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were held together; and unless that decision be revoked by a subsequent General Meeting of the Society, this Meeting consider that the contributions of all classes, and especially those of a penny a week from the poor, have been obtained upon grounds which cannot be justified: and that the most solemn appeal from the pulpit and from platforms, as well as from house to house, have been urged upon the public upon motives of Christian charity and religious duty, under an awful misapprehension of the character and proceedings of the Society.
“4. That it is the opinion of this Meeting, that the rights of membership, and consequently of management, in a Bible Society, should be restricted to persons acknowledging the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and contributing to the support of the Institution : but that the privilege of purchasing Bibles and Testaments should be extended to all persons without distinction.
“5. That this Meeting regards, with gratitude to Almighty God, the formation of an Institution for the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, founded and conducted on scriptural principles, and in accordance with those sentiments wbich they conscientiously entertain, and desire to uphold. This Meeting do, therefore, declare their cordial approbation of the objects, principles, and constitution of the Trinitarian Bible Society."
But from viewing the things that lie at a distance, let us come home to our families and our hearts. Some ofus, during the past year, the Lord has blessed with joy; let us be humble and thankful; and “is any merry, let him sing psalms." Some of us he has visited with sorrow; let us kiss the rod, and bless the hand that giveth, and the hand that taketh away. We have closed the eyes upon which we shall never look again, until they open upon us in their loveliness, on the morning of the resurrection. We have pressed the cold cheek of the dead, and have longed to lie down with them in the bed of the grave. We have wept over what our hearts loved best, and “refused to be comforted because they were not.” Even so, God has been pleased to try the children of men. And why? To show what is want. ing in us, and to improve what is already implanted. To show us our want of faith, of love, of resignation, of patience, of hope. To purge away the dross of earth, and refine the gold of the sanctuary. To lead us to see, exámine, and repent of sin. To bring us to deeper acquaint. ance with grace, and a closer walk with God. To teach us to resign the shadows of time, that we may lay hold upon the realities of life eternal.
Some of us he has tried with perplexities, disappoint. ments, and losses. Our day is overcast with clouds, and “wearisome nights” are our portion. How hard to say,
“ Blessed be the name of the Lord.” To flesh and blood it is impossible, to faith and love most easy. Job felt it when reduced to beggary, when bereared of all his lovely family, when deprived of health, when robbed of honour-still his heart felt, and his lips repeated the glorious sentiment, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Some of us he has blessed with success and abundance; we have more than heart can wish.” Say not with the fool, “Soul, thou hast much goods; take thy rest.” Rather go search out the hungry, and the sick, and the naked. They are God's chartered commissioners for the trial of our principles. They are bis chosen representatives to the congresses of the rich and powerful; they are the appointed recorders of his sentence upon the day of final judgment; for in as much as ye did good to one of the least of these his brethren, ye do it unto himself.-- Matt. xxv.
All of us he has blessed with Bibles-God's record of the past—his will for the present-his revelation of the future. He has blessed us with light, let us therefore walk in the light; and work the will of God while it is called to-day, for the night cometh, in which no man can work.
THE SCRIPTURE CHARACTER OF GOD.
“God our Saviour."-JUDE XXV.
The characteristic feature of the Scriptures is the discovery which they make of God. Their revelation of his character is the prominent topic which naturally arrests our attention when we enter on a general view of their instructions. It is he “in whom we live, and move, and have our being;” it is from him the Scriptures, with all their wonderful revelations, have come; he will be our final judge: and hence we are prompted in the very
first instance, to inquire, what do the Scriptures teach respecting him. This we shall endeavour, in the present article, to explain.-1. Showing the importance of just views of God.-2. Setting forth the revelation of the divine character made to us in the Scriptures; and 3. Showing the practical influence of this revelation of God, when properly understood, in forming the religious and moral character of his people.
I.-The importance of entertaining just views of God, is plain alike from the testimony of the Scriptures and our own observation. In the Bible, idolatry is condemned as one of the greatest sins; indeed as being in some sepse the parent of them all; and idolatry consists in giving to any other being that homage and worship due to God alone, whether this be an idol of wood or stone, or an imaginary being whom our own fancy has created, dif. ferent from that God who is revealed in the Scriptures. “I am the Lord; that is my name; and I will not give my glory to another, neither my praise to graven images." -Isaiah xlvii. 9. « Thou shalt have no other Gods before me; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”—Exodus xx. 3–6. “ Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.”. 2 Kings xvii. 21.
Nor will the importance with which this subject is in. vested seem strange to us, when it is considered how great is the influence of just views of God, in forming the character and governing the life. Godliness has never been found, except in connexion with just apprehensions of God. The moral condition of the heathen world is an af. fecting proof of the practical influence of idolatry. It debases the mind and demoralizes the life, and to it the apostle Paul justly attributes all the abominations by which the heathen are distinguished.-Rom. i. 21-27. “ As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God
gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all un. righteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things,” &c.--Rom. i. 28–32. These are the natural fruits of idolatry.
How strange, then, is it to find that, even by some who call themselves Christians, idolatry should be considered not a very great evil! They speak lightly of the worship of images, and seem to think there is no essential diffe. rence between that and the worship of the Christian. The infidel sentiment of a great poet has been the delight of a considerable portion of the Christian world.
4. Father of all, by every age, in every clime ador’d,
A sentiment which nullifies all the denunciations of the Scriptures against idolatry, which places the heathen's conception of God in the same rank with the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and sets the abominable deities of the heathen on a level with the One, Living, and True God.
Among Christians, too, in our own times, it is common for any one to imagine, that he is quite competent to form just apprehensions of God, and that he is at liberty to worship him agreeably to his own views, whatever these may be. Instead of coming to the Scriptures, and with laborious diligence investigating what they teach respecting God, each seems to think he has abundance of light in his own mind, and that his own reason is sufficient for his direction. Thus many may be heard pronouncing of the great God, what he is and what he is not or cannot be, what he must and what he must not do, what must and what cannot be his perfections; and in all this they have no other guide than their own ideas of what God ought to be. "They think he is altogether such an one as themselves." Their sin is the height of profanity. Their God is a mere idol of their own creating. That which they worship is not God. The only difference be. tween their God and that of the heathen is, that the former is commonly a piece of wood or stone, whereas theirs is a fancy of their own imagination. Men know not God, unless they are taught by his word and Spirit. They ought to know him from the works of creation, bưt they do not. Their minds are blinded by sin, and hence God has seen it to be right and necessary to favour the world with a new revelation of himself, and this is given to us in the Scriptures. We shall therefore proceed and con. sider
II.-The revelation of the divine character made to us in the Scriptures. Of God, in his nature and essence, we may be said to know nothing. What we do know, is by means of his names, titles, attributes, and works. In the language of an old divine, he "thus spells out himself to us," since otherwise we could not attain to any right conceptions of him. And it may be said there are three ways in which he makes himself known, by his works of creation, by his providence, and by his word. Of these David writes in the 19th psalm; but it is to the last our attention is at present to be confined. Nor indeed is there much wisdom in occupying our time with an inquiry, how
much we may learn of God by means of the dim taper of our own reason, when we may as well conduct the investigation amid the full blaze of the light of revelation. There are, many things, essential to be known by sinners, respecting God, which nothing but revelation can teach. Will he pardon sin? In what manner will he do so? These are questions to which the voice of nature renders no reply. It was reserved for the Bible alone to reveal the character of God, as it respects sinners. And how blessed its revelation! “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”—John i. 18. God hath given the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. In Christ, as in a glass, we behold the character of God. And the great and blessed peculiarity of that revelation is, that it announces him to be “God our Saviour.” Under this character he is reveal. ed in the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, And we cannot better illustrate the subject than by select, ing a few passages from each, accompanying them with some explanatory remarks.
The first which we shall select is in Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7. “The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty." The eircumstances under which this revelation of God was made, ren. der it peculiarly valuable and interesting. Moses had set up the tabernacle for worship, (Exodus xxxii. 7); he was deeply solicitous to entertain right apprehensions of God, the object of worship, (v. 18); God was pleased graciously to regard the desire of his soul, (xix. 23); the greatest preparation was made to hear the announcement God would make of his name, (xxxiy 1-3); and then was the proclamation which we have quoted pronounced in his hearing. What we are particularly to notice in it is, the overwhelming manifestation which it makes of the divine mercy and goodness, joined with the most marked decla. ration of his holiness and justice. It accords with the description of Jehovah, given by Isajab, (xlv. 21). “There is no God else beside me; 'a just God and a Șaviour; there is none beside me.” God, in his mercy, would save sinners; yet would he do so in a way agreeable
to bis justice.