Images de page
PDF
ePub

1

!

the subject and action of baptism, have reduced it to a mere form of making the Christian profession-a door into their church. But when in, they har. monize in every thing with those without the pale of their communion, orthodox in their opinions of the true theory of Christian doctrine. So that among all these parties there is no true and scriptural dispensation of Christian baptism.

Baptism, according to the apostolic church, is both “a sign," and "a sealof remission of all former sins. In this sense only, does os baptism now sade us.” Not in putting away the filth of the flesh, but in obtaining a good conscience through faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.This faith in our hearis is expressed in the sign of baptism, our burial and resurrection with him, indicated by an immersion in water and an emersion out of it.

Circumcision is said to have been, in one case at least, a sign and a seal. Baptism, in the same sense, and in a similar case, is also both a sign and a seal-the sign, however, at most, is only indicative of what has been sealed. Such, indeed, are all sensible signs. The sense, we may say, is in the sign, and the confirmations in the seal. Thus circumcision, or cutting round, and cutting off, was a sign of the insulation or separation of Abraham and his seed from every other nation and people. But to Abraham himself, previously possessed of faith in the promised Messiah, it was also a seal, or confirmation of that faith and its rightfulness which he had experienced and expressed before he was circumcised. But such it was not to either Ishmael or Isaac. To them it was a sign of their separation from other tribes and a people, and a confirmation that they were of the seed of Abraham and heirs of Canaan, according to a divine charter.

Baptism, though not an antitype of a type, a sign of a sign, or a seal of a seal, as some system makers would make it when representing it as coming in the room and standing in the stead of circumcision, is, indeed, analogous to circumcision as the Sabbath to the Lord's day, or as the Passover to the Lord's supper, especially in this:—that in one point it is a sign of the burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and of our burial and resurrection in and with him, and in another point of view, a seal of the righteousness of faith, or the remission of all our past sins through faith in his blood, then and in that act publicly expressed and confirmed. This, most unquestionably, is its place, its meaning, and importance in the Christian institution. This, and no other view of it, now entertained by professing Christians, fully expounds and exhausts all that is said of it in the Apostolic Scriptures, in the abstracts of Christian doctrine and formulas of the primitive and ancient church, as well as in the sayings and expositions of our most gifted, learned, and Christian expositors of the Christian doctrine, a few samples of which, and but a few of those in our possession have now been presented to the reader. Yet these are, we presume to say, enough to reconcile us to such sayings as these:-“He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”_"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins."'-"Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins." -The like figure corresponding thereunto, baptism doth save us.,” &c. &c. Not, indeed, that there is in the mere element of water, or in the form of placing the subject in it, or in the person that administers it, or in the for'mula used upon the occasion, though both good taste and piety have something to do in these particulars, but all its virtue and efficacy is in the faith and intelligence of him that receives it.

To him that believeth and repenteth of his sins, and to none else, then, we may safely say 'be baptized for the remission of your sins,' and it will surely be granted by the Lord, and enjoyed by the subject with an assurance and an evidence which the word and ordinances of the Lord alone can bestow.

A. C.

FAMILY CULTURE. CONVERSATIONS AT THE CARLTON HOUSE-No. II.

EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.

Olympas. Henry, repeat the second paragraph of the first chapter of the epistle.

“First of all, I thank my God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, for you all, that your faith is published in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve sincerely in the gospel of his Son, that continually I make mention of you; always in my prayers requesting that, by some means, now at length, I may have a prosperous journey (God willing,) to come to you. For I greatly desire to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, that you may be estab. lished, and that I may be comforted, together with you, through the mutual faith both of you and me.”

Olympas. According to our usual custom, I proceed to ask, Has any thing occurred to any of you in your reflections on our last lesson requiring farther consideration?

Ephraim. On looking into Locke, Taylor of Norwich, Macknight, Stuart, and Tholuck, on this subject, I discover we have them with us in regard to the phrases "according to the flesh,according to the spirit of holiness," as antithetical and indicative of his human and divine nature; and the latter as similar to the phrase, “who through the Eternal Spirit," (Heb. ix. 14,] declarative of his spiritual or divine nature. But we have Doddridge, Clark, Boothroyd, Wakefield, &c., understanding it as the Holy Spirit raising him from the dead.

Olympas. Were I to be influenced by critical talent anc .earning in a question of this sort, I would rather think with Locke, Tholuck, Stuart, &c., &c., than with those you can array against them.

But if I must differ from both classes in any one point, it would be this—that his being “declared to be the Son of God with power by the Spirit of holiness,” or the Holy Spirit,” was not by the fact of his resurrection, but after his resurrection and ascension, when the Holy Spirit descended to justify him from the charges alleged against him on trial, in the presence of Annas and Caiaphas, and also in the presence of Pontius Pilate. By them he was condemned as an impostor. But after his resurrection he was “justified by the Spirit” and declared to be the Son of God with a power which in Jerusalem marvellously told upon the consciences and the hearts of myriads of Jews.

Clement. If I were to note any thing in the first paragraph as calling for any remark, it would be, that there is no church of Rome, SERIES 111-VOL. VI.

7

or church in Rome, addressed in the epistle. The word church is no where in this epistle applied to the persons addressed in it. It is a letter addressed to all the saints in Rome; of these there may have been several churches; such as that mentioned chapter xvi. 5, in the house of Priscilla and Aquila.

Olympas. Of all the churches addressed by Paul in his fourteen epistles, only one is honored with an exclusive letter. But three persons are addressed in four of them; and, with the single exception of the Thessalonians, all the others named extend beyond a single community.

The community in the imperial city was doubtless very large, else its faith could not have been so conspicuous as to be known and celebrated over the whole empire. I note these matters now; we shall have use for them again, perhaps, on several occasions. Be. fore we dismiss the introduction of this celebrated letter we will ask mother Julia for a remark, if she have one to make, on it.

Julia. I would only request the attention of the children to the benediction pronounced by Paul on this great community, as containing in it the choicest blessings which this great Apostle could desire for this beloved people. Two words comprehend it all GRACE AND PEACE!! Grace and Peace emanating alike from the Father and the Son! Is not this the communion of the Holy Ghost?,

Olympas. I own that 2d Corinthians xiii. 14, might be rendered “the favor of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God-even the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all!” But if any dispute this, I only ask what can be added to the love of God and the grace of Christ? Is not the fruition of these—the everlasting and infinite love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit? But we proceed to the next paragraph.

What, Susan, have you to remark on this paragraph?

Susan. It appears that Paul thought it necessary to call God to witness the truth of what he said and what he wrote. It also appears that he felt himself serving God, by preaching the gospel of his Son, and that the gospel of his Son is the same as the gospel of God; for so he calls it in the first verse. He also says that he constantly mentioned the Roman Christians in his prayers. Now I will inquire, Did not the Apostle name the same persons whom he prayed for? I ask this because I never hear any one except yourself name in {public prayer, whether in the family or church, particular persons and particular communities. I hear allusions to characters, and descriptions of persons prayed for; but why not

name the persons and the communities for whom we intercede and for whom we pray or give thanks?

Olympas. What say you, brother Clement?

Clement. I confess there appears to be more scriptural simplicity, more sincerity and earnestness in naming the objects of our prayers to God as we name them to one another. When I hear Paul pray for the Romans and others by name, as when he says, “May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus," I feel like naming when at home or abroad, whether present with them or absent, those for whom I pray and give thanks.

Olympas. Let us, then, henceforth when we pray for any one sick or afflicted, or for any people in distress, let us name them as we would when speaking of them to one another.

Ephraim. The matter of prayer, the manner of prayer, the spirit of prayer, are all important considerations; but may I ask James, was Paul's prayer respecting his visit to Rome answered?

James. If his being shipwrecked on his way, and if his going there a prisoner with a chain on his person, constituted a prosperous journey, then his prayer was answered. For these he assuredly had to endure.

Olymras. Temporal and worldly losses and misfortunes-even sickness, imprisonment, and shipwreck,-may all be compatible with great spiritual prosperity and usefulness. Hence Paul's journey to Rome may have been more prosperous through these afflictions and disasters than otherwise it could have been. Indeed, but for his appeal to Cesar, he might have had no access to his household, and to other influential persons: nay, but for these apparent disasters and difficulties, he could not have been so well attended by a Roman soldier for two years in his own house, at the great metropolis of the Empire. He desired to impart some of those spiritual gifts which were communicated by the imposition of his hands for the establishment of the brethren in their faith and in his mission, that by these means he might gain access to the Pagan citizens of Rome.

What, Susan, do you infer from the 13th verse?

Susan. That, like certain uninspired men, Paul formed. purposes which were not in accordance with the divine will, and therefore his purposes were occasionally frustrated.

Olympas. And what, James, do you infer froin the 14th verse?

James. Paul, because of his gifts, or the favors he had received from the Lord, felt himself indebted to the Lord, and therefore desired to pay that debt by preaching the gospel to learned and unlearned, to the polished Greek and the rude Barbarian.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Olympas. And what, Henry, do you learn from the 15th verse?

Henry. The Greeks, and after them the Romans, we read, gloried much in philosophy and eloquence. Still, despite of all their erudition and wisdom, in morals they grew worse and worse. Paul, knowing this and the virtue of the gospel, rather gloried in its power to reform the world, than feared opposition or felt shame in preaching it.

Clement. Paul calls the gospel “the power of God to salvationto all that believe. I desire to hear this subject discussed. I have long regarded this and the following verse as the great proposition of the Epistle to the Romans. What precedes these verses is mere salutation or introduction. This is the theme of the letter. I desire, therefore, to hear a full development of the 17th verse. In the 16th verse we have a very imposing affirmation—that all the divine energy, or the saving efficacy of Almighty Love, is instrumentally displayed in the gospel. And the reason given is,—“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith-as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Subtracting from this passage the quotation from Habbakuk, the mysterious power of the gospel is fully announced in the words, For therein is the righteousness of God revealed, from faith to faith;and, subtracting from this again the principle or manner by which this power is made to bear on a fallen world “from faith to faith,” we have the whole moral and spiritual force of the gospel represented in the words following: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed.What can this mysterious righteousness be?

Olympas. I am obliged to you, brother Clement, for laying this matter before my family in such a simple manner; yet in a way so charming and alluring as more than ever before to interest us all in it. I concur with you that this is the glory, and power, and majesty of the gospel—that it is simply a revelation of the righteousness of God. Let me, then, in this simple and beautiful form keep it before us by propounding to all present a few questions on this grand disclosure.

What, Ephraim, do you understand by “the righteousness of God”?

Ephraim. I do not think it means his justice or any attribute of his nature. For the gospel is a revelation rather of the mercy than of the justice of God. Indeed, it is a revelation of both perfections, harmonizing in absolving man from guilt. Hence “the righteousness of God” here presented to our view, is neither divine justice nor the justice or righteousness of his law. It is a righteousness of

« PrécédentContinuer »