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“ Knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel.” Phil. i. 17.
[No. 9. Vol. II.
To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate. which the gospel was intended to in.
troduce. There is no evidence to CRITICISM ON ROMANS viii. 19-22.
show that the gentiles, previous to the THE following verses are involved in publication of Christianity, were sensigreat obscurity in our version. They ble of their extreme ignorance of God read thus: “For the earnest expectation and the only way of salvation. They of the creature waiteth for the manises- knew that the Jews were earnestly extation of the sons of God. For the crea- pecting a messenger from heaven, ture was made subject to vanity, not wil. who, they fondly believed, would delingly, but by reason of him who hath liver their nation from servitude and subjected the same in hope ; because oppression, and not only restore their the creature itself shall also be delivered pristine prosperity and grandeur, but from the bondage of corruption into the give them an unrivalled superiority glorious liberty of the children of God." over all the kingdoms of the world.
The original word xtitis, the key Suetonius informs us, there was an anto the whole clause, is variously trans- cient and constant tradition over all the lated. Rosenmuller renders it, “ the eastern countries, that a great prince nature of things; " Macknight, "every should spring out of Judea. But that human creature; Doddridge supposes, the coming of this great personage it has a reference to the whole unevan- should be the means of " opening their gelized world, and that the apostle," by eyes, of bringing them from darkness a bold prosopopoeia, represents it as to light, and from the power of satan looking out with anxious, eager expec. unto God,” was an idea that had never tation, for such a relief and remedy entered into their philosophy, or vain as the gospel brings; by which human deceit, and consequently could not be nature would be finally rescued from the object of their ardent hopes or vanity and corruption, and inferiour anticipations. creatures from tyranny and abuse." The verses, in their present form, are
To this interpretation there is an im- deficient both in perspicuity and punctuportant, and, 1 apprehend, serious ob- ation. The explanation I would sugjection--that it is not true, that the gest, is approved by Schleusner, and, heathen world were impatiently desire indeed, it is the only one that is coinciing, according to the import of the dent with the whole scope and tenor word atoxagadoxice, that the misery of the apostle's argument. and wretchedness, to which man was By rendering xTICIS, the new creasubjected, by the power and dominion tion, the simple sense of the whole will of sin, should be removed, and that the be this: “Christians oppressed with va. glorious change should take place, rious and heavy afflictions, are impa-, 34
ADVOCATE, VOL. II.
tiently awaiting the time when it shall the least, said he. Do you, I inquired appear, who the sons of God are, (for further, believe, that Jesus Christ, the Christians have been subjected to this apostles, and the prophets, lived and oppression, not willingly, but by God, taught and verified their teachings, in who, for the disobedience of Adam, has all respects as related in the bible ? All rendered them liable to such persecu• that I most fully believe, was the reply. tions and troubles,) in hope that they Very well, said I, then I trust you will themselves shall be set free from the acknowledge, that those teachings, or bondage of corruption, and brought into revelations, as I prefer to call them, the glorious liberty of the children of exhibit your duty—the rule of faith God."
and practice, by which you “ought This interpretation is strongly cor- to walk, and to please God.” I acroborated by the subsequent verses. knowledge it. Now, sir, I continuFor of whom, but the new creation, can ed, do you not feel free to keep or to it be said, that they were groaning and violate that rule ? Are you not con. travailing under the pressure of the scious, that it is a question to be decidmiseries of life? Not of the gentiles or ed in your breast, by your own faculof animated nature. Of whom, if not ties, whether you shall keep it or not? of Christians, dues Paul speak, when Are you sensible of any want of freehe says, not only they, but even we dom or liberty in thinking, willing, or also, though we have received the first acting ? I confess, he answered, I feel fruits of the Spirit, groan within our- perfectly free to do my duty, or to selves, waiting for a deliverance from leave it undone. What more would death, as our adoption ? Such an asser- you have? said I, and what do you tion could not be predicated of the un- expect to gain by engaging in the difevangelized world, and therefore must ficulties and perplexities of a metapbybe understood in the senise I have pro- sical theology, to solve which, requires, posed.
perhaps, less knowledge of truth, than Should this exposition be not satisface of logick? That kind of theology is tory to the readers of the Gospel Advo- built more on words, than on things. cate, I shall be happy to learn the rea- However, if this does not satisfy you, sons.
I will try another method. The diffiA STUDENT OF THEOLOGY, culty you propose, being a metaphysi
cal one, you must allow me to treat it
metaphysically. If, while I admit that To the Fditor of the Gospel Advocate.
the scriptures assert the doctrine of dia Some time since a gentleman observed vine foreknowledge, you also will ad. to me, that he had thought much on mit, that they assert the doctrine of the subject of the divine foreknowledge, buian freedom, and there let the matin connexion with that of human free. ter rest, I'will be content. But if not, dom and accountableness, and that his since your objection excludes the tes. “cogitations much troubled him.” He timony of scripture, I shall deny that could not see, he said, why God's fore- there is, properly speaking, foreknowknowledge of actions or events, did not ledge with God. impose upon them a necessity, equally Returning to my lodgings after the irresistible and irremoveable with that interview, I threw ihe argument, which which would be imposed by a positive was introduced by this last observation, order or decree. | asked him, if he into form in my common place book ; bad any doubts about the existence of whence I now transcribe it. an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipre. To ascribe to God foreknowledge, sent, and all-boly Deity, the Creator what is it but to assert, that change, or and Governour of the universe ? Never the succession of one thing to another,
takes place in the divine mind ? It than the knowledge of a human indisurely cannot be said, that at one pe- vidual, who is present at and witnesses riod he knows, that a certain deed will an action, makes that action necessary. be executed, and at a subsequent pe. As was observed above, God's knowriod sees the actual execution. If he ledge of an action, and his seeing the is omniscient, omnipresent, and un- performance of it, are perfectly conchangeable, attributes granted by all, temporaneous, and I may almost say, then all events, that, according to our identical ; he does not at one period way of speaking, have taken place, know and subsequently see ; he aland all events that will take place, are ways knows and he always sees. eternally before him, in one concen. Hence that, which he knows and sees, trated view. To know an event is, canpot but be an existing object, bewith him, to see it transpiring; he does cause, to appeal to an old axion, a not first discover it at a distance, and thing cannot be, and not be at the after an interval behold it present; it is same time. I can have no idea of any always present. Hence with Deity necessity in the case but this ; and this, all is present knowledge and present most evidently, is not an exculpating perception.
necessity. In short, the divine Being It has been asserted, that God's may, perhaps, be said to know an ac. knowledge of events, that are future to tion, because he sees it performing; us, is properly called foreknowledge. and his seeing the performance, creates In relation to men, they say, it is fore, no more necessity, than any other beknowledge. Now no one pretends, ing's seeing it. that the knowledge of God, considered Notwithstanding the reasoning, which absolutely, imposes on human actions I attempted in this case, and which, a necessity, which affects either their upon more mature reflection, I cannot freedom their accountableness. see to be entirely destitute of justness, Hence it is difficult to see how that I seriously question wbether there is knowledge, when considered in a re- not much better reason for letting such lation, that is purely hypothetical, topicks rest, without discussion, preshould impose such necessity. Does a cisely where revelation has left them, necessity grow out of the relation? I than for employing ourselves in curious am sure it will not be asserted. It is endeavours to clear them of difficulevident, that no proposition can place ties. The frequent discussion of them the divine Being in a relation, which evidently tends to embarrass the mind is inconsistent with his attributes, and of the unlearned ; and I am not cerwhich conducts to erroneous views of tain, that it does not tend to vitiate bis nature, his character, or his go- the mind of the learned. Whether I vernment; or to erroneous views of have“ betrayed myself to my own the nature and obligations of men. reproof," is a question of which I shall
The objector asks, If God certainly say nothing. foreknew, that an event would take place, how was it in the power to prevent it, that is, to frustrate the di,
To the Editor of the Gospel Advocate. vine prescience, and on what principle In looking over the pages of an old can be be made to answer for that, book, called a "Guide for the doubting, which he could not control ? But if
and a cordial for the fainting saint,” the all the knowledge of God is present author of which was Benjamin Wads. knowledge, and if, strictly speaking, it is improper to ascribe foreknowledge worth, * a Calvinistick dissenter, and to bim, then his knowledge of an event pastor of a congregation in Boston, or action, no more makes it necessary, * Afterwards President of Harvard College.
in the beginning of the last century; I that there are but some, and, probably, was particularly struck with some ob. but few sincere Christians that can tell servations upon the nature of conver- the particular time of their conversion, and have copied them for publica sion.
tell it, but protion in the Advocate, as confirming the, bably there are but few that can. sentiments which were sometime since Paul could tell the very day when be expressed in a letter that was presented was converted; it was on such a day to your readers
upon the same subject. when he was going to Damascus I think, moreover, that the extracts are to persecute the saints. But we do not well calculated to quiet the fears and know that Peter, or James, or John, apprehensions of those humble and knew the particular day of their conpious persons, who are in a great mea- version. There are many whom we sure deprived of the consolations of re- cannot but charitably bnpe are truly ligion, from the circumstance that they pious, who know nothing of the partihave never experienced that sudden cular time of their new birth. Mr. Baxand extraordinary change, which has ter, in his book upon infant baptism, taken place in some of their acquain. says, 'For my own part, I aver it from tance, and which has been represented my heart, that I ither know the day to them as essential, in all cases, to spi- nor the year when I began to be sincere. ritual welfare and acceptance with God. I was once, be continues, in a meeting of
S. very many Christians, most eminent for “Some Christians are greatly dis. zeal and holiness of most in the land, of quieted and discouraged, because they whom divers were ministers, and some do not know the particular time of at this day as famous, and as much fol. their conversion. Possibly, the Chris. lowed as any I know in England, and tian will say, so far as I know my it was there desired, that every one own beart, I hate the ways of sin, I should give in the manner of their condesire firmly to rely on Christ alone version, that it might be observed what for salvation, and to lead a holy life, was God's ordinary way; and there yet I fear all is not right and sound at was but one that I remember of them all, bottom; I doubt I was never truly con- that could conjecture at the time of their verted. For conversion is a very great first conversion.' change; it is a person's coming out of "Secondly, 'Tis commonly thought the kingdom of satan into the kingdom that those ordinarily know least of the of Christ; 'tis a changing of masters; a particular time of their conversion, who turning from sin to God; a rising from have been best furnished with the means death to life ; 'tis, indeed, a great of grace, and been kept from scandalchange; and who can experience this ous sins. They have bad convictions, change, but that he must needs know doubts, fears, and hopes from their the time of it? Nay, I can discourse childhood. Nor can they say, whether with, or hear of some, who can tell the parental instruction, reading God's time of their conversion. They can say, word, or hearing it preached, was,
first. that at such a time they were first con- ly, instrumental of saving good to their vinced and wrought upon ; that such a souls. "So is the kingdom of God, as particular text, or such a particular ser- if a man should cast seed into the mon, or such a remarkable providence, ground, and should sleep, and rise night was peculiarly instrumental of their and day, and his seed should spring conversion ; but as for my part, I know and grow up, he knoweth not how.' nothing of the particular time of my Thirdly, if thou art converted, thou turning from sin to God, and, therefore, shalt go safe to heaven, though thou I doubt I was never truly converted.' knowest not the time of thy conversion, Now, to this case, I would say, first, If thou dost heartily hate and loathe all
thy sins, dost hearlily trust in Christ for the best and most enlightened, with the pardon and salvation, heartily desiring foulest disgrace, and rendered it, as it and endeavouring to be truly holy, were, a carcase, ready, (according to then thou art certainly converted, the figurative language of our Lord,) though thou dost not know the particu. for the eagles of vengeance to gather lar time when. These things are the over, and consume. fruits, and so the proofs, of converting We see this feeling of the sacred grace. If they are in thee thou mayest writer's mind, when we read, as in the take comfort, rejoice, and be thankful. first chapter, “lay apart all filthiness In many persons, God often times be- and superfluity of naughtiness, and regins and carries on the work of grace ceive with meekness the engrafted insensibly, so that they come to good word, (the word engrafted upon the growth and maturity, before they know religion, in which, as Jews, you bave that they are alive. How our eyes confided) which is able to save your were opened we know not, only one souls.” “ Be ye doers of the word, thing we know, whereas we were blind, and not hearers only, deceiving your now we see."-Wadsworth's Guide, own selves." The influence of the Boston edition, 1720. pp. 88-92. same strong solicitude for the correc
tion of gross and shameful errour, ap
pears, when, as in the second chapter, SERMON.-No. XVIII.
St. James says,
“ whosoever shall keep
the whole law, and yet offend in one James iii. 1.—My brethren, be not point, (whosoever shall keep all the many masters; knowing that
law besides, with exact and rigid conreceive the greater condemnation.
formity,) and yet (under the sanction THERE is scarcely any of the epistles, of the corrupt notion which prevails which have been received into the among you, wilfully and consciously) canon of the new testament, in the pe- offend in one favourite point of sin, he rusal of which, there is necessary so is guilty of all”-and in the end of the careful a reference to the circumstances chapter, “ as the body without the of the character and condition of those spirit is dead, so faith without works immediately addressed, as that of which is dead also.” Here also, in the text, these words are part. Almost every with which the third chapter of the thing which St. James, in a manner so epistle is introduced, St. James with interesting, and so peculiarly his own, ardent concern for the honour of their inculcates upon those, to whom he is religion, and their own happiness and writing, (wbom we find to be the good, directs his admonition against twelve tribes scattered abroad,) be- peculiar characteristick offences of the speaks the existence of a corrupt cha. people whom he addresses. Not in racter of sentiment and manners, at Judea only, but in the places of their this time prevalent, as well among those dispersion, the Jews had among them, who had embraced, in general, the their doctors of the law, who, by an profession of the gospel, as among the imposition of bands, were authorized nation of the Jews at large: and there to be teachers and expounders of the is a solicitude manifest in the mind of law to others. This distinction be. the writer, for the removal of errours came much an object of inordinate and which are wholly inconsistent with the ill-judged ambition; and there were true faith of Jesus, and the genuine de- doubtless not a few among them, who sign and tendency of his religion; and were justly subject to the animadverabuses and perversions of the law itself, sion of St. Paul in the introduction to and its principles, which covered the nation, even when its condition was