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the wrath and curse of the Almighty, we are unable to do any thing to deliver ourselves till he singles us out for salvation by his electing grace, and that then we are to rely for our acceptance wholly upon the righteousness of another, transferred to us by faith, which faith must also be exclusively his work if this be all the Gospel does, what greater benefit does it confer than it would be to open the eyes of a blind man that he might see himself immured in a dungeon? Instead of calling us "to glory and to virtue," it destroys every incentive to excellence of character. Instead of representing God as worthy to be loved with " all the heart and soul and strength and mind," it holds him forth as an object of terror-as arbitrary, capricious, and cruel. Instead of teaching us love to our species and reverence for ourselves, it leads us to look upon both as poor, abject, contemptible beings, hated by their Maker, and of course hateful to each other. And thus it would seem that no real addition having been made to the knowledge, the virtue, and the happiness of mankind, they had with greater advantage been left to the mere light of nature to find out their duty to God, to each other, and to themselves!
SUPPOSED INABILITY OF MAN
TO DO ANY THING TOWARDS
HIS OWN SALVATION.
From Eph. Ch. ii.
IN this part of his address to the christian converts at Ephesus, the apostle places in strong contrast, their former condition, under the darkness of heathenism, and their present situation, under the light and glory of the gospel. He describes the former as a disgraceful and abject submission to the tyranny of corrupt desires and passions, and even as a state of death; of absolute insensibility to every thing that was great and excellent. Their character was like that which he pictures in such dark colours, in the beginning of his epistle to the Romans: sinners even against that sense of right and wrong, which God hath implanted in the heart of every rational being; children of disobedience, and therefore children of wrath; or, as he expresses it in the 6th verse of the 5th chapter of this epistle, "because of these things, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience :" and again, to the Colossians, "for which things' sake, cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience; in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them." He then magnifies the
grace of God in the gospel; his rich, abundant, overflowing mercy, which called them, as it were, from death to life, from wallowing in the filth of sin, to a state of purity, dignity, and glory. He seems to labour to find words adequately to express this astonishing condescension (v. 6, 7.), reminding them, as it was most proper to do, that it was not for any desert of their own that this grace was manifested towards them; not for any thing they had previously done to merit such an interposition, or, as he expresses it in his epistle to Titus, "not by works of righteousness which we had done, but according to his mercy he saved us." He then tells them, that there was no difference with respect to privileges between them and the formerly-chosen people of the Jews; they were partakers of the same grace, and all were "one in Christ Jesus" (v. 13. to 18.). In conclusion, he congratulates them upon this their happy privileged state, and goes on, through the remainder of this most excellent address, to enforce a sense of it still more strongly on their minds, and to urge them by every affecting consideration to a life and conduct corresponding with their high and holy calling.
With a strange perversity of interpretation have these strongly figurative terms, in which the apostle described the sad moral state of the gentile world at the time of the promulgation of christianity, been applied to the actual state of all mankind, in every past, present, and future age. All are said to be dead in trespasses and sins, and to have no more power to exert any of the faculties of spiritual
life, than a dead body has to move or breathe. Undoubtedly, we owe all we are and have to the free, unmerited grace and mercy of our Creator. It is in him we live and move and have our being; all our mental and corporeal powers are his gift. But, as God has so graciously given us these powers, it belongs to us to exert them. Of what use are activity of body and strength of mind, if we lie indolent and supine, waiting for them to be put in motion by some external force, supernaturally operat ing upon and within us? So it is in our spiritual concerns. We are actually, by the gospel given to us, in that quickened state to which the apostle alludes, and not in darkness or in death. The rich mercy and grace of God has put the means of life and salvation into our hands, and it is ours to improve them. If we do not strive with all our might, and exert ourselves with suital' diligence, to secure the blessings offered us, we are self-destroyers; our blood shall be upon our own heads, and God will be justified when he condemneth, and clear when he judgeth. On the contrary, if we are merely passive in these matters, it were as absurd and unjust, to make us the objects of displeasure, on that account, as to punish a dead body for not exercising the faculties and powers of a living animal.
We should easily enter into the full meaning, and perceive the beauty and spirit of the apostolic writings, if we kept in view the particular times and circumstances which gave immediate occasion to them. Those times and those circumstances,
are too often confounded with the present, from which they are widely different; and we cannot, without manifest impropriety, apply all that was said to new converts from a state of heathenism, to ourselves, who have from our infancy been instructed in the faith of Christ, and live in times and places where his religion is generally received and acknowledged. At the same time, there is enough in them, that will apply to the moral state of mankind, in every future age of the world, as founded upon those laws, which cannot cease to be in force, so long as a righteous Sovereign of the universe exists, to reward virtue and punish dis. obedience. R. E.
THOUGHTS ON HEAVEN
AS A PLACE.
VERY various are the senses in which the term HEAVEN is used in the scriptures. In its lowest acceptation, it means that region of the air through which the fowls wing their way. Again, it signifies that part of the atmosphere in which clouds are formed, and whence the rain descends. The stars are called the host of heaven: "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work." And the heavens of heavens, as it is expressed, Ps. cxlviii. 4, may be supposed to carry our ideas beyond the limits of creation, and has accordingly been considered as the