Images de page
PDF
ePub

to carry your notions upon it to an Angelo and Raphael ; as a clergyunscriptural and enthusiastic excess? man think to build up his flock in the same description is the best pre- sound doctrine and vital godliness, yentative. He does not withhold by keeping them in a perpetual fer. the bread of life, the heavenly manna, ment, even for the laudable purpose the aliment and nutriment of spiri- of refutation, in regard to every notual existence, either because the velty of error. It might be a worthy dead ask for no food, or because the theme of discussion by our corresfeverish crave ardent stimulants to pondents to inquire whether the inkeep up their excitement. This is junction, “Prove all things,” in order the true character and right temper to “ hold fast that which is good,” of a Christian pastor; and we sin- ought to be construed in the way cerely believe that if Mr. Simeon's in which many wavering Christians example in this respect were more seem to interpret it, as if they were generally followed, if our clergy and bound to disentangle the knotted theological writers, instead of chasing yarn of every absurdity, and to rake the Cynthia of the moment, con- into every receptacle of mud and troversially assailing every passing feculence, in order that they may be error, and elaborately guarding men the better able to give a reason of against prevailing novelty, were more the hope that is in them. “ I am to addict themselves to laying a solid not inclined,” says a foolish child in foundation of scriptural truth, and her teens, “to follow all that I hear fortifying the moral, spiritual, and is going on at Mr. Irving's church ; intellectual constitution against the but I think it my duty candidly to approach of epidemic, instead of inquire into the matter, and to go forcing down large doses of specifics and hear for myself, that I may not when it arrives, the result would be be guilty of judging without due exmuch more auspicious than by a con- amination ; you know we are comtrary proceeding. In saying this manded to prove all things.” We we may seem to condemn ourselves, wish that foolish children were the and in part we do so; but if such only persons who thus argue. It is discussions are desirable any where, not without reason, that the word à religious periodical publication is of God says so much of walking in perhaps the best place for them: at all the old paths, and not being carried events, the less of them that intrudes about with every wind of doctrine. into the pulpit, unless under peculiar The four discourses in our hands circumstances, the better. We have are an epitome of what revelation uniformly observed that those con- discloses to us respecting the Holy , gregations which have been the most Spirit and his offices. They are not unsettled, and among whom errors controversial, but argumentative, and novelties have found the most hortatory, and scriptural. If the assailable subjects, have been those reader knew nothing more than he in which the pastor, with perhaps might gather from these discourses, the best intentions, has involuntarily he could scarely be ignorant of any excited a spirit of prurient curiosity thing essential to his soul's health to inquire into the merits or demerits on so vital a subject; and he would of every new and exciting specu- be further enabled, in his reading of lation. As well might a parent, for- the Scriptures, to compare, classify, getting that terror is more powerful and apply with discrimination, the than reason, set a child to read the numerous passages which relate to Mysteries of Udolpho, in order to it, so as to become fully instructed fortify his mind against ghost stories; in the whole counsel of God. or an artist direct his Þupii to study The passage on which the four every new caricattire, in order to discourses are grounded, is Rom. make him in love with Michael viii. 9: “If any man have not the CHRIST. OBSERV, No. 361.

G

Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." tions upon it as visionary, unintelligible, The author states as follows the absurd. I do not mean to say that there importance and the difficulty of his is in the minds of men a distinct con

sciousness of such a process, but only subject.

that there is in reality such a process in " In entering on a subject so deeply the human mind, though men are not exmysterious as this, I may well ask, “Who actly aware of it. Men do not like to is sufficient for these things ?' Besides, have God too near to them; and the

nearer in reference to it, there is a still further he is brought to them, the more they shew

their aversion to that which is the means ground of discouragement, arising from the opposition which the subject itself of presenting him to their minds. Under meets with in the human mind. To a

such circumstances, I scarcely know how person who has never experienced any dertaken.” pp. 1–4.

to enter upon the work which I have unthing of a work of grace upon his own heart, the work of the Spirit appears to The author proceeds to discuss be little better than an enthusiastic con

the four following particulars; which ceit; and when pressed upon his conscience as a matter to be experienced at embrace the whole of the argument the peril of his soul, it excites, I had al- and its application. most said, a feeling of indignation, inas

“ I. Who is that Spirit whom all of us much as it requires of him a greater de- as Christians are expected to possess. gree of submission to God than he is

“ II. Why the possessing of that Spirit willing to yield, and a closer intercourse is indispensable to our being Christ's acwith God than he has any inclination to

cepted followers. attain.

« III. What that Spirit will work in “ I think this admits of an easy illus

us in order that we may be Christ's. tration. It is an indisputable fact, that “ IV. What he will work in us when we are, by nature, altogether alienated

we are Christ's." p. 6. from the life of God. Now we all feel, that, when alienated from a fellow-crea- In reference to the first of these ture, however we may bear with him in heads, Mr. Simeon shews that by a crowd, we are indisposed to have much

" the Spirit of Christ,” in this paspersonal intercourse with him alone. So, also, we feel in reference to God. We sage, we are not to understand the can hear of him at a distance, and not be disposition, character, or grace of disturbed ; but, by reason of our alienation Christ implanted in our own souls from him, we are averse to be brought (though these are indispensable also) can bear with a display of his perfections in the sacred and undivided Trinity. into very near communion with him. We but the Holy Spirit, the third Person in the universe, because, though we see him as our Creator, he is not sufficiently He is fitly called the Spirit of Christ, near us to exercise any material controul says Mr. Simeon, for three reasons: over us : but when he is brought nigh to

“Because of his peculiar agency in reus in the law, as our Governor, we feel somewhat of a painful constraint, because ference to Christ himself; because of of our responsibility to him, and the ac- his subserviency to Christin the econocount we must one day give of ourselves my of redemption; because ofits being to him at his tribunal. Let him then be his special office to glorify Christ.” brought still nearer to us in the Gospel, as our incarnate and suffering God, and These specifications, which take the our inquietude is proportionably increas- phrase out of vague generality, and ed; because we are made to realize more give to it tangibility and precision, deeply the terrors of his wrath, which demanded such a sacrifice, and the personal appear to us satisfactory and scripobligation which lies upon us to surrender tural. The author, however, guards up ourselves unreservedly to him. But against a possible misapplication of in the offices and operations of the Holy his argument, as if such a mode of ly as God, in the universe, displaying speaking might seem to make the himself around us; or as God, in his Holy Spirit inferior to the Father church, declaring his will to us; or as

as and the Son; just as in speaking God, in our nature, interposing for us; of Christ himself in his mediatorial but as God, in our hearts, dwelling and work, we may seem to represent him operating in us : and this brings him into such immediate contact with us, and re- as not equal with the Father. quires of us such a minute attention to “ But the inferiority is not personal, all our ways, that we shrink back from but official ; not as the Sacred Three subevery part of the subject, and, for the sist in themselves, but as they sustain and pacifying of our own minds, cast reflec- execute their respective offices in the eco

nomy of redemption. As bearing what structed inquirers, who have not yet may be called a subordinate part in the been able to convince themselves that mysterious work of man's salvation, a disparity may be ascribed to him ; and he gifts and graces ought to be sepamay be called the Spirit of the Father, rated, or why some of the endowand the Spirit of Christ :' but, in him- ments spoken of by the Apostle are self, he is equal both with the Father and ordinarily represented as temporary, the Son, and is in every way entitled to and others in the very same sentence the same respect and love, and confidence as they.” p. 15.

as permanent. We have so often This Spirit we must have; and if taken up the subject that we shall we have him not we belong not to not enlarge upon it in this passing Christ. But then occurs the im- notice; but a few lines from the pen portant question, what is meant by of our revered friend might have ashaving him. Is it in the imputation sisted in setting at rest some ingeof gifts, or of graces, or of both ? nuous but wavering minds. As for The former part of the question the “brain-sick enthusiasts,” we alwould, till of late, have been scarcely most despair of a cure, unless, indeed, thought necessary to ask; nor does Mr. it be by a miracle. If any thing could Simeon consider it requisite, even operate as a cure it might be the now, to spend much argument upon extraordinary pamphlet published it. He therefore passes it over very by Mr. Pilkington, who details summarily, and proceeds at once the anomalous part he himself took from temporary gifts to permanent in the scenes enacted at the Cagraces, setting forth most strikingly ledonian Church. It is not often in what the ordinary indwelling of that a man puts upon record so the Holy Spirit really consists. For naive a statement of his own moourselves we are satisfied with this mentary weakness; but the confession summary process, as was probably adds greatly to the conviction of the his academical audience ; hut since reader as to the frankness of the his discourse has gone out to the writer ; and if his facts be granted, world at a moment when the question or the main features of them, never is much agitated, and when some was there a more extraordinary in. really faithful servants of Christ stance of folly, delusion, and dupery. state that they are not without diffi- Wewrite thus with pain; and not the culties on the subject, it might not less so if some whom we know and have been unseasonable, in compas

love have been agitated by the mosion to the weaklings of the flock, mentary effervescence. May He who and to some of the “ brainsick en- is the guide of the wanderer that thusiasts” themselves, if our vene

looks to him for direction, stablish rable friend had appended a note and settle their minds by the teachshewing concisely some of the reasons ing of His Holy Spirit, and the inwhy the miraculous gifts of the Holy Struction of his blessed word. The Spirit are not now

to be expected. following is the passage alluded to. “ An Inquirer,” in our Number “ But here it will be asked, What is for last December, p. 722, has meant by having' the Spirit? Are we proposed the question in a manner

all to possess the power of working so fair and scriptural that we think tongues ? No: the time for such things

miracles, and speaking divers kinds of it deserves an answer; and no man is long since passed. That they may be could answer it more satisfactorily renewed at the time when God's ancient than Mr. Simeon. If he should see people shall be restored to his favour, and

the whole Gentile world shall be confit to favour us with his views on

verted to the faith of Christ, is probable the subject, we will gladly give in- enough : but no such power exists at this sertion to them; for though wedo not day, except in the conceit of a few brainsuppose they would satisfy “ brain- sick enthusiasts ; nor, if it did, would it sick enthusiasts,” they might be useful have any bearing upon the subject before

The possession of that power would to some honest though not well in- not constitute us Christ's : for we have,

reason to think that Judas wrought mi. which did not emanate from him, and had racles, as well as the other Apostles; and not respect to his glory. Our bodies were yet, as our Lord tells us, he was no bet- every way fitted to aid the soul in all its ter than a devil all the while. That pos- operations. Not an inclination, affection, session of the Spirit of which my text or appetite, existed in us, but in perfect speaks, is of such a discriminating nature, unison with the proper offices of the soul, that no man who has it can fail to belong and in subserviency to its dictates. Man's to Christ, and no man who has it not can whole delight was in God alone. As far have any part or lot with him. The Spirit as his happiness was in any respect derivof God is promised to us, to dwell in used from the creature, it was God in the as in his temple; for we are to be the creature, and not the creature itself, that habitation of God through the Spirit ;' was the real source of that happiness : and he is further to operate in us effect the creature was only the medium of comually for all the ends and purposes of our munication between him and his God. salvation, producing in us all the fruits The goodness of God was seen and tastof goodness, and righteousness, and truth. ed by him in every thing; and every obHis motions may not unfitly be compared ject around him afforded him an occasion with the operations of the soul in the of admiration, and gratitude, and love. human body. Without the soul, the body To dwell in the presence of God, to comcannot perform any vital function what- mune with him, to receive and execute ever : but when that spiritual inhabitant every intimation of his will; in a word, is present with us, and discharges its pro- to admire God in every thing, to adore per offices, we shew, by the various exer- him for every thing, and to glorify him by cises of our mind and body, that it really every thing, this was the constant employdwelleth in us. Now the Spirit of God ment of man in his state of innocence, performs in the soul an office somewhat and the one uniform occupation both of analogous to this. The soul by itself has his soul and body. respect only to things visible and tem- “ But what of all this is now left to us? poral; but when filled by the Spirit of We are altogether departed from God. God, 'it occupies itself about things in. Every faculty of our souls, and every visible and eternal. And precisely as the member of our bodies, is become deprav, body needs the presence and operation of ed, so that there remains in us no part of the soul for the discharge of its offices in the moral image of our God. As beings relation to this world, so does the soul of a superior order, we still are the lords need the influences of the Holy Spirit for of this lower creation; and, in the exerthe discharge of its duties in reference to cise of this authority, wé, to a certain dethe world to come.”

gree, resemble Him who is the governor The nature of the Holy Spirit's of the universe. But righteousness indwelling being thus stated, our and true holiness, which I call his moral author proceeds to shew why this image, we bear no resemblance to him

whatever. Our understanding is blinded, inhabitation is necessary to our so that, instead of approving God's rebeing Christ's accepted followers. vealed will, we turn away from it with It is so, he says, because our fa- dislike. His law, as contained in the culties are impaired by sin, because unnecessarily strict; and the sanctions by

Ten Commandments, is deemed by us without renovation of them Christ which it is enforced are regarded as need can never accept and acknowledge lessly severe. His very Gospel, which us as his; and because none but the is the result of his eternal counsels, and Holy Spirit can accomplish in us

contains in it all the treasures of wisdom

and knowledge,' is treated by us as a cunthis necessary work.

ningly devised fable. To the self-righteThe following is a portion of the ous amongst us, it is a stumbling-block; argument under the first of these and to those who are wise in their own heads. It is one of those powerful both in heart and life, altogether opposed

conceit, it is mere foolishness. We are, appeals as to wise men,” which

to it. In our eyes sin has no deformity, no person who honestly reflects can and holiness no beauty. Communion with attempt to gainsay; and it is followed God affords ús no pleasure. Prayer and up by references to Scripture which praise are exercises which are a burthen fully substantiate it.

to us, rather than a delight; and instead

of walking in constant and familiar in" It is clear, that we are not now such tercourse with God, as Adam did before as we were when we first came out of our the fall, we flee from him, as Adam did Creator's hands. We were created, ori- after his transgression, and rather hide ginally, “after God's own image. Our ourselves from him as an enemy, than go mind was in perfect accordance with his forth to meet him as a friend.” pp. 31–34. mind, and our will with his will. There was not so much as a thought of our hearts

Under the third head, namely, to

pp. 16-18.

cur

shew that it is the Spirit of Christ reason, Scripture, and fact. The who alone can work in us the requi- history of the baptismal controversy sité transformation, Mr. Simeon is somewhat curious, in this among replies as follows to those who think other points, that while the same it is of necessity wrought in baptism. expressions have continued to be

“ I presume not to say that God cannot used, the real questions at issue accomplish it then as well as at any other have been greatly modified. The on some occasions,

make that ordinance point that gave such emphasis some the means of peculiar benefit to the soal. thirty or forty years ago to the disBut the mere administration of the bap- cussion, was that the doctrine of tismal rite can no more sanctify a man, baptismal regeneration was than the administration of the Lord's Supper can. And if a man at the Lord's rently urged, not so much for the Supper may, by receiving it amiss, eat sake of the doctrine itself, as for an and drink his own danınation ;' so, by re- argumentum ad hominem to those of ceiving baptism amiss, he may receive a curse rather than a blessing. This was

the clergy who were constantly inactually the case with Simon Magus, who, sisting upon the necessity of conthough baptized by Philip the Evangelist, version of heart to God, newness of remained in the very gall of bitterness, nature, transformation of the spirit and the bond, of iniquity. There is, of the mind; in one word, a new doubtless, (and I wish the avowal of it to be distinctly noticed,) a great change birth or regeneration. Now it was effected in baptism. But iť is a change a well-devised answer, on the part of of state, and not of nature. By baptism those who opposed this doctrine as a person is admitted into covenant with fanatical, and yet could not set aside God, and obtains a title to all the bless the plain declarations of Scripture, ings of the Christian covenant, exactly as a Jew by circumcision became entitled to to resolve the whole matter into the all the blessings of the Jewish covenant. grace of baptism; and moreover, to St. Paul says, “ To them, as Israelites,' appeal to the services of our church (who have been admitted into covenant in proof of their statement. It were with God by circumcision,) to them 'pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and affectation to deny that, at the period the covenants, and the giving of the law, we speak of, this was the real pracand the service of God, and the promises. tical bearing of the question; so that, But were they therefore renewed, and sanctified, and saved? Surely not: for the

even had those who used the word Apostle appealed to God, that, notwith- regeneration for conversion given up standing their title to these blessings, he the word, but retained the substance; had great heaviness and continual sorrow had they allowed that the expression in his heart' on their account. it is with those who have been baptized : new birth, was properly applied to they have a title to all the blessings of baptismal privilege, but that, in point salvation; a title which, in an unbaptized of fact, baptized or unbaptized, men state, they did not possess. But the imperatively required the spiritual actual possession of those blessings can only be obtained by the exercise of faith change above mentioned before they in Christ for the justification of their could inherit the kingdom of God; souls, and by the influence of the Holy the opposition would have been equalSpirit for their restoration to the Divine ly zealous. It was not a term, but a image. To regard it is to assimilate it to the extreme unction doctrine that was at stake, and those of the Papists, and to lead men into the who opposed the doctrine as fanamost fatal error.” pp. 41-43.

tical, would not have been satisfied We shall not on this occasion lead with a mere change of expression. back our readers to the labyrinths Bishop Mant's two tracts rather of the baptismal-regeneration con- modified the discussion : for while troversy, which have been so often the first attached regeneration to threaded in our pages : but we must baptism, the second spoke of the say, that it seems to us impossible need of conversion or renovation ; to advance 'much further than not indeed in terms adequate to the Mr. Simeon does in the above pas- importance of the change,orsufficientsage, in the matter of baptismal pri- ly explicative of its pecessity to every vilege, without equally contradicting child of fallen Adam, but still such

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »