Page images
PDF
EPUB

and the dead shall be raised to judgment - then shall he that believeth not be judged by the words which Jesus spake. John xii. 47, 48 :

And if any man hear my words, and believe not......the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day."

UNIVERSAL AND SAVING LIGHT.

I now come to an important portion of my task; and in entering upon it I will not give any candid reader the opportunity to misinterpret my opinions, or to charge me with not holding certain doctrines which are common to evangelical Christians generally, and which are clearly deducible from Holy Writ. To that ever-blessed doctrine, of the entire fulness and freeness of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus to our ruined race;

of the infinite sufficiency of the blood of the Atonement; of the expiatory offering of our ever-adorable Saviour on the cross, as a full and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world ;-to this blessed doctrine I most cordially subscribe ; and what human heart can ever comprehend the depth of the love—the value of the offering ! But the Bible instructs me (Deut. xxix. 29), that “ the secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.”

We have nothing to do with His mysterious will concerning the world at large, or concerning the heathen world in particular. It is not for finite man to estimate the hidden purposes of the infinite mind,

, or to set limits to the immeasurable love of God. The simple declaration, “ Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” is sufficient for the humble be

liever, who, not seeking to be wise" above that which is written," is willing to receive in simple faith that which is revealed, and to leave that which is not revealed as belonging unto God. “ God is in heaven, and thou upon earth : therefore let thy words be few.” (Eccles. v. 2.)

We are, however, plainly told, that “ the whole world lieth in wickedness ;” that it is become "guilty before God;” that “ without faith it is impossible to please God;" and that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Equally clear is the command of Christ—" Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost : teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you ” (Matt. xxviii. 19, 20); to which he added the promise, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," to shew that the command he had given was one of perpetual obligation.

As the most convenient mode, and to avoid the necessity of repetition, I shall now cite certain pas. sages from Barclay, Penn, and Dr. Hancock, and then proceed to remark upon them.

Barclay (Propositions v. and vi. $ 13.)-“By this seed, grace, and word of God, and light; wherewith we say, Every one is enlightened and hath a measure of it, which strives with him, in order to save him, and which may, by the stubbornness and wickedness of man's will, be quenched, bruised, wounded, pressed down, slain, and crucified; we understand not the proper essence and nature of God, precisely taken ; which is not divisible into parts and measures, as

being a most pure, simple being, void of all composition or division, and therefore can neither be resisted, hurt, wounded, crucified, or slain, by all the efforts and strength of men: but we understand a spiritual, heavenly, and invisible principle, in which God, as Father, Son, and Spirit, dwells ; a measure of which Divine and glorious life is in all men, as a seed which of its own nature draws, invites, and inclines to God; and this some call vehiculum Dei, or the spiritual body of Christ, the flesh and blood of Christ, which came down from heaven; of which all the saints do feed, and are thereby nourished unto eternal life. And as every unrighteous action is witnessed against and reproved by this light and seed, so by such actions it is hurt, wounded, and slain, and flees from...... that which is of a contrary nature to it. Now because it is never separated from God nor Christ, but wherever it is God and Christ are as wrapped up therein ; therefore, and in that respect, as it is resisted, God is said to be resisted, and where it is borne down, God is said to be pressed, as a cart under sheaves; and Christ is said to be slain and crucified. And, on the contrary, as this seed is received in the heart, and suffered to bring forth its natural and proper effect, Christ comes to be formed and raised, of which the Scripture makes so much mention, calling it the new man; Christ within, the hope of glory. This is that Christ within, which we are heard so much to speak and declare of, every where preaching him up, and exhorting people to believe in the light, and obey it, that they may come to know Christ in them, to deliver them from all sin."

66 We

§ 14. “We understand not this seed, light, or grace, to be an accident, as most men ignorantly do, but a real spiritual substance, which the soul of man is capable to feel and apprehend; from which that real, spiritual, inward birth in believers arises, called the new creature, the new man in the heart.” know it to be a substance, because it subsists in the hearts of wicked men, even while they are in their wickedness," &c.

The following are from William Penn's Works (vol. i.p.574, folio edit. 1726).—"And as at any time disobedient men have hearkened to the still voice of the Word, that messenger of God in their hearts, to be affected and convinced by it, as it brings reproof for sin, which is but a fatherly chastisement; so, upon true brokenness of soul and contrition of spirit, that very same Principle and Word of Life in man has mediated and atoned, and God has been propitious, lifting up the light of his countenance, and replenishing such humble penitents with Divine consolations. So that still the same Christ, Word-God, who has lighted all men, is by sin grieved and burdened, and bears the iniquities of such as so sin and reject his benefits. But as any hear his knocks and let him into their hearts, he first wounds, and then heals : afterwards he atones, mediates, and re-instates man in the holy image he has fallen from by sin. Behold, this is the state of restitution! And this, in some measure, was witnessed by the holy patriarchs, prophets, and servants of God in old time, to whom Christ was substantially the same Saviour, the Seed bruising the serpent's head, that he is now to us, what difference soever there may be in point of manifestation."

« PreviousContinue »