Imatges de pÓgina

sinking under infirmities, his younger son was taken off by a disease, so rapid in its progress that his parents, though in the neighbourhood, knew not that he was sick till they heard that he was dead. At that awful moment, his colleague visited the father with a trembling heart, expecting to find him overwhelmed with these complicated calamities: But he found him composed and submissive to a degree that convinced him he had never known this man of God before. From that time, the submission and piety of his heart shone forth with increased loveliness; his constitutional reserve was in a measure gone, and his conversation often breathed the tenderness and sweetness of gospel humility and comfort. On the 2d day of April, the wife of his youth closed the long scene of her sufferings, with all the interesting tokens of childlike piety. He sustained the shock, as he had done his other afflictions, with submission and patience. He had now nothing to do but to make arrangements for his own approaching dissolution. He sent an affectionate and impressive farewel to his brethren of the presbytery; he distributed his volumes of sermons among his children, grandchildren, and relatives; and gave directions about his funeral. He never discovered any solicitude about death, except an anxiety to be gone. I die slow; I never expected to die 80 slow, he would sometimes say. One day a friend suggested to him a hope that he might yet be continued with his people, and begged him not to despond. I have no despondency, said he;


death and I have long been intimates. To a hint from his colleague that he could not do without him, he replied with paternal tenderness, God will give you strength according to your day; only trust in him, and he will support you under every trial. He never discovered any impatience, except when he was told that he better, and might possibly recov er. When reminded that he was going to the companions of his youth, he replied with emotion, Yes, there is a precious company of them! O what a precious company! When it was suggested that the God, whom he had long and faithfully served, would not forsake him in old age, he answered with quickness and apparent uneasiness, that he had no faithfulness of his own to rely on; that a review of his life afforded him little satisfaction; that it had been miserably polluted, and that his only hope rested on the atonement of Christ. He repeatedly lamented, in strong language, the imperfection of his life, and discarded every hope but that which the gospel affords. It was said to him, a short time before his death, "You do not at any time find your prospects clouded ?" He replied, No, blessed be God! I have a steady hope. Always patient, and always composed, he sometimes appeared transported with Pisgah views. A few evenings before his death, he was observed wrestling with God for his release from the flesh. While he lay in the struggles of death, he was asked whether he still enjoyed the light of God's countenance. He lifted his hands and eyes in a way of

strong affirmation. The last word which he uttered was expressive of a desire that his friends would unite with him in prayer. A few minutes before he expired, he gave his hands to two of his friends as a farewel token, and expressed by signs a wish to unite with them once more in prayer. As the supplication was making that God would release him, and receive his departing spirit, he extended both of his arms towards heaven at full length, seemingly in the transports of faith and desire. It was the last motion that he made. His hands fell and moved no more. That moment the difficulty of his respiration ceased; he appeared perfectly at rest; and in five minutes breathed forth his soul, without a struggle, into the bosom of his God. He expired 37 minutes past seven o'clock, on Monday evening, the 20th of July, 1807, aged 73 years and 5 days.

Thus lived and thus died Doctor Alexander Macwhorter, after having served his people in the gospel ministry 48 years.

The aspect of Doct. Macwhorter was grave and venerable, and strongly expressive of the properties of his mind. His deportment was affectionate, paternal, and dignified; calculated to inspire respect and dependence, and to repel the approach of presumptuous familiarity: yet in conversation he was pleasant, and often facetious. At a great remove from assumed importance and supercilious airs, which never were connected with such a mind as his, he was much of a gentleman, and an uncommon instance of true dignity.

He possessed a powerful and scientific mind, with a most retentive memory. He was wise and discerning, and had an eye that could penetrate the characters of men, and look through the connexion and consequences of things.

His apprehensions

were not quick, but unusually just. He possessed little fancy, but a deep and solid judgment. His genius had no uncommon share of vivacity; it held a stately and even course. It had no wings; but it stood like the pillars of the earth. He never would have gathered laurels in the paths of poetry; but he would have filled with superior dignity the seat of justice. His passions, like his understanding, were strong; but ordinarily held by strong restraints. With far less imagination than intellect, he was no enthusiast in any thing. He was never sanguine; but cool, deliberate, and cautious, to a degree that approached even to timidity; inclined rather to contemplate the difficulties of an enterprise, than to calculate on success. Great as he was, he was a man of most unaffected and consummate modesty. It was impossible for a mind thus constructed to be rash. He used to say that the second requisite in a minister of the gospel is prudence; and he possessed this virtue, it may be said, almost to


The furniture of his mind reHe sembled its construction. was more thoroughly versed in classical literature than in belleslettres; and loved the mathematics better than Milton or Pope. He was a proficient in some of the Oriental languages.

He had looked into the Syriac, had made considerable progress in the Hebrew, and was critically acquainted with the Greek and Latin. He was well furnished with theological and literary science in general. He was a firm supporter of the great doctrines of grace; as his sermons, in print, sufficiently attest.

well the bearings of the subject. Thoroughly versed in all the forms of presbyterial business, with a skill at management rarely surpassed, he filled a great space in the judicatories of the church. His voice was listened to with profound respect, and the counsels suggested by his superior wisdom, enlightened and swayed the public bodies to which he belonged.

But he never appeared in his might so perfectly as in a deliberative assembly; especially when his cautious and penetrating mind had leisure to examine neral Sermon.

The above Sketch is abridged from Rev. Mr. Griffin's Fu

Religious Communications.


It is thought best, with some omissions, to introduce the following performance in one connected form.

Ir is scarcely necessary to observe, that the words condemnation and justification respect a previously existing law, to which all are obliged to conform. Were there no rule in society to regulate the conduct of men, we should never hear that any were either condemned or justified; and had not God given his intelligent creatures a law which they are bound to obey, they would never have been either justified or condemned. It is by the holy law of God that we are all to be tried, and according to our appearance on such a trial, we must be either condemned or acquitted.

To justify, in its original and primary sense, means to pronounce guiltless. Thus God is justified in the eyes of men, when his conduct appears to be wholly free from injustice. Thus, also, men Vol. III. No. 11.


are justified in the view of each other. When a person, accused of any crime, appears upon examination, to have conducted in all respects consistently with justice, he is said to be justified. When a person, upon an impartial trial by the law of God, is found to have conducted, in all respects, agreeably to this law, he is justified, and that act of God, by which he is pronounced guiltless, is called justification. Had man continued holy, justification would never have been used in any other sense, than the one now mentioned. But, by disobedience, he rendered himself odious in the sight of God, and forever excluded himself from being justified in this sense. As all who are saved must be justified by God, under a dispensation of mercy, the term justification assumes a dif

ferent meaning. We may now speak, not only of the justification of the law, but also of the justification of the gospel. And for a clear and correct understanding of the doctrine under consideration, it is necessary that we carefully distinguish between these different senses of the term.

Justification by the law may be defined that act of God, which declares all who have complied with the requirements of his law, to be guiltless. On no other condition than perfect obedience, can God, in view of his holy law, pronounce any to be innocent. In the sense now mentioned, the angels in heaven are justified before God. In this sense also, was Adam justified, till he merited condemnation by eating the forbidden fruit. But after this he could no longer be justified, but was considered in a state of condemnation by the law, and subject to its full penalty. Thus we see, that. to be justified by the law, perfect obedience is indispensable.

But in the gospel, a plan of justification is revealed, totally different from that of the law. The justification by the gospel is that act of God, which considers and treats those as innocent, who are indeed guilty. It is a justification of the ungodly. Here, also, as under the law, God is the supreme judge. But, in mercy, he hath provided a way, by which he may be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth, though still guilty, and deserving, in strict justice, the full penalty of the law. Rom. iv. 5. "But to him that worketh not, but believeth in him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith

is counted for righteousness." To justify in a gospel sense is not to pronounce guiltless. Though, when tried by the law, men are found guilty, still in the gospel there is hope. Under the gospel, sinners are considered and treated as innocent, are freed from condemnation, and admitted to the favour of God. Their justification, however, is not on account of any worth or goodness in them. But God, in his sovereign mercy, is pleased to take and regard those, who have no righteousness, in such a manner, that the consequences will be the same, as if they had righteousness. Those who are justified in a gospel sense are as sure of eternal life, as if they had always perfectly obeyed the law. Hence it is obvious, that the justification of the law, and the justification of the gospel, are essentially different. The former is a justification of the innocent, the latter a justification of the guilty.

We may not, however, suppose that there is any contradiction between the law and the gospel. They are both in perfect consistency and harmony with each other. The law still remains in its full force. It is as obligatory, as it was before the dispensation of the gospel was introduced. Though God may now be just while he justifies the ungodly, still sin is no less odious in his view. In justifying the sinner God does not in any respect countenance sin, nor in any degree lessen its criminality. On the contrary, can there be any way conceived, in which sin would appear an evil of such magnitude, as it appears when viewed in the light of the

gospel? In this light we see, in the clearest manner, that no being but God, in the person of Jesus Christ, could atone for sin. Hence in justifying the ungodly, their criminality is not concealed.

Enough has been said to show, that the term justification is used in two senses in the scriptures; and from what has been remarked above, it is hoped that the true import of each will be correctly understood. To be justified in one of these senses, is necessary to salvation. It is therefore of the utmost importance to know, in which of these senses, justification may be obtained.

The law can never be abated, in any of its requirements. "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." The law, as above observed, knows of no justification, but on the ground of a perfect compliance with all its requirements. Obey, and live; transgress, and die, is its unequivocal language. Now what is the state of mankind with respect to the law? All have disobeyed, and all are exposed to the penalty.

But is it possible for those, who are now in a state of con

demnation by the law, to be justified by it? To be justified, they must be proved to be innocent. But can he, who is already known and acknowledged to be guilty, be proved innocent? Innocence and guilt are directly opposite in their natures. They cannot be blended. He who is once found to be guilty, can never be innocent.

Present obedience, should we allow it to be even possible, cannot put us in a state of justification. Should we begin to day to yield perfect obedience, and thus continue to fulfil the law, we should do no more than our immediate and indispensable duty.


The law required perfect obedience from the beginning; it now requires it, and always will require it of all who are its subjects. How then can the sinner be justified? Could all、 his past actions be obliterated, his present obedience, allowing it to be perfect, would indeed be sufficient proof of his innocence. But what is past cannot be recalled, nor will it be forgotten. For every thought, word, and action, whether good or evil, we must render an account. our actions are registered to be exhibited in one collective view, on that day, when we must stand before the bar of God, to receive an adjudication for eternity. Present obedience, therefore, cannot render him innocent, who has once transgressed; nor can it in any measure diminish the guilt of his past conduct. He is and must be condemned by the law for every act of disobedience. Nor can the repentance of the sinner render it in any measure consistent for God to justify him in view of the law. Repentance has no influence to exculpate the criminal, even in human judicatories. When a criminal is arraigned, he is not asked by the judge, whether he repents of his conduct. And indeed should he appear ever so penitent, it could have no influence to lessen his criminality, though it might have great influence in exciting

« AnteriorContinua »