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time for me to die? Have I chosen it myself? (for I was afraid of hurrying myself into the presence of God.) To this inquiry the answer was, No. Have the surgeons chosen this time for me to die? No. They have done all they could to save my life. Have the evil spirits chosen this time; have they so much influence P No. It is the will of God, if I die now, that it should be so. I sunk into his hands wholly and without reserve. My will was swallowed up in the divine will. I felt myself a little child in the hand of Christ, to be led and guided entirely by his unerring wisdom. Now I thought I had done all my work. I seemed to have nothing to do but to die; and even listened to hear if the angels did not sing. A friend that stood by me said,
“Jesus can make a dying bed Feel soft as downy pillows are:”
I said, I know it. My bed, which was so hard this afternoon, is now soft and easy. I lay in this situation several hours; but the appointed season had not come, and in time I was restored to health. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all or any of his benefits.
THE LORD, OUR RIGHTEOUSN ESS.
On the 29th of August last, I was present at a council of pastors and delegates, convened for the purpose of installing a minister of the gospel. In the course of the examination of his religious sentiments, he was asked what were his views of the atomement. He replied, that he defined the atonement to be, such an eachibition of the real feelings of God in relation to sim as would cause his hatred of it to be believed, even though he should pardon it. The matter of this atonement he said consisted exclusively in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. By these sufferings the mo
ral character of the Deity was mani
fested as wholly opposed to sin; and he would now be accredited in his declarations of his abhorrence of it, even while remitting the sins of all true penitents. To this statement a deacon interposed, and asked the candidate if the active righteousness of Christ constituted no part of the atonement, and no part of the ground of a sinner’s pardon. The candidate distinctly expressed his opinion— that IT DID Not. Being invited to sit as a corresponding member of the council, and the question being put to me, if I would propose any interrogatories, I asked the candidate, Has the active righteousness of Jesus Christ, which consisted in conformity to the precepts of the moral law, any influence in meriting the justification of believers ? He answered, “not in the least.” Why then, I resumed, was the obedience of Christ to the precepts of the moral law necessary at all P It was answered, his active obedience was necessary, that he might be a suitable person to make atonement by his sufferings; for had he been a sinner, his sufferings would have been but the punishment of his own sins; and so would have furnished no indication of God’s displeasure against the sins of others, who should be pardoned. I proposed also this question:— If God is a God of truth, and atonement for sin consists in the mere ea:hibition of God’s real feelings in relation to sin, why might not an atonement for sin have been made by God’s DECLARATIONs of his hatred of it? Why might not the mere words of the true God have performed the office of a Saviour? The candidate replied, because mere words would not be believed unless they were accompanied by corresponding actions. But, might not the declarations of the true God, concerning his hatred of sin, verified by the sufferings of devils and damned spirits, have con
stituted the atonement, and so have performed the office of Christ? Their sufferings, the candidate conceived, would not be a sufficiently clear and dignified atonement, to have vindicated the Deity in pardoning sin. No exhibition inferior to that made by the sufferings of the Son of God, he thought would sufficiently indicate the divine disposition, so as to render it consistent with the character of Jehovah to pass by the transgressions of men. In reply to the question of some one, the candidate said, that he considered the justification of a sinner, in the sense of the gospel, as synonymous with the pardoning of a sinner. These answers appeared to meet with the approbation of the council, and it was therefore resolved, unanimously, by all who had a right to vote in the case, to proceed to the installation of the pastor elect. To one” of the ministers of this council, who occupies one of the most distinguished stations in a sister state, I said, according to your scheme of doctrine, Christ seems to me nothing more than half of a Saviour, for he brings the sinner nothing but the remission of the penalty of the law. I need of Christ much, much more than this: I need acceptance with God as righteous, and adoption into his family, on account of the merits of Christ’s righteousness. I want a Saviour on whose account my person and my best services shall be accepted; for our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. That passage, the clergyman said, referred to the righteousnesses of unrenewed men;
* With another of the ministers of this council I conversed freely, and it is a joy to state, that he did not agree to the doctrines asserted by this brother and the candidate. He viewed the active as well as passive righteousness of Christ as necessary for a sinner's acceptance and pardon; but still, he did not apprehend the errors of his brethren on this subject to be dangerous.
Now I feel, that
but still I thought that the best of men, in their best services, are unprofitable servants. Can God in any other character than that of the God of all grace, favourably regard our best actions? After all I had time to urge, this brother (and I fear many more of his brethren,) continues to maintain, that the active righteousness of Christ was due for himself, because he was man; that this active righteousness constitutes no part of the ground of the justification and actual redemption of sinners, but merely opens the door for the re
mission of sins to the penitent; that
the atonement by Christ is efficacious in procuring for sinners nothing but pardon; that a sinner is regenerated by a mere act of sovereignty, in the moment in which God as a sovereign pardons him; being enabled, but not obligated to any one, thus to do, by the atonement; and that the ground of a saint’s being made happy in heaven is the obedience which he himself, through the aid of the Spirit, renders to the law, after his conversion. The holy actions of a regenerated and pardoned man, he insisted on it, were as proper objects of reward as the holy obedience of the unsinning angels. If, said he, mine actions of the renewed man should be sinful, the tenth may be holy, and that will be a proper object of reward in glory. I replied, that any action of a creature, to merit a reward, must be absolutely perfect; whereas the best actions of a renewed man are no more than imperfectly good. The law cannot approve and reward any action which does not answer all the demands of the law. For one, I must say, that could I expect no happiness in heaven but such as I have merited, by my works of new obedience, I should expect very little. If in any thing I have misunderstood, or misrepresented, any of my brethren of the council, I shall gladly be corrected, and acknowledge
my error: but at present, I must say, the scheme of doctrine which I have here stated, with regret, to be maintained by many, who now with myself, worship Christ as God, is well calculated to banish Christ from the church. He need not be truly God, to accomplish for us all the atonement and all the redemption which are therein attributed to him. While I rejoice that my native state has hitherto deposed from the ministry all those who have publicly denied the deity of Jesus Christ, I am constrained to express o fears, from the natural tendency of many doctrines now popular there, that Socinianism and Arianism will greatly prevail there within half a century to come; and that hundreds of the clergy will follow the downward course of Sherman, Abbott, and last of all, the Rev. Dan Huntington. E. S. ELY.
sms FOR THE PRES BYTERLAN MAGAZINE.
Has Christ, who was promised to the Jews, truly come 2
The invaluable communication, which contained the promise of Christ, was announced to our first parents immediately after their fall. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Gen. iii. 15. This subject, so extremely interesting to their posterity, was frequently introduced in the law and the prophets. The characteristics by which he was to be known, were, in general, expressed in plain and perspicuous language. To enumerate, however, all those predictions relative to his advent, would be incompatible with the limits of an essay. We shall, therefore, select only a few of those which have a peculiar bearing on the subject: and
1. The promise made to sldam was
afterwards renewed to Abraham : “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Gen. xii. 3. This text, evidently, designated the posterity of Abraham, as the people from whom the Messiah should descend: through the merits of whose atonement, the faithful of all the nations of the earth should be saved. Such language appears to coincide with that used by John: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” Rev. vii. 9. The promise of Christ, as well as of the nation from which he should descend, having been established, Jacob, in his dying benediction to his sons, foretold the time in which he should come. “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Gen. xlix. 10. An emiment critic,” in expounding this passage, says, “ the words are to be read discretively, showing, that when the sceptre ceased, the law. giver succeeded, and when both were gone, then Messiah should appear.” Now it is a fact, worthy to be observed, that four hundred years elapsed, from the time this prophecy was written by Moses, until the tribe of Judah was invest. ed with the regal power: an incontestable proof that the patriarch was divinely inspired. The sceptre continued, in the tribe of Judah, till the captivity. It then departed, and was never afterwards resumed. “Write Comiah childless : for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” Jer. xxii. 30. “Remove the diadem, and take off the crown, &c. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.” Ezek. xxi. 26, &c. After the captivity, the supreme power was fixed in the Sanhedrim, a council of seventy persons; besides two presidents, of whom the high priest was generally chief. Whether this be the same, as that instituted by Moses, is uncertain. Certain it is, however, that their authority was equivalent, if not superior, to their kings. Josephus says, expressly, that their king was subject to that council. Prior to the captivity, the Sanhedrim appears to have been composed of members, chosen indiscriminately from each of the tribes, After the captivity, they were principally selected from the tribes of Levi, Benjamin, and Judah. But as their authority was derived from Judah, their laws were properly said to emanate from that tribe. Some writers have asserted, that the power of the Sanhedrim, relative to civil matters, was taken away by the Romans, about the time that Christ came. They ground their argument on Pilate's conference with the Jews: “ Then said Pilate unto them, take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews, therefore, said unto him, it is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” John xviii. 31. The reality of their assertion, however, appears very questionable: for if they could take no cognizance of capital crimes, why did Pilate command them to judge him according to their law? Why did Paul, prior to his conversion, persecute the Christians unto death 2 Why did Paul appeal to Caesar, rather than submit to the decision of the Sanhedrim! And why did the Sanhedrim condemn Stephen to be stomed 2 When it is considered in addition to these circumstances, that it was not customary
* Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 400. f Calvin's Institutes, vol. i. p. 92. 3 K.
for the Romans, to deprive a conquered nation of its laws, it will follow, that they enjoyed their ancient laws, as they had formerly done. If they did not exercise these laws, it was more to be imputed to their own culpable remissness, and the unparalleled wickedness of their nation, than to any other cause. The assertion of Dr. Lightfoot, which we have already quoted, viz. that the lawgiver ceased, previous to the advent of Christ, appears to be incorrect. On the contrary, their lawgiver, or Sanhedrim, continued at least, until the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, forty years after the ascension of our Lord. But where is now the Jewish prince? Where is their lawgiver, or Sanhedrim ; It is evident they have neither, and therefore Christ has long since come. 2. Another argument to prove that Christ has come, may be adduced from Dan. ix. 25. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall even in troublous times.” In this prophecy, each day was put for a year, or every week for seven years, and consequently comprehended a period of four hundred and eightythree years. This view of the text appears to be agreeable to the general analogy of scripture. . Man parallel passages could be adduced, in order to establish this position. Of such we have an example in Levit. xxv. 8. “And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.” Another passage similar to the former is in Ezek. iv. 6. “And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah fort days: I have appointed thee eac
day for a year.” Now, if the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, was issued in the first year of the reign of Cyrus, (to which period the tenor of the prediction seems to refer) as related in Ezra i. 1, it was about five hundred and thirty years before Christ. But it may be contended, that the going forth of the commandment, &c. is equally applicable to the edicts issued by Darius and Artaxerxes. But this objection, instead of militating against our argument, would render it apparently more conclusive ; by making the number of years approximate nearer to Daniel’s four hundred and eightythree years. It must therefore appear evident, to every impartial mind, that the difference between Daniel’s four hundred and eightythree years, and the period from the beginning of the reign of Cyrus to the coming of Christ, was so inconsiderable, as not in the least to invalidate our argument. Perhaps it was never intended, that Christ would come precisely at the expiration of Daniel’s prophetic weeks. It was sufficient for mankind to know, that about the termination of those years, the Messiah might be expected. No testimony mentioned in the scriptures, relative to the advent of the Messiah, appears to have been so formidable to the Jews, as Daniel’s prophetic weeks. Watson relates a solemn disputation held at Venice during the last century, between a Jew and a Christian : the Christian strongly argued from Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks, that Jesus was the Messiah, whom the Jews had long expected from the predictions of their prophets:–the learned Rabbi who presided at this disputation, was so forcibly struck by the argument, that he put an end to the business by saying-" Let us shut up our Bibles; for if we proceed in the examination of this prophecy, it
will make us all become Christians.” 3. Those passages in scripture, relative to the advent of Christ, having been accomplished by him whom the Christians have received as such, furnish the clearest attestation in favour of our position. We shall mention a few of the principal ones. Mic. iv. 1, 2. “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob ; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: . the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Gen, xlix. 10. “And unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Isaiah xi. 10, 12. “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Accordingly we find, that about the time of Christ’s ascension, “there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven; Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and in the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,” &c. Acts i. 5, 9, 10. For what purpose then were so many Jews collected at Jerusalem, at that particular conjuncture? The feast of Pentecost, or harvest feast, was not the principal reason; because it was