Page images
PDF
EPUB

appears, that I AM is an appellation which distinguishes God from every created being ; and, therefore, must be incommunicable and for ever appropriated to Deity alone. Yet by this sacred name did Jesus distinguish himself, and thereby claimed the supreme title which belonged to the Eternal JEHOVAH. The Jews, accordingly, consecrated this name as applicable to the Most High God, and, hearing Jesus lay claim to it, were proceeding to stone him; and it is evident that he left them under this persuasion, without making the least attempt to convince them of the contrary.

Moreover, he frequently declared himself to be the Son of God, and as such he was acknowledged by his disciples. (Matt. xiv. 23 ; xvi. 16.) Now it is very certain that the Jews understood this to imply positive equality with the Supreme Being. This is not to be wondered at, when our Lord had taught them that all men should honour the Sox, even as they honour the Father. (Jolin v. 23.) If then the Son is to be honoured even as the Father is honoured, then the Son must be God, as receiving that worship which belongs to God alone.

That the disciples, in general, had not clear conceptions of this doctrine, is no just objection to the conclusion which I have drawn : for it is well known that they had not proper conceptions of their Master's sufferings and resurrection, although he spake of these things so frequently. But when Tuomas saw his risen Lord, he remembered and believed the words of Jesus, and made confession accordingly.

4. When the disciples were commissioned to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, they were commanded by Christ to baptize every convert in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. xxviii. 19.) Now Baptism, properly speaking, signifies a full and eternal consecration of the person to the service and honour of that Being in whose name it is administered : but this consecration can never be made to a creature; therefore the FATHER cannot be a creature, the Son cannot be a creature, neither can the Holy Ghost be a creature : consequently, the Father must be Gov, the Son must be God, and the Holy Ghost must be God. As therefore the Son is very God, he must be the proper object of prayer.

5. This argument receives abundant confirmation from the case of STEPHEN, who, in his last moments, breathed out his soul in prayer to Jesus Christ. It is written, “And they stoned STEPuen, calling upon God, and saying, LORD JESUS, receive my spirit.” (Acts vii. 59.) It is proper to remark, that the word God is not found in the Greck text; therefore Jesus is the only name that is called upon in this solemn invocation. If, therefore, any name were inserted in italics, the passage should stand thus, And they stoned STEPHEN, calling upon Jesus, and saying, LORD JESUS, receive my spirit."

If any one should object that the repetition of the name Jesus, in so short a space, would be improper, let him consider the words of the Psalmist : “Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.” (Psalm cxvi. 4.) Here the former part of the verse describes the object, and the latter part the subject of the prayer :—the first shows to whom the petition is addressed, and the second points out what the petitioner prays for. Here, then, is a manifest proof that prayer is offered to Jesus Christ; and that in the most solemn circumstances in which it could be offered, viz. when a man was breathing his last. This is, properly speaking, one of the highest acts of worship which can be offered to God; and this act of worship was offered to Jesus by one who could not be mistaken at the time.

It has long been believed, that good men, when near death, have been often favoured with peculiar manifestations and discoveries of divine things. But if any advantage of this nature could be derived from a proximity to the land of spirits, STEPHEN must surely have possessed it; for he then stood upon the threshold of eternity, and there was but one step between him and the mansions of the blessed. He was also privileged with a peculiar discovery of the upper world, which, in a singular manner, was laid open to his view, while the light of heaven shone upon his soul. But, above all, he was full of the Holy Ghost. When it is said that a man is full of the Holy Ghost, it is evidently meant that he speaks as the Spirit of God directs and influences him. (Acts ii. 4; 2 Pet. i. 21.) Moreover, Jesus promised his disciples that when the Spirit of Truth was come, he should guide them into all truth. (John xvi. 13.) Now it is certain, that the Spirit of Truth was come to Stephen, and he was full of that Spirit when he died praying to Jesus Christ. Hence it follows, if the promise of Christ be true, that STEPHEN was guided into the truth, and was a true worshipper when he died. If he was a true worshipper, the object of his adoration must be the true God : but Jesus Christ was the object of his adoration ; therefore, Jesus Carist must be the true God.

Again, If Jesus Christ be not the true God, STEPHEN was an idolater, and died performing an act of false worship. If he died invoking one that was not God, and performing an act of false worship, he was never guided into the truth, although the Spirit of truth was come. If he was never guided into the truth, the promise of CHRisT could not have been true. As surely, therefore, as the promise of our Lord is true, so surely it is proper to pray to Jesus Christ.

(To be continued.)

MISCELLANEOUS COMMUNICATIONS.

THE WESLEYAN-METHODIST. (No. II.)

ON THE CHARACTER OF THE EARLY METHODISTS.

To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist predecessors, is not bere to be underMagazine.

stood as implying an imputation of The following thoughts were sug- their having, in any material point, gested by the retrospect taken in departed from ancient usages.

I the first Number of “ The Wesleyan- cannot but look upon it as equally a Methodist.In perusing that subject of wonder and of thankfulArticle, the Writer was deeply im- ness, that “ in spirit, in faith, in pressed with the importance of always purity," we have deviated so little bearing in mind how our venerable from what our fathers were. We fathers and predecessors lived, and owe it, under God, to the care laboured, and watched, for the pros- of our venerable Founder, that, perity of Zion. The object of this in our doctrines and discipline, it is Paper is, to recommend a constant next to impossible that we should attention to the patterns of unwearied be other than we are. Indeed, zeal, of self-denying exertion, and those doctrines have been so clearof prudent care, which they have ly explained, and so well defend left us. The study of the past, in ed, and that discipline has been order to make it the monitor of the so long and so thoroughly tried, that present, is always a profitable em- we may be warranted in asserting ployment. To us, especially, as a the impracticability of any material body of Christians, 'it is of the change, which would not, in all highest moment that we should recur probability, be for the worse. And to first principles ;-should recall to as we have hitherto avoided those mind what manner of persons those deviations, on points of fundamental were, whose labours God has so importance, so incident to detached signally crowned with his blessing ; bodies of Christians, the way to seand how those, who were called to cure this advantage is, still to exerthe knowledge of the truth by their cise that careful vigilance, to which ministry, lived, so as, by their lives, the constitution of our societies is so to afford a powerful auxiliary to a favourable. preached gospel.

I would, on the other hand, preI am aware that a review of the mise, that it is by no means my indistinguishing 'traits of excellence tention, in representing the citadel in the early Methodists, presents a as sacred, to discountenance any subject too extended to be treated in improvement in the outworks. “Noany other than the most cursory vator maximus tempos; quidni igitur manner, in a short essay like this. tempus imitemur ?" says the great But, as the few hints which this and wise Bacon, T'ime is the Paper may contain, owe their origin greatest innovator; why therefore to the view taken (in No. I.) of the should we not imitate time We Singing of the first Methodists, it is are bound, it is true, to use our utpossible that this Essay may, at most efforts, and exert our constant least, perform the humble office of

care, to preserve the sistem of suggesting, in its turn, to some of Methodism entire; and to hand down your abler correspondents, topics of the sacred deposit, impaired, to future and useful discussion.

posterity. But, in minor circum. I have to premise, in the first stances, we are not so absolutely place, that a call on the people de- fixed to our moorings, but that the nominated Methodists, to review the tide of improvement may bear us distinguishing excellencies of their forward. In fact, while the doctrines, and discipline, and spirit, of spect, they are worthy of our imitaMethodism, have remained the same, tion. We can assure ourselves, on it has wisely adapted itself, so far, the most certain grounds,-in oppoto what the exigencies of the times sition to the naked assertions, or labare seemed to require, as to have boured sophistry, of Mr. Southey,— recourse to certain modes of doing that no base principle of worldly'amgood, not practised by our fathers, bition was the ruling motive, from either because their efficiency was whence proceeded the astonishing not understood, or their aid not labours of the man, from whom the called for. Sunday-school instruc- Methodists took their rise. He tion has become very general among judged that a peculiar dispensation ns, and, properly guarded, will be of the gospel was committed to him, attended with immense benefit. Mis- and that the people who were turned, sionary societies are formed, and by his preaching, from flagrant vice, Missionary ineetings held, through or careless ungodliness, were inthe medium of which, even a higher tended, by the providence of God, end is answered than the direct and to revive the failing spirit of piety in important one of raising supplies the Church. That the Church refor the Missionary work; for a sacred ceived benefit from his exertions, zeal is promoted among Christians her friends allow. To thwart or at home; and the importance of harass that Church was no part of his their holy religion is presented to object. He continually impressed their minds, with a more vivid bright upon the minds of his flock, that ness. With these, and some other they were raised up for a higher similar circumstances, in our view, and nobler purpose. Those who now so far from looking upon them as un- revere the memory of one to whom justifiable departures from ancient they owe so much, will do well to Methodism, we rejoice to think, that keep in mind the object, which he they have been engrafted on the represented himself and his people stock, and, instead of impairing its to have in view. While the Metho. vigour, bave rather tended to in- dists of the present day take their crease its fruitfulness.

Quis no

stand here, they occupy an elevated rator tempus imitatur, quod nova- positinn. Far below them, the little tiones ita insinuat, ut sensus fal- struggles of party rise, and conflict, lunt?" asks the great philosopher and expire ; while the beams of alluded to above. We might answer, divine approbation may be expected that Methodism very vearly exer- constantly to rest on an object, so plifies bis idea of the only innova- pure, so noble, as that of serving tion, wbich is, at the same time, sate their country, by rendering it, in and effectual. It must be such, he reality, what it is in courtesy called, observes, as the time requires; and, -a christian country. after the example of those beneficial 2. The first Methodist Preachers changes, which time is continually used great plainness of speech. They producing, must be so insensibly in- endeavoured, when addressing the troduced, as that the change may mixed multitudes that flocked to hear be visible only in its effects.

them, to speak of the things of God But to return from this digression, in language easy to be understood. which was meant to have been only Had not this been the case, they an introductory observation, we may would never have ensured a continuobserve, that there were many pe- ance of crowded congregations; nor culiar excellencies in the early Ne- would they, however numerous their thodists, to which, as to a standard, auditories, have produced among it migbt not be amiss to bring our them any good effect. Their Founown conduct, for the sake of com- der himself set them the example of parison.

a most perspicuous and natural 1. Their very first principle was, method of preaching; and what he that they existed for the purpose of practised himself he recommended spreading true religion through the to others. “I think,” says he, land. This they bore in mind, -on that a preacher has lost his way, this they acted,-and, in this re- when he imitates any of the French VOL. I. Third Scrics. FEBRUARY, 1822.

o

orators. Only let bis language be mistaken his ground. It is not, as plain, proper, and clear, and it is he asserts, because the language of enough. If any man speak of the the addresses in the Methodist chathings of God, let bim speak as the pels is uvintelligible, that those oracles of Gop.” A departure from places of worship are well attended, the plainness and perspicuity, which but for the opposite reason, because formed the distinguishing character of their plainness, and suitableness to of the preaching anong the earlier the comprehension of the hearers. If Methodists, is carefully to be avoided. the Reviewer had just, for half an

A blundering Reviewer, in the bour, stepped into the Methodist Jast number of the Quarterly Re. Chapel nearest his residence, that he view, describes the Itinerant Metho- might have avoided the disgrace of dist Preacher as “ pouring out a writing on a subject of which he evideluge of sonorous words, that re- dently knows nothing, he would late to sacred subjects, and devout probably have thought, that sopofeelings, which, without any defi- rous and unintelligible words seldom nite meaning, produce in the hearer find their way into the pulpits of the a species of mental intoxication.” Methodists. The manner of speakThis is followed, he tells us, by a ing, to be sure, may appear too temporary moral improvement; but earnest to suit, exactly, the frigid then, the final effect is, (mirabile atmosphere in which a certain class dictu!) a permanent depravity of of reviewers may be supposed to character. Not to dwell on the dwell; but the matter of the address entire want of consistency in this is usually plain good sense, delicharge, (a matter which the writer vered in plain, straight-forward lanprobably thought of small importance guage. when speaking of the Methodists,) Stockport. --it is plain the Reviewer has quite (To be concluded in our next.)

[ocr errors]

W.

ILLUSTRATION OF MATT. vii. 1, 8. [For the following Article we are Ask, and it shall be given unto you ; indebted to a mostinteresting Volume, Seek, and ye shall find; entitled “ Sacred Literature ; com- Knock, and it shall be opened unto you: prising a Review of the Principles of Composition, laid down by the For every one who asketh, receiveth ; Jate ROBERT LowȚA, D. D., Lord And every one who seeketh, findeth ; Bishop of London, in his Præelec- And to every one who knocketh, it shall tions and Isaiah; and an application

be opened.

S. Matt, vü. 7, 8. of the Principles so reviewed to the Illustration of the New Testament, These triplets are closely connected, in a Series of Critical Observations not merely in their subject-matter, on the Style and Structure of that but by their form of construction ; Sacred Volume; By the Rev. JOHN the first, second, and third lines of JEBB, A.M., Rector of Abington, each, being respectively parallel to in the Diocese of Cashe). London: the first, second, and third lines of 8vo. 1820.”_With this elegant and the other: the parallelisms will be learned Work every critical student obvious, by reducing the passage to of the Holy Scriptures should make a stanza of six lines, thus : himself acquainted. It will reward bis perusal by a rich variety of in- Ask, and it shall be given unto you; struction and of pleasure. Editor.) For every one who asketh, receiveth:

Seek, and ye shall find;

For every one who seeketh, findeth :
Αιτειτι, και δοθησεται υμιν"

Knock, and it shall be opened unto you;
ζητειτι, και ευρησετε:

For, to every one who krocketh, it
κρουετε, και ανοιγησεται υμιν.

shall be opened.
axsnyag ó aitun, λαμβανε
και ο ζητων, ευρισκει

The existing order, however, is in
και τα κρουοντι, ανοιγήσεται, comparably preferable; both, as

« PreviousContinue »