« ForrigeFortsett »
and all bis fair company with him: and I shall have my large share; mine eyes shall see my Redeemer; these very eyes of mine, and no other for me. Let my Lord's name be exalted, and if he will, let my name be ground to pieces, that he may be all in all.” The day before his death, he said, “O that all my brethren, in the public, may know what a Master I have served, and what peace I have this day: I shall sleep in Christ; and when I awake, I shall be satisfied with his likeness.”
Many other illustrious examples could easily be added We close, with some extracts from the dying experience of John Knox. Perceiving death approach, he was much engaged in prayer, frequently saying, “ Come, Lord Jesus, into ihine hands I commend my spirit.” Addressing those around him, he said, “O serve ihe Lord with fear, and death will not be terrible. Yea blessed shall death be to those who have felt the death of the only begotten Son of God.” The next day, it was evident that his end crew near. The 15th Chapter of Ist Corinthians having been read to him at his desire, he exclaimed, “Oh! what sweet and heavenly consolations the Lord affords me from this blessed chapter ;” adding, “Now, for the last time, I commend my soul, body, and spirit (counting ihree of his fingers as he spoke) into thy hands O Lord.” When one of his eyes became blind, and his speech began to fail, he said faintly to his wife, “ Read the 17th Chapter of John; for there I cast my first anchor. After some time he began to utter heavy groans and deep sighs. Those who watched him, supposed him to be in the pangs of death. He recovered, however, like one awaked from yleep; and being asked how he did, he answered, “Many have been my conflicts with Satan in the course of my frail life, but the roaring lion never beset me so furiously as pow. Often has he set my sins in array before me; often has he tempted me to despair, and often strove to ensnare me with the enticements of the world ; but I was enabled to hew his snares in pieces, and he was not able to prevail. Now he bas endeavoured to persuade me, that because I have faithfully and successfully discharged my ministerial office, I am on that account deserving of eternal life; but God has made me triumphant over these temp. dations also, by suggesting those texts, 'what hast thou, that thou hast not received; by the grace of God, I am what I am.' Being thus vanquished he left me. I thank
my God, through Christ, who has given me the victory. And now I am persuaded that I shall, without pain of body or distress of mind exchange this mortal and miserable life for that happy and immortal life that shall never end." Bannatyne desired him to think on the comfortable promises of God; and perceiving him speechless, requested him to give a sign of his dying in the faith and enjoyment of the truths of the Gospel, and of his assurance of a bliss. ful immortality through Christ. He lifted his hand triumphantly toward heaven, and quietly departed to the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
| THE PEOPLE OF GOD LIABLE TO TEMPTATION, FROM
BEING, IN THE SOVEREIGN PROVIDENCE OF GOD,
The children of the Most High are liable to temptation, not only from beholding the prosperity of the wicked, but also from being called to suffer more than their bretbren. If we were what we ought to be, we would love our enemies, and rejoice in their welfare, without any propensity to grudging. The Christian does indeed love his enemies; but not with that pure flame that the love of God requires; and not without an inclination in the old man to the contrary. In this respect, as in all others, the law in the members is opposed to the law in the mind. But not only is the evil of our nature manifested in the propensity to envy the prosperity of the wicked: it leads us to.repine at the superior happiness even of our brethren in Christ. We need the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts aimed at us from this quarter. Strange as it may appear in speculation, both experience and the word of God teach us, that we are liable to jealousy at the superior advantages even of those we love. Christ says that we ought to lay down our lives for one another; and if strengthened from on high, no doubt we would be enabled to do so. Paul met with some of this description. Of Aquila and Priscilla, he testifies : “ who for my life laid down their own necks." —Rom. xvi. 4. Of Epaphroditus, the messenger of the Philippians, who ministered to his want, he says : “ because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."- Phil. ii. 30. But notwith
standing that Christians are enabled to show such love and devotedness towards one another, they are still, from their old nature, liable to murmurings, grudgings, and envyings, at the superior advantages even of brethren in Christ. All the confusions in the church of Corinth rose out of this source. Those who possessed the most splendid gifts were objects of envy to others. And the Apostles, in their letters to the churches, find it necessary to wam their brethren against this spirit. This is evidence that they are liable to temptation from this quarter.
We have a remarkable specimen of our liability to temptation from this disposition, in one even of the Apostles of Christ. When Peter was informed by his Master, that he must for his sake suffer a violent death, he does not repine at the thing itself, but is anxious to know if John, the beloved disciple should be called to like suf. ferings, evidently betraying a spirit of jealousy. When Jesus had informed him of the manner of his death, he immediately, in a sovereign tone, commands him to follow him. But Peter instanıly inquires what would be the fate of the beloved disciple. “ Then Peter turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following ; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do ?” The answer of Jesus is a reproof to Peter, and evidently supposes that he was moved with envy. "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me." -John xxi. 21. Here we have an exhibition of the nature of man, even in the people of God. Peter was not stumbled with being warned of his future sufferings; but he was so by a jealousy, lest other disciples, especially the beloved disciple, might not be called to an equal trial. Such traits in the picture of the people of God, are to me the most convincing evidence of the truth of the Scriptures. They are documents of authenticity that could pot have been forged. The Scriptures are the only book that give an account of man really conformable to what he is found by experience. Man's own account of himself is no nearer to truth than the fictions of a novel are to real history. And if the natural man is misrepresented in the writings of those who draw not their accounts from the sources of inspired truth, the genuine character of the Christian is as much misrepresented. In the wise and
good man of the philosopher, we shall not find the nature which Paul ascribes to man, in the beginning of his Epistle to the Romans. And in the Christian of many divines, we shall find no trace of the envious disposition that infested the mind of Peter. There is a mixture in the character of the disciples of Christ that the natural man cannot understand. Instead of taking his views of the Christian from the testimony of God, he forms his Christian agreeably to his own system, and represents him what he would wish him to be.
Let Christians be aware of this propensity of their old man, and guard against temptation from beholding the superior advantages of their brethren. When a poor Christian beholds one of his brethren possessed of wealth, if he is not restrained by the grace of God, and directed by his Spirit, he will repine at his own lot, and think it hard that he is called to such labours and such privations, while others of his brethren are exempted. He will ask himself, why he is treated so harshly by his heavenly Father, who has been so indulgent to others of his children. In sickness and all other afflictions, the same repining thoughts are natural. He will think it hard that he is tossing on a bed of sickness, and tortured with pain, while other Christians are in health and vigour. Silence, my brother, away with the blasphemous thoughts that incline thee to judge harshly of thy tender Father. He does all things well; and sickness, as well as all other evils to which thou art called, will work together for thy good. But independently of this consideration, is not thy heavenly Master a sovereign. If he calls not others to equal sufferings, what is that to thee? Christ's command is, "follow thou me."
ORIGINAL SIN, ILLUSTRATED BY HEB. VII. 9, 10. In the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, that excellent summary of religious truth, we find the following language: “ All mankind descending from him (Adam) by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression.” The doctrine, of which this is a simple statement, has been treated with unmeasured abuse by a portion of the Presbyterian community. Instead of being subjected to a fair and a candid examination, it has been .buried under a filthy mass of unhallowed declamation.
In such circumstances it cannot be improper to bring forward a few considerations, which ought at least to make the railers of the doctrine pause before they pronounce it "an opinion dangerous, as it is revolting and calumni. ous," and its supporters “ guilty of the foulest, blackest ingratitude,"__" fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.”
The objection which has been a hundred times adyanced, and a hundred times refuted, is founded upon the alleged absurdity of supposing that we could be partakers in the guilt of a crime which was committed thousands of years before we were born. The force of this apparent difficulty may be removed in a manner different from that in which it has been usually met, and perhaps more satifactory to some ininds. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in proving the superiority of our Saviour's priesthood to that of Levi, tells us, (Heb. yii. 9, 10,) that Levi “ paid tythes in Abraham;" and adds, “for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedek met him.” In this passage, it is almost expressly stated that Levi paid tythes to Melchisedek, and yet it was Abraham who did so.--(Gen. xiv. 20; Heb, vii. 2-4.) Here then an action is plainly ascribed to Levi, which had been performed a century, perhaps, before his birth. Now this is a difficulty precisely similar to that which has been so frequently urged as a reply to the Calvinistic view of original sin; and hence we are led to the conclusion, that. if the objection to the doctrine be valid, the apparent objection to the truth of the passage before us must also be valid. The two cases are exactly similar in this respect, that in each, an action is attributed to a person by whom it was not actually performed; and if this be an absurdity in the one case, it must also be an absurdity in the other; and if the asserted absurdity be a valid objection to the truth of the passage in the Assembly's Catechism, which I havę, quoted, it must also be an equally valid objection to the plain and simple declaration of the Apostle Paul. By whatever process of reasoning, therefore, the objection re-, ferred to is made to refute the statement, that “ All man.. kind descending from Adam by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression,” by the very same process it may be shown that the state. ment of the inspired writer, that Levi paid tythes to Melchisedek, is an utter falsehood. I really can see no means. whatever of averting the force of this conclusion, nor can