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sition, that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, needs not the aid of critical conjecture. It is taught in every page. It is the burden of every song. It is the foundation of every promise. It is the corner-stone of the whole of the fair fabric of redemption. And who can desire one more solid or more strong? Can there be a better base, on which to build our lofty hopes, than the Rock of ages 2 Is there a more honourable name in which we can appear before God, than His, before whom every “knee must bow, and every tongue confess?” Is there another righteousness to cover us, besides His, who is the “Lord our righteousness?” Sinners may, indeed, while at a distance from the great God, reason themselves into fond imaginings of their own sufficiency, and lull their souls into the pleasant persuasion, that there is no necessity for a merit better than their own, to recommend them to the Hearer of prayer. But let these sinners actually draw near, and begin to entertain sober apprehensions of his awful majesty, they will soon be forced (and without any special influences of the Divine Spirit) to confess it a tremendous problem, “How shall I come before the Lord? how shall I bow myself before the Most High f" Be it so, that there is no vindictive justice in his nature, the bare contemplation of his intrinsic grandeur is enough to fill the boldest sinner who approaches, with a servile awe, and strike him speechless in his presence. But, supposing his feelings to find utterance, would not his language be such as this: “Wherefore am I here P What ground of expectation have I, that He, in whose sight the heavens are unclean, who charges his angels with folly, will condescend to notice me, a worm of the dust, or lend a favourable ear to my cry? If an unauthorized entrance into the presence of a monarch on earth, be deemed unwarrantable presumption, of what madness have I become guilty, who, with all my sins upon my head, have scaled the walls round the throne of God, and raised up my hideous front, as if to brave his frown f"
Perhaps it would be going too far to say, that such ideas pass formally through the minds of all unbelievers, when at a throne of grace. The cases of exception, however, are capable
of an easy explanation. There is in prayer, as in every duty performed by the unregenerate, a growing hardness of heart and blindness of mind. When, by some special providence, or the common operations of God's Spirit, the natural affections of a sinner have been excited on religious things, he naturally flies for refuge to the outward means of grace. In process of time, the preternatural excitement dies; still, however, through a regard to public opinion, or for the sake of consistency, he continues the form. It is easy to conceive, that in such a case, the long and constant habit of unprofitable outward observance, will not only induce a perfect apathy of soul, but destroy even the speculative belief in God's presence. Ask such a man, if he is afraid in prayer; he will readily answer, No ; and he will answer rightly. “God is not in all his thoughts.” But ask him to recollect the commencement of what he calls his religion; to analyze the feelings which pervaded his mind, when he, in a certain measure, really felt himself in the presence of God; he will be constrained to answer, if not to you, at least to his own conscience, that God was always to him a terrific being, and terrific in precise proportion to the degree in which he realized his presence. These remarks will help to explain the small measure of enjoyment complained of by many of God's people in devotion. The particular evil, which, in such cases, they lament, is a feeling of strangeness and distance, rendering them unable to bring home to their hearts the truth, that God is near, listening to their supplications. Hence coldness, barrenness of idea, forgetfulness, and a train of grievous infirmities. Perhaps we hear them adding an expression of their wonder, as at the commencement, they felt a spirit of importunity and a considerable degree of hope as to the desired blessing. We would ask such to recall their thoughts, and examine, whether “one thing was not lacking.” Did you commence (we allude not to the order of your expressions, but your thoughts) with that name “which is as ointment poured forth,” that your prayers might ascend imbued with its fragrance to the throne of God?
or did you reserve it for your final conclusion, when in the act of rising from your knees, or returning to your seat, you hurried on the well hackneyed, but not so well appreciated phrase, “Pardon mine offences for Christ's sake?” When you ascended the pavilion of the “Great King,” did you take care that the Introducer accompanied you? Did He open the golden gates? and, under His auspices, did you enter the chamber of presence In a word, did you improve the Lord Emmanuel, as made of God unto you, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption Or, were your contemplations fixed on the absolute mercy of God, irrelative to the manner in which this mercy is made over to you in covenant You answer, that you went farther, and addressed him on the footing of his own most gracious promise. But did you forget, that in Christ Jesus are all the promises, “Yea and Amen f" that in Him all communicative fulness dwells f Then, Christian friend, it is no subject of surprise, if God hath forgotten to be gracious. By a law of his evangelical kingdom, he hath ordained, “that all men honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” To him he hath given all blessings to be bestowed on man, that he may be “all and in all.” Let not the man who overlooks this, expect to receive any thing of the Lord. No matter what may be his respect for sovereign grace; no matter how sincere his faith, his love, his importunity, his prayers never can ascend to the throne of audience and acceptance. As this point relates to the very vitals of devotion, it cannot be too earnestly inculcated; but it is much to be feared that the Christians of our day need special caution. It is a fact, which cannot be denied, that an important alteration in what we may be allowed to call the style of prayer, has taken place to a considerable extent. The object this alteration seems to contemplate, is the introduction of a more liberal and general spirit, a divesting devotion of every thing that looks like the technicalities and restrictions of an art. In consequence, it has become fashionable to enlarge upon the intrinsic character and absolute attributes of God, his wisdom, power, but particularly his sovereignty and goodness. The Redeemer has not
indeed been utterly cast out; yet it is very evident that he fills a subordinate department. Instead of being regarded as the direct fountain, from whence all streams of blessing flow to the sinner, he has become a simple expedient, by which the Eter
nal God is better enabled to act out his natural benevolence. Hence a short and respectful recognition of him, at intervals, is considered as much as the occasion requires. All this may be very fine, but we fear it augurs little good to the Church of God or the gospel. After all the attempts of men to make it otherwise, religion is, and must be, a thing, sui generis. All its distinctive features are so deeply fixed, that their obliteration is its death. God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself; and what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. It is a consolation, that the error we have been speaking of, will work its own antidote. When Christians begin to find themselves sinking into formality and slavish fear; when they discover that their holy boldness and affectionate sense of nearness to God are gradually departing, it is to be hoped that they will retrace their steps, and return to the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Bishop of their souls.”
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TRANSLATED For THE EvangelicAL GUARDIAN AND REview.
.4n Oration of John Alphonsus Turretin, concerning the various stages of the Christian Church, addressed to a Society established to propagate the Gospel.
The poets, representing the world as originally free from crime, and most perfectly happy, but afterwards degenerating into a worse state by degrees, have distributed it into various ages, according to the name of their metals. The same thing is handed down, not merely on a single occasion, or undeservedly, concerning the Christian religion. There were various ages of this, which, in proportion as they have receded from their primeval origin, the more filth and dregs they are discovered to have contracted. The first, the golden age, arose in the time of Christ, the Master, and the apostles, his heralds. Then succeeded the silver, during the first three ages of the church. Thence was produced, by degrees, the brazen age; the audaciousness of the human mind, lascivious beyond bounds, and the pomp, the pride, the emulation and indolence of the age breaking into the bosom of the church. Then so much superstition, and tyranny, and barbarity, so much, not only of depravity of morals, but of hardness in iniquity, arose in the church, particularly in the tenth century and the following, that even those who were the least interested, were obliged to confess that the times became iron. But, during such things, lo, suddenly there arose a faith, freed from these vile contaminations, so that the iron age, by a fortunate alchymy, was converted, if not entirely into the golden, yet certainly into a species of the silver age. This is the sum of our subject. But these things are to be distinctly explained. First. The golden age, under Christ and his apostles. No one, I suppose, will deny that the golden age of the church existed in the days of Christ and the apostles—Not that the splendour of that divine band consisted of gold or purple, or grandeur and dignities. Christ was not distinguished for these. “Behold, we have left all things,” was the motto of the apostles. But in the inward man, in that happy age, consisted the glory of Zion. As for instance, exceeding sincerity of doctrine, purity of worship, sanctity of discipline, and innocence of life—Things more precious than any gold, and for which this happy age was pre-eminently distinguished above all others. But, The human race was involved in the thickest darkness. The Gentiles leaving God, the father and ordainer of all things, not only worshipped the insensible stars; not only departed heroes, and many of then infamous for debauchery and crimes; but also dumb animals, and the plants of their gardens. They also worshipped images of wood and of stone, the workmanship of their own hands; and even vile affections,