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To be properly qualified as an objector to the doctrine of which I am an humble advocate, you should first understand it, and in order to understand it, you should hear it.
If after hearing and understanding, you should find yourself able, and willing to urge objections, it would in my opinion, be abundantly more advantageous to bring them forward in presence of the congregation to which I preach. If your objections should be found rational, we will cheerfully attend thereto, and should your arguments be sufficiently weighty and powerful to produce conviction, we will not hesitate to adopt your creed.
Should your objections prove light, and immaterial, they may probably be blown away by the breath of God's mouth.
You talk of originals, alas! you have no originals. I would travel far to see an original; the very term copy or translation destroys this idea. The knowledge of Hebrew, or Greek, or any other language, in which the sacred writings have been embodied, has never yet been found sufficient to communicate an acquaintance with the things of God.
I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings by suggesting the possi bility of your inattention to some particular passages of scripture. I did not, I do not wish to offend. The Bible is a very large book, it is not to be supposed that any one can understand or remember the whole. No man is obliged to carry a concordance in his head. There may be room for both you and me to improve. It is my wish to receive and to communicate by every legitimate method. But, as I have not much leisure, it is incumbent upon me to make the most of my time, and it is therefore, I prefer your urging your objections to the gospel, in public rather than in private, as our conference would thus be rendered more extensively useful. To a record of the arguments which may be brought forward, I can VOL. II. 42
have no objection. My object is to elucidate truth, and in thus doing, I am willing to surrender every consideration which can be considered as merely personal.
I am, Sir, with due respect, your most obedient,
To a Christian Friend.
I TOLD YOU I would write to you, and I set about performing my promise. Had I not a great opinion of you, and were not my attachment to you very strong, perhaps I should not have remained so long silent. It is my desire to comprise what I would say in a small compass, and yet I have much to say. I wish to gratify you, and I am aware that nothing but plain, familiar language, will answer this purpose.
Reflecting this morning upon this subject, the resolution of the Apostle Paul occurred forcibly to my mind: I am determined to know nothing among you, save Christ Jesus and him crucified. What was his determination, when engaged in speaking to his hearers, shall be mine in writing to you. Some may suppose this subject would be soon exhausted-far, very far from it. The Apostle himself knew it but in part, nor he alone; he speaks in the plural: We know but in part. But if we make this inexhaustible theme our study, we shall grow in grace, and in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ.
In order, however, to make Jesus and him crucified, our abiding and enduring theme, we must be acquainted with him; but his name, his person, his fulness, his words, his works, can be known only by the Spirit of God,and by those to whom that spirit makes him manifest. It is the spirit of truth alone that can take of the things of Jesus, and show them unto us; for no man can know the things of God, but by the spirit of God.
Before the Apostle had made the above determination, God had revealed his Son in him. Had not God in mercy given him the revelation of his Son, he would still have reasoned with flesh and blood, and continued to persecute those who believed the gospel which he afterwards preached.
But you will ask, is there no way to obtain the knowledge of Christ Jesus and him crucified, but in the way and manner in which it was obtained by Saul of Tarsus? I answer, certainly there is. The scriptures of the Old and New-Testament, are, if they be permitted to speak for themselves, sufficient to make us wise unto salvation; and trust me, my very dear friend, it is by the scriptures that the Spirit of God brings us acquainted with the Son of God. Our Saviour recommends the study of the scriptures for the purpose of obtaining an acquaintance with himself. Search the scriptures, said he, for they are they which testify of me. Yet it is plain from these very scriptures, that although there may be no miraculous intervention of the Spirit of God as in the instance of our Apos- . tle, yet the veil must be taken away, the eyes of the understanding must be opened, and all this by the Spirit of God, who, by whatever medium he may think proper to operate, is alone able as a great and almighty Agent, to open the understanding and accomplish this great work. This among the Jews was strikingly exemplified; they understood neither the law nor the prophets. Why? Because the veil was upon their hearts; and it is as true among the Gentiles when they read the gospel, and yet discern not the life of the world. God, I repeat, must open the heart and enable the soul to understand the scriptures, before we can perceive, that in them, which, through their instrumentality, the divine Spirit illustrates and confirms. But even when the Spirit of God renders luminous what Scribes instructed in the mysteries of the kingdom, were directed to record respecting the Saviour of the world, we can no more make others receive the truth except the Spirit accompanies our words, than we could before ourselves, understand the scriptures unaided by the witnessing Spirit. No man can call Jesus, Lord, but by the Spirit of God. We may as easily teach a blind man to understand what we mean by the colours of the rainbow, as teach a man uninformed by the divine Spirit, what we mean by the Spirit's teaching. But, as from the testimony of our eyes, we have full conviction of the difference of colours, abundantly sufficient to satisfy ourselves, although not enough to satisfy the blind man; so
we have sufficient evidence to fill our own souls with joy and peace in believing, when the Spirit witnesseth with our spirits to the truth as revealed in the scriptures.
When, therefore, we hold forth the word of life, we look to God to open the ears of those who attend on our labours. When, as a candle set upon a candlestick, we let our light shine before men, we look to God to open the eyes of the understanding, for we know without God we can do nothing.
When the Apostle determined to know nothing but Christ and him crucified, I am persuaded he was convinced of the truth of this testimony, for he asserts, We are workers together with God. Thus, it is plain we can only speak to the outward ear; it is God must speak to the heart. Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but it is God who giveth the increase: but believing this, we sow in hope, firmly determining with our Apostle, to know nothing amongst men as preachers of the gospel, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. Nor is this, as we hinted, a barren subject. There are, indeed, who might find little to say, if thus circumscribed. There are, who, thus confined, would suppose they must lay aside wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification; but we have not so learned Christ. All those who are taught by his Spirit will know that in forming this resolution, the whole Bible is their field; and that it is in a crucified Redeemer, and in him alone, that the divine testimonies contained in the book of God consist; for they are they that testify of him. Abiding by this apostolic determination, we can preach the truth, the whole truth as it in Jesus, and prove positively that every sacred testimony is yea and amen in him,to the glory of the Father.
Those who have learned of the Father, and consequently come unto Jesus, can preach the righteousness of the law without deviating from the apostolic determination; for Christ Jesus was made under the law, and he graciously informs us, He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil the law; and as righteousness is nothing less than a perfect obedience to the full extent of the commandment, how broad soever it may be, as Jesus made under the law, obeyed every precept until every jot and tittle was fulfilled; in proclaiming the righteousness of the law we proclaim Christ Jesus, especially as we are expressly told the name whereby he shall be called, is the Lord our righteousness. We can preach even the curses of the law, and yet know nothing but Christ and him crucified. Yea, we can preach them in their full extent, both with respect to the
vengeance contained therein, and the fulness of the offending nature, against which those curses were denounced.
The curses of the law seem summed up in these words; the soul that sinneth shall die. The subjects on whom this death, as the wages of sin in the law takes hold, are all mankind; for all have sinned. But when we see Christ crucified, we see both the one and the other. When I, said he, am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me and this he spake signifying what death he should die. Hence, the Apostle-The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again, is from the sacred records abundantly manifest. This, I am well persuaded, was what the prophet Isaiah had in view, xxvi. 19, "Thy dead shall live, my dead body shall they arise." Thus stands the text in the original. You will please to take notice, that every word in the sacred volume printed in italicks, is not to be found in any copy of the Bible, extant in the languages in which it was first written; those words are supplied by translators. From these and many other passages I learn, that the souls which sinned were as fully considered in the second Adam in his death, as they were in the death of the first Adam. Thus, you will observe, we can preach what the scriptures declare, of the death of all men as the wages of sin, without losing sight of Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Again, we can preach the curses of the law in their full extent and yet know nothing but Christ Jesus and him crucified; for the law can never carry its curses further than Christ, who is the end of the law, and who was made a curse for us, as it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. We can preach the new birth, looking with a single eye unto Christ, who was born in the city of David. In that glorious, in that mysterious birth, we see the man born of God that sinneth not, whom the wicked one toucheth not, who cannot sin because he is born of God, to which state believers by faith arise, beholding Jesus as their head and themselves as members of his immaculate body. The head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God. Genuine believers are persuaded, that the head and members were born together. In the birth of the Redeemer in whom dwelt all fulness, they behold all old things pass away, and all things become new. Thus, while