Imágenes de páginas

they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Further, we have reason to believe, that many of those, in our Lord's day, concerning whom the words were applicable, afterward believed to the saving of the soul. It was said by Jesus Christ, (Mark iv. 11.)“ Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables : that seeing they may see,” &c. Now, all those that believed on the day of Pentecost and subsequently, once ranked among them that were without, and, consequently, in them were fulfilled the words of Isaiah-" that seeing they may see,” &c.

6th, Eph. ii. 8. “ For by grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." We propose the following translation as being fully more literal—“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, being the gift of God.”—This passage is adduced by our author, in order to prove that God has decreed not to bestow the gift of faith upon certain individuals of mankind. Now, admitting that faith is the gift of God, in the sense in which our author holds it, still it does not follow, that, because it is a gift, it is sovereignly bestowed on some, and sovereignly withheld from others. But it is a subject of inquiry, whether or not faith is that which the apostle means to be understood by—“ the gift of God.” In the preceding chapter, the apostle, after detailing the various blessings and privileges which believers in Christ enjoy, sums up the whole, by stating the relation in wbich Jesus Christ stands towards them; “ He gave him (Jesus Christ) to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all,” ver. 22, 23. Having represented the church as the body of Christ, the apostle, still keeping up the figure, goes on to shew, that the Gentile believers, wbo formerly walked according to the course of this world, and “were dead in trespasses and sins,” that is, spiritually dead, as it regards the performance of acceptable service to God; and legally dead, as it regards the state of justification before God; were now quickened from their twofold death into a living body, viz. the body of Jesus Christ, chap. ii. 1, 2. In like manner, he shews, that the Jews, by their vile affections and wicked practices, were, like the generality of other nations, “ the children of wrath,” that is, exposed to the wrath of God, ver. 3. .“ But,” says the apostle, “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were [legally and spiritually] dead in sins, hath quickened us [both Jews and Gentiles] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved,) and hath raised us up together, [into one body, as from the dead,] and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” ver. 446..

Having thus represented the church of Christ, then consisting of believing Jews and Gentiles, as first

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

quickened, then raised up, and lastly seated in heavenly places with Christ, the apostle proceeds to state an important result, that should arise from such a constitution of the church, viz. “That in the ages to come, he (God) might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus," ver. 7. He assures the Ephesians of the justness of this observation, by declaring, “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” Had their state of salvation not been by grace, it could not have been an occasion of shewing, in ages to come, the exceeding riches of God's grace. Now, as the apostle had declared, that they were saved by grace, it would naturally follow, that their salvation could not be of themselves, but be the gift of God. Again, had their salvation been of themselves, then, it is evident, that it would have been of works; but, says the apostle, it is “not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” ver. 9, 10. Hence it follows, that the words,“ by faith,” according to the train of reasoning above elicited, are merely supplementary to the phrase, “by grace are ye saved.” Again, if we suppose faith, and not salvation, to be that which the apostle calls “the gift of God," we represent him as declaring, that faith is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” We remark, lastly, that our exposition of the passage is corroborated by the grammatical construction of the original. But as


that circumstance is familiar to the learned, it is unnecessary for us to state the argument for their sake; and as the mere English reader might not perceive the force of the argument, it has been thought proper to decline altogether the introduction of such a mode of reasoning.

7th, Heb. vi. 4–6. x. 20—29. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”-“ For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace ?"

Our author's design in referring to these passages, is to prove, that common influences, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, are not withheld from some of those who lie under the decree of reprobation. We have no doubt, that many of those who shall be ranked at the left hand on the day of judgment, will be found to have enjoyed common influences, and gifts of the Holy Ghost; but the question here is, whether or not the apostle, in these two passages, describes the probable case of real, or the actual case of false Christians ?

In introducing himself to the attention of his brethren “ according to the flesh,” (who were also believers in Christ,) the apostle states a fact, which he, doubtless, believed was universally admitted, viz. that “God, who, at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken (unto us by his Son," ver. 1, 2. In order to shew the superiority of the gospel, he proves the unequalled dignity of its founder, ver. 2–14. From this consideration he infers, that “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip," ii. 1.' Having thus intimated, that the superior dignity of Christ demands the greater watchfulness and fidelity, he proceeds to appeal to the fears of his brethren; “ For,” says he, “if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we [believers in Christ] escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him ?" ver. 2, 3.

Having invited his brethren to compare the character and office of Moses and Jesus Christ, the apostle

« AnteriorContinuar »