Imatges de pÓgina

Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.'

The opinion of our doctors, that the very nature of man is so depraved that there is nothing morally good in it, and that it is totally averse to the nature of God is doubtless erroneous. St Paul says, Rom. v, 8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' Again, he speaks of the GREAT LOVE wherewith God loved us, even when we were DEAD IN SINS.

Here let us inquire, what it was that God loved? He surely could not love that which is totally contrary to his nature; yet he loved us while were yet sinners. It is believed, and taught, that man by sin has lost the image of God in which he was created; but this opinion does not well agree with the teaching of Christ, where he represents the sinner by a lost sheep, a lost piece of silver, and by a son who went away from his father and foolishly spent his interest. In these parables, the sinner is represented as remaining the same in nature and substance, but changed as to circumstance and disposition. If the prodigal had lost the image which he had when he went from his father, by what did the father know him, while he was yet a great way off? Again, if the sinner have nothing good in him, what does he sin against? Where there is no law, there is no transgression. The apostle says,' the Gentiles having not the (written) law, are a law unto themselves which show the works of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.'

The scriptures generally consider mankind to stand in the relation of children to God, though the children


are represented as alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance there is in them. Now if it be ignorance which is the cause of our alienation, it is evident that it is our ignorance which has produced all in us which is contrary to our heavenly Father. This being the case, it is easy to see what will be the consequence of the fulfilment of the scripture which saith, 'All shall know me from the least unto the greatest. This knowledge will do away every thing in us which is contrary to holiness, and mould or assimilate us into the likeness of truth. Jesus says to the Jews, if you knew the truth, the truth should make you free; and again he says in his prayer to his Father, this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' If the common doctrine were true, the reverse of these scriptures would be true; for if the nature of man be opposed to the nature of God, then the more we know of God, the more we should feel an aversion to him. Again, it is an invariable law of nature, as far as we can examine, that those things and circumstances which agree with the nature of any creature, are best calculated to make that creature happy. The bird being constituted congenial to the air, cannot subsist in the water, but is as happy in the air as the fish is in his native element. So of the fish, he being fitted to the element of water, is as happy there as the bird is in the element to which he is fitted. Would it then be a blessing to the bird to convert his nature into that of a fish? or would it be a blessing to the fish to be converted into a bird? It is plain that it would add nothing to the happiness of either. To change the nature of a creature, is therefore not a blessing; but to help any creature out of a circumstance which is contrary to its


nature into one more agrecable, is a blessing. deliverance which we obtain by the gospel of Christ, is therefore represented as having such an effect. St Peter speaks to his brethren, of God's calling them out of DARKNESS into his MARVELLOUS LIGHT. Why was this a blessing? Because, darkness is not so pleasant nor so agreeable as light. But the objector must have the liberty to suggest that men choose darkness rather than light; and it is true that they do. And there are two reasons for it; the first is, they put darkness for light; and the second is, their deeds are evil. The prophet Isaiah speaks of Christ as being given for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.' As it is not so agreeable to our nature to be blind, and in darkness, as it is to see and have the light, so such metaphors are chosen to represent the salvation of man from his sin, which is so contrary and tormenting to his nature.

As a prison house is disagreeable to men, and our very nature shudder at the thought of confinement, so it is proper to represent a state of sin by such a similitude. And as freedom from imprisonment, is an object of the highest possible concern with one who is confined, so it is proper to represent the blessings of the gospel, which saves us from the bondage of sin, by such an emblem. But what propriety would there be in such representations, if the sinner were in a situation perfectly agreeable to his nature, as is the bird when on its wings in the air.

What is suggested in notes, of the universal submission to Christ in his glorious and ever blessed kingdom, may be illustrated and fully proved by the follow

ing scriptures: Eph. i, 8, 9, 10: Wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence: having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself: that, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.' It is just to notice, that as the parable represents the whole mass of meal to be leavened, which brings the whole into a unity of circumstance, so the apostle, in the above text, speaks of all things being gathered together in one, in Christ. The apostle says, as has been noticed before,' If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.' And here he says that all things in heaven and on earth shall be gathered together in Christ? which corresponds with the words of him who sitteth on the throne, who saith, Behold I make all things new.' Phil. ii, 9, 10, 11: Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' Col. i, 19, 20, 21: For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell: And (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him, to reconcile all things unto himself; by him I say whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.' Let us ask the following important questions relative to those scriptures above quoted.

1. What is the fact which the author of those passages intended to communicate by them?

2. Is that fact clearly expressed by the words which the author used?

3. Is that fact consistent with the moral character of God, so as to be honorary to him?

4. Is it consistent with the spirit of Christ, so as to be honorary to his mediatorial office?

In answer to the first question,will it do to say that the fact which the apostle meant to communicate in those passages, is that God has made known the mystery of his will according to the good pleasure which he purposed in himself, that through the mediation of Jesus, he designs the reconciliation of but a small part of mankind to himself? and that only a few of the human race shall be finally, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, gathered together in one in Christ? Is there one single expression, in those scriptures, which goes, in the least sense, to express such a fact? There surely is not; but the whole appears to have been designed to express something very different. The expressions used in the notes seem to be as suitable to express the fact which we are after, as any at command. 'Universal submission to Christ in his glorious and ever blessed kingdom.' And in candor the reader is requested to judge, and on mature deliberation, whether there are any expressions left out of the above quoted scriptures, which are wanting to express this fact.

To the second question it may be replied, that there appears not the least ambiguity in the expressions, but a manifest design, and that by an exellent master of language, to state the fact as plainly as possible. As it respects universality, he says, All things in heaven and in earth, and under the earth. As it respects submis

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