« AnteriorContinuar »
parted as freely as water flows from a fountain, or as the showers that water the earth. It also denotes the efficacy of his operations; they shall cure the barrenness which sin has brought upon the soul of man, and shall make the wilderness and the solitary place glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. These influences shall become very extensive, yea, universal; for the Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh—i. e. upon all sorts of persons: not only upon Jews, but upon Gentiles also ; so that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. 3. The effects which will follow the effusion of the Holy Spirit. Then the preaching of the Gospel will be * with the most beneficial effects. The plain and humble doctrines of the cross shall triumph, and reduce all nations to the obedience of the faith. Then union of sentiment and affection shall prevail among all the disciples oło, and the Redeemer's intercessory prayer will be accomplished, “that they all may be one.” Then animosities and discord shall cease, the nations shall learn war no more, and all the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. 4. The means to be used to obtain the needed blessing. We should pray for it. Prayer is the appointed means, and it pleases God to bestow his blessings in answer to prayer. Our prayers should be fervent and unceasing, and should be presented to God with a believing regard to the atonement of Christ. Our prayers should be accompanied with a deep conviction of our need of divine influence, and with true humiliation for our own sins, for
the sins of our country, and for the sins of the whole Church. We should also cultivate brotherly love with all who bear the image of Christ, and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit.
Essays on Divine Revel Ation.
The doctrine of Moral Responsibility
and a Future State, as suggested by
Natural Reason. If the existence and government of the Supreme Being can be clearly established by the light of nature, the accountability of human conduct, and a state of future retribution, would seem to arise from it as a necessary consequence. The institution of a law presupposes the authority of the lawgiver, and indicates a state of subjection and responsibility on the part of those for whom the law is instituted. It is therefore obviously assumed in every part of the divine economy, as revealed in Scripture, that the human race are endowed with rational and moral power, and placed in a state of trial, improvement, and accountableness, preparatory to the rewards and punishments of the world to come. If this were not the case, but if mankind stood in the same relation to God as inferior animals, who follow the instinct of nature, and cease to exist at death, the whole system of divine revelation, with all the precepts and sanctions of religion, would be not only inconceivably mysterious, but ineffably absurd. No design can be imagined in any degree adequate to the amazing apparatus of Divine Providence, in reference to the moral world, if the doctrine of human accountability and future retribution be denied. And though the sanctions of a pure morality might have been deemed desirable, even supposing this life
to be the whole of our existence, the services of religion might have been dispensed with as superfluous, and the cultivation of a spiritual frame of mind, or an elevated devotion, regarded as the height of vanity and weakness, and not the true glory and happiness of man. This doctrine, therefore, we conceive, lies at the foundation of all religion, and is taken for granted, as well as expressed, in every part of the Sacred Volume, as the grand and exclusive circumstance which rendered the different parts of the Christian economy expedient and necessary. But is it not a fact that a perception of the divine existence, has uniformly coupled with it some idea of the obligations men were under to worship him, and of the good or evil that may flow from his influence, either in this world or in one to come 7. A desire and expectation of immortality, though in many cases faint and uninfluential, may be deemed an inseparable associate of human reason, even in the worst stages of a barbarous and savage life. Whether it arise from the feeble whisper of tradition, or an instructive desire of perpetuity, it is certain that the dying Indian, and the oppressed negro, are soothed by the thought of passing into some world, where the friendships of this life will be renewed, and the pleasures which most gratified them, realized in perfection. In all ages and communities, the clearness of man's ideas, and the strength of their persuasions in reference to a future state, have in general risen in proportion to their mental cultivation and moral virtue. While many have thought only of a sensual Paradise, and had little or no idea that vice and virtue would be followed by different states, some have approached nearer to the truth, and
in the absence of divine revelation, have believed, with Socrates, that the virtuous are received into heaven in the presence of God, while the vicious are sent down into Tartarus, out of which they will never come. That God has rendered man accountable for his conduct, and designed to reward or punish us in a future state, seems to be an inference naturally deducible from the powers and operations of the human mind—its capability of perpetual improvement, the feelings excited by a consciousness of good or evil, its dread of annihilation, and the deep rooted desire of immortal life. If in the economy of nature we perceive innumerable proofs of sufficiency, adaptation and utility, in which things and beings are all made subservient to some purpose, and supplied with resources suitable to their capacity, it is reasonable to conclude that the same wisdom has formed man for a destiny suitable to his powers, and provided for him sources of enjoyment commensurate to his feelings. The difference which exists between good and evil, morally considered, and the feelings of selfapprobation or self-reproach, resulting from it, seem to arise from the earliest perceptions of human reason, and are in some measure recognised by the most ignorant and depraved. For when the Gentiles, which have not the revealed law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, saith the apostle, “having not the law, are a law unto themselves, which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.” Nor can the feelings thus excited by a consciousness of vice or virtue, though greatly modified by tradition, by the state of society, or by the influence of religious creeds, be traced alone to these causes, irrespectively of the natural order and essential fitness of things. The difference between right and wrong is indeed founded on nature, and cannot be destroyed. Truth and falsehood, love and hatred, justice and oppression, sobriety and excess, are essentially different in their own nature, and must necessarily remain so, whatever may be the opinions, feelings, or conduct of mankind. Ignorance or depravity may stupify the moral sense, and induce men to ut good for evil, and evil for good, light for darkness, and darkness for light; but they can never annihilate the essential difference which exists between them. The obligations of virtue may therefore be deemed eternal, universal and unchangeable, independently of the law which specifies, or the sanctions which enforce their authority. It is observable, however, that the natural obligations of piety and virtue, always have respect to something future, and are accompanied with the fear of punishment or the hope of a reward. As the best of laws are useless or insufficient without sanctions, God has evidently established in the perceptions and experience of our moral nature, an intimate connection between present conduct and future happiness, as a preservative from sin, and an excitement to virtue. It is therefore a general persuasion of mankind, that as every cause in nature produces a corresponding effect, so piety and virtue will be some time or other followed by the happiest effects, while vice and irreligion must sooner or later be productive of dangerous or fatal consequences.
But every one perceives that the distribution of good and evil, pain and pleasure, is exceedingly disproportionate and uncertain, influenced in a small degree only, by the rectitude or obliquity of human conduct. Though some notorious crimes are punished by the magistrates, others are committed with impunity, while few appear to be cut off by the immediate judgment of some invisible power. The most impious and profligate sometimes flourish in uninterrupted prosperity, while the most virtuous are persecuted and depressed, harassed by misfortune, and leftwith few sources of consolation, but the conscious rectitude of their own minds. From this circumstance it seems to follow as a natural inference, that, if man be accountable to his Maker, and if the divine government be just, the present life will be followed by the rewards of a future state, when temporal inequalities will be rectified, and the happiness or misery of mankind proportioned to their character and works. I therefore conclude that these are principles which the light of nature suggests to the thinking mind, and the truth of which is admitted and assumed in the sacred writings. In every stage of human society, some intimation has been given to all men of the destiny that awaited them, and the course of conduct which it behoved them to pursue. Whether these intimations have been listened to and improved, or wholly disregarded, is a consideration of the greatest moment to the human race, while the rectitude of the divine government must be allowed to stand unimpeached and unimpeachable.
REMARKs on Aquatic Excursions, &c. To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine. SIR,
I con Fess that I am one of those persons who regard with unmingled disapprobation, those despicable attempts which, I regret to say, are becoming frequent, and by which our common Christianity is outraged in the very presence of its professed advocates. I allude, Sir, to the modern invention of raising funds for benevolent institutions, by “AQUAtic Excursio Ns,” “ PUBLIC Religious TEA AND COFFEE PARTIES,” accompanied by “Select MUsic,” &c. &c. If, Sir, things are permitted to proceed much further in this direction, we may expect shortly, in passing through the streets of this great city, to be arrested by huge placards, informing us, that “In aid of the funds, and by consent of the Committee of,” &c. “a public religious” play will be performed; and, for a similar purpose, “A public religious” ball will take place, on which occasions the Rev. Mr. **** has kindly consented to afford his presiding influence 11. After this, Sir, it will become necessary, if it be not already, that we should have “a Public Religious.” Masquerade; for it has been ascertained, that both among professors and profane, there are those who would very cheerfully unite in these “public religious” carousings, but they have mutual scruples about being seen in association. An appropriate disguise, therefore, might obviate this difficulty, and at least augment “the funds” of somebody.
I believe, Sir, that on some of the above occasions the use of banners has been thought desirable: now it has occurred to me, how far might the following mottoes
prove acceptable?—“ My kingdom is not of this world”—“Abstain from all appearance of evil” —“How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him”—“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord”—“Set your affections on things above”—“Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” If these should be approved, you know, Sir, nothing can be more easy than to multiply them by others equally suitable to almost any required extent. That any of the decided friends of the religion of Jesus Christ should countenance such extremely questionable measures, is great ly to be deplored. Such conduct certainly cannot be hailed as affording the most satisfactory evidence of the latter-day glory. If benevolent institutions cannot be sustained without having recourse to these unbecoming expedients for their support, then I, for one, would say, let them sink; because neither at any time, nor under any pretence, is it lawful to do evil that good may come. But, Sir, my persuasion is, that such methods of raising money essentially injure the cause they profess to serve, by their being so dissimilar in spirit and character to the simplicity and purity of the Christian economy. Is there not even reason to fear, that not a few of the persons who frequent these “public religious” entertainments leave families at home very indifferently supplied; and it can scarcely be doubted that there are cases in which the money thus imprudently expended is the just claim of some needy and industrious creditor. It should be remembered, too, that on the most moderate scale of computation, one moiety of the expense
Theology; or an Attempt towards a consistent View of the whole Counsel of God. With a Preliminary Essay on the Practicability and Importance of the Attainment. By John HowARD HINtoN, A.M. London: Wightman and Cramp. 12mo, bols. Price 4s.
(Continued from p. 314.)
THE equity of the divine procedure, and the free agency of man, and of every being who is held responsible for his actions, are principles which we maintain with as much tenacity as our author: but we do not feel, as he seems to do, that the consistent belief of these, requires us to conceive the sovereignty of God as precluded from his moral government. This is a mode of meeting a theological difficulty, which appears to us, more like cutting the knot, than successfully untying it. “For glorious purposes,” he says, “a limit is voluntarily set to his own sovereignty, which now operates only in cases beyond the scope of his moral government.” And at the close of the volume he observes, that —
“Although the assertion of God's sovereignty is true respecting a part of his ways, those namely, comprehended in his natural dominion, it has no relation to his moral
government, from which his holiness altogether excludes it.” These are not to be regarded as remarks, incidentally occurring in the progress of discussion. The sentiment they contain is interwoven with our author's system, and constitutes one of its identifying features. And our readers must accept of this apology, if our animadversions upon it, should extend farther than would be otherwise compatible with our prescribed limits. Whether we view the character of God in relation to the ordinary divisions. of nature, providence and grace: or in reference to those of our author; his natural dominion, his moral government, and the work of redemption; we cannot conceive of either as placed beyond the sphere of his influence; or as constituting a sacred enclosure, whose hallowed lines it would be intrusion in the Deity to penetrate. The sovereignty of God must be as extensive as his dominions, under whatever denomination we arrange them. All being rests upon his power. And he doeth according to his will in the army in hea- ten, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say : |
unto him, what doest thou?