Page images
PDF
EPUB

of life," which the second Adam came to crucify in the flesh, and which is still daily crucified in the members of his mystical body. ..',

If Jesus Christ never publicly discoursed concerning the entry of sin into the world, it was be. cause his sermons were addressed to a people, who had been long before instructed in a matter of sb great importance. On this account, he simply proposed himself to Israel, as that promised Messiah, that Son of God and Son of man, who was about to repair the error of the first Adam, by becoming the resurrection and the life of all those, who should believe in his name.

St. Paul was very differently circumstanced, when labouring among those nations which were unacquainted with the fall, except by uncertain and corrupt tradition. Behold the wisdom, with which he unfolds to the Heathen, that fundamental doctrine, which was not contested among the Jews : “ The first man Adam," the head of the human species, i was made a living soul;" but Jesus Christ," the last Adam, was made a quickening spirit ;' and he also is the head of the human species, for the head of every man is Christ. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from Heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy [worldly:] and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly, (regenerate.] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we," whose souls are already regenerate, “ shall also bear the complete image of the heavenly ; when this mortal shall have put on immortality:" For the flesh and blood,” which we have from the first Adam, “cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” .

As human pride is continually exalting itself against this humiliating doctrine, so the true minister as constantly repeats it, crying out in the language of this great Apostle : “ All unregenerate men are under sin: there is none that understandeih,

there is none that seeketh after God: they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable : the way of peace have they not known : there is no fear of God before their eyes : we know that whatsoever things the law saith," the natural or the mosaic law," it saith to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God. There is no difference ; for as all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," so all equally need the merits and assistance of “ Jesus Christ, whom God hath -set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his . blood.” All those, therefore, who, neglecting Christ, rely upon: the works of the law, are under the .curse ;” and all their endeavours to deliver them.selves, by theirimperfect obedience, are totally vain:. « Förit is written,cursed is every one, that continueth. not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Thus, by denouncing maledictions, as dreadful as the thunders from mount Sinia, . against every act of disobedience, « the law becomes our school-master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

This doctrine is maintained by all the Christian

Churches.

WHEN an evangelical minister insists upon the fall, the corruption, and the danger of unregenerate man, he acts in conformity to the acknowledged opinions of the purest Churches. As I chiefly write for the French protestants, I shall here cite the confession of faith now. in usę among the French Churches. « We believe," say they in the ix, x and xi articles of their creed," that man, having 6 been created after the image of God, fell, by his I own fault, from the grace he had received ; and " thus became alienated from God, who is the fourt. 6- tain of holiness and felicity; so that having his.

o mind blinded, his heart depraved, and his whole « nature corrupted, he lost all his innocence.... We 6 believe that the whole race of Adam is infected " with this contagion, that in his person he for66 feited every blessing, and sunk into a state of « universal want and malediction.... We believe also " that sin, &c. is a perverseness producing the fruits 56 of malice and rebellion.”

The reformed Churches of Switzerland make 'as humiliating a confession. “ Man,” say they, "by - an abuse of his liberty, suffering himself to be se.66 duced by the serpent, forsook his primitive integ66 rity. Thus he rendered himself subject to sin, “ death, and every kind of misery: and such as the * first man became by the fall, such are all his de“ scendants." When we say, man is subject to sin, " we inean by sin, that corruption of nature, which 66 from the fall of the first man, has been transmitted " from father to son: vicious passions, an aversion u to that which is good, an inclination to that which Wis evil, a disposition to malice, a bold defiance and « contempt of God. Behold the unhappy effects " of that corruption, by which we are so wholly dea "bilitated, that of ourselves we are not able to do, « nor even to choose, that which is good.” Helvetic Confession. Chap. viii.

Every man may find in himself sufficient proofs of these painful truths. "God is the Creator of 66 man," say the Fathers who composed the synod of Berne, " and he intended that man should be en66 tirely devoted to his God. But this is no longer his “ nature; since he looks to creatures, to his own pleaof sure, and makes an idol of himself.” Acts of Synod. Chap. viii.

This doctrine is also set forth in the Ausbourg confession ; as well as in the ix and x articles of the Church of England, where it is expressed in the following terms: “ Original sin standeth not in the “ following of Adam, but it is the fault and corrup6 tion of the nature of every man, whereby he is « very far gone from original righteousness, and is “ of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh "lusteth alway contrary to the spirit; and therefore, « in every person born into this world, it deserveth " God's wrath and damnation."...." The condition “ of man, after the fall of Adam, is such, that he 66 cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own na“ tural strength and good works, to faith and calling 6 upon God: wherefore we have no power to do “ good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, with“out the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that 6 we may have a good will, and working with us “ when we have that good will."

Nothing less than a liyely conviction, of the corruption, weakness, and misery, described in these confessions of faith, can properly dispose a man for. evangelical repentance.

Without evangelical repentance, a lively faith in Christ,

or regeneration by the Holy Spirit, will appear not only unnecessary, but absurd..

AS the knowledge of our depravity, is the source from whence evangelical repentance and christian humility flow, so it is the only necessary preparation for that living faith, by whịch we are both justified and sanctified.. He who obstinately closes his eyes upon his own wretchedness, shuts himself up in circuinstances which will not suffer him to receive any advantage from that glorious Redeemer, whom.“ God hath anointed to preach the Gospel to the poor; to heal the BROKEN-HEARTED; to preach deliverance to the CAPTIVES ; and recovering af sight to the BLIND ; to set at liberty, THEM THAT ARĖ BRUISED ; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Reason itself declares, that if sinful man is possessed of sufficient ability to secure his own salvation, he needs no other Saviour, and “ Christ is

dead in vain." In short, so far as we are unacquainted with our degenerate estate, so far the im. portant doctrine of regeneration must necessarily appear superfluous and absurd. ..

· Here we may perceive one grand reason, why the ministers of the present day, who are but superficially acquainted with the depravity of the human heart, discourse upon this mysterious subject in a slight and unsatisfactory manner.

The true minister, on the contrary, following the example of his great Master, speaks upon this momentous change with affection and power. Observe the terms, in which our Lord himself declares this neglected doctrine ; 6 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born of water and of the spi. rit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” As though he should say ; the natural man, how beautiful an appearance soever he may make, is possessed of an heart so desperately wicked, that unless it be broken by the repentance which John the Baptist preached, and regenerated by the faith which I declare, he can never become a citizen of Heaven : for the doors of my Kingdom must remain everlastingly barred against those ravening wolves, who disguise themselves as sheep, and those painted hypocrites, who salute me as their LORD, without embracing my doctrines and observing my commands. “Verily," therefore, I “ say unto you," my first disciples and friends, “ except ye be converted and become as little children," who are strangers to ambitious, envious, and impure thoughts, “ Ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”.

Such is the doctrine that is still able to convert every inquiring Nicodemus. At first it may perplex and confound them ;, but, at length, submitting to the wisdom of their heavenly teacher, they will cry, Impart to us, Lord, this regenerating faith : and when once they have obtained their request, they will adopt the prayer of the disciples, and proceed

« PreviousContinue »