« הקודםהמשך »
Israel; behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves. And shall put my spirit in you,
shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it and performed it, saith the Lord,” Ezek. xxxvii. 11 - 14.
Thus, my dear brother, you see the low estate of man represented by this valley; his spiritual death by the bones; his spiritual death, I say, for these men were not literally dead. The barrenness of his soul while in an hopeless state is represented by the dryness of the bones; the transgressions in which his soul is involved by the graves; and his spiritual resurrection by the power of God: “I will bring you up out of your graves.” The quickening of his dead soul is done by the Spirit: "I will put my spirit in you, and ye
Ahimaaz. I bless God that ever I met with thee. The Lord has given thee a blessed talent for opening the scriptures, and thou hast made this matter very plain to me.
Let the free-willer boast of his will and power as much as he please, God in that vision repre. sents man destitute of both; and a soul dead to God, and buried in his own transgressions, can do no more towards his own spiritual resurrection, than a dead corpse can towards the resurrection of the body. God says he brings them out of their graves, and he puts
his Spirit in them; but there would be no call for this if a man had will and power sufficient of his own. To the power of God, and the spirit of his grace, is ascribed the quickening and conversion of every saint in the Bible; but not one inspired penman in all God's book ever boasted of his natural will or power, or ever attributed' any thing that accompanies salvation to either, but to the sovereign will and omnipotent power of God only
Cushi. Why you begin to talk like an orthodox divine; that is “sound speech that cannot be condemned,” Tit. ii. 8. A free-willer can no more raise himself
go to the Saviour by his own power, than a dead corpse can raise itself out of the grave and go to the judgment seat.
It requires more power to quicken and raise a dead soul to spiritual life, than it does to raise up a dead body. The mouldered dust will make no more resistance than the passive earth did while God formed Adam; but the rebellious soul will resist to the last; like a desperate criminal under sentence, it will kill or be killed.
No sooner does the eye of justice dart a ray on the guilty conscience, but, like the Egyptians, he flies : “ The Lord looked upon the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire, so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee,” Exod. xiv. 24, 25. Thus the sinner “ rebels against the light,” Job xxiv. 13. “ He that doth evil hateth the light, neither cometh he to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved,” John iii. 20. Here is shewn the strong opposition arising from the enmity of the mind: the poor sleeping dust of the body will never make this resistance. When the Lord
speaketh, Earth, disclose your blood, and no more cover your slain,” Isa. xxvi. 21; it is done: “ They shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth,”. Micah vii. 17. Here is no more resistance than what the power of the worm represents. But, when God comes to raise a dead soul, not only the understanding sculks from the light, but every faculty is engaged in the opposition. Let God give a positive command, and he receives an answer pregnant with the utmost resentment: “Son, go work, to day in my vineyard. He answered, and said, I will not,” Matt. xxi. 28, 29. Let a minister represent the excellency and suitableness of a Saviour, and the answer is, “ He hạth no form nor comeliness, and when we see him there is ņo beauty that we should desire him," Isa. liii. 2. Thųs the carnal understanding shuns the rays of light, the mind discovers its enmity, the will expresses the utmost resentment, and the affections are altogether alienated from God, and fixed upon one idol or other: some dote on pleasure, others on wealth; some upon honour, others upon human learning; and all upon sin. Not one thought is there for God, until an almighty power take it prisoner, and by love make it a willing captive: “ Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,”: 2 Cor. iv. 5.
Ahimaaz. Why this is God's testimony of human frailty, and what every eminent saint in the Bible has confessed and confirmed, by the long catalogue of their own sinful weaknesses: but is it not amazing that men will daringly give the testimony of God and his saints the lie, by crying up the will and power of fallen man, to believe, to come to, and close in with, the Saviour? Cushi. As for the Saviour, they ought to leave him quite out of the question.“ If man is not fallen, there is no need for help; if he be not dead, he needs not the gift of eternal life; if he has a will, he needs not God to make him willing; if he has a power of his own, there is no need for a divine power to be put forth; and if he be not lost, there is no need for salvation by grace: but, alas, they are like the Roman Catholics, whose hearts may be compared to a field of battle, where pride and conscience are at war all the year round. Ask a papist how he is to be justified ? Pride answers, By works. Ask if he can keep the law? The answer is, Yes; and give it an obedience that exceeds the command, even works of supererogation, more than the law requires. Ask conscience what she thinks of justification, and acceptance with God, by superabounding works? And her answer will be this, You must judge of our hearts by our actions. If we thought that our works would justify us, and bring in God himself a debtor (as we talk) we should not be at the pains of praying to thirty or forty mediators and intercessors; nor should we buy pardons and absolutions, nor give such large sums to trading priests to pray us out of hell when we are dead. You would hear nothing of this if all were right within; therefore you must judge of our faith by these fruits. Just so it is with an Arminian; let conscience gripe him, and he talks of the righteousness of Christ and free grace; but if a few dead works make conscience lie quiet, then pride and self-will contradict all that conscience said, as appears throughout all their writings: thus they rebel in the face of truth, and oppose the verdict and sentence of their own thoughts and conscience. It
requires a greater power to raise a dead soul to the life of faith than to raise a dead body to life and action.
“ Lazarus, come forth !” The command was instantly obeyed, though the body was fettered with a winding-sheet: “ And he that was dead came forth bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin,” John xi. 43, 44.
Ahimaaz. According to your account of Popery and Arminianism, which you seem to view as one system, they are under the same contest that Nicodemus was; his conscience told him that Jesus was the great Messiah; this he owned: “ We believe that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do the miracles that thou doest, except God be with hiın." And yet his pride opposed his conscience: “ Have any of the rulers believed on him?” And, if I go to him for tuition, what becomes of my infallibility and reputation? Thus he stands at the strait gate, and his own pride made the straitness. Had he obeyed the voice of the inward testimony that the Saviour's miracles produced, without consulting his reputation, he would have been removed out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness," Job xxxvi. 16. But, in order to keep up his reputation, and palm his conscience too, he acts the part of Guy Faux; goes by night, until he sees the crucifixion of the Saviour, and the judgments that attended his dying cry. Then he appears, and publicly owns the dead temple, though before ashamed to own the living God, who for more than thirty years had dwelt in it, and displayed no less than omnipotent power from it. His pride procured him just cause for cutting regret.
Indeed, my brother," the fear of man bringeth