« ForrigeFortsæt »
ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of their God; they ask of me the ordinan, ces of justice, and take delight in approaching to God.'Isa. Iviii. 2. Can any thing be stronger than this ? And yet, at that time they were most dreadfully carnal, and sold under sin, as the rest of the chapter proves. It is a most notorious fact, that how little soever the life of a Jew was conformed to the law of his God, he notwithstanding possessed the highest esteem for it, and gloried in it; and the Apostle says nothing stronger of them in this chapter, than their conduct and profession verify to the present day. They are still delighting in the law of God, after the inward man, with their mind serving the law of God; asking for the ordinances of jus. tice, seeking God daily, and taking delight in approaching to God: They even glory, and greatly exult and glory, in the divine original and excellency of their law; and all this while they are most abominably carnal, sold unto sin, and brought into the most degrading captivity, to the law of sin and death. If then, all that the Apostle states of the person in question be true of the Jews, through the whole period of their history, even to the present time :-If they do in all their professions, and their religious services, which they zealously maintain, confess, and conscientiously too, that the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good; and yet, with their flesh, serve the law of sin; the same certainly may be said with equal propriety of a Jewish penitent, deeply convinced of his lost estate, and the total insufficiency of his legal observances to deliver him from his body of sin and death. And consequently, all this may be said of Paul the Jew, while going about to establish his own righteousness, his own plan of justification; he had not as yet submitted to the righteousness of God, the divine plan of redemption by Jesus Christ.
4. ”It must be allowed, that whatever was the experience of so eminent a man, Christian, and Apostle, as St. Paul, it must be a very proper standard of Christianity, And if we are to take what is here said, as his experience as a Christian, it would be presumption in us to expect to go higher; for, he certainly had pushed the principles of his religion to their utmost consequences. But his whole life, and the account which he immediately gives of himself in the succeeding chapter prove, that he, as a Christian and an Apostle, had a widely different experience ; an experience which amply justifies that superiority, which he attributes to the Christian religion over the Jewish; and demonstrates that it not only is well calculated to perfect all preceding dispensations, but that it affords salvation to the uttermost, to all those who flee for refuge to the hope that it sets before them. Besides, there is nothing spoken here of the state of a conscientious Jew, or of St. Paul in his Jewish state, that is not true of every genuine penitent; even before, and it may be, long before, he has believed in Christ, to the saving of his soul. The assertion, that “every Christian, however advanced in the divine life, will and must feel all this inward conflict,” &c. is as untrue as it is dangerous. That many called Christians, and probably sincere, do feel all this, may be readily granted; and such we must consider to be in the same state as Saul of Tarsus, previously to his conversion ; but that they must continue thus, is no where intimated in the gospel of Christ. We must take heed how we make our experience, which is the result of our unbelief and unfaithful, ness, the standard of the people of God; and lower down christianity to our most reprehensible and dwarfish state: at the same time we should not be discouraged at what we thus feel, but apply to God, through Christ, as Paul did; and then we shall soon be able, with him, to declare to the eternal glory of God's grace, that the law of the spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death. This is the inheritance of God's children; and their salvation is of me saith the Lord Reader, do not plead for Baal ;-try, fully try, the efficacy of the blood of the covenant; and be not content with less salvation than God has provided for thee. Thou art not straightened in God, be not straightened in thy own bowels.”
With this sentiment agree Macknight, Benson, and other learneď divines. But let us return to Mr. H's description of the regenerate man. His argument drawn from the imperfections of the disciples of Christ, only proves that my asser: tion is just—that he sets up the defective experience of Chris. tians as a standard of gospel holiness.
He next attempts to prove that the genuine Christian "is really sinful and really holy” at the same time, from the words of Job. If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: If I say I am perfect, it shall prove me perverse." p. 117. To show the fallacy of the conclusion which Mr. H. draws from this passage, we only need to ask, which was the most likely to give the true character of Job; he, while borne down under affliction, and a sense of his unwor• thiness, or the great Jehovah, whose word is verity and truth; and who is not exposed in the least to undervalue any of the works of his hands? It is certain that God declared Job to be “a perfect man.” Job i. 8: and as he had testimony to the fact from the searcher of hearts, it was both un. necessary and improper for him to bear the same testimony to himself. We shall not then hesitate to believe, that God told the truth, when he said Job was perfect, notwithstanding Job through modesty refused to say it to himself. And if he afterwards so far went astray as to speak unadvisedly with his lips, this is no argument that he was not perfect a
the time when Jehovah declared he was. No argument then from the case of Job, to prove that the regenerate man is really sinful and really holy."
Another effort of our author to establish his assertion, is the following :-"Christians in the Scriptures are sometimes called perfect, when nothing more is to be understood by it, than that their characters, so far as they are seen by men, are regular and upright." p. 118; and then to prove his as sertion quotes James iii. 2.-"For in many things we offend all.If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” The ground of our author's mistake in the application of this text, arisés from supposing, that the persons who offend all, are the same who are perfect, and able to bridle the whole body.But if we consult the first verse, we shall find, that the persons who offend all, are those ambitious spirits who desire to be many masters; and who shall receive the greater condemnalion; whereas, the one described as being perfect, not only does not offend in word, but is able also to bridle or govern the whole man! I conclude therefore, that the character here denominated perfect, does not merely appear (regular and upright in the sight of men,” but is really perfect in word, and has the government of all the passions, appetites and desires ;-yea, is able to bridle the whole body.
Again, Mr. H. supposes with the most of Christians, that regeneration is invariably preceded by conviction, in a greater or less degree. And yet he asserts that the conversion of Paul was so sudden, that “ It is as difficult to see how his could be preceded by conviction, or a work of the law, as any that can be named.” p. 120 and 121. But surely one would think that three days (Acts ix. 9.) were sufficient for the conviction of a sinner, even as great as Saul of Tarsus ! That he did not experience a change of heart or regeneration till after three days, is evident-1. From the address of Ananias to him," And now, why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts xxii. 16.–2. The scales, which are em blems of our spiritual blindness, did not fall from his eyes, until three days after his conviction. Indeed I have read of many far more sudden conversions than that of Saul of Tar. sus. His conviction was no doubt sudden and powerful. But what is surprising in the statements of Mr. H, is, that, on p. 117, he adduces the seventh of Romans as descriptive of the 6 warfare” of the regenerate man; and on p. 121, adduces the same chapter, (verse 9) as descriptive of that conviction which precedes regeneration! Of course he must here acknowledge, either that he has contradicted his own sentiment, and that of his order in general, in relation to the seventh of Romans, or that some parts at least, of that chapter, describes the state of a soul under conviction.
We believe however, that the whole of it is designed to exhibit the state of a soul under the exercise of conviction; and that the eighth is designed to exhibit the state of the regenerate
The next thing which we have occasion to remark upon, is found under the question whether the subject of regeneration is sensible of the time when it is effected." To this question he gives the following answer :-“There are doubtsess some cases in which the impressions are so powerful as to authorize a probable conjecture in regard to the particular time, &c.
The utmost satisfaction then, which we can have as to the time of our espousals to Christ, according to Mr. H., is a % probable conjecture !" What wonder, if the watchmen talk in this way, that the inhabitants of the city should be al. ways doubting and fearing; and never able to say any thing