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believe them. We can be charitable to them without compromising the truth of the gospel.
2nd. The Living Oracles express the idea, that the attributes of Deity have an equality of power : hence, that His love is not greater than his justice, nor his justice than his love. The gift and sacrifice of the Son of God are a proof of this truth. The first was a wondrous act of love, and the other equally as astounding a deed of justice. They also affirm the necessity of the Saviour's death— " Christ must needs have suffered." The Divine Victim, therefore, did not bleed, agonize, and die merely by the appointment of God, but because the law of heaven could not be honoured, Jehovah's justice satisfied, and man be saved, unless he did. The word of truth also asserts that the earth shall be renovated and purified, and be made a paradise for the saved. It would carry us beyond our limits to narrate the truths stated in Scripture respecting each one of the institutions at a belief of which we can be charitable; nor would it serve any essential purpose. The design and primary attributes of every institution are clearly taught in the Divine law-book, and were ever brought into action by the primitive practisers of the institutions. When, therefore, any property or mode of observance is not stated in the preceptive descriptions of an institution, and was not always developed when the ordinance was attended to by the first Christians, we may regard it as a secondary attribute, and therefore can be charitable to that doctrine which denies its utility in any circumstance. If an individual should go to the other extreme, and make such property or mode essential to an institution, he must be forborne with, provided that he do not destroy a constituent of the ordinance, nor create any schism in the body of Christ.
3rd. Christ said to the Jews, “ Though ye believe not me, believe the works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him." From this and other Scriptures it is evident, that God makes use of the same means to convince men of the truth of the gospel, and to persuade them to obey its dictates, that man makes use of, to produce the same effects upon his fellowman respecting any human system. This means is evidence. The accomplishment of the Old Testament prophecies by Jesus the Nazarene, the prophecies which he uttered, and the miracles which he wrought, with those of his Apostles, are the evidence which proves him to be the hope of the ages and the Saviour of the world. Hence it is evident that man is able, by an examination of the testimony God has given of his Son, to believe and obey him without being impelled by a supernatural agency.
It will be perceived that a denial of any truth of any of these classes, is not a denial of a constituent of Christianity. Thus the truth of the equality of power inherent in the Divine attributes, is contrary to the prevailing ideas. Some extend the love of God far beyond the bounds
: of bis justice, and others fall into the opposite extreme; but neither
party destroys an attribute. Nor do they subvert the gospel facts who regard the death of Christ as but the appointment of God. Some have not clear views of the truths stated in the third class, yet agree in the essential truth with those who have—that the gospel can make impure man reflect the flawless image of his Maker.
We by no means affirm that any scriptural doctrine can be denied and the spiritual health of the denyer not injured. Truth is the standard of good. That, therefore, which is not strictly true, is not strictly good;
and that which is not purely good, has evil in its nature. We could į show that pemicious consequences arise from a denial of the above: mentioned doctrines. Hence arises the necessity of our being guided
into all truth. But we affirm, that those who believe and obey the principles of Christianity, ought to be permitted to enjoy the communion of saints although they may entertain erroneous views upon other religious subjects. Truth and love, in time, would banish every error out of their minds.
This we believe to be a true delineation of the charity of the Apostles; and it is the charity which we admire and practise. The charge of being uncharitable, which has been so loudly reiterated against us, cannot he sustained. Indeed, we are persuaded that an intelligent and scriptural examination would prove, that of all religious societies, ours exercises the most pure charity. We, like the Apostles, require persons to believe those doctrines and obey those institutions only, in order to communion, which pour the gifts of heaven into the store-house of the soul. If we could not prove from Scripture that a man would receive a blessing from a doctrine or ordinance, we would not ask him to believe and obey it. Every other religious society in christendom, demands an acquiesence to many doctrines which give no spiritual health nor holy joy to those who believe them. The number also of these doctrines is greater by far than the life-giving elements of Christianity. Let the unprejudiced then say whether our charity is not superlative in comparison to that in vogue. But it will be urged that the majority of religious parties are exceedingly charitable, for they acknowledge the creeds of each other to be charts of true religion as well as their own. Strange, then, that they will not admit to church fellowship without a change of views! We would ask, of what benefit is such charity ? It is too near akin to that alms-giving charity of “ bidding the destitute be warmed and filled, and yet not giving them the things that are needful.” Concerning both these kinds of charity the question may truly be asked, " What do they profit my brethren?”
Here we shall let the subject rest for a season, unless our readers have objections and queries to propose respecting our sentiments.
A WISE MOTHER. The mother of a family was married to an infidel who made a jest of religion in the presence of her own children ; yet she succeeded in bringing them all up in the fear of the Lord. I one day asked her how she had preserved them from the influence of a father, whose sentiments were so openly opposed to her own. This was her answer :
“ Because to the authority of a father, I did not oppose the authority of a mother, but that of God. From their earliest years, my children have always seen the Bible upon my table. This holy book has constituted the whole of their religious instruction. I was silent that I might allow it to speak. Did they propose a question ? did they commit any fault? did they perform any good action? I opened the Bible, and the Bible answered, reproved, or encouraged them. The constant reading of the Scriptures has alone wrought the prodigy which surprises you."
GOD IS OUR FATHER. God is our Father. By him were we created ; “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” And what a Father! The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth forth his handy work.” His works are truth, and his ways judgment. How great his signs, and how mighty his wonders! He liveth for ever and ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, whose wisdom infinite, eternal, unchangeable. His will is done in heaven : cherubim and seraphim pay allegiance to him. The secrets of wisdom belong to him. But, O how great his goodness!— Revealed wisdom he has bestowed as a rich boon to man.
Yes, that which contains eternal life, joy unspeakable, and full of glory! Man, O man! praise, exalt, adore Him, the fountain of all excellence, the source from whence emanates every good, every perfect gift.
And is it so? Aye, even so because God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son, by which we call him Abba, Father. Then, as our Father, we are to apply to him for what we want. Whither should children go, but to their father, for protection, help, and relief in every danger, difficulty, and distress? We must trust his power and wisdom and paternal goodness to provide for us, take care of us, and do for us that which is best ; and what that is, he knows best. To be anxiously fearful what will become of us, and discontented and perplexed under the apprehension of future evils, whilst we are in the hands and under the care of our Father who is in heaven, is not to act like children. Earthly parents cannot avert from their children all the calamities they fear, because their wisdom and power are limited; but one all-wise and Almighty Father in heaven can. They may possibly want love and tenderness; but our heavenly Father cannot. As children, we must
quietly acquiesce in his disposal, and not expect to see into the wisdom of all his will. It would be indecent and undutiful in a child to dispute the authority, or question the wisdom, or neglect the orders of his parents every time he could not discern the reason and design thereof. Much more unreasonable and unbecoming is such a behaviour towards God, who giveth not account of any of his matters; whose judgments are unsearchable, and whose ways are past finding out. Lastly, as children we must patiently submit to his discipline and correction. Earthly parents may sometimes punish their children through passion, or for their pleasure; but our heavenly Father always corrects for their profit, and only if need be, and never so much as their iniquities deserve. Under his fatherly rebukes, then, let us ever be humble and submissive. Such now is the true filial disposition. Such a temper and such a behaviour should we show towards God, if we would act in character as his children.
C. D. H.
OCCASIONS AND SEASONS OF PRAYER. “Be patient in affliction; continue instant in prayer.” Rom xi 12. “Is any man afflicted? Let him pray.” James v. 13. “Rejoice evermore.” “ Pray with. out ceasing.” 1 Thess. v. 16, 17. “Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit."
Two things are strongly suggested to us in these apostolic injunctions: The occasions and the seasons of prayer. Occasions and seasons, though intimately connected, and sometimes confounded, are not identical. The occasion is the incident that calls for any thing to be done; and the season is the time when it should be done.
Among the occasions of prayer, afflictions are most prominent and chief. “In my distress I called upon the Lord,” said the royal poet. Hezekiah in his afflictions besought the Lord. Jesus himself especially prayed in the scenes of darkness and distress through which he passed. “In the days of his flesh,” says Paul, “ when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, to Him that was able to save him from death, and was beard because he was pious,” or “in that he feared.”
Prayer, indeed, is the language-the natural expression of affliction and distress. And to have a tender-hearted sympathizing friend to whom to flee in times of affliction, is a relief, a consolation not to be expressed. Hence, among the many glorious attributes and accomplishments of our High Priest, that to us most suitable and admirable in our afflictions, is, that he is “ touched with a feeling of our infirmities; that he was in all these respects made like to his brethren," that he might have a proper measure of compassion upon the erring and upon the afflicted.
Griefs and sorrows, if not divided, are diminished when uttered into the ears of a kind and sympathetic friend. When participated by him, they are lessened to us. And when we come into the presence of Him who “pitieth us as a father pitieth his own dear children," the belief that “ he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men,” is an alleviation, a comfort not to be described. “We have had fathers of our flesh, who chastised us, and we gave them reverence,” (thanks for it;] “shall we not, then much more be in subjection to the Father of our spirits, and live," who only afflicts us for our good!
In all the afflictions of his people the Lord may be said to be afflicted : for, said Isaiah, “ according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses, he said, Surely they are my children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted; and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” Such now is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Is any Christian afflicted ? Then let him pray. Let him tell all his tale of woe and pour out his soul before God, who will certainly hear, and succour and relieve him : for if he does not think it good to take
away the affliction, he will, at least, enable him to endure it. But there are occasions of thanksgivings as well as of prayer. Favours received, and blessings enjoyed, call for thanksgivings. Therefore, said James, "Is any one merry ? Let him sing psalms." thing give thanks” is a blissful precept. We may even in affliction thank the Lord on two accounts : -First, that he has not treated us as bastards ; but as sons, in chastening us; and, in the second place, that he has mingled so many blessings amid so much less chastisement than we deserve.
There are seasons of prayer and thanksgiving as well as of petition and supplication. We may, indeed, convert particular times into occasions both of prayer and thanksgiving. We may make the morning and the evening not only the times, but the occasions of petition and of praise. " Thou shalt hear my voice in the morning,” said David. "O Lord, in the morning will i direct my prayer to thee." Psalm v. 3. “I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing of thy mercy in the morning; for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of trouble.” Ps. lix. 16. In the morning shall my prayer prevent thee." Ps. lxxxviii. 13.
The Jews “gathered their manna every morning;” “ the priests burned incense every morning ;” and the Levites were to "stand every moning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even." 1 Chron. xxiii. 30. From the book of Job we learn, that even under the patriarchal dispensation, the good and excellent of the earth were observers of occasions and seasons in their worship of the Lord. Thus Job himself, during the seasons of festivity amongst his sons and daughters,