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THE

PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE.

FEBRUARY, 1821.

Communications.

We would inquire, in what character God punishes sin. That God

is a sovereign is verified in every Divine Punishment.

page of inspiration, and the great The candid inquirer after truth, volume of nature attests this fact. must see at once the difference in His dominion is universal and illiopinion that exists among those who mitable. In all his works greatness claim the same general name that in conjunction with goodness, strikes of Christian. To search after truth, our view, and wherever we see the and embrace it when found, should parent, we behold also the legislator. be the earnest desire and employ. Jehovah is a benefactor in whom we ment of all who assume the name have reason to rejoice, whose purof Christ. In these days of mo poses are gracious, whose law is dern improvements in Christianity, the plan of our happiness. Every when doubt holds her leaden scep- good and perfect gift comes down tre over both reason and revelation, from him. But the hand that conwhen truth is left unsought, when fers them we cannot see. Mysteby bold assertion and critical dex rious obscurity rests upon his esterity it is evaded or concealed; it sence. And further than he reveals would appear necessary

for those himself we cannot know him. who have embraced Christ, the king Now as he is a sovereign, it does of truth, not to act like Pilate the not appear from nature or revelaRoman governor, who, when Jesus tion, that God uniformly acts as a Christ stood before him, accused of sovereign ; for many of his works perverting the word of God, asked, must be attributed to him under what is truth? But waited not to another relation. He is revealed hear the answer from the lips of the to us, under the endearing title of God of truth.

father--as a king-frequently as an As it appears to comport with unlimited sovereign_and often as the design of the Presbyterian Ma a judge and ruler. gazine, as exhibited by the prospec To assign all to God under one tus of that work-one of the conduc relation, or give to him under a tors, as time and opportunity may wrong relation, those things whịch offer, intends to avail himself of this belong to him in another, is to channel, to state some scriptural confound the truths of the word truths which seem to be contro of God. This leads to many

misverted by some. This shall be done takes, and occasions errors of the without either the desire or design grossest kind. How necessary is of exciting controversy, but only to it, that we have correct apprehenestablish believers in the scriptures sions of the true character of him, of the Old and New Testaments in who claims our worship, and of that the essential doctrines of the gospel. part of his character in which he VOL. I.

G

punishes the guilty for their sins! on iniquity.” Hab. i. 13. Hence it All who receive the sacred scrip follows that he hates that which he tures as the revelation of God's punishes. will, must admit, that God punishes, We may see from this, in what and has a right to punish the guilty relation the right to punish, and the transgressor of his laws. Notwith execution of punishment belong to standing, while they grant the fact God. It is not because he is an yet they differ, as to the point of absolute sovereign, injured, and to God's character to which that right whom a debt is due, but as he is belongs, and the relation under governor and ruler, who judges and which he carries it into effect. To punishes the sinful action of him form a sound judgment on this im who transgressed his law; for the portant point, we ought to have a application of the law to the guilty, true apprehension of punishment, is the proper work of a judge. That and of the reason why God pu God is injured and insulted by sin, nishes.

and has a right to demand reparaPunishment may be defined the tion for the evil, is a truth we freely avenging either of a transgression or embrace. But reparation for the of an injury. When wickedness or violation of God's law, by man transgression is avenged, the evil is himself in his present sinful and punished: but when men avenge for helpless state is impossible. And the injury done, restitution only is though reparation were possible, in sought. Moral evil is the cause of this case, it would be the same as penal evil, hence penal evil is the punishment-for as man in his preinflicting punishment for the trans

sent state of depravity is unable to gression of law. If punishment were repair the breach of the law, or pay solely to avenge the injury, and not the debt of perfect obedience; the the transgression, then the punish-law makes an eternal demand ment would descend to the heirs, as against the guilty sinner, which is a does the injury with the profit. proper reason for the eternity of But this is contrary to sound rea punishment. This punishment is son and the holy scriptures. No not inflicted on the guilty and impunishment that is just can be penitent sinner, as a simple reparaconceived of, without recurring in tion, for this he can never effect in thought, to a criminal act, to some and of himself, but as the punishviolation of right and transgression ment of a crime committed against of law.

God and his law, who is the judge By this we learn what divine pu of all the earth; and it is not a nishment is, viz. an avenging of a private, but a public determination crime or transgression committed to punish the guilty, and that exeagainst God's law. The crime is cuted by a public person. Here we the reason of punishment; because shall state the ground of our belief the very essence of sin consists in in the words of another, “ That transgressing the law. God inflicts God the Lord is absolutely free, punishment not merely because sin possessed of supreme dominion, that is injurious ; but because sin is he is injured by sin, but that he does worthy of such an effect of his pow not punish as an absolute lord, or as

• Who knowing the judgment injured, or as a creditor, but as a of God, that they who commit such ruler and a judge.”, things are worthy of death, not only We are aware, that there are do the same, but have pleasure in many who deny this, in order to them that do them.” Jehovah also get clear of two things galling to punishes on account of his own ho fear and human pride. They overliness; “ for he is of purer eyes throw, if possible, the necessity of than to behold evil, and cannot look punishment when sin is committed,

er.

sons.

and then deny the necessity of any pute. The former is asserted by atonement by Jesus Christ, for sin, our opponents—the latter is mainas the substitute and surety of sin tained by all who love the Lord ners. But the necessity of punish Jesus Christ, into whose hand all ment, and that of atonement and judgment is committed, and who satisfaction made by Jesus Christ, will judge a righteous judgment. as God man mediator, can be main

G. C. P. tained and defended by other rea

It is admitted by some of those who assert, that God punishes

Thoughts on Lay Preaching. as a sovereign lord, who is injured

The Christian world, in the preand demands the punishment; that sent auspicious period, exhibits a there are cases, in which the party system of operations which is chainjured cannot omit to take ven racterized by singularity as well as geance, that is, when his honour is by importance. The apathy of years affected. Now the least sin disho is shaken off; an unprecedented imnours God, who is absolutely per pulse has been given to hitherto fect. But can we, or dare we, mea slumbering energies; and a feeling sure the perfect dealings of the

per;

has been transfused through the fect Jehovah, by that 'standard community, which affords a promise which sinful man assumes for his of glorious events. Christian ingemode of judging and acting towards nuity has devised and Christian exhis fellow creature man? It is as ertion is executing multifarious and sumed among men of this cast, that magnificent plans for the diffusion the right of punishment belongs to of gospel truth. Whatever has a the person injured, and by parity tendency to accomplish prophecy, of reasoning, to God, as injured or by the enlargement of the Mediinsulted by sin. This they take ator's kingdom, is now become deepfor granted, while it yet remains to ly interesting to believers, and finds be proved, that man executes, or in them powerful advocates; all apcan execute proper punishment on pear prepared, to proffer their aid his fellow : besides it is not correct and enlist their resources on the to say, that the right of punishment,

side of God against the mighty. among men, belongs to the party The spirit that breathes

through injured as such.

all these active and diversified opeFor the wrong done gives no

rations, we exceedingly applaud, as greater right to the injured, than in well becoming the Christian chaproportion to the wrong done him; racter; and we should regret, in any that is, to simple reparation, which is measure, to lower the tone which very different from punishment. It has been imparted, or to subtract follows, that punishment with men, from the efficiency of the force, concerns the ruler and judge as which has been engaged. We love such; therefore when properly view to see combined and individual exed, can be ascribed to God under ertions, where the glory of Christ is no relation, but that of a ruler and the aim. judge. That the right to punish Yet we do believe, that there may sin or for sin, belongs to God; that be an agency exerted with the he is dishonoured by sin as a law purest intentions to spread the gosgiver, is admitted on both sides. pel, and which may appear sanctiBut, under what character or rela fied by its success, which is nevertion God punishes, whether as an theless contrary to scripture auabsolute sovereign, the party injur thority, and therefore to be discouned, and having a right to demand tenanced. punishment or whether only as a Such an agency, in our apprehenruler and a judge, is the point in dis sion, is Lay Preaching.

We are aware that the ground, peace and order of the church deupon which we tread, is delicate;

pend upon every man operating in yet we are equally aware, that his own sphere :-if all civilians canthrough false delicacy, it has too not be governors or judges, all Chrislong remained undisputed. We tians cannot be preachers. have not the slightest desire to cur That governmental policy would tail the prerogatives of our lay-bre be miserable and ruinous, which thren, whom we cordially acknow would permit all men without disledge as fellow labourers with us, tinction to occupy its offices of trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ; yet and responsibility; and equally inwe have some reason to fear their discreet would be the policy of a overstepping a proper boundary. church, which should throw open a We do not institute this as a crimi door for the admission of all Chrisnal charge; but we do esteem it an tians to the functions of the miniseffect of indiscreet zeal.

try, without an inquiry into their There can be no doubt, that many qualifications--their prudence, their who are included under the denomi. piety, their aptness to teach. nation of lay preachers, are influ If it would be improper then for enced by the holy desire of contri a church to give such an extensive buting their exertions, to the mass warrant; it is certainly improper for already employed, for the diffusion individuals to act, as if on the asof truth; yet is it not possible that sumption, that such a warrant had their ardour may betray itself under

been given. an unwarrantable aspect? We think The ministry is an ordinance of it is possible; we apprehend it is God; this is a fact, denied only by certain, that it has thus appeared. schismatics. This institution is con

It is not our intention to enter in nected with every circumstance of to an elaborate examination of this solemnity and responsibility; it is question, but merely to offer a few an established means of God for the considerations, by way of arousing conversion of sinners, and hence its more general attention to the sub duties are not lightly to be infringed. ject.

The authority to exercise the By a peculiar and happy arrange functions of this office can only be ment of Providence, every man has communicated by those who already a particular sphere assigned him, in passess that authority. The aposwhich he may lawfully and effec tles who received an extraordinary tually labour in the cause of the gos call to the ministry, did, by a parpel. There is no individual, how ticular ceremony, communicate miever lowly his station, or however nisterial authority to those who were limited his influence and unpretend to take part with them in the work; ing his talents, who does not possess and it is by an imitation of their exa certain power of promoting the ample, that a regular succession of spiritual interests of his fellow men. gospel ministers has been preserved But whilst this is true on the one in the church. None but the lawless hand, it is equally true on the other, and disorderly will deny that a sucthat if a man trespass beyond his

cession in the ministry is to be preproper sphere, his movements be served in this way; that ministers come eccentric, and have a tendency of the gospel alone have authority to introduce disorder through the to admit others to be co-workers whole system. This is universally with them, to the whole extent of true; but in a very particular man ministerial duty. Who would not ner it is true, in relation to the af shudder to see an individual admifairs of the church of Christ. If the nistering the ordinances of baptism order of civil society depends upon

and the Lord's

supper,

who had not variety in office; much more do the received authority by an ecclesi

astical act? Yet it is somewhat and edifying ministry, and this fact strange, that

many
who would con-

has been abundantly corroborated sider the act of administering the by the past experience of the church. sacraments without

proper

authori. We ask then, who are to judge whety, as a violation of an ordinance of ther an individual possesses qualiGod, an infringement of ecclesias fications for a teacher in the church tical order, and as a procedure high of Christ? Certainly not himself; ly dangerous to the church of Christ; for his judgment would be partial : do not hesitate to assume the office but unquestionably those, who are of public teachers, although this is recommended by their experience a principal and peculiar duty of the in the discharge of the duties of the gospel minister. The commission holy office. is, preach—then baptize; preaching

This plain truth, however, is de. has the precedence; it is intended nied by lay preachers, who take the for the conversion of sinners; the liberty of judging for themselves, sacraments are principally designed

and who most generally judge ignofor their strengthening and conso

rantly. lation after they have become Chris We willingly concede, that there tians; and hence more seems to de are some, who, preaching without pend on the one than on the other. If authority, are nevertheless calcuthen, all men may preach without lated by their talents to do much ecclesiastical authority, why not service to the body of Christ in the baptize? Surely if our feelings jus- regular ministry; but this very cir. tify us in doing the one, they should cumstance is an aggravation of their not be alarmed in proceeding a lit trespass; for they thereby manifest tle further.

marked contempt of ecclesiastical In our opinion, the one is as discipline, through which a proper much an infringement of the pecu

authority might be obtained. They liar functions of the ministry, as the do more; they establish a precedent other would be, and manifests as highly dangerous; they encourage much looseness of principle.

others who are deficient in every Every intelligent Christian will necessary acquirement, to follow in acknowledge, that the prosperity of

their footsteps, who, by way of apothe church essentially depends upon

logy for their deficiencies, decry a the ability of its teachers. This abili learned ministry, and endeavour to ty consists not merely in piety, but

bring it into contempt. in an “aptness to teach. À mi Ignorance of every thing calcunister of the gospel should possess

lated to add honour to the sacred peculiar qualifications; he should office, in connexion with a species have natural talents, and these pro

of religious wild fire, are the only perly cultivated by education.

furniture of multitudes who preAll acknowledge the necessity of

sume to bear the hallowed ark. an apprenticeship, before a man can Many esteem it their duty to bebe fitted for the professional duties come self-constituted public teachof an ordinary mechanical employ ers, when totally unable to account ment; and will we deny the neces for the impression they have receivsity of an appropriate education to ed; they have a vague notion that fit men for preaching the gospel? they have received a call, although The thought is dishonour to that

that call has no foundation in reagospel

son. Now we say that the man who The deeply important doctrines urges his spiritual call to preach, of this system are not to be declared when destitute of necessary human by every novice who imagines he learning, is a fanatic, and is to be possesses ability to teach. Human avoided as a disturber of the church literature is essential to a faithful of Christ. We are not, at the pre

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