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ff'uth aS a Christian, or as in the sight of Christ, who searcheth my heart,—my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, \. e. My own conscience also, under the influence of the Holy Spirit bearing me witness as to the truth and sincerity of what I now declare, viz.'
Ver. 2. That I have great heaviness, and continual sorrow in my hart, viz. for the deplorable condition of his unbelieving countrymen. See his account of them, 1 Thess. ii. 15.
Ver. 3. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, &c. The word here rendered accursedisanathSma, which the apostle uses in three other places in the severest sense, see 1 Cor. xvi. 22. Gal. i. 8, 9. which has led many to understand him here as " wishing to be separated from the love of Christ, to be alienated from him, to fall from the glory and the salvation purchased by him." And they think it similar to Moses' prayer
had the prospect of deliverance, a>id the joy set before him. They endeavour to qualify this harsh sense by saying, that Paul only wished to be accursed from Christ, "if it were proper, or could be of ! any avail to their salvation." But was it proper for him, even on this supposition, to form such a wish? I think not.
Again, were we to suppose, that the apostle, from his grief of heart for his countrymen, and ardent desire of their salvation, expresses himself rather rashly here, or beyond the real deliberate wish of his heart, how shall we reconcile this with his solemn declaration, ver. 1.? The utmost theref re that we can suppose the apostle to mean is this, That he was willing to endure the greatest temporal suffering and even death itself, if it could be of any avail to the salvation of his countrymen; which is similar to what he says, Philip, ii. 17. My only objection to this sense is, that I never find the sufferings of the apostles, no*
when Israel sinned in the matter even their martyrdom expressed of the golden calf. "Yet now, if *'
thou wilt, forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, oat of the book which thou hast written." Exod. xxxii. 32. Which book is also termed "the writing (or register) of tire house of Israel." Ezek. xiii. 9. But it is not clear that Moses' request extended beyond this present life, or his being deprived of the peculiar blessings promised to the nation of Israel, which were in general of a worldly and typical nature. To suppose that Paul wished himself accursed from Christ in the sense of being for ever separated from him, and so shut out from eternal blessedness, appears to me extremely harsh, unnatural and unlawful. The love of Christ to guilty men far transcended that of Paul to his countrymen, but it did not go this length. He submitted to V«come a curse for them; but he
by their being accursed from Christ; on the contrary, our Lord pronounces such blessed.
Others are of opinion, that this wish is expressive of Paul's state of mind before his conversion; that then, when he was breathing out slaughter against the church, such was his hatred of Christ, that he was wishing to be accursed or separated from him, and to have no part or interest in him; and that his experience of such a state of mind, made him commiserate his countrymen who still continued in the same aversion to Christ.— But I have two objections against this gloss. 1. I cannot recollect any passage of Scripture where aversion to any object is expressed by a wish to be accursed from it. —2. I cannot see how this sense answers the apostle's purpose, which is to show his great concern and affection for his brethren, hi*
kinsmen according to the flesh. His former aversion to Christ is certainly no proof of this. • I have often thought that the word anathema, here rendered accursed, bears the same sense in this passage with the word anathema, which comes from the same root, and is only distinguished from the other by the long instead of the short vowel. Now this word is frequently used in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament for a thing or person devoted or separated, from a common to a sacred purpose, Lev. xxvii. 28. and as the English word devoted applies either to things set apart for a holy use, or destined to destruction so does this word; and which of these senses it bears is easy to determine from the connection. Taking the word then in this latitude, it will be easy to explain this passage. The Jews had strong prejudices against Paul, particularly for his being a zealous preacher of Christ, his mission to the Gentiles, and his receiving them into fellowship without their being circumcised and becoming proselytes to Judaism. They could not endure to hear him relate his mission to the Gentiles, but grew perfectly impatient and frantic, Acts xxii. 22. and considered him as an apostate from the law, and an enemy to his countrymen, preferring the Gentiles to them. The apostle is here shewing the contrary, by expressing the great concern he had for their salvation. And as an evidence of this he adds, "For I 'could (or did) wish myself were devoted of Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." As if he should say: It was my own earnest desire that I might have had my commission from Christ to the Jewish nation, whatever I might have suffered in the prosecution of it; so that it was no want of affection to them which made me go to the Gen
tiles, but Christ's express con*' mand. This sense is much confirmed by his history in the Acts. Sometime after his conversion he went up to Jerusalem and spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, though they went about to slay him. Acts ix. 29. And after the Lord had said unto him, "Make haste and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me;" yet still he pleads for liberty to persevere in his work, till the Lord said unto him, "Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles," ch. xxii. 17—22.
He gives two reasons for his peculiar affection to the Jews; they were his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh; and they had also been highly dignified and distinguished by God himself with eminent tokens of his favour for many ages, which he proceeds to enumerate as follows. Ver. 4. Who are Israelites, the descendants of Jacob whom God named Israel, and who as a prince prevailed with God for a blessing, Gen. xxxii. 28.— To whom pertaineth the adoption. The whole nation were adopted into the family of God, and are termed his sons, his Jirst-horn. Jixod. iv. 22, 23.—and the glory, i. e. the emblem of the divine presence among them in the Shechina,—and the covenants, viz. with Abraham and with the whole nation, whereby they were peculiarly related to God, and had answerable privileges—and the giving of the law, which includes all those precepts which we distinguish into moral, ceremonial, and judicial—and the service of God; all things relating to the priesthood, and the ordinances of divine worship—and the promises, both the promises of earthly blessings, and those also which relate to the Messiah.
Ver. 5. Whose are the fathers, being the descendants of the holy »nd venerable patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and David —and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, icho is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.—He mentions last the greatest honour of all, viz. that the Messiah sprang of them according to the flesh, being a Jew by birth of the seed of Abraham, and of David as Whs promised. Indeed it appears that it was for the sake of this person, that the posterity of Abraham were separated from the rest of mankind, and had all the other distinguished privileges conferred upon them, which were in'general preflgurations of Christ and his kingdom.—He came of them according to the flesh, i. e. the human nature, which imports that he had another nature; and so it is abided, "who is over all, God blessed for ever." This is clearly expressive of his true Deity. See the like expressions applied to the Creator, Rom. i. 25. and to the Father, 2 Cor. xi. 31. Edinburgh. A. M.
To the Editor of the New Evangelical
It id allowed that God is a Sovereign, and bestows the blessings of his grace as seems good in his sight; that the usefulness of Christian ministers does not depend upon their spirituality of mind as the effect depends upon the cause; yet as God gives encouragement to whatever he approves, and men of mean abilities, remarkable for spirituality, have been greatly favoured with ministerial success, while men of superior powers, have, comparatively speaking laboured almost in vain; and as there are so many things which tend to carnalize the mind -and draw it from the only source of spiritual life, it might be of great use to have clear views of those things which through the blessing •f God promote this heavenly
temper: I beg therefore to pro* pose the following query to the readers of your Magazine.
"What are the means most calculated to promote in Christian ministers that spirituality of mind which in many instances has been attended with so large a portion of ministerial success. 1"
To the Editor of the New Evangelical
A Baptist Minister of this city who was lately preaching from Matt. xxvi. 29. took occasion to inform his auditory that Jesus Christ did not partake of the bread or wine with his disciples, at what is commonly called the Lord's Supper. Your sentiments upon this passage will oblige,
Yours, &c. Bristol. A.
A Correspondent desires to be informed, through the medium of the Neti Evangelical Magazine, whether the Village Itineracy is supported solely for the purpose of introducing the Gospel into places that have been previously destitute of it, leaving the people and their future Pastor at liberty to adopt such mode of conducting the worship and administering the ordinances as to them shall appear most agreeable to the word of God, in conformity with the fundamental principle D/tbe Missionary Society—or was that Institution established for the purpose of promoting the interests of one particular denomination exclusively?
QUERY. In Rom. viii. 15, 16. the apostle speaks of the spirit of bondage—the Spirit of adoption—and the witness of the Spirit, The first of these appears to be the common lot of every unbeliever. Is "the spirit of Adoption," which the apostle seems to contrast with the former, the common privilege of every believer? And wherein consists "the witness of the Spirit"—or haio is it, that the Spirit of God bears witness with the believer's own spirit, that he is a child of .God? A scriptural illustration of this subject would be thankfully received, as it is humbly conceived that very mistaken notions of it are current in the religious world. 2 B
Sermons by the licv. John Martin, more than forty years Pastor of the Baptist church, formerly meeting in Grafton-street, Soho, and now in Keppel-street, Bedford Square, London. With a Portrait. Taken in Short Hand, by Thomas Palmer. In 2 vols. 8vo. 550 pages in- each, pr. 24s. bds. London. Gale and Fenner, 181T. The reading of these Sermons forcibly reminded us of a pleasant anecdote respecting their author, which, as it is current among his friends, we see no impropriety in mentioning. He had, on some occasion or other, been listening to a discourse delivered by a junior minister from his own pulpit. At the close of the service a lady of his acquaintance, intending somewhat of a compliment, thus accosted him; " Why, Mr. Martin, Mr. (so and so) imitates you in his manner of preaching!" "It may be so, Madam/ said Mr. M. "but no man is pleased to have his likeness daub'd !.'" Our readers will no doubt expect to Inow what this anecdote has to do with a review of Mr. Martin's Sermons; and we shall therefore explain that point before we proceed any farther. Even a superficial glance into the volumes before us, cannot fail to impress the reader with a conviction that the preacher was himself & mannerist; yet we are much inclined to doubt whether in this he was original. X* never indeed fell to our lot to hear him preach; but we had not read twenty pages of his printed discourses, 'ere the idea suggested itself to us—" this is a humble imitation of Robinson of Cambridge!" and every subsequent examination of the work only served to rivet that conviction more strongly in our minds. We have called it a "humble" imitation; and such in truth it is-^a miserable daubing after an inimitable original. But how indeed should it be otherwise? There not only existed a disparity between the artists—but that disparity actually amounted to a contrast. Whoever has read Mr. Robinson's Village Sermons with attention, cannot fail to have perceived that the author was a man of genius, and learning, and unquestionable talent.
Nature had cast him in her finest mould—and his pulpit endowments were of the most exquisite kind Rich iri invention, and with'language at command, he could reason or he could ridicule as best suited the purpose of the moment—he could indulge the sportiveness of a lively fancy, and the playful sallies of wit, or he could overwhelm the minds of a listening audience with an irresistible torrent of eloquence! At one moment you were charmed with the graces of his simplicity; and anon electrified by his bursts of sublimity. Mr. Martin appears to us to have been as nearly as possible the counterpart of all this! Without a spark of genius, and meagre of invention, contracted in an extraordinary degree in his mental capacity, and with only a very moderate share of learning, his Sermons are unavoidably destitute of all that is fascinating i» the pulpit exercises of Mr.- fiobinsoi, whom he unhappily adopted for his model. The consequence is, that the very attempt to imitate him frequently serves- only to excite one's risibility and too often our disgust. If the discursive flights of Robinson might be compared to the soaring of an Eagle towards heaven, Mr. Martin's attempt to follow him can only tend to remind us of the floundering of a barn door fowl, flapping its wings, and after a clumsy effort to rise into the air, descending again upon the spot whence it vainly attempted to soar,
But that none may accuse us
doing injustice to Mr. Martin by representing him as an imitator df Robinson, we shall give a specimen of his manner; and we put it fairly to the consideration of every unprejudiced reader, who is at all acquainted with the "Village Sermons," whether we are not borne out in the charge. Almost any one Sermon in th* Volumes before us would furnish an example of what we have hinted at; but we shall select nearly at random, the commencement of the fortieth Sermon, founded on Ps. cxix. 7A-. " * know, 0 Lord, that thy judgments are right; and that thou in faithftdnest hast afflicted me." Thus the preacMr proceeds:
•" Id very early life, the tree of knowledge seemed a very line, a glorious tree in my sight: but, how many mistakes have I made upon that subject! And, how many are the mistakes which yet abound upon that which we are pleased to call knowledge, in common speech.
"He that hath read the classics; he that hath dipped into mathematical science; he that is versed in history and grammar, and common elocution; he that is apt and ready to solve some knotty question, and versed in the ancient lore of learning, is thought to be a man of knowledge: and so he is, compared with the ignorant mass of mankind.
"But what is all this, compared witli the knowledge in my text? Knowledge, of which few of the learned, as they are called, have the least acquaintance with at all. [Now comes the imitation.]
"Ikiio-.v." What, David?- what do you know ?—" I koow, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, aud that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me."
*' Fond as I may yet be of other speculations, I would rather, much rather, possess the knowledge of this man in this text, than have the largest acquaintance with the whole circle of the sciences, as it is proudly called.
"God grant, my friends, you may aspire to such knowledge as this, and be enabled, every one of you to say for yourselves—" I know,—I do not conjecture:" for the word here relates to experimental knowledge—" I know, O Lord,
that thy judgments are right." It
might be said, it is an easy thing for you so to think, when you see the revolutions of kingdoms, the tottering of thrones, the distresses of some mortals, and the pains of others, that they are all right.—" Yes" —saith be,—" but I have the same persuasion about all my own sorrows; I do know, that, in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me."
Who does not recognise Robinson's wanner in all this?
Take another specimen from Sermon xli. The text is 2 Cor. ii. 7. "Lest, perhaps, such an one be swallowed up of overmuch sorrow."
"Never, as I imagine, did I perceive a more truly Christian spirit, even in St. Paul himself, than on a certain subject, just now, for the first time, remarked by me with weight, while I was reading this chapter to you. I am pleased, I am instructed, 1 am delighted with the beginning of the chapter. His words are these. "But I determined thus with myself, that I would not come again unto you in heaviness." The reason is astonishing and perhaps just (perhaps just!!) ** For if I make you sorry, who is he that shall make me glad, but the same that is made sorry by me?" It is admirable!
The apostle doth, in effect, say this, "Whatever I have written for correction,, for reproof, for rebuke, is far from my being willing to distress you: for, if I make you sorry, Christians, who in the world is to make me glad?" — Most noble thought! It intimates that if he hath not comfort,and fellowship, and communion with Christians, notwithstanding all their weaknesses and infirmities, he is never to expect it from any other society. For neither men of fortune, men of science, nor men of title, nor men of power,, merely as such, cunlrl ever make his heart gl-id. Admirable! I protest, if any man, under a profession of religion, can lie at home any where but in truly Christian, society, and truly christian conversation, I should very much doubt whether he ever partook of the grace of God in truth.
"My dear friends: lay this fine thought to your hearts. Do not be shy of your Christian friends. Others may amuse you; tempt you; flatter you; hut who will comfort you? Where are you to be at home? where will you unbend the powers of your minds, the longings of your souls, and the rising affections of your hearts? Tell me nothing to the contrary. You cannot do it, if you are Christians; you cannot dn it but in truly christian company; and with people called by the mighty grace of God? Others could not do it; how then 6hnuld we do it? Why are we then so fond to scrape— (the meanness of the action deserves the meanness of the word)—to scrape acquaintance with people who cannot relish the doctrines of eternal life? Civil, we should be, to every body, hut, at home we can never be if we are partakers of the grace of Christ, but where Paul was. Ten thousand quarrels would die; tea thousand excellencies would rise, if we drank into this spirit, &c. &c.
"I wish, my friends, with all my heart, you could consider human life, as a kind of history, or drama, consisting of more acts than one; so that when you read one act, or one scene of human life, you may not take it to be the whole: you may not form all your judgment by any one thing that comes under your notice.
"From the words I have read, I lay down this doctrine, strange as it may seem; but I venture to lay it down; and beg your patience; namely, That it is possible there may be overmuch sorrow for sin. The doctrine and instruction I raise from the words, is, that, it is a possible case, with some people in this world, to have, as the text expresseth it, over much sorrow, even for sin against God. I should think that my character will not be so much mistaken, as that I should now plead, to my dear Christian friends here, that I do not mean, by what I have said, that any sorrow of the sons of men can be in equality to the 6in committed. No sirs; were ye to weep from morning ts