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such attempts take effect, I think it evident, notwithstanding all that may be pleaded to the contrary, that they impair the public confidence in the record of Inspiration, and rather nourish the skeptical tendencies of our time. I do not say that the doctrine is so intrinsically inwoven in the revealed system of the Bible, that an explosion of it would necessarily be the destruction of all Christian faith. But it is easy to see whose sympathies are the most strongly engaged in its preservation, and whose in its rejection. Obviously the skeptical, and the skeptically-inclined are, generally speaking, the ones who are gratified by the appearance of pleas and allegations that go to make out different origins of mankind. Have the pleas and allegations of this kind, which have been hitherto advanced, rested on any ground sufficiently broad and firm to support so unnatural a conclusion? It is not only the doubters of revelation who seem to take an interest in the attempts to disprove the unity of our race; the defenders of slavery join with them in this one point, and appear to regard it as a "god-send," when a scientific man gives them an argument against the truth that "God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth." But until clearer proof is produced than we have yet seen, we shall "let God be true, but every man a liar."
W. N. B.
The Righteous and the Wicked.
In various terms of opposition, the Scriptures speak of two widely differing states, which are denominated righteousness, justification, life, light, on the one hand; and sin, wickedness, condemnation, darkness, death, upon the other. Since the Scriptures are built on the idea of the opposition of these states, and since the terms chosen to characterize them are borrowed from the strongest contrasts of nature, such as light and darkness, life and
death, we seem led irresistibly to the conclusion, that the states themselves present the marks of a wide and manifest separation. For that style must be violent and distempered, which uses the terms of extreme opposition to describe simple gradations. And as we cannot believe that the language of the New Testament is so illy chosen, we are left only the conclusion that the two states mentioned mark, not gradations, but contrasts. The line between them may be narrower than that which anciently divided England from Scotland, but yet no man can stand with one foot in each of these two kingdoms, as some used to boast of having spanned the Tweed, but must be wholly in one or the other. We cannot either, in this matter, confine ourselves to the abstract idea of states, or conditions, as impersonal matters. These states, or conditions, are embodied, they become incarnate, they appear as characteristics of men; and men are known as righteous or wicked, godly or ungodly, alive or dead, sons of God or children of the devil, according as the characteristics of one or the other of these states appear in them. There are then, these two classes of men, the righteous, and the wicked, separated from each other by distinct lines. No intermediate standing-place, no neutrality, no compromise is provided for, either by the terminology or the spirit of the sacred Scriptures. Among the righteous, or among the wicked, every living man must be classed. This can be avoided only by evading one of the fundamental doctrines of the Bible. “They that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit; if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you." Rom. viii. 8, 9. It is our purpose to trace that dividing line which separates these two classes.
But here we shall be met with the question, whether any such line really exists. It will be argued that in regard to religion, a state of things exists, similar to that which we find in respect to color. Every one admits that there are black men and white men, yet if you arrange all the men in the world in one vast line placing the whitest man on the right, and the blackest man on the left, any one would admit the opposition of color in the extremes; but who in passing along the line, could say where the division should be made, that should sunder white from
black. No one could find it. The parallel, it will be argued, holds in the case we are considering. But is not this a fallacious view; and is not the case we are considering similar to that concerning right and wrong, when the mind is confused in endeavoring to apply the rules, and distinctions, to great masses of men; but when you come to consider a single mind, in any single act, to judge in one word as God's law judges-in detail-the matter becomes comparatively easy, and certain of decision. So if we take a single soul, and bring it to the standard of the New Testament, is it possible that we cannot by its rules ascertain whether that soul is in the right way, or the wrong way. It will be said that we should find in it both good and evil, both right and wrong. Very well; we must admit this; for none but One has ever lived on this earth, in whom these were not blended. We shall find them mingled together in the characters of the primitive believers, and chosen apostles of our religion. But will any one therefore argue that Paul, and Peter, and John, and Barnabas, and Polycarp, were not to be classed among the righteous? Had they not been translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son? Had they not passed from death unto life? This argument finally resolves itself into the absurdity of practically annihilating the meaning of the Biblical terms righteous and wicked. For it would call no man wicked as long as any good remained in him, nor any man good, who was stained with the least tincture of evil. Surely the New Testament was not written with any such views as these.
It seems to us, that scarcely a chapter of the New Testament can be practically considered, without coming directly to this question concerning the state of the individual. We claim therefore that this discussion which now occupies us, is by no means of a purely speculative character; but is rather of deep practical importance to every man. The application of some of the leading doctrines of the gospel, must, to each man personally, be determined, by settling the question in which of these two conditions he is to be classed. "The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish." Ps. i. 6. The idea of these words of the Old Testament runs through the New. "Examine yourselves," says the Apostle, "whether ye be in the faith;
prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates." 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Is it possible for a man now to find whether he be in "the faith," and whether Christ be in him? If it be not possible, this, and many similar exhortations are of no value, or at least of much diminished value to him. Or can any man now join the Apostle feelingly in such words as these: "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Col. i. 12, 13. If any can do so, they have settled for themselves this question now before us. If there are any who cannot feelingly join in these words of thanksgiving, it is time for them to examine anew the Scriptures, and their own selves. It is not too much to say that the whole aspect of the Scriptures toward any man is determined by the decision as to his state; whether he be within, or without, the kingdom of God's dear Son. He who is within that kingdom is exhorted to persevere, and press forward in the blessed way on which he has entered. He who is without, is warned to turn, to repent, to forsake his way, and seek the paths of peace, for there is no peace to the wicked. The one lies all in the sunshine of the divine word, its promises and blessings smile on him from every page, The other is overshadowed by its menacing clouds; its warnings, its threats, its expostulations, all array themselves in his path, as did God's angel in the way of the recreant prophet. The gospel indeed overflows with love toward the sinner; but the first pressing purpose of that love is, to withdraw his feet from this perilous way, and place them in another. Every man is to settle the question then in which of these ways he is walking, before he is able rightly to apply the Scripture to himself. To every individual, then, as dealing with himself, as examining and proving his own self, it seems important to be able to bring himself properly to this test.
Is it not of importance also, that the preacher of the gospel consider well, and wisely, this matter? Is he to recognize in his congregation none but the wicked? Is he to overlook in a great measure God's love to the righteous; and preach only God's love to the sinner? Surely
if things are so, and are so to be, he has deep reason to inquire if there is not a fatal mistake somewhere. Is that a worthy Christian congregation, which has not among its members, one who can feel confidence to say, "The law of the spirit of life, in Jesus Christ, has made me free from the law of sin and death." Rom. viii. 2. Not one who "with the heart has believed unto righteousness?" Can such a state of things be consistent with the full preaching of that divine testimony which in the ancient days brought so many souls from death unto life? But it will be objected that the claim to such a change and privilege is boastful. Not so; it is consistent with the deepest humility, it comports best with holy fear, and with reverent worship, giving to God all the glory. Boastful! as well might the green corn in harvest time, bring such a charge against the ripe sheaves; for such souls are God's ripened sheaves. Not that their work is done, when they are able to make this profession; far from it, for neither is the work of the ripened grain done when it has come to the harvest.
Well may the preacher of the gospel labor and pray that he may present many such as these, a full proof of his ministry. And that he may do his duty in this respect, not too hastily encouraging those whose time has not yet come, nor keeping back those who are ready to enter the kingdom, he has need to consider faithfully the subject which is now before us.
We must grant that there are some practical difficulties attending the attempt to draw the dividing line betwixt the righteous and the wicked; and since we think no small amount of the perplexities which invest this subject, arise from human doctrines and notions concerning it, we will repair at once to the sacred Scriptures, where we are certain that correct information is to be found, and hope that we may be able to find it.
In the xviii. chapter of Ezekiel, we find certain very full and pointed declarations on this subject, which may be summed up in the language of the 26th and 27th verses, as follows: "When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that