« PreviousContinue »
the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobediance, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound : but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound : that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord." The Apostle well knowing that the opposer would not fail to cavail where there was the least apparent occasion, saves the objector the trouble of bringing as an objection to the foregoing testimony, that we may then as well continue in sin as not, and even better, so that grace may still abound, by stating and answering the query himself. See the beginning of the 6th chapter. “What shall we say then ? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound ? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein.” The Apostle then goes on with a most beautiful argument to show the impropriety of continuing in sin, urging in the 14th verse as follows." For sin shall not have dominion over you ; for
ye, are not under the law, but under grace.” Here he guards against the vain cavails of unreasonable men, by stating the following query with his answer.
See verses 15, 16. " What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sip unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness ?” His argument in this chapter is closed as follows. " For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In the 7th chapter is shown the works of the flesh under the law, and the wretchedness of man under that condemna, tion, and his only remedy which is Christ our Lord.
In the 8th chapter is discovered the perfect righteousness of the law fulfilled in those who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Passing on the Apostle shows the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain together, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. These subjects are just touched upon so as to lead the mind of the reader to form some idea of the consistancy of the Apostle's arguments through the general subject on which
we have been labouring. The reader can easily see that if St. Paul had believed in the doctrine of eternal retribution on the principle of eternal reprobation from all past eterni. ty, that he never would have laboured to establish the doc. trine of universal justification through Christ. But if his real belief was that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; and that all were justified freely by God's grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, his argument as closed in the 11th chapter is perfectly consiste ent with his real belief.
5thly. A correct knowledge of the scripture idea of elec. tion will serve as a powerful corroborative evidence evinsive of the truths brought to light in the Apostle's argument in the 11th chapter. The scripture idea of election, we suggest, is this. “Whom God elects, is elected for the benefit of those who are not elected.” This idea is according to the use of election among men in society. No community, enjoying the rights of suffrage, ever elected a set of men to enjoy all the immunities and privileges of the com. monwealth to the exclusion of their constituents. are chosen, or elected for the purpose of serving the public, for the discharge of which duty, their sacred honours are pledged.
The most important election recorded in the scriptures, we have an account of in the 420 chapter of Isaiah, verse 1st.
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold ; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him ; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." See verses 6, 7. "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee a covevant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring uut the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of theprison-house." In these passages a very full account is given of the design of this election, and it is exactly what we suggested; the elect was elected for the benefit of those who were not elected.
This same elect is spoken of by St. Peter in his first Epistle, 2d chapter, 6th verse, alluding to a passage in the 28th of Isaiah, as follows. “Wherefore also it is contained in the scriptures, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall pot be confounded."
The stone which is elected for the chief corner stone in a building, is elected to support, in the building those 'stones which are not elected for the chief corner stone. The building raised on this corner stone is noticed by St. Paul to the Ephesians. See chap. 2, 19--22, “Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an ho!y tem ple in the Lord : In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit."
2dly. The Apostles of Christ were elected or chosen of him, and it is evident that they were chosen for the benefit of those who were not chosen to be Apostles. Out of ma. ny passages which might be quoted as proof in this case we here seit the following from Șt. Peter's sermon to Cornelius. See Acts 10, 39-13. " And we are witnesses of all things which he did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem ; whom they slew, and hanged on a tree : him God raised up the third day, and shewed lim openly ; not to all the people, but uoto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. To him gave all the ?rophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
3dly. The primitive church of believers, who were converted to christianity, through the labours of the Apostles, were chosen of God, as the first fruits of corn, oil and wine were under the law. See 2d Thess. 13. But bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth.” James 1, 18. • Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.' Rev. 14, 4. “ These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and the Lamb." These were chosen of God as the first fruits of his creatures ; and if the first fruits be holy, the lump is also holy. And that those who believed on Christ through the word of faith preached by the Apostles, were thereunto chosen of Gud for the benefit of the rest of the
world may be seen by the words of Christ in the 17th of John. See verse 20,21. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ; that they all may be one ; as thou father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in ús : that the world
believe that thou hast sent me." Should the foregoing have the happy effect, on any inquiring mind, to remove any doubts respecting the good. ness of our heavenly father towards the fulness of his rational offspring such an effect would be more than worthy of these feeble labours. But trusting in the divine favour of him, who hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, we submit the subject to the reader's candid examination.
AN ATTEMPT TO ILLUSTRATE THE FOLLOWING SUB. JECTS, IN COMPLIANCE WITH A REQUEST FROM A CORRESPONDENT.
I. The subject of the flaming sword which turned every way, to keep
way of the tree of life. Gen. 3, 24. II. The subject of the two Olive-branches. Zech. 4, 11-14, and the two witnesses. Rev. 11, 3-12.
III. The ressurrection of the dead.
V. Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison. 1 Peter 3, 19, 20. VI. The time commonly called the Millenium.
Dear brother in Christ, having informed you, in my reply to your Epistle of October 16, 1811. That I conceiva ed the six subjects, on which you wished to obtain my opin. ion, were of such importance, and so extensive that the bounds of a letter were too limited to admit of doing justice to your queries in such a mode of communication; and having likewise suggested that I was disposed to attend to those subjects in the 3d No. of the Gospel VISITANT, I have Now set about the work, in hopes of increasing my small
stock of divine knowledge and of contributing something to the edification if not to the instruction, nf not only you my particular friend and brother, but to many others who read this Number.
I must be permitted, before I enter on a disquisition of the subjects introduced, to observe, that I feel, very sensibly, the weight of my inadequateness to the undertaking before me, but as I intend to travail no other path than such as the word of God directs me in, I hope, by no means, to make the truth more obscure to any inquiring mind.
1. In illustrating the subject of the flaming sword, it will be necessary to consider several particulars įrelative to the situation in which man was first placed, after he was formed of the dust of the ground, and of the effects of sin, in his mind, after transgression. Ifthe garden which God planted eastward in Eden, into which he put Adam, as noted in Gen. 2, 8, be considered a literal garden, then, that the whole account may stand in a rational analogy, it will be necessary to allow that the tree of life, which was in the midst of the garden was a literal tree, also that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a literal tree.
These notions being allowed, it is reasonable to suppose that the flaming sword was a literal one. It is conceived however, that it may be more consistent with scripture to understand the garden to signify the moral state in which man was placed, by his creator, prior to transgression. The tree of life was, no doubt, then what it is now, which we may understand by the following scriptures. St. John, 6, 48. “ I am that bread of life." Verse 33. " For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” Verse 51. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." 1. Cor. 10, 16, 17. ** The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread." Rev. 2, 7. "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Chap. 22, 1, 2." And he skewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,