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ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS. A. B.; A. Z.; J. E.; Lector Constans; N. S.; S. A. W.; Crito; J. S. ;
F. S.; D. E. ; T. K.; Presbyter; J. K.; J. H. S.; are under consi
deration. In reply to the remarks of a correspondent in our last Number, upon the employ
ment of Romanist teachers by the Hibernian School Society, we are informed that it has been the practice of the committee to leave the appointment of teachers to the local patrons of schools, only reserving to themselves a veto upon unfit appointments;—that the number of Romanist teachers is now about sixty, who have been appointed by Protestant patrons of scriptural education; and that the Society bas taken pains to ascertain, before granting aid, that the reasons for appointing a Roman Catholic rendered it absolutely necessary; that full forty of the number were recommended by clergymen; and that by a recent regulation the sanction of the clergyman of the parish will be invariably required; and that thus the appointment of Romanists will doubtless be con. fined, as in practice it has hitherto been, to those cases in which the committee consider the choice to be between the teaching the Bible by a Roman Catholic teacher, and not teaching it at all. We have no wish to enter into any controversy upon the subject; but we think it is the duty of the Society to require that all its teachers shall be Protestants. Those Romanists who for a morsel of bread contravene the rules of their own church by becoming scriptural teachers, are not men in whom we should place much confidence; even if we
did not object to the appointment upon principle. F. C. B. will find in our volumes for 1831, page 315, and 1834, page 17, a full
exposure of that stupid and impudent forgery called “ The Book of Jasher." The man who went about hawking it was a notorious swindler. We have referred the inquiry of " A Christian Observer” respecting J. M. H.'s
meaning, in his remarks upon “ the worm that dieth not, and the fire that shall not be quenched,” to the writer, whose explanation shall appear; though he considers it superfluous. He says that R. G. last month “ fully caught his meaning and bis motive.” There is nothing discrepant between the statement of Diotis, that “the advo.
cates of the church of Rome have claimed the Oxford Tract writers as the allies of Popery,” and their own declaration that “they emphatically repudiate the errors of that church.” listos did not say or insinuate, as Catholicus complains, that their repudiation “is only a trick to smooth the way for their wider spread.” They repudiate what they consider Romanism; but then they defend much which consistent Protestants consider Romanism, or tending thither wards ; and Romanists rejoice in their advocacy; and fairly tell them they must either go_further, or they should not have gone so far. Catholicus says truly, that Dr. Wiseman affirmed that “the ground occupied by the Oxford Tract divines is utterly untenable ; but he only meant that ihey bad taken up a balf-way position, which is not safe either in front or rear; and right glad is he to discover them in this perilous position. Mr. Spenser found
the post untenable, and went over to Popery. A PEACE - MAKER is over-sanguine in supposing that “there is common
ground for the litigants upon tradition to stand, by making it a subordinate, though not co-ordinate, rule of faith with recorded revelation.” Protestants do not consider it a rule of faith in any sense wbatever; and the inspired writings forbid, under awful curses, the addition of anything to their contents; whereas the sticklers for the authority of tradition make it a divine though unwritten revelation. Thus one of our Oxford Tract antagonists was much displeased at us for saying that they bow to the authority of “human tradi. tions," whereas the very point, he said, of the argument was, that “the Church's traditions” are not human, but are unwritten revelations, as Mr. Keble, Mr. Newman, and others have expressly affirmed. Holy Writ is described in its own pages as a Testament ;—the New Testament was ratified by the blood of the Testator, and we justly repugn the validity of the all pretended codicils, forged in after ages. Luther, in his homely but expressive style, compared appealing to tradition to ascertain the will of God, to straining milk through a coal-sack ; and the Church of England is not more complimentary, when it says, in the very first page of its Homilies, so as to catch the attention upon its very frontispiece, ** Let us diligently search for the well of life in the books of the New and old Testament; and not run to the stinking puddles of men's traditions, devised by men's imagination, for our justification and salvation."
For the Christian Observer. IN considering such gracious appeals and invitations of the Gospel
as that which formed the subject of my paper on Reconciliation, (Christian Observer, August, p. 449), “ Be ye reconciled to God," a train of perplexing thought will sometimes present itself to the reflecting mind. The embassy of reconciliation, it will say, is indeed most gracious; but yet it is most fearfully alarming. It permits indeed—nay, beseeches us—to be reconciled to God; but, in the very appeal, intimates that we are now aliens from our Heavenly Father and our paternal home: outcast prodigals, cut off from the Fountain of our being and happiness; and at enmity with the Omnipotent God; upon whom we are wholly dependent for life, and breath, and all things. Now, why is this? You will at once reply, Because man has sinned; and thus apostatized from his created nature, and from God,—from holiness and happiness. But why, it may still be asked, did the Omnipotent arm loose that firm hold upon the nature of man which creative power had given to it? Why suffer man to stray from the path of duty ; then re-open the avenue of happiness, which sin had closed, and which the Divine justice, holiness, and truth, had securely barred against him, by the stupendous achievement of redemption; and appealing to his will, and his affections, beseech him to return and be reconciled? Why, in a word, if ever to be restored, did man ever fall? To these questions the records of the Divine mind furnish no direct and explicit reply : but there are mysterious hints scattered throughout Scripture, which seem to speak of an increase of blessedness to regenerate above unfallen man : which tell that “not as the offence so also is the free gift :" but that if “ sin hath abounded, grace doth much more abound.” And the nature of man—such at least as it now is-suggests to us, that the memory of sorrow gone by, or the contrast of sorrow avoided, is a necessary ingredient in the brimming cup of exquisite and intense felicity. But we stand here on holy ground, and must move with reserve and circumspection --with reverence and godly fear. “ Put off thy shoes from off thy feet,” if thou wouldest “ turn Christ. OBSERV. No. 34.
aside and see this great sight, why the bush burns with fire, yet is not consumed :”– if thou wouldest see the higher mysteries of redeeming love. In such a spirit let us take a brief review of the moral history of man, in connexion with those profound sentiments of his nature which daily experience developes, and which sound Christian philosophy analyses and explains.
When man proceeded from the Creative Hand, and God pronounced him to be very good, his soul, formed in the Divine Image, was pure, and spiritual, and immortal. But, without a knowledge of sin there could be no holiness. Without a probation, past or present, there could be no virtue. Without a capability and sense of suffer. ing there could be no exquisite and intense felicity. Without man's fall, and the experience of misery, and of compassion, which was consequent upon it, there could have been no adequate ground of appeal to those deep affections of the heart towards God, which mercy to the guilty, and compassion to the wretched, and tender sypathetic feeling, elicit.
It seems, alas ! to be in human nature to know and estimate blessings but by their contrast, or their loss. It is the wearisome bed of pain and sickness : it is the gloomy cell of imprisonment : it is the cheerless hovel of poverty, which stamp their full value on health, on liberty, on competence. The humiliation of Deity: the mysterious and voluntary sufferings of redeeming love, -fully developing, as they did, the nature and character of God, -alone could sweep the deep chords of tender and sympathetic feeling in the bosom of man; and touch those secret springs, which developed, and brought into full exercise, his latent capabilities of holiness and happiness. The unmingled sweets, which the cup of primeval happiness, in paradise, held continually to his lips, palled upon the appetite of man. Temptation passed over the inexperienced simplicity and tame apathy of his soul, like the flvating cloud which paints its beauties, unfelt and unperceived, upon the placid, cold, unruffled bosom of ocean. Like the storm which sweeps over the unagitated mirror of the icebound lake, temptation found in his heart no active resistance, and left there no impression. In a word, the bounties of creation and providence could not elevate unfallen,could not regenerate fallen man--God tried redeeming love.
The command of God; “ Thou shalt not eat thereof," in a certain sense, created a sin :--for “where no law is, there is no transgression.” The threatening of God taught the heinousness of sin, for “ by the law is the knowledge of sin.” And the immediate fulfilment of that threatening, “ In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," gave experimental knowledge of the misery of sin, by depriving man of that sensible communion, and happy intercourse, which, in his unfallen state, he maintained with God. Man, thus dead to God, was now reduced to a level with the beasts that perish. His carnal appetites, stimulated by indulgence, and no longer restrained by a sense of the Divine Presence, ran to every excess of riot, and embruted his soul. His lower nature predominated; quenched the last glimmerings of the spiritual light within him; and man became flesh. Sins multiplied, necessarily multiplied, restraining laws; until, at length, the revelation of God's will concerning man was but a statute book of prohibitory commands and penal sanctions; and like the statute book of the kingdoms of this world, a transcript of the mind and character, not of God, but of Satan : a calendar of the tempers and practices of hell.
We should ever remember that law was not arbitrary but necessary : that it was generated by the holy nature of God upon the fallen and corrupt nature of man : that it was but the recorded judg. ment of God,—the active opposition of His nature against each sin, as it successively arose into existence from the fountain of man's polluted soul, and was numbered among the doings of man. Law, then, evidently could not justify. It was but the creature—the satellite of justice ; and its sole office was to condemn. It was the ministration of condemnation and death: and just in proportion as this office is not required of it, it dwindles into diminutiveness ; and is superseded by that spiritual dispensation which puts the law into the mind, and writes it upon the heart, and thus renders God's service perfect freedom. The law was not, originally, made for a righteous man, but for the ungodly and for sinners. And the Chris. tian, in the same degree in which he presses on unto perfection, is freed from the law—that being dead wherein he was held—that corrupt nature, which gave birth and power to law, being crucified with Christ. Law could not sunctify in that it was weak through the flesh. It could secure no ally, in its conflict with a stubborn will and depraved affection, but the cold judgment of impotent reason, and reason was dethroned and degraded. It attempted to enslave the freeborn soul; and the nature of man, corrupt indeed, perverted, and abused, yet rising in the greatness of its original liberty and strength, spurned its restraints, burst its bonds asunder, and cast away its cords from it.
Still more, Law, though "holy, and just, and good," and though essentially necessary, as a standing testimony to the holiness of God, whatever might be its effect upon man (let God be true and every man a liar)-yet law buth multiplied and enhanced sin : where the law entered, the offence abounded. It multiplied sin ; because its very prohibitions of sin presented visions to the imagination which awaked the slumbering corruptions of a depraved heart: set on fire the whole course of nature: and chafed, and stimulated, and nourished lust. Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in it all manner of concupiscence; for without the law sin was dead. To man, alive without the law, the commandment came, and sin revived. Besides thus multiplying, it also enhanced sin, by superadding to the pollution of a corrupt practice the heinous criminality of a known opposition to the will of God--that is, of a Being to whom man was bound by every obligation of duty and gratitude which the manifold gifts of creation and providence could entwine around him. Thus " by the law was the knowledge of sin ”—of sin as “ the transgression of the law :"-not so much of sin in its essential pollution, as in its opposition to God; for in this latter respect “where no law is, there is no transgression.” In both these senses then might man say, “ I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust,”—I had not known it by experience in the same degree,-I had not at all known it to be sin, “ except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet."
If, then, the law was thus wholly inadequate to justify, to sanctify, and to save, to what purpose, it will be asked, serveth the law? and what means have been provided for effecting these all-important
objects ? To the latter question the Apostle replies, “ God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," that is sanctifying it :“ not imputing unto men their trespasses,” that is justifying them, To the former, “ the law was added because of transgression"—to curb the irregularities of a depraved nature : to convince the world of sin : to condemn; and shut men up unto the faith : and, thus, to act as a schoolmaster, to bring them unto Christ.
But here again, it may be asked, were none then justified and sanctified, before “ God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them?" was the blessing, as well as the ministry of reconciliation, confined exclusively to the Gospel ? or, if this be answered by saying that, under every dispensation, God had a peculiar people, justified by the “ Lamb slaiu from the foundation of the world ;” and sanctified by the influences, though uncovenanted, of the Holy Spirit,—that Spirit which, free and unconstrained as the wind that bloweth where it listeth, breathed alike upon an Enoch and an Abraham, a Job and a Moses, an Isaiah and a Paul,—then it may be asked, in what, practically, lies the difference between the law and the Gospel ? or, to reduce the question within narrower bounds, What is the peculiar and distinctive character of the animating motive and energy which the Gospel supplies ?
Assuredly, there can be no object of inquiry more important and interesting to an awakened mind than that which this question involves : namely, what the principle is which should actuate our obedience to the Divine laws; and thus sanctify and render acceptable our services. Is obedience to be the result of a principle of slavish fear, which arrays that God who is love in all the terrors of a cruel and arbitrary tyrant ; casts a shuddering glance into the prisonhouse of his vengeance, and upon his ministers of torture; and then obeys and trembles ? or is obedience to be the self-justifying purchase of Pharisaic pride, which, ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish its own righteousness, will not submit itself to the righteousness of God? or is obedience to be, as the law appears to intimate, the extorted debt, or, at best, the ripe fruit of gratitude ? or, as the gospel appears more plainly to assert, the freewill offering of complacential, assimilating, holy love?
That the Gospel considers love to be the soul of all spiritual obedience : that the operative principle of the Gospel, faith, worketh by love: that our Lord himself appeals to and recognises love as the alone principle of an acceptable service—" if ye love me keep my commandments,”—all this it must be unnecessary at any length to prove. But even the law, whose acknowledged and avowed principle is, “Do this and thou shalt live "-even the law comprehends purity of motive, as well as purity of act, in the definition of its selfjustifying obedience,—“ Thou shalt not covet." And hence it is that the law becomes impracticable by fallen and unrenewed man. Even in the ten commandments, that summary of the eternal and unchangeable law of moral righteousness, which issued, with the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, from amid the blackness, and darkness, and tempest of Sinai, we find proof of this. Even there the Majesty of heaven, while He grounds his authority upon his Divine character, enforces his claim to the obedience of his people, not upon their fears, but upon their gratitude. He prefaces his solemn