Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

which are attached to it, through the secret operations

of divine grace.

To this argument from analogy may be added another of no inconsiderable weight. Between the effects of Adam's sin and those of the obedience of Christ, there is, in various respects, a perfect coincidence. The doctrine of universal redemption has already been deduced, on the authority of the apostle Paul, from the universality of the fall; and it appears to have been provided by the mercy and equity of God, that, in both the extent and manner of their operation, the analogy should be preserved between the disease and the remedy-that the operation of the one should still be adapted to the operation of the other. Now, as men participate in the disease arising from the sin of Adam, who are totally ignorant of its original cause, so we may with reason infer that men may also participate in the remedy arising from the obedience of Christ, who have received no outward revelation whatever respecting that obedience.

The inference deduced from these premises appears to derive, from certain passages in the New Testament, substantial confirmation. Although Cornelius, the Roman centurion, previously to his communication with Peter, might have been aware of the events recorded in the gospel histories, it is obviously improbable that he knew Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of men; yet, that he had received the gift of the Spirit of grace is indisputable, for he was a just man, living in the fear of God; Acts x, 22. And what was the remark suggested by the case of Cornelius to the apostle Peter ?-." Of a truth I perceive," said he, " that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him;" ver. 34, 35. When the apostle used these words, the truth which he contemplated

appears to have been this : that, amongst the nations of the Gentile world, ignorant as they generally were, both of the institutions of the Jews and of the offices of the Messiah, there were individuals who, like Cornelius, feared God and worked righteousness3—who had experienced, therefore, in some degree, the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit—and that such individuals were accepted by the Father of mercies, who is no respecter of persons. It is true that the mercy of God towards Cornelius was displayed after a particular manner, in his being brought to the outward knowledge of his Saviour: but, before he was introduced to that outward knowledge, he was accepted of the Father, and, had he died in his condition of comparative ignorance, we can scarcely doubt that he would have received, with all the children of God, his eternal reward, through the merits and mediation of Christ. And such, also, we may believe to have been the happy experience of all those Gentiles whom the apostle was considering, who might be so influenced by the power of the Lord's Spirit as to live in the fear of God, and to work righteousness.

That this was to a considerable extent, the character of some of the most virtuous of the ancient Gentile philosophers, their recorded sentiments and known history afford us strong reasons to believe; and that it was the character also of many besides them, who were destitute of an outward revelation, we may learn without difficulty from the apostle Paul. 6 Not the

[ocr errors]

3 «ο φοβούμενος αυτόν, και εργαζόμενος δικαιοσύνην. Colems eum, et exercens virtutem, pro modulo cognitionis primæ, ex lumine naturæ haustæ. Etiam inter paganos fuerunt, qui recte de Deo ejusque providentia et regimine statuerent. Εργαζόμενος δικαιοσύνης, recte agens, secundum legem naturæ ; Rom. ii, 13—27.” Rosenmüller Schol. in Act, x, 35.

hearers of the law are just before God," says this inspired writer, “but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another;" Rom. ii, 13-15. Upon this striking and very lucid passage of Scripture, it may be observed, first, that the law here mentioned is not the ceremonial law, as the whole tenor of the apostle's argument plainly evinces; but the moral law of God, which was outwardly revealed to the Jews, and was with still greater completeness unfolded under the Christian dispensation: secondly, that the Gentiles, here brought into a comparison with the Jews, were not those Gentiles who had been converted to Christianity; (for, of persons who had received the most perfect outward revelation of the moral law, it could not, with any truth, be asserted that they had not the law;) but they were Gentiles, who had received no outward revelation whatever of the moral law of God: thirdly, that the work of the law was nevertheless written on their hearts, and that many of them (according to the apostle's obvious supposition) were thereby actually enabled to become doers of the law: and, lastly, that these persons were justified or accepted of the Father.*

4 A curious exemplification of the apostle's doctrine respecting the practical excellence of some of those Gentiles who are destitute of any knowledge either of the Jewish law or of the Christian revelation, will be found in the following extract from an account of the Sauds, a moral sect of the Hindoos, who dwell in the northwestern part of Hindoostan. It has been kindly communicated to me by W. H. Trant, a gentleman of great respectability, who once occupied an important post in the civil service of the East-India Company, and who personally visited this singular people.

Those who accede to this view of the passage before us (and such a view is surely just and reason

“ In March 1816, I went with two other gentlemen from Futtengurgh, on the invitation of the principal persons of the Saud sect, to witness an assemblage of them for the purpose of religious worship in the city of Furrukhabad; the general meeting of the sect being held that year in that city. The assembly took place within the court yard (dalan) of a large house. The number of men, women, and children, was considerable: we were received with great attention, and chairs were placed for us in the front of the deorhee or hall. After some time, when the place was quite full of people, the worship commenced. It consisted solely in the chanting of a hymn; this being the only mode of public worship used by the Sauds.

“ The Sauds utterly reject and abhor all kinds of idolatry; and the Ganges is considered by them with no greater veneration than by Christians, although the converts are made chiefly, if not entirely, from among the Hindoos, whom they resemble in outward appearance. Their name for God is Sutgur; and Saud, the appellation of the sect, means servant of God: they are pure theists, and their form of worship is most simple, as I have already stated.

“ The Sauds resemble the Quakers in their customs, to a remarkable degree. Ornaments and gay apparel of every kind are strictly prohibited; their dress is always white; they never make any obeisance or salam ; they will not take an oath, and they are exempted in the courts of justice,—their asseveration, as that of the Quakers, being considered equivalent. The Sauds profess to abstain from all luxuries, such as tobacco, pawn, opium, and wine ; they never have nuutches or dances. All attack on man or beast is forbidden; but in self-defence resistance is allowable. Industry is strongly enjoined. The Sauds, like the Quakers, take great care of their poor and infirm people : to receive assistance out of the punt or tribe would be reckoned disgraceful, and render the offender liable to excommunication. All parade of worsbip is forbidden; secret prayer is commended ; alms should be unostentatious; they are not to be done that they should be seen of men. The due regulation of the tongue is a principal duty.

“ The chief seats of the Saud sect are Delhi, Agra, Jypoor, and Furrukhabad; but there are several of the sect scattered over the country. An annual meeting takes place at one or other of the cities above mentioned, at which the concerns of the sect are settled.

“ The magistrate of Furrukhabad informed me that he had found the Sauds an orderly and well conducted people. They are chiefly engaged in trade.

able,) will probably find no difficulty in admitting this additional proposition-namely, that the work of the law written on the hearts of these Gentiles, through which they were thus enabled to bear the fruits of righteousness, was nothing less than the inward operation of the Spirit of truth; for Christianity plainly teaches us that, without such an influence, there can be no acceptable obedience to the moral law of God.5

“ Bhuivanee Dos (one of their leaders) was anxious to become acqnainted with the Christian religion, and I gave him some copies of the New Testament in Persian and Hindoostanee, which he said he had read and shown to his people, and much approved. I had no copy of the Old Testament in any language which he understood well; but, as he expressed a strong desire to know the account of the creation, as given in it, I explained it to him from an Arabic version, of which he knew a little. I promised to procure him a Persian or Hindoostanee Old Testament, if possible. I am of opipion that the Sauds are a very interesting people, and that some intelligent and zealous missionary would find great facility in communicating with them.

(Signed) Calcutta, 2 Aug. 1819.

“ W. H. TRANT.” W. H. Trant informs me that, previously to the adoption of their present views, the Sauds do not appear to have received any Christian instruction. The head of their tribe assured him that they knew nothing of Christianity.

5 'This consideration is strong and palpable enough to afford, in itself, a sufficient evidence that, when the apostle makes mention of their performing the works of righteousness“ by nature,” he cannot be understood as alluding to nature unassisted by divine grace. The fruits of the flesh-that is, of the carnal and unregenerate state of man-are not righteousness; but, as the apostle himself declares, “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry," &c. Gal. v, 19: and, when speaking of men in their fallen condition, without grace, he expressly asserts that they are the “ children of wrath,” Eph. ii, 3 ; “ that there is none that doeth good, no not one;" Rom. iii, 12. Besides, after using this expression, he goes op to attribute the righteousness of the Gentiles, not to their natural reason or acquired wisdom, but to the “law written in their hearts.” Now this law of God written in the heart can be nothing less than a divine illumination; and the larger

« AnteriorContinuar »