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blessings to his wanting, praying children. And if a judge, who feared not God nor regarded man, would avenge a widow of her adversaries, because of her continual requests, how much more may it be expected that God will avenge his chosen, whom he hath called by the word of his grace, for the great purpose of bearing witness to the world of the things of his kingdom.
The methods used, by our Saviour, to communicate the doctrine of truth, appear to be designed to give the most favorable ideas of the divine character; nor does it seem, by the similitudes which he used, that he was apprehensive his hearers might entertain too high an opinion of the goodness of God. But on the contrary, he chose out of the wide field of the human passions, with which he was perfectly acquainted, those which breathe the greatest tenderness, and are the most active in deeds of mercy, as similitudes by which to commend the goodness of God to mankind; taking care always, to arrange his discourse so as to indicate that the tenderest of human affections were every way inferior to the divine goodness.
In connexion with our parable, Jesus appealed to the tender affections of those who were fathers, for an illustration of his doctrine. The divine truth with which he was endeavoring to make them acquainted, was, that our heavenly Father would not fail to bestow his favors on those who should call upon him. See the subject continued from the 8th to the 13th verse, inclusive: ' And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall
be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or, if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or, if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy spirit to them that ask him?' This important address to the fatherly affections, places the doctrine of Jesus at an infinite elevation above that unmerciful doctrine which dispossesses the parent of all his better feelings towards his offspring, and gives him a heart to rejoice in the endless torment of a once beloved son! But the particular cast of the parable under consideration, varies much from the above queries in regard to the parental love; for in the parable, even friendship is excluded; and the conclusion then is, that rather than to be importuned incessantly, he would rise and give as much as was needed. With this argument of the Saviour, let us compare the current opinion that our heavenly Father will remain forever deaf to the cries of souls in never ending anguish. It seems that the Saviour designed to dispose his subject so as to compare the least with the greatest. He does not suppose, therefore, any relation by blood, such as father, brother, or son ; nor does he allow even friendship to have any thing to do in granting the assistance wanted; but very justly supposes that importunity alone would prevail. On the other hand, stands exhibited the divine relation in which our heavenly Father constituted man to himself; he is acknowledged to be, not only a friend, but a father; and the petitioners stand in the character of
sons. The just conclusion is, therefore, if success attended importunity in the first instance, no doubt could be reasonably entertained in the last.
As has been noticed, the Saviour, in continuing this argument, made use of this divine relation, and the confidence which might be built upon it; which he illustrated by the fatherly affections of his hearers.
Such arguments must be acknowledged to be divinely beautiful, if the fact established by them be true; but if not true, why should the Saviour use arguments to establish it?
One particular in the current doctrine of the present day, is, that our heavenly Father, from all eternity, predestinated millions of his rational offspring to endure endless misery and despair. Now compare this opinion, in which our learned doctors are established, with the arguments of the Saviour above quoted. 'I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' That is, I am authorised, and it is my business, pursuant to authority vested in me, to tell you for certainty, that if you ask, you shall receive. Let us suppose, what we have no scripture to prove, that Jesus taught, that his Father had predestinated the greatest part of mankind to endure endless misery; and then suppose that one of his disciples should have asked him the following question: Rabbi, thou hast been very particular in assuring us that the greatest part of mankind are already doomed to suffer eternally, and thou wilt not allow that any man can be thy disciple unless he believe this fundamental article of faith; if, then, the greatest part of mankind, or even all of them, should ask, seek, and knock, would the
greatest part, or even all, receive mercy, find favor and be admitted? How could this question receive a fair, unevasive answer, consistently with the above text, and with the foregoing suppositions?
It may be proper to notice another very common method made use of to exclude mankind, in general, from the divine favor, which is by supposing that but a small part of mankind will ever ask, seek, or knock, and that the greater part will fail, finally, of obtaining the divine favor, for this their needless neglect. This argument must be considered extremely defective in the following particulars.
1. The proposition, on which this argument is built, has no foundation but in mere conjecture; there being no scripture authority for its support.
2. The argument supposes that our heavenly Father feels so little interest in our coming to him, in our seeking after him, &c., that it is a matter for which he will not provide means, adequate to its accomplishment.
That divine revelation teaches differently may be seen by the following: See Jeremiah xxix, 10-14: For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word towards you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord; and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring
you again into the place, whence I caused you to be carried away captive.' See chap. xxiv, 6, 7: For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God; for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.' See Acts xv, 16, 17, 18: After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.' In the first passage quoted from Jeremiah, God promises what the people shall do, as well as what he himself will do: and in the second passage, God says he will give them an heart to know him; so that the whole depends on him who makes the promise, and who has the power to perform it. In short, it is hard to account for the belief of a sentiment which places the whole scheme of the gospel at the disposal of that very enmity of the sinner's heart, which it was designed, by our merciful Father in heaven to overcome and destroy. If it be granted that our Father in heaven has manifested his will, in the salvation of all men, and their coming unto the knowledge of the truth, as St. Paul testifies to Timothy; with what propriety can we suppose that this will of God, supported with all the means of grace in the hands of a mediator, to whom is committed all power in heaven and in earth, will finally be frustrated by the will of wicked