Page images
PDF
EPUB

not be said you love your children. But what is parental love? Is it to indulge a child in all its foolish or corrupt wishes ? Never to punish, or to punish slightly, or without proportion to the offence ? The Bible would not call this love, but hate; "he that spareth the rod, hateth his son ; but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes.” Not so, then, my brethren, will you love your children. But when you consider that God may visit your sins upon them, will you not fear lest you should tempt or provoke him? You know the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honour thy father and mother. Beware lest, by breaking any of these you bring on your children the curses of the law. You know indeed that sịn will bring upon yourselves greater misery in the next world than any that can happen here ; but I am now confining myself to the punishment of your children only. Are you inclined to be drunken, idle, dissolute ? If so, remember you are ruining your dear, your beloved, children. Are you inclined to squander this holy day in unprofitable and unholy idleness? Your children will do the same. They too will find excuse for neglecting the public worship of God they too will find that they cannot rise in time for the morning service, and that they cannot dress well enough for either, and all those trifling and wicked excuses by which sinners cheat themselves and insult their God. And they will find, beside this, that the day of the Lord is irksome and tedious to them, as it must be to every one who has no pleasure in its exercises: and this they will remedy by drunkenness and profligate companionship. And the end of all this in the present world only, will be poverty, disease, and misery. But, my brethren, there is a sense in which you may bring upon your offspring the curses of the next world as well as of the present. It is true that in eternity men will be rewarded according to their own works, and not according to the works of others. But what if your children sin through your example? Will they not then be punished for their own sins? Yet will you be innocent? You, to whom they looked for instruction, for protection, for comfort. “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent ? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ?" Well might it seem no parent could be so unnatural. Yet the world contains parents even more cruel than these. If their children ask knowledge and salvation, they give them ignorance, sin, and everlasting ruin! Let them not say they are unable to instruct them. 'Are there no schools? Is there no church ? and what is more, cannot they give the first of all instruction, a good example? Are they under compulsion to despise God's sabbaths, his church and his sacraments and his ministers, and to live in a state worse than that of the brutes, when God gave not to the brutes reason and understanding ? Men may be ignorant, but ignorance is sin where knowledge can be had; and no man can be found so ignorant (whatever his practice) as not to know that sabbath-breaking, swearing, and drunkenness, are not the road to heaven.

By the love then which you feel to your dear children, be won, my brethren, to the love of God. He will then shew mercy to thousands for your sakes. “I have been young and now am old, said David; and VOL. XVII. NO. VII.

3 1

yet never saw I the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread.” This, it is true, was under an extraordinary providence ; but yet the gospel gives us a cheering promise that if we will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things shall be added to us. Let us, my brethren, as our duty is, rely on this promise, and act accordingly. Love God, and you will most truly love your children, and he will love them. Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ; shew them by your own example that you are earnest in seeking the things above. Train them up in the way they should go, and the Lord will keep their footsteps that they shall not slide. Set before them an incarnate, a crucified, an arisen, an ascended, a mediating, a propitiating Saviour. Lead them through his blood and intercession to the throne of God. What joy to meet in the day of judgment thousands of ransomed souls, your children's children to the thousandth generation, all blessing you as God's instrument to save them! It is a joy almost too great for conception—it is a joy which would overwhelm any creature but an immortal spirit. Yet this joy is prepared for them that love God.

And, on the other hand, how dreadful to stand before your own children in the presence of Christ ! those children whom your vices have injured, whom your example has ruined ! You will be called to account for them as well as for yourselves : and they will be beseeching curses on you their natural protectors, but unnatural destroyers. My brethren, see that ye incur nothing so dreadful. This is worse than making them pass through the Moloch, where the offering was brief, and the spirit was beyond pain or temptation. But in hell the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever. Command your children and your household after you, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment ; set them the example yourselves, and he will not fail you. He will bring on you that which he has spoken, and shew mercy to you in a day when you will most want it, and when nothing but his mercy will be of any importance. Goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life ; and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

H. T.

MISCELLANEOUS.

worrores REFLECTIONS ON ROMANS V. 16, & ROMANS V. 18. Rom. v. 16.—" And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the free gift:

for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification."

Our inheritance of a polluted nature, and liability both to the corruption and the punishment of original sin, has seemed a harsh sentence to some, who rather would gladly admire and adore the evangelical scheme, could they but reconcile to themselves the idea of infinite mercy entailing moral evil on yet unoffending creatures, by the analogy of hereditary diseases, and physical infirmities. There are minds, indeed, which dote on darkness, and hate the light; and which purpose never to be satisfied, until mysteries confessedly demanding a more than mortal mind to fathom, are made clear to an intellect, in its present state not designed to be competent to their comprehension, (Heb. xi. 1,) forgetting that, as the lamented Rennel observes, (Sermons, p. 183,) “ the Almighty can only be known to us according to the measure of that knowledge which he has revealed to us, and of our capacities to receive it; and that, therefore, all other speculations of a finite mind over an infinite being must inevitably end in empty paradox, or unintelligible obscurity.” For beyond that, are not indeed “His judgments unsearchable, and his ways past finding out ?” Or, “Who hath known the mind of that Lord, whose thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways ?” Such persons neglecting the legitimate use of reason, as a judge of the evidence of the authenticity of revelation, take her at once from her own ground, and apply her as a scale and measure whereby to weigh the mysteries above her sphere, which must stand or fall, not by her decisions on them, but as the revelation from which they emanate has been by herself found, in the first instance, divinely given or not.* To remove each fresh stumbling block from such persons, who would try the sun of heaven by their own rushlight, is but a Sisyphean labour; the stone will still roll down again, only in some other form. Far otherwise is it, and blessed the endeavour, to ease a really religious spirit, and reconcile not to the intellect only, but to the heart, what before it scarcely dared look at stedfastly. With this hope, I would request attention to the following observation from Stackhouse, (Hist. Bib. Vol. I. p. 64. Ed. London, 1817. 4to.) “Let us suppose, that notwithstanding our first parents had sinned, yet God had been willing that original righteousness should have equally descended upon their posterity; yet we must allow that any one of their posterity might have been foiled by the wiles of the tempter, and fallen as well as they did. Now had they so fallen, (the covenant of grace being not founded) how could they ever have recovered themselves to any degree of acceptance with God? Their case must have been the same, as desperate, as forlorn, as that of fallen angels was before ; whereas, in the present state of things, our condition is much safer. Sin, indeed, by reason of our present infirmity, may more easily make its breaches upon us, either through ignorance or surprise ; but it cannot get dominion over us, without our deliberate option, because it is an express gospel promise against the power of sin, that 'it shall not have dominion over us;' against the power of the devil, that' greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world;' against the power of temptations, that . God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able;' against discouragement from the pretence of our infirmities,' that we may do all through Christ that strengthens us ;' and in case of failing, that we have

* Where any thing is established upon the full proof of reason, there ten thousand objections or difficulties, though we cannot answer them, are of no force at all to overthrow it. Nothing can do that, but to refute those reasons upon which it is established; till when the truth and certainty of the thing remains unshaken, though we cannot explain it, nor solve the difficulties that arise from it."-LESLIE.

an advocate with the Father, and a propitiation for our sins.' Thus plentifully did God provide for man's stability in that state of integrity; thus graciously for his restoration in this state of infirmity; in both cases his goodness has been conspicuous, and has never failed." Thus, then, so far from our being losers by the fall of Adam, and its consequences on ourselves, we seem actually gainers thereby : the sin was the sin of one, the judgment of one to condemnation; the free gift is not of that only, but of our own numerous individual sins to pardon. Had we been each to stand or fall individually by the Adamic covenant, who shall say that where with but one temptation he yielded, we should not yet more have yielded with a thousand ? and who will not be grateful, and rejoice, that a yet more merciful covenant is accorded to us by Him who of evil bringeth good? But there is, moreover, a corollary deducible from these considerations, which is too important to be overlooked :

Romans v. 18.-" Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon

all men to condemnation ; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

The Apostle elsewhere tells us, that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;" and in the present chapter affirms, that the blessing obtained through our Lord Jesus Christ, was numerically co-extensive, but in effect more ample than the curse from Adam's fall. Now that this curse thus entailed on mankind, was temporal death, or annihilation, and not the " second death” of everlasting punishment, will scarcely be denied, unless we be equally willing to admit the whole alternative, which must then necessarily follow by the parallelism of the clauses, that as in Adam all were irrecoverably and irrespectively fore-appointed to hell, so in Christ all are as irrevocably and irrespectively fore-appointed to the certainty of heaven! Under this view, that the Saviour should break the bonds of this death, and place the

the judgment of eternal sleep should be annulled, but all awaken not to earthly happiness, and mere endless existence, but to the means of such existence in heaven; and that, moreover, while by the violation of the covenant entered into with mankind by their first representative, it was lost to us, and the consequences embraced by him were ours; so not are we merely restored as each for himself to have his own trial, as the protoplast had, but, beyond this, the hopes of pardon, though we fail many times; all this magnifies, indeed, and illustrates at once the boundless grace of God, and our own better and safer state. To have, I say, his own trial, inasmuch as however much condemned such a doctrine may have been by overstrained Tafelvoppooúvn, however much perverted by the self-justification of the Romanist, copying his ancient countrymen (Romans x. 3, et passim,) and wrested to his own destruction by the presumption of the Pelagian, and the heresies of the Socinian; and however entirely we confess that our most perfect works can find pardon and acceptance only through the Saviour, and as done in the faith and spirit of a disciple, and only are in our power through the assisting grace of God; still Scripture remaineth sure, that such are the conditions on our part, and that to them “who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honour, shall be eternal life ; tribulation and anguish to them that obey unrighteousness,” in that day when God “ shall reward every man according to his works.” But the point to which I would draw attention is this. If these premises be true, if our universal loss in Adam be more than compensated by our universal gain in Christ, how say the advocates of another system that some are arbitrarily and irrespectively destined to endless misery, being reprobate, or equally sufferers in fact, outcasts from the grace and salvation of God? Is their revival to them again? Would they not gladly call on the hills to hide, and the mountains to fall on them? Would they not bitterly exclaim, “ Would that annihilation were our lot indeed, the lot of all ?" “ Would that the Saviour had not come, if, in the very raising of others, on us he has entailed the deeper wo?” “Would, that having perished, all had been so left, dreamless, comfortless, yet painless; and not that some may glory in eternal light, ourselves be roused from unconsciousness to everlasting agony?" Would that the knowledge and the covenant of the gospel had not appeared, since it bringeth not the offer of salvation to all men, but is given only, that in being the savour of life unto others, it may free us from a present death, to be to us the savour of a second, inevitable, death of torment ?" And what shall we say then to any system which thus seems to leave thousands in far worse and more desperate misery, without fault of theirs, than had redemption never come, in despite of the tenour of that Scripture, whose main subject is to bid every christian being fall down in gratitude for his restoration to God's favour, and his revived opportunities of an inheritance with the saints of light, and walk worthy of his election by fulfilling its sanctifying ends, and qualifying himself for that inheritance; and which again and again, as in the chapter before us, contrasts man's former hopelessness with his present grace? Or shall we deem it necessary to cite passage after passage, chapter after chapter, verse after verse, from the sacred records of life, directly in contradiction to its partial views ?

E. B.

CHURCH SOCIETIES. Mr. EDITOR,— At a period like the present, when an unholy league is compassing the destruction of our christian establishment, and the most base and dishonourable means are used to effect that object, every sober and consistent method ought to be employed to arouse Churchmen from the lethargy into which they have fallen, and incite them to maintain the principles, and extend the influence, of that church which is “ built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." Her cause is indeed the cause of truth; but if those who enjoy her privileges and blessings are either too indolent or too lukewarm to declare her excellencies, and exhibit her brightness to the world, we cannot expect, but that in judgment, her candlestick will be removed out of its place.

« PreviousContinue »