« AnteriorContinuar »
to which I here allude, is thus stated : 66 What are the duties incumbent on man, in a natural state, in order to acquire an efe perimental knowledge of the gospel of salvation.”. An experimental knowledge of the gospel is certainly an object of the highest importance; and he is the wisest and happiest man who has attaineil, through divine grace, the clearest perceptions of that way of salvation, from which the gospel derives all its importance and glory. The proposer of the above Query seems to be fully satisficul as to the latter of these points. - He confesses the necessity of experimentally knowing the gospel of salvation; but he assnmes, that this infinite blessing is to be acquired by the performance of duties; and that man in a natural state, is capable of discharging them. His only question of difficulty is, “ What are these wonder-working duties?" Now, Sir, as I am persuaded you have but few correspondents who could meet our enquirer upon his own terms, and as some questions are best answered by pro, posing others, I woukl take the liberty of requesting bis unbiased attention to the following particulars ; First, What is the scriptural import of the descriptive terms here
“ Man in a natural state?" Is it not that he is a sinner faller from God by original sin? - that lie is altogether ignorant of divine things :-- that he is at enmity with God in the ap. pointed medium of salvation ? that he is enslaved by error and his own carnal base passions that he has neither will nor poker to perform holy exercises? -- that, as a natural man, not believing in Christ, his very best sacrifices arc bad and abomina, ble in the sight of God? - How apposite to our purpose is the thirteenth article of our established church ! 6 Works,” says that article, “ done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of this Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuel as they spring hot of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to r'ceive or deserve grace; and as they are not done as God hath willed and commanded, they have the nature of şin."
Secondly, If this account of man in his natural, or unregene. rate state, be scripturally accurate, on what ground can it be, for a moment, admitted that there is any possibility of his perform. ing spiritual and acceptable duties?
able duties : - For those duties, which are to acquire an experimental knowledge of salvation, so far frong Burving the nature of sin, in the sense here understood, and so far from being unpleasant to God, they must be spiritual and accepta able; and must deserve, and make men meet to receive his grace. These will be the natural consequences of the sentiment evidently contained in the Query of your correspondent : -a sentiment which, wherever it obtains, must derogate from the glory of the gospel, and tend to the most dangerous and fatal mistakes as to the ground of a sinner's justification. Who does not see that, if the wisdom and diligence of unholy men are to be employed in enquiring the blessings of salvation, as in the affairs of commerce : -- who floes not sce, that in this case the death of Jesus
às made a vain oblation, that the influences of the Spirit are' dise carded, and that it can no longer be said, Salvation is of grace, and not of works?
Surely, there would be no less propriety in asking What duties are incumbent on the dead to make themselves alive i or, What duties are incumbent on the rock, to make itself'sensitive ? Certainly, there would be just as niuch propriety in these questions as in asking What duties are ineumbent on wicked men to make themselves Christians? I hope, Sir, none of your reu: ders will angrily esclaim, These are high Calvinistic sentiments ! What! are not sinners in general called upou to read and lxcar? - most certainly, and believe the word of God; but such exclamations are too common with many who profess to know the gospel, when the sovereign honours of that gospel are fully asserted, and faithfully vindicated against the prevalence of pharisaical pride. However, the writer of this paper, not pretending to be in the secret of God's decrees, has no fellowship with those who talk of preaching the gospel to none but the elect; nor with those who declaim about the doctrines of grace in a style that encourages the hope of a dispensation from duty. But, deeply convinced that pharisaical pride is not less the bane of the gospel than practical Antinonrianism, lie would call the attention of your numerous readers to this momentous truth, That the most accurate and perfect performance of religious duties, affords no more hope of salvation than the most daring and desperate of crimes.
To those who ask, in Scripture language, " What must we do to be saved ?" - in Scripture language we reply, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved. Here the experimental knowledge of the gospel of salvation" must take its date. From hence the spiritual and acceptable performance of duty must take its rise. Our obedience and our happiness are commensurate with our believing : they are the inseparable companions and c$, sential consequences of it. The true believer, therefore, does not derive his experience from his daties, ---- but his zeal in duty from his experience. His faith in Christ, and his sense of the infinite love of Christ, keep him low at his feet, - powerfully animate him in his service, and uuspeakably exalt him in communion with his glory. All other experience is delusion, -- all other zeal in the performance of duty is either lıypocrisy or pharisaism.
REV. PHILIP II ENRY. WHEN soine zealous people would have him to preach against topknots and other vanities in apparel, he would say, " That was none of his business, if he could persuade people to Christ, the pride, and vanity, and excess of those things woulil fall of course;" and yet he had a dislike to vanity and gaiety of dress, and allowed it not in those that he had anyia, This ap
fluence upon. His rule was, that' in such things we must neither be owls nor apes; pot affect singularity, nor affect modishness ; nor (as he used to observe, froin 1 Pet. iii. 3.) " inake the putting on of apparel our adorning, because Christians have better things to adorn themselves with.” Dr. Owen's heautiful and instructive Comment on the Words of the Apostle
to the Hebrews, " Ye are not come to the Mount which might be touched, and which burned with fire, nor to blackness and darkness," &c.
“ All the appearances of God to his church were suited to the subjectmatter : He appeared to Abraham in the forin of a man,-- because he came to give a promise of the incarnation of Christ, the seed of Abrahan, in whoin all the families of the hunan race were to be blessed. To Moses he appeared in a flame of fire, -- in a bush, which was uot consuned ! to teach him that the fire of affliction, with which his church was then tried, should not consume it, because he dwelt in the bush. To Joshua he appeared as an armed man, with a sword drawn in his hand, to give promiso of his presence as the Lord of hosts, the Lord mighty in battle, who woud go before the armies of Israel to subdue the Canaanites, and give them possession of the promised land: but here, on mount Sinai, he appears eh. compassed with all the dread and terror which the apostle so impressively describes. Why? To represent the holiness and strictness of the law, and the inevitable drcadlul destruction of sintiers against the law, unless they betake themselves to the Mediator and his gospel for relief. pearance was not in a plain, but on the top of a high mountain, to represcut the elevated throne of the divinc Majesty, who keeps himself aloot from sinners. It was in the wilderness of Sinai, an absolute solilude, remote from the habitation or converse of men, When God arraigns the conscience of the sinner before the bar of the holy law which he has broken, he will let him see nothing but his own guilty self and the justly offended Law. giver. · All relief or refuge will fail hiin: his conscience will be kept to thal which lie can neither abide nor avoid, unless he inake the great plea of the blood of atonement. The law was published in a barren and fruil. less desert: Sinai was named, from the brambles and bushes, which were all it bore. These made an appearance of fruitfulness at a distance ;
but when you approached, there was nothing but what was tit for the fire. The law, in a state of sin, will bring forth in us no fruits to God. Those who açe yet under the curse, pretend to some duties of obedience', which they call good works; but when tried, they are all such as God describes: “Who would set the briars and thorns against me in battle, I would go through them, — I would burn them together.” — No place in the inhabitable world hath been ever since inorc desolale and forsaken: and such it continues to the present day: by which it appears, that though there was a necessity for the renewed publication of the law, it was designed to be a continued dispensation, but should be abandoned to make way for a new and betier. Hence also we learn, that those who continue under the law shall bave no tokeu of God's presence: he dwells no more in Sinai, Here too we learn, that the holiness of places is confined to their use; which, when it ccàseth, Icaveth thein common. What place more holy and sacred than Sinai once ? What more desolate and forsaken now, - notwithstanding the wrelched monastery which superstition bath there erected !
DR. SPENER. Some days before his death, he gave order that nothing (not so much as a thread) of black should be in his cofkin : “ For," said be, "I have been a sorrowful man these many years, lamenting the deplorable state of Christ's church militant here on earth ; but now, being upon the point of retiring into the church triumphant in Heaven, I will not have the least mark of sorrow left upon me, but my body shall be wrapped up all over in white, for a testimony that I die in expectation of a beller and inore glo. rious state to come.”
MRS. ARMSTRONG. fliction as the harbinger of her dis.
solution, that though she readily Tuis excellent woman was a resi- complied with every direction, she dent of Bristol, a member of the seemed rather to regret that so Rev. Mr. Lowell's church, and justly much pains should be taken for her, estecmed and beloved by all who restoration. Her life had been had the privilege of her acquaint- highly exemplary; nevertheless, in
From her earliest years she her affliction she most clearly dishad constantly heard the gospel, was covered all the evidences of a truly remarkable for the pincluaiity of "broken and contrite spirit;" but her attendance on divine worship, so firm was her confidence in the and had long been acquainted with immutability of the God of grace,---, the way of salvation.
so stedfast was her faith in the aton-, however, the subject of many fears ing sacrifice of the great Redeemer, respecting her acceptance with God; aud so bright were her prospects, but, blessed be the riches of his of“ a better country,” as to prograce, her " path was as the shining duee that settled peace which so light, which shineth brighter and many of the children of God have brighter unto the perfect day.” experienced in their last hours ; tho' Her last illness was peculiarly in- but few have been more highly structive; for though her pains were favoured in this respect than our degreat, such was the calm placidity parted frienda On being told that of her spirit, such the firm and the physician entertained no hope of decided victory which she obtained her recovery, with a peculiar sereover“ the last enemy,” that her si- nity upon her countenance, she re, tuation was generally regarded by plied, "Well, that affords me a her pious friends as truly enviable. blessed prospect indeed!”-and then She was in the 69th year of her age; added, " o, what a vile sinner! but so excellent a constitution did 0, what a precious Saviour !" In she possess, that till the attack which this blessed state of mind she conproved fatal, it appeared unimpair- tinued, and was indulged with the ed; for she had all the vivacity of a complete use of her mental powers woman of thirty. For about three to the very last, and after repeatedyreeks prior to her late indisposition, ly taking the most affectionate leave her mind had been alınost continu- of her children, and solemnly coin. ally occupied with those impressive mending them to God, she sweetly words, '. Set thine house in order, slept in Jesus on Lord's Day mornfor thou shalt die, and not live : ing, Noveniber 9, after an afiliction 80.continually did this sentence dwell of only nine days. On the following in. her thoughts, that it almost Sabbath her pastor availed himself seemed to her to be articulated in of the triumphant language of the her ears, was with her by night and apostle, “ o Death! where is thy by day, and produced a more than or- sting? O grave! where is thy vicdinary degree of seriousness of spirit, tory ?" and, founded on those On Friday, October 31, she found words, bore an appropriate testi-, herself unwell; and tho' the seizure mony to the riches of divine prace. was by no means violent, she almost ---Reader, Be not slothful, but a iminediately gave it as her decided diligent follower of them who, tfiro? opinion, that the time of her depar. faith and patience, inherit the proture was at hand, and expressed mises.”,
S. L. her humble but cheerful acquiescence in the sovereign pleasure of God. Her disorder proved to be a JONATHAN CLARK, pleurisy. She had the best medical aid, but became progressively worse;
Woo lately died near Marple. end so fully did she consider ber af Bridge, Derbyshire, in the Soth
year of his age, was a shining ino- God of Peace becoine his Father, nument of divine grace. It has often than he became a son of Peace. been said, that “ when persons are As a religious character, he was a called at an advanced period of life, shining light, for he“ walked in all they seldom shine as Christians.” the ordinances and commandments This may be generally true, but Mr. of the Lord blameless.” He had a Clark was an exception ; for though zeal for God which always blazed; forty years of his life had expired neither length of years, nor the inbefore he discovered the least regard firmities of old age extinguished it. to religion, yet, as to divine things, The word of God, the house of he became intelligent ; and in devo- God, and the ordinances of God, tional exercises, remarkably lively. were things he highly valued. From It was indeed a source of grief to the time of his becoming serious him, that he had spent the best of till within a few months of his his days in the service of Sin ; and death, a space of near forty years, especially, that several of his chil- his seat in the house of God was, dren had left him before he was perhaps, not forty times vacant. able or willing to give them one So attached was hie to social meet. word of salutary advice.
ings for prayer and religious conPrior to his conversion, he was an versation, that even in the depth of adept in the arts and practices winter, after having laboured hard which, in our country, characterize all day, he would take his staff in a dissolute inan. 'Tis true indeed, his hand, and travel a mile or two on that even then he was a sinner the Derbyshire hills, where the road rather out of the common way; is almost frightful, to aitend them. but " where sin abounded, grace did In his passage through this valley much more abound.” On a particular of woe, hie met with many a blast occasion, he went to hear a minister of trouble and adversity ; but that of the gospel in the neighbourhood; God whom he served, was his shel. and what was said arrested his at. ter and defence. tention, and made a deep impres. A few months prior to his death, sion on his mind. It was, in fact, a complaint, to which at times he the time appointed by Infinite Wis- had been subject for many years, dom for this poor wanderer's return. attacked him with violence. From Being now wounded to the quick,' what he felt, he was fully conținced and also hungering for the bread of that the time of his departure was at life, as he found neither the physi- hand; but he was not disınayed, cian he wanted, nor food for his he knew in whom he had believed. soul under the ministry he used to His complaint gradually wore him attend, he deserted it. His old mi- down; and, as towards the latter wisler frequently rallied hiin about end of his affliction he was racked his new religion, as he was pleased with pain, he prayed fervently for to term it, but Mr. Clark consider. his dismission; which was ed religion of too much importance granted.
J. B. to be sicered out of it, In his conduct and deportment
RECENT DEATIIS. there was an evident change: the lion, in a great measure, became a
The Rev, and truly venerable Mr Jamh. Before he knew the grace of Lavington, of Biddeford, has been God, he was of a disposition so frac- lately removed by death. We expect tious, that he was frequently qnar
his funeral sermon will be printed. relling with a neighbour who lived The death of Mr, Alderman Hanopposite to him ; but bis neighbour key, who was one of the candidates being of a more pe ceable turn, in to represent the city of London, and order to avoid such unpleasant al, who was almost suddenly removed tercations, removed his door to the on the evening preceding the elecather side of the house. After his tion, was an event of a peculiarly conversion this would have been striking nature, and shews the un, needless; for no sooner had the certainty of all human pursuits.