« PoprzedniaDalej »
terians of our country, and to those Christians, who, in their views of gospel doctrine and ecclesiastical order, are substantially Presbyterian.
This Magazine is not intended to be a controversial work. Its conductors will be happy to co-operate with all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. Its pages will, nevertheless, be fearlessly devoted to the maintenance of the doctrines of grace; and, as occasion may require, to the vindication of the Presbyterian system of church order.
The materials of the work will, in general, be arranged under the following heads, viz.
1. Religious communications: including essays on doctrinal subjects; church history and government; the nature and design of gospel ordinances; religious biography; biblical criticism; illustrations of prophecy, and evidences of the truth of Christianity.
2. Reviews of old books and new publications: in which it will be the aim of the reviewers, to distinguish the precious from the vile, and defend the truth, as it is in Jesus, from the assaults of error.
3. Religious intelligence: such as well attested accounts of revivals of religion; with some notices of institutions likely to subserve the cause of Christianity; and, so far as practicable, a synopsis of what may be doing for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom.
4. Selected pieces of approved poetry on religious subjects.
W. N. Philadelphia, January, 1821
The degradation of an innocent Communications creature implies losses which are
Immured in the dark Revelation accordant with Reason.
prison of the body, we are excluded Paganism in ancient and modern from intercourse with separate spitimes, is equally calculated to en- rits, and justly treated as convicts, hance the guilt, and multiply the banished from the presence of the miseries of men. Mahometanism, Judge. Repentance and faith are at though grafted upon revelation, is best an imperfect righteousness, and a monstrous corruption, evidently accompanied by propensities to sin, aiming at political subjugation, and which deserve misery and death. the debasement of the human mind. Against death, the probable eviThe philosophy of Zeno had little dence of immortality affords, to influence upon the world, and that mere human reason, very slight of Epicurus rendered its votaries grounds of comfort. Without a addicted to the vilest practices. hereafter, man is indeed a mystery; The schemes of modern infidelity justice has failed; the idea of a fuhave derived their lustre from light ture life a tantalizing evil; the fapurloined from the gospel; they are, culties of the human mind are misin all their forms, the offspring of placed and useless. Yet immorprejudice and pride, and exist by tality admitted, a future state, withexcluding the truth.
out a revelation, must fill the mind Having the idea of God, our rea- with fearful apprehensions. For alson can establish the truth of his
though justice requires a distinction existence, ascertain many of his to be made between characters, yet perfections, natural and moral, dis- the universality of guilt, and the cern our dependance on and obliga- strictness of the claims of justice, tions to him, and discover outlines seem to exclude hope. of his law, or rules of moral con- Reason admits, that he who formduct, which we ought to pursue. ed the mind, can reveal himself to Those, who are not able to think, or it; and that he may, if he chooses, speak clearly of the nature of vir- remove our uncertainties and fears. tue, and the origin of vice, can ne- The goodness of the Creator,evinced vertheless distinguish right from by our present comforts, and even wrong, and feel a sense or con- the miseries of man warrant some sciousness of guilt, as well as infer expectation, that he would do this. from their miseries, a state of oppo- The books, which claim the characsition to the Creator. In apostasy, ter of a revelation, receive the fullit is fit we should be separated from est support from the history of past holy and happy beings, and deprived ages, the manners and languages of of the sensible presence of the per
the nations. The simplicity of their fectly pure and holy God.
unadorned narratives, their impar
tiality, their purity, and tendency reliance upon him, the earliest intito promote holiness, the accomplish- mations were given of him. Proment of their prophecies, the mira- phecies of his family, the time and cles which they have recorded, their circumstances of his advent, the influence upon the hearts, lives and particulars of his birth, life, death, hopes of men, all lead to the duty resurrection and ascension, had of giving them a strict and fair ex- been given and were fulfilled. His amination. When we explore by resurrection has been confirmed by candid and diligent investigation numerous and credible witnesses. their real meaning, they give
those His doctrines have had the effects, views both of God and man, which which he foretold. And the oppoour reason must approve, and which sition to them has been such, as he neither the writers of those books, described. The poverty, obscurity, had they been left to themselves, and want of education in his disci. nor any other set of men, would ples; the prevalence of the truth have been able to have furnished. against the wisdom, learning, power Whilst they represent true religion, and malice of the world; and the the same thing in every period of influence of their doctrines and the world, they also exhibit it in the manners upon the nations, all show different forms, which divine wis- that this salvation was of God. dom had adapted to the times and Truth requires neither artifice nor ignorance of the respective ages. A
A violence to support it; but spiripompous worship was long in use, tual truth, though shown by the the rites of which being but the strongest evidence, is nevertheless images of good things to come, effectually resisted by the heart of were superseded by the presence man, until changed, in some unof the things themselves; and when known manner, by the same Power the whole plan of salvation had by which it was at first created.. been opened, the same worship of The gospel exhibits at the same the heart, which had always been time the indefectible rectitude, and demanded, was required also as the astonishing mercy of the divine chareligion of the gospel. We are now racter, and their reconciliation, in taught, that salvation is from the the redemption of guilty man; mercy of God in Christ, and that evincing, to the surprise of angelic none are saved, unless made meet natures, that God can maintain his for heaven. The gospel exhibits justice, support the dignity of his the pardon of sin, without which government, and yet save the guilty we could have no hope ; and pro- believer. It discovers full scope to mises the aids of the Spirit, which have been given to moral agency, though sovereign and gratuitous, are and that nevertheless all the glory all important to us in the work of of man's salvation belongs to God. opposing our own corruptions. The It breathes peace, promotes the love doctrines of the resurrection, and of God and man, casts a light upon the judgment, excite the languish the path of life, and gives a solid ing energies of the feeble saint, ani- ground of hope, opening to our view mate to further efforts, and fire his an eternity of happiness, and renzeal. That the work of judgment dering even death itself a victory. should be committed to him, who
J. P. Wilson. bore our likeness and obeyed for us ; that he who assumed the work of a Redeemer should possess the
On proclaiming and hearing the divine nature, and be thus able to
Gospel. procure for his people eternal life, A religion without moral purity, is highly consolatory to the humble can neither please the righteous Godisciple. That there might be full vernor of the universe, nor secure
any lasting benefit to the worship- every one, who thus receives him, per. His laws are spiritual, and re- will be saved. A persuasion that quire no duties, but such as are from Christ is ours, is not a saving faith; proper motives and to proper ends; it may be a fruit of it, or it may be without faith it is impossible to self deception. Faith is an assent
to truth; and if saving, a consent to To persuade men, that they can spiritual good, with a dependance be saved, either for their works, or upon Christ; whether accompanied faith, is to reject the only sacrifice or not by an assurance of acceptfor sin. To teach, that men can be
It must exist before it is saved, either without works, or faith, seen: “Examine yourselves, wheis equally an error, if there be a ca- ther
be in the faith.” pacity of, and an opportunity for The gospel is not to be proclaimthem. Men are not to be advised ed without the law, nor the law anto amend their ways as a prepara- nounced without the gospel. No tion for faith; their duty is nothing one will effectually apply to the Sashort of coming immediately to viour, until he has discovered his Christ. To tell men, that because need of him: this the law exhibits; they are unable to believe, they its justice, spirituality and extenmust perform duties in hope of siveness, when seen, evince man's grace, is to offer them an excuse guilt and impotency. The written for unbelief, and to misrepresent precepts are important to the saint their want of inclination, as physi- also, to discover his duty and decal, not moral. To encourage men fects, and to lead him to humility. to improve common, that they may But to prescribe the law as a rule obtain special assistance from the of duty to the unregenerate, and to Holy Spirit, is to exhort them to
encourage them to obey it, either work for life, and so to attach me- for life, or to extenuate their guilt, rit to their works, as to admit boast- is to wave repentance, and encouring; whereas the true principle of age sin. obedience should be love to God, Allurements and terrors have and the chief motive an aim at his been thought to create a moral ne. glory. Every duty should be spi- cessity and to destroy liberty. But ritual, for without the heart, it has the party still chooses, and is therelost its character. Men are to be fore free; nevertheless, an action enjoined to do whatever is com- arising either from mere terror, or manded, not only with sincerity, the expectation only of advantage, humility, and dependance upon God has no merit in it. It may be good, if for his grace, but all this from a de- the hope and fear precede, or be consire of moral rectitude, and a sub- comitant unto, the love of holiness. mission to his preceptive will. The Appeals to the affections of the unvery prayer for grace, when such as regenerate are therefore proper, as it should be, is the exercise of grace, well as scriptural, and suited to the and thus ensures its own answer of condition of human nature. They peace.
may even exhibit the
mercy of God, The offer of salvation by Christ who directs them, as a father, for is not to be restricted to the chosen, our good. but the invitation is to be made to The love of God which respects all, even the vilest, true repentance our own advantage alone, and not being not in order of time, though his moral excellence, may spring in order of nature, antecedent to be- from a false persuasion, and have lieving. Wherever there is true nothing spiritual in it. There may faith, there are also fruits of
be a desire of holiness, and many tance. It is faith, not the offer, that and long prayers for regenerating secures an interest in Christ. And grace, where happiness, not holisupposes an ho
ness, nor the glory of God, is de- cross of Christ. Many are prepared sired. There is a fitness and ten- to acknowledge their guilt by nadency in prayer, and other duties, ture and practice, both in prayer to produce right dispositions; yet and conversation, who have never whenever the mind is so disposed, felt the burden of sin, and are very the glory belongs to grace, because comfortable in the use of means, man is naturally and prevailingly trusting, as they think, to the mercy evil. But to suppose man is not of God. Such are rarely, if ever, obliged to holy duties, unless grace brought into the fold of Christ, be given, is a monstrous perversion whilst this hope continues. But of the gospel, exculpation of man, when they consider themselves lost, and impeachment of divine justice that is the happy time, when the to ascribe holiness to man, in exclu- promise is fulfilled of the Holy Spision of the special influences of the rit, “ to convince them of sin." divine spirit, is equally an error;
Few in our churches avow a defor it is a denial of natural corrup- pendance upon the rectitude of tion, an idolatrous exaltation of the their intentions and conduct; they creature, and an invasion of the discern, that, “by the deeds of the glory, which belongs to God only. law, no flesh can be justified.” As
That persuasion of our own rec- this hope when entertained, is withtitude, which offers the apology of out the claim of an interest in Christ, our sincerity, will not justify error, so is it without a conformity unto where the means exist of better in- || his image. To claim as an excuse, formation. For it
the want of grace, is not only to supnest and impartial inquiry, which is
the innocence of the unbeliever, never, in such case, the fact. It it is to assume that grace is not graalso supposes, that sufficient means tuitous, but debt. of discriminating truth from false- When the word and ordinances hood have not been afforded. This produce respectful attention, or doctrine will justify the vilest and please the hearers, without awakenhardiest sinners, in their absurd ing a desire of salvation, or a fear claims of innocence, whilst those of of final condemnation: when we more tender consciences, and great-worship from week to week wither fears of offending, will be, for out knowing any more of ourselves, these reasons, adjudged guilty. To or possessing any anxiety about reaccount the want of a heart to offer | ligion, there is something wrong; a right worship, a calamity rather false peace, or an insensibility to than a crime, is to make the law the motives addressed by the gosand gospel void, both demanding pel. The worship and ordinances, spiritual worship. It is to justify which are attended without any senthe wicked in their opposition, and sible effect, leaving men still asleep to encourage them in disobedience, in dangerous security, miss their debecause they choose it. It is to say, sign. But if they awaken the conthat unbelief is no crime, where science, render guilt more conspiman's prejudices exclude the truth; cuous, and sin more odious, if they and that a rejection of every thing produce efficient resolutions, of spiritual in Christianity is allow- taking up the cross, and despising able, if the doctrines be too holy for the vanities of this world, they bethe carnal heart. But neither doc- come really advantageous. trines, worship, nor obedience, can Worship on earth is often a faint be deemed religion, where there is representation of heaven. In both, not an entire resignation to the di- but in different degrees, there is a vine will; “Lord, what wilt thou vision of Christ; in the one by faith, have me to do ?” Without this, in the other, face to face. The true there has been no submission to the worshipper, in each, bears a resem