Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

wish you particularly to notice at present is, that according to the representations of your standard writers, this light is at once, and equally, the law and the Gospel. It is the discovery and rule of duty ; and it is the means of salvation. Here lies, to no inconsiderable extent, its deceptive influence on the subject before us. It is the law, or rule of duty; and by it, therefore, must be “the knowledge of sin :"and yet, although this is the very reason assigned by the apostle why the law cannot justify, this light is saving light. It imparts no knowledge of the Saviour revealed in the Gospel testimony,---no knowledge of “the truth as it is in Jesus :"and yet,although it is solely “ the knowledge of the only true God and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent" that is “life eternal,"—this light is saving light ;-light by which all men are put into a capacity of salvation.How, then, does it save? Seeing it reveals nothing respecting any ground of pardon or acceptance with God, beyond what exists in the sinner's own bosom, it is no difficult matter to perceive the infallible tendency; leading precisely to the result apparent in the confused conceptions of Barclay. How can it save in any other way, than by some supposed operation in the sinner's mind and heart? And if so, then there is evidently no room left for justification --(in the proper forensic sense of the term, as meaning pardon, acquittal, acceptance before God,)-on the

ground of a righteousness extraneous to himself; but it comes, inevitably, to be confounded with personal righteousness, or sanctification. The “inward light” is conceived to impart the knowledge of duty, together with a certain favourable disposition towards it,-a kind of constraining divine influence to what is good,—which may, however, be resisted :-and, according to Barclay, it is by conformity to this knowledge, by following this disposition, by yielding to this influence, that sinful men are justified. Now it is by ascribing justification to this personal influence in the sinner's own mind, that Barclay, almost of necessity, identifies it with sanctification.

Allow me to illustrate my meaning, and confirm my charge, by a quotation, which will, at the same time, serve as a specimen of his general principles of exposition on such subjects.-" This saving spiritual light is “the gospel, which the apostle says expressly is preach“ed in every creature under heaven, even that very

Gospel of which Paul was made a minister, Col. i. * 23. For the Gospel is not a mere declaration of “good things, being the power of God unto salva“ tion to all those that believe, Rom. i. 16. Though “the outward declaration of the Gospel be taken “sometimes for the Gospel, yet it is but figuratively, “and by a metonymy. For, to speak properly, the “Gospel is this inward power and life which preach“eth glad tidings in the hearts of all men, offering

66

66

66

“ salvation unto them, and seeking to redeem them “ from their iniquities; and therefore it is said to be “preached in every creature which is under heaven: “ whereas there are many thousands of men and

women to whom the outward Gospel was never

preached. Therefore the apostle Paul, Rom. i. 66 where he says

' the Gospel is the power of God “ unto salvation,' adds, that therein is revealed the “ righteousness of God from faith to faith; and also “the wrath of God' against such as hold the truth “in unrighteousness :' for this reason, saith he, be

cause that which may be known of God is mani“ fest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. “ Now that which may be known of God is known “ by the Gospel, which was manifest in them. For “ those of whom the apostle speaks had no outward “gospel preached to them; so that it was by the “inward manifestation of the knowledge of God in them, which is indeed the Gospel preached in man, “that the righteousness of God is revealed from “ faith to faith; that is, it reveals to the soul that “which is just, good, and righteous ; and that, as “ the soul receiveth it and believes, righteousness

comes more and more to be revealed, from one “ degree of faith unto another. For though, as the following verse saith, the outward creation declares the

power of God; yet that which may be known “ of God is manifest within; by which inward mani

66

66

as this

“ festation we are made capable to see and discern “ the eternal power and Godhead in the outward cre“ation; so, were it not for this inward principle, we “could no more understand the invisible things of “God by the outward visible creation, than a blind

man can see and discern the variety of shapes and “colours, or judge of the beauty of the outward 56 creation.” *

I do not remember if, within the compass of a single page, I have ever met with a more extraordinary tissue of blunders and inconsistencies. You must allow me to state and expose them, seriatim ;

may

furnish us with principles, such as will facilitate the discussion of other passages of Scripture besides those here introduced.- Observe, then

1. “This saving spiritual light is the Gospel" even that

very gospel of which Paul was made a “minister.”—If so, it must testify of Jesus: for the Gospel of which Paul was made a minister, which he had it in commission to preach, and which he “ did preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom,” was “ the testimony of Jesus." He “ determined not to know any thing among his hearers, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” It was a testimony of facts and principles. If, therefore, the inward light be “the very gospel whereof Paul was

66

* Apology, pages 167, 168.

made a minister,” then they who possess it must possess the knowledge of “ Jesus Christ and him crucified,"—the knowledge of the facts and principles contained in the divine testimony concerning him. All mankind have the inward light; all mankind, therefore, must have the knowledge of Jesus Christ,—the knowledge of “the word of reconciliation, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" for the ministry of Paul, as “an ambassador of Christ,” was to bear to his fellow-sinners the tidings of this “ word of reconciliation." Is it, then, so ? Is the whole heathen world in possession of the Gospel“ the very gospel which Paul preached ?" Paul speaks to the Colossians of their having “ heard this gospel ;" and he dates its spiritual productiveness in them from “the day they heard it, and knew the grace of God in truth.” Beyond all question, this refers to the preaching of those who had first brought them the glad tidings of salvation in the message of the Gospel. But, if Barclay be right, they had the Gospel before. It was no news to them. They had it in the "spiritual saving light"_"the very gospel of which Paul was made a minister.” And so it is with all mankind. So that, since the Gospel which Paul preached is the Gospel which missionaries profess to preach, these heralds of the cross carry to the heathen only what they already have! On what

« ForrigeFortsæt »