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and the providential arbiter of events; that he not more made, than he certainly controls, creation; that an infinite executive agency pervades all being and fills the universe, propelling the tide of life through the arteries of the smallest insect, and rolling regularly in space the vast globes and unnumbered systems of our astronomy; that God "has prepared his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all;" that he is the preserver, as well as the Author, of universal life and motion; that total and constant dependence is the essential condition of a creature; that such dependence does not impair accountability or moral freedom, but preserves it; and that the providence of JEHOVAH, to whose care small things are great and great things are small, affects perfectly and equally the hairs of every head, the destiny of every sparrow, the verdure of every landscape, and the actions of his creatures-all of themhowever essentially free and voluntary on their part; these are revealed, demonstrable, and glorious propositions: they are perfectly harmonious, and mutually confirmatory, in the revealed system: "The Lord of all, himself through all diffused, Sustains, and is the life of all that lives. Nature is but a name for an effect,
Whose cause is God. He feeds the sacred fire
"Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' In what way then does the glorious doctrine, or the glorious fact, obstruct our piety? Not objectively; for never was an object of worship, for splendour, stability, and attraction, to be compared to the reigning "God over all, blessed for ever." Not subjectively; for his influence never opposes our desires or efforts to be holy; nay, it prompts them, it sustains them, it underwrites their success. Our dependence is our strength; because God is our strength: "When I am weak, then am I strong. Lead us not into temptation. I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say,
The Lord is my helper; and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you." Such perceptions of the dominion of Providence rejoice the saints of Scripture from Abel to John. "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens," says Job. "The Spirit of God hath made me," exclaims Elihu. And with what rapture, more than princely, said the royal Psalmist, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?" and while absorbed in the wonderful contemplation of the ubiquity of God, he adds, "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!' Here is pure enjoyment. How perverse the temper that could mistake such facilities for obstacles, such mercies for miseries, such glories for glooms! The man who, in view of this array of the Divine excellency and blessedness, refuses to approve, enjoy, and praise it, sins against his own life; plays the desperado-fool in the eye of heaven; and obstructs himself from entering the avenue of salvation, which nothing else could obstruct so effectually. He who stands in his own light must not be suffered to complain of the darkness; nor he who commits eternal suicide to charge the murder of his soul on Eternal Sovereignty.
With the thing which this influence respects, absolutely considered, we have no concern. It is the business of God, not ours, to take care of events: "Dominion and fear are with him." This is a great facility since now it is plain that we have nothing to do but our duty; and that, in this wise, and humble, and happy service, we may be assured of the Divine protection; "for who is he that shall harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God;" since these, identically and precisely, are "the called according to his purpose." I know there are men who aspire to help Omniscience with their wisdom; as if "the counsel of his own will" were inadequate to the exigencies of his government; who think his administration would be very good, if they were admitted to his cabinet; who seem to imagine themselves the special guardians of the Divine purposes, and to "hold election," rather than election them; and who are consequently very assiduous, not always by the most excellent means, or with the happiest results, in promoting the humility, and more eminently the orthodoxy of others. For us, however,
it seems enough to leave the thing in the hands of one whose government is perfect; while we cordially approve the doctrine, loving it as we do our own salvation, endeavouring to bless others with its diffusion, and seeing God in his own light, to worship him with rejoicing, as "the blessed and only Potentate; who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working; of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things; to whom be glory for ever.'
Now in which branch or department of the influence of the Spirit is our immediate piety obstructed, or warrantably declined, or rationally weakened in its obligation? Is it in that mainly respected, and termed, the moral or Scriptural? Is it in the extraordinary or miraculous, or in that of the providential and physical, care, without which we could neither live, nor move, nor be-all creation would decay, or perish with misrule, or revert to nothing?
MIND, MEANS, AND EXPOSTULATION CONSIDERED IN RELATION TO CONVERSION.
The active nature of the mind.-As a fact, this is universally admitted; the consciousness of every man, especially with a little introspective observation, will assure him of it. Our positions are: That this activity is not sin; that it is of the very nature of mind; that it characterized essentially the mind of the man Christ Jesus, as it does our own; that, by consequence, there is no necessity of infringing its being, or obstructing its freedom, in regeneration, sanctification, or glorification; that, in fact, we are perfectly free and indispensably active in regeneration; that the agency of the Spirit, infallibly executive of the purposes of Heaven, actuates us in duty, but does not and cannot dispense with our agency in passing from death unto life, or our personal obedience in any part of our piety, or our striving to enter the portal of the kingdom; that the doctrine of passivity in regeneration is a monster of darkness, whose ministry is desolation, whose history is written in the blood of souls, and which has no rational or religious right to live; that there is no dormant germ or principle of holiness implanted in the mind, or quality of holiness existing there, which is not the quality of its own action; that the conceit of some third thing, inserted somewhere between the mind and its active piety, in the insertion of which the mind
is wholly passive and God only active, and yet without which one can do nothing acceptably-not even pray for the third thing, which thing, indeed, is equally incapable of definition as of proof or sensible existence; the conceit which deadens preaching, darkens hearing, and is foregone just in proportion as revivals of religion appear; of this conceit I have only to say that it is folly, mischief, a false creation of theologians! "THEM THAT WERE ENTERING IN HINDERED!" Let not this opprobrium of ancient days attach to the ministry in ours! What can be more terrible? Men ought to be encouraged to obedience. As moral agents we are capable of it; and it is not regeneration, or piety in any form, that makes us accountable. We are accountable just as absolutely as we are creatures; accountable in the very nature and structure of the soul, and prevented from holiness never but by sin. Yet it is not in the power of sin to prevent us from accountability; or of holiness, to make that work of God more perfect than it is. His Spirit hath made us moral agents; his Spirit governs us as moral agents; his Spirit regenerates us as moral agents; and so sanctifies and glorifies us too. How prompt, then, should be the obedience of men! Who ought for one moment to delay, "striving to enter?" Not to act right, is to act wrong. To refuse compliance, is to sin against God. There is no neutrality in character, because there is none in action. The death-dealing sentiment of passivity has seen its best days. It dies just as fast as religion lives: see how these revivals mow it down! It is the sentiment of activity that God blesses, that the Spirit seals, and that revivals own. It is the sentiment of activity that spreads the gospel and delights in missions. It is strange goodness that passivity makes! like a man without vitals; like qualities without subjects; like actions without agents. When would it convert the world? The doctrine of passivity is not in the Scripture-unless agonizing is it! It is not in the Bible— unless love to God and man, with all their heavenly fruits and bearings, constitutes it. And it never would have been in the world, if men, and even ministers, were as prompt to do their duty and to please God as they have sometimes been decently to excuse themselves and others from his service. It is the great source of supineness and inaction in the church. But the millennium is
coming; it is three centuries nearer than when Luther and his noble co-adjutors began to harbinger its way. The doctrines of passivity no more induced the reformation than its deeds promote revivals of religion, and they must be intelligently and heartily dismissed. They must be exterminated from the church of God-and they will be; for " every plant," says Jesus Christ, "which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." This is the consummation which we desire to see, the process which we deem it piety to help; let it prosper in the spirit of "truth and soberness," of evidence and principle! We think thus the more certainly, because of the connexion between the means and the end in the constitution of providence. God has purposed the one just as much as the other, connected them mutually, and in this way encouraged us incomparably and indispensably to an active prosecu tion of religion. The means are not ordained without the end;-to toil or triumph in the active duties of religion a whole lifetime, and then perish as by a blind fatality or worse fortuity of influence, or by the possible improvidence of God! "for if ye do these things," without which plainly one is no Christian, 46 ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." And why should we doubt on the other hand, as if the end were ordained without the means? So far from this, men are the constituted architects of their own destiny; every one of them "works out his own salvation with fear and trembling," or just as busily elaborates his own damnation in obduracy and unbelief and presumption. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Plainly every man sows something, plainly every man reaps something; he sows in time, and reaps in eternity; he is always sowing, and he will soon be for ever reaping. But mark the declaration-he shall reap what he -sows. The means of perdition are as really constituted, and as fully definable, as those of salvation. Here, then, is the only infallible husbandry, and, strange to tell, every mortal is engaged in it. In common agriculture it is otherwise. The farmer often uses the means and fails of the end; often sows good grain, and reaps rottenness or nothing. But who ever sows to the Spirit," and does not #6 reap life everlasting?" To sow to the
Spirit is a figurative expression for following, by a cordial faith, the guidance of the Spirit, through his words, "in all goodness and righteousness and truth.”
In a consummation of these thoughts we offer two propositions: first, the connexion of the means and the end, as a law of universal providence, is just as real in religion as in our ordinarily secular affairs; second, it is eminently more perfect in religion than in other concerns -for here it is concerned with infinitely more important matters, and its operation is infallible, since the end cannot be attained without the means or lost with them so divine and so eternal is the moral constitution under which we live, in which our characters are forming, and our destinies developing, with a rapidity and a certainty that are admonishing us continually to "live not unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us and rose again."
To the same result, once more, let us view, The divine expostulations with sinners. These are so tender and so strong, so earnest and so solemn, so gracious and so importunate, that if sinners ought to hearken to them, Christians and preachers ought to learn from them. They pervade the Bible and constitute a large proportion of its contents. They brighten and enrich its poetry; they form many an episode of its history; they abound in its prophecy; they give a grace to the terror of its rebuke; they reflect a glory of benevolence on the severity of ultimate punishment itself. It is the unfeigned eternal benignity of God stooping to remonstrate with the madness of men; of whom he says, "for my love they are my adversaries." In these powerful persuasives and language furnishes no examples of equally powerful or eloquent persuasion-God offers them salvation; beseeches them to accept it; annihilates their excuses; tells them the whole truth faithfully; and never requires of them anything less than an immediate and cordial reconciliation to his name, nor allows one of their substitutes or modifications for a single moment. Instead of quoting half the Bible, we may refer to the whole book, and especially the concluding chapters of Deuteronomy; the first nine chapters of Proverbs; the prophecy of Isaiah, the 55th chapter eminently; the 18th of Ezekiel; and to the tears of the Son of God, as he wept over the city of Jerusalem from the summit of Mount Olivet, saying, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy
day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes." In view of these burstings and gushings of the bosom of God towards suicidal sinners, what shall we say ? Take first another specimen: "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." Must it be made a question, then, a question by us vile sinners, a question of God, glorious and all-perfect: Is he honest? Is he sincere? Does he mean what he says? Does not philosophy know better? Ought we to listen and trust, and feel what he speaks, just as if God was the most honest, upright, and simple-hearted being in the universe? Does he put his heart in his words? Is there no duplicity? No-but I pause! my blood freezes with horror. What! will you for a moment name Jehovah in the same category with
"Juggling fiends no more believed, That palter with us in a double sense, That keep the word of promise to our ear, And break it to our hope!"
In what world are we? What sinner of us would endure such questions seriously asked of himself? "Shall a mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his Maker?" we cannot hesitate in the response: "Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written." Criminate the species, vilify creation, darken and defame every other subject-but spare, I entreat you, spare the Immaculate, the Holy One, the God of infinite perfection! "It is impossible for God to lie." Let us praise him!
I see him girded, armed, and moving as a man of war; his sword drawn in his hand; and the victims of justice about to feel its stroke of "the second death."
interests of the injured universe. God thus redeems his character from their obloquy, his prerogatives from their invasion, his justice from their contempt. The vast amphitheatre of heaven `is crowded with spectators, who applaud, for now they better understand and love and trust his perfect administration. "And I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia, for true and righteous are his judgments. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth."
Their day has come. The door is shut. The time of mercy and persuasion is past -yet not passed the powers of infinite benevolence. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked," and down comes the glittering sword. They die. "God is love." It is principle, not passion, that executes their doom. They perish for ever. They are sacrificed in solemn state, to the glory of eternal righteousness and the
PRACTICAL REFLECTIONS CONCERNING CONVERSION.
1. How important is it for all Christians, ministers, and members of the church of God, to be wise as well as faithful, in their directions to sinners. Between them and God there is a real and a terrible controversy. It is not extinguished or compromised by his mercy in the gospel. In spite of that accomplished mercy they will be lost-unless they come to a hearty, prompt, and unreserved compliance with its terms, unless they acquiesce ingenuously in the glory and the grace, the truth, and the majesty, of his salvation. Shall we tell them-"Wait God's time?" Where is that written in our commission? What right have we thus to address them? On what time is it that we venture to presume? Is it a revealed truth that they ever will be converted? Is their life insured till to-morrow? Will they not trifle sufficiently without our 'assistance? Have we found the directions of the Holy Ghost defective, or are we the justiciaries that could improve them? Could men be better counselled by us? Shall we take their side of the argument? Is it not safer to take the other; better for them; more helpful to convince, to humble, and to save them? Shall we humour and caress them against the truth, because they are our own dear relatives, and the partners of our blood? Shall our charitableness indulge them? This is a common way of killing with kindness. And where is our charity for God? Where our justice, which is all he needs from us-whose greatest praise is truth. Are we more merciful than he? certainly not. Let us then be faithful, wise, inexorable as the gospel of God!
Let us however be kind, compassionate, and tender in manner. "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." It is not sown in darkness or in war. "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise;" for it is a service to which fools, however zealous, are incompetent. "By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone." The whisper of tenderness becomes thunder in the conscience. Let us take care of our motives; the words of the Holy One will not otherwise "be fitted in our lips." The best recipe for a persuasive address is-sincerity. We must not vaunt ourselves, or be obtrusive, or act with ostentation. We must love their souls. Our actions may sometimes speak better than our words. Let us sympathize with the Redeemer in the labours of his love, and then speak to them in his way! Let us echo his manner and his matter of address; and we may hope to participate the peculiar blessedness of "the wise that shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and of them that turn many to righteousness, who shall shine as the stars for ever and ever." Hence,
2. It is obvious to remark the affinity between the principles we have stated and
REVIVALS OF RELIGION.
It is no insolvable problem that there are no revivals, or comparatively none, where opposite principles are inculcated. "So we preach, and so ye believed. And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them for their doings.' Under some certain sorts of preaching, still prevalent in some certain places, a revival would indeed be a wonder! It would prove a miraculous agency returned to us. It will be "a miracle" when it comes! It will be in suspension or contravention of the direct rays of the pulpit. To make men think that the work is all God's, and none of theirs; that there is in absolute fact no offer of salvation made to them; that all the offer that is made is founded in human ignorance of who the elect are-as if we had anything to do with election as a rule of action; that of consequence, it is no offer at all, or the offer of man, not God; that the atonement is limited, in its own nature, and in its applicability, and by its proper definition, to the elect alone, and so has at least possibly-NO EXISTENCE IN RELATION TO THEM; that whatever offer of salvation is contained
in the gospel, it is founded not on the atonement which Jesus Christ made on the cross, but on the ministerial commission, or on the doctrine of election, or on mere sovereignty-and so is, after all, of a very questionable kind; that if the best offer conceivable were made to them, they have no power, but are wholly unable to accept it; that they are not so much to blame for present impenitence, as they are for the sin of Adam; that they are entirely passive in regeneration, and can do nothing of themselves; that they can do their duty no more than a corpse can arise and walk; that God is the only agent in religion, and we-happy enough for some of us-the passive receivers of the boon; that religion consists in "a holy principle" implanted in the mind, somewhere between its faculties and its actions, and does not consist simply in loving God and doing his will; that every conversion is a miracle, and every revival-if genuine-a constellation of miracles; that if we have no revival of religion in our congregation, the fault is not ours at all, but is to be resolved into sovereignty alone that we are so, and our remaining consolation is to be "sound in the faith;" that the great business of the church is to "keep out error," and let God "do what he will with his own ;" and that revivals of religion are to be doubted often, as mere excitements of animal zeal, things "got up" in a stimulated style, and little to be trusted, imitated, or desired!
I say where such preaching, in whole or in part, is prevalent; where it is only implied, in doctrine, or in prayer, or in conduct; it will, in such proportion, directly tend to ruin souls, to neutralize the gospel, and of course to prevent revivals: all this the more, because of the parts of truth that are speciously mingled in the representation. Yet to how many high places of our Israel is the lamentation applicable! "Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain upon you, nor fields of offerings for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shields of the princes of Israel as though they had not been anointed with oil."
God works by means; loves his whole truth; holds all moral causes in his hand; and encourages us to be valiant in his service. 66 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." He blesses the means he approves, and is always more ready-infinitely-than are we. His gospel is a message "to every creature ;"