« PreviousContinue »
doomed to the curse, then he would have been cursed in his individual character as a transgressor, which supposition is an impious, blasphemous supposition.
But while he inherited all the promises, as fulfilling every jot and tittle of the law, under which he was made, entitled, fully entitled, by his own complete and perfect obedience, to the reward of blameless rectitude, being in his own individual person free from stain, the Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guilt, he nevertheless, suffered as a just one, for us the unjust, all that the law of God denounced upon the disobedient. The justice of which transaction is only proved by the union subsisting between the perfect head, Christ Jesus, and the offending members, the first Adam and his posterity, which is aptly figured or described, by the iniquity of his heels, which was said to compass him about.
It appears, that the first Adam received a law from his Maker, the obedience to which was to be rewarded with life, whilst disobedience thereto was to be punished with death.
But God addressing him as a public head, and of course speaking to us in him, we become interested in the law, and its breach, even to the death. In the fulness of time, however, the second Adam made his appearance, when the law spoke to him, and to us also in him, had he failed, we should have been totally ruined, but he having suffered the punishment due to our transgressions, delivered us from death, and having fulfilled all righteousness for us, we became legal heirs of everlasting life. Let me then beg leave, once more to observe, our blessed Lord died for, not in Adam. I shudder at the impiety of this God-dishonouring idea ! ! ! !
The human family are individuals in both the first and second Adam.
Thus in Adam, all die. Thus in Christ, the second Adam, all are made alive; and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 1 Corinthians, xv. 47. “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."
You observe justly, because scripturally, that the head of every man is Christ, that he fulfilled the law for every man, and that every blessing annexed to every good character is ours in him, in whom as the seed spoken of to Abraham, all the families of the earth are blessed. Yes, truly, mankind are as much entitled to eternal life, through what Jesus Christ has performed and suf
fered, as if every individual, had thus in his own proper person, performed and suffered.
But what mode of expression is that which says, Christ Jesus is in every man before he believes. I know of but one way that Christ can be in any man, and that is by faith. Indeed, except Christ is thus formed in the heart by faith, there can be no capacity for sinning against the law of Christ, against light and knowledge.
But perhaps you mean that God hath given life in Christ Jesus to every man, while in a state of unbelief, else they could not sin by disbelieving. Again, with respect to our being in Christ, I think the scriptures speak of this particular in a two fold sense. First, as members of the body, of which he, as an individual, is the head; and, secondly, as by faith, putting on the Lord Jesus, and walking in him. Sir, it would be well upon all occasions, rightly to distinguish the words of life. As private Christians, it is our interest and duty thus to do. But as public labourers and teachers, it is abundantly more so; nay, it becomes an indispensible requisite.
We should consider ourselves as dwelling among wolves, many of which are in sheep's clothing. Sir, this consideration combining with many others, has induced me to speak of divine revelation with great caution, and while engaged in the promulgation of the truth, as it is in Jesus, I am careful to clothe my ideas, in the language, in the precise, literal language of the sacred writings. As a soldier of Christ, there is but one sword, in which I dare to confide; this sword is obviously the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. If we are instructed, by the Captain of our salvation, how to use this sword, it will be proof against all assaults of the enemy. We should therefore do well diligently to study the sacred scriptures. I profess myself a true scriptuarian. I am not conscious of cherishing any religious tenet which is not clearly taught in the scriptures of the Old and New-Testament. But I receive these scriptures as they are taught in those Testaments, and not according to the comments of men. In this I flatter myself we agree. I am obliged by your friendly letter, and happy to observe you thus far acquainted with the truth, as it is in Jesus; and that you are enabled to bear your public testimony in favour of the Redeemer of the world.
I should more fully attend to other subjects contained in your letter but Mr. S. leaves town almost immediately. In compliance
with your request, I have written freely, but I trust you will not consider me either presuming or dictatorial. I do not assume the privilege which belongs to infallibility. I have, in compliance with your expressed wishes, merely remarked, agreeably to that measure of understanding, with which, by the giver of every good and perfect gift, I am endowed. Had we an opportunity of conversing upon these important subjects, we should, perhaps, gradually assimilate; we would try the spirits, we would bring every tenet to the test of the divine word, steadfastly abiding by its sacred authority. Of such an opportunity you give me hope, and I will then show you a letter I have written, which will explain my sentiments upon many points of doctrine, but, in the interim, I wish to hear from you as often as possible. As to my visiting you, it is, at present, out of the question; I have the will, but not the ability; what events futurity may produce, none can say.
I send you a copy of the Union, written by Mr. Relly, to every line of which, I wish you seriously to attend. You will find it an inestimable treasure. May you grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the world's Saviour, may you come up from this wilderness leaning upon the Beloved.-Farewell.
OUR favour by a gentleman, whose name I have not the pleasure of knowing, has recently been put into my hand, accept my thanks, and as it will not be in my power to be present at the association, I take leave to address you in this way.
You commence your letter by styling me August Sir. If I did not know you to be a friend, I should believe you were making a jest of me. Do you know, my dear Sir, the meaning of the word you have selected? It is royal, magnificent; I wish you would be so good as to pay attention to what I once took the liberty to men
tion to you, that is, to get a dictionary, and look for the word you may want to use, that you may not thus write at random. I hope you will excuse this freedom; I should not thus presume, if I had no regard for you; I know you did not mean to insult, but to evince your respect for me in the title you have conferred upon me : but the greatest respect I ever wish to receive from any of my fellow labourers, is that which is due to a friend and brother. I am a very imbecile creature, and merit nothing; but I have obtained mercy of God, and in this mercy, some experience.
You give me a question from somebody, and your answer; and you desire my approbation. To be plain with you, Sir, I do not think either you or I have any business with such matters. Questions may be asked by lisping infancy, which God only can
Sir, I conceive if you had answered the inquirer after truth, in the language of a simple Christian, you would have told him in plain language, that Jesus was the truth. These questions, and these answers, seem a mere trial of skill. You have given a display of some natural abilities in this answer of yours, and shown us that if you had been a man of education, you might have been a poet. But what would you have been the better for that?
Beside, give me leave to tell you, my dear Sir, that such arguments as these never did any good in the world; there are arguments which must have more weight than these; arguments drawn from a consideration of that peace we experience in our own bosoms, as often as we are enabled to act in conformity to our characters as men, and as Christians.
It will never be of any advantage to tell mankind that evil is good; you may as well tell them that light is darkness, and pain, pleasure. What, though both may be alike to the Creator, whom our conduct cannot essentially affect, as he is an independent, selfexistent Being, evil and good can never be alike to the creature. What, though God can bring good out of evil, we cannot. It is more common for us to bring evil out of good.
Secret things belong to God, but things revealed, to us, and to our children. But it is revealed to us, that we are bought with a price, and that, therefore, we are not our own, that we are bound to serve God in our bodies, and our spirits, which are his.
It is revealed unto us that we are the servants of whomsoever we obey; nor are we at a loss to know what will serve God, or what will gratify the adversary.
Have we not been too long engaged in mere theories, in defining terms, and explaining doctrines, in furnishing the heads, rather than the hearts of our hearers?
We have been talking a vast deal about God, and saying but little to God; we have been wholly engaged in defining the doctrine of God our Saviour, but too inattentive to the adorning thereof. Because my garments are no part of my body, shall I therefore throw them away? Because the adornings are not the doctrine, shall I neglect them, and expose the nakedness of God's children? How many barren and unfruitful souls are there, who in words profess, but in works deny God! Alas, this is too much the case with us all!
Sir, evil has not lost its name; nor did Jesus Christ come so much to let us know, "what we call evil he ordained, and for good ordained it," as to destroy this evil. Why, what a dreadful, shocking idea it is, to hold up among poor, ignorant people, that all evil ever since the world began was intended by God for universal good! Believe me, the wisest men who ever touched upon these subjects only gave proof positive of their own folly. Let us, my friend, keep clear of these hidden matters. Let us one and all say with the Apostle, Cease to do evil, learn to do well. We know but very little about this great scale of which you seem so familiarly to speak; we are little folks, and it would better become us to confine ourselves to the scale by which God has directed us to measure.
It was not sin that brought salvation to the soul-far, very far from it; nay, it was sin that brought destruction to the soul. But Christ Jesus, who knew no sin, brought salvation to the members of his mystical body.
Will you permit a poor, weak creature, who hath obtained some little experience in the ways of God as manifested in his works, and who feels two sentiments strong in his bosom, love to God, and love to man, will you, I say, suffer me to give you the plan which I endeavour to adopt, and in which I wish to persevere as long as I am allowed to go in and out before God's people?
First, I trust I shall hold fast the profession of my faith without wavering, and continue to preach Jesus as he is, the Saviour of the world.
Secondly, It is my wish constantly to inculcate the necessity of attending to the injunctions found in the divine word, respecting the conduct of believers.