Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

so that they may be present with us when it is requisite to enable us to resist temptations, and to encourage us in the performance of our duty. Thirdly, in the communication of a new moral power to the soul, even the Spirit of holiness, by means of which we are made conformable to the divine image, and are prepared for the service and for the enjoyment of God, both here and hereafter. And upon the supposition that God deals with us in these things suitable to the nature of our faculties; that is, on our understanding, by presenting the light to it; on our wills, by presenting motives to choose the good and refuse the evil; and on our souls, by the communication of a moral power, by which we are strengthened with all might in the inward man to do his will; these inward operations of the Holy Spirit, together with the written word, must be sufficient for all the ends and purposes of the Christian dispensation.

I am aware, that there are many who maintain that the Holy Spirit, instead of operating in us in conformity to these laws of mind, with which our Maker has endowed us, operates upon us irresistibly, and that the sinner is wholly passive in the act of conversion. In order to understand this matter, it will be necessary briefly to state it. In the first place, it will be granted, that the action of the Holy Spirit, in raising an idea in my mind by making an impression upon my brain, is properly physical. In the second place, that in these actions I am purely passive; that is, I myself do nothing formally to produce these ideas, but the Holy Spirit, without my co-operations, produces them in me. And, in the third place, these operations must be irresistible in their production, because they are immediately produced in me without my knowledge, and without my will, and so without the exercise of those faculties by which I am enabled to act. But here, I add, it is neither praiseworthy nor rewardable in me, that I have such ideas raised in my mind, because they were altogether involuntary on my part; but if, after they are raised by the Holy Spirit in my mind, I attend to thein, and improve them for the ends and purposes for which they were raised, then my course of conduct becomes praise worthy and rewardable. This subject may be illustrated by the following example: It is generally admitted, that Satan can work upon the brain, so as to raise up in the mind unholy and impure thoughts; but in such cases, it is held that these thoughts will not be imputed to us as sins, unless we are pleased with them, and form the purpose of reducing them to practice; because, in the raising of these thoughts, we were entirely passive, and, consequently, free from guilt. When these thoughts are raised, it is our duty, when we first perceive them in our minds, to suppress them, and if we do this, it is all that God requires of us; but if, on the other hand, we give place to them, and dwell upon them with any degree of pleasure and delight, even if we do not reduce them to practice, then they become criminal. So, when the Holy Spirit raises up ideas in our minds, we cannot be rewardable for possessing them till we manifest delight in them, and form the

resolution to reduce them to practice, because these thoughts were not raised by any co-operation on our part, we being entirely passive in their production, and, consequently, can be entitled to no reward for possessing them. No emotions of the mind, no thoughts of the understanding, and no actions of the life, are considered as praiseworthy or blameable, moral or immoral, virtuous or vicious, only such as proceed from the energy of our own wills; whatever is involuntary, possess no moral quality. But God, having given to men reason and discretion, when he raises in their minds holy thoughts, requires that proper attention should be paid to them as soon as they are perceived, and he will not hold him guiltless who neglects them; for it is in this way that he illuminates the mind, guides and directs the will, inclines and disposes us to embrace the truth, and to walk in the way of life and peace. As our attendance and consent, therefore, to the suggestions of the evil Spirit, being free and voluntary and what might have been avoided, becomes criminal in the sight of God; so our attendance and compliance with the motions and ideas of the Holy Spirit, being free and voluntary acts, become also praiseworthy and acceptable in bis sight.

It may be proper here to add, that these ideas, being thus raised up in us by God alone, and the power of attending and consenting to them being also entirely derived from him, as well as all the motives and inducements to attend to them and to comply with them, whether derived from external revelation or from those inward operations of the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the same source, all the good effects resulting from these operations are properly to be ascribed to God; and all the praise and glory of them are due to him alone, because both the principle of action, and the inducement thus to act, are derived solely from him.

These views may be further illustrated by the conversion of St. Paul. When Saul was engaged in a persecuting mission against the disciples of Christ, as he was proceeding on his journey he is confounded by a light shining round about him brighter than the sun; by this he is struck down to the earth, and hears a voice from heaven, saying, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Now, in all this, he was purely passive, and the action done upon him was physical and irresistible; and, therefore, this action being wholly Christ's, and not his own, there could be nothing in it, on his part, praiseworthy, or acceptable to God, or rendering him a better man. But, then, when he inquires of the blessed Jesus, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? when he prays earnestly for the forgiveness of sins; when he dedicates himself to the service of God by baptism; when, having told what grevious things he must suffer for the name of Jesus notwithstanding was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but went and preached up that faith which he had formerly opposed ; these actions, being deliberate and free, proceeding from his reflections on the heavenly vision, and the conviction it had wrought in his mind, must be praise worthy and acceptable in the sight of God;

and his conversion, being the result of what our Lord wrought upon him, he very justly ascribed the whole glory of it to the grace and favor of our Lord manifested towards him. Here, then, is a perfect harmony existing between the operations of the Holy Spirit upon the mind of Saul, and the co-operation of his will.

And that such is the doctrine of the gospel, is evident from the following passages. St. Paul says, speaking of the grace of God given to the Corinthians of Macedonia—" they were according to their power, yea, and above their power, authairetoi, of themselves willing to contribute to the necessities of the saints ;" that is, the contribution was an act of their own free wills, proceeding from their choice; but the grace and favor of God given to them was the spring and motive of it. Again, " Thanks be to God, too didonti, to him that gave this care in the heart of Titus, for he accepted the exhortation, and being more forward, authairetos erelthe, he went to you of his own accord ;" that is, the exhortation was from St. Paul ; that which gave the weight and vigor to it, and rendered them more forward in it, was the grace and favor of God to him; the reflection on both made this journey the matter of his own choice, and so he became willing of his own accord. And again, St. Paul says, “ Wherefore, beloved, not only as in my presence, when you had me to be your monitor, but much more now in my

absence ; which God, by the workings and inward teachings of his Spirit, supplies, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure ;" that is, sometimes by outward, and sometimes by inward means ; for if beyond these inward suggestions and persuasions, some irresistible operations be required on the part of God, which makes it necessary for us both to will and to do, why are we commanded to work out our salvation? for can we act when we are truly passive? Or can that be any reason why we ourselves should work, because another will do the very thing required without our co-operation ? Indeed, is it not rather an evident reason why we should neither will nor work at all, since both will be certainly and irresistibly performed without us? Why, then, are we said to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for can there be any cause of fear and trembliny, lest salvation should not be wrought out, which God works in us irresistibly ? Surely, if God works in us irresistibly both to will and to do, there can be no possibility of miscarrying, and so no just grounds for fear and trembling. Finally, why are the Philippians exhorted to do this, much more in St. Paul's absence than in his presence, if, when he was present, God wrought in them irresistibly to will and to do, and could do no more in his absence ? is, therefore, evident from these considerations, that God works in us both to will and to do, by giving us our wills and faculties, and then stirring them up to put forth their own acts, under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.

A

SERIES OF

OF DISCOURSES.

DISCOURSE I.

On the Book of the Lord.

“Seek ye out of the Book of the Lord, and read.”—Isaiah xxxiv., 16.

The words which we have selected for our present meditation and improvement, occur nearly at the close of one of the most awful and sublime chapters that the language of man ever uttered, or the pen of inspiration ever wrote-a chapter in which Jehovah is represented as clothing himself in the garment of vengeance, and coming out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their wickedness—a chapter in which we not only see the indignation of God displayed against sinners, so as utterly to destroy them, but where the very land that nourished them in their transgressions, is made a standing monument of divine vengeance. Can anything in the whole compass of human language be more alarming, appalling, and awful, than the following denunciations : The streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever : from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it; and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof; and it shall be a habitation for dragons, and a court for ouls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and ihe satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screechowl shall also rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with his mate. It is not now necessary to say when these

« AnteriorContinuar »