« הקודםהמשך »
jects, in every age; and till an inquisitive curiosity shall cease to bare place in the human mind, they will do so in all times to come. And here, if investigating minds must speculate, they may do so without crimination and recrimination. This is the proper field for the enterprise of mind,-sor independent, laborious, prayerful investigation. Are former speculatious rejected, and new ones proposed ? It is no just cause of hostility or jealousy, while the revealed facts and fundamental doctrines of the bible are maintained. These different speculations may be deemed important or unimportant, true or false ; the coming generation, from repeated examinations, will determine where they belong, and treasure them up as so much gain to the general stock of knowledge, or throw them aside as visionary and worthless. But, however men may differ in speculation, if both alike hold to the same great revealed facts, and stand firm upon the same foundation-doctrines, they are brethren, nor should other feelings than those of kindness and confidence subsist between them. They have one interest and one object; their creed is the same, so far as all matters of fact and duty are concerned; they are the children of one family, nor can the dust and noise of speculative controversy always divide them. The smoke and mist will clear away and they come together. Their kindred principles of mutual attraction exert a more constant and permanent influence than all the repellencies of philosophical disputation. They will again give and receive the warm hand of fraternal affection, on the broad ground of their revealed and common theology, and wonder what strange fatuity should have parted them so widely and so long from each other.
2. This divine influence is effectual in the accomplishment of its object. Whatever may be the reasons before the divine mind, why this effectual agency is not exerted upon more, or even upon all impenitent men, it will still be true, that what God by his Holy Spirit purposes to accomplish, is always effected. The power which applies this influence, is always sufficient to secure its purposed object. “The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord; as the rivers of water, he turneth it whithersoever he will." " He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth ; and none can stay his hand, or say unto bim, what doest thou?" From this effectual working in the hearts of the children of men, and the great and multiplied obstacles which it overcomes in the salvation of believers, it is called “ the mighty power of God.” But, while we speak of the power of tbis agency, which brings the stubborn will to bow, it is necessary that its nature be understood, or the most erroneous inferences will be deduced therefrom.
The word power is, perhaps, one of the most indefinite in the English language. It is applied to a variety of different Vol. VII.
and even opposite things. Thus we say, a powerful arm, a powerful voice, a powerful mind, a powerful motive, etc. etc. In all these varieties of its application, there is in one point an agreement, viz., the estimate of ihe amount or degree of energy, from the magnitude of the effect which it is competent to produce; but it is used with reference to any cause, mental or material, moral or physical. Accordingly, it is applied to a divine influence exerted upon the mind. “My people shall be willing in the day of my power. This use of the same word in so many different relations, occasions the greater danger of deducing wrong inferences
from it, when restricted to only one variety of its application. When applied to God, perhaps from its more frequent reserence to him in that sense, there is a constant tendency to associate with this word the idea of the physical operation of omnipotence. The mind thus gives to the word power the same sense when we speak of the influence of the Holy Spirit in converting the sioner, as when we speak of the agency of God in creating the world. But, in reality, there is no agreement here, except in the magnitude and certainty of the effect produced. The former is a peculiar divine influence, producing a moral effect in a free moral agent; the latter is a physical agency, resulting in the production of a physical existence. Both are certain ; both exhibit mighty energy, and produce wondrous effects. And therefore the word power is applied to both; but the meaning is as different in the two cases, as are the different effects which have been the result. In one case, there is the existence of a world from nothing; in the other, a voluntary exercise of love to God, in a heart which formerly hated him; and the causes which have operated, are, from the nature of their subject, as distinct in the mode of their operation, as are their effects.
The bible, it is true, abounds in the illustration of one kind of power, from facts and incidents derived from the other; such as healing diseases, raising the dead, turning the rivers of water; and even applies the representation of creative energy, to set forth the agency of the Spirit upon mind. But in all these instances, the analogy is found either in the origin of the energy, the certainty or greatness of the effect, or the adaptation of the cause to produce the effect; and not at all in any similarity, much less an identity in the modes of operation.*
* The passage of scripture, which, from the terms used, may seem the nearest approach to identification, is in Eph. i. 19, 20. “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead."
The first inquiry is, Is regeneration the subject here in view ? Some suppose, that the protection of God, as a distinct thing from “the hope of his calling," and “the riches of the glory of his inheritance," mentioned in the context, is the thing in view. Others refer it to the resurrection of the saints. This is Macknight's exposition. He
When, therefore, we speak of the operation of the Holy Spirit, in the renewing of the heart, or in the work of progressive sanctification, we distinguish widely between it and all physical exertions of power. It is not identical with that kind of operation which at first created man, nor that which must be exerted upon the organs of taste to make a man relish wormwood, nor that upon
the intellect which would be requisite to change a poet to a mathematician. In all these cases, the effect lies without the sphere and beyond the reach of influences which allow the possibility of the contrary effect. It can be accomplished by a physical energy only, while the agency of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and sanctification, is an influence which reaches the will, and notwithstanding, or without impairing its capacity to the opposite choice, inclines the choice and directs the purpose of the soul to a specific result. These are never to be confounded. The difference is essential ; for, though they are alike operations of divine power, they are very different modes of its operation, relating to very different subjects, and subserving very different purposes. The one is never applied to the direction of physical movement, nor does physical influence ever apply to the freedom of responsible agency. Both kinds are great, as exerted by God, producing great effects, but each in its own sphere of operation, and in application to its own appropriate object, and Dever, by any possibility, becoming interchangeably confounded with each other. Under the effectual operation of one kind, man is no more a moral agent, than the ball which dies from the musket to its mark; but under the effectual influence of the other, he is always accountable, because always free.
In this sense it is, therefore, that we say the influence of the Holy Spirit is powerful, and by the exertion of this kind of power only, is it effectual. Great and astonishing results are produced, and such as nothing else accomplishes, but results of a moral nature only,—the willingness of an obstinate heart in the day of His power. What sublime exhibitions of this power of "the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven," does the whole history of the church of God present ! How many striking instances which mark the effectual interposition of a peculiar divine energy, as vividly as the power of their Almighty protector was disclosed to Israel in the miracles of Egypt and the wilderness! At one hour, we see the proud and bigoted Saul of Tarsus, with all his strong prejudices, and deep scorn, and bitter hatred, moving onward to Damascus, for the execution of that bloody commission which he bore from the persecuting priests; the next, he lies prostrate in the dust, crying, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Follow him onward, and we see this same power leading him to act still, and only, from choice and sense of obligation, sending him away through distant nations, and before kings and emperors, to proclaim a crucified Redeemer, and upholding him firm and undaunted, amid all the perils of his course, and the pains of final martyrdom. We hear Peter, too, lift up his voice before the assembled multitudes, on the day of Pentecost, and declare divine truth with such power,
“ That the apostle in this bas the resurrection of believers from the dead, in his view, is evident from verse 20. The resurrection of the whole human kind from the dead, is an amazing instance of the infinite power of God. But having been exemplified in the resurrection of Christ, it cannot be doubted," etc. By either of the above interpretations, the subject is removed from the present inquiry. The effects produced are the same in kind, being both physical, and tho mode of production, therefore, identi. cal in nature.
But, supposing a reference to the power which regenerated and sanctified the Ephesians, and that this is meant to be compared with the power which raised Christ from the dead; still, the identity of operation cannot be sustained from this passage. The whole force lies in the Greek word xata, which is used not to express identity, but similarity, according to," as rendered in our own version. The most that can be implied, is, agreement in some particulars; for it cannot here mean agreement in all respects. The analogy, therefore, as in other places, is to the origin, the greatness, and the complete success of the power, but not at all implying identity of operation. The language cannot be strained to this meaning, and the known nature of the subjects forbide such an interpretation.
that three thousand are pricked in the heart, and are brought, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, to submit to God, and are filled with new hope and unspeakable joy. What power ever controlled such a mass of mind, and molded it to its own image, as did the gospel in the primitive ages of the christian church? The idols of the heathen were dashed to the earth, their altars scattered to the winds, and their temples deserted and demolished; while the degraded victims of their impure and cruel superstitions were enlightened, cleansed, and elevated to an alliance with the worshipers of heaven. It moved on victorious in its progress, above all the force of prejudice, and hatred, and human law, nor could the most bloody persecutions check its course, till it had cleared its way over the whole Roman empire, and placed a professed disciple of the faith upon the throne of the Cæsars. The same power is now at work amid the millions of Asia, along the coasts and round the cape of Africa, and spreading its energies far and wide over the islands of the ocean, changing man, in all the wide varieties of character and condition that it meets, into the same image from glory to glory. Look abroad, too, over our own land : a Spirit has been traveling in the greatness of his strength," and spreading his influence over the public mind, with an energy which has brought wealth, and rank, and talent, upon the side of the Lord, and bound thousands to his cause,
in “ a covenant never to be broken.” We have not, it is true, seen the Spirit in this mighty work; but the glorious result connected with prophetic declaration, has left us no more in doubt of the power and presence
of this cause, than when the forest waves before the invisible agency of the winds of heaven. There has been no alliance with physical compulsion ; and yet it is a power which is effectual in its work, adapted to reach and control the mind in all the freedom of its agency, without infringing upon its perpetual responsibility; and it is to move on in its universal diffusion, till it has brought back a revolted and rebellious world in new obedience to its God and Savior.
3. It is sovereign in its operation. By the sovereignty of God we mean, his right of dominion and power over all the works of his hands, to determine and dispose of them as seems best in his sight. He is bis own counselor through all the operations of providence and grace, doing or withholding according to his own pleasure. He exerts his agency, both physical and that which refers to moral beings, when he will, and for the production of what he will, without the advice or dictation of any other being.
" What his soul desireth, even that he doeth." “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."
The right to this sovereign disposal of all things, resides not merely in the fact, that God is almighty, and therefore able to do what he will; nor simply in the fact, that all creatures are his by virtue of his creating and sustaining energy; but in connection with these, peculiarly and chiefly, because of the perfection of his character. The very attributes of Jehovah provide against all that is tyrannical or arbitrary in his dealings, and therefore his sovereignty is legitimate, and his right of jurisdiction universal. There is such a thing as truth, or moral rectitude, independent both of man or God. There are certain unchanging principles, of right and wrong, which have their foundation in the nature of things, and are inseparable from their mutual relations. They are not mere arbitrary distinctions. They depend upon the will of no being whatever, but belong to the very nature of things; so that no power, finite (and we speak with reverence,) or infinite, can change the one into the other. This furnishes a standard by which to judge of the moral character and of the dealings of God, so far as they come within our cognizance, as effectually as we do of the character and conduct of man. It is to this independent moral standard, that God himself appeals, when he says, “O house of Israel, are not my ways equal ?” “O my people, what bave 1 done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me."
” The application of this principle, at the last day, is, to shut every mouth, and cause all the world to become guilty before God.
It is by these independent and immutable principles of rectitude, that God now and forever, in all his sovereignty, directs his dealings, as the moral governor of the universe. From these principles he deduced the law, combining and embodying them in its precepts