« ZurückWeiter »
rion to judge by? for let the means be whatever they may, still it must be faith and belief which can convey to the human mind that God is the author of creation. “ For no man hath scen God at any time.” If indeed this evidence is doubted or rejected, it were well, as has been observed in another place, if such persons did not in time become downright aiheists,
As to pure Christianity, none can possess it without the necessary ingredient of faith. Faith in the Mediator's and Redeemer's support and love is the humble Christian's only anchor in times of the greatest trials and difficulties; and it is in this exalted faith in the heavenly effect of divine union and communion with Christ, their rock and only refuge, that they are looking for. ward towards an endless life and a glorious immortality...
The Christian is assured, when temptations arise, when dangers threaten, when enemies, attack them from within and without, so that their souls are hard beset, and they know, not how to extricate themselves from their perilous situation, that there is none to whoin they can fee with so much confidence as to their heavenly friend, to ask his counsel, and entreat his powerful interposition in their behalf: He is ever ready and willing to come to their succour. Nothing
is wanting but faith on their part ; and, “ ac.. cording to their faith, so shall it be done unto them ;"-while those who give way to doubts, and a disbelief of this evidence of the Chris. tian's hope, and of the joys of the world to come, may lull themselves into fatal security, which has only self-confidence for its support, and which, if persisted in, will never afford them one gleam of that exalted happiness the faithful Christian is frequently permitted to enjoy even in this state of being.
But if it be necessary to be more explicit, we shall add, that “ Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen :" that is to say, It is a full and assured trust and confidence in Christ, that the things hoped for will be finally obtained, and the things not seen will be fully manifested to our senses. It is such a trust and confidence as realizes the immediate possession of them to our minds ; so that we regard not any pain or difficulty we meet with in the pursuit, resting upon an omni-' potent God, by whose strength in us every obstacle will be gradually removed, and a complete victory at length obtained. Yet “ without me ye can do nothing,” says our blessed Redeemer. But “ I can do all things through Christ strengthening me,” says his experienced apostle."
From what has been said, it should appear that faith in Christ is the great means towards the restoration of man from that state of misery into which he has been plunged by the lapse of our first parents.
The Scripture account of the fall, as it is generally understood, is, that man was created innocent, in a state of blessedness, and in com. plete union with God his Creator. That he doubtless was a free agent ; otherwise sin could not be imputed to him for his disobedience. It was said in the charge God gave to Adam respecting the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “ On the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This, however, does not appear to have an allusion to a natural death only, but to spiritual deformity, and a loss of that perfection and innocence, and that union with the Almighty, in which he was created. It is said, “ the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.” But as soon as they had disobeyed the divine command, “ the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” Their fear at hearing the voice of the Lord, and their hiding themselves from his presence, evidently shows there was a material difference in their knowledge of good and evil in their spiritual feel
ings and state of happiness, before and after the fall.
If we look at the Scripture relation of the fall with as much candour as we are capable of, the difficulties which appear to some would in all probability vanish. And, indeed, comparing the account of Moses with our own experience, there will result an extraordinary proof of the authenticity of the Scripture record. And if we still pursue the investigation, it will probably be found that all creation in its degree, except man, as observed in a former Section, is perfect, Adam having by disobedience fallen from that state of innocence in which he was created, necessarily became subject to those dispositions to which fallen nature is inclined. Adam could not communicate to his posterity what he did not possess : it is therefore no wonder that we feel and are subject to those evil propensities he felt, and to which all mankind are sensibly and distressingly prone ; although not condemnable, till we have positively transgressed.
Were there any doubt respecting our possessing these dispositions, there might be some reason for dlisbelieving the Scripture account of the fall in man. But as our experience is an evident proof of it, it is the greatest wisdom to endeavour to find out the means of restoration. The
Scriptures are clear in this respect; and a faith and belief of them would help us forward with a giant's stride. We should see that, as every thing in nature is perfect but man, the coming of Jesus Christ in the character of Mediator and Redeemer, is to effect this 'glorious perfection in him also; in order that the divine harmony may be complete, and man restored to that state of innocence and perfection it was the original design of Omnipotence he should be placed in.
In speaking of perfection, we wish to be understood as to the perfection of man.
In no part of the sacred records is angelic perfection once named, or any allusion thereto, in reference to man. - Men are not angels, nor are angels gods.” We say thus much, because some have, in a mistaken zeal for the cause of truth, endeavoured to exalt the nature of man beyond the limits intended, and thereby rendered that obscure, which is in itself clear and comprehensive. Our blessed Lord was clothed with humanity whilst on earth; he neither took on himself the appearance of an angel, nor did he amuse his disciples with the idea that they were to be so transformed. His language was: “ Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect :” Matt. v. 48. We may recollect he was speaking at that time of