Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

difputed as thofe propofitions involve, we can only fay, that the writer has treated them with perfpicuity, and has been very happy in his corroborative quotations from feripture.

Before he enters on the fecond head of his fubject, he makes a few practical remarks, which tend to prove that the doctrine of election "is not fo difcouraging as fome would reprefent it."

In the fecond difcourfe, the point to be established is this, 66 That a certain great and glorious number were elected by God, in his eternal counfel and purpose from the reft of fallen mankind, to be in time effectually called and justified, in order to their being finally brought to eternal life and glory; and this out of his mere good pleasure, and for the praife of his glorious grace." To confirm this point, the author brings many ftriking paffages from the New Teftament, which appear to us strong and forcible, and oblige us to conclude with him, that the doctrine treated of," is no scattered, fingle, or independent article, but runs along with the ftream of the bible."

the author endeavours to ftate fome of the abfurd confequences, which follow upon the denial of the doctrine; fuch as making the will of God dependent on a creature, the uncertainty of human falvation, and that the falvation of every particular man origi nates with himself.

The object of the third discourse is to attempt to clear the doctrine of mifreprefentations and objections. The fubject of this discourse must be highly interesting to every one; for where is the mind, which is at any time employed on ferious fubjects, that is not defirous of having its objections removed, and of being confirmed with regard to the truth or abfurdity of the abovementioned doctrines? How far Mr. C. has fucceeded in removing objections, or confirming the truth of his fubject, we must refer our readers to the work to judge for themselves. In the fourth and laft fermon, Vol. I. No. I.

E

The difcourfes are then concluded with fhewing the importance of the doctrine, and the place it holds in the fcheme of christianity, with a few practical remarks.

The extracts, already made from the difcourfes, will ferve as a fpeci men of the author's style, which is plain and perfpicuous, and forms a ftriking contraft with many of the polished fermons of the present day.

We must do the author the juftice to obferve, that a spirit of piety, and chriftian zeal pervades the whole work; and that his difcourfes are exempt from any severity, or invective against the oppofers of his fentiments. To ufe his own words, he appears to have taken

this fubject in hand, not from a love of controverfy or fondness to oppofe the fchemes of others, but

from a fincere defire to fulfil the ministry of the Lord Jefus." N.

Sermons by WILLIAM JAY, 8vo. PP. 478. Bofton, printed for B. and J. Homans, by David Carlisle. First American, from the fecond London Edition. 1805.

FROM the multitude of books, which are continually iffuing from the preffes in Great Britain, it were to be wifhed, that our American bookfellers were always as judi cious in their felections for reprinting in this country, as the publish, ers of this volume. With much fatisfaction we introduce to the American publick, a work in no

pel, and of its particular truths, is, in substance, transmitted to us. Improved reason and philosophy have discovered nothing to invali date that evidence, which satisfied primitive believers respecting the peculiar tenets of revelation. If they had sufficient evidence, that by the offence of Adam his posterity were made sinners; that all are by nature dead in trespasses and sins, and so the children of wrath; that Christ was set forth as a propitia tion for sin; that none can be received into heaven without regeneration; that they, who are called, are called of God according to his eternal purpose; that they who repent and believe, owe their repentance, their faith, and their consequent salvation to grace; if they had sufficient evidence of these positions, so have we. If they had such evidence of Christ's divinity, as rendered it proper for them to consider him, as God, and to address him as the suitable object of divine worship; then we have such evidence, as renders the same proper for us. There was no consideration to justify Thomas in calling Jesus, his Lord, and his God, and dying Stephen in offering prayer to the ascended Saviour, which does not warrant and require believers now to honour him with the same religious worship. The same might be said of every christian doctrine. As truth is unchangeable in its nature, its evidence remains the same. To ancient believers sufficient evidence was satisfactory. It ought to be so to us. I am your ever affectionate brothCONSTANS.

er,

[To be continued.]

From the Christian Observer.

QUESTION.

"WHEN there is a struggle in the mind between right and wrong,

how may it be known whether this struggle arises from the checks of natural conscience in an unrenewed mind, or from a principle of grace in the soul?" If the following thoughts on the subject seem likely to afford any satisfaction to the Querist, they are at his and your service.

1. The struggle which arises from the checks of natural conscience in an unrenewed mind, will generally be found to be partial as to its object, having respect only to some particular sin or sins, which may appear more heinous in their nature, or more dangerous in their consequences, than others. The conflict, in this case, is not with what the scriptures term the body of sin: whereas the struggle that originates in a principle of grace is against sin universally its object is that the old man (i. e. the old nature altogether) may be put off with his deeds. It is far from being a mere struggle against prominent vices; it is an opposition which prompts the true christian to search out and pursue the foe, and wherein the severest conflicts are with the latent evils of the heart, such as pride, unbelief, selfrighteousness, want of submission to the divine will, &c. There is no hypocrisy, allowed deceit, or indulgence of any sin whatever, in the true spiritual warfare.

2. The struggle between passion and conscience in the breast of a natural man is generally unsteady and variable. At certain seasons it is vigorous and strong; at other times faint and feeble ; and then again, for perhaps a long season, altogether suspended: whereas the conflict between nature and grace, between the flesh and the Spirit, is more steady, regular, and uniform. The true seliever, communing daily with

his own heart, and discovering with pain the fecret workings of evil, gains increafing conviction of the importance of perfevering oppofition in patience, vigilance, faith, and prayer. His applications to the Throne of Grace are daily renewed, and thus, trengthened with power and might from above, he is enabled to maintain the good fight, not prefuming to lay down his arms till the days of his warfare (Job riv. 14.) are ended.

3. The ordinary ftruggle in an unrenewed mind originates chiefly in fear, and is stronger in proportion as the apprehenfion of danger is excited. It is, in fact, a struggle between the judgment and the inclination, the one pointing out the confequences; while the other covets the pleasures, of fin; the one preffing the importance and neceffity, while the other fhrinks from the performance of acknowledged duties. There is nothing in this ftruggle, which fhews either hatred of fin, or love of the divine law. The truth is, the heart is not divorced from evil habits and attachments, and is therefore fecretly offended at the strictness, spirituality, and extent of that law, which condemns them: there is a latent displeasure in the foul, becaufe fin and happiness are not made compatible. Now the conflict in a spifitual mind is ever attended with a hatred of fin, as a thing evil in its nature, as well as pernicious in its confequences. Not only the judgment condemns, but the will opposes, and the affections are withdrawn from it. The law of God, which in the other cafe is matter of offence, is here not only acknowledged as holy and juft, but approved as good: it is the delight of the inward man:

D

and the grief of a fincere christian is to find in himself fo many way ward tempers and difpofitions not duly fubjected to its righteous and falutary control. Against these he maintains an habitual and serious conflict, and not merely to avoid the condemnation, but alfo the pollution of fin; no fimply wishing to fecure future happiness, but labouring to perfect holinefs in the fear of God. In the ordinary ftruggle, when the better principle feems for the moment to prevail, and the duty preffed upon the confcience is performed, the obedience is only like that of Saul, when he forced himself to offer a burnt offering. When the folicitation to fin is denied, it is but like the refufal of Balaam to go with the messengers of Balak, when he gladly would have accompanied them had he dared to do it. In short, to borrow a comparifon, which I have fomewhere seen, whatever struggles an unrenewed man may have, fin is to him like precious wares in the ship, which are only thrown over board (and that as fparingly as poffible) in a ftorm: but to one of a fpiritual mind it is as the ftagnant and offenfive water in the veffel, which the good mariner is affiduous to pump out and clear away daily.

4. Where the struggle between right and wrong arifes only from the checks of natural confcience, it is conducted, or carried on, by the mere exertion of natural power the fubject of it oppofes folicitations to evil, with purposes and refolutions formed entirely in his own ftrength: whereas, in the conflict between the flesh and the fpirit, in a renewed mind, the combatant is ftrong in the grace that is in Chrift Jefus. By the acting of faith, from time to time renewed, on the Saviour to whom he is by that vital

[ocr errors]

principle united, he derives renewed fupplies of that spirit of power and might, whereby alone he can effectually be ftrengthened in the inner man, to fight the good fight, and to crucify the flesh with its affections and lufts.

dially hated, and its oppofition to the new man more acutely and painfully felt. It is not therefore a fair inference from the complaints alluded to, that sin is not mortified or weakened. The believer may expect the oppofition of the enemy, and count upon the continuance of the conflict, till the happy period fhall arrive when he will receive the end of his faith, even the M. T. H. falvation of his foul.

21

Laftly. From the struggles occafioned by the mere checks of natural confcience no extenfive or permanent good effects enfue. However temptation may occafionally be refifted with effect, the power of the enemy is not broken or fubdued; nor is there produced in the mind any habitual vigilance, circumfpection, godly jealoufy, fear, or abhorrence of evil. Sin, in fome form or other, fill reigns in the mortal body, and is obeyed in the lufts thereof, But in the conflict, which arifes from a principle of grace in the foul, fubftantial advantage is gained over the adverfary: the malignity and deceitfulness of fin are, in an increaf ing degree, difcovered, its fecret motions are more clearly traced, and its fubtle workings more effect ually frustrated. The foul learns more fully the importance of faith and prayer, of the continual ufe of the chriftian armour, and of "looking unto Jefus." By thefe means they that are Christ's are enabled to crucify the flesh with its affections and lufts, fo that all things belonging to the old man do gradually die in them, while all things belonging to the new man live and grow in them. This statement is not to be confidered as invalidated by the complaints of eminent chriftians concerning the power of fin within them, by reafon whereof they yet groan being burdened. It is to be confidered that, in proportion to a man's real growth in grace and holinefs, fin not only will be more clearly feen, but more cor

From the Religious Monitor.* THERE are many in the chriftian world, who confine their reflections on religion almost entire. ly to its moral precepts; while its doctrines are difregarded, as comparatively of little confequence, By fome, these are entirely overlooked, as if they had been intended only for the ftudy of the profeffed Theologian; and as if the belief of them had no connection with the happiness of a future ftate. By others, difcuffions concerning the real import of particular paffages of fcripture, and the nature of the doctrines deducible from them, are little attended to; thefe being confidered as points, in the decifion of which, the private christian is not materially interefted. According

to crucify the flesh with its affec-y, if these men form for themfelves any fyftem of opinions concerning the meaning of the doctrines of fcripture, they profefs to have no defire to convert others to the belief of their peculiar fentiments. They leave every man to be guided by the conviction of his own mind; and defpife, as the bigthe neceflity of believing, as the ots of a party, thofe who maintain only true doctrines, one clafs of religious tenets.

It is hardly neceffary to say any * A Periodical Work published at Edinburgh,

[ocr errors]

thing in refutation of the first of thefe opinions. He, who can deny man's obligation to believe the doctrines of the gofpel; who can reject, as useless, those truths, which conftitute the very effence of chrift ianity; and who can deprive its morals of their only pure and efficient motives, deferves not the name of chriftian. He defpifes the authority of God, and refufes, with daring ingratitude, the beft bleff ings of revelation; the comforts and hopes, which its doctrines infpire. The fecond opinion however, in which it is maintained, that every man may fafely adopt his own views of the doctrines of fcripture, whether they actually accord with its real intention or not, deferves our more ferious confideration. This is an opinion, common to many profeffors of chriftianity. It has the appearance of much liberality and candour; and will certain ly be approved of by every one, who takes only a fuperficial view of the fubject; when attentively examined, however, it will appear to be founded on the following fuppofition alfo. That the language of fcripture on many of the effential doctrines of chriftianity is ambiguous, that its import cannot be politively ascertained by the candid inquirer, and that no interpretation of it, and no explanation of the meaning of its doctrines can be regarded, as exclusively true. If, therefore, we can fhew that this fuppofition is unfupported, the opinion, built upon it, must fall to the ground. By denying fuch affertions, however, we must not be understood to affirm, that the meaning of every part of fcripture is plain and obvious. Many paffages are neceffarily obfcure, from our imperfect knowledge of the language and manners of the period, in which the facred books were written; and

there are fome things, which God hath feen fit to reveal to us only in part. But we fhall endeavour to prove that all, who allow christianity to be a divine revelation, must acknowledge that the grand characteristick doctrines of the gospel, original fin, the divinity and atonement of Chrift, juftification through faith, and the other effential points, connected with thefe, in as far as they are neceffary for enabling us to apprehend them, are promulgat ed in clear and unequivocal terms.

Before the gofpel was preached, mankind were involved in the most deplorable darkness and uncertainty with regard to every particular, which concerned their prefent hopes and future happiness. Every thing was obfcure, and much was entire ly concealed. The placability of God, the efficacy of repentance, and the existence of a future state, were all doubted, even by the wif eft and moft enlightened heathens. Compaffionating men in this wretched condition, God was pleafed to bring life and immor tality to light by the gofpel; to fhew them in a manner which could not be misunderstood, the fources of confolation, and the rule of duty; to point out the way of access to him, and to direct their views to an eternal inheritance beyond the grave. If, however, these effential truths were not plainly difcovered; if the language, in which they are expreffed, even after all the inveftigations of the learned, be full of ambiguity; where are the advantages of reve lation? What light hath it shed on a benighted world? What fure confolation, what good hope hath it given to the fearful mind of guilty man? It hath declared to us indeed God's willingness to pardon; but hath left us, as before, in total uncertainty about

« AnteriorContinuar »