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justify a man for any work of which he is capable, would be to confirin him in carnality, selfishness and pride. But convinced, humbled, emptied of himself, and learning, through faith in the gospel, that God has provided a ransom for the ruined, the wretched, and the undone, he gladly accepts pardon through sovereign mercy, and humbles himself to a state of absolute dependence on the merits and mercy of another. Justification by faith in Christ is, then, the em. bodiment of views in perfect harmony with truth-with our condition, with the whole revealed character of God, and necessarily tends to humility, gratitude, piety and humanity, while justification sought by works as naturally tends to pride, ingratitude, impiety and inhumanity.
Such being the true philosophy of justification by faith, and of justification sought and supposed to be obtained by works of law, we need not marvel that the God of all grace after having sent his Son into our world to become a sacrifice for us to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification, should have instituted faith in him in his death, burial and resurrection ; as the means of a perfect reconciliation to himself, commanding us not only to cherish this faith in our hearts, but exhibit it by a visible death to sin; a burial with Christ to sin, and a rising again to walk in a new life, expressed and symbolized by an immersion in water into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, not as a work of righteousness, but as a mere confession of our faith in what he did for us, and of our fixed purpose to walk in him. Hence it is the only suitable institution to such an indication, as being not a moral work of righteousness, but a mere passive surrendering of ourselves to die, to be buried, and to be raised again by the merit and aid of another.
Baptism is, therefore, no work of law, no moral duty, no moral righteousness, but a simple putting on of Christ and placing ourselves wholly in his hand and under his guidance. It is an open, sensible, voluntary expression of our faith in Christ, a visible embodiment of faith, to which, as being thus perfected, the promise of remission of sins is Divinely annexed. In one word, it is faith perfected. Hence, when Paul exegetically developes its blessings, he says—"But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our Lord.* Thus justification, sanctification, and adoption the three most pre. cious gifts of the gospel are evangelically connected with faith in the Lord Jesus, and baptism into his death.
* 1 Cor. vi. 11.
The immediate baptism of the first converts, after faith is satis. factorily explained in this view of it; three thousand, in one day, believed and were baptized. The jailor and his family were enlightened, believed, and were baptized the same hour of the night. Paul himself, so soon as he had recovered from the influence of the supernatural brightness which deprived him of sight, and before he had eaten or drank any thing, was commanded, without delay, to be forthwith baptized. And he arose and was baptized.” Baptism, with them, was the perfecting or confession of their faith.
The Ethiopian Eunuch, on his journey in the desert, is as striking an example of this as are the cases named.
putting on Christ,” as their righteousness.
Baptism, without faith, is of no value whatever; for, in truth, baptism is but the actual and symbolic profession of faith. It is its legitimate embodiment and consummation. And whatever virtue there is in it, or connected with it, is but the virtue of faith in the blood of Christ applied to the conscience and to the heart. The burial in water is a burial with Christ and in Christ. For in him shall all the seed of Israel,” the believing children of Abraham, “ be justified, and in him," and not in themselves, shall they glory.” It is, then, the sensible and experimental deliverance from both the guilt and the pollution of sin; and for this reason, or in this view of it, believing penitents, when inquiring what they should do, were uniformly commanded by the ambassadors of Christ to be “ baptized for the remission of sins," as God's own way, under the New Institution, of receiving sinners into favor, through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son, into whose name especially, as well as by whose mediatorial authority, they were commanded to be, on confession, buried in baptism.
Salvation, in the aggregate, is all of grace; and all the parts of it are, consequently, gracious. Nor do we, in truth, in obeying the gospel, or in being buried in baptism, make void either law or gospel, but establish and confirm both.
TRUTH and reason never cause revolutions on the earth; they are the fruit of experience, which can only be exercised when the passions are at rest; they excite not in the heart those furious emotions which shake empires to their base. The revolutions which occur during the progress of truth are always beneficial to society, and are only burthensome to those who deceive and oppress it. SERIES IV.-VOL. I.
CHRISTIAN KNOCKINGS No. II. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me.
The AMEN, the faithful and true WITNESS, the Beginning of the creation of God.-Rev. iii. 14, 20.
We have already adverted to man's spiritual susceptibility. We have found that they who deny, in general, the existence of direct spiritual communication in these our days of philosophical refinement, admit, at least, that Satan still retains this power. And well they may, for the proofs of it are abundant. To what other source, for instance, shall we attribute it, that a man in the night watches, in the midst of silence and darkness, where there is neither word, nor look, nor gesture, to suggest ideas: that a man, I say, under these circumstances, as it appears in confessions of criminals, shall have thrown into his mind suggestions of crime; that he shall then form conceptions of atrocious iniquity, and in these seemingly solitary communings with himself, digest and arrange his nefarious purposes, and nerve himself to carry them into execution? The questions here are simply these: Does man himself originate evil? If not, Is not Satan, in the case supposed, just as present in the individual thus cogitating and resolving, as is the soul of this individual itself? And again, on the other hand, when a man, under similar circumstances, devises plans of beneficence; when he feels his heart burning with desire to accomplish good, and with love to God and men; when he is filled with inexpressible happiness in the contem- plation of the divine character, and with earnest desires and fixed determinations to fulfil the obligations of duty, is not the Holy Spirit of God just as present to that man as is his own spirit? How is it possible for any one to make a difference? Are we to refer such reflections to re-awakened memories of the past, or explain their cause away, as a simple association of ideas? The question will then recur, Who awakened these memories? Who associated these ideas, so as to lead to such results? Are human affairs fortuitous? Is man ruled and directed by chance ? or is there a plan in his destiny and a method in his progress?
But it is not necessary to take cases where individuals are wholly secluded from external avenues of communication, and where it is manifestly impossible for them to receive any suggestions through the bodily senses. We hold it to be impossible for any mortal to trace always to words, gestures, looks, or any other external modes of exciting mental action, the thoughts and reflections which pass through the mind in the midst of day and in the usual pursuits of life. It is in the city, amidst the crowd, in the busiest mart of commerce, that we would willingly select the example, and we should in vain call upon our mental philosopher to trace to external circumstances each thought that presented itself to the mind during the brief period of a single day. It is true, indeed, that the general current of thought may be found connected with the particular matters in which the individual is engaged. It may be shown that the words, looks, ges. tures, &c., of his associates, have suggested various ideas to his mind. But this will not be enough. It will fairly devolve upon the propounder of the theory in question, to show that it is applicable to all the workings of the mind, and that it can account for the origin of every thought and of every impulse that may have been commu nicated to it.
It is perfectly natural, that the general train of a man's ideas should be directly connected with the impressions made on his senses by the things around him. Every such impression is a knock at a door of the mind, which opens readily at the summons. But the mind must have more doors than the senses furnish, else inspiration would be impossible, and revelation incredible. It is doubtless the well known general connection of thought with the things around, that has led many to suppose all thought to be thus connected, and man to be thus a mere creature of circumstances; a shapeless mass, fashioned by the plastic power of accident; a fragile bark, without captain, crew or pilot, impelled by every wind, and the sport of every wave. By nothing, however, in the wide-spread domains of nature, has the suggestion ever been made to the minds of these philosophers that there may be a great difference between the ordinary working of the mind's machinery, and the forces by which that machinery is moved, and between both of these and the influences by which the course of an individual is directed. However powerful the apparatus which propels a missile, it is not to be confounded with the force that moves, much less with the circumstances, often slight and imperceptible, which give direction to that which is propelled. It is not by the blustering winds or bellying sails; by the noisy crew or the bustling and vociferous commander, that the stately ship is made to take a particular direction amidst the watery waste, but by the unobserved action of the rudder, moved only at intervals by the silent and solitary steersman at the wheel. As well might we attempt to account for the ship’s track by the working of the sails and the force of the winds alone, as to explain the course of any individual by mere motivity, in its common acceptation.
The general connection, indeed, of the thoughts with sensation and with present objects, is not to be doubted. By this the mind is crowded with images and set in motion, and it is this very move. ment which enables the spiritual pilot to vary the course at pleasure, by the gentlest action of the helm. That the pressure of external circumstances will often drive the mind from the intended track, is also true, but it will speedily be brought back again to the course prescribed. It is not these transient and accidental influences which shape man's destiny; neither is this accomplished by the busy throng of sensations which crowd the mind in the common pursuits of life. On the contrary, we presunie that every observing and intelligent mind will be able to trace to its periods of solitary musing, those guiding suggestions which have directed its future
It is when the soul is most abstracted from the bustle of the world, that it is most susceptible of communion with the spirit. ual system; and hence it is made an important duty, on the part of the Christian, to retire often to solitude, to pray in secret, and seek the holy spiritual fellowship of the gospel in silent meditation.
How very slight, how imperceptible to man himself, may be the occasional impulse which gives direction to thought! How often is it the case that a single idea will revolutionize the whole mind and character of an individual! How easy, one would think, for a spirit, present with the soul, and familiar with its workings, to give, at the proper moment, the necessary impulse to direct its course! And it is direction that is needed, rather than new revelations to the mind. It is the grouping together of particular ideas, the awakening of particular memories, the fixing of the attention upon particular circumstances, which lead the mind to new resolves, and even to new discoveries and applications of truth. Surely man's spiritual habitability, and the laws of the human mind itself, would render it not only possible, but altogether probable, that spiritual beings, in attempting to influence his conduct, would not only dwell in him, but touch with skill those chords of his nature which might best suit their purposes-whether memory, or imagination, or intellect, or passion. They would act in harmony with the organization of the mind itself, and without even indicating, in many cases, their pres. ence to the consciousness of the individual himself, assume, from behind, the guidance of his heart and the direction of his hands.
But it may be urged by those who oppose the doctrine of direct spiritual agency in modern times, that the demoniacal possessions, as well as the “out-pourings of the Holy Spirit” recorded in scripture, were miraculous, and restricted entirely to the period of the