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529 the renewed and the unrenewed man is exhibited in the life; A. when, from being a disingenuous, he becomes a truthful man; B. when, from being a passionate, he becomes a forgiving man; C. when, from being an imprudent, he becomes a circumspect man; and, D. when, from being a useless, he becomes a man of public beneficence.
A. The renewed man loves the truth in thought, word, and deed, and shuns all subterfuges, all kiuds of hypocrisy; not merely because of a natural impulse to be sincere and ingenuous, not because of the tendency of an honest life to promote his reputation or his interest, but because of the fact suggested in the text, verse 25, members one of another," and all insincerity between brethren who are thus amalgamated, is incongruous and base. The unrenewed man will sacrifice a simple-hearted honesty to the demands of his selfish pleasure. An uncandid, self-deceptive, flattering or treacherous spirit is one of the most common of all sins. Hence the apostle mentions as the first sign of conversion, a change from the habit of concealing or counterfeiting the truth, to the simplicity and openheartedness which should characterize men who have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father.
B. The renewed man is radically opposite to the unrenewed in the control of the angry affections. It is not wrong to be angry, but it is wrong to indulge resentment in improper measures, or to an improper degree. This affection should not be harbored for a longer time than is necessary; if so, it becomes revenge. It should not be allowed to rise into such a height of violence that it cannot be regulated by the conscience; if so, it becomes a malevolent passion.
Our text prescribes the exact rule,“ Be ye (not cold, indifferent, but) angry (when anger is appropriate), but sin not (in the extent to which you allow the affection, nor in the time of harboring it), let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Obedience to this command is one sign of the renewed spirit; for selfishness assumes the type of malignity, whenever, and so long as any obstacle is presented to its schemes, but the forgiving spirit is “after God," who sendeth rain on the unjust and giveth sunlight to the unthankful.
C. The renewed man is radically opposite to the unrenewed, in his carefulness against giving occasion for reproachful remarks. The impenitent, swayed by his passions, rushing into imprudences, excites the spirit of calumny among men. The penitent, circumspect in bis demeanor, precise in his conformity to the example of Jesus, furnishes those who desire it no opportunity for accusing him, “ except they find it against him concerning the law of his God.” Our text speciVol. VI. No. 23.
fies this point of contrast between the two men, when it commands the renewed “neither give place to the devil,” i. e. give no opportu. nity for slanderers to criminate you.
D. The renewed man does good to his fellow-beings; the unre. newed is alluded to in our text as a thief, verse 28, because he lives on the labor of others, and does nothing for them, appropriates to himself the blessings which were designed for the general welfare. By a life of industry and beneficence is the Christian obviously distinguished from the sinner. So plain is the contrast between the two in their outward developments of feeling, that no man need mistake his real character.2
Such a distinct exhibition of human sinfulness is not very frequently found in our author's sermons. He prefers to look on the bright side of our nature, and often makes assertions which must be interpreted with some latitude in order to be reconciled with the true doctrine of our fallen state. It is evident that he does not restrict his view to any one mode of presenting doctrine, but admits so great a diversity in the forms as will expose him to the charge of inconsistency with the substance of truth. In a double sermon3 on Luke 2: 1-14, he endeavors to show that the appearance of Christ in the flesh reconciles us to human nature.
I. The facts that Jesus is a man and is our brother, take away our repugnance to the human constitution,
A. When it is regarded as weak, by showing that this weakness is, a) not so dishonorable, b) not so great as it seems at first;
B. When regarded as corrupt, by showing, a) that its evil tendencies are not essential to the constitution itself (Christ not possessing them), b) that they do not destroy its noblest powers;
C. When regarded as unsusceptible of improvement, by showing, a) that it is improvable under the influence of the extraordinary institutions which have been established by divine grace, b) that men
| This interpretation is favored by Erasmus, Luther, Vater, Morus, Koppe, Flatı, Büchner, Heubner, et al.
? It is obvious that the preacher might have proceeded to disclose other lines of distinction between the regenerate and the unregenerate, as purity and spirituality of conversation, verse 29; reverence to the Holy Spirit, verse 30; tender and affectionate treatment of men, verses 31, 32. But the lesson of the day closed at the 28th verse, thus cutting off a part of the appropriate text, and rendering it necessary for the preacher to maim his discussion. Reinhard speaks with good reason in one of his Prefaces of the Saxon Pericope, as poorly compiled.
3 Predigten, 1807, Band II. ss. 338—382. These two discourses were preached on the two successive days of the Christmas Festival. Their Proposition (quoted exactly) is, The Festival of Jesus' birth reconciles us to human nature.
Their Theological Character.
have actually been and are still ameliorated by these spiritual instrumentalities.
II. The facts that Jesus is a man and is our brother, not only take away our repugnance to the human constitution, but also inspire us with a confidence in it; for,
A. They lead us to revere it on account of its worth, as seen, a) in its connection with God, b) in its adaptedness to the noblest of ends;
B. they lead us to love it on account of the circumstances in which it is placed, as seen, a) in the honor which God confers upon it, b) in the certainty with which it rewards the labor bestowed upon it.
C. They lead us to desire its welfare on account of its destiny, as seen, a) in the progress which it may make in time, b) in the distinction which it may hope to reach in eternity.
If by “ der menschlichen natur,” the phrase pervading these discourses, Reinhard means the nature of man viewed as simply fallen and disordered, his remarks need much qualification; but if he means the nature viewed as a constitution, as the work of God, as that which in all its essential parts has been assumed by Christ, his remarks are reconcilable with the assertions in the sermon cited above, that the unrenewed man is entirely selfish and sinful. He probably has the same idea with Dr. Young,
Revere thyself;—and yet thyself despise.
It is interesting to notice the manner in which our author discourses on the future state of the wicked. His opinion on the subject was that their punishment is to be eternal, and may be considered as consisting either in ceaseless positive torture, inflicted upon sinners remaining forever impenitent, or else in the evil consequences naturally resulting from their past iniquity, and afflicting them even after they have been converted by the disciplinary but temporary torture which they endured immediately after death. He evidently inclines to the supposition, that the torture to which they are first subjected will be instrumental in transforming their characters, but still they will never cease to suffer the injuries naturally resulting from their past sins. He prescribes, however, in his Dogmatik, that 'in discoursing to the people on the doctrine of future punishment, a preacher should prove from the Bible that this punishment is to be endless, and should clearly explain the evils which will eternally result to unpardoned transgressors from their conduct in this life; but he should not
Night Thoughts, The Infidel Reclaimed, Part I.
go beyond these simple truths, into the pice distinctions which men unused to methodical reasoning will misunderstand; especially as the Bible does not go into them, but confines itself to merely general instructions. The manner in which he conforms to his own rule, may be detected in the following abstract of one of his discourses.2
If anything can fill the soul with dread, it is the Gospel which I shall now read. What a prospect does it open to our glance! To what a theatre does it transport us! The reality of eternal punishment many deny; but “oh, instead of doubting whether these woes will follow sin, instead of endeavoring to hide them from us by artifices and sophistical reasonings, let us rather adopt all the methods which God has made known to us for escaping them. May he who has appeared upon earth to free us from the misery of the future life, and to be our guide to a peaceful eternity, bless this hour. We pray to him therefor, in silent devotion.
Text. Matt. 25: 31–46.
Secondly, What is the practical use of its teachings ? First Head. A. The punishments of the future lise are certain.
All nations believe in them. Conscience decides that they ought to be inflicted, reason that they will be, and the Bible places this
decision beyond the propriety of a doubt. (Proof-texts quoted.) B. The punishments of the future life are just. The text indeed, be
ing a general description, does not imply that every one shall receive precisely according to his personal deserts, but makes no allusion to different degrees of pain. The whole spirit of the Bible, however, teaches that the penalties of the future life will be distributed in proportion to the respective sinfulness of the suf
ferers. C. They will be painful. D. The precise nature of them is unknown to us. The biblical de
scription of them is drawn from images which cannot be literally applied to the spiritual world. These images are so numerous and so diversified as to be inconsistent with one another, if they be literally applied, as the darkness, the fire, the undying worm. The Bible specifies no place where these punishments are to be
See Vorlesungen über die Dogmatik, L. xii. 136. ? Reinhard's Predigten zur häuslichen Erbauung, herausgegeben von Hacker, Band IV. ss. 182–198.
533 inflicted. It could not make their nature intelligible to beings of
such gross sensibilities as ours. E. They will be eternal. This the Scriptures declare in various
forms. (Quoted.) Reason confirms the truth. The evil which a man has already done cannot be hereafter undone. He cannot fill
up hours with the good which he then omitted. In the nature of things, then, he cannot attain the perfection of the
blessed. Second Head. The teachings of Christianity with regard to the punishments of the future life, should be useful to us, A. As warnings, incentives to such a demeanor as shall not incur
these penalties. B. As means of exciting reverence toward the laws of God. How
important these laws must be, if God cannot be just without annexing this pain to their infraction! How benevolent and useful they are, if a single deviation from them conduct to endless
suffering! C. As motives to an increasing activity in behalf of our brethren.
Our text describes the severe punishments of the last day, as inflicted on those who have done no good to their brethren. “What condemnation, then, will fall upon you, miserable men, who have not only neglected to do good, but have done positive
evil to your neighbors ?" etc. But although the discourses of Reinhard are deficient in theological character, their general tone is decidedly evangelical. He was the leader of the Supranaturalist theologians of his time, and his sermons breathe the spirit of the ancient Lutheran faith. Notwithstanding his great amenity of manners and gentleness of heart, he sometimes expresses great indignation against the Rationalists of his day, who had usurped offices never intended for them in the Reformed church.1 By his efforts in the pulpit and his theological treatises, he accomplished a great work in staying the progress of Neology and in commending to popular favor the cardinal truths of the Gospel. If the remark of Luther were strictly accurate, Reinhard must be considered as unexceptionable in his religious creed; for says the Reformer, “Whenever (the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ) is preached, the pulpit is safe; there is no danger from errors and heretics. This doctrine allows no falsehood to be entertained in connection with it; for the Holy Ghost accompanies the truth with his influences, and
"See especially his plain-spoken sermon on the Festival of the Reformation, delivered in 1800; a sermon published by order of the Saxon Court, and circulated throughout Germany.