Billeder på siden

meridian, decline, and end. At the time of the incarnation, or advent of the Lord, the Jewish doctors, lawyers, scribes, and people, had lost sight of the genuine and spiritual things of the Word and of heaven : their understandings were immersed in the mere temporalities, appearances, and literalities of the Scriptures. A Messiah they expected, but only as a temporal king; for of a spiritual king they had no conception, nor for one of this character had they any desire. Though the grossest superstition, and the greatest ignorance of divine truths prevailed; yet were they satisfied that theirs was the only true and acceptable wor. ship with God, theirs the genuine doctrine, and that in an external observance of the ceremonials and rituals of their perverted church consisted a life of the highest religion, piety, and virtue. The tything of mint and anise were weighty matters, but the execution of justice and judgment was lost among external commands and traditions. At that time the power of evil was becoming predominant, and prevailed over the power of good, to such a degree, that the infernal influence from the regions of darkness began to over-run the world with its direful consequences, and the knowledge and practice of divine truth were ready to perish by a deluge of falses from hell. To know that this was really the case we need but to look into the religious state of the world at that time. Even in the land of Canaan, view the lunatics, the possessed with demons, the legions of devils that had taken possession of mankind; and the evil and wicked state of that nation which was alone in possession of the Holy Word.

Review the state of religious truth among the rulers, priests, and people; and it will be discovered that they had lamentably lost sight of spiritual things: falsity had taken possession of their understandings, and depravity of their hearts. This is but a brief recital of the spiritual condition of that nation, which, as being still the acknowledged church, was as heart and langs to the whole religious world; but which world, alas ! was over-run by the grossest idolatry; hence spiritual death was at hand, and threatened the whole human race with its overwhelm. ing destruction. Prophets had been sent till they ceased to be effectual or useful: thus the kingdom of darkness with its malevolent hosts threatened finally to usurp authority and dominion.

At this critical and deplorable period, when the third general Dispensation had approached to its consummation, the Lord, by

the assumption of human nature, manifested himself in the flesh, as the only Redeemer and Saviour of his people. His Advent was hailed by rejoicing angels; and though the nature of his incarnation was but little understood, yet it was the introduction of the Christian Dispensation, the era of the reduction and subjection of Satan's kingdom, the redemption of mankind, and the establishment of a fourth sacred Dispensation, not designed to be restricted to the Jews, but to be established among the nations. At this time was “ The day of the Lord of Hosts, a day of vengeance, that he (might) avenge him of his adversaries." (Jer. xlvi. 10.) For by the adversaries here mentioned are denoted the powers of hell and death, which he came to subdue and to conquer. Also, speaking of this time, it is said ; “For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.” Isaiah xxxiv. 8. The Lord assumed Humanity in order that he might let himself into a capacity to admit all the virulence of hell to assault him with temptations: for except the powers of the infernal kingdom were admitted to somewhat that they could attach themselves to, and consequently tempt, and so fight against, they could never have been reduced to subjection and obedience. In order that this might be effected, human nature was assumed, being at once both a medium for their subjugation, and for the redemption of mankind. This medium it is which is called the Mediator, being that by which the Almighty and everliving Essence, called JehOVAH, could become more manifest and accessible to his creatures, and could reconcile them to himself, as their divine FATHER in the heavens, as their only REDEEMER, and their holy and everlasting SAVIOUR.



6. SAINT.”

To the Editors of the Intellectual Repository. GENTLEMEN, It is a remarkable feature in the theology of the present day, that words have, in many cases, lost their proper and legitimate meaning, in consequence of the perverse notions connected with

them. The words atonement, elect, regeneration, ransom, charity, faith, reason, &c. are used by tbeologians in a sense evidently different from the original sense of the expressions; and often at variance with the clearest dictates of common sense. To these instances, I add the word “ Saint." This appellation has been so often assumed by persons claiming to be considered as holier than their fellows,-the elect favourites of heaven; and the assumption has been so often combined with unholy pride and selfishness; that the irreligious, and even some religious people, have cast a slur upon the expression itself, and have converted it into a sort of reproach; and it has become a synonymous expression with hypocrite. From an inability to distinguish between personal holiness proudly asserted, and personal holiness humbly acknowledged to be entirely derived from the divine mercy; also from a fear of applying the term to themselves, (arising from a deep consciousness of there own inherent unholiness,) lest they should appear arrogant in the sight of God, as well as in the eyes of their fellow-creatures, those who are really entitled to the appellation of “ Saints,” have been inclined to lay the expression aside, and even to regard it with dislike. The expression is however a scriptural one, and therefore ought to be restored to its primitive and pure acceptation; and this is the more necessary, because it never has been discarded from Hymns, being a word wbich is often found peculiarly and exclusively convenient in sacred poetry; and therefore, as it remains in use in some measure, it ought to be properly appreciated, and rightly understood, particularly by the inhabitants of the “Holy City, New Jerusalem.

The term holyis predicated of divine truth; hence the church is called a sanctuary; for the Latin word for holy is sanctus, from which sanctuary is derived. In the French language the word for holy is saint; they have no other expression for the idea; and from them we have taken it; though, as we have the word holy besides, we do not always remember that saint means no more. Now who are the inhabitants of this sanctuarythe church ? Certainly, the “ saints:” thus if a man is a sincere member of the church he is a saint in the eyes of the Lord; and as no professing member of the church would hesitate to demand that he may be numbered with sincere professors, there is no reason why he should be less willing to number himself with the saints.". Șincere members of the church are all those who receive the holy.

[ocr errors]

principle of divine truth from the Lord through His Word, and who appropriate it in their hearts and mind, by living according to it. Every man who feels that he really does not supremely love what is evil, and earnestly desires and strives to keep God's koly commandments, is a saint. All such will hereafter become angels; but while on earth they are properly called saints, and thus are distinguished from wilful sinners, and impious neglecters of the divine laws. Every saint is inwardly an angel, and every one who is not a saint is inwardly a devil. All men belong to one or other of these two classes. The term “ Christian" is a mere external distinction of creed; thus a man may be a good or a bad Christian; but all saints are good men, and all good men are saints.

Every one then, when engaged in worship, may with propriety apply this term to himself, whenever it may occur, if he believes himself to be a worshipper“ in spirit and in truth.” There will be nothing like arrogance in this application, because he will feel and confess, thạt, so far as the holy principle of truth is established in his mind, to the Lord, its Divine Source, alone belongs: all the merit, and all the praise.



[Concluded from p. 499.]

We have all along been sensible, that in undertaking to shew that there are some occasional variations in the different copies of the Sacred Scriptures which have providentially been handed, down to us, and that the reading contained in the common text is. not always the true one, we were engaging in a task with which some might be displeased. If such then has been, in any case, the result of our labours, we are not surprised; and we too much respect the principle from which such a result proceeds,-the desire to be able to believe that every copy of the Scriptures, or, at least, the còpies generally referred to as standards, are in all respects immaculate,—to be offended in return with any one who may be offended with us for taking from him this flattering persuasion. We have no reason, however, to conclude, that they who may be

dissatisfied with us on this score are numerous: on the contrary, we know that many have expressed the highest satisfaction at the solidity with which, as they kindly think, we have been enabled to establish all the points of our argument. Not that there are any who would not be better pleased to see it proved to be true, were that possible, that no variations whatever exist in the readings of the sacred volume, or at least that the readings of the received text are in all cases correct: and none would be better pleased at being enabled to come to such a conclusion than ourselves; for, as we have already repeatedly stated, our present convictions have been forced upon us, by irresistible evidence, against our first-imbibed notions, and most certainly against our wishes But are we to be offended with the truth, because it does not always flatter our inclinations ? Are we to make our wishes the rule of our belief, and to shut our eyes against every thing that these oppose ? Are we to say to those who would bring important things to our knowledge which differ from our prepossessions, “ Prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits ?» If a man were to be told that the house he lived in was in danger of falling, would be do well to slight the information because it was unpleasant? Shonld he sacceed in persuading himself, against all evidence, that his house was perfectly secure, would this make it so? Assuredly, in every case whatsoever, “ truth is preferable to any other consideration;" and no rational man would wish to remain under a delusion, because to his prejudices it is sweet.

It is true that, if the belief that the common copies of the Word are free from all defects, be delusive, it is not a delusion which can do any serious injury to the individual who may entertain it; because, as we have insisted all along, the sacred text does exist in the common copies in a very great degree of purity, and they contain no blemishes that can be injurious to the best interests of any one: but with respect to the church at large, to make the notion that the Word does exist in all its integrity in individual copies, a sort of dogma of faith, cannot but be pernicious; as it must draw an impassable barrier against many who might be disposed to enter her walls from without; since there is no subject whatever on which all in the Christian world are now more fully agreed, than on the certainty, that no single immaculate copy of the Scriptures is in existence. They who have looked into the subject know that this fact is as certain as any thing that can be brought be

« ForrigeFortsæt »