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But, Mr. Editor, I have trespassed too far on your pages, and on the attention of your readers; and I would conclude these hasty hints by earnestly putting up the petition of the 67th psalm, "God be merciful unto us and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.
I am, &c.,
DR. CHALMERS ON PREDESTINATION.
THE following passages are from a Sermon of Dr. Chalmers, on the declaration in Acts xviii. 31, 'Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved.' We recommend them to the attention of our readers.
"You have all heard of the doctrine of predestination. It has long been a settled article of our church. And there must be a sad deal of evasion and of unfair handling with particular passages, to get free of the evidence which we find for it in the Bible. And independently of Scripture altogether, the denial of this doctrine brings a number of monstrous conceptions along with it. It supposes God to make a world, and not to reserve in his own hand the management of its concerns. Or though it should concede to him an absolute sovereignty over all matter, it deposes him from his sovereignty over the region of created minds, that far more dignified and interesting portion of his works. The greatest events of the history of the universe, are those which are brought about by the agency of willing and intelligent beings; and the enemies of the doctrine invest every one of these beings with some sovereign and independent principle of freedom, in virtue of which it may be asserted of this whole class of events, that they happened, not because they were ordained of God, but because the creatures of God, by their own uncontrolled power, brought them into existence. At this rate, even he to whom we give the attribute of omniscience, is not able to say at this moment what shall be the fortune or the fate of any individual-and the whole train of future history is left to the wildness of accident. All this carries along with it so complete a dethronement of God-it is bringing his creation under the dominion of so many nameless and undeterminable contingencies-it is taking the world and the current of its history so entirely out of the hands of him who formed it-it is withal so opposite to what obtains in every other field of observation, where, instead of the lawlessnes of chance, we shall find that the more we attend, the more we perceive of a certain necessary and established order-that from these and other considerations which might be stated, the doctrine in question, in addition to the testimonies which we find for it in the Bible, is at this moment receiving a very general support from the speculations of infidel as well as Christian philosophers.
"We are ready enough to concede to the Supreme Being the administration of the material world, and to put into his hand all the force of its mighty elements. But let us carry the commanding influence of Deity into the higher world of moral and intelligent beings. Let us pot erect
the will of the creature into an independant principle. Let us not conceive that the agency of man can bring about one single iota of deviation from the plans and the purposes of God; or that he can be thwarted and compelled to vary in a single case by the movement of any of those subordinate beings whom he himself has created. There may be a diversity of operations, but it is God who worketh all in all.
"The will of man, active, and spontaneous, and fluctuating as it appears to be, is an instrument in his hand—and he turns it at his pleasure and he brings other instruments to act upon it-and he plies it with all its excitements--and he measures,the force and proportion of each of themand every step of every individual receives as determinate a character from the hand of God, as every mile of a planet's orbit, or every gust of wind, or every wave of the sea, or every particle of flying dust, or every rivulet of flowing water. This power of God knows no exceptions. It is absolute and unlimited; and while it embraces the vast, it carries its resistless influence to all the minute and unnoticed diversities of existence. It wields an entire ascendency over every attribute of the mind; and the will, and the fancy, and the understanding, with all the countless variety of their hidden and fugitive operations, are submitted to it. It gives movement and direction through every one point in the line of our pilgrimage. At no one moment of time does it abandon us. It follows us to the hour of death, and it carries us to our place and our everlasting destiny in the region beyond it. It is true, that no one gets to heaven, but he, who by holiness, is meet for it. But the same power which carries us there, works in us the meetness. And if we are conformed to the image of the Saviour, it is by the energy of the same predestinating God whose good pleasure it is to give unto us the kingdom prepared for us before the foundation of the world.
"Thus it is that some are elected to everlasting life. This is an obvious doctrine of Scripture. The Bible brings it forward, and it is not for us, the interpreters of the Bible, to keep it back from you. God could, if it pleased him, read out, at this moment, the names of those in this congregation, who are ordained to eternal life, and are written in his book.
"But the same God who ordains the end, ordains also the means which go before it. Now the ordination of the end, God has not been pleased to reveal to us. He has not told us who among you are to be saved, as he told Paul of the deliverance of his ship's company. This is one of the secret things which belong to him, and we dare not meddle with it. But he has told us about the ordained means, and we know, through the medium of the Bible, that unless you do such and such things you shall not be saved. This is one of the revealed things which belong to us, and with as great truth and practical urgency as Paul made use of, when he said to the centurion and soldiers, that unless these men abide in the ship ye shall not be saved, do we say to one and to all of you, unless ye repent ye shall not be saved-unless ye do works meet for repentance, ye shall not be saved-unless ye believe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, ye shall not be saved-unless the deeds done in your body be good deeds, and ye bring forth those fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God, ye shall not be saved.
"Mark the difference between the situation of Paul urging upon the people of the ship the immediate adoption of the only way by which their lives could be saved, and the situation of an ordinary minister urging it upon the people of his church, to take to that way of faith and repents
ance, by which alone they can save their souls from the wrath that is now abiding on them. Paul did know that the people were certainly to escape with their lives, but that did not prevent him from pressing upon them the measures which they ought to adopt for their preservation. Even, then, though a minister did know those of his people whose names are written in the book of life, that ought not to hinder him from pressing it upon them, to lay hold of eternal life-to lay up their treasure in heavento labor for the meat that endureth-to follow after that holiness without which no man can see the Lord.
"But we are not in possession of this secret-and how much more then does it lie upon us to ply with earnestness the fears and consciences of our hearers, by those revealed things which God hath been pleased to make known to us? What! if Paul, though assured by an angel from heaven of the final deliverance of this ship's company, still persists in telling them, that if they leave certain things undone, their deliverance will be impossible-shall we, utterly in the dark about the final state of a single hearer we are addressing, let down for a single instant the practical urgency of the New Testament? The predestination of God respecting the final escape of Paul and his fellow-travellers from shipwreck, though made known to the Apostle, did not betray him into the indolence which is ascribed, and falsely ascribed, to the belief of this doctrine; nor did it restrain him from spiriting on the people to the most strenuous and fatiguing exertions. And shall we, who only know in general that God does predestinate, but cannot carry it home with assurance to a single individual, convert this doctrine into a plea of indolence and security?"
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
"Do this in remembrance of me."-LUKE xxii. 19.
THIS subject may be comprehended under the seven following particulars: the author of the institution, its nature, the reasons tor observing it, the character of worthy communicants, the duties of intending communicants, the duty required at the communion table, and the duty of those who have communicated. We shall notice these in the order in which they are here expressed.
I. The Author of the Lord's Supper. This is Jesus Christ. He has power to appoint religious ordinances. This belongs to him as God; but it has been especially delegated to him as Mediator, and as the King and Head of the church. This authority is not lodged in any other hands. Whatever person or church appoints a religious ordinance trenches on the authority and prerogative of Jesus Christ. And this prerogative the Presbyterian Church has, at all times, vigorously defended,
holding the obligation of the church to observe every ordinance which Christ has appointed, and not to observe any which he has not expressly commanded.
It is in the written word we are to learn what the ordinances are, which Christ has appointed. With respect to the Lord's Supper, in particular, we have the most clear and explicit authority of his word. A full account of it will be found in the following passages:-Mat. xxvi. 26-29; Mark xiv. 22-25; Luke xxii. 17-20; 1 Cor. xi. 23— 33. It deserves to be remarked on these passages, that not merely do they furnish us with authority for eating the Lord's Supper, but they lay a weighty obligation on men to observe it, inasmuch as the frequency and fulness with which the subject is treated, are evidence of the great importance attached to it by the author of the Scriptures. In the last passage, the account of the institution is the most full and satisfactory, arising out of the circumstances that it was given many years after the others, and that it was intended to correct some abuses that had crept into the manner of observing it. In it, we have two things that are not referred to in the other passages, the frequency with which the ordinance should be observed, and the time that it is to continue to be observed. Upon the subject of frequency, no explicit law is laid down. The phrase, as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come," implies that it should be frequent-as frequent as we can, with any measure of convenience, observe it. But if any person or church shall insist on its being observed at any appointed times, and censure those who neglect to obey, this is to trench on the authority of Christ. With respect to the time that it is to continue to be observed, it is "till Christ come." He will come at the last day to judge the world, and till that time the church is to continue in the observance of the Lord's Supper.
These few remarks are enough to explain what we require to know of the author of the ordinance. We are sure that, in obeying it, we do not follow our own device, but obey the command of Him who has all power given to him, in heaven and in earth. We may therefore confidently look for his blessing on the observance of it.
II. The nature of the Lord's Supper. Nothing can be imagined more simple than it is; yet there has ever prevailed a disposition to make it difficult and mysterious. It is earnestly recommended, to all who desire to understand it, to
bring together the four passages of scripture, in which it is fully expressed, and diligently study them. It is true there are many excellent treatises upon this subject-yet, it is obvious, they all make it more difficult than it is in the Scriptures. Let these, therefore, be carefully weighed until their views are fully comprehended, and this will prevent the many errors which may otherwise be embraced.
A general idea of the nature of the ordinance may be gathered from the definition of a sacrament in the Shorter Catechism. It is "an holy ordinance, instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the New Covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers." Christ, and the blessings purchased by him, form the subject of the ordinance. There these are represented, or held up to the eye, and, through it, to the mind; sealed, or attested by this outward sign, to be real and true, as we affix our name and signature to any covenant into which we have entered; and applied, or brought home to the heart and life, so that these blessings are more clearly apprehended and more powerfully felt. A more particular view of this ordinance is expressed in the definition of the Lord's Supper, given in the same Catechism. It is "an holy ordinance, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ's appointment, his death is showed forth, and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and and carnal manner, but by faith made partakers of his body and blood, together with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace." Hence we learn both what the ordinance presents and conveys to the mind. It presents to it the death of Christ, and while this is made a subject of believing and devout contemplation, its influence is thereby conveyed to the mind, and the soul is nourished by it as by living bread.
But a still more full and distinct view of the ordinance may be obtained by considering its names, the elements used in it, and what is implied in partaking of it. To these, then, let us briefly attend.
1. Its names. Those most commonly given to it are three, the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, and the Communion. Now names are commonly given to objects to express their nature, or some prominent qualities possessed by them. And such is eminently the case here. It is called the Lord's Supper, to signify that it is an ordinance in which the soul feeds upon Christ; the Lord being the author of it, and the subject of it. It is called the Eucharist, to signify that in it we give thanks