to bruise the serpent's head, was arbitrary, and simply soverign. Perhaps there may hereafter appear more wisdom and beauty than we now see, in making the same channel that had brought death into the world, convey the life of the world also. Perhaps it was not possible for Christ to have suffered, unless he had partaken of flesh and blood in its lapsed state. If he had been made as Adam, innocent and free from the curse, it does not readily appear how he could have suffered. In order then that he might suffer for our salvation, he must take upon him flesh and blood, and not only so, but flesh and blood which by the fall of man had received a capacity for grief and sorrow. The scriptures evidently favour this idea. “ Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, (i. e. of pains and griefs,) he also himself likewise took part of the same.” &c. Heb. ii. 14-18. Nor can we well discover how on any other plan, he could have brought the human race sufficiently near himself, to have imparted the benefits of his obedience and death. But when he became the seed of the woman, he took a nature on him at once innocent and possible, and established such a close union with the human race, as made it possible to transfuse his merits through the past and coming generations.

Christ was also born, and passed through a state of childhood, that he might obey the law in every point, and

bring in a perfect and universal righteousness. From the whole tenor of scripture it is evident, that obedience in behalf of sinners was necessary for their salvation. “ Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience, and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation.” If we form our opinion, of the nature of that obedience which Christ performed, from scripture declaration, from the nature of the divine law, and from the various relations which Jesus sustained while among men, we shall have good reason to believe that his obedience was unusual in kind as well as degree. To perform such an obedience would require bim to pass through all the grades of life from infancy onward. The scriptures seem absolutely to require that obedience should be paid in kind. “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law.” Nor is this less reasonable than it is certain. No one duty could be omitted more than another, the smallest being as sacred as the greatest. The law in all its requirements being equally reasonable and immutable, could pass nothing by. And when we notice the great variety of relations which Christ sustained, as a child, a friend, a protector and so a parent, a neighbour and a citizen, and that he thus virtually fulfilled all the duties of life, of every kind, we discover a most weighty reason why be made his appearance in the world a son and an infant of days. The apostle very clearly intimates that this was one reason why Christ was born. “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law, that he might redeem that were under the law.” For this end was he born, that as he passed on he might fulfil every duty, from the first sensibilities of the filial obligation, to the full grown obedience of the man and neighbour. In so doing, he so sanctified the several stages of life, that from every point thereof there might be opened a door of admission into heaven. But it was further requisite that he should be born; that he might bear the whole curse that was due to sin. The curse pronounced for sin was wide, and, as to its objects, universal: and being once pronounced, became irrevocable. Now Jesus came to be made a curse for us. And although the curse which he endured was principally, and most severely felt when he hung upon the tree, yet it was not the less felt in its various degrees, in the different periods of his mortal life. The weariness, and griefs, and all the ills of life he felt. Among other things he took upon him the weakness and the pains of infancy. There is doubtless a degree of weakness which in paradise would have been attached to infancy. But far less extensive than at present. It is evident that by the fall a great change took place on the mother in parturition." In sorrow shalt thou bring forth thy children." And it is fairly presumable that a proportionate change passed on her infant seed. To this, being a part of the curse, the Saviour must submit. He must not only drink the dregs of the cup of wrath; but also all the bitter ingredients which sin had mingled in the cup of life. And to this end Jesus passed through life, feeling all its natural evils, bearing our "burdens, carrying our sorrows, and as he passed along, taking

and curse of man. He was an infant, endured the particular curse that was due to that period of human life, and so sanctified the infantile state, that a way was opened up for them to come to eternal happiness.

away the


MR. EDITOR, The object of the missionary society is highly important; and to every christian believer it is, at least it ought to be, most highly interesting. Under this impression, as well as with a


view to my own private entertainment and edification, I have not failed to be a hearer of every missionary discourse, which, since its first appointment, has been delivered in this city. The last, by the Rev. Dr. Nott, and on which some very just observations were made in your, last number, I heard, I can truly say, with singular pleasure. It was, in my opinion, a very distinguished specimen of christian eloquence. There is, however, one remark, which I cannot help making in the way of disapprobation; not indeed in reference to that discourse only, but to all the discourses, which have been addressed to us on the like occasion.

It is well known, I believe, that the most extensive and most important field of missionary labour, is in the frontier regions of the United States, and in several interior departments, which for more than a century past, have been occupied either by native Americans, or by emigrants from other civilized christian countries. Of these latter, the inhabitants, from a concurrence of causes which need not here be detailed, have been, for a series of years, to a very great degree, if not entirely, destitute of the means of religion, and particularly of the advantages of public worship and instruction. Though bordering so much more nearly on the populous and most improved districts of our country, they are, nevertheless, in a religious view, in no wise more advantageously circumstanced than the former. And such, and so interesting in this view, is the predicament of both, that I cannot but think it ought, in every such appointed address to the christian public, to be a subject of the most pointed and diffusive description.

The design of these discourses, if my apprehensions are right, is, partly to inform the minds and enlarge the conceptions of our fellow-christians, on the nature, the tendency, and proper operation of the christian spirit; and partly to convince them of, and persuade them to, the duty of liberal contribution for the encouragement and support of missionary labours amongst their brethren, who otherwise are wholly, or in a great measure, deprived of the ordinances and benefits of christianity, which they, through the grace of heaven, so abundantly enjoy. In this contribution, the main question is not, whether those our brethren are of native or foreign extraction; whether they are of this or that religious denomination; or whether they are savages of the wilderness, of no christian denomination at all. To minds possessing truly christian benevolence, the principal consideration is, whether they are creatures of the human species; endowed with rational and immortal souls; whom the Saviour of the world gave Vol. II.


his life to redeem; and who are to be happy or miserable in a future state of existence. Nevertheless, there is a certain distinction, which, I conceive, ought to be made. I do not mean such distinction, as shall affect the question simply considered, whether we shall contribute or not? but such as shall determine the amount of the contribution respectively; that is, how much we shall give to the support of the gospel amongst our brethren on the frontier, and other destitute settlements and how much for christianizing the aboriginal natives of the American continent?

On the questio) so stated, I apprehend, a considerable difference is to be made in our judgment of the immediate and interesting exigency of the respective cases, and of the immediate urgency and force of the respective calls of obligation; and, of course, in our ideas of the amount of contribution respectively incumbent or proper.

It is doubtless highly incumbent on every christian, whom providence has favoured with the power, to lend his pecuniary aid for the spiritual benefit of his distant, savage neighbours of the continent, and for the consequent melioration of their present miserable habits. But is it not yet more highly incumbent upon us to consider in this way our nearer christian neighbours, who, from necessity, or other urgent calls of providence, have emigrated into those extended and uncultured regions, which lie beyond, or within, the western or northern boundaries of our states. These unhappily circumstanced people were formerly, at least by far the greater part of them, inhabitants of the interior country. Here they enjoyed, not only the common advantages of social and civilized life, but the more important blessing of regular public worship, and religious instruction. Here they enjoyed the advantages of christian education, of christian examples, and christian intercourse. But now, scattered at the distance of many miles, and perhaps many deserts from each other; without any regular or qualified instructors in the important duties and doctrines of religion; without houses of worship; and multitudes of them, under the pressure of poverty, or other imperious circumstances, unprovided, and unable to provide themselves with books of holy scripture, or other printed religious helps. Think, how deplorable their situation must be! And, particularly, how distressful must be the feelings of those of them, who have any remaining sense of the importance of religious concerns; and who reflect on the benefits which they have foregone, and in which they once so competently abounded; and, at the same time, on the superior happiness of us who are still so redundantly favoured with every thing “ needful, both for life and godliness."

Add to these considerations, that, in their present situation, so widely separated from each other; seldom, if ever, meeting in the way of social and family intercourse, or for public religious purposes; and withal, partly for subsistence, and partly in compliance with a contracted wandering inclination, they are in danger of adopting, at length, the manners and habits of the savage state, and of gradually degenerating into downright barbarism, and a kind of heathenish irreligion. This is indeed most obviously the case of those who have emigrated to the greatest distances; but the same tendencies will naturally take place, and the same causes will operate in proportion to their seclusion from the associations, customs, comforts, and manners of more accommodated life.

Now, such being the case, I would ask, whether their condition is not even more affecting and interesting to the christian view, than that of those originally savage inhabitants, who have never known the sweets of the civilized state? And whether it is not more pressingly and immediately incumbent on the disciples of christianity to render their seasonable aid to prevent so great a portion of their christian brethren from relapsing into moral darkness and disorder; darkness and disorder, more fatal in its issue, than even greater degrees of it can be reasonably supposed to be to those who have never apostatized from the light, or renounced the allegiance of the christian administration?

And here it may not be improper to add, though it be not a consideration entirely of a religious nature, that a missionary discourse in which the condition of these frontier inhabitants is properly described, would more efficaciously tend to procure the charitable aid desired, on account of the civil and political advantages which would result from the melioration effected through the influence of religion and religious intercourse. Besides the prevention of licentious conduct incompatible with civil and political order, this influence woul, in all probability, so far and so variously extend as to render the settlements, on the whole, much more valuable and desirable. The objections to a removal into them would be considerably diminished in the view of the more peaceable and orderly, and especially of the religious descriptions of the people; and the lands, of course, would become more profitable both to the original proprietor and to the purchaser. The missionary society are doubtless sensible of the propriety of availing themselves of this consideration. In the prosecution of their laudable design, if

« VorigeDoorgaan »