תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

to be redeemed from the curse. Our doctrine will be unpopular with some, who have talked and written much about infinity; but we ask proof from the word of God, that each sin is an infinite evil. Until we can find some such assertion in the Bible as this, we shall be influenced by such rational considerations as these: sin is an effect; every effect requires an adequate cause; an infinite effect must have an infinite cause; and if, there. fore, sin be an infinite effect, man the cause of it must be an infinite being. Again; things which are infinite will not admit of degrees of comparison: and if, therefore, every sin is an infinite evil, no one sin can be greater than another, which is contrary to the Scriptural doctrine, that “some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others."

If every sin be infinite, and every person has committed sin, and all infinities are equal, then no man is a greater sinner than another, for all the sins of one man cannot be more than infinite, and a single sin of another man is no less: so that some cannot be beaten with many and others few stripes, unless God would punish equal moral evils with unequal penalties. In this case, Jehovah would not render unto every man according to his deeds.

Finally; an infinite moral evil deserves an infinite punishment; and the punishment deserved by every sin must be inflicted, if God renders unto every man ac. cording to his deeds. Now a man cannot endure more than infinite punishment; but should he commit two sins, he would deserve two infinite punishments, one of which could not be inflicted; and of course no man can ever be punished for more than one sin; and for all other sins of a man but one, divine justice must for ever remain unsatisfied. We have only to add, that according to our system, which makes every sin a finite, though exceedingly great and horrible evil, it may still be shown, that “every sin deserves God's wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come,” for God may extend the amount of penalty incurred to any assignable duration; and for ever may continue to punish one, who for ever continues to multiply transgressions.

The third sermon of this volume is on the doctrine of justification; in the introductory part of which he judici. ously remarks, that “ truths, however undoubted, when never referred to, become in a manner obsolete. The fundamental doctrines of Christianity therefore ought to enter more or less fully into all our discourses. The practice of the gospel ought ever to be built upon the principles of the gospel.” p. 44. He then proceeds to state, prove, and defend the Protestant doctrine of justification, in opposition to the errors of the Romanists on this subject.

The fourth sermon is an excellent treatise on sancti. fication. In it, the author shows in what consisted the image of God in which man was made, and from which he fell. He proves that all men in their present natural estate are destitute of the true, practical knowledge of God; from wrong apprehensions have wrong volitions; and are inclined habitually to sin, to sin only, until God so regenerate them as to rectify the operations of their understanding, and thereby of their will and affections. Regeneration he well teaches to be the work of God, and the beginning of sanctification; so that without being born of God there is no holiness; and without holiness begun and persevered in, no introduction into heaven. He vindicates the Scriptural doctrine of original human depravity of mental disposition against the Pelagians

, who say that men become sinners by imitation. O that all Protestant Episcopalians would hear him!

“Scripture universally represents fallen man, as dead in trespasses and sins, and as utterly unable by his own unassisted powers to raise himself up to the life of righteousness. He has wandered from the fold of God: but he cannot by himself retrace his steps. He has corrupted himself by many inventions: but he cannot wash away the stain of that corruption. His intellect is darkened: but he cannot illuminate it. His will is distorted: but he cannot rectify it. His affections are polluted: but he cannot purify them. Hence he has need

of some extrinsic assistance to bring him into a state of unanimity with God.

“ Scripture accordingly teaches us, in full agreement with the doctrine of man's complete inability, that the Holy Spirit of God is the grand agent in working that salutary change in the soul, which causes it once more in all faculties to harmonize with the Deity. This blessed personage illuminates the darkened understanding; and then, using it as a proper effective instrument, by it as a secondary cause rectifies the will and purifies the affections. The man, being now made at unity with God, becomes qualified for the divine presence: and thus, as God the Son effected his Justification, by which he obtained a right to the heavenly inheritance; so God the Holy Ghost completes his Sanctification, by which he is made meet (as the apostle expresses it) for the inheritance of the saints in light.p. 91, 92.

Our only disagreement with the author concerning any thing contained in this discourse, respects a point in 'mental philosophy. He says,

But, right and wrong appearing in their true colours to a reformed intellect, and the will operating upon each to choose or to reject it, the affections now come forcibly into play. What the will prefers, according to the dictates of a reformed intellect, produces the affection of love towards it: and what the will rejects, still according to the dictates of a reformed intellect, produces the affection of hatred towards it.” p. 91.

We admit that volition is always consequent upon some act of the understanding, or of the faculty of feeling, but we deny that any act of the will directly produces any affection of love, or of hatred. Our own consciousness will teach us all, upon mature reflection, that we love an object because it appears to be lovely, and hate an object because it seems to us to be hateful: that we frequently will from some affection, as well as from some operation of the understanding; and that the different affections of our minds are as immediately dependent on the intellect in all cases, as the operations of the will in any case. In regeneration, we think God enlightens the faculty of apprehension, so that we have correct conceptions of religious subjects; rectifies our judgments and reasonings; quickens our consciences and stimulates our memory; that in consequence of this work upon several of the faculties included under the general term of understanding, we begin to have right feelings, of love for spiritually good things appre. hended to be lovely, of desire for them, of hope of en. joying them; of gratitude for them, and especially for Christ the meritorious procurer of them; of hatred of things conceived to be morally evil; and of grief for having practised iniquity: and that in consequence either of these spiritually right acts of the understanding, or of these right feelings, called either affections or passions, and sometimes of both of them, we will to be holy, to receive Christ, to rest on him, and to practise holiness in his fear. We will also to promote right feelings in ourselves, and to avoid evil emotions; but it is in consequence of having previously conceived of them and experienced them.

The fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth sermons of this volume are designed to exhibit the doctrine of regene. ration, according to scripture and the Church of England. It appears that the Romish church taught, that the inward grace of regeneration ALWAYS accompanies the due administration of the outward sign of baptism: and this tenet has been received, and revived by many of the modern doctors of the Church of England, as the doc. trine of her liturgy and of the Bible.

“ They assert, that, not only is Baptism the outward sign of Regeneration, but also the procuring cause of it. Hence they teach, that, where Baptism is, there infallibly is Regeneration; and, where Baptism is not, there assuredly is no Re generation. All the baptized therefore are regenerate; and, conversely, all the unbaptized are unregenerate. To look, consequently, for any spiritual Regeneration subsequent to Baptism is plainly nugatory: for every baptized person, being ipso facto regenerate, cannot a second time be born again, though from his lapses into actual sin he may have need of frequent renovations. The advocates of this opinion strenuously contend, that it is the genuine doctrine of the Church of England: and they are very apt, with what controversial equity I stop not to inquire, though apparently from not having themselves sufficiently considered the subject in all its various tendencies; they are very apt, gratuitously to charge their opponents with an unwarrantable or even an heretical departure

from the avowed sentiments of that Church, and not unfrequently to intimate (doubtless by way of satisfactorily accounting for the alleged fact of this departure) that they are lamentably deficient in the highly useful qualification of common sense."

p. 115, 116. “ If then any one assert as a fact, that Regeneration INVARIABLY attends Baptism; we have a right to demand a proof of this fact from direct evidence, just as we might demand a proof of any other fact. Insomuch, with reverence be it spoken, even if Scripture itself asserted such a fact (which in truth it neither does nor can do;) we could not admit the reality of its occurrence, if universal experience proved that it did not occur.” p. 122.

In these discourses Mr. Faber proves, more than suf. ficiently, that the doctrine of the inseparability of baptism and regeneration, is supported by neither Expe. rience, Reason, Analogy, nor Scripture. He admits, that the Liturgy of the Anglican church speaks of all baptized persons as being regenerated; but he attributes this to the impossibility of man's ascertaining at the time, whether baptized persons are regenerated or not; and contends that the writers of the inspired epistles use the terms elect and saints in the same loose way. Here is the weak part of his discussion of this subject. He proves clearly from other parts of the liturgy, the Ar. ticles, and Homilies, and Fathers of the church, that the Anglican church does hold to the necessity of a regeneration by the Holy Ghost, separable from external baptism, and often separated from it. He very justly remarks,

“ Every baptized person is spoken of, as regenerate: every buried person is spoken of, as having exchanged this world for a better. Hence, if we conclude that the Church really maintains the actual Regeneration of every baptized person; I see not how we can consistently avoid concluding also, that the Church really maintains the actual salvation of every one who receives what is styled Christian burial. As the premises are in both cases alike, the conclusions must in both cases be the same.” p. 203.

We have not room to correct all the errors of these discourses, which are rich in valuable information and close reasoning; but we would just remark, that no one VOL. I.

2M

No. 2.

« הקודםהמשך »