Obrazy na stronie

ness, or merely an aversion to sin in some of its most odious forms, the danger of resting satisfied in their refuges of lies— of slumbering in a state of exposure to the snares which are set for their total destruction. Negative goodness is positive rebellion against God's government, for “all unrighteousness is sin.” There are many who profess to respect religion. But it is such a religion as will not interfere with their schemes of worldly aggrandizement, or plans of carnal pleasure. They have no relish for that piety which is characterized by a life of devotion to God;—that piety, the possessor of which is distinguished by his love of prayer-holy communion with God in retirement, and the diligent and serious study of the sacred scriptureS. “Wicked men and deceivers” are the emissaries of Satan. They are elevated by the adversary to “the seat of the scornful.” As teachers of unrighteousness they assume the disguise of an angel of light; and “they speak great swelling words,” which are full of blasphemy. They practise the most specious arts to ruin the unwary. They exhibit the fascinations of freedom from the restraints of a pure and heavenly religion; and, like the serpent, allure their fluttering victim to the jaws of death. But the voice of wisdom cries “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not ''' Meditate on the word of God, and you will become wiser than the corrupt teachers who inculcate sentiments, the adoption of which “drown men's souls in perdition " The grace and knowledge of Christ will qualify you to distinguish between truth and damnable delusions, so that you will account the enemies of the cross, though they speak with the eloquence of an angel, but as “sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal;” though they shine in the sphere of popular favour with the lustre of Lucifer before his degradation, you will contemplate them as “ wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever!” “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” And let both your prayers and your deportment express the desire of your heart, “Gather not my soul with sinners!” # # # Philadelphia, January 23, 1822.



Jim Exposition of 1 Cor. 14, 15; connected with Strictures on one or two Chapters of Dr. Griffin's Book on the Atonement, and several other Writers on the same Subject.

(Continued from p. 71.)

To illustrate my views of the subject, of the two former papers, a little farther, let us consider the faculties and powers of Adam, before the apostacy, in relation to his Creator as an object of love and choice. Suppose his Maker had not revealed himself to Adam when he was first brought into existence. Could he in the exercise of his understanding faculty, have known God? Could he have had any conception of his moral perfections : He could perceive the objects around him, and judge and reason concerning them. He could walk, touch, smell, hear, taste. But what am I? How came I into existence: Why do I exist? What is the name, and what the character, of him who made me? These questions he could ask, but these questions he could not answer. He, doubtless, had a disposition, and a holy one too, to know how, and by whom, and for what, he was brought into being. But it is evident that he could neither know, nor love, nor make choice of an unknown God. And what character shall be given to this inability? Shall it be called natural, or moral? Adam had all the mental faculties and powers necessary to constitute him a rational and accountable creature. But he had no power to know nor love his Creator. Call the powers, necessary for these purposes, natural, and he had them not: call them moral, and he was destitute of them. Knowledge is predicated of the intellect only. Hence Adam's inability to know God was intellectual. Neither could he love his Maker. And as love cannot be predicated of the will, nor of the disposition, his inability could not be the want of will, or disposition to love his Maker. Of course his inability could not be called moral, even according to the opinion of some metaphysical writers. The proximate reason, why he could not love his Maker, was his ignorance. The remote reason, was the want of motive to rouse into operation the faculty of love. Made perfectly holy, he must necessarily have loved his Creator, and chosen him for his portion, upon the revelation of himself to his creature man. He was doubtless thus exercised towards God as soon as he knew him. He had all the faculties and powers of a holy being, and possessed, of course, a holy disposition. But he had no ability to know, and love his Creator, though he had a holy disposition. His inability therefore to love God was no indisposition. When the proper information was communicated, Adam loved his Maker, and devoted himself to his service. He then had not only the faculties, but all the powers of knowing, loving, choosing, and obeying, his rightful Sovereign. But by one prohibited act, his mind became depraved, and all his faculties vitiated, in a way no mortal can explain, so as to be divested of all power to love, and yield acceptable obedience to his Creator. His original faculties remained, though depraved, but the requisite powers to exert them, towards God, were lost. These powers seem to be parts of the constitution of human nature, which cannot be very logically defined. The power of perceiving objects seems to lie, somehow, in the light of the mind, by which they are perceived. When the light, by which they are perceived, is withdrawn, the power of perceiving them is gone, though the faculty of perception remains. The power of choosing, seems to lie in the intellectual views the mind has of motives to volition. In the absence of objects, from the view of the mind, we cannot perceive them: and here is a want of intellectual power. In the absence of motives there is no inducement to choice, and of course there cannot be any. And here there is a want of active power. To call the one matural, and the other moral inability, is palpably erroneous. Enveloped in the darkness of sin, a man, though possessed of the faculty, has no power to form any conception of the holy image of God; and of course, though he has the faculty of volition, has not the power of choosing God as the supreme good. Destitute of divine illumination, the unconverted man has not the power of knowing the things of the Spirit. Hence they are foolishness to him. And as long as they thus appear to him, he has no power to receive them. Such seems to be the sense of the passage under investigation. . It is hence evident, that the natural man is destitute of every species of power, requisite to know, love, approve of, and receive the things of the Spirit. The distinction, therefore, between natural and moral ability, and natural and moral inability, and the affirmation, that unconverted men have sufficient natural, but no moral ability, to love and serve God, is unscriptural and unphilosophical. It is likewise contrary to experience, as I shall make it appear. They have all the original faculties and powers necessary to constitute them accountable, and qualify them for their worldly concerns. But for the performance of duties in a holy manner, so as to be acceptable to God, they have not one requisite power. Faculties, disordered by sin, they have, but powers, for such obedience, they have not. Such is the fact, to which experience bears testimony. It will then be asked, how can God justly demand obedience, and where is the justice of punishing sinners for what they cannot perform : My answer shall be laconic. If I could not satisfactorily answer these questions, I should decide in the affirmative upon the testimony of God. The Scriptures, every where, represent men as dead in sin, and entirely helpless, not sufficient even for a good thought. + In his state of innocence, Adam was able to render perfect obedience, to all the laws of God, and to perform every act of worship, in a holy and acceptable manner. But by one prohiVol. II.-Presb. Mag.

bited act, though he retained all his original faculties, he lost all his powers for holy obedience. His nature and faculties, in a way inexplicable, became depraved, and that depravity despoiled him of all his mental powers to yield acceptable obedience to his God. And yet God did not lose his right to demand obedience. He did demand obedience, which Adam was unable to perform. Of this, we have an unanswerable argument, in the provision of a Saviour to perform that obedience in the lawplace of Adam. He was nevertheless blameable. For the breach of one positive precept, he lost his ability to obedience, and this could not possibly vacate his Maker's claim upon him.

By virtue of their connexion to him, as a covenant head, all his offspring came into existence, with their faculties vitiated, and destitute of all the powers requisite for holy obedience. They are sinful beings, and on this ground alone, they are blameable.

“ By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.* Waving all notice of the criticisms upon the words iør, in this place, it is evident to every man of plain good sense, that Adam's offspring, have all sinned, in him, somehow, so as to become sinners; and as depraved sinners they are blameable. For where there is no sin, there is no guilt, and can be no death. But “ death reigned-even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression.”+ Infants are here manifestly intended, and they are represented as sinners, though they had not sinned wilfully as Adam had done. Men are, therefore, born sinners, and are of course, by nature, “ children of wrath.” And because they are sinners, they are blameable, and not for the absurd reason, because they have sufficient natural power, but have no moral ability, for obedience. They have no kind of mental power, in the exercise of which they can love and serve God. They are sinners, and hence guilty. They are destitute of divine illumination, and have no power to know " the things of the Spirit.” And yet they are blameable for their ignorance. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” There is then a sin of ignorance, and the whole blame of the people, here mentioned, is charged upon their intellect, and not upon their will, nor disposition. “We will not have this man to reign over us." These men were punished for a sin charged upon the will.

Men are blameable for all their sins, whether they arise immediately from the intellect, or the will. It is manifest that the whole man is depraved, “his finger nails" not excepted. Our corporeal faculties are depraved, and our physical powers enfeebled. We cannot exercise them with all that vigour, and ease,. * Rom. v. 12.

t. Id. 14.

that Adam could before he fell; nor with all the force and facility we shall be able to do, when our powerful bodies shall rise from the grave, and be “ fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ."

Our mental faculties and powers are depraved. We cannot judge and reason, with all that perspicuity, ease, and perfection, even in common affairs, as Adam could in innocence, and as saints will do, when their souls shall be united to their bodies, after the resurrection.

That the will is depraved, I believe, all allow. And that the intellectual faculties are depraved, is evident, or there is no meaning in many scripture expressions. “ The ignorance that is in them—the common people sin through ignorance-having the understanding darkened-grieved for their blindness of heart-my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:" all these expressions imply blame; and the blame is evidently predicated of the understanding.

The truth is, sins which arise from the intellect, or will, or conscience, or affections, all involve guilt. For our sins we are blameable.

Hence I think it evident that men are born sinners, and as such, they are blameable, and God may justly punish them. And it is also evident that they have not one power necessary to perform obedience acceptable to God. And yet God can justly demand obedience, and punish them if in default.

A command does not necessarily involve the idea of power to obey in fallen sinners. Obedience is represented under the metaphor of a debt. And that unconverted men are wholly unable to pay the debt of obedience, which they owe to God, is manifest from one of our Lord's parables. And yet it was un. deniably just to cast the debtor into prison, and confine him there, till he should pay ten thousand talents, when he possessed not one farthing. His inability to perform his duty, did not render it unjust to demand the performance of it, nor to punish him as a defaulter.

A demand for performing the duty of paying a debt, among men, does not necessarily suppose a man able to pay his debt. And no one considers that entire insolvency ever vacates the creditor's right to demand payment, or the debtor's obligation to pay his honest debts. Neither can the loss of power, to obey God, through the apostacy of Adam, annul his right to demand obedience of us, nor render it unjust to punish in case of default.

Said Christ to the man who had a withered hand, “ stretch forth thy hand.” This man could no more, by any power he possessed, stretch out his hand, than he could lift a mountain

of delid Christ 1,9 * This manand,

« PoprzedniaDalej »