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and evidenced by an irreproachable life for about thirty-seven years ; or the eminently peaceful manner in which he met “the last enemy that shall be destroyed;" we have in him a most illustrious proof, that “ the Gospel" is nothing less than “ the power of God," and that, under any circumstances, divine " grace is sufficient” for men. His way, for many years, was extremely rough, his enemies numerous, and his trials great; but in him was graciously fulfilled that promise, “ When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Prov. xvi. 7.) Yes, his enemies were made to be at peace with him! And though they were not induced to acknowledge that he did right in renouncing the creed in which he was educated; or in identifying himself with that sect which was, for a long period, every where spoken against; yet, how unwilling soever they might be, they were constrained to confess, that, if he were not à sincere Christian, there were none living. Awe from above quelled their unhallowed feelings; their enmity was “ shorn of its strength" in his presence ; and before him
« Abash'd they stood,
Virtue in her shape how lovely!” What he became, however, was the effect of the almighty grace of God; and nothing less than that grace could have preserved him in "the fiery trials” through which he was called to pass. But now all his trials, and persecutions, and dangers are for ever over : for, having "fought the good fight,” he has “ finished his course;" and, as he “ kept the faith," he has gone to receive “ the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give him at that day.” “I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."
HUMAN AGENCY DEPENDENT ON THE POWER OF
GOD FOR ITS EFFICIENCY:
BY THE REV. JOHN scott;
(Concluded from page 20.) II. That every thing which God chooses to employ for promoting men's salvation is purely instrumental.
To convince us that the means just enumerated are to be regarded as instrumental and not efficient causes, we need only consider for one moment the work requisite to be done, and the hinderances to the work. You will see both these subjects set in their just light, if you attentively study the terms in which St. Paul's .commission was expressed : “I send thee to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts xxvi. 17, 18.) In the regeneration and recovery to God of our fallen race, this work must be done, whoever does it.
1. Men must be “turned from darkness to light.” When a father from his chair, a Minister from his pulpit, or any other agent, well instructed in the inspired volume, and well acquainted with the plan on which God shows mercy to mankind, is instructing others, grant that he holds up a clear light, and that he holds it up with a steady hand; but he holds it up before “ blind eyes :" can he cure the blindness ? can he couch the intellectual eye, and so remove the film that the light shall pass without impediment through all the soul ? If he cannot, and no one of superior power performs the operation, that which happened when the great Teacher taught, will happen again : “ The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John i. 5.)
2. Men must be turned “from the power of Satan unto God.” When you reason with them on the rights of God, on his just claims to their obedience and their love, we will allow that your arguments, as they easily may be, are most convincing ; that when you urge them to comply at once with their own strong convictions of duty and obligation, your persuasions possess the greatest force : but the persons whom you would persuade are in the “power of Satan,"—can you persuade him to relinquish possession and release his prey ? or, finding him unwilling and perverse, can you forcibly take the strong demon, bind him, and set at liberty his captive? The person whom you are seeking to benefit, you are to “turn to God.” Against God he is at enmity : will your persuasions.remove his estrangement, and conquer his aversion ? Understand the question. His mind, his will, his heart, his nature, is “ enmity against God;" the case is, not that he merely happens to be at enmity, that his enmity is an accident, a moveable evanescent feeling which arose yesterday, and to-morrow, even if you use no means to remove it, will probably die away and be forgotten : “the carnal mind is enmity against God,”-it is the embodied principle; can you change it? “ It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be ;” (Rom. viii. 7 ;) can you, or the means which you are able to command, subdue the spirit of rebellion, and convert this carnal mind into subjection and obedience ? No; nor in fact is it ever converted, ever truly changed, until the sinner turning “receives forgive
ness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified ;"—it is the manifestation of divine love in our pardon and adoption, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, that puts to death the enmity, and wins the soul to God. Forgiveness of sins and adoption are, says Christ to his ambassador, “ by faith that is in me." What pointing of a sinner, on the part of man, can of itself effectually show the way to Christ? What human representation can reveal Christ, so that the inward eye shall see him “evidently set forth crucified ?” What address can overcome the fears of the broken-hearted, detect and chase away the last doubt that lurks within, and bear the strong impression to the soul, “ He bath loved me, and given himself for me ?” can inspire such a trust in the merit of Christ, and confidence in the mercy of God, and in his promise, as shall bring to the soul the sense of pardon and acceptance with God? Whatever use be may make of means, and however he may honour man by making him instrumental in this work, thus to give faith belongs to God alone.
“ Only thou canst make him known,
And in my heart reveal thy Son." Now this is the process that truly converts the soul to God, and no other process can. What monstrous absurdities are put forth on the subject of reforming mankind! Your Popish advocates of general education, and others whose fancy or interest leads them to adopt their views, depict our popular vices, and “affect to weep.” “Enlighten the youthful mind," say they, “with science, instruct children in their duties, crime will then cease, and there will grow up in our country a virtuous and happy community.” In their specification of the work to be done in order to human regeneration, man is a thing,-a piece of ductile, fusible metal; or, in the worst case, a piece of marble broken off from the hard rock, or some other thing ; place him in the die, and he will take the stamp,-run him in the mould, or apply the chisel, and he will exhibit the form you wish ; all that you require is wellinstructed artists to undertake the work, and the task is easy. That a Papist should form this estimate of the work, and offer to undertake it, would excite no surprise ;-it is consistent; for the Romish system, denying to its disciple a judgment, a will, a conscience, casts him at the feet of its priesthood as mere a thing as the whole creation can furnish : but it is grievous that persons who entertain nobler and juster views of man, and believe that he is formed to understand divine revelation, to judge of truth, and is accountable to God alike for his judgment, his faith, and his conduct,--that they should adopt this specious folly, in utter forgetfulness and abandonment of their own night principles. How had Timothy been taught, and what was the Apostle's commendation ? " And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. iii. 15.) Try plans for improving men without revelation, or with a mutilated Bible,
Vol. XIX. Third Series. FEBRUARY, 1840.
there candlestick may be af may appears at most will
without “ the truth as it is in Jesus," and his depravity will deride your hopes : by grafting upon the old stock of degenerate nature, you may, perhaps, change the fruit somewhat in appearance, and render it more taking to the eye; but the tree will still produce apples of Sodom, still bitter and still poisonous. And, my Christian brethren, when you cause the whole Bible to be read, when you preach with all simplicity and fervour, when your means are the most divinely appointed, they are only means,-they cannot do the work, nor can you by your best adapted and most faithful labours. You select a piece of ground, you diligently prepare it, and you plant a tree: do you make the tree grow? So, in God's husbandry, “ Paul planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Cor. iii. 6.)
We have now, perhaps, the answer to our question, “Where means are in use, and agents are active, why does not the progress of religion answer the expectations which it would seem just to form ? " Means may be well adapted, and agents in their places, but we are reminded, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." To give light and splendour to the material temple, there may be the candlestick with its receiver, its pipes, and lamps ; the candlestick may be “ all of gold;" trees may grow beside the candlestick, and their leaf may appear green; but unless the God of nature give them fatness, their juices at most will but supply themselves,—there will be no superabundance in the form of oil to pour into the lamps. So, in the great spiritual temple, there may be the means of grace, and the Ministers of grace; but unless “ the Spirit of grace " shed forth His influences, there will be no saving effect beyond the sanctification and improvement of the agents themselves. If, then, we place our trust in means, and expect from instrumental causes what the prime cause only can effect; or, which perhaps is a more prevalent fault, if the divine Agent is not distinctly recognised and honoured, and dependence placed solely upon him, but subordinate agency is associated with him as the object of reliance ; that Holy Spirit, the “ seven eyes" of the omniscient God, who searches and knows our hearts, grieved at our worldliness and blindness, may leave us to our vain confidence, and then our exertions will prove vain.
III. That when it pleases God to use them, the instruments become possessed of efficacious, and even resistless, power.
We have one instance given in the text. Might and power were arrayed against the building of the temple ; the builders possessed neither might nor power; but the divine determination was, “ The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house ; his hands shall finish it:" and it was so. We mention some other instances.
The Gospel, which our Saviour came into the world to preach, and which was instituted as the great instrument of God's power unto men's salvation, must be proved, and “ witness" of its efficacy given
to "all nations." Twelve men are chosen for the work, without previous training or apparent fitness; and when their message has been delivered to them, they are sent forth “ as sheep in the midst of wolves." They receive the Holy Ghost. One Apostle preaches,—it is the day of Pentecost; the Holy Spirit descends upon the hearers, and they are "pricked in their heart;” and “ the same day there are added unto them about three thousand souls." The Apostles continue to preach, and “the Lord adds to the church daily such as should be saved.” Persecution arises in Jerusalem, and the converts are dispersed through the provinces. A few men of Cyprus and Cyrene come to Antioch, a heathen and notoriously wicked city, and they preach the Gospel to the Greeks. “ The hand of the Lord is with them, and a great num. ber believe and turn unto the Lord.” The door is opened, and access presented to the Gentile world, and a persecutor of the Christians is converted, and appointed “ Apostle to the Gentiles.” He is a man of family, and education, and talents : yet is there sufficient about him to show that any effects which shall follow his ministry, and crown his labours, are not by might nor power of his ; for “ his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” He is aware of his insufficiency to produce such effect as his ministry was ordained to produce,--he owns it always; if there is one thing more than another upon which the Apostle dwells, in reference to himself and his own labours, it is his incompetence himself to work the great consequence to which all his labours are directed. “The treasure is in earthen vessels," he says, " that the excellency of the power may be of God.” He preaches in the largest cities of the Gentile world ; hostility meets him every where; he is “in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft;" yet the Gospel “ triumphs in every place ;” the “ foolish things” which God has chosen, “ confound the wise;" the “ weak things confound the things that are mighty; and base things, and things despised, bring to nought things that are :” no form of opposition maintains its ground, the Christian cause prevails. But in this triumph, “ all things are of God.” The Apostle and his associates engage and succeed in this holy war; but “ the weapons of their warfare are mighty through God:” “no flesh must glory in his presence."
In course of time the scene changes, and in the countries converted to Christianity by the Holy Spirit's influence upon the Apostles' labours, the pure faith and morals of the Gospel are abandoned. The tendency to “ fall away" existed early; the Apostles themselves discovered and lamented it; even then, “ many false prophets were gone out into the world;" even then were there “many antichrists.” No sooner have the holy A postles left the world, and their warning voice died away upon the ears of men, than all that is antichristian spreads rapidly. To “ turn away from the truth, and turn unto fables," becomes the ruling passion which more or less influences all the