« FöregåendeFortsätt »
reason and evidence, had no longer conviction forced upon them by a supernatural interference of Heaven. Signs and wonders ceased to attend the preaching of the Gospel: yet the promise, that the Holy Spirit should abide for ever with the disciples of Christ, remained unbroken, and we trust will remain unbroken, to the very end of time. Neither the sight of miracles, nor the ability of performing them, has simply and independently any effect upon the human heart. They may perhaps dreadfully convince the understanding: but God alone can convert the soul. The state of man by nature is precisely the same now, as it was in the days of the Apostles: consequently, if it were then necessary that the Holy Spirit should reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; it is no less necessary in the present age. The world, indeed, is called Christian: but practical infidelity still flourishes in all its baneful luxuriancy. It matters not what a man is denominated, so long as his heart is alienated from God: and a bare assent of his understanding will be of little
avail, if his life prove him to be the slave of Satan. On this account, the ordinary operations of the Spirit are continued, though the extraordinary ones have long been unknown in the Church of Christ.
A state of nature is constantly opposed in Scripture to a state of grace. The first is the wretched inheritance bequeathed to us by our common progenitor Adam: the second is the free and unmerited gift of God the Father, purchased for us by God the Son, and conveyed to us by God the Holy Ghost. The whole, then, of the work, carried on in the soul of man by the third person of the blessed Trinity, may be briefly defined: A gradual restoration of that image of God, in the likeness of which Adam was created, and the lineaments of which were totally obliterated by sin'. The work is begun, continued, and
1 To discover wherein such image and likeness consisted, what better method can we take, than to inquire wherein consist that divine image and likeness, which, as the Scriptures of the New Testament inform us, were restored in human nature, through the redemption and grace of Christ, who was
perfected by the Holy Spirit. He is equally the author and the finisher of our faith: and, without him, we can do no good thing. From the first faint motions of spiritual life to its final consummation in the realms of everlasting happiness, all the honour and all the glory of our growth in grace be ascribed unto him!
When the Almighty ceased from the work of creation, he pronounced all that he had made to be very good. The new world was as yet free, from the inroads of sin, and from
manifested for that purpose. The image restored was the image lost; and the image lost was that, in which Adam was created. The expressions, employed by the penmen of the New Testament, plainly point out to us this method of proceeding: Renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. The divine image, then, is to be found in the understanding and the will: in the understanding, which knows the truth; and in the will, which loves it. This divine image is restored in human nature by the word of Christ enlightening the understanding, and the grace of Christ rectifying the will. Bp. Horne's Sermons, vol. i. p. 20, 21, 22.
the curse of sterility. The whole creation smiled upon man: and the golden age of the poets was realized. Blessed with perfect health, both mental and corporeal, our heavenborn progenitor was equally unconscious of the stings of guilt and of the pangs of disease. His understanding was unclouded with the mists of vice, ignorance, and error: his will, though absolutely free, was yet entirely devoted to the service of God: and his affections, warm, vigorous, and undivided, were ardently bent upon the great fountain of his existence. Though vested in an earthly body, his soul was as the soul of an angel, pure, just, and upright. He was uncontaminated with the smallest sin, and free from even the slightest taint of pollution. His passions, perfectly under the guidance of his reason, yielded a ready and cheerful obedience to the dictates of his conscience; an obedience, not constrained and irksome, but full, unreserved, and attended with sensations of unmixed delight. Such was man when he came forth from the hand of his Creator, the image
of God stamped upon his soul and influencing all his actions.
This blissful state of innocence was soon forfeited by our first parents. In an evil hour, they yielded to the suggestions of the tempter, and violated the express command of God. Pride, that most deeply rooted bane of our nature, was now, for the first time, infused into the heart of the woman. She vainly desired a greater share of wisdom, than God had been pleased to grant unto her: and, in order to obtain that wisdom, she scrupled not to disobey her Maker. The man followed her example, and joined her in a mad rebellion against Heaven. Sin entered into the world; and death closely followed its footsteps. The image of God was obliterated: and the image of Satan was erected in its stead.
Mysterious as the doctrine of original depravity may be, no man, unless he be totally unacquainted with the workings of his own heart, can possibly doubt its actual existence. Some persons, indeed, are so far blinded by the deceitfulness of sin, as to deny the doc