Imatges de pÓgina

his own heart, and discover- and the grief of a sincere christianis ing with pain the secret work- to find in himself so many wayward ings of evil, gains increasing con- tempers and dispositions not duly vičtion of the importance of perse. subjected to its righteous and faluvering opposition in patience, vig- tary control. Against these he ilance, faith, and prayer. His ap- maintains an habitual and serious plications to the Throne of Grace conflict, and not merely to avoid are daily renewed, and thus, the condemnation, but also the pol. strengthened with power and lution of fin ; not simply withing might from above, he is enabled to secure future happiness, but lato maintain the good fight, not bouring to perfect holiness in the presuming to lay down his arms fear of God. In the ordinary till the days of his warfare (Job Atruggle, when the better principle xiv. 14.) are ended.

feems for the moment to prevail, 3. The ordinary struggle in an and the duty pressed upon the conurrenewed mind originates chiefly science is performed, the obedience in fear, and is stronger in propor. is only like that of Saul, when he tion as the apprehension of danger forced

himfelf to offer a burnt offeris excited. It is, in fact, a strug. ing. When the solicitation to finis gle between the judgment and the denied, it is but like the refusal of inclination, the one pointing out Balaam to go with the messengers the consequences; while the other of Balak, when he gladly would covets the pleasures, of fin; the have accompanied them had he one presling the importance and dared to do it. In short, to borrow necellity, while the other shrinks a comparison, which I have somefrom the performance of acknowl, where seen, whatever Atruggles an edged duties. There is nothing unrenewed man may have, fin is to in this struggle, which shews either him like precious wares in the ship, hatred of lin, or love of the divine which are only thrown over board law. The truth is, the heart is not (and that as fparingly as possible) divorced from evil habits and at- in a storm : but to one of a spiritutachments, and is therefore fecret- al mind it is as the stagnant and ofly offended at the stri&ness, spirit- fensive water in the vessel, which uality, and extent of that law, the good mariner is affiduous to which condemns them : there is a pump out and clear away daily. latent displeasure in the soul, be- 4. Where the struggle between cause fin and happiness are not right and wrong arises only from made compatible. Now the con- the checks of natural conscience, it fie in a spiritual mind is ever at- is conducted, or carried on, by the tended with a hatred of sin, as a mere exertion of natural power thing evil in its nature, as well as the subject of it opposes solicitapernicious in its consequences. tions to evil, with purposes and refNot only the judgment condemns, olutions formed entirely in his own but the will oppoles, and the af. Atrength : whereas, in the conflict fections are withdrawn from it. between the flesh and the spirit, in The law of God, which in the oth- a renewed mind, the combatant is er case is matter of offence, is here strong in the grace that is in Christ not only acknowledged as holy Jesus. By the acting of faith, from and juft

, but approved as good time to time renewed, on the Sais is the delightof the inward man: viour to whom he is by that vital


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

principle united, he derives renew. dially hated, and its opposition to ed supplies of that spirit of power · the new man more acutely and and might, whereby alone he can painfully felt. It is not therefore effectually be strengthened in the a fair inference from the cominner man, to fight the good fight, plaints alluded to, that sin is not and to crucify the fleth with its af- mortified or weakened. The befections and lufts.

liever may expect the opposition of Lastly. From the struggles oc- the enemy, and count upon the concasioned by the mere checksof nat- tinuance of the conflict, till the hap: uralconscience no extensive or per- py period shall arrive when he will manent good effects ensue. How- receive the end of his faith, even the ever temptation may occasionally falvation of his soul. M. T. H. be relifted with effect, the power of the enemy is not broken or sub

From the Religious Monitor. dued ; nor is there produced in the mind any habitual vigilance, tian world, who confine their re

There are many in the chriscircumspection, godly jealousy, flections on religion almost entirefear, or abhorrence of evil

. Sin, ly to its moral precepts ; while its in some form or other, Nill reigns do&trines are difregarded, as comin the mortal body, and is obeyed paratively of little consequence. in the lusts thereof. But in the

By fome, these are entirely overconflict, which arifes from a prin- looked, as if they had been intendciple of grace in the soul, fubstaned only for the ftudy of the profefftial advantage is gained over the ed Theologian ; and as if the beadversary: the malignity and de- lief of them had no connection with ing degree, discovered, its secret the happiness of a future state. By motions are more clearly traced, real import of particular pallages

others, discussions concerning the its ually frustrated. The foul learns of fcripture, and the nature of the more fully the importance of faith little attended to ; these being con

doctrines deducible from them, are and prayer, of the continual use of fidered as points, in the decision of the chriítian armour, and of “look- which, the private christian is not ing unto Jesus.” By these means

materially interested. Accordingthey that are Chrill's are enabled to crucify the flesh with its affec- felves any fyltem of opinions con

ly, if these men form for them tions and luits, fo that all things cerning the meaning of the docbelonging to the old man do grad. trines of scripture, they profess to ually die in them, while all things have no desire to convert others to belonging to the new man live and the belief of their peculiar sentigrow in them. This statement is not to be considered as invalidated ments. They leave every man to by the complaints of eminent chrif: be guided by the conviction of his

own mind; and despise, as the bigtians concerning the power of tin ots of a party, those who maintain within lemn, by reason whereof

the neceility of believing, as the they yet groan being burdened. It is to be contidered that, in pro- religious tenets.

only true doctrines, one class of portion 10 il man's real growth in

It is hardly necessary to say any grace and holiness, sin not only will be more clearly seen, but more cor

• Paricdicai Work published at Edil.burgh.

thing in refutation of the first of there are some things, which God these opinions. He, who can deny hath seen fit to reveal to us only in man's obligation to believe the doc. part. But we shall endeavour to trines of the gospel ; who can re- prove that all, who allow christianject, as useless, those truths, which ity to be a divine revelation, must constitute the very essence of christ- acknowledge that the grand charianity; and who can deprive its acteristick doctrines of the gospel, morals of their only pure and effi- original sin, the divinity andatonecient motives, deserves not the ment of Christ, justification through name of christian. He despises the faith, and the other essential points, authority of God, and refuses, with connected with these, in as far as daring ingratitude, the best bleff- they are necessary for enabling us ings of revelation; the comforts and to apprehend them, are promulgathopes, which its doctrines inspire. ed in clear and unequivocal terms.

The second opinion however, in Before the gospel was preached, which it is maintained, that every mankind were involved in the most man may safely adopt his own deplorable darkness and uncertainviews of the doctrines of scripture, ty with regard to every particular, whether they actually accord with which concerned their present hopes its real intention or not, deserves and future happiness. Every thing our more serious consideration. was obscure, and much was entireThis is an opinion, common to ly concealed. The placability of many professors of christianity. It God, the efficacy of repentance, has the appearance of much liberal- and the existence of a future Itate, ity and candour ; and will certain- were all doubted, even by the wif. ly be approved of by everyone, who est and most enlightenedheathens. takes only a fuperficial view of the Compassionating men in this fubje&; when attentively examin. wretched condition, God ed, however, it will appear to be pleased to bring life and immor. founded on the following fuppofi- tality to light by the gospel ; to tion allo. That the language of fhew them in a manner which fcripture on many of the essential could not be misunderstood, the doctrines of christianity is ambigu- fources of consolation, and the rule ous, that its import cannot be pofi- of duty; to point out the way of tively ascertained by the candid in- access to him, and to direct their quirer, and that nointerpretation of views to an eternal inheritance beit, and no explanation of the mean- yond the grave. If, however, these ing of its doétrines can be regarded, effential truths were not plainly as exclusively true. lf, therefore, discovered ; if the language, in we can fhew that this fupposition is which they are expressed, even afunfupported, the opinion, built up- ter all the investigations of the on it, must fall to the ground. learned, be full of ambiguity;

By denying fuch assertions, how. where are the advantages of reveever, we mult not be understood to lation? What light hath it shed on affirm, that the meaning of every a benighted world? What fure part of scripture is plain

and obvi. confolation, what good hope hath ous. Many passages are necessari. it given to the fearful mind of Jy obfcure, from our imperfect guilty man? It hath declared to knowledge of the language and us indeed God's willingness to manners of the period, in which the pardon ; but hath left us, as be. facred books were written ; and fore, in total uncertainty about


the method of abtaining forgive pel; and therefore that the only ness. Two opposite opinions on period, in which the meaning of this important subject cannot be e- these doctrines could be infallibly qually acceptable to God; cannot known, was during the lives of the afford the same firm satisfaction apostles, and their immediate fol. and consolation to man. If, there- lowers. Have then the advantages fore, christianity be a divine reve- of that revelation, which profelfed lation, its doctrines must have been to be of universal and perpetual expressed in such a manner, that use, been confined to the period of they may be easily understood by its first propagation? or has the cerevery fincere, unprejudiced inquir- tainty, which it was intended to er. The goodness of God would give to the fondest hopes of man, lead him to adapt his instructions been enjoyed only by those favourto the circumstances of his crea- ed few, who were blessed with the tures; and, though some of the extraordinary illuminations of the doctrines are, from their own na. spirit of God ? It is much more ture, incomprehensible by our reasonable to suppose that the will limited faculties; yet our obliga- of God is intelligible by every one, tion to believe them can be clearly whose mind is not biassed by sinful perceived. Christianity is a divine prejudice, and who forms his opinrevelation, in which God has giv- ions of the doctrines of scripture en a plain and unequivocal decla- from a view of the united force and ration of his commands, and we beautiful analogy of all its declara. cannot suppose that it is a matter tions. Nor do we hesitate to affirm of indifference, in what sense we that it is possible to trace every correceive them ; or that he will be ruption of the sacred doctrine to fully satisfied with our obedience, fome depraved principle in the huthough we pervert his precepts man heart. This principle indeed and misinterpret his laws. In hu- is sometimes so concealed from man governments no such perver- view, that a man, acting under its fion would pass unpunished. The influence, imagines that he is lawgiver may relax his severity in searching for truth with the utmost favour of such, as are unacquaint. fairness and impartiality. Vanity, ed with the particular terms of the skepticism, depraved inclinations, law; or of such, as are unable, and love of novelty have been the from the want of intellectual fac- parents of innumerable errours. ulties, to exercise their judgment These, nourished by party spirconcerning it. Every other fub- it, and supported, in many cases, ject is supposed capable of under- by the firm conviction of those, itanding, in what sense he should who adhere to them, have mainobey the laws of his sovereign; tained their strength. When men and, if he do not observe them, he are influenced by such motives, is punished accordingly. In like they cannot examine with imparmanner the divine threatenings tiality. Detached portions of scripmust be fulfilled against thole, ture are made the foundation of a who, from corrupt pallion, willing- new system of doctrines, and other ly misinterpret the facred oracles. passages are explained with the

To this it is objected, as matter previous determination of making of fact, that men of sincerity and them accord with it, or perhaps candour, differ widely with regard with the firm assurance, that they to the effentialdoctrines of the gof- would do so. If this be the way, in which men are led, by false prin- being the case, that they manifeftciples, to form erroneous opinions edon all occasions the greatest zeal in religion, their errours will be laid in preserving them inviolate. The to their own charge ; they have not rise of every new heresy was obbeen occasioned by any unnecessary served by them with a mixture of obscurity in the divine revelation. astonishment, indignation, and for

But here the question recurs, row, which manifested that, till who are in the right? What is the thattime, they had been united and interpretation of scripture which firm in the belief of one system of may be regarded, as exclusively doctrines. Now, it has often been true? Are they not dogmatical and shown (and no one has ever been conceited, who maintain that they able to prove the contrary,) that alone, of all christians, have exam the doctrine of our church* corres, ined without prejudice, and discov- ponds exactly with the faith of the ered, with infallible certainty, the primitive christians; or, in other

true meaning of the oracles of God? words, with the faith of the inspir. To this we reply, that there are ed writer. The doctrines, which

fystems of doctrine demonstrated we hold, are not the inventions of to be pure by evidence, which our men, nor the perversions of scripopponents cannot reasonably refift. ture truth ; they are coeval with These are the articles and confef- the first promulgation of the goffions of faith of this and a neigh- pelo; for it cannot be shown, that bouringchurch. Whatever may be they were introduced at a later pethe errours of either in the form of riod. In the darkness of Popish igdiscipline or worship, or in other norance some of them were almost matters not essential; their systems extinguished; but whenever learn. of doctrine are perhaps the purest, ing and reverence for thescriptures which could have been expected in began to revive, the pure doctrines any works of human composition. of Christ shone forth with renewed Nor is this merely a presumption, lustre. They were received by our drawn from the manners of the venerable reformers, as the greattimes, when they are composed, or est blessings of Heaven, and wor. from the great piety and integrity thy of being kept and defended of the compilers; but it is an as- with a fortitude, which tortures fertion, the truth of which may be and death could not overcome. proved by an appeal to the coinci- Shall then their descendants permit dence of these doctrines with the themselves to be deprived of such sentiments of the immediate fol- blessings, from the unmanly fear, lowers of the apostles. If this co- that their firm, though modeft deincidence can be shown, it com- fence of them, would be illiberally pletely demonstrates the purity of filed the effect of a dogmatick and our religious doctrines to every conceited spirit ? [To be continued.] one, who admits the conclusiveness

+ The Church of Scotland. of historical evidence. For, whatever may have been the early cor- THE following anecdote of Cal. ruptions of the christian church, it vin, while it does much honour to is not credible, that the contempo- his moral and religious character, raries and immediate successors of is a curious historical fact, which the apostles could have ignorantly, deferves to be generally known, or willingly perverted the sacred It was related at Geneva, by Deodoctrines. This was so far from dati, one of Calvin's successors, to

« AnteriorContinua »