced by a biographer of his friend Mr. Whitefield, I will venture to affirm was never previously heard of; yet he painfully felt that he was not inwardly holy: he was not prepared to die. But now the prevailing dispoșition of his heart was that of heavenly love, connected with the peace of God which passeth all understanding. Long had he accustomed himself to fasting and prayer; he had carefully studied all the arguments in favor of natural and revealed religion; he had collected the finest devotional compositions, both in prose and verse, and repeated them upon his knees with great seriousness and sincerity; yet after all he felt himself to be the slave of unbelief, of the fear which hath torment, and of various inward evils. “But now," says he, “ I always conquered." He had reproved sin, and warned the wicked, from a sense of duty ; but now he loved the souls of men with a yearning pity, like that of his Saviour. It was his intention to bury himself for life in the retirement of his college; but now his heart expanded in universal charity. He saw that there was something in Christianity which meets the wants of the world ; this substantial good he longed to make known; and he soon began to offer this salvation, in all its magnitude and freeness, to condemned felons, to sinners of every grade, and many “rejoiced for the consolation.”

At first he was weak in faith; but he was greatly strengthened and encouraged by a visit to Hernhuth, and his conversation there with several intelligent members of the Moravian Church, “who were in Christ before him.” He was happily compelled by the force of circumstances to violate that canonical order which was a direct infringement upon the liberty wherewith Christ had made his people free, by preaching this salvation in the open air, in private houses, in barns, in town halls, and other unconsecrated places, sanctioned by the example of his Lord and the apostles. In the same manner he was led to accept the assistance of preachers on whose heads episcopal hands had never been laid. To make this salvation known to the widest possible extent was the one business of his subsequent life. His ministry, his authorship, his disciplinary arrangements, had all reference to this great end. In recommending this salvation he patiently endured opposition and discouragements of unexampled severity; for he felt that the object which he had in view immensely outweighed every personal consideration; and when laid upon the bed of death, the Lord whose mercy he had known and preached for more than fifty years was still "all his salvation and all his desire."

How many persons have been saved by his instrumentality, directly and indirectly, within the last century, the day of the Lord will declare. None will deny that his labors have exerted a powerful influence both upon the Established Church and the different bodies of evangelical Dissenters. In the present day more than a million of people, scattered over the four quarters of the globe, have adopted the discipline which he recommended to guard and foster the work of God; and perhaps five times that number attend the ministry which he was a means of providing. “Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth !" To what extent the labors of this great man will be a means of good in future ages, the divine Mind only can foresee. But whatever that good may be, the elements of it all are to be traced to the change which took place in his heart in the little meeting in Aldersgate-street. Had he not found peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, he would never have been an itinerant and a field preacher; nor would he ever have been a means of effecting that revival of religion the fruits of which are visible in the length and breadth of the land, among all denominations of Christians, and in some of the remotest nations of the earth. Nothing but the love of Christ, shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him, could have prompted him to undertake the gigantic labors in which his life was spent; nor have enabled him to bear up under the violence and mockery of mobs, and the bitter contumely that was heaped upon him from the press,

That the Methodist body tenaciously adhere to their original doctrine of free, present, and conscious salvation from sin by faith in the Lord Jesus, is matter of sincere congratulation. Upon the faithful preaching of this doctrine the Lord of the harvest at present vouchsafes his signal blessing, as he has done from the beginning. The various revirals of religion which are now witnessed in Great Britain, and upon several of the mission stations, attest this. That some men should misapprehend the doctrine in question, and represent it as big with Antinomian licentiousness, is not at all surprising; but such objectors neither know what they say, nor whereof they affirm. The salvation which Mr. Wesley obtained by faith in Christ, and which he taught other people to expect, is salvation from sin, its guilt, its power, its pollution, its pain; and that such a salvation should lead to the practice of sin is a positive contradiction; for it is a salvation which comprehends both inward and outward holiness. The Wesleys and their zealous associates measured their success, not by the number of persons that embraced their opinions and

modes of worship, but by the number of persons that were saved from sin, and made the holy and spiritual worshippers of God. This is still our great calling; and to this Methodist literature, preaching, and missionary operations ought to be most sacredly directed. “Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.”

It will be delightful, during the ensuing month of May, to contemplate John Wesley, with a sad and disconsolate heart, meeting with half a dozen people like minded with himself, in a private room in Aldersgate-street, to read and pray, and there finding rest to his soul; and to contrast this scene-this “ day of small and feeble things"_with the joyous crowds that will assemble at a comparatively short distance from that place to commemorate the anniversaries of their great religious and philanthropic societies. Tidings of success from the wide mission field will then be recited ; reports will be given of the progress of Christian education, both at home and abroad, and of the distribution of the Holy Scriptures; so as to awaken the most grateful emotions, and to call forth loud expressions of praise and thanksgiving.

"See how great a flame aspires,

Kindled by a spark of grace!
Jesus' love the nations fires,

Sets the kingdoms on a blaze.
When he first the work begun,

Small and feeble was his day:
Now the word doth swiftly run,

Now it wins its widening way;
More and more it spreads and grows,

Ever mighty to prevail;
Sin's strong holds it now o’erthrows,

Shakes the trembling gates of hell.
Sons of God, your Saviour praise !

He the door hath open'd wide;
He hath given the word of grace,

Jesus' word is glorified :
Jesus, mighty to redeem,

He alone the work hath wrought;
Worthy is the work of Him,

Him who spake a world from naught.”

DIDYMUS.

April 11, 1838.

For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
Art. X.—JESUS CHRIST VERY GOD AND VERY MAN.

AN ESSAY, BY REV. EBENEZER WASHBURN. The writer of the following short essay has long felt it his duty to lay before the world his sentiments with regard to the true character of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prophet of Nazareth ; not that he ex. pects to present any new ideas or arguments on a subject which has so much agitated and divided the Church, both in ancient and modern times, and called forth the talents and the eloquence of the learned, both from the pulpit and the press, but because he views the subject to be one of vital importance to the Church, and to the world at large. Considering that most of what has been written on it has been in long and somewhat abstruse treatises, he thought it necessary that, at the present time, the rising generation, as well as adult persons, should have the arguments and proofs in favor of what he deems the true character of Christ put into their hands in that plain, simple, and concise form which, with a few hours' labor, each one might read and compare with the Holy Scriptures. These are the only and the suffi. cient rule both of our faith and practice, and the only source from which we can derive a knowledge of the truth on this question.

I. First, then, I believe Christ to be complete and very man, our brother as concerning the flesh, possessing the soul, body, and spirit of a man, and partaking of all the innocent infirmities of human nature. He hungered, he thirsted, he wept; he was a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief. I view him a holy, immaculate man, having never been contaminated by the fall of Adam. But though he was born of a woman, made in the fashion of a man, made under the law, took upon him the form of a servant, and was “tempted in all points like as we are ;" he was " yet without sin.” These, being almost universally acknowledged points, need no farther argument or proof. But when I view Messiah in the light of the Holy Scriptures, I con. sider him as having existed long prior to his appearance in the flesh : and with me the important inquiry is, In what light are we to consider him in his pre-existent nature? I have examined, with care, prayer, and much attention the different opinions of men on this important question. I cannot subscribe to the doctrine which recognizes him as a mere man. 1. Because he existed long prior to the existence of the first man. His address to his Father just before his passion was, “ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self; with that glory which I had with thee before the world was,” John xvii, 5. Man was not created till after the creation of the world, for he was formed of the dust of the ground, (Gen. ii, 7.) He who existed before the materials were created out of which the first man was formed cannot be mere man. 2. Because he is the Maker of all men. (John i, 3.) Whatever was created was created by him, whether it be in heaven or in earth. (Col. i, 16.) But no mere man has created him. self; therefore Christ cannot be mere man. 3. Because a mere man is a man by ordinary generation from Adam. Prove that Christ is any thing more than a man by ordinary generation from Adam, and you prove that he is something more than a mere man: and prove that he did come by ordinary generation from Adam, and you disprove his pre-existence, and sink him to a level with the rest of Adam's fallen posterity. Do this, and you strip him of every essential qualification to save sinners, rob the world of every possible hope of salvation through any medium yet revealed, put the palm of triumph into the hands of infidelity, and leave the whole apostate race of Adam, toge. ther with their long-boasted Saviour, to perish under the ruins of the fall. I cannot acknowledge him as an angel, 1, because the apostle Paul informs me that “he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham," Heb, ii, 16. 2. Because God spake to him as he never spake to an angel ; « For to which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee," Heb, i, 5; “ But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool,” Heb. i, 13. Now, if God has said these things to the Son, and has never said them to an angel, then it follows that the Son is not an angel. And that he has said them to the Son I learn from the second and the hundred and tenth Psalms. I cannot believe him a super-angelic creature, because I cannot believe any thing without evidence; and I have no evidence that God has ever created any such order of beings: and for me to conclude that God might have made such an order of beings, and, therefore, (because I think Omnipotence could have done it,) take it for granted that he has done it; and then say, I will trust the salvation of my soul in the hands of such a creature, appears to me like presuming to make a Saviour in my own imagination. But I confess I doubt my ability to make a saviour that would answer my turn in the trying hour. Neither dare I trust my soul's immortal interest in the hand of an ideal saviour formed by the fruitful imagina. tion of any of my fallen brethren. I cannot receive him as a created god, a god less than the Father ; 1, because God has forbidden me to do so, “ Thou shalt have no other gods before me," Exod. xx, 3. Now, if Jehovah has made a god, and sent him into the world, and required me to receive him by faith, on the penalty of damnation, has he not laid me under the necessity of losing my soul for ever, or breaking his holy commandment in order to save it? 2. Because God has long since promised his church that there never shall be any such god formed. “ Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe in me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me,” Isa. xliii, 10. If, therefore, God has created an. other god, has he not broken his promise to the church? 3. Because if there be any such god, Jehovah is ignorant of him. “ Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a god besides me? Yea, there is no god; I know not any,” Isa, xliv, 8. Now, for me to acknowledge a god, of whom Jehovah declares himself to be ignorant, appears like setting up my knowledge as superior to Omniscience itself. In a word, the idea of a created deity appears to me a palpable self-contradiction ; for a created being is a creature, at best ; and a creature must be finite; and a creature-finite god must, in the view of an understanding Chrise tian, be just no god at all. I do most sincerely and devoutly believe in him as very, essential, and eternal God, of the same substance, power, and glory with the Father of eternity.

II. This I believe, 1. Because the works of God are ascribed to him. Moses said, “ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” Gen. i, 1. John said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made,” John i, 1, 2, 3. That John spake this of Christ, is evident from the twelfth verse, “ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” If the Christ of John was not the God of Moses, Moses and John, two very eminent inspired writers, are found to differ very widely with regard to the true author of the universe. It will not be satisfactory to me to be told that Christ was delegated, by God, to create all things; because the testimony of God is greater with me than the declaration of any man; and God utterly disclaims the assistance of any delegated

VOL. IX.--July, 1838. 43

« AnteriorContinuar »