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Your favour is now before me, and the propriety of your request cannot be questioned. You do me honour, you do me justice, in supposing I am ready to communicate whatever God has been pleased to communicate to me, and were I not on a journey, and very much in haste, I would, with inexpressible pleasure, devote a considerable portion of my time to a gentleman who now in the favour before me appears altogether the generous and candid enquirer.
But were I to enter on this subject, you have introduced so many passages, and I should be so anxious, according to my poor abilities, to do strict justice to them all, that it would unavoidably consume more time than the various appointments I have made will permit me to devote. One thing, however, I must be permitted to observe, that in my opinion, not a single passage you have selected is in any view applicable to the fallen angels; and I am as fully convinced, that not one of those, nor any other passage that can be found in the Bible, will prove, even on the face of the letter, that the just God is not the Saviour of all men.
But although I do not think I shall be able to devote as much time to you, in this way, as I feel a strong inclination to do; and as at some future period, should I see it right, and you see fit to desire it, I may find a freedom to do; yet should the continuance of the rain prevent my departure from this city, this day, if you will do me the honour to pass an hour at my lodgings this afternoon, and bring with you the same happy disposition with which you appear on paper, I will cheerfully attend to your several inquiries, and do every thing within the compass of my abilities to give you satisfaction; for I am, in our common Saviour,
Your faithfully devoted,
and most obedient humble servant, JOHN MURRAY.
Having written conditionally, I confess I did not see with pleasure, the sun breaking forth in all its splendour. A bright afternoon, however, obliged me, agreeably to my word, to depart, and I the more feelingly regretted this circumstance, as at the moment I was stepping into my carriage, the good clergyman made his appearance. My appointments however were made; it was expected I should deliver my message, in the several towns through which I was to pass, according to my arrangements, and submission was my duty.
I am now sojourning with a physician, eminent in his line; much pains has been taken to unsettle him from the faith of the gospel, but he continues firm in his adherence to truth. He has been showing me a letter, designed to convince him of his errors, but never was any thing better calculated to establish a believer in the belief of the gospel. Opposition seems hastening to renounce even the remains of Christianity, and there are, who now confidently affirm, that Christ did not die for any man, and of course, which is indeed what they mean to prove, he hath paid no man's debt! That it is in the power of every man to be his own Saviour, and if he is not, he never will be saved. The doctor's correspondent says, that Jesus suffered for no other purpose than to vindicate the character of God, to wipe off those reproaches which were cast on it by sinners. That he has done nothing for us individually, and that we ourselves must do the will, the whole will of God, or be miserable! He ridicules the doctrine of Universal Redemption, as the wildest scheme that ever entered the head of any human being, and seems ready to say, with a gentleman of high standing in the religious world, "it is a low, mean, dirty doctrine, to which none but the dregs of mankind would ever give ear.”
How perfectly similar the spirit of our modern pharisees, to that which usurped dominion, among the Jews, during our Saviour's sojourning among men. I transcribe a paragraph from the letter adverted to above:
"This atonement or suretiship, as it respected the human race in general, consisted not in the payment of any debt, but in his engaging himself to the Father, to wipe away all the reproach, and dishonour, that transgressors had brought on his character and law, and to support and vindicate his honour and government, in the view of the intelligent creation! This he effected by the atonement finished on the cross, and hence a way was opened, without any dishonour to the Divine Majesty, for God to forgive the sin of mankind if he pleased. But all which Jesus Christ did, laid God under no kind of necessity or obligation, in point of justice, to save any of the human race, any more than if it had never been done! God, by the atonement, hath only found out an honourable method of forgiving sins, if he please."
I have the rather made this extract, as I find this view of the atonement generally adopted, so that there is indeed too much reason to apprehend a total renunciation of Christianity, or that the
Christian Universalist will alone remain to defend any of the Christian doctrines.
Would to God we could, in every way, defend those precious doctrines both by theory and practice, by precept and example. But God will indeed have his witnesses in every age, and every place, where he sees fit to place them. How highly favoured are those who are of this happy number. They will certainly rejoice, while others will mourn, and they will doubtless possess that peace, which passeth understanding.
I am just returned from meeting; my subject, "The serpent lifted up in the wilderness," my audience was large and attentive, the parish minister among them, with his pen and ink, taking notes as I proceeded; but this did not affect me unpleasantly. My heart was very much engaged, and my Redeemer vouchsafed to grant me much boldness, and great liberty of speech. I remarked, also, that the testimony it was given me to bear, went from the heart, to the heart. We can always, I believe, tell when the audience feel, and I have the consolation to hope my visit here, will be greatly blest. When, O! when, will the elucidating morning arise, the morning without a cloud? When every eye shall together see, and together rejoice in the salvation of God!
Farewell. May the best of heaven's blessings rest upon you.
I PREACHED last evening upon the fourth chapter and 35th verse of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans:
"Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."
First, I endeavoured to show the nature of our offences, they were a breach of that commandment which is exceeding broad, so that offences became so manifold that no one could understand his
Second, The punishment due to each, and every of these offences, death.
Third, The impossibility of avoiding this punishment. God having declared the soul that sinneth shall die.
Fourth, The reason why, that God, against whom offences were committed, delivered up his Son for our offences.
Fifth, The consequences of his being delivered up. The fulfilment of every jot and title of the law, so that all the threatenings were executed, and the debtor's debt exacted, even to the uttermost farthing, to the last mite; and the offences against which the wrath of God was pointed so effectually done away, by the sacrifice of him who was delivered up for us, that we were now taught to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God by Jesus Christ. This was manifested.
Sixth, In our Saviour's rising again for our justification. The resurrection of Christ Jesus is the discharge of the sinner from condemnation; because it is a proof of his deliverance from our guilt. Jesus having borne all our sins, in his own body on the tree, and having put them away by the sacrifice of himself, appears the second time without sin, unto salvation. Hence we are begotten again, unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and hence we have the answer of a good conscience, by the same resurrection; and, says the Apostle, if Christ be not risen your faith is vain, our preaching is vain, and ye are yet in your sins. But, as he was indeed risen, their faith was not vain, they were not in their sins. They stood before God in the resurrection state, where God beheld them in Christ Jesus, without spot, and blameless, in love.
Hence the apostle assures the people, they were complete in the Saviour. Ye are complete in him: and that it is only in Christ Jesus we are complete, is abundantly manifest from the confession of every genuine believer, who obtains the character just by faith, faith which is necessarily the evidence of things not seen, and from the experience of the Apostles, who constantly declared themselves, as they were in themselves sinners, "In me," says one, ❝dwells no good thing, I find a law in my members, warring against the law of my mind,"&c. &c. "If I glory therefore," says the same Apostle, "I will glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
The motto of the Christian is, not unto us, not unto us; but unto thy name, O Lord, be all the glory. Offences against the Majesty of heaven are committed, and for those offences the Lamb of God is, by the Father of angels and of men, delivered up!!
But for whom was this Lamb of God delivered up? This is a most important question. If God delivered him up for me, I cannot be delivered up and cast into prison for myself. If God raised him up for my justification, then I am justified; and if I am justified, who is he that condemneth? But if he were not delivered up to death for my offences, I must be delivered up for myself: for God is true and he hath said, the soul that sinneth shall die. If he were not raised for my justification, then I am not justified by his resurrection; but if not by his resurrection, I cannot be justified in any other way, for we are informed, Acts iv. 12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Either therefore Jesus Christ was delivered up for my offences, and raised again for my justification, or he was not. If he were, I am to all intents and purposes saved in Jesus Christ with an everlasting salvation. If he were not, I am to all intents and purposes, doomed to everlasting misery. For if he were not delivered up for my offences, then he never can be; for having died once, he dieth no more, and without shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins.
It is then of the last importance for us to determine whether he was delivered up for us or not. But how are we to determine this momentous question? It is a generally received opinion that Jesus Christ was not delivered up for all. Well, if I could determine who those were for whom he was not delivered up, I should say nothing to them, because it would be to no effect. But you will say, we do not know who they are; then certainly we do not know who the others are, and therefore we cannot with propriety preach to any individual. We cannot exhort any one in particular to glorify God in their body or spirit, because we cannot decisively say, "ye are bought with a price." If it be said Jesus was delivered np for the elect, still we are at a loss to distinguish the elect; the scriptures do not call them by name, neither are they designated from the rest of mankind by any peculiar excellency. On the contrary, there are writers who assure us that God, to show the greatness of his mercy, has made choice of the greatest offenders among the human race! But could not God have shown the greatness of his mercy by the quantity, as well as the quality? and does not God in a redemption so partial, appear a respecter of persons? nay, is it not a reflection upon his justice to suppose that he chooses his elect for the greatness of their offences?