Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

it maketh rich; and he addeth no sorrow therewith.” On the other hand, consider the personal troubles in which the wicked are incessantly involving themselves, by a course of action upon which the Almighty has pronounced no blessing, but the direct reverse ; and also the relative and social misery, into which they are plunging those around them, whose sorrows, by a judicial reaction, are again increasing their own. Without adverting to those against whom society itself has spoken out in the penal thunder of its violated laws, the necessary consequences of all vices and of most follies, which may yet escape public punishment, are sometimes personally overwhelming, and always injurious ; and one-half of Bishop Butler's Analogy is founded upon the consideration of the righteous course of God's retributive allotments in the moral government of his own world.

He then that would walk happily must walk with God; his best interests will ever be found in union with his highest privilege. From the beginning God designed his creature's bliss to depend upon his union with himself; and “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” The tempter first interrupted that union; and when God had made man in his own image, and thus had provided for his happiness, he corrupted himself after the image of Satan, and thus ensured his own wretchedness. It is only as through the cross of the Redeemer and the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit the original connexion is restored, and the contending parties are reconciled, and both become one, that the Divine image can ever be restored in the human soul, or that any portion of true scriptural peace can be secured to the creature. All besides is but a hollow truce; the ill concealed fire of a deceitful hospitality, strewed over with the treacherous embers of apparent peace. “God was, in Christ Jesus, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" and“ as there is no other name given under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved," where this only remedy is slighted and despised, men are yet in their sins, the wrath of God abideth on them, and true peace is far from their dwelling. To those who reject the full, perfect, and all-sufficient sacrifice of the Redeemer, “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin ;" and therefore to such that fearful declaration applies now, as of old, There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” How supremely then is it our wisdom to discern“ the day of our visitation," and to “work while it is called to-day !”

Walking with God yet further supposes his constant guidance in the ways of His providence. Only they who are living upon a present God from day to day, and through the whole of every day, can know the indescribable consolation of having a God to go to, under every exigency. The Old Testament is one entire history of the dealings of God in his providence. Look at Jacob and his dying confession, as to the Angel that redeemed him, and the God that had fed him to that day. See his meeting with Esau, where, notwithstanding every precaution on his part, he could have done nothing, if Divine Providence had not first done its part and never left him till his incensed brother who threatened his destruction had been converted into a friend. See again the history of Joseph, so splendidly in point, from the prison to the palace. Look at the story of Esther, from the King's sleepless night, to Mordecai's lofty gallows, which yet was never erected for him. See the impotence of Goliath, Ahithophel, and Saul, against an all-wise and omnipotent Providence working in behalf of David. Look at the promptitude and power of the young man who became an informer when the Apostle Paul was to be delivered. In the second and forty-second Psalms, we plainly see the reasons of these operations of the Divine hand. Look again at Hezekiah spreading out his letter before the Lord, and Jehoshaphat and the women and children, with their eyes up unto the Lord, declaring that they had no might nor power against their great enemy, neither knew they what to do. David admits that he had fainted, unless he had expected to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; and what Christian would not have often been reduced to the same extremity but for the same support? A just, righteous, and universal providence reigns over all Gud's creation; but this becomes a particular providence also, in the case of all his true servants. He is the Saviour of all, but especially of them that believe. His church is the plant of his peculiar care. “I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every moment, I will keep it night and day. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers.” The Christian realizes this exhilarating fact, and “ casts all his care upon the Lord, who careth for him.” He cannot doubt that his Father, in creation and grace, has only purposes of good towards him. His union with God, in Christ, is the pledge of every covenant blessing. Tranquillus Deus tranquillat omnia.” Whether apparent good or evil be in the hand that awards it, he can discern the indications of fatherly love behind the external allotment. Thus his affliction, which is both “light,” and but “for a mo. ment, works out for” him “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" and the same prosperity which too often becomes a curse to others, is sanctified for good to him. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" What safety, what conscious repose, is secured by such a reliance. Luther was thus pre-eminently supported when he decided for his appearance in Worms : “ If every tile were a devil, I would go;" which is perhaps the finest modern version extant of Cæsar's “Necesse est ut eam, non ut vivam.” And has not every private Christian also found that amidst difficulty and opposition, and labouring perhaps under a naturally irritable and nervous temperament, there have been many occasions in his own experience, when, if he had not been able to cast himself unreservedly upon God, he must have perished.

In conclusion, such a walk as that of Enoch supposes a blessed end. When the journey is over rest begins, and not before. Enoch “ was not, for God took him.” This was a supernatural translation ; but it is not less true of every individual believer that when he is not, it is because God takes him ; takes him from a world of action, to one of repose ; from a world of care and probation, to one of enjoyment and reward—a reward not indeed of merit, but of grace; “ the rest which remaineth for the people of God." “ Absent then from the body, he is present with the Lord.” It is not indeed that his experience is always that of the Apostle, leading him, under such a conviction, to “desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far the better" than to remain in a world of sin and sorrow; on the contrary, (as has been often admitted by Christians of the highest spiritual attainments) many are the fears, and misgivings, often felt, concerning the period and manner of this end, with all its unknown circumstances, and mysterious issue. Often must we have thought, that had it been permitted, we could have wished something more to have been revealed respecting the disembodied spirit and the world beyond the grave. “Sed aliter visum." In one sense it may still be predicted of the world of spirits, “Futuri temporis exitum caliginosa nocte premit Deus;' but it is still undeniable that the Gospel " has brought life and immortality to light," though it does not yet appear (for the indul. gence of our curiosity) what we shall be. Our privilege is, that “we are the sons of God;" and this should suffice. Faith is made essential to salvation, but our ignorance of matters which are not essential to sal. vation, is equally made the trial of our faith. It was not necessary that Enoch himself, during the progress of his walk with God, should see all his way before him, so far as this life was concerned : and still less was it necessary that he should be informed either of the precise nature of its close (which he certainly never could have anticipated,) or of the particular circumstances connected with the new and untried state of being to which it would introduce him ; but still he walked on, leaning upon the strength of God; with whom he “ walked" so as to cease from man, striving dili. gently, yet relying on that Amighty hand, which was pledged for his present support and his final victory. Thus, his walk being the walk of faith, ended in the triumph of faith ; mortality was eventually swallowed up of life; corruption was succeeded by incorruption, and hope attained its final consummation, in perfect and eternal fruition. May the writer and the reader of these lines reciprocally pray that it would please our heavenly Father that we may each, like Enoch, so walk with him in this pathless desert that, this transitory life ended, we may attain to the same everlasting felicity through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ZENAS.

ON THE IMPUTATION OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. In the list of questions quoted in your pages as having been discussed by the members of a Clerical Society, there is the following alluded to in your Number for August : “In what sense is the obedience of Christ imputed to the believer?” To this I think a ready answer may be elicited from 2 Cor. v. 21, “ God hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." From this passage it would appear that the obedience of Christ is imputed to the believer in the same sense, whatever that be, in which the disobedience of the believer was imputed to Christ. And while the doctrine seems forcibly asserted in the opposite members of this verse, we find each separate clause fully maintained apart. In regard to the first clause, we find innumerable passages declaring that “ the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all," and that “He bare the sin of many ;” in regard to the second, we read of Christ as «« the Lord our righteousness," as being “ made unto us righteousness;" and of “the righteousness of God, by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe.”

" Imputation,” says the learned Dr. Owen, “is an act of God, ex mera gratia, of his mere love and grace, whereby on the consideration of the mediation of Christ, he makes an effectual grant and donation of a true, real, perfect righteousness, even that of Christ himself, unto all that do believe, and accounting it as theirs, on his own gracious act, both absolves them from sin, and granteth them right and title unto eternal life. Hence in this imputation, the thing itself is first imputed unto us, and not any of the effects of it; but they are made ours by virtue of that imputation ..... This is the doctrine of the Church of England.” So asserts Dr. Owen; many other divines think very differently, though few probably would approve of the levity of Mr. Wesley's well-known declaration, that “ imputed righteousness is imputed nonsense.” You would not wish to open your pages to a thorny controversy on the intricacies of this question; but its obvious bearing, it is trusted, will be sufficiently clear from the passages above quoted from Holy Writ; while nice human distinctions and refinements only perplex the matter and engender vain discussions,

W. D. v.

ON THE FREQUENT ABSENCE OF RELIGION IN THE

CHILDREN OF RELIGIOUS PARENTS.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I HAVE read with considerable interest your papers entitled “ The Tears of Parents." The education and instruction of children are subjects which have frequently employed my thoughts, not from being a father, but as being a son who did not receive a religious education. The following question has often occurred to my mind : “ Why is it that so many religious parents have irreligious children, and irreligious parents have religious children ?" The fact is undeniable; and it addresses itself with heart-stirring and overwhelming interest to every Christian parent; and I should greatly rejoice to see the subject thoroughly discussed in your pages, not in an abstract or didactic manner, but upon the most satisfactory ground of matter of fact. Among your numerous readers and correspondents, I should suppose that much observation and experience cannot fail to be found, and I am willing to hope that much light might be elicited in the course of the investigation. I will mention two remarkable in. stances as corroborative of the position above assumed.

Mr. A. B., who never made any profession of religion, has eight children ; upon whom he has not bestowed any measure of what can be justly called religious instruction, having been during the last twenty-five years an habitual drunkard and Sabbath-breaker : yet four of his children, there is substantial reason to hope, are persons of true piety and the remaining four are favourably disposed to religion.

The Rev. C. D. has ten children, none of whom have hitherto exhibited any tangible proof of true conversion of heart to God, although their father is a man of spiritual and enlightened views of Divine truth.

Now, these are not supposed cases. I state facts, and shall be anxious to see what solution of the apparent anomaly can be given, by your correspondents : my own opinion is, that the difficulty is to be solved in the manner in which the above children have been brought up by their respective parents. I may seem to speak paradoxically, but I shall most willingly communicate the grounds of my assertion. Whatever may be the reason, it cannot be that God is unfaithful to his promises made to those parents who rightly bring up their offspring in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

B.

REMARKS ON PROFESSOR BURTON'S

SACRAMENTAL TRACT.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. PERMIT me to call your attention to some passages in a tract, on “ the Benefit of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper," published by the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and designed by him for distribution amongst the labouring poor. Referring to the fall of our first parents, the Rev. Professor observes, “ If they had not eaten the forbidden fruit, they would have lived for ever; but when they had eaten it, they became subject to death: when they died, they had no power of rising again from the dead; and all their children were born in the same state : that is, they were all certain to die, and had no power of rising again from the dead. Nor was this all. Adam and Eve brought sin into the world as well as death; their children were born with sinful wishes, and were certain to do many things which deserved punishment from God. Here then you see the dreadful consequences of disobedience ; every child 10 On Injudicious Scruples in the Observance of the Lord's Day. (Jan. of Adam is certain to die. If he dies in his infancy, and before he has had time to commit sin, still he has no power of rising again: he lost this power by the sin of his first parents.” And again : “We all deserve to die, and should have no power of ourselves to rise again ; but Jesus Christ having died for us, we are enabled by the goodness of God to rise again.Now, with the greatest respect for the character and attainments of the Rev. Professor, I would ask what is meant by men not having the power of rising again? Does the analogy of Scripture warrant the conclusions, which the passages above quoted appear to have adopted, that man became, in consequence of the Fall, incapable, naturally, of rising again to any state of being, after death; that there would not have been, but for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, any rising again, for the purposes of judgment and eternal punishment; that human existence would have absolutely terminated at the death of the body. I cannot persuade myself that the Rev. Professor intends to inculcate these opinions, but I think he has expressed himself in such terms that he will certainly be so understood, at least by the illiterate. I find it impossible to put any intelligible scriptural sense upon the statement, that man had some power of rising from the dead which he lost by the sin of his first parents. Death was not known before that sin; and how could there be any rising again where there was no death?

There is also a passage in page 8, in which the nature and evidence of faith are stated as follows. “We may think we have faith (the Professor says), and yet it may not be such a faith as God requires. Jesus Christ has therefore shewn us a way in which we may prove that we have faith in his death. The bread and wine, which are placed upon the Lord's table, are signs of his body and blood : every time that we eat and drink them, we shew our faith in the death and resurrection of Christ : we shew that we believe the body of Christ to have been given for us, and the blood of Christ to have been shed for the remission of sins : and he that has this faith may feel certain that he is in covenant with God.In this passage, the mere profession of faith, the mere receiving the bread and wine, appears to be stated as affording us the proof of faith, and also as conveying to us an assurance that we are in covenant with God. I should much fear that the unlearned reader would be likely to draw some very erroneous and dangerous conclusions from this statement. It is but justice, however, to the Professor to remark, that he afterwards expresses himself in a way that is free from objection. “I must remind you (he says), that a man may go to the Lord's table, and take the bread and wine, and yet not have faith.” This is perfectly consistent with the truth, but it appears to me scarcely reconcileable with the terms which the Professor has used in the former passage.

ElaxcotoG.

ON INJUDICIOUS SCRUPLES IN THE OBSERVANCE OF

THE LORD'S-DAY.

70 the Editor of the Christian Observer. As one who has long endeavoured to promote a strict observance of the Christian Sabbath, I would suggest for serious consideration, whether proposals like those of S. E. A., in your Number for November, p. 711, however well intended, (and no one can doubt the writer's good intentions,) are really suited to further the object in view. While laxity is the generally prevailing evil, we must not forget that there is another extreme: and every attempt to push things too far furnishes many persons with an excuse foi not going far enough. Even our Lord's mode of observing the Sabbath was not satisfactory to some persons; perhaps to some besides those who

« VorigeDoorgaan »