Sidor som bilder

without which we perish. Take from us, in welcome, every poisonous ingredient, every unwholesome compound; yet do not leave us destitute, but supply us with something better. Such is the part of benevolence, not to blast all our comforts, but to increase them; to deliver us from whatever is corrupt and hurtful, and at the same time to furnish the necessary provision for our wants. Nor is the prevailing religion yet so thoroughly purified from foreign and baneful corruptions, that there is not ample scope, in this respect, for a benevolence the most enterprising.

We observed, in the beginning of our discourse, that mankind often mistake in their choice of the heavenly sustenance, as in that of other food. We may now attempt to point out the genuine quality. What, then, must be the distinguishing characteristics of such a religion as fully comports with the appellation in our text, the bread of life? For it should be remarked, that the term itself, if it has any meaning at all, pre-supposes an adaption to the essential nature and necessities of our minds, such as we discover in the congeniality of bread with our physical constitution. Whatever doctrine lacks this congruity, is not fitted for us, nor can it be from our Maker. We do not believe that he who created and endowed our spiritual being, has departed, in this case, so far from the striking harmony of all his other works, as to leave us imperious wants, inspire us with vast and noble desires, without providing the appropriate and corresponding gratifications. Such is not the way of God. His own language, by the mouth of the prophet, is, 'Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.' What will satisfy? What will afford this complete and abounding delight?

My friends, neither the demands of our present earthly circumstances, nor the absolute necessities of our nature itself, can possibly be satisfied, but by a settled assurance that we live, move, and have our entire being in a superior power, who is able and faithful to make all things work together for good; who will secure to us our existence, so that when we die we shall live again; and who bestows the same favors on our friends. Great as is the extent of these benefits proposed, they are but just commensurate with our imperious necessi

ties. We can dispense with none of them. We cannot be satisfied with anything less than a God almighty, omniscient, all-controlling, whose paternal care surrounds us every moment of our lives, protecting us amid our dangers, guiding us anid our darkness, and administering whatever our real interests require. Our own immediate wishes, we know, often mistake in the means; and we must rely on him to act his own wisdom, and to dispense the needed allotment, whether we ask, or whether we forbear. No possible system of religion can fully meet our wants, which does not give confidence that the universal Sovereign is eternally good; that he is love, pure, boundless and immutable, such as our sins and follies can never alienate, even while they draw down a Father's needed chastisements; that he is love, when he descends in judgment, as well as when he approves. We must know that he is our Father, not barely in name, but in reality. And in this assurance, we realize all that our souls can desire; for it is enough that we are forever in our Father's protection and disposal. Though he carry us through scenes the most trying, he but leads us in ways that we know not, in order to bring us into light. We fear no evil; for in his hands we entrust our fortune and our fate, with infinitely more confidence than in our own. Who can adequately describe the sustaining power of this thought, or express its value to the sojourner in this vale of tears! It discloses a depth of consolation which reaches to the lowest recesses of earthly fear and earthly sorrow, and spreads an ocean of delight, unfathomable and without limits, over all the scene of human existence. My friends, this allavailing assurance, this universal consolation, is given us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is there revealed to us as a Father; such is the appellation by which he is usually called; our Father in heaven! a title which speaks home to the heart, and to which the heart responds, in a language that needs no interpretation. I cannot stop to arrange particular texts and marshal them in proof; let me but point you to the broad principle on which Christ himself professed to found the truth of his mission, and the whole superstructure of his religion : that God so loved the world, even the rebellious world, as to give his only-begotten Son. And he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?' This God is without variableness, or the shadow of turning.


[ocr errors]


We need the promise of future existence, to allay the fear of death, and to give us a field in which to expatiate, equal to our irrepressible desires. And Jesus Christ, by bringing life and immortality to light, through the gospel,' has placed the object of our dearest hopes before us. 'O death, where is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory! Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' But, then, we need this assurance not for ourselves alone. There are others, in whose welfare we cannot but feel deeply involved; and it is mockery to talk to us of heaven, if they are to be excluded. Bear with me, my brethren of every name; I but speak what all of you know it is not enough for us, that we are to be happy, unless our families, our friends, even our enemies, if we are Christians, yes, and the whole world, shall share in the great salvation. He who loves his neighbor as himself, how can he attain the fulness of joy, and leave one soul behind? Who can bear the thought of sitting down at the high feast of perpetual bliss, and hearing the cries of his famished son in the abyss of despair? Is this godlike? Is it human? I know we are told, that we shall there be freed from all our feelings of tenderness; but God defend us from such a heaven, where charity can never enter, and every warm affection is blasted by the thunder of damnation. Attempts have been made to terrify, with threatenings of an endless hell; and surely, they are dreadful enough. But I declare, that to a noble, generous, godlike spirit, there is nothing, in all the representations of the infernal world, so terrible, as the heaven itself which a partial religion proposes. I appeal to you who have hearts to feel; forgive any seeming harshness in the expression; but I appeal to you for its simple, sober truth, startling as it may be. For who is there among you, that would not rather share in the fate of the dearest objects of his affections, than to be forever divested of all his sympathies, and to reign and exult in glory, unmoved by their pain? What father or mother, husband or wife, brother or sister, what neighbor, friend or philanthropist, in whose breast the devoted, selfsacrificing spirit of charity glows, would hesitate a moment in making his choice between eternal heartlessness, and mutual suffering? Now, if we would have a religion suited to our essential wants, it must be such as secures the happiness of our friends, as well as our own. Nor must we forget that the whole human family is woven together, in every direction, by

the ties of consanguinity, the bonds of friendship, the cords of love; so that no individual can suffer, without involving many in his wretchedness. We were made social creatures; and so strong is this connexion, strengthened and confirmed in so many ways, that it must lift the whole race to heaven, or draw it down to hell. Whatever be its final destiny, it must be shared by the whole. It is one living body, and it would be death to sunder it. Strike the dividing blow where you please, you cut to the quick, and blood follows the savage knife. Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. For the body is not one member, but many.'

My brethren, let us turn to the religion of him who tasted death for every man ; whose birth was announced to be glad tidings of great joy which should be unto all people; and whose reign shall be consuminated in the subjugation of all things to the Father, that God may be all in all. Let us receive the hope of that resurrection he has taught, in which mankind are to be as the angels of God, and the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. At present, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body; but it shall, at length, be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Amen.

H. B.



Old Testament Doctrine of Atonement.

IN presenting the readers of the Expositor with a summary of the Old Testament doctrine of atonement, it is not presumed by the writer, that the resources of criticism have been exhausted on the subject. The most that is expected, is, that the respective particulars, as well as the general view, will be sustained by the passages adduced. And though the whole number of particular texts has not been produced, it is believed that every variety of meaning and application has been

exhibited. At all events, the different uses of the word commonly rendered atonement, as given by Buxtorf and Gesenius, are respectively inserted.

The common doctrine of atonement, has been supposed to derive support and confirmation from the nature and objects of the sacrificial offerings of the Hebrews. How far the frequent occurrence of the word in connexion with the sacred rites observed by that people, may have contributed to the establishment of this opinion, remains to be seen. There is, however, very little reason to doubt that the real objects contemplated in the legal ceremonies which relate to what is denominated atonement, have been generally overlooked. It will be admitted, that if the legal sacrifices were designed to propitiate the Deity, to avert his wrath, or to satisfy the moral demands of his law, these objects will appear in the passages which speak of atonement. But if they have no such intention, they will as certainly authorize some other construction.

I. The Hebrew word, (capher) has several different meanings, and is applied to a number of dissimilar things. When used as a noun, it signifies,

1. The material, whatever it was, with which the ark was covered, and rendered impervious to water. It occurs in Gen. vi. 14, and is translated pitch. The Septuagint calls it asphaltum. Under this passage, Dr. Bellamy, after giving his reasons for a different translation at some length, says: 'The word (kopher) throughout the Scriptures, is used to mean, expiation, atonement, reconciliation, Ezek. xlv. 20; Num. viii. 19; 1 Chron. vi. 49; Dan. ix. 24, &c. It also as a noun, means, ransom, atonement, satisfaction. That this is the true meaning of the word (kopher), and that it cannot possibly have any other, is confirmed in every other part of Scripture where it occurs.' [See Bellamy's Bible in loco.]

[ocr errors]

The passages referred to by Dr. B. in the above quotation, will be presented in due time, under the consideration of the verb. With all due deference, we must be permitted to say, however, that his remark that the word as a noun, cannot possibly have any other meaning than the one he has given it, is very extraordinary, not to say unwarrantable. Let those who are disposed to test its propriety, apply it to the two immediately following particulars.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »