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with the glory which I had with thee before the world was," John xvii. 5. We must there. fore admit with the apostle, that Christ was "God manifest in the flesh," or place these declarations to the account of falsehood, and hold Christ for an impostor; which no believer in the Scriptures will have the hardiness to do. I once had doubts on this subject; but my mind is now satisfied of the divinity of our Savior. "Never man spake as he spoke." The prophecies respecting Christ, and the astonishing train of events, recorded in the Jewish history, as preparatory to his appearance, have had no small effect in satisfying my mind on this subject. Let any man attend, among other prophecies, to the clear predictions of Christ, in the ninth and fifty-third chapters of Isaiah, and he will find abundant evidence of Christ's divinity, and the inspiration of the Scriptures. It cannot be said that these predictions are forgeries, for we have ample proof that they were written several centuries before the birth of Christ. A part, if not the whole of the Old Testament was translated into Greek, by the seventy, nearly three centuries before Christ appeared, for the benefit of the Jews, who, after their captivity and dispersion, had lost a knowledge of the Hebrew language; and this translation is now extant. In addition to this, it has been justly remarked that the quotations from the Old Testament by the apostles and evangelists are taken from the Greek copy. If then the predictions of the prophets are genuine, as I firmly believe, they must have been
dictated by the Spirit of God. Now the prophets apply to Christ not only the attributes, but the title of Jehovah up Jehovah our righteousness, Jer. xxiii. 6, and xxxiii. 16. I have long regretted that, in the common version of the Bible, the original word Jehovah has not been generally retained in the translation. I think the original loses much of its force in the English word LORD, and when applied to Christ, the evidence of the divinity of Christ, contained in the title, is, to an ordinary reader entirely lost, or much impaired.
To those who object to this doctrine of Christ's divinity, on account of its mysteriousness, I would reply, that there is noth ing more mysterious in this doctrine, than in every thing else, respecting God and his works. Men should not stumble at mystery, after having disposed of the difficulties attending the belief of a preliminary mystery, the least comprehensible of all. The existence of a God, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being and perfections, is, in my apprehension, by far the greatest mystery, that can be presented to the human mind. Yet few men hesitate to believe in the existence of such a Being. Men who are not staggered at this first and greatest mystery, think, could not hesitate to give their assent to doctrines involving less difficulties; for when once the existence of a God of unlimited power is admitted, we may safely admit the existence of any facts, however mysterious and astonishing, that do not involve an I am absolute contradiction. not perfectly satisfied with the
terms used in creeds, "three persons in one God," the terms are not scriptural, and may not assist the understanding in its contemplations on this subject. I receive the doctrine just as the Scriptures represent it, without attempting to explain it in terms of my own. I bow to this, as
ties have no right to expect we shall be able to understand all the works and counsels of the infinite Jehovah. It is our duty to admire and adore, to love and obey. In short, it is the duty of man to be humble. Indeed it is a remarkable fact, that God rarely communicates to man the consolations of his grace, and evidences of his favor, till severe convictions have reduced him to a strong sense of the feebleness of his powers, as well as of the sinfulness of his heart. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble."
to all other mysteries in the kingdoms of nature, providence, and grace. All creation is full of mystery, indeed the constitution is perhaps as great a mystery as any other. The union of an intelligent principle, with a certain organic structure of bones, flesh, vessels, and nerves, is perhaps as really incomprehensible by us, as the existence of God, or the divinity of Christ; for we cannot compare degrees of incomprehensibility. Explain to my understanding, how a man, by an act of the will can move a finger, and I think I may safely undertake to unfold any mystery in the gospel. Explain to me, the natur. al cause of attraction, in gravi. tation, cohesion, or magnetism; describe to me the process of vege. tation on the earth, and of mine. ralization, beneath its surface; attend the chymist in his laboratory, and see two invisible color. less gases combined in a certain proportion, producing that visible substance, water, and the same substance decomposed and converted into gases; in short, unfold to my comprehension, the cause of heat, the operations of light, and of congelation, before you complain of the mysterious ness of Christ's divinity. What is there, my dear friend, in heaven above or on the earth beneath, which we do comprehend? Surely beings of our limited capaci
Men who depend on their own works for salvation, appear to question the special influences of the divine Spirit, in renewing the heart. It is difficult to reconcile this skepticism with a belief in the Scriptures, which repeatedly and unequivocally assert the fact. Real Christians have the witness within themselves; that is, they have evidence from their views of divine things and the affections of the heart, which leave little or no room to doubt the divine in. fluence, which produced them. The operations of the Spirit are very various. In some persons, convictions produce anxiety and terror which drive them almost to despair. In others, convictions are less violent, but produce a solicitude which leads the subjects of them to read the Scriptures; to inquire the way to Zion; to attend to the means of grace, and gradually to renounce all reliance on themselves, and to seek God through Christ with humility, prayer, and submission. In some cases, though less frequently, persons, without much previous distress have opened to their minds, most luminous views
of the excellence of the divine character, of God's love and mercy in Christ, and seem to pass at once from death to life; and from the most determined enmity of heart and opposition to the Christian scheme of salvation, to the most cordial delight in the doctrines of the gospel. These facts which are within the observation of every honest inquirer, correspond with the account Christ himself has given of the operations of the Spirit, which are compared to the blow. ing of the wind, whose effects only are perceived. Many persons, whose views and affections are evidently changed, are not sensible of any particular operation on their hearts. They have new affections and views, but know not the time or the manner in which they received them. In others, the impressions are too sensible not to be recognized. I know there are men who denominate such impressions enthusiasm and spiritual delu. sion. But the instances of such sensible changes of the heart, in persons of sound judgment and cool, dispassionate minds, not prone to yield to fanciful sug. gestions and transient feelings, furnish evidence of the reality of such special agency of the divine Spirit on the heart, which I cannot think it right to reject, That the operations of the Holy Spirit are sometimes ac. companied with a light exhibited to the imagination, is not generally believed; but I am inclined to believe the fact on the author. ity of well authenticated cases. I see no more reason for disbe
lieving the fact, than for reject. ing the account of St. Paul's conversion; for the soul of man
is undoubtedly the medium through which the Supreme Be ing makes his communications. At the same time there is so much danger of deception, in the force of the imagination, that I think the evidence of such facts should be very clear to encourage courage confidence. The proof of a real change of heart should rest on the subsequent life; for "the tree is known by its fruit." But that God does make special communications of his favor to man, through the intellectual and spiritual principle, or soul, and that he often grants the re quests of his children, by a di. rect agency, independent of vis. ible means, are facts fully reveal. ed in the Scriptures, and well known to Christians.
"Whatsoever ye shall ask iņ my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son," is the repeated promise of our Savior; a consolatory prom. ise that many pious souls have known to be fulfilled, to their unspeakable joy, and to the great confirmation of their faith.
These are points which I am sensible, are not generally be lieved. But why should they be questioned? For what pur, pose was the soul infused into man? Why was man distin. guished from the brute? If man was made to perish like the beast of the field, of what use is his intellectual part? The animal appetites of the brute, afford perhaps, in the gratification, aș much pleasure as those of man. Surely then man was endowed with superior powers and facul, ties for some important purpose. For what purpose? The soul bears some resemblance to divinity, and is evidently designed for
enjoyments of a superior rank. To direct the intellectual powers of man to their proper objects, it was doubtless necessary for him to have a revelation of God's will, and such revelation requires a direct communication from God. It may be said, that such communications were undoubtedly made, but having been made, and the substance of them record ed, further communications are unnecessary. This may, in a sense, be true; but I see no im. probability in God's continuing to make special communications of his will to man, by illuminating the mind, in the present, as well as in former periods. The instances, in which such revelations are distinctly recognized, may be rare; but some well authenticated facts of this kind, may serve to confirm the truth of former revelations, and fortify the faith of Christians. Such instances now, as in former ages, may be intended to answer some important por. poses in the economy of Providence and grace; and are probably, in most instances, given in answer to fervent prayer.
It is no objection to these opinions that such communications are not general or common; any more than it is to the special infliction of punishment, by divine wrath, on some heinous crimes, while other crimes apparently as offensive, are suffered to pass, for the present, unpunished. If a blasphemer, riding in company, should, with an oath and a lie upon his tongue, declare that the horse he is on never stumbles, and his horse should instantly fall and break the man's neck, no person could hesitate to believe it at least probable, that the Almighty had interposed, by his
agency, to execute sudden vengeance on the offender. Yet many other men, committing a like offence, may escape present punishment, without, in the least, impairing the evidence of God's special interference in the case stated. For it is the character of God, as represented in the Scripture, and manifested every day, to exercise mercy rather than vengeance, and by a few instances of his wrath, to give examples and evidences of his pow.
and government, to recal other offenders to their duty. It is equally probable that special communications of his will, and of his favor, may be made, to strengthen the faith, and animate the hopes of those who confide in him. Not to believe in such instances is to discredit all human testimony. If you will take the trouble to converse with experienced Christians, and read the written accounts of their lives, you must, I think, be satisfied, that God does, at times, as directly interpose, in behalf of those who ask him in faith, as he did in restoring health to the sick, and sight to the blind, under the ministration of our Savior on earth.
Such facts serve to establish the doctrine of a special provi. dence, the truth of which I once questioned, but now fully believe. Indeed it is surprising I could ever entertain a doubt on the subject; for it is as unphilo. sophical as unscriptural, to admit a general providence without a special one; as a general providence implies particular providences. I was probably led into this error by the false philosophy which prevails in the world, by propagating which
men strive to exclude the agency of God from all direct concern with the affairs of this world, and of the universe. This philosophy substitutes for the mighty hand of Deity, the operations of second causes, and laws of nature. We are taught in our youth that nature or created things, are subject to certain laws, such as attraction, gravitation, and repulsion; and with the help of these, we pretend to account for all the phenomena of the universe, without the direct agency of a supreme, intelligent Cause.
But what are the laws of nature? Nature, in its most comprehensive sense, means all that is made or produced, and laws, when applied to such created things, signify the regular motions, operations, and changes of these things; or the causes by which they are produced. If the laws of nature are the motions and changes of bodies, then they are effects, and not causes, and we ascribe the phenomena of the universe to the effects of something else. If these laws are the producing or primary cause, they must be the supreme Author himself, whom all rational men must admit to be an intelligent Being. Is it possible that laws or principles, competent to carry on the stu. pendous operations of the universe, can be attached to matter, and not immediately dependent on the almighty Author! Is matter susceptible of such active principles, independent of an intelligent mind? I would not dare to circumscribe, even in thought, the power of Jeho vah; but I have given up this philosophy, and am compelled to resolve all the laws of nature in.
to the direct agency of the almighty first Cause. The operations of nature are evidently the effects of that power constantly exerted, which first called all things into existence. Hence their uniformity, for nothing can be uniform, but God and his operations.
The Jews were an illiterate people, cultivating neither arts nor sciences, to any considerable degree; yet, surprising as it may appear, they were, for ages, the only people whose history has come down to us, who appear to have had just ideas of the only true philosophy, which, mounting to the true source of all created beings and their operations, ascribes all events to Jehovah. Upon this scheme of philosophy, the difference be tween miracles and natural events is, that natural events are the usual, constant, and reg. ular operations of divine power, and supernatural events are the unusual and special operations of the same power, which astonish men, merely because they are not frequent. It cannot be the magnitude of the event which excites our wonder; for we have no ground to suppose the raising of the dead is a greater act of divine power, as it regards the Supreme Being, than the growth of a tree. If any person should incline to allege that the difference between a miracle and a natural event, is, that a natural event takes place by means of some medium or instrument, and a miracle, without such medium, this would only compel us to mount one step higher to find the immediate agency of God. The waters of the Red Sea were removed to make a passage for