« PreviousContinue »
do either, as convenience, or incli- The former does not make man nation, may dictate.
humble, nor make him feel his need We not unfrequently hear some of divine influences, or of the atoneimportant doctrine of the Bible, and ment; the latter does not make see it when it is finished, standing him feel his dependence, nor lead alone and bare. The doctrine is him to resignation, por encourage neither held up as the reason for him to work out his salvation with any precept, nor as the sanction to fear and trembling. it. It neither excites feeling, nor It would be an interesting and secures obedience. It is perfectly profitable task, to trace out, someuninviting in its aspect, and bar. what at large, the manner in which ren of results. Again we hear a Paul interweaves the doctrines and sermon on some important Christo precepts with each other. I will ian duty. The precepts enjoining present a few instances. It is worthat duty are arrayed before the thy of notice that throughout his mind with proper explanation and epistles the great and almost unimethod ; but we find them uninter. form doctrinal motive by which he esting and powerless, because the enforces his precepts and exhortadoctrines which make those pre- tions, is, the death of Christ to save cepts reasonable and enforce them, men from sin. This he calls “ the are left out of view. Perhaps, the wisdom of God and the power of doctrine of the former sermon was God.” One instance of his skill the very one which, by being in- in using this doctrine is in his epistroduced in connexion with the pre- tle to the Romans. After having, cept of the latter, would have made in the first eleven chapters, exhiit appear most reasonable, cloth- bited the guilty and wretched coned it with the highest interest, and dition of man, as a sinner, and the secured a delightful obedience. great love of God manifested in Or perhaps that doctrine was the giving up his Son to suffering and very one which constituted the death to make a propitiation for sin, most appalling sanction to that pre- he begins the twelfth chapter with cept, so that if the doctrines and an appeal which is absolutely irreprecepts of these two sermons sistible ;-“I beseech you, therecould have been brought together, fore, by the mercies of God, that and made to take hold of each oth- ye present your bodies a living sac. er by some obvious and connect- rifice, holy, acceptable unto God, ing link, they would have been fall which is your reasonable service.” of reason and energy ; but as they So in his first epistle to the Corinthwere, they stood apart and unre- ians, vi. 20. "Yeare not your own, for lated, so that the well built logic ye are bought with a price, therewhich explained and defended the fore, glorify God in your body and one, and the didactic and pas- in your spirit, which are God's.” sionate oratory which enforced Another instance where Paul inthe other, were worse than in vain, terweaves the doctrines of the gos-because they left that appearing pel with the precepts he is incul. distant and unimportant, which cating, is found at the close of the ought to affect man most, and that fourth and beginning of the fifth appearing in no way obligatory, chapter to the Ephesians, where in which ought to be his chosen and one of his unrivalled strains of tenconstant guide.
der Christian pathos, he enjoins a The doctrines of human sinful- forgiving temper.
“ Grieve not ness and of the divine purposes the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are often so exhibited that the spir. are sealed unto the day of redempit of the one seems misanthropy, tion. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and that of the other, fatalism. and anger, and clamor, and evil VOL. I.-No. I.
speaking, be put away from among from my mouth, and warn them you, with all malice; and be
kind from me. one to another, tender hearted, for, I shall endeavour, then, to obgiving one another, even as God, for tain directly from the scriptures, Christ's sake, hath forgiven you. the proper answer to be given to Be ye therefore followers of God as the inquiry proposed. There is no dear children, and walk in love, as one form of words, in which the diChrist also hath loved us, and hath rections are uniformly given. The given himself for us, an offering and answer to the jailor is very simple ; a sacrifice to God for a sweet smell. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, ing savor.
and thou shalt be saved.” Here, He exhibits a similar skill in con- the only duty mentioned is faith in necting the doctrines with the pre- Christ. But in other passages, vacepts, when, after urging the Co- rious Christian graces are enjoined, rinthian Christians, in his eighth and in giving directions to sinners.ninth chapters to them, to contribute When on the day of pentecost mulliberally to the relief of the distress- titudes were pricked in their ed churches of Judea, and com- heart, and said to the apostles, mending them for what they had Men and brethren what shall we done, and telling them what was ex- do? Peter said unto them, Repected of them, he closes his appeal pent and be baptized, every one of to their pious generosity with a you, in the name of Jesus Christ, stroke of Christian policy which for the remission of sins." Here shows well that he had felt the faith is not mentioned ; though it power of the gospel doctrines on niay be considered as implied.t his own heart, and witnessed their When Peter perceived, that Simon power on others, and
says, “ Thanks the sorcerer was in the gall of bit. be unto God for his unspeakable terness, he said to him, Repent of gift.” (2. Cor. ix. 15.) Again, this thy wickedness, and pray God; (2. Cor. viii. 9,) in the same con- if perhaps the thought of thy heart nexion and for the same purpose, may be forgiven thee. Here rehe
-“ Ye know the grace of pentance and prayer only are menour Lord Jesus Christ, that, though tioned. When Peter had healed he was rich, yet for your sakes he the lame man at the gate of the became poor, that ye through his temple, and charged the Jews who poverty might be rich."
had assembled on the occasion, with having denied the Holy One, and killed the Prince of life ; he
said to them, Repent and be conGIVEN TO THE INQUIRY,
may be blotted MUST I DO TO BE SAVED ?”
In several instances, particular In answering an inquiry of such practical duties are enjoined.momentous import, we can have When John said to the multitude on other safe guide than the word of which came to be baptized of him, God. The suggestions of theoret- O generation of vipers, who hath ical speculation may be fatal to the
warned you to flee from the wrath inquirer, and bring guilt upon him to come? he added, Bring forth who, in reliance on his own wisdom, therefore, fruits worthy of repentundertakes to point the way to
And the people asked him, heaven. “ Son of man,” says God What shall we do then? He anto Ezekiel, “ I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel ; * Ezek. iii. 17 & xxxiii. 7. + Acts ii. therefore thou shalt hear the word 37. | Acts viii. 21. & Acts iii. 19.
gwered, He that hath two coats let and substance of these several dihim impart to him that hath none. rections, I should say to the sinner, Then the publicans said to him, “ In the exercise of Faith and REWhat shall we do? He said unto PENTANCE, enter IMMEDIATELY upthem, Exact no more than that
on a life of HOLY OBEDIENCE. Do which is appointed you. The sol. this, and you will be saved.” Imdiers likewise demanded of him,
mediate belief, immediate repentsaying, And what shall we do? ance, and immediate obedience are He said unto them, Do violence to
commanded. By holy obedience, no man, neither accuse any falsely.
I would be understood to mean, Sometimes obedience is required
not only the affections of the heart, in more general terms. Let the but the practical duties of life ; not wicked forsake his way, and the only internal feelings, but external unrighteous man his thoughts, and actions. let him return unto the Lord, and
But, it may be asked, should not he will have mercy upon him.f the sinner first see to it
, that his Cleanse your hands ye sinners, and
heart is right, that his affections and purify your hearts ye double mind- purposes are holy, before he enters ed. Humble yourselves in the upon the performance of practical sight of the Lord, and he shall lift duties! I answer, he is required you up. I Put away the evil of immediately to have a new heart, your doings ; Cease to do evil;
immediately to exercise holy affeclearn to do well ; Relieve the op
tions. But he is not told, in the pressed ; judge the fatherless ; believes that his heart is changed,
scriptures, to wait till he knows or plead for the widow. Ask for the old paths, where is the good way; nal duty. John does not say to
before he ventures upon any exterand walk therein, and ye
those whom he calls a generation rest to your souls. When the rich young man came
of vipers, First repent, then asto Christ , saying, What good thing then reform but he tells them at
certain that you have repented, and shall I do, that I
have eternal life ? He said unto him, If thou
once, to bring forth fruits meet for wilt enter into life, keep the com
repentance. Our Lord does not mandments.
If it be supposed, say to the young man, First learn that this answer was given merely
that you have a new heart, and then to open his eyes to the sinfulness
obey ; but, if thou wilt enter into of his past life, we are to observe; sell all that thou hast.
life, keep the commandments,that Jesus said also to him, Go and
He does, sell that thou hast, and give to the
indeed, say to the Phariseeg, poor, and thou shalt have treasure
Cleanse first that which is within in heaven.
the cup and the platter.* But
what is the defilement which he reWhen a certain lawyer said to
“ Extortion Christ, Master, what shall I do to presents as within ? inherit eternal life? He said unto
and excess;" not mere abstract him, What is written in the law ? feelings, as distinguished from prac
tical When he answered, Thou shalt
purposes and actions. And
in what way, according to his direcheart, and thy neighbour as thyself. tions, is the inward cleansing to be
made ? Jesus said to him, This do, and
“ Give alms of such things thou shalt live.
as ye have, and all things are clean If I were called upon, to
unto you.”+ The prophets say diexpress rectly, Cleanse
your hands, ye sinin a summary manner, the spirit
ners; Cease to do evil; learn to * Matt. iü. 8. Luke iii. 8–14. + Isa. * Matt. xxiii. 26. Luke xi. 39. + Luke lv. 7. James iv. 8. & Matt. xix. 16. xi. 41.
do well ; Relieve the oppressed, precede others; whether conver&c. How is a man to know, that sion begins always with repentance, his heart, his affections are right, if or faith, or love. If there is any they excite to no holy purposes ? invariable order in these exercises, And how can he know that his they may succeed one another so purposes are holy, if they all relate rapidly, that the necessity of this to the future, and have no reference order can furnish no excuse for any to the present perforinance of duty ? perceptible delay, with respect to He that doeth righteousness is right- either of them, or with respect to eous; not he who merely intends the commencement of practical to do his duty, at some future pe- godliness. riod.
But how, it may be asked, is the Is the sinner to be called upon including of Christian practice to do any thing preparatory to faith among the duties required of the and repentance ? To begin to re- sinner, consistent with the orthopent, no preparation is necessary, dox doctrine, that the first duty to except that he know that he is a be pressed upon every sinner, is sinner.
And to begin to believe, no immediate repentance? “God compreparation is necessary, except mandeth all men—now to repent.” that he have the proper object of I answer, that according to the faith in view. This may fairly be statement which I have made, imsupposed to be the case, in some mediate repentance is required. degree at least, with every one in a But if repentance be understood in Christian land, whose attention is the limited sense, as consisting in excited to the concerns of the soul. sorrow for sin, this is not the only But it is proper to call upon him to duty immediately required, as is do that which is preparatory to manisest from the texts which have deeper repentance, and higher de- been quoted. It ought to be obgrees of faith: that is, to obtain served, however, that according to inore adequate views of his own scriptural usage, the word repentguilt, and more exalted apprehen.' ance has commonly a much more sions of the grace of the Saviour. extensive signification ; especially It is the duty of the Christian to be when the Greek is Metavola. in the exercise of increasing re- includes Christian practice. It is pentance and faith, during life; turning from sin to holiness. It and therefore to be in the diligent is reformation of heart and life. It use of the means calculated to bring is ceasing to do evil and learning to the objects of these graces more
do well. In the scriptural sense, fully before the mind. He can re- therefore, to call upon a man to repent, only so far as he knows what pent, is to call upon him to enter he is to repent of; and he can be- immediately upon a life of holy obelieve, only so far as he learns what dience. When the wicked man he is to believe.
turneth away from his wickedness, Is the sinner to be directed to do and doeth that which is lawful and any thing before he repents and be- right, he shall save his soul alive.* lieves? He is neither to delay re- It may be farther objected, that pentance and faith till he has done a man must first have faith, before something else ; nor is he to delay you set him upon the performance the performance of practical du- of external duties. Without faith, ties on the ground that he has not it is impossible to please God. yet repented and believed. I would But what is the nature of the faith not be understood as intending to which is spoken of in this passage ? decide the quastion, whether, in It is undoubtedly saving faith : for the order of nature, certain exercises of the renewed mind must not
* Ezek. xviü. 27.
the apostle says the just shall live full and fair proportions in which it by faith ; and adds, We are of is presented in the scriptures. them that believe to the saving of It may be said again, if the sinner the soul; and then immediately en- should not mistake external moraliters upon that description of faith ty for real holiness ; yet he will be which is continued through the in danger of relying upon his works, 11th chapter of Hebrews; and as recommending him to the mercy which is by far the most particular of God, and preparing him to reaccount of this grace, any where to ceive renewing grace. This is very be found in the scriptures. And possible, and I fear very common. what is the representation here giv. Yet the proper way to counteract en of the faith without which it is the destructive influence of error, impossible to please God? Is it is not to conceal the truth ; but to described as a faith which is exer- bring it forward in such a manner, cised solely or principally in con- as to correct the error. templation, or acts of devotion ; Again it may be asked, is it not which is confined to abstract feel- expedient to chain down the attenings, unconnected with conduct; tion of the awakened sinner to the which precedes all attempts at prac- single point of his guilt and danger? tical godliness? Is it not rather is not this the way to give the deepspoken of as chiefly expressed in est tone to his feelings; to bring the life; as accompanying external his distress and convictions to a criduties? By faith, Noah prepared sis? Is it not best to omit, for the an ark. By faith, Abraham obeyed, present, any mention of external and sojourned in the land of pro- duties, lest this should divert his mise. By faith, he offered up Isaac. attention from the immediate and As James expresses it, faith pressing demands of conscience ? wrought with his works. By faith, The most direct answer to this is, Moses forsook Egypt. By faith, that so far as the plan of address others subdued kingdoms, wrought here proposed varies from that righteousness, wandered in deserts which is presented to us in the and mountains, &c.
scriptures, it is a scheme of human But by exhorting impenitent sin- invention; and therefore we ought ners to practical duties, shall we not to expect, that it will be moro not be in danger of leading them to efficacious than that which has rely on mere external morality, as come to us from heaven. No a substitute for inward piety? We mode of addressing the conscience, shall, undoubtedly, if we confine our no process of conviction, will be of exhortations to external conduct; any avail, without the renewing inif we do not insist upon the neces. Auence of the Spirit. And which sity of love, and faith, and peni- have we reason to believe he will tence, to render any action accept- most readily bless, the plan of inable to God. But enjoining upon struction and exhortation pointod sinners the immediate performance out in his word, or that which is of every duty, both internal and ex- substituted by the ingenuity of terpal, is not encouraging them to man? The Christian minister who believe, that the latter class alone is really in earnest, in seeking the will entitle them to salvation.— salvation of his impenitent hearers, They may perdert the truth, in this will not be satisfied with merely case, as well as in others. Yet the stating to them the terms, which, proper way to guard against this if complied with, will ensure their perversion, is to exhibit the truth to salvation. He must be unfaithful them, not in any mutilated and dis- indeed, if he does less than this. torted representations, but in the But he is bound to do more; to give