Imágenes de páginas

from the wisdom of this world: it direct* to the understanding of our way, in matters of the highest importance. And this is the proper opposite of the folly described in the last clause, which is deceit. Wicked men are the greatest fools in God's account; and their folly consists in self-deception. While the wisdom of the truly wise turns to a good account, the folly of the wicked puts a cheat upon their souls.

The wisdom of some men is to understand things which cannot be understood.—When David appealed to God, saying, Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.My soul is as a weaned child,—it implies, that there were men who did; and so • there are still. "Man," says Locke, "should know the length of his tether." What a deluge of abstract speculations has been poured upon the world in all ages, especially since the invention of printing! There is no end of questions upon such subjects, Instead of finding out truth, we presently lose ourselves. Ask, What is a spirit? What is eternity? What is immensity? Ho»v came a pure creature to become sinful? Why did God create man, seeing what part he would act? All these, and a thousand more questions of the kind, belong to the wisdom of the imprudent. It does not lead us a step towards heaven; but in a contrary direction.

Again: the wisdom of others is to pry into things which, if understood, are of little or no use.—Long and elaborate treatises have heen written on the question, What is space? But cui boni? Even thiise things which are of use, astronomy for instance, if pursued to the neglect of our way, are folly, and will deceive the expectation. We should blame any man, and count him a fool, notwithstanding his learning, if he employed himself in studying the distances of the stars, while his family were pining for want, and his affairs going t.»r'iin: and why not, if, in the same pursuits, he neglects the salvation ot i.. soul?

Further: The wisdom of some is to understand the way of other men.—We meet with many who are exceedingly censorious on public measures. For their part, they are wise: and happy wouldjt be for the world, if it were under their direction! but whether it be that the affairs of religious duty are too little for their expanded minds, or whatever be the reason, so it is, that their own concerns are generally neglected. We meet with others who understand all the private concerns of a neighbourhood, and can point out the faults and defects of every one about them; but forget their own. We have even met with professors of religion, who understand the faults, defects, and errors, of almost all the religious world; and whenever they meet together, these are the topics of conversation by which they edify one another. Surely, Mr. Editor, this is not the wisdom of the prudent.

But it will be asked, What is the wisdom of the prudent? And I may answer. It is that which leads to the understanding of our way through life, and to the heavenly home.

Particularly: It will lead us above all things to see that our way be right. There are many by-ways, and many who are walking in them: but true wisdom will not rest till it find out the road that leads to everlasting life. It will know whom it trusts, and whether he be able to keep that which is committed to him. It will lead us also to attend diligently to the direction* of the way. We shall read the oracles of God: the doctrines for belief, and the precepts for practice; and shall thus learn to cleanse our way by taking heed thereto, according to God's word. It will moreover Induce Ms to guard against the dangers of the way. We shall not be ignorant of Satan's devices, nor of the numerous temptations to which our age, times, circumstances, and propensities expose us. It will influence us to keep our eyes upon the end of the way. A foolish man will go that way in which he finds most company, or can go most at his ease: but wisdom will ask, What shall I do in ths end thereof? To understand the end of the wrong way will deter; but to keep our eye upon that of the right, will attract. Christ himself kept sight of the joy that was set before him. Finally : as holy wisdom possesses the soul with a sense of propriety at all times and upon all occasions, it is therefore our highest interest to obtain this wisdom, and to cultivate it by reading, meditation, prayer, and every appointed means. My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee, so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, andsearchest for her as for hid treasure); then shall thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The doctrine of atonement by the death of Christ is one of the great and distinguishing principles of the gospel, and its importance is acknowledged by most denominations of professing Christians: yet there are some who suppose that this doctrine is not necessarily connected with the divinity of Christ; and, indeed, that it is inconsistent with it. It has been objected, that according to the scriptures it was the person of Christ that suffered; but that this is inconsistent with his divinity, because divinity could not suffer. To which it may be answered, that though the person of Christ suffered, yet that he suffered in all that pertains to his person, is quite another thing. A great and virtuous character among men might suffer death by the axe or the guillotine, and this would be suffering death in his person; and yet he might not suffer in his honour or in his character, and so not in all that pertained to him. A Christian might suffer martyrdom in his body, and yet his soul be very happy. To object, therefore, that Christ

Vol. VIII. 30

djd not suffer in his person, because all that pertained to him was not the immediate seat of suffering, is reasoning very inconclusively. It is sufficient if Christ suffered in that part of his personwhich was susceptible of suffering.

It has been objected, that as humanity only is capable of suffering therefore humanity only is necessary to make atonement. But this objection proceeds upon the supposition, that the value of atonement arises simply from suffering, and not from the character or dignity of him who suffers: whereas the scripture places it in the latter, and not the former. The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.He, By Himself, hath purged our sine. Some, who have allowed sin to be an infinite evil, and deserving of endless punishment, have objected to the necessity of an infinite atonement, by alleging that the question is not what sin deserves, but what God requires in order to exalt the dignity of his government, while he displays the riches of his grace in the forgiveness of sin. But this objection implies that it would be consistent with the divine perfections to admit, not only what is equivalent to the ,actual punishment of the sinner, but of what is not equivalent: and if so, what good reason can be given why God might not have entirely dispensed with a satisfaction, and pardoned sinners without any atonement? On this principle the atonement of Christ would fee resolved into mere sovereign appointment, and the necessity of it would be wholly given up. But if so, there was nothing required, in the nature of things, to exalt the dignity of the divine government, whilst he displayed the riches of his grace; and it could not with propriety be said, that it Became Him, for whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

If God required less than the real demerit of sin for an atonement, then there could be no satisfaction made to divine justice by such an atonement. And though it would be improper to represent the great work of redemption as a kind of commercial transaction betwixt a creditor and his debtor, yet the satisfaction of justice, in all cases of offence, requires that there be an expression of the displeasure of the offended against the conduct of the offender, equal to what the nature of the offence is in reality. The end of

[ocr errors]

punishment is not the misery of the offender, but the general good. Its design is to express displeasure against disobedience: and where punishment is inflicted according to the desert of the offence, there justice is satisfied. In other words, such an expression of displeasure is uttered by the lawgiver, that, in it, every subject of his empire may read what are his views of the evil which he forbids, and what are his determinations in regard to its punishment. If sinners had received in their own persons the reward of their iniquity, justice would in that way have been satisfied: and if the infinitely blessed God, whose ways are higher than our ways, and whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, has devised an expedient for our salvation, though he may not confine himself to a literal conformity to those rules of justice which he has marked out for us, yet he will be certain not to depart from the spirit of them. Justice must be satisfied even in that way. An atonement made by a substitute, iu any case, requires that the same end be answered by it, as if the guilty party had actually suffered It is necessary that the displeasure of the offended should be expressed in as strong terms, or in away adapted to make as strong an impression upon all concerned, as if the law had taken its course: otherwise, atonement is not made, and mercy triumphs at the expense of righteousness.

Let it be inquired, then, whether this great end of moral government could have been answered by the sufferings of a mere creature? Some who deny the divinity of Christ, appear to be apprehensive that it could not; and have therefore supposed that God; in order, it should seem, to bring it within the compass of a creature's grasp, required less of his Son than our sins deserved.

It is true, indeed, if Christ be only a creature, it must be less, infinitely less, that was accepted, than what was strictly deserved. In the atonement of Christ, God is said to have Set Him Forth ta be a propitiationto Declare His Righteousness, for the remission of sins. Now this, as well as the nature of things, implies, That one who makes an atonement, must be of so much account in the scale of being, as to attract the general attention. But the sufferings of a mere man, whose obedience could be no more than duty, or whose humiliation contained in it no condescension below

« AnteriorContinuar »