« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
future which truth alone can give, the spirit must be poor indeed. Surely, if Christ was poor, that through his pov- . erty we might be rich, his true disciples will desire most of all to impart the riches of his truth and grace to the spirit. ually poor.
3. But again, the transgressor is represented as afraid, afflicted, tempest-tossed and comfortless. Fear is one of the most painful emotions of the human heart. Sin takes away the courage of the soul. 66 The wicked flee when no man pursueth.” They are haunted by the consciousness of guilt. This guilt seems open to the Omniscient Eye, and to the eyes of all. They shrink from every thing that stirs. They know not God, they trust him not ; and they therefore fear that all is going wrong, when faith in overruling goodness would assure them that all is well, and working for the highest good of them that love the Lord. They are like the mariner upon the sea, where
, billows roll beneath, and tempests beat above. No feeling of security have they,--no hope, which “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, entereth into that within the vail”-but all is commotion, “ like the troubled sea whose waters cannot rest, but cast up mire and dirt.” It is not too much to say of such that they are comfortless. Racked by fierce passions and pursued by gloomy fears, they have no source of satisfaction, nor spring of inward joy, like that which flows from trust in God and from the practice of virtue and religion. The evils here described are but another consequence of the perversion of our moral nature,-another form of punishment for sin. And who would add to it one pang more than should be necessary to the welfare of society. The mission of the Saviour was to save the soul from this fallen state, and bring it to the light of truth, and to the love that casts out fear.
4. Again, the sinner's state of mind is represented by sickness. It is said, “ The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." Faintness and sickness! who can be at a loss to understand what these terms signify? When the brow is burning with disease, when the heart and pulses beat with pain, when the flesh is failing, then the sufferer fitly represents the moral state of the transgressor. Disease is not only painful, but, in many forms, how loathsome! To the eye accustomed to discern moral distinctions, what physical disease so loathsome as vice and moral pollution ? What sickness so distressing as the sickness of the soul ? And then to think that men bring such evils upon themselves voluntarily; that they who would be vigilant to shun a fever, or guard against consumption, will nurse those fires of passion which consume their moral life, and think the deadening of their moral sensibilities tends to increase their happiness! Who that has any sense of the heinousness of sin would not rather die a thousand deaths, than have his spiritual nature all ruined? The disease that bows the strong man's frame and makes it tremble, if the spirit still is strong and the heart pure, is not to be compared with the disease which prays upon the soul. Well might Jesus say with reference to such, “ The sick need a physician.
5. Yet again, the Scripture speaks of the transgressor as being deaf. When the ear is closed to all sound of murmuring rills, or singing birds, or the sweet voice of affection, we feel that one high source of happiness is taken away. For large measures of the common joys of life, are we indebted to the quick reporter of all the melodies and voices that float amid the atmosphere in which we
Sin makes the spirit deaf to a thousand melodies and voices of delight which it otherwise might hear. It shuts out the voice of God, as he speaks continually in nature and in life; it shuts out the voices also of good men, of angels and the Mediator. To the humble and devoted, God is ever speaking through the magnificence of heaven and the fulness of the earth, the convictions of the conscience, and the deep feelings of the heart. The heavens declare his glory, and the earth is vocal with his praise; day unto day uttereth speech, and all the experiences of life are suggestions of deep import, and invitations to ascend that heavenly way, which, like a shining light, shines more and more unto the perfect day. But this harmonious language is lost upon the sinful soul. It heeds not, it hears not the highest lessons of nature and of life.
6. The soul of the sinner is also blind. There are few greater earthly blessings than the sense of sight; hence there can be few greater evils than its loss. Compar
atively, how desolate is he who dwells in darkness, shut out from all the visions of beauty and glory which so move and melt the heart. How exposed as well as helpless, how unfortunate every way, is the condition of the sightless child. May we not then conceive the desolate condition of the sinner whose soul is blind. Sin dims the image of God, darkens the light of truth, casts a pall over the dispensations of the Father, thickening the veil of mystery which hangs over the events of life, and renders all inexplicable its most wonderful experiences. If then we have compassion on the blind, why suppose the spiritually blind must be forever shut out from the compassion of the eternal Father.
7. The sinner is also called a prisoner, a captive, a slave. Wretched as the condition of the chattel-slave may be, it but faintly represents the evils of slavery to sin. His master may be vile and cruel ; but the vilest and most cruel tyrant is sin itself; the master has power only to enslave the body ; sin robs the soul of its freedom and holds it captive. The moral and immortal nature of the chattel-slave is simply undeveloped, while that of the slave to sin is developed perversely.
8. But once more. The sinner is spoken of in Scripture phrase as being foolish, simple or unwise, as being beside himself, or morally insane, as being lost, and even dead. It is not that he will be lost unless he seek salvation ; but he is already lost, and from this lost state it was that Jesus came to save him. It is not that he will die, unless he repent in season; he is already dead in trespasses and
and from this condition of moral death it was that Christ came to restore him and to give him spiritual life. We can conceive of no worse state than that of a soul cut off from communion with spiritual realities, as the dead are from communion with the scenes of earth. That must be death indeed, with reference to all the highest powers and divinest energies of men.
We see from all these figurative expressions that sin is its own avenger, carrying with it its own sufficient recompense. The punishment shall cease when the simple are made wise, the lost found, the deaf restored to hearing, and the blind to sight; when the slave and prisoner are redeemed, the sick healed, and the dead made alive. To
the extent to which our souls are polluted and enslaved by sin, are our characters and conditions reflected by these several mirrors that are held up before us by the sacred writers. We may remain in this unenviable state just so long as we prefer to do so, and we may leave it, by the help of heaven, when we will.
Bockshammer on the Freedom of the Human Will: Translated from the German, with additions : by A. Kaufman, Jr. Andover: Gould & Newman, 1855. It may seem to argue weakness, or presumption, in
, any one, to attempt a discussion of the difficult subject which we have announced. Our plea is, that however intricate the subject, it is one of great practical importance, and that the mystery of the unknown and unsolvable must not be permitted to prevent us from studying, using, and conforming to, such things as may be known.
In the outset, to avoid all misapprehension, let it be understood that we recognize a divine government, supreme, eternal, and embracing in its grasp all men and things. We acknowledge our inability to reconcile our deductions from the facts which we are about to discuss concerning the freedom of the will, with our deductions from this fact. But in any conflict which the deductions of logic may raise betwixt perceived truths, our loyalty must be yielded to the truths, and not to logic. Let logic wait until all the premises are known. While we must allow that our perceptions of truth are sometimes imperfect, it is often found that the deductions of logic are absurd, contradicting the plainest and simplest matters of fact. The belief in those two great articles of faith, God's sovereignty and man's freedom, may be called almost universal.' There is recorded a decision of the calm and
learned Melancthon on this subject, which seems wise. “From a letter of his to Calvin, it appears that a friend of the former, named Francis Stadianus, was bold enough to avow his belief both in Providence and contingency, though he admitted that he could not reconcile their co-existence. Melancthon himself acceded to his views, nor have the researches of modern inquirers been successful in discovering any other outlet, consistent with revelation, from this intricate labyrinth.” When one,
”'l taking his departure from some great truth, like that of God's sovereignty, or man's freedom, drives thence a remorseless train of logic over all other facts, his course is like that of a headstrong ship-master, who, from the true point of his departure, deduces his position day by day from à careful dead reckoning of his courses and distances, and resolves to direct his voyage by that and nothing else. If rocks or islands appear in his course, he still adheres to his theory, which determines that they have no business there,-relies on bis log and compass, and boldly resolves to treat them as phantoms and sail over them. Happily for the metaphysical navigator, his aerial ship is not made of heart of oak, to stick, or split upon the rocks ; but though rent from stem to stern by the sturdy point of unyielding fact, may still hold on its course.
It is a pity some of these battered craft do not go down.
But let us apply ourselves to our problem of the human will. The first question is, what is the will ? The human will is the power by which determinations, or purposes, are formed. It is the power by which, in any given case, we determine to do, or not to do. It is a conscious energy, the fountain of purposed actions. It is separated, perhaps, by “thin partitions,” from understanding, choice, and desire. A man may have understanding of many things, concerning which he forms no purpose. The understanding then may act separately from the will. The distinction between choice and will may seem more subtle, and to some impracticable. “Choice is the act of selecting from two or more things that which is preferred." This may differ from the will so as to be separable from it. A man at the parting of several roads may prefer one to the others, and yet not have a will to go in either ;
1 Dyer's Calvin, p. 221.