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tier that we may properly reconcile, and truly understand them. But this can by no means derogate from their Divine character, since the system of nature, which all acknowledge to be the work of God, is as full of difficulties as the system of grace. And the design which we may reverently attribute to the All-wise Author, is the same in both these systems, namely, the improvement of his intelligent, though fallen creatures, by a course of wholesome discipline. He might, doubtless, had he seen fit, have adopted a very different plan. He might have superseded all our labors, both of body and of mind. The toils of husbandry, the enterprize of commerce, and the ingenious devices of manufactures, might all have been placed beyond our reach, by the spontaneous production of all things in a form already accommodated to human necessity and gratification. So in the repository of his revealed truth, an order might have been adopted which would have effectually removed every motive to exertion, and left the intellect destitute of the love of knowledge, the consciousness of a growth in wisdom, and the thousand nameless pleasures of the spiritual apprehension which can mark its own development from day to day. But how infinitely better has he provided for our happiness, by laying upon us this kind necessity for exertion? And how certainly we should sink, instead of rising, on the scale of intellectual and spiritual vigor, if the incentive to this salutary discipline were taken away. ,\
We freely grant, then, that there are difficulties, yea unfathomable mysteries in the Lord's book of grace; but we maintain that there are as many, and equally inscrutable, in the book of nature. There is not an art or science in the circle of human knowledge that does not present a list of mysteries which no philosopher can penetrate. Nay, there are many apparent contrarieties to reconcile, and apparent oppositions to harmonize. Do not the same clouds which drop the refreshing rain, dart forth the destructive lightning? Are not herbs for the use and sustenance of man nourished by the same soil from which the night-shade and the hemlock draw their deadly poison? Look at the fierce hurricane, the devouring earthquake, the rivers of volcanic fire. Mark the ferocity which the various tribes of animal nature exhibit in the pursuit and destruction of their prey. And lastly contemplate the lord of the creation, man, combining in himself so many jarring elements, and displaying so strange a contrast of hope and fear, of joy and misery, of love and hatred, of life and death,—the greatest enigma of the whole—and surely it must be admitted that there are no difficulties or seeming discrepancies in the Bible, greater than these— that there are no apparent contrarieties in the Book of Grace, which the Book of Nature cannot fairly parallel. Manifest, then, it is, that if these difficulties are not allowed to hinder us from acknowledging in the creation the God of Nature, neither should the other difficulties prevent our adoring in the Bible the God of Grace.
The degree of inspiration, however, which we should attach to the sacred Scriptures, has been much disputed, and their perfect infallibility has been often called in question, even by some professing Christians. But we confess "ourselves unable to discover how these Scriptures can be regarded in the light of a Revelation at all, unless upon the ground that they have been fully and perfectly inspired. Short of this we could have no absolute guide. If our confidence be diminished in the least, we have no security. Once taught to cavil at the Word of God, men go on in the pride of their intellect and the self-sufficiency of their heart, until no truth is left unshaken. And we can discern no safe or consistent course but this, that just as we do not hesitate to admit the whole creation to be alike and equally the work of God, notwithstanding there are many things in it the use and consistency of which we are unable to explain, even so, but with still stronger reason, do we acknowledge the whole Bible to be alike and equally the Word of God, notwithstanding there are many things in it which the wisest may be unable to fathom, and which the unskilful and unstable 'wrest to their own destruction.'
On this high elevation of reverence and faith do the sacred writers themselves place this blessed book ; for thus St. Paul, alluding to the Old Testament, asserts in the plainest terms, ' All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God.' The Divine authority of the New Testament rests upon the same foundation; for our blessed Lord expressly declared, that the Holy Ghost should dictate to his Apostles, and that it should not be they that should speak, but the Spirit of his Father in them. In full accordance with this promise, we find them, soon after his ascension, visited by the miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost; 'they spake as the Spirit gave them utterance,' they preached, not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but with the demonstration of the Spirit; and we read, continually, of their being filled with the Holy Ghost, and of their doctrines being all announced under the solemn sanction of heaven. Nor is this high claim confined to any particular portion of the Bible; for the^very last book of the canon of Scripture rests its authority upon the same sacred ground; and the inspired writer of it, who was the last of the Prophets and the survivor of all the Apostles, promulgates his revelation in'the same majestic strain, ' If any man hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.'
2. But it is not sufficient for the establishment of the Kingdom of God, that the Holy Spirit should have revealed to our race the system of Divine truth; because the condition of the heart of man, since the fall, is corrupt and dark, and so opposed to the humbling and purifying faith of the Gospel, that no revelation whatever could be presented to us, likely, of itself alone, to insure our belief or our obedience. 'The natural man,' saith the Apostle, 'receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.' To give this spiritual discernment, therefore, by illuminating the mind and impressing the heart, is the second office of the Holy Ghost, by which, after furnishing to us the system of Divine truth, he enables us to believe it. For however the philosopher may reason, or the Pelagian and Socinian dispute, upon the power of man to believe, of himself, whatever is necessary to salvation, nothing can be more certain than that faith itself, like every other good gift, 'cometh from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' 'By grace are ye saved,' saith St. Paul, ' through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;' and in the same sense it is most true, that ' it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.' It by no means follows' from this, however, that the Holy Spirit operates upon the mind and heart according to an arbitrary system of election, by which some are saved and others lost, merely through the choice of the Deity. So far from it, that ' Grace,' to use the emphatic words of the same Apostle, 'Grace is given to Every Man to profit withal, and Jesus Christ willeth All Men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.' The Holy Ghost confers on all who hear the Gospel a measure of his blessed influence, sufficient to enable them to believe and to obey; and if this measure of
grace be used aright, more is given, and the supply is continued and increased, so as finally to bring into the highest exercise every power and faculty of the awakened soul.
3. Having thus briefly adverted to the operations of the Holy Spirit in dictating the revelation of the Scriptures, and in disposing the mind and heart to receive the truth with a genuine faith, we pass on to the more specific effects on the believer, through which he becomes a partaker of righteousness, peace, and joy. 'For the kingdom of God,' saithour text, 'is not meat and drink,'—that is, it consisteth not in matters of mere outward and bodily observance,—' but of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'
1. And first, the kingdom of God is righteousness. Now this righteousness may be considered as it respects righteousness of judgment concerning our condition as sinners, in which sense it is synonymous with what is commonly called conviction; secondly, the righteousness of faith, by which the believer is enabled to appropriate to himself the promises of the Gospel through a heart-felt belief and holy confidence in his Redeemer; and thirdly, righteousness of conduct, where, by a careful watching of his thoughts, words, and actions, and by a constant and humble effort to bring them to the standard of the Gospel, through the grace of God, the true disciple endeavors to shew forth his faith by his works, and becomes neither barren nor unfruitful in the • knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of each branch of this threefold righteousness we shall now briefly treat in its order.
1. Righteousness of judgment as it respects our true condition in the sight of God, or as it is generally termed conviction, consists in the applying to ourselves, with some correctness, the judgment of the great Searcher of hearts,, in seeing ourselves as he sees us, and in estimating aright