صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Good against so much Evil, the surplus of our good balancing accounts against our evil. But Good is the living according to a law which we are bound to live by, and Evil the transgression of that law. We cannot, therefore, balance the one against the other.

Nor does Conscience reveal to us any way of getting rid of the Stain or the Guilt; in fact, to express it clearly, Conscience has first a Warning power, and then a Recording power, and then a Power Prophetic of punishment, but it has no pardoning power naturally.

Thence are we to seek the completion of Conscience in the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, applied to us by the Spirit; the effect of His death by which our sins are forgiven, in consequence of our Regeneration by his Spirit, the Stain of them wipeil out, and the Guilt pardoned, and ourselves set free from the Shame and the Fear. This fully completes, as far as Conscience is concerned, our illustration of the relation that nature bears to grace, and Natural to Revealed Religión.

And besides illustrating the first part of this chapter, it fully shows the position of Conscience in man as a secret force in the heart of each which he may resist, overthrow, conquer again and again, so as to feel that he is perfectly free from compulsion; and that in his actions, if he do evil, he must act in a full sense of his responsibility and against light and knowledge.

So that herein the Freedom of Man, the Justice of God, Ignorance and Unlimited Knowledge, Time and Eternity, Mercy and Judgment, all meet together in this one faculty.

And by this faculty in its action, the dealings of the Almighty Creator with us his creatures are justified, so that whatever man may have to say to his fellows before their bar, before the judgment throne of God, the evidence of the Recording Spirit and of the man himself shall, in each man's case, manifest that “the Judge of the whole earth has not done wrong.'

We have thus examined the nature of Conscience, and shown its uses; we have gone into its laws, and the means of perfecting the faculty naturally and spiritually. In the next book we shall proceed to consider the Reason as a governing faculty, the second of the governing powers.

NOTE UPON THE PRACTICAL NATURE OF “ JUSTIFICATION BY

FAITH,” REFERRED TO ON PAGE 123.

We are "justified by faith,working by love, and showing itself in true Christian works.

In the justified man there must be first, “faith-a sincere belief in the Gospel, and an appreciation of the Atonement of Christ as sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and as applied to himself.”

2dly, This faith must realize itself in his heart by the Spirit of lis Lord, that is, true love towards his God and towards his fellow

lien.

3rdly. This must issue forth in actual works of love, in “the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, against which there is no law;" in works of mercy to the wretched; and in subjection of his own thoughts, words and actions to the Spirit and Law of Christ.

In the Regenerate Christian it will be seen, if this be so with him during life, that the voice of God, at the last great day of judgment, will declare him just through the blood of Christ; and even in this world the voice of the Holy Spirit, through his Conscience, will witness to his justification. According to that which the apostle says, “the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God;" (Rom. viii. 16;) and again, “We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the Spirit of Adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father.” Herein is seen the connexion of the natural faculty with the Spirit, and the relation of both under the Gospel to justification.

This, I conceive, to be the doctrine of the Church, against both the Roman Catholic doctrine, that we are made just by an infused righteousness, instead of being declared just or “acquitted” by the Atonement, and the Solifidian scheme, that says that love and works are not necessary. But for more ample information, I refer the learned to Bishop Bull's treatise, the “ Harmonia Apostolica."

To the unlearned, then, I say, as a practical inference, if, after you are Regenerate, “made a member of Christ, a child of God, an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven,” for after this point only in your existence you have the full filial privileges of the Spirit's power—if after this you know that you have true faith, that faith that is vivified by "love" and realized by works,then you are justified ; justified, if before that secret tribunal which the Spirit of God has erected in your heart, you can, (having faith,) truly say,

“ I love God according to the measure of his Grace and of my own weakness, with all my heart, and soul, and strength; and I truly strive to realize this in Christian works of mercy and love." The man is "justified” who with faith in his heart, can truly say this, before his God.

But if having had faith, and being baptized in the name of Christ, faith becomes dead, and in our hearts we know that we do not love God above all things, but our own will or our own pleasure; and that we do not love our neighbors; if we also do no Christian works of love, but all our works are founded on motives of “Self-will,” or “Sensuality,” or “Selfishness,

“ Selfishness," so that we care not for our neighbor, but rather despise and evil intreat him, when it suits this Evil Concupiscence in us, THEN are we not justified-our faith is not a living faith,it neither is enlivened by love nor realized by works. It may not be so dead as that the root should perish, but the growth is stopped, the leaf is withered, and the fruit is blighted.

How, then, shall the man recover? Not by any excitement, not by any extraordinary means. He knows what is that inward obstacle or outward sin that impedes his course. He knows in his own heart, although others may not know, what is the peculiar besetting sin to which he yields. He knows what that is in thought, in word, or in deed that he does, through interest, through thoughtlessness, through pleasure, through habit, through outward temptation or inward feebleness, that is clearly and distinctly against his own convictions of Christian duty, as manifested to his Conscience by the Spirit. While he does this that is so, the Spirit says to his Conscience, “Thou art not justified, thou art condemned ;" and his own consciousness tells him the same. His Reason and his knowledge of the Law of God assure him of the same. God to be sure may, in his wise purposes, permit him to remain in the world and in the Church even in that state, but still it is not the state of one who is justified.

The man, then, in this condition, knowing that he is in the wrong, he should instantly sct himself with all his might to ab

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

stiin from that particular sin; to wrestle with prayer, with fasting, with all the means prescribed both by the Gospel and by his own knowledge of himself to overcome it, according to the direction of the apostle: “Wherefore ... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our Faith, ... lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

If in struggling with our besetting sin, it should bring us to our death, or wring drops of blood and agony from the dearest affections of our heart, still are we to persevere. And then, through the prayer of Faith, through God's Grace, through the power of Christ, we shall overcome, and be led on conquering our sins, till we reach that state wherein we are Justified, the state wherein the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we have Living Faith that acts by love, and realizes itself by true Christian works.

In this note I have considered only the case of that man who has been once born again. The state of men outside the Covenant is different.

BOOK III.

THE SPIRITUAL REASON.

CHAPTER I.

First, Reasoning is not Reason; this illustrated. — The composition of human

nature is not double, but three-fold.-Man having an Animal Mind and a Spirit, these faculties in him correspond to two worlds, the world of the Seen and that of the Unseen.--Hence two reasoning powers, the “ Animal Mind” and Spiritual Reason.-Moral ideas are received from Society by the Reason.----All ideas of which it may be said “God is,” are of it.-A remark in reference to our future state, and the grounds of our perpetual progress in it.—The question of innate ideas.

Our readers will have remarked that among the “governing" powers, as we place Conscience the first, so the second is the Reason. To examine the nature and laws of this faculty, there fore, shall be the object of the present book.

The subject we acknowledge to be one of considerable difficulty, and yet we believe to the reader who shall give us his considerate attention, we shall be able to bring forth the laws and offices of this great power so that the principles educed may be something of a guide to him in his course of moral study as well as in actual life practically. The first distinction we would have him observe is this, that “reasoning” and Reason are things wholly and entirely different, so different indeed that very often considerable powers of reasoning shall exist in him who has of Reason very little at all.

A strange paradox, one may say, and yet literally possible,reasoning is properly a logical exercise, the power by which, premises” being given or assumed, we draw the conclusion—this is reasoning.” Now if we look at the definition of insanity, wo

17

129

« السابقةمتابعة »