« AnteriorContinuar »
what is as dull as Sternhold and Hopkins : others in what is as sublime as Milton or Young. Yea, however you could combine the utile and the dulce together, yet you could not please all.
“Some years fince it was objected to the Magazines, " that they consisted of too few. Articles," being usually about twelve. Objeétions of an opposite nature have been made of late years ; namely; that each consists of.too many; perhaps three or four-and twenty. In order to avoid both extremes, may not a medium be observed ; and each Magazine generally consist of about sixteen or eighteen Articles? You will excuse, į douby not, what I have written, as you les
I perfe&tly agree with this advice, and purpose it shall be taken for the time to come.
*******0*0*0*0* An Illustration of Part of the Seventh Chapter of the Epifle
to the Romans, from verse 14, to the end of the Chapter,
By J A MES SMITH, Minister in DUMPERMLINE.
SINCE the days of Augustine, down to the present age,
many have been of opinion, that St. Paul's account of the carnal man, in the seventh chapter of his epifle to the Romans, is a true account of his condition even after his conversion. Accordingly this passage hath become the stan dard, by which Christians are directed to try their interest in Chrift; and the illustration of a good man's character is frequently taken from it. According to that opinion, every part in this passage is, at all times, applicable to the most eminent in the family of God, and the whole passage, from the 14th verse to the end of the chapter, contains the cleareft marks of a true Christian. This is the present opinion of the generality of Prefbyterians in Scotland. VoL, XIII.
Though I am perfectly satisfied as to the general scope of the paffage; yet, I dare not be so confident as to the sense of particular expressions; and therefore beg the reader would not hastily reject the opinion, though some parts of the illus. ration be unexceptionable.
Nothing is more difficult than to convince men that any of their religious opinions are erroneous. The more implicitly mankind receive their principles, the more tenaciously they generally maintain them; and the less they are understood, the more are such professors irritated to hear them called in question.
In this attempt, therefore, to illustrate a portion of scripture contrary to a received opinion, I have realon to expect from many violent opposition and keen reproach. And nothing but a full conviction of the truth and importance of this opinion, could induce me to support it. Unconscious of
other motives than the interests of re. ligion, and good of mankind, I only beg to be heard without prejudice, and opposed with candour.
As the faults of an individual are more visible to another than to himself; fo the errors of any religious denomination are better discovered by those who differ from them than by themselves. Were men humble enough to receive instruction from their opponents, different opinions might advance the interests of truth. But the pride and prejudices of the human mind often prevent men from profiting by the observations of opponents: these are frequently rejected without examination, or weighed with prejudice. On this account, I am afraid, that my opinion of this passage, will be ill received by my Christian brethren ; however, the question is not, by whom it is maintained, but is it true?
Different opinions may be embraced with safety, if they do not lead to dangerous consequences; but when the interpre. tation of any passage of scripture endangers the interests of religion, then ought we to lift up our voice against it.
We cannot well conceive two .opinions more contrary to one another than those which have been maintained by commentators concerning the signification of this passage. That the subject is interesting, and the right understanding of it of vaft importance, is generally granted: but as the opinion, that St. Paul is here describing his state of grace, hath taken deep root in the present generation, and is not likely to be easily fhaken, I earnestly beleech my Christian brethren, deliberately to weigh the certain consequences, if that opinion be ill founded. And,
Such as embrace an opinion so contrary to the sense of the text, can have no benefit by this part of revelation : it is to them as if it were blotted out of the book of God. We only profit by the scriptures, so far as we understand them: what we totally misunderstand, is as if it were sealed up from us; this is the least injury we can sustain. That teacher, who, by totally misrepresenting this, or any one passage of scripture, so as to hide its real fignification from the church, is guilty of taking that much of God's word from those whom he thus deceiveth.
1. This tends to blend together two characters essentially distinct from one another. Those, who interpret the characteristic marks of an unregenerate man, as clearly described by an inspired apostle, to be evidences of an eminent faint, do great dilservice to religion. The injury is not less fatal, because done ignorantly.
2. This interpretation of the passage goes far to invalidate the apostle's testimony as a witness for Jesus. The apostle's uprightness, after he embraced the gospel of Jesus, is of great importance to Christianity. But, if we ascribe to him that temper and conduct which is characteristic of the wicked, we thereby invalidate his testimony. He urged his own conduct as an example to the churches, and declared, “That he was in nothing behind the very chief apostles.” If St. Paul had been an impostor, so were the other apostles. No traits could better suit the character of an impostor, than some parts of this
passage. We cannot describe his character better, than by saying of him, “He is sold under sin :" the criminal passions, with which he is actuated, war against the law of his conscience, and carry him captive to the law of ln: bis conscience often smites him; he then would do good, but his evil passions are fill present with him and prevail. There is no good dwelling in the man: how to do that which is good he finds not, but practiseth evil, in opposition both to his light and conscience. Such, however, is the character which many have long given to the apostle of the Gentiles, and the followers of Jesus.
3. This opinion hath become a dreadful snare to the souls · of men: " Go, say the teachers of Christianity, to people ever apt to flatter and deceive their own souls; go, try your hearts and lives by these infallible evidences of saintship: if ye are what St. Paul was, your salvation is sure: that ye may not be discouraged because of remaining corruption, we assure you, though ye be carnal, sold under sin; though no good dwell in you; though ye cannot do good; though ye practise evil; though your luits war against the inclinations of your mind, and carry you captive to the law of fin; though ye outwardly with the flesh serve the law of sin; yet if yo desire to act otherwise, though ye do it not, and with the inward man delight in the law which ye thus transgress, and consent to it that it is good; then ye are in a situation perfecily the same with the chief of saints !"
Whoever attends to the principles and practices of professors in general, will find, that there is no passage in scripture, with which they are better acquainted than this : the greater number can repeat the substance of this portion of scripture; and those, whose conduct is very blameable, excuse themselves by repeating some of the expressions here used; hence that which was intended by the Spirit of God to become the means of conviction to such, by this misrepresentation tends to harden them in vice. (To be continued.]