Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

righteousness and self-dependence, in order to embrace the gospel, which is founded upon this single truth, that God would be amiable and glorious in punishing sinners forever, for the least violation of his holy law. Every degree of self-righteousness stands directly opposed to the gospel, and therefore it must be entirely given up in the heart, in order to depend upon the atonement of Christ for forgiveness and eternal life. So that it is just as necessary that sinners should give up all their self-righteous feelings, as it is that they should believe the gospel, and comply with the only terms of salvation, which God has proposed. The discourse will now be closed with a few brief

INFERENCES. 1. It may be inferred from what has been said, that whenever sinners seriously set themselves to seek salvation, they do nothing but throw obstacles in the way, and the only way, in which they can be saved. They can be saved only in the way of grace ; but they desire and strive to be saved in the way of works. All their exertions are directed to establish their own righteousness, and render themselves more deserving, or less undeserving of the divine favour. They read, and strive, and seek, and pray, all to grow better, and become more worthy of the pardoning mercy of God. But the farther they proceed in this course, the farther are they removed from “ the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ.” The more they strive to establish their own righteousness, the less fit they are to be justified freely by God's grace. No sinners recede faster and farther from the kingdom of heaven, than those who are seeking and striving, with a self-righteous and self-justifying spirit, to obtain salvation: and any mode of conversing or preaching, which is suited to encourage them in such a course, tends directly to destroy their souls.

2. We may infer from this subject, what particular doctrines it is of special importance to preach to sinners, at all times, and more especially when they are awakened and enquiring what they shall do to be saved. However deep their concern and anxious their enquiries, they still trust in themselves that they are righteous ; which continually throws an insuperable obstacle in the way of their justification. Those doctrines, therefore, which are best calculated to show them the sinfulness and danger of self-righteousness, are to them the most important and useful. And these unquestionably are the doctrine of total moral depravity, and the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty in the dispensations of his grace. These doctrines, which are inseparably connected, cannot fail, when rightly explained and understood, to show sinners the wickedness of trusting in themselves, and the folly and presumption of endeavouring, by their own unrighteous deeds, to recommend themselves to the favour of God. Hence it was, that Christ and his apostles dwelt so

much, in their sermons, upon these essential doctrines of the gospel; and hence it is, that sncceeding ministers of the word, have so often found a plain and faithful exhibition of these doctrines, to be the power of God and the wisdom of God, for the conviction and conversion of awakened, enquiring sinners.

3. This subject shows us the reason why no sinner can come to Christ, unless drawn of the Father. Sinners trust in themselves that they are righteous. There is nothing which they are so unwilling to do, as to renounce all claim to salvation, and approve of the justice of God, should he leave them to perish in their sins.This they can never be persuaded to do, until made willing in the day of God's power. Their unwillingness to give up their own righteousness, constitutes their moral inability to come to Christ, which, though criminal and inexcusable, is never removed but by the special influence of the Holy and Divine Spirit.

Finally. It may be inferred from this subject, that the terms of life in the gospel, are as easy and low as possible. God offers to pardon and save all sinners, who will only renounce their self-righteousness. Every sinner under the light of the gospel, may be saved, who does not persist in justifying himself, and in refusing pardon as a gift of grace. How could Divine mercy have made the terms lower? Whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely. Whosoever will stand and pray the prayer of the Publican, “ God be merciful to me, a sinner,” shall be justified and saved.

SENEX.

THE SABBATH. The Reports made to Congress, during the last session, respecting ng transportation and opening of mails on the Sabbath, have been so fully, ald in many instances, so ably discussed, in the various religious and other papers, that we have thought it unnecessary to take up the subject. The following Extracts, however, are so much in point, and so well written, that we cannot resist the inclination to lay them before our readers. They are from a ser mon by Rev. Seth Williston, of Durham, N. Y. in 1825, from Nehemiah xiii. 17, 18: Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profanc the Sabbath-day? Did no! your fathors thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us and upon ihis city? Yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabba

From his text, the preacher deduces the following sentiments:

“1. Whatever decidedly tends to bring the wrath of God on a nation, IS to tbat nation the greatest possible injury.

II. The profanation of the holy Sabbath is eminently calculated to do this.

HII. When the nobles, or leading men of a nation, are guilty of this they ouzlit to be contended with.” The illustration of the two first of these sentiments, is very clear angin

v clear and convincing; but we shall, at present, make our extracts from that of the and from the Practical Remarks, as more appropriate 10 the subject under public discussion.-Ed,

In entering on this division of the subject, it is important to kn in what way the rulers of a nation may be chargeable with the sea of profaning the Sabbath.

te to the subject now

First. It is evident, that the rulers of a nation may be guilty of the sin of treading under foot the holy Sabbath, by their bad example. If they allow themselves to do public or private business; if they pursue journies; if they attend on amusements and parties of pleasure; or if they fail to attend on those holy convocations which the Lord has appointed, as means to promote the sanctification of the hallowed day; their example stands in direct opposition to the command of God.

Secondly. Those rulers who belong to the legislative body, are chargeable with the sin in question, when they make laws calcula5ted to contravene the laws of God which relate to the sanctification .. of the Sabbath. It will, perhaps, be said, that the legislators of

states and kingdoms have only to make civil laws, and have nothing to do with the laws of God. Is it meant, that they, who are conven ed to form a code of civil laws, must in their legislative capacity, be ignorant of the existence of a Supreme Being? or be ignorant of this fact, that he has revealed a law, designed to regulate the conduct of his creature man ? On supposition, that the legislature of this

state should be composed of men, who fully believe the inspiration ; of the scriptures, could that body, consistent with their belief, make

a single law which should stand opposed to the revealed will of the Supreme Lawgiver ? Would not such a law be an indication of infidelity in that body?

We know that it is not the province of the legislature of a state or. kingdom, to enact laws to regulate the Church of God. The King of beaven has made laws to rule his own kingdom. But an earthly state or kingdom cannot be ruled, without making use of many of the same laws which rule the kingdom of heaven. There must therefore be frequent coincidences between the laws of these two kinds of government. No one will conclude, because the God of heaven has made laws to require children to submit to their parents; and laws to forbid murder, adultery, theft, perjury, and the like; that therefore human lawgivers have no right to legislate on these points, requiring and prohibiting the same things. Some may think that men have no right to make laws to enforce obedience to God. But is it pot possible, that the interests of civil society should urgently demand the enactment of some laws, which require respect for the Supreme Lawgiver? Is it wrong for men to make a law which prohibits blasphemy? This sin is committed directly against God, and is a breach of one of the commands of the first table of the law, I presume it will be conceded, that a law against blasphemy is not wrong. The ground on which such a law will be defended, is this; That human society cannot exist, where " this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD,” is so despised, that an oath of conformation, in which we swear by it, will have no influence to awe the mind: and it cannot be expected to have any such influence

on the mind of the blasphemer. The law, which punishes the man who blasphemes the name of God, is, no doubt, a good and wholesonte hw of civil society. And why may not the same reasoning apply to the statute law, which is designed to preserve the sacredness of the Sabbath? Is not a regard to the fourth commandment as closely connected with the welfare of the State, as a regard to the third! I see not why a baughty contempt of the fourth, as well as of the third, is not calculated even to destroy the solemnity of an oath. If the man who profanes the name of the Lord, is supposed to have lost all reverence for the Supreme Being; surely his reverence casnot be great, who profanes the day which He calls his own, and in which he has strictly required us to rest from our labours, even ia saring time and in harvest.

The religious instruction, which is connected with a sanctificatios of the Sabbath, exerts such an influence, not only on the piety, bef also on the civil order, morals, and happiness of a nation, as to be of higher consequence to its well being than all its fleets and armie. But when the sacredness of the Sabbath is once renounced, there is nothing to insure those important instructions which are connected with it. On the same principle, that the State, in its corporate ca pacity, manifests a deep concern in those schools of learning, which are designed to expand the minds and improve the morals of the rising generation, it consistently may, and it ought, to take a deep interest in the holy Sabbath, and those divine institutions and instructions which God has made the proper business of the day. If nothing be regarded farther than the temporal interests of the State, the Sabbath, with its attendant instructions, is not inferior in its importance, even to that excellent system of education, which provides at publio expense the benefit of schools for all the children of the conmonwealth. Why then may not a Christian nation so construct its laws, as to prevent the breaking down of those sacred barriers which the Lord has placed around his holy Sabbath?

Laws can be made to guard the Sabbath from encroachments, without doing violence to any man's conscience. It might hurt the conscience of an atheist, if he were required, on this or any other day, to join in the worship of God, since he does not believe that wuch a being exists; but I do not see that his conscience could be particularly injured, by being restrained from disturbing the sacred stillness of the Sabbath, enjoined, as his fellow countrymen believe, by Him who built all things. Had the king of Nineveh been as scrupulous, as some of the rulers of the earth now are, whether it came within the province of the political head of a nation, on any occasion, to enact a law requiring the subjects to manifest a regard to God, his proud capital would soon have been in ruins.

But if you should think it improper for civil government to enjoin any thing of a religious nature, there çertainly can be no doubt that

it has a right so to frame its laws, as not to counteract the laws of God. No sober man will say, that the French Convention was

under obligation to change the week of seven days into a decade, : or week of ten days, for the sake of obliterating the remembrance

of the Lord's day. Nor can any man, in his right mind, pretend that it is the duty of those who rule over a Christian nation, to construct their laws in such a manner as to imply their ignorance of the fact, that such a religion as Christianity has existence in the

world. None can pretend that they are under obligation to fix the - time of convening legislative and judicial bodies, and the time

for military reviews, just as though it was unknown to them, that the religion of the country made any distinction betweea the days of the week. This would be to “ frame mischief by a law." It would be ensnaring the consciences of the people ; which is a much greater evil than to take away their property, or even to enslavo their persons. The Apostle, in addressing the Corinthian converts, says, “ Art thoa called being a servant? care not for it:- for he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman.” The disciple of Jesus can therefore submit to servitude, and still. keep a good conscience: but how can he consent to transgress a Divino requirement? If his religion be in exercise, he will exclaim;.“ How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” From tho view which we have now taken of this subject, it is easy to perceive, that when the framers of our laws do not make such arrangements for the transaction of public business, whether to be done by themselves or their agents, as to guard against all interference with the day which the Lord has separated to himself, they are justly chargeable with the sin of profaning it. .

I have shown in what ways the legislalive rulers of a nation may be chargeable with the evil in question ; I would now add, that if these have done their duty by providing laws to secure the sabbatk. from contempt, the sin of profaning the day may rest on the execu tive officers, if they refuse, or neglect, to pat in exeoution the existing laws. This appears to have been more particularly the profanation, with which the nobles of Judah are charged in the text.. They suffered the market to be kept open on the sabbath day. They did not exert that authority, with which they were clothed, to prevent an evil, so dishonouring God and the morals of the nation.

I will now proceed to offer some reasons, why these dignified men are to be contended with, when they are found guilty of violating the law of the Sabbath.

First. They are the creatures of God, and are as perfectly ac® countable to him as other men. A spirit of obedience to His commands is obligatory on them; and, I may add, is their highest honQur. Without this, they cannot please Him that accepteth not the

« AnteriorContinuar »