« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth ; and every man, all in whose nostrils is the breath of life ; and of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven, and they were destroyed from the earth.” Gen. vii. 20, 21.
If the Noachean tenantry of the ark, and other mysterious cir. cumstances connected with the great diluvian judgment, present difficulties to human comprehension, surely there is, in the absence of divine solution, some holier alternative for their disposal than that of holding them up to the ridicule of evangelical assemblies. They may, for the present at least, be allowed to repose in the so. vereignty and omnipotence of God. Those attributes of deity, and their agency, however Dr. Pye Smith avers shall never be received by men of true science as solutions in the diluvian or any other geological difficulty. All such difficulty to mortal intelligence shall be removed by the laws and powers of science alone. No other principle shall be admitted than that of natural sense comprehension and interpretation, as laid down under the sanction of the names of Dr. Pye Smith and Mr. Babbage, in the introductory lecture.
But, detail refutation, Sir, as mentioned in our previous letter, is not the object of the present public appeal; nor is it believed that such an undertaking will be at all requisite. We are dealing now with principles only. We are directing the watchful and reflecting eye of the nation and of the church to the openness, bolda ness, and rapidity with which the temple of (should we hesitate to say, infidel ?) science is now towering up in the centre of the gospel world, and we are pointing to the pious sacrifices of revealed religion that are, amid the visible plaudits of congregated evangelists, made on the rising altar! And we believe that the present exposition of the principles on which the course of lectures in question is now proceeding, will, when compared with a faithful publication of the latter, leave every right-minded citizen and disciple of Christ in our land in the possession of a full, and it is to be apprehended fearful satisfaction, as to the destroying consequences which scientifico political evangelism is producing, and will produce to Britain. · It is felt, and candidly confessed, that a public journal is not the most desirable medium for the conveyance of such discussion; but the peculiar popularity of the science in question, the notoriety of its advocacy and promulgation in the present course of lectures,' its involvement of the highest national and sacred interests, together with the imperatively demanded defence of those interests, and the prompt, pointed, and effective means of that defence, afforded by an extensive daily periodical, will at once sanction and justify its adoption.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully, 39, Highbury-place, Mar. 8.
Vol. IV.-No. V.
“ In doctrine shewing uncorruptness.” “ Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees which is Hypocrisy." "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday to-day and for ever. Whom to know is life
CARIST OUR PEACE. " For he is our peace, who hath made both one and hath broken down the
middle wall of partition between us." A. DISCOVERY like this, to one like the apostle Paul, who had according to the strictness of his sect, lived a “ blameless” phari. saical life, and then had the mortification to learn, that his aspiring devotions contained, what he afterwards describes to be the form only, destitute of the power : in my humble apprehension fully accounts for that noble and fixed determination which stands in his epistles in such a distinguished form ; namely, “ For I am determined to nothing among men save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." The philosophic love of learning and every other acquisition in which he excelled, however valuable, were emptied down as one accumulated mass of dross and dung, while his expanded mind contemplated the riches of divine grace.
Previous to his conversion, like every other natural man, he had some indistinct ideas of God's justice. But alas! how meal and grovelling are such views of his holiness, who has written with a pen of iron, that he will « by no means clear the guilty !" But every man by nature is under a cocenant of works, and hence it is that a natural conviction of this great truth sets men to toiling, in order to repair the breach, the length and breadth of which to them is inconceivable! Man must be born from above, before he can understand the terms by which sin is expressed. This accounts for men talking about “ leading new lives”-“mending their manners"
becoming sober, clearing away the filth from the miry outside, looking grave, and becoming religions. There are others who profess to be a step higher in religious matters, and who will out of courtesy acknowledge some dependence on Christ for having suffered for past sins, these steer a middle course between the two ex
Vol. IV.No, V.
tremes of what they call Antinomianism and Arminianism, and as Jolin Berridge says, for fear of making “ a packhorse of Jesus Christ,” offer their paltry terms of agreement with the Almighty, such as a “ conditional salvation”-making " the law a rule of life" and thus for want of hearing the law with spiritual ears, they ignorantly compound and palliate the awful matter!! Thus they move on, whole congregations, taught from the pulpit, and yieldingsthereto implicit confidence, until it is as the prophet said, “ As with the people, so with the priest.” But the most rigidly moral and devoted among men of this sort, perhaps never equalled in these respects the apostle Paul. Yet whenever in the set time of Jehovah's eternal mind, to dispose the nakedness of his vengeance, and open the understandings to discern the spirituality of his law, the seams and splices of all their best deeds give way, and their 6 new piece" patched to the old garment is severed, and the rent made worse. Now the holiness of God appears, and like Adam, their language now is, “ And I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself;" conscience that before lay smothered amidst the smoking embers of duties, conditions, prayers, alms-deeds, and the like, is now like an angry lion aroused from his den. The very man, who boasted within himself of his inherent goodness, and like Israel of old said in his heart “ all the words of this law will we keep"-has found out its rigorous demands, and that it admits of no extenuation, now entreats, " that the words spoken might not be spoken to him any more." Here he stands naked and open be. fore the eyes of him with whom he has to do;ma just God one who declares that he will by“ no means clear the guilty !” How distracting to learn, that the work of years, with application to it the most industrious and reserved, only strengthen the charge brought against him. He can now do nothing. The best means has been tried, and found to be ineffectual,-and all his good deeds, of whatever kind they may be, not being perfect are filthy rags. His pride meets with an unexpected shock,-"What shall it profit the Almighty, that thou art righteous ?” He may now be considered “ LOST."
In such a case as this, expecting justice without mercy-how delightful to the ears would be the sound of the feet of them that bring good tidings, that publisheth Peace ! Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there? Yes, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. But will he accept salvation upon terms so mortifying to his pride ?-Entirely gratuitous? Yes, although the law maketh nothing perfect, yet it seems to condemn the sinner. It was “ added that the offence might abound.” It condemns the sinner, and acts as a schoolmaster to bring him to Christ. He has often trembled within himself while hearing, “ There is no peace saith my God to the wicked ;"--and is now fully convinced of his own incapacity to make himself better, puts forth, a cry for help out of pure necessity. He is stripped of all hope in and from
bimself. How extremely painful must be the situation of such an one, placed under the sound of a legal, gospel-bawling ministry, among those who themselves are not fully sensible of their own helplessness,—therefore bind heavy burdens, grievous to be borne, and lay them on the shoulders of the already torn-down souls; and tell them to “ do this and that," to procure peace. Still bis cry, though disregarded by them, is heard of God. For he who hath began the good work will perfect it. The throbbings of his heart proceed from a discovery of his own sinfulness, compared with the righteousness of God's law ! In iny humble apprehension, there cannot be a surer proof given of the genuineness of the Spirit's work in the mind, than in that man who has a first impression that sin cannot go unpunished ! For him to read, " This is the will of God, even your sanctification ;" and then to know the infinite distance he is from it, hurls him back sometimes into that distress of mind from which nothing can rescue him, but the delightful sound of peace and pardon, through the blood of the Lamb. In this he sees as it were with other eyes, the glory of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ.
The law only disclosed to bim the naked, righteous, and unalterable will of God. Its powerful voice only condemns, while God the Holy Ghost shows him his sinfulness. He is now in a condition to be saved upon the plan laid down in God's word, (very widely different to the doctrine of a salvable state now extant) —" Sacrifice and offering, and burnt-offerings, and offering for sin thou wouldst not, neither badst pleasure therein which was offered by the law. Then said he, Lo, 1 come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, (that is the law) that he may establish the second (that is the gospel). Heb. x. 8, 9." Here, then, is a better dispensation, a better hope, established upou better promises. This is the will, by the which we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (ver. 14.) “ “ For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us:"-read to 21st verse.
What greater gift could God the Father have bestowed upon us, in our low estate of degradation and misery than in the gift of his dear Son? all of which great event was a manifest fulfilling a previous declaration recorded in Luke ii. 14. The birth of the man Christ Jesus being good tidings of “ PEACE and good will toward men.” Having lived a life of sorrow, and died to put away sin, and confirm the oath of the promise of God made unto the fathers. “ That there should come a deliverer, &c.” Previous to his departure, and while alone with bis disciples, who as yet understood not the scriptures, nor the power of God, he thus addressed the few individuals, unto whom were committed the oracles of God. " Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, (precariously) give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John xiv. 27. We are far
too sunk, too weak in mind and comprehension, to understand fully . what is reserved for them who think upon his name! In our most exalted moments, when filled with the Spirit, we can say, “ He is our peace," but really do not know what that peace is. The soulcheering consolation contained in this short sentence if traced to its source, would convey our mind out of ourselves, and God the Holy Ghost being our teacher, would unfold the curtains of time, while we take a faith's view into the secret councils of eternity between the Holy Trinity of Persons in the Godhead. Jehovah foreseeing every event and its cause, and in revealing that which more imme. diately concerns us, namely, the fall of man, and the uiter impossibility of restoring himself, anointed Christ “ head over all things to his church, which is his body," that to supply man's emptiness and preserve his justice, in him should all fulness dwell. Man could no more be irusted with his own peace! What a proof of the dreadfulness of his fall! connecting with it the sufferings of Christ to secure his restoration. As he could not recover himself, so neither can he be trusted with a “ stock of grace" to preserve himself now he is raised from beneath his own ruin. This would be an awful defect in the plan of God! a suspending him over the bottomless pit, upon the rotten straws of mere conditions. If Adam could not stand in a state of innocence, how much less his posterity, who are deprived of tbat support which is fully proved to be insufficient for himself?
Now then, let us contemplate the infinite wisdom of God. It now becomes necessary to have a surety of a better covenant, in order to render the salvation of the Lord's people certain, or as the word might be rendered, sure-tie, made secure, never to be entrusted in the hands of any created being, but in God himself-in Christ Jesus— Immanuel, God with us. Here is a safe source for faith to look to a sure word of prophecy, unto which we should do well to take heed, as unto a shining light, which shineth brighter and brighter unto perfect day.
This declaration of sacred writ, is unintelligible to every natural man, and no wonder, for it is a profound mystery to the Lord's own people! This inconceivable blessing is but seldom realized, though believed with a full assurance of faith. “ We walk by faith, not by sight.” We are poor wavering creatures, maintaining a con. stant quarrel willı ourselves, and cannot do the things that we would. Tried with outward circumstances, beset with the devil, in perils among false brethren, a conscience not unfrequently accusing us, for our wanderings in heart, which is like the fool's eye, never fixed stedfastly on one object. Blind indeed, in ten thousand instances to our best interests. In heaviness through manifold temptations. Indeed and in truth, can many a child of God say, “ If in this life only we had hope in Christ, we should be of all men most misera. ble." Still Christ is our peace-all is secure. He is of one mind, and none can turn him. If we could affect a change in him by our