Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

lagius, and his followers, and how ably it was defended by Augustine, Jerom, Prosper, and others. I mean not to deny, but that the heat of debate has, in this instance, as in numberless others, produced unguarded expressions, even on the part of the defenders of the doctrine. These expressions, having given offence to pious minds, have had the effect of stigmatizing this important article of our belief, as maintaining what appears to be extremely hard, if not unjust, the devoting infants, for instance, to that damnation which, it is acknowledged, wilful sin deserves, but which is avowedly their misfortune, and not their fault. Were we to enquire minutely into the justice of this charge, we should find that it is more or less owing to the sense commonly assigned to the Latin term * tum--sin, as if it necessarily implied actual, wilful, and deliberate transgression. Whereas we know, that the radical and primary meaning of the terms used in the Greek and Hebrew scriptures, ('app

Tayw'in Greek, • NON' in Hebrew), is to‘ERR,'* TO BE OUT OF THE WAY,' _' TO MISS THE MARK;' or, as St Paul most accurately defines it, . all have * sinned, and COME SHORT of the glory of God':' It is also observable, that where the inspired writers, in both Testaments, intend to speak of what we understand by transgression, or actual sin, they use other words of more determinate signification, as will be acknowledged by all who are in the least

Hh

pecca

ac

I Rom. iii. 23.

acquainted with the original style of holy writ. What therefore Scripture declares, and experience hourly proves, it is certainly most reasonable for us to believe, viz. that there is, in human nature, as derived from the corrupted nature of Adam, even now, 'a mistake,' ' a coming short,'' a missing of the mark";' nay even a hereditary vitiosity, which, whether denoininated · SIN’ or not, is undoubtedly. ORIGINAL,' since · death' is the 'wages of it ;' and that must be original,' or ' from the source, which affects the whole race or offspring. Nor is our temporal dissolution the only effect (tho' the only visible effect) of this contagion ; it prevents our being entitled to, or fit for, the glorious immortality, which we are taught to believe is prepared for us : since

without holiness no man can see the Lord :

Self-love may flatter, and philosophy may magnify the dignity of human nature, and the vast extent of man's reasoning faculty.

faculty. Yet it must be contessed, because sensibly felt by every honest man, whether Christian or Deist, that in the very zenith of its self-exaltation, there is a deviation from the line of complete rectitude, something which the most vain-glorious could wish not to be, something which is unworthy of being displayed

before

I St Paul talks (Phil. iii. 14.) of " pressing toward the mark," &c. but if we consult the context, we shall find, that it was “ not having “ his own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ," &c.

2 Heb. xii. 14,

before the

eye

of

pure and perfect Deity, something, in short, which may be said to produce, involuntarily, some such exclamation as that of St Paul, when he is about to conclude his reasoning on this degrading subject ( wretched man that I am, 'who shall deļiver me from the body of this death"?' It is rather an unusual mode of maintaining any position ; but :0 it is, that, in my opinion, we need seek no fuller proof of the original corruption of human nature, than the very attempts that have been made to deny it, and the eagerness displayed in suggesting but a doubt regarding it.

Upon this woeful change, in Adam's nature and condition, as affecting himselt immediately, and, as consequentially affecting all his descendants, there followed, by a revealed decree, an alteration in the terms on which, in his state of original innocence, Man had stood with his great Creator; and a new plan of divine love was discovered to him. Hitherto the connection had been between a Creator, and a highly favoured creature, between a parent and a dutiful child, between a king and an obedient subject. But upon

the fall, and in consequence of that fatal event, this happy connection (of the duration of which we are wholly ignorant) was totally dissolved; and now, the case stood as between a Creator and an offending creature, between a King and a rebel, between God and a sinner. Here was a dreadH h 2

ful,

s Rom. vii, 24

ful, and, by human means, irreconcileable breach, which, if not happily closed, must have brought ruin and misery to the wretched offender for ever. On the one part, atonement became indispensable; on the other part, forgiveness. Yet, as the offender could make no atonement, so neither could the offended forgive without it. ' In this deplorable state, deplorable indeed beyond conception to the miserable delinquent, trembling at the bar of unrelenting justice, the mercy of Jehovah proposed, and his infinite wisdom provided, a remedy; the singular efficacy of which consists in this, that justice is completely satisfied, mercy is nobly exalted, and wisdom adorably displayed. To the poor penitent offenders a promise was intimated of a deliverance to be wrought for them and their race, by ONE, described under what may be termed, the family character of the seed of the woman ;' which inise was renewed to patriarchs and prophets in after times; and thus was the comfortable prospect of a full accomplishment preserved, until the time when the seed' did come, (of whoin, and to whom, the promise was made), and that ' seed' is Christ".'

pro

Much has been said, and much has been written, on the subject of covenants between God and man. The two covenants-of works before the fall, and of grace after it, have long constituted a sort of standard language. I readily admit the soundness of the doctrine in the sense which is intended to be expressed. But I forbear to adopt the language, as, in my opinion, improper and inadequate. The word COVENANT, in its general acceptation, implies a pact or agreement between parties held to be on a footing of equality ; which therefore cannot subsist where there is, on the one side-superiority, on the other-inferiority, as is confessedly the case between God and man, in whatever view we behold manwhether as in a state of primæval innocence, or of adventitious transgression. Besides, I look upon this mode of expression, as seeming to bestow on man a share of merit in devising the glorious scheme of his redemption. This the sound christian can in nowise admit, as he believes that man's only share in this stupendous transaction was, humbly and thankfully to accept in faith, what in mercy was graciously and freely offered to him.

dard

i Gal, iii. 16.

But what still further justifies and confirms

my scruple regarding the propriety of the received language of the two covenants,' is my discovering no foundation for it in Scripture, when Scripture is duly examined, and the whole scope of it attended to. We do indeed frequently meet with the word covenant in Scripture. But so far is the context from establishing any thing like a covenant of works be

fore the fall,' that the first mention made of the term is on the occasion of God's threatening to bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all

flesh,

« AnteriorContinuar »