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began. On this passage I would offer the three following observations.
First : The times of restitution cannot mean any time or times beyond those of the resurrection, and the last judgment. This is evident from the passage itself compared with various other scriptures. The heavens have received Christ, and will retain him till the times of restitution of all things—but the whole lenor of scripture declares that the heavens will not retain Christ beyond the times of the resurrection and the last judgment—therefore the times of restitution cannot be beyond that period.,
Christ's being retained in the heavens till the times of the res. titution of all things, is said to have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. This, if applied to the kingdom of the Messiah termipating in the resurrection and the last judgment, is true: for from Enoch to Malachi this was a subject to which all the prophets bare witness. But if applied to some future period after the final judgment, when wicked men and devils shall be released, it is not true, the abettors of this notion themselves being judges. What evidence can they pretend to, supposing the thing itself were a truth, that God by the mouth of all his holy prophets said any thing about it? Much less that Christ should be retained in the heavens till the arrival of this supposed period. On the contrary, by the mouth of all his holy prophets he hath said just the reverse. He hath all along represented Christ's second coming as being immediately before, and in order to the last judgment, and not after it.*
Secondly: The times of the resurrection and the last judgment are with peculiar propriety called the times of restitution of all things, because that is the period when the moral disorder of the creation shall come to an end. By the introduction and prevalence of moral evil, every thing in creation has been disjointed and thrown into a state of anarchy and confusion. God's authority has been set aside, his just revenue of glory withheld, and even the creatures, which were all designed to promote righteousness, order, and happiness, are abused, and made to subserve the grati
* Jude 14, 15. Job xix. 25, 26. Psa. I. 3, 4. xevi. 13. xcviii. 9. Joel iii. 13.
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fications of brutal appetite. The sun emits his rays, and the clouds let fall their showers, the mountains abound with cattle, and the valleys with corn ; and all to furnish man with what he subverts to the vilesi purposes. All this is unnatural to the creation. The grand end of every being, intelligent or unintelligent, was to subserve the Creator's glory. If the creatures of God are made to promote the cause of iniquity, it is unnatural. It is a vanity to which they are unwillingly, as it were, made subject ; : and under which, as under a burden, they groan and travail in pain ; longing for the glorious liberty of the sons of God, which shall arrive at the resurrection. The empire of sin sball then be utterly destroyed, order fully restored, and peace and righteous. ness flow in their ancient channels. . .
But nothing of all this implies the restoration of wicked men and devils to their original state. If a rebellion break out in the dominions of an earthly king, which is carried to such a height that the laws are set aside, the royal authority disregarded, and all the productions of that part of his dominions appropriated to purposes of hostility ; if after this the king should crush the .con. spiracy, reinstate himself upon his throne, and call the offenders to justice; if he should pardou some, punish others, and restore law, peace, and order, to his whole dominions ; this might be termed a restitution of all things : but who would imagine that this implied the restitution of all the rebels to their ancient dignities and honours ?
Thirdly: The times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and the times of restitution of all things, appear to be the same ; and a share in both is held up as a motive to repentance and conversion. The Apostle, in the text, says, Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you ; whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. This, if applied to the times of the resurrection and the last judgment, is all rational and beautiful ; but if applied to some period after those times, when devils and wicked men
shall be released, it is absurd and contradictory. Is it possible to suppose Peter's meaning should be to the following purpose ? • Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when these times of refresbing and restitution shall come ; though after all, your sins shall then be blotted out, whether you repent and be converted or not!'
APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS RECONCILED.
ADMITTING the divine authority of the holy scriptures, their harmony ought not to be called in question ; yet it must be allowed by every considerate reader, that there are apparent difficulties. Nor is it unlawful, but laudable, to wish to see those difficulties removed, and to aim at a perception of the particular beauty of God's word, as well as a general persuasion of its harmo. ny. On this principle I greatly approve of the request of Candidus, and so far as it respects myself shall endeavour to comply with it. · The passages which he wishes to see reconciled, are Johri v. 40. and vi. 44, 45, 65. And ye are not willing to come to me that ye might have life.—No man can come to me except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me.-Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not,- and he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me except it were given unto him of my Father.
My thoughts on these passages will be comprised in the seven following observations.
First: There is no way of obtaining eternal life, but by Jesus Christ. This observation is fully implied in the first passage, and I suppose may stand without any further confirmation.
Secondly : They that enjoy eternal life, must come to Christ for it. Coming is not an act of the body, but of the mind and heart. It is a term wbich, in the New Testament, is commonly used as synonymous with believing in Christ. In common speech we frequently apply it to the yielding of a person's mind who has heretofore been in a state of enmity, or variance. When we see a change in his views of things, his proud spirit begin to subside, his prejudice give way, the high tone of his expressions lowered, and his heart inclining towards a reconciliation, we say, 'He is coming.'
Thirdly : It is the revealed will of Christ that every one who hears the gospel, should come to him for life. This position, I should think, is equally evident from the text in question, as either of the above. Our Lord would not have complained of the Jews for not coming to him, nor bave imputed it to the obstinacy of their will, if the contrary had not been their duty, as well as their highest interest. Every one who hears the gospel must either feel willing to be saved in God's way, or unwilling, or neither the one vor the other. If we are willing, we are true believers : if unwilling, we are what the scriptures style disobedient, like these Jews, and like them fall under the displeasure of Christ. But may we not be neutral ? That a being positively unwilling to be saved in God's way is sinful, seems to be almost self-evident : but is there no such thing as a medium?' To which I answer, If there be a medium between a being willing and unwilling, it must consist in such a state of mind wherein a person feels indifferent; that is, neither for Christ nor against him. But this is declared to be impossible, He that is not against us, said Christ, is on our side. If a person could feel indifferent in this case, that in difference would be deemed disloyalty. As the curse fell upon Meroz for his not coming forth to the help of the Lord against the mighty, so an Anathema Maranatha is denounced against any man
that loveth not our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. It is inconsistent with the perfections of God to allow any sinner who hears the gospel of Christ, to feel either aversion, or indifference towards him.
Fourthly : The depravity of human nature is such, that no man of his own accord, will come to Christ for life. This position, it may be objected, is not sufficiently evident from Christ's words in the first of these passages ; seeing it does not follow, that because the Jews would not come to him, therefore none else would. T, this it is replied, Be it so; it is sufficiently evident from this passage, taken in connexion with other scriptures, and eren with those two with which it is here attempted to be reconciled. To come to Christ for life, is to feel the danger of our situation, and be in real earnest after escape; in such earnest as one that wag fleeing to the city of refuge, with the avenger of blood in pursuit of him. But men are naturally at ease, or if awakened by the alarms of Providence or conscience, are disposed to fly to any refuge rather than Christ. To come to Christ for eternal life, is to feel and acknowledge ourselves destitute of every claim on his favour, and worthy of eternal death ; but this is too humiliating to human pride. To come to Christ for life, in short, is to give up our own righteousness, and be justified by his; our own wisdom, and be guided by bis ; and our own will, and be ruled by his : it is to receive him as our all in all : but man by nature is unwilling to part from his idols ; he had rather hazard his soul's eternal welfare than give them up.
Fifthly : The degree of this deprarity is' such, as that, figura. tively speaking, men cannot come to Christ for life. It is not bere supposed that they would come to Christ, but cannot ; nor that they could not come if they would. It is true, when the word cannot is used in its literal and proper sense ; that is, when it is applied to a natural inability, this idea is always implied : Ahijah COULD Not see, by reason of his age.—The king of Moab would have broken through the hosts of his enemies, but he COULD NOT.The mariners rowed hard to bring the ship to land, but they could NOT. In each of these cases there was properly a want of power, which denominated the parties unable, though they were, or