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text for his condemnation and death. And when he went still further, and exposed the hollowness of their religious pretensions—when he denounced the swift judgments of heaven upon that apostate generation, reeking in sins of deeper dye ihan those of Sodom, yet deeming themselves so holy; when he accused them of tithing anise, mint, and cummin, and neglecting the more weighty matters of judgment, mercy, and truth, their anger knew no bounds. Nothing would then satisfy them but his death. And when Pilate, heathen though he was, hesitated to sanction their violent proceedings, and sought to protect their victim, they significantly hinted at what they misrepresented to be his political pretensions, and alluded to Pilate's dependence upon the Roman emperor, saying, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend. Whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar."
With this, as with so many other subjects which from time to time arrest our attention, the most available and instructive illustrations are afforded in the ministry of the Saviour and his disciples. And those who have never given particular attention to this topic, will be surprised to observe how often the pride, malice, and enmity of his hearers not only effectually shut out from their hearts the sublime truths which He taught, but led to the most monstrous and wicked perversions both of his language and his miracles. Of the many cases which might be referred to, a few must suffice for the present purpose.
When Jesus healed the man sick with the palsy, who was brought to him upon a bed, he said to him, consolingly, “Be of good cheer, iby sins be forgiven thee.” Immediately the Scribes who were present exclaimed, " This man blasphemeth!” The multitude marvelled and glorified God; but the Scribes only cried out “Blasphemy! When he healed the withered hand upon the Sabbath day, the Pharisees, instead of discovering in that miracle the evidence that God was working with
him, "went out and held a council against him, how they might destroy him." When he opened the eyes of the blind and loosed the tongues of the dumb, they said, “ This fellow casteth out devils by Beelzebub the prince of devils.” That a wonderful miracle had been wrought, they did not pretend to deny; but, rather than admit that he was endowed with
power and authority of God, they attributed these works of divine benevolence to the agency of demons. occasion, when they had demanded a sign of him, and his prophetic vision looked forward to the fearful close of his mortal career, and he saw standing there the cross, and near by the empty tomb, he replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” How serene a reference to that last agony, and the rising again from the dead; and yet before the mock tribunal that condemned him to death, the perversion of this language was made one of the chief items of evidence against him. The suborned witness testified, “This fellow said I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days." “ Then the high priest rent his clothes and said, he hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses ?” When he went into the temple and saw there the altars of Mammon, he exclained: “Is it not written, my house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer ? but ye have made it a den of thieves.” “And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him." On another occasion, instead of receiving his divine instructions, and thanking God for the manifestation of such love and mercy, we are informed that “the chief priests and scribes sought how they might take him by craft and put him to death.” So they sent their crafty messengers to him, inquiring whether it was lawful to give tribute to Cæsar. He replied—“Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's." They could make no reply to a command so evidently just; but they could pervert it, and make it serve against him at his condemnation. They said " we found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ, a king." For healing a man upon the Sabbath, who had been a cripple thirty-eight years, they sought to kill him; and when he called God his Father, they sought the more to kill him, on the absurd pretence that he made himself equal with God." On one occasion, wearied with their incessant perversions of his teaching, he exclaims, “Why do ye not understand my speech ? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." When he opened upon the Sabbath the eyes of a man born blind, the Pharisees said, “ this man is not of God; because he keepeth not the Sabbath day.” Again they exclaimed, “ he haih a devil and is mad, why hear
The lives and ministry of the apostles furnish a still broader field, strown all over with similar facts. It matters not whether Peter, Paul, John or Jesus teach; unless they speak to men who are willing to receive their teaching and make it the rule of their life; to men who are willing to abandon idolatry and serve the living and true God; men who are willing to give up the business of image-making, or any other immoral business however lucrative; to men who are willing to make an effort to conquer the power of sin over their own hearts—to subdue their passions, to control their lusts, to forsake their sinful and degrading habits, and endeavor to live a Christian life ; unless they found in their hearers such a willing. ness to be taught-all their labor was in vain. It depended not only upon the preaching, but upon the hearing, whether their labors should bring forth the desired fruits. Their success depended not only upon the truth being taught, but upon its being received." It required of them to preach the gospel ; but it required no less imperatively of those to whom it was preached, to “take heed how they heard."
From the foregoing examples we learn that those who listened to the Saviour for the purpose of hearing blasphemy, heard it; those who listened to hear treason, heard that; those who watched to hear him speak against Moses and the law, heard that; while others, each according to the preparation of his own heart, heard only a despised Samaritan, a false prophet, a deceiver, a maniac, or a madman possessed of devils. Only those who listened to hear the divine truth, heard it and received him as the Messiah sent of God to be the Saviour of the world. And the same is true at the present day. If men go to church to hear doctrine, they will hear it; if to hear exhortation to the practical duties of life, they will hear that; if continually on the alert to hear some thrust at themselves, or their business, they will hear that;- in every case, they will hear that which the peculiar state of their minds and hearts prepare them to hear. It is only when men repair to the church as to the house of God, with hearts prepared for the reception of divine truth, whatever may be its application to them, their opinions, their practices, or business, will they be able to hear the gospel, no matter how truthfully preached or how faithfully applied. The responsibilities of hearing are co-extensive with those of preaching; and only when the conditions are complied with by both preacher and hearer, can gospel truth have free course run and be glorified.
A. R. A.
The Unitarian Theory of Regeneration.
Regeneration. By Edmund H. Sears. Printed for the American Unitarian Association. Boston: Crosby, Nichols & Co. 1853. pp. 248.
This work is especially authoritative as an exposition of the Unitarian theory of Regeneration, in that it " was written at the request of the Executive Committee of the American Unitarian Association, who earnestly commend it to public attention." True, they may not, as individuals, "concur in every opinion advanced, nor adopt every verbal expression employed by the writer, but they unanimously and cordially approve of the great thoughts and principles that form the basis of the work, and of the spirit and temper in which it is written.”
A book on so momentous a theme, coming with a sanction so much entitled to respect, speaking substantially for a large and intelligent class of Christians, and giving the subject so exhaustive a treatmeni as to bring forth statements on nearly all the essentials of theology, could not fail to receive our careful attention. With the exception of a single complaint, we have hardly anything to bestow upon it but praise. The style is perhaps too poetic for close argumentation, and the leading statements are smooth
and elegant rather than terse and striking. Yet the thought is remarkably clear, and the several propositions are so arranged that each receives light and explanation from every other. For symmetrical argumentation and perspicuous expression, not Whately could ask for any thing better. And the spirit of the book is truly fascinat. ing. Let no one say that controversial theology need be acrimonious ; for here is a treatise which comes directly in conflict with the cherished convictions of more than half of christendom, and yet the most rigid Calvinist shall read it and not find the equanimity of his spirit once disturbed.
The very general satisfaction with which we have pe. rused the book, but deepens the disappointment which prompts our solitary complaint. Here is a treatise which discusses the whole process whereby the sinner becomes the saint. It promises to give every step of the progress which cleanses the human heart of evil, whether hereditary or acquired, and which insures that consecration of its powers by which God is substituted in the place of self, and the holiest affections elicited of which the soul is inherently capable. Now surely a work which enters so profoundly into the all-important question of human redemption, will not fail at least to take a position on the great issue of human destiny. He that tells so well the process, will not hide his light as to the result. At all events, if the specific nature of his theme does not call upon him to argue the question as to the extent of salvation, he must be moved to give utterance to his hope and expectation relative thereto. Yet on this vital subject, Mr. Sears does not favor us with a single distinct and unequivocal statement! The nearest approach to anything like a position, is the following, which, however, he makes equivocal by the statement that he will not say what his words hint:
“ The spiritual nature in man, answering to the spirit-world to which he is destined, and in which he already lives, is hardly less perceptible in his most fallen state, than in his state of primal innocence. We will not say that he may not fall so low that the spirit shall cease to strive with him, and the inward ear shall be deaf to the heavenly voices.” (p. 99.)
The last chapter contains several statements which look the other way; but so vague, so undetermined is their