« VorigeDoorgaan »
Be not then stupidly unmindful of your great benefactor, whose influence has been diffused in the sun's blessed beams, and in the showers and gentle dews that have fallen during the long summer days, invigorating the earth and causing it to shoot up those delicious juices with which your appetite is so much gratified, and bringing to perfection those more solid productions, with which your table is to be loaded during the dreary months of winter, and life supported. Let your hands be strengthened to gather that abundance which waits for your cares, and your hearts rejoice with religious joy; let it be a wise joy which floweth from a pious dependance on God. To him must all flesh come, for he openeth his hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness; and even the wild beasts of the forest do seek their meat from him. Shall man then be thoughtless and ungrateful? While he is gathering abundance, shall he forget who so liberally scattered what he gathers? If so, shame on his rational nature! He dishonours the rank in the scale of being which he pro., fesses to hold. By perverting or not using that reason which is gir. en him to direct, he becomes less worthy of the bounties of Provi. dence than the ox that grazes the field, and instinctively lows his thanks to him who spreads the feast. Of this number of thought. less ingrates, be ot one ; but let commencing autumn's profusion of fruits, and life-sustaining productions, awaken every sense to praise the God of seasons, the giver of life, and all its comforts.
FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
ON ROMANS viii. 19, 20, 21. For the carnest expectation of the creature worketh for the manifesla
tion of the song of God: For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected the same in hope-Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
THIS passage has been the subject of considerable differ. ence of opinion among commentators: And when we consider the difficulty there is in understanding its meaning, it is not to be wondered at. In the first place, it is difficult to determine in what sense the word creature is here used. Does it mean the whole creation, both rational and irrational, animate and inanimate ; or only man, as the most noble creature of God here below? Or again, does it mean only the animal nature of man as distinct from the soul? The word is certainly sometimes used in all these different senses : And nothing but a consideration of the context can determine in what sense it is here to be taken. By looking at the two next verses, it will appear most rational to understand it of the animal nature of man only, or the body as distinct from the soul; for the Apostle goes on thus; For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; and not only they but ourselves also, which havs
the Arst fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Here the Apostle seems to have determined the meaning of the word by using another instead of it, (viz.) body. It is then the animal nature, the natural body which earnestly longs, and waits for the manifestation of the sons of God, or the adoption, as it is expressed in the last cited passage, or again redemption from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God; as in the last verse of the words under view. It was the natural body that was made subject to vanity, not willingly, not of its own accord, or agreeable to the nature which God at first gave it, but it was subjected to corruption and vanity by him who subjected it.
True it is the Apostle says the whole creation groaneth and travailech in pain, which should seem to comprehend all nature, and so it is sometimes understood, and the passage taken to be an indication that the inanimate creation was deranged and disordered by the fall. Although this may be true, and confirmed by other parts of scripture, yet we need not of necessity understand the words in so extensive a sense, especially when other parts of the same passage seem to confine them to a more limited sense. And indeed we very often use the phrase whole creation, to signify nothing more than all men. We may then pretty safely conclude that the word creature here means the animal body, which waits under many pains and sorrows, in much vanity and vexation, in full and certain prospect of death and dissolution, for the final ransom and deliverance from corruption, by the power of him who raised up Jesus from the dead, and thereby obtained redemption for our bodies, and adoption into the family of God. Even they who have the earnest of the spirit, who are assured by it of redemption from sin and death, do yet groan under the same load of vanity and i. firmity to which all flesh is subject, and must continue to do so until redemption shall come.
Taking along with us, this explanation of the word creature, and we are the better prepared to get through with another difficulty in the words. Who was it that subjected the creature to vanity in hope? Go:l, in the original creation, did not subject the creature to vanity. To think so, would be contrary to every view we have of creation. And on the other hand, how can it be said that our first parent, by the fall, subjected his posterity to vanity, in hope. What had hope to do in the case? what hope could he have of any thing but condemnation and death upon all his descendants ? Nothing else surely, until the mercy of God interposed and opened the door of hope, by the promise of redemption and deliverance through a Saviour, to come in due time. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the subjecting of the creature to vanity, is undoubtedly to be referred to the first transgression ; nothing else will bear examination. And now to obviate the appearance of incongruity hence arising, that it should be said our first parent subjected his posterity in hope, I would observe, that the passage does not appear to be quite correctly translated. It would be certainly as near the original, and make much more obvious sense, in the following manner : For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by him who subjected the same; being yet under hope tha! the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Rendered in this manner, the hope spoken of refers to the creature, and not to him who subjected the creature to vanity; and thus the whole is consistent with itself, with reason, and the nature of our faith.
The creature was made subject to vanity by the fall, to death and destruction, to an entire end, after a few vain years of toil and, labour. Such would undoubtedly have been the end of our bodies, whatever may be our faith concerning the soul. But still hope was left, for the promise of God interposed ; a Saviour was to come who should bring life and immortality to light. On this promise the creature relied, and had hope of deliverance from the bondage of corruption. On this hope, the whole creation leans ; ali men, heathens as well as those who enjoy the light of Revelation ; hence confidence in another life ; and how came they by this hope, but from the promise of God made to the first parent of all men? The manner and means how these hopes are to be fulfilled, the heathen are indeed ignorant of, but the substance they hold fast; and the Gospel warrants us in believing, that those of them who hold fast that hope, and live agrecable to what light and knowledge they have, shall enjoy a resurrection to glory among the adopted sons of God. And we who live under the full light of this hope, should make it the 'anchor of our souls, amid the vanities, sorrows and emptiness of a changing world ; where death is ever in prospect, and where we know we cannot long stay. Under these circumstances, we should look forward to the time when redemption shall comc, when our bodies shall be delivered from corruption, and become heirs of the glory that shall hereafter be revealed in us.
FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
ON THE TREE OF LIFE. WHEN man was created and placed in paradise, he had one sole prohibition given him, in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. This prohibition and the threatened consequence of disobedience, necessarily imply, that had man obeyed the prohibition, he would have been immortal, and consequently that his body would have been imperishable, subject to no disease, no decay. It then becomes a matter of enquiry, was it constituted as now it is of Besh and blood ? I think there is full reason to believe it was; and thatthe tree of life, planted in the garden, was placed there for man to pare take of as a preservative of his life, to repair all the wastes of time, to prevent disease and decay, and to perpetuate his existence so long as God should see fit to continue him in this earthly abode; and then he would have been translated directly into heaven, as Enoch and Elijah were. I see not what could be the meaning or use of the tree of life in the midst of the garden, if it were not for this end, And that God in his infinite wisdom and power, could endow a real material tree with a quality capable of producing such an effect, will
not be disputed.. Nor.can'we well understand how man was not to dio without some such expedient This supposition makes the shopt account we have of man's continuance in paradise, and his being cast out for disobedience, a consistent and intelligible narrative, and I think it will not be so in any other way. Hence when man had disobeyed, and was obliged to relinquish his happy mansion, God says, as a reason for it, lest he faut forth his hand and take of the tree of life, and eat and live forever. The tree it seems had not lost its life-giving power by the disobedience of man, but man had forfeited his right to the use of it, and therefore became mortal, subject to disease and death, by not having it in his power to use those means which were to keep him alive in his paradisaical state. The body, being left to its own natural frailty, must decay and come to final dissolution. .
This idea accounts in a natural and easy manner for the length of human life in the first ages of the world. It would be natural for those bodies to continue sound and undecayed much longer before the seeds of corruption had had time and opportunity to gain their full growth, and work their entire effect. But having begun to operate on the human constitution, they would gain strength from generation to generation. This we should have reason to expect from what we observe in other cases, and what we should expect has actually come to pass. The life of man has dwindled to a mere no thing, in comparison to what it once was. A numerous train of life destroying causes, with an alniost infinite number of diseases, have crept in, been generated from one to another, gained strength and violence by time, and are sweeping the human race down to destruction, many of them in very early life ; and almost all before they arrive to an hundred years. All this it may be said, and often is said, is the consequence of sin. It is so originally, but immedi. ately in consequence of our being deprived of the tree of life, whicle should have nourished and supported this otherwise feeble frame.
ror THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
THE CHRISTIAN RE-EXAMINED. HAVE you received the Holy Ghost since you believed ?- This is a question once asked by an inspired Apostle of certain persons who had received only John's baptism, and were therefore not in the visible fold of Christ. But since we have reason to fear that many who are in that fold know as little as they did, whether there be any Holy Ghost, it may with propriety be asked of such. And you are perhaps prepared with an answer, that you trust in the promise of God-you believe he will own and bless the ordinances of his appoivtment, and accompany them with the gift of his spirit. Most true, you have not the slightest reason in tlie world to doubt it. It is clearly the doctrine taught in the sacred offices of the Church. It is most decidedly inculcated in the bible, and by reason. To think otherwise, would be converting God's appointments into empty forms, and unmeaning trifles derogatory of his honour. You consequently do well to rely upon his promise, that he ever does, and will dispense his spirit to all who come into Christ's fuld according to his appointment.
But suppose what is highly probable, that you was received into the Church of Christ in infancy, when you could have no sense of the transaction; and what is very possible, at years of discretion you presented yourself to the solemn rite of confirmation with as little sense of what you was doing, with no more seriousness and solemnity of mind, than you would carry to a house of amusement, dare you think you have received the Holy Ghost to any good purpose? God has undoubtedly fulfilled on his part; he has afforded you the spirit to strive with your heart : But is that enough? Have you done what beloogs to you ? If you have ever since continued to live in the same careless manner, altogether occupied with worldly business or pleasure, you will not dare to say you have co-operated with the spirit, and therefore it might as well not have been given : To you it has been in vain ; for where are the fruits ? Perhaps you will say they are to be discerned in the virtues of a good life-that you are sober and temperate in your manners, just and upright in your deal, kind and charitable in your communications that you are a dutiful child, or tender parent, and good neighbour—that you honestly endeavour at all times to do your duty, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God—that you strive in short to be a peaceable and good member of community. All these are indeed so many evidences that you have the spirit of God upon you ; for an Apostle tells us that the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
But are these moral virtues evidence enough? A heathen might teach and practice all these virtues. Many a one doubtless has done it : And being without any other guide than the light of reason, God may accept of their imperfect service, for aught we know; and through the merits of his Son, give them an inheritance among the saints in light. Having improved well the one talent, they may receive a reward according to what they have improved. Having no conception of the spiritual connection between man and his Creator, that results from the union of the divine and human nature in Jesus Christ, they cannot be required to act on so exalted a view : They will therefore be judged according to what they have, and not according to what they have not.
But is all this any proof that you who have the bible in your hands may let your Christianity dwindle into a mere system of morality that unassisted men might teach ; that has been taught and practic ced to a great degree of perfection without the word of God? By no means. You know that you are called with an higher calling Your bible tells you that if you have in your heart listened to that calling, the spirit of God dwelleth in you; that you are the temple of God; that it is he who worketh in you of his good pleasure ; that without him you can do nothing; that the spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of Gud; with abundance of declaFutions to this effect. Now what do you make of all this! Does it