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the manner in which the Deity dealt with those who had already fallen. This leads us to remark,
3. That immediately upon the fall of angels, Jehovah prepared for them the burning pit, the dread prison-house of the universe, and hurled them from heaven's embattlements down into its deep caverns of despair forever, to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Thus did he furnish to the moral beings of his empire an awful illustration of the nature of that penalty which the law threatened against the disobedient and perverse. An immediate exhibition of this character seemed to be necessary to stay the rebellion where it was, and preserve the allegiance of the unfallen. This we esteem one reason, (not the only one), why God dealt with fallen angels in wrath, without mercy. An immediate manifestation of the feelings of his heart towards sin, in the direction of inflicted penalty, seems to have been absolutely necessary for the permanent establishment of the greatest possible amount of holiness under law. This exhibition added another strand to the cord of motive which bound holy beings to the Eternal Throne. But this cord was not even then sufficiently strong. It was not so strong as to render it morally impossible for holy intelligences to sunder it. Another strand must be added, or, in all probability, at some future period, the cord would be severed by those whom it bound, and another rebellion would take place. The development which it was still necessary to make, was that of mercy in the direction of the Cross. This would put on the finishing stroke. It would complete the cord, and render it sufficiently strong to bind forever all the holy subjects of Jehovah in obedience to his will, and thus render their fall morally impossible.
4. The planet selected by Infinite Wisdom upon which to make this last and most wonderful development is our earth. For this it was created. For this, man was formed a compound being, composed of mind and matter, of spirit and body, of an immortal soul encased in a clay tabernacle. The adaptation of such a being to the end to be accomplished might easily be shown, did our limits permit. It is, however, a fact, the truth of which we presume the reader is prepared to admit. We see then, that our earth was created and peopled to form a theatre for the display of the benevolent heart of God, and of his feelings towards sin, in the direction of the Cross of Christ, and by this exhibition to confirm in holiness the loyal subjects of his empire.
This display includes not merely the atonement wrought out
by the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus, but also the whole economy of grace, and its wonderful results on earth, in heaven and in hell. This development has been progressing for nearly six thousand years, and it is now fast approaching its completion. When it is entirely perfected, these heavens shall be rolled together like a scroll, and this earth shall be wrapped in flames, and either purified for the residence of the redeemed, or reduced to ashes and blotted from among the planets. Then shall a holiness purely legal be universally established, and sin shall be known only as a matter connected with the past, and with its dreadful results as forever exhibited in the perdition of the ungodly.
Our subject furnishes an answer to the question, If God aims to promote the greatest possible amount of holiness, why has he permitted sin ? The answer has already been stated. The introduction of sin was incidental to free agency, in connection with the fact that God's purpose is to continue holiness under law, by means of the natural power of those motives which he can consistently bring to bear upon mind. And when sin came to exist, God used it as a means to promote the greatest possible good; to establish permanently the greatest possible amount of holiness among his creatures.
Our subject also presents us with an unusual and deeply interesting view of sinless perfection. It consists not merely in doing as God commands, but in doing as He commands under the natural power of those motives which are brought to bear upon the mind. The necessity which exists in our case for the supernatural influences of the Spirit to regenerate and sanctify us, or in other words, to cause us to feel and act right, is not our misfortune but our guilt. We are bound to do this without these influences, and we never shall be sinlessly perfect until we arrive at a point where we shall do right and be holy without the Spirit's influences. That point we shall not reach in this life ; but, blessed be God! we shall reach it in eternity. Gracious holiness does not remove the guilt of the creature even in the very act with which it has to do. He is to blame because this holiness is not legal. Gracious holiness exists by the infinite mercy of God, for the sake of lifting up the fallen creature, and finally placing him in a position where his holiness shall be entirely legal: and we repeat it, he is very far from being sinlessly perfect until he has reached this position.
How this subject magnifies that Atonement! It was not wrought out merely for man; it comprehends in its design the
whole intelligent universe. True, man alone needed pardon and redemption. But that which pardons and redeems a large portion of our race, and, were it not despised and rejected by them, would redeem the rest, also confirms in holiness the already pure and perfect subjects of the universal empire. Angels have a far greater interest in the work of Atonement than that of mere spectators. The same stupendous exhibition which redeems to holiness a large portion of the fallen race of man, causes the probationary state of angels to cease, and confirms them in holiness : hence they are called elect angels, as the saints are called the elect of God.
ARTICLE V. Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the
United States of America, with an Appendix. A. D. 1852. New York: Published by the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly.
The Assembly of 1852 was anticipated with deeper interest than any which has been held since 1837 and 1838. It was known that certain great questions connected with Church Extension would be discussed, and that the entire polity of the Church in relation to benevolent operations was to be reexamined. Our branch of the Church Universal is, in an important sense, a pioneer in regard to principles. We seem often to break ground first, and meet in limine the constant adjustments which become necessary in the present imperfect condition of practical Christianity. How far it is possible to cooperate with other churches, what were to be our future relations with them, especially with our Congregational brethren, and how far it is necessary to be distinct and ecclesiastical—what were the facts on these subjects, and what their bearing—such were the questions which it was anticipated were to be discussed and settled, by the assembled wisdom of the Church.
Nor has the result disappointed the expectation. The Assembly was worthy of the crisis, has met it manfully, and every Presbyterian feels a delightful consciousness that there is, by the blessing of God, independence, aggressive power, and conservative wisdom in our General Assembly.
The meeting took place at Washington City on the twenVOL. I.-19
of God, indepeneral Assembly city on the twen
hers ha Yhundred and attended thich has met; in very
tieth of May. It proved to be the largest Assembly which had met since the disruption, one hundred and eighty-one commissioners having sat, and eight delegates from foreign bodies, in all one hundred and eighty-nine. We believe it will be conceded too, by all who attended the sessions regularly, that it was one of the ablest Assemblies which has met; the expected importance of its conclusions being such, that in very many instances the Presbyteries sought out their best men as commissioners.
The sessions were opened with a Sermon by Rev. Albert Barnes, Moderator of the preceding Assembly. The relation which Mr. Barnes sustains to this Review, prevents us, of course, from speaking of it with freedom. The edition printed of the Sermon is already exhausted. The text was 1 Cor. xi. 4–11. “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues : but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” The theme was “ Our Position.” It was thus the complement of the admirable Sermon of the previous Moderator, Dr. Riddle, entitled “ Our Mission."
The Introduction is on the subject of the impossibility of perfect agreement in opinion, touching the minutiæ of Christian doctrine, in consequence of the difference in original structure, or in the training of men's minds. Mr. Barnes then advances the opinion, that it is advantageous on the whole, that there should be different denominations in the church, differing widely in this from Isaac Taylor, who regards this diversity as one great, if not the principal cause of the slow progress of Christianity. The advantages of this diversity of sects are thus stated :
1. These denominations are mutual checks on each other.
2. They operate as a stimulus to find out truth, and to make progress.
3. The varied talent of the church is thus better called out :and classified
4. Each denomination has some peculiar mission which it especially accomplishes.
Among these denominations we stand as the great Calvinistic family. Its character is described, thus:
1. The Calvinistic doctrines have some kind of necessary affinity with Presbyterian government. This word Mr. Barnes preferred to use in a large sense, as including Congregationalism also.
2. The Calvinistic views appeal to a special class of mind. This class, while it may have its faults, is most likely to be found among “ the thinking, the sober, the educated, the firm, the conservative, the free."
3. This system identifies itself with education, and it educates freely and generally, believing that thus it is laboring for itself; and in proportion as mind is enlightened, will it be likely to be Calvinistic.
4. “Calvinism as a system, has a strong affinity for liberty. It has the essential element of all freedom, that God rules, and that His law, when others come in competition with it, is alone to be obeyed.”
5. These doctrines are not of a negative, but of a positive character, with strongly marked traits. “To no doctrines do men ever become more strongly attached than to these, where they are embraced from the heart; none are more cordially disliked by large classes of men ; none are more easily misrepresented, none more easily perverted and abused." These doctrines are thus enumerated:
a. The system begins with God, and makes Him the centre of the whole circle of doctrines and duties.
b. There is a wise, eternal plan of all things, according to which they develop.
C. Man and his purposes are little, except only as he is comprehended in, and works with God's plans.
d. The moving power in man for goodness and greatness is love to God, and a steady faith, obedience, conscientiousness, freedom in Christ, heroism in attachment to duty. reeduir i cristo herdsmton attacam
e. It is especially adapted to nourish the stern and rigid virtues, delighting more naturally in strength than in refinement; seeking virtue itself more than the appearance of virtue; not incompatible with the amenities and refinements of life, but seeking to make men virtuous and pure, rather than to give them elegance of manners. The stern virtues of the Puritans grew out of it; their conscientiousness manifested itself some