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It is impossible indeed that any thing should actually frustrate the purposes of God; yet there are things which have a tendency to frustrate them, and would do so were they not overruled and restrained by omnipotence. But Christ, we say, never did any thing which had a tendency to frustrate the divine purposes. On the other hand it is very observable, that he intentionally used those very measures and took those very steps, which were directly adapted to effectuate those purposes. There are many testimonies which affirm, that there was the most absolute concurrence,between Christand the Father as the sovereign and universal agent. Christ himself announced this sublime sentiment, when in vindication of his having performed a miraculous cure on the Sabbath, he alleged (John v. 17.) the unintermitted energy exerted by his Father throughout creation, and in the events of Providence; and hence inferred, (though surely the work of mercy he had done was in no view justly liable to censure) the lawfulness of his own energetic operation, in healing the impotent man on the Sabbath.* But of the authenticity of the sentiment we refer to, there is more positive proof in the following context. With a solemnity which well suited the great truth he announced, he said to the Jews, “Werily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself except what he seeth the Father do: for
* It seems impossible fairly to fix any other construction on the words of our Lord. “The Jews sought to slay him, because he had done those things on the Sabbath day: But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” The ground on which he justified himself was not unobserved by the Jews, who considered it as involving him in the greater guilt of blasphemy, and “therefore sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” (ver. 18.)
what things soever he doeth, these doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son and sheweth him all things that himself doeth.” (John v. 19, 20.) The doctrine, however, to which we allude, does not rest on a few positive assertions. . It is a grand evangelical peculiarity, exemplified and illustrated through the whole life of Christin the flesh. In what passage of that wonderful life, was there not an exact coincidence between his actions and the movements of Divine Providence, in which the eternal designs of God are fulfilled and developed P But especially is this observable, in his conduct relating to the greatest of all events, his own decease. How apparent is it, that he always regulated himself, just in the manner, that was adapted to fulfil “the determinate counsel of God,” respecting whatever related to that awful event. Was it not because he aimed at fulfilling that all-wise counsel, that he did not, as he certainly might have done had he pleased, make the evidences of his Messiahship blaze forth through the world, to the annihilation of every thing related to unbelief ? Was it nothence that he performed so many of his mighty works in the shades of obscurity and retirement; (John vii. 3, 4) that he so often forbade a roclamation of his miracles; charging the subjects of them to moderate their eulogies, and commanding his own disciples to tell no one of some things which they saw and heard, until after he should be crucified and risen from the dead 2 Was it not hence that he always effected an escape from the hands of his exasperated enemies, while as yet his hour had not come, but when that hour had come, that he resigned himself to their fiercest rage, and almighty as he was, went like a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before her shearers is dumb, so opened he not his mouth No man took his life from him, but he laid it down of himself; for this he knew was agreeable to the secret urpose of God; and, indeed, “this commandment,” never given to any other, “he had received of his Father,” upon his undertaking to redeem mankind. 3. Now it is only necessary to keep in mind this wonderful fact, that Christ always aimed at fulfilling the eternal purposes as well as the moral precepts of God, in order to a full and easy understanding of this part of the reply to the disciples. As he knew that it was given o the disciples to know the mysteries of the gospel, and not to the multitude, so, as in other cases, he acted in a manner that was adapted to fulfil, not to frustrate, the divine decision in this case. 4. For it is easy to perceive that he adopted this course in speaking to the multitude by parables. Parables, in their own tendency, were better suited to fulfil the divine purpose, in this instance, than plain discourses would have been. They were obviously so in regard to the multitude; to whom it had not been #. to know the mysteries: and t may be quickly shown that they were so likewise, in regard to the disciples, to whom that privilege had been given. he parables, it is true, at the time of delivery were not much Inore intelligible to the disciples than to the multitude. But the disciples, being Christ's personal attendants, had the opportunity of hearing him a second time on the very same subjects: and it is expressly stated that after the multitude had been dismissed, and they were alone with their Master, he expounded to them, the things which they had heard in public, without understanding. And there is one observation which must nothere be omitted; though parables not expounded, may produce no other impression than that of wonder or curiosity, yet, when properly explain
ed, there is no method of teaching so easy, interesting and instructive to the common hearer. The wonder of the mind is turned into rational ecstasy, when the little incidents of the parable are all seen to have covered glorious truths; and the impression which those truths will then make, will be more definite, vivid and lasting, than could have been effected by a different
method. No discussion, however
clear and forcible, no reasoning, however ingenious and conclusive, no other method of illustration, can affect the common mind, like a well arranged parable, when its meaning is unfolded. Nor does the previous wonder now go for nothing: it is a state of mind exceedingly favourable to profiting by exposition, as it ensures attention and earnestness to understand. As the disciples, therefore, were afterwards made acquainted with the meaning of the parables, the first hearing of which, had so happily prepared their minds for a second; it being given them to know the mysteries of the kingdom, an excellent means of imparting to them this knowledge was now used by their omniscient Master. These disciples, let me add, had need of all the advantages which a twofold hearing of these things afforded them; since they were themselves destined to become teachers of evangelical mysteries, who needed to be indoctrinated to a degree more than common. The substance of these observations on the first part of Christ’s reply to the question of his disciples, may be expressed in a single sentence, thus: “Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered, because unto you (my disciples) it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them, (the multitude,) it is not given; and it becomes me to conform my conduct in all respects, to the eternal purposes as well as to the law of God: hence it was proper for me to
address this multitude by parables; which, I was aware, they would not rightly understand.” It is easy to imagine the effect which such an answer as this, would have produced on selfish and unsubmissive persons. To such persons, it would have given little comfort to know, that the things which caused their perplexity, were agreeable to the arrangement which God hath settled for ever. To hear, though from Christ himself, words which exhibit so decisively, the perfect sovereignty of God in giving or withholding his saving mercy, would not have been grateful, it is feared, to some who call themselves Christians. Especially would some have n apt to demur, on such an occasoa as that to which we have been referring. Here, were standing before Christ, perhaps several thousands, shrouded in ignorance, and ready to perish in their sins; and there, a few disciples, whose minds had already been enlightened, and who, for the most part at least, had received already the renewing grace of God. Yet the great multitude are suffered to remain in their wretchedness, and the disciples alone, highly favoured as they have been already, derive any benefit from the instructions of Christ! It may seem surprising, that instead of replying to this objection, Christ shou | have recognised the conduct, on which, with such a plausible appearance of reason it is predicated, as conformable to a general principle of the divine government; which is, that “whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” (ver. 12.) In vain will men demand the reasons of this maxim in government, adopted by infinite wisdom and benevolence. God giveth account of his matters, to none; reasons he has for all his decisions and doings; but he who will not repose in him implicit confidence without
knowing his reasons, will perhaps discover them when it will be too late to profit by the knowledge. It is a solemn certainty, which would remain so though disliked and denied by all men living, that God hath mercy on “whom . will have mercy;” and deems it perfectly equitable, to leave such as have no grace totally void of grace, and to continue bestowing, as he thinks best, the treasures of his goodness on persons who have been previously enriched by his sovereign donations. He hereby does no injustice, and pursues a policy which being approved by his own unerring mind, is little prejudiced by the disapprobation of creatures of yesterday, and who are wise, only to do evil. Accordingly our Lord does not attempt to vindicate this principle, but merely states it, as what he knew to be a maxim in the divine administration, and which was now exemplified in the allotments which God had made respecting the disciples and the multitude. “I speak in parables, because unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given: and this arrangement agrees with an established principle of the divine government, which is, that whosoever hath, to him shall be given; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that he hath.” T. H. S. (To be continued.) So ! . . . .
Of Titus and Crete.
Discrepancies in doctrine and worship among Christians, on minor points, when the essentials are retained, should be no interruption of that cordiality towards each other, which the sincere followers of the kind and mild Redeemer, will always possess, and be disposed to cultivate. Our faith and manners are invariably influenced by education, and early associations; if erroneous, some apology is due; to judge is the province of another, with which we interfere at our peril. On questions of church government, it is, for a great part, as safe, as on the question of meats, to follow the leadings of our own consciences. The difficulty ofdeciding is of this an i. argument. From the same records we draw, and with equal candour, the stable proofs of our various sentiments, according to the views with which we open the sacred text. That a candid and pious writer, “On the Order of the Primitive Church,” should experience “pleasure in being able to derive from the word of God a sanction for his own system,” is desirable for the sake of his conscience. His own safety is not jeopardised, because he disturbs not the peace of others. But the same premises yield different conclusions to us; possibly because we have always supposed a primitive bishop, the pastor of a single church, and diocesan episcopacy an innovation, fostered after the days of the apostles. Candia, or Crete, famous for the wisdom of its ancient laws, and for its proficiency in tactics, is an island about one-seventh as large as the state of Pennsylvania, of a mild and happy climate, and an air unusually salubrious. Eleven diocesan bishops of the Greek church, in December, 1819, superintended the Christian inhabitants, who were supposed to amount to one hundred and fifty thousand souls, and to be less numerous than the Turks. The present, compared with the population of the island in gospel days, may be accounted as one to three. This writer is, therefore, evidently correctin supposing Crete of dimensions and population sufficient for a diocess. He admits that Titus is “never called exclusively the bishop of the island;” and
* Christian Observer, republished in the “Episcopal Magazine,” Feb. 1821. Philadelphia.
says also, that “he is no where called an evangelist.” But that “he was to set in order the things that were wanting in every city; and that he was to ordain elders, or presb ters, for the whole island.” To all this, we subscribe, and are willing, in the language of Theodoret, to pronounce him the apostle of the Cretans.f. When Paul and Titus first went to Crete,before any church had been planted on the island, Titus must have been an attendant upon Paul, and a preacher, without any relation unto, or connexion with the Cretans. This is substantially admitted, when the writer alleges, that “Paul visited the island at an early period of his ministry, before he was made a prisoner, and he left Titus among * islanders to water the churéties which he had planted.” With respect to the time he differs from Dr. Paley, of his own church, who, with many others, has been of opinion, that Paul, after his liberation, sailed from Rome into Asia, and taking Crete in his way, left Titus there. This departure from the sentiments expressed in the “Horae Paulinae,” a work of unusual merit, seems correct, because it does not appear that Titus went to Rome with Paul, when he was carried a prisoner to be tried by Cesar. Nor do any of the letters written from Rome, during that imprisonment, to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, or Philemon, mention Titus, or even imply that he was at Rome. On the contrary, his presence with Paul is excluded by Coloss. iv. 11. “These only are my fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me;” and Titus is not named as one of them. That Paul purposed to visit Colosse, soon after his liberation, appears from his letter to Philemon, (ver. 22.) But the bespeaking of
lodgings there, would have been premature, if it had been intended consequent upon the arduous labour of planting churches in Crete. The epistle to Philemon preceded the letter to the Hebrews; in that, Timothy was joined, in this he is mentioned as absent; “with whom, if he come shortly,” (xii. 23.) Paul o to see those, to whom the etter was sent. This purpose of visiting Judea, was, therefore, after his direction to Philemon to procure him lodgings at Colosse. Accordingly, some have imagined that Paul went, with Timothy and Titus, to Crete, where he left Titus, and proceeded to Judea, returned through Syria and Cilicia, tarried some time at Colosse, wrote from thence to Titus in Crete to meet him at Nicopolis, came to Ephesus, left Timothy there, and proceeded to Macedonia. But neither does Titus apear to have been with Paul at me, during his first imprisonment, nor is there the least evidence that such journey was ever undertaken or accomplished. It was the opinion of Pool, that Paul left Titus in Crete, when he touched there a risoner, on his passage to Rome. ut as Titus is not named in the enumeration of either of the companies who left Macedonia for Jerusalem; nor mentioned in the history of their going unto, remaining at, or coming from Jerusalem; nor spoken of in the account of the voye, two years afterwards, accomplished from Cesarea to Rome, this opinion seems unfounded. It does not even appear that Paul landed at Crete on that voyage. Many have thought that Paul, at or prior to the period of his separation from Barnabas, sailed with Silas and Titus from Cilicia to Crete, and returning to the Asiatic continent, left Titus to perfect the settlement of the churches there. But there is no hint of such a thing in the acts, or any of the epistles. Yet the native language of Titus was that of the inhabitants of Crete.
Also, Titus, who was in years and office older than Timothy, and commanded more respect, must have been as competent for that service, as he was to settle the differences in the Corinthian church, or to preach the gospel among the rude inhabitants of Dalmatia. But conjectures are as unprofitable as endless. We cannot collect from the scriptures, that Titus was with Paul, from the time of his separation from Barnabas, during all his travels through Asia, Macedonia, and Greece, his subsequent voyage to Jerusalem, and return through the Asiatic churches; nor until he came to Ephesus, when Apollos, from Corinth, met him at that place; unless
Titus i. 5, will prove, that they were
associated, at some interval of the historic account, in Crete.
There is great difficulty in ascertaining when the epistle to Titus was written; but this writer in o; it before the imprisonment of Paul, agrees with Lightfoot, Lardner, and many other learned critics. And though we will neither assign the precise time for Paul’s going with Titus into Crete, nor the par. ticular winter, which they spent together at Nicopolis, after the recall of Titus from that island, yet, for the reasons before given, this writer appears to us to be correct, in having assigned to them a period prior to the apostle's first imprisonment at Rome.
Titus was o to discharge an important duty, when Paul sent him to Corinth, with his first epistle to that church, to rectify the . ders of a congregation which possessed higher advantages for language, Science, and i. Inanners, than any other, and in which there appear to have been no officers. He was successful, and then obeyed the message of Paul to him, to meet him in Macedonia, to communicate the particulars of the affairs at Corinth. He was sent to them again, with the second epistle, and afterwards was followed by the