Page images

orders and classes of the same form, appearance or species, and will you say, that in the production of spiritual life, which is bringing the powers and capacities of rebellious man into appropriate action and enjoyment, He shall not consult His own good pleasure? As well might man upbraid, and find fault with God, that he was not made a seraph, or a toad that it was not made a philosopher, as that thou, oh, sinner, who hast no right to any thing whatever but the damnation of hell, shouldest upbraid God for having made thy friend or neighbor a subject of spiritual life. When nothing as yet had been created, had not God a right to produce whatever creatures he saw fit? Had nonentity a claim, if we may use such expressions, to be made into any particular creature? Much less has the sinner any claim on God for spiritual life. The whole mass of men with respect to this life are precisely in the condition of non-entity with respect to being. Their situation is even worse, if we may so speak, for if by wilful rebellion, they act altogether inappropriate to the design of the creator in their original formation, He certainly can be under no obligations so to influence and affect them, as to bring them to those actions and enjoyments which constitute the life of one in favor and fellowship with God. And thus the apostle reasons on the subject, “O man who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonor?” No fact can be more distinctly stated than this of God's sovereign will determining the spiritual life or existence of the believer. “Of His own will begat He us.” “Who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." This is election, and it is impossible for any

1 Rom. ix. 20, 21.

3 John, i, 13.

2 James, 1. 18.

one to deny the fact that believers are indeed elected of God, who admit that they have received influences and are brought to actions and enjoyments differing essentially from unregenerate sinners.

We have assumed for the present the fact, that believers are made the subjects of a new life, anticipating, for the sake of illustrating a great doctrine of our faith, what we hope to establish fully in the prosecution of this work, and what is cordially admitted and zealously advocated by some who nevertheless oppose and take alarm at the very thought of election. The communication of spiritual life to believers is called election, because they as moral agents, having been previously existent, are thus selected from the great mass of mankind and made to differ from them. Predestination differs from election only as it is the purpose of God beforehand to do what in time he actually does, and whoso denies the one must deny the other, or else maintain that God has no purpose, and does not know what he intends to do, till the very moment he does it, which is utterly at war with the declarations of his word, which exhibits believers as "being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own



We cannot dismiss this interesting topic without noticing how forcibly it reminds us of the uncertainty of life and the necessity of being prepared for death. We have

We have seen, that all life depends on the good pleasure of God the Holy Spirit, both as to its kind and continuance. Now it is impossible for us to search the mind of God, and therefore it must be impossible to determine the duration of our life. Whether it may be his will to stop the current this hour, or the next, or at a later period who can tell? Think not frail dust! to say the organs of life must first be deranged or decayed. If this be necessary, it can be done instantaneously. It has often been. But this is not necessary. Life may cease and yet the organs remain entire. The wheels of a mill will cease their revolutions the moment you confine the water, their moving power, to its head. So the moment the Spirit withholds His agency our life v shall cease.

1 Eph. i. 11.

It will inevitably, although the organs may remain entire. Boast not of health and vigour-your life depends on God, and what He may choose to do this day or to-morrow you know not. How utterly foolish therefore to neglect the interest of the immortal being, and at any moment be unprepared for death! Can any such be found? Ah me, their number is almost beyond the power of computation. I see an immense crowd of triflers whose eyes are fast closed, and yet are dancing on the brink of an awful precipice. One and another are dropping fast from their midst, while none perceive that their numbers are diminishing. The warning voice is never heard, the shrieks of falling companions die upon their ears, while all “drive headlong towards the precipice of death.” Oh, for a voice like thunder to burst around them with terrific peals! Oh, for an arm almighty to snatch them from the brink of ruin!

Reader, art thou a stranger to Christ and unprepared to die? Thy breath is in thy nostrils, and thou knowest not what a day or an hour may bring forth. Already dost thou reel upon the mountains of vanity, but mercy prevents thy fall. Why trifle? Why an hour's delay, when the next moment eternity may close around thee and envelope thee forever in the horrors of despair. Fly to the Lord of Glory, who gives the spirit of life, and resolve to live forever. May that good Spirit save thy soul from death, and guide thee from the brink of ruin to the realms of day!




The right understanding of a sinner's regeneration requires a correct know.

ledge of man's original nature Scriptural account of the creation of man-Gen. i. 26, 27: ii. 7—The image of God consisted not merely in the spiritual nature of man, nor in his lordship over the creatures, nor in his moral qualities peculiarly and exclusively, nor in any designed re. presentation of the form and appearance, but in the three-fold character of life united in one moral being-Inquiry as to what constitutes the life of the rational soul of man—The immateriality of the soul does not prevent us from all knowledge of it-All our knowledge of God analogical2 Cor. xii. 4—The properties of the human soul not those of matterThought is not a quality of simple matter-Nor the result of chemical action-Nor motion-Nor organic action-Nor a secretion of the brainNor a superadded quality of especial organization-Dr. Priestly, Dr. Rush, Mr Jefferson's false mode of reasoning—Priestley's argument based on vague ideas of the properties of matter-Dr. Cooper-Inconsistency of the advocates of materialism-Thought and vibration distinct--Perception and thought, acts, not qualities--Specimen of sophistry-.No alleged incapacity of spirit to act on matter a valid objection against its existence Two monstrous absurdities-Simple method of refuting the errors of the materialist—The naturalist bound to account for the unity of human consciousness—Mere mechanism totally inadequate to account for the phenomena of thought--Objections met.

HAVING given a general definition of life, and shews that the Spirit of God is its immediate author and sustainer, it becomes necessary,


life re-imparted without some knowledge of it as originally given. Where shall we look for this knowledge with such evident prospect of success, as to the first man when he sprung into life, in all the perfection of his being, directly from the plastic hand of his great Creator?

The account given in the sacred scriptures of the original formation of man, is brief, but nevertheless abundantly satisfactory. That philosophy which rejects the light of revelation can assign no satisfactory cause for the production of the first man. The speculations of some are almost too ridiculous to be even referred to. But the sure word of God, in two or three sentences, gives us the most interesting and satisfactory information. "God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them." “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."

Hence we learn the following facts with regard to man's original, viz., that he was created in the image and likeness of God; that his body was made out of pre-existent materials, the dust of the ground; that the breath of life, which is the Spirit of God, was communicated to his corporal frame, and he became a living soul or frame, that is that his life is the direct result of the Spirit's agency.

We have already seen, that the expression in the original is the breath of lives, which, whether it be understood as designating the Spirit of God, or as the life of the creature man, amounts in the end, precisely to the same thing, viz.,

1 Gen. i. 26, 27.

Gen. ä. 7.

« PreviousContinue »