ページの画像
PDF
ePub

condition, were designed to be temporary ; they have no where intimated their purpose to restrict either the use of those terms, or the difference in respect to which they are used, to their own times. They clearly proceed on the assumption, which in them we must believe to be a correct one, that the economy of which they were the ministers, had the same reference to all mankind, of all places, and of all ages-of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. Suppose among the numerous persons, whose inquiries were, in the days of the Apostles, directed to the Gospel, there had been some who had withheld themselves, not only from the gross practices associated with heathen wors ship, but from idolatry itself, would the requirements and the instructions of the Apostles in respect to such persons, have been different from the usual tenor of their addresses? Would they who declared covetousness to be idolatry, and who' in: cluded the covetous man among the transgressors of the law, have employed language in describing the state of such persons, which would not have conveyed in the same strong and positive manner the necessity of a change? And may there not be even in Christian countries, persons who are as remote from the state which is implied in the terms born again, alive from the dead, created anew, &c., as were the persons to whom those terms were primarily applied, and to whom, therefore, the influence that produces the change is as needful? If the abandonment of idolatry was the circumstance to which all those terms were exclusively applied in the New Testament, then it might be reasonable to allege, that' no such change can be experi'enced in a Christian country.' But the terms are not exclusively applied to idolaters, nor are they so used as to shew that the renouncing of idolatry is sufficient to satisfy their meaning. In the case of believing Jews, there was no aban, donment of idolatry, and to them the expressions are applied equally with others.

It is well remarked by the Author of the “ Clavis Aposto“ lica,” that of all fallacies, none are more plausible and seductive, or more extensively injurious in their consequences, than those which present a part, and an inferior part of the truth, for the whole; and he illustrates this position by reference to the errors and defects of Dr. Taylor's work.

In a professed explanation of the Gospel scheme, as the title of his work purports, he has omitted at the beginning, its proper place, and of course throughout the remainder of the performance, all mention of the fall of man, and of the recovery immediately pro mised to him, and by most Christians supposed to constitute the very substance of the Gospel and the peculiar work of the Redeemer. Abraham, the original of the Jewish nation, is the first prominent

subject. It should, however, have been proved by the writer, in order to subserve the main purpose of his system, that the faith which was counted to this patriarch for righteousness, might, for any injury that would have resulted to the privileges attached to the covenant betwixt God and him, have been nothing more than a formal and insincere profession The second chapter, which enumerates the honour and privileges of the Jewish nation, may, with a reserve respecting a few doubtful particulars, stand, and has accordingly been adopted in the present strictures. But the third, which assigns these spiritual* privileges" " to ALL the children of Israel without exception,” requires the qualification wbich has already been given. In truth the circumstances of the author led him to hazard a delicate hypothesis upon this subject. He supposes the national privileges or blessings which are enumerated to be of a double character; to be conferred in the first instance unconditionally, as motives to obedience, and then they are called antecedent. If they produce that obedience, they are confirmed, and in that case they are termed consequent. If they do not, they are forfeited. Could it be precisely determined what idea Dr. Taylor meant to convey by the term obedience, it might perhaps be found, if individuals are at all considered, that the same person, by disobeying the will of God, and yet bolding that place in the Jewish Church, which his non-renunciation of a part in the covenant would secure to him, might be deprived of these privileges, and be in possession of them, at the same time. But it is unnecessary to contend upon this point, as the Jewish dispentation was evidently, and is allowed on all hands to be, of a collective and external character. pp. 19-21.

The agreements and the differences of the Jewish and Christian dispensations, in respect to each other, form a subject of no common importance ; and perhaps we may be excused if we venture to say, that it is a subject which has by no means been exhausted by the several discussions which it has received. A dispensation to which belonged "a worldly sanc“tuary,” and “ divers washings, and carnal ordinances," must necessarily have been different from an economy which has neither altar nor priesthood, neither temple nor sacrifice; which interposes nothing of ritual observance between the conscience of the worshipper and the invisible Object of his reverence.

• It is important to observe, that Christianity was, in a certain

* It was Dr. Taylor's object here, to exalt these privileges, and therefore they are called spiritual. See likewise $ 78. It happens, however, to be his object sometimes, to depreciate them; and then they are nothing more than " original favours, or external advantages." \ 73. So, again, he rebukes the Jews for valuing themselves

purely on account of their external privileges.' s 302. This may furnish a Key to a part of Dr. Taylor's mode of reasoning.

sense, founded upon Judaism. It assumed the truth and divinity of the prior dispensation ; it derived a great part of the proof of its own truth, divinity, superior importance, and complete or final character, from the same source. Yet, in a just and important sense, Christianity might be said rather to be founded upon the dispensations previous to the Mosaic, particularly the Abrahamic; for, as the Apostle argues, that stood in force notwithstanding the covenant at Sinai. Christianity, however, was far from being a mere continuation of Judaism. Dr. Taylor has justly observed, as far as the observation goes, that Christ “ confirmed the former covenant with the Jews, as to the favour and blessing of God, and enlarged, or more clearly etc plained it, as to the blessings therein bestowed; instead of an earthly Canaan, revealing the resurrection from the dead, and everlasting happiness and glory in the world to come.” There were indeed, between the two dispensations, the differences or oppositions of partial and universal ; veiled and revealed; condemning and justifying ; evanescent and permanent; umbratile and substantial ; and more especially, in their predominant characters, external and spi. ritual, or national and individual. Since the genius and qualities of these two dispensations, as different or opposite, is a point of great moment in the present discussion, it will be expedient to establish it by scriptural authority. pp. 24, 5.

These remarks are followed by an enumeration of passages to‘shew that the Jewish dispensation includes the declaration of its own supersedure by a future dispensation of far superior character, and which are cited as proofs of the difference and opposition existing, in some of the most essential respects, between the latter and the former : from which the Author concludes, that it is very reasonable to expect the same improvement and difference. or opposition, in the privileges and blessings which the Christian dispensation confers upon those who reap the benefit of it, and, in fact, in every circumstance belonging to it. IThe Jews were assumed into covenant with God, in a body, in a national capacity. The Christian Church was formed by the voluntary entrance of individuals. The Jews, as being, before Christianity, the only Church of God, existed up to the first establishment of the Christian Church, and evolved, if we may so speak, into it. They were both the true visible, and, in some degree, invisible Church of God, forming an uninterrupted succession the one to the other, in that capacity. But there were so many essential points of dif. ference beiween the two, that it was as incumbent upon the Jews to enter into the Christian Church by a certain moral change, as upon the Heathens themselves who had never constituted any Church In short, whether to the Jews or to the Gentiles, the sanie conditions of entrance into the Church were prescribed; and doubuless all the Apostles as well as St. Paul, testified "both to the Jews and also

to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.' pp. 30–32.

The denominations. peculiar to Christians, disciples, faithful, spiritual, are subsequently examined, with the view of illustrating the application of those borrowed terms which, being originally, employed as designations of the Jewish people, are used, in the New Testament, in reference to Christians, and which, the Author endeavours to show, imply the right, to blessings which are spiritual and individual, not external and corporate.

1 The terms used as expressive of what was done by God in execution of his purpose of election with regard to the whole world, such as, delivered, saved, purchased, redeemed, shall now be examined. Of all these acts, Christ is represented in the New Testament as the immediate author ; and when the full object of his incarnation and mission are considered, it can hardly be doubted in what sense they are to be understood. Deliverance is the general idea which runs through them all; and it hardly requires to be observed, that the great deliverance wrought by the Messiah was, deliverance from sin and the punishment of sin. This blessing was procured for, and offered to, both the Jews and the Heathens. The Heathens being by far the greater part of the world, and having been hitherto unconcerned in any revealed covenant, they bear the most conspicuous part in the evangelical scheme. If the Heathens were delivered from sin, they must be delivered from heathenism, as the greater implies, or includes, the less deliverance; and to say, that, because these were the persons chiefly addressed, deliverance was necessary and offered to them, merely as Heathens, would be no less absurd, than to say, that it was necessary and offered to them, as Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians, or citizens of any other denomination, who might happen in the first ages to have the Gospel particularly directed to them." The deliverance was from sin, its attendants, and consequences, whatever might be their form, and in whatever persons they might reside.' pp. 56-58.

We shall conclude our extracts with the following passages, conveying strong, but not unmerited censure on the inconsis, tencies and tendency of the principles opposed by the Authorn !* It is difficult to understand seriously the puerile lamentation, or outcry, which Dr. Taylor makes at the end of his Key; namely, that « mistaken notions about nature and grace, election and reprobation, justification, regeneration, redemption, calling, adoption, &c. have quite taken away the ground of the Christian life, the grace of God, and have left no object for the faith of a sinner to work upon. For such doctrines have represented the things which are freely given to us of God, as uncertain ; as the result of our obedience; or the effect of some arbitrary, fortuitous operations, and the subject of doubtful inquiry, trial, and examination of ourselves.” “ All which things are not the subject of self-examination, but of praise and thanksgiving." Did not Dr. Taylor know, that his opponents, in their view of the blessings in question, consider the offer of them as object enough for the faith of the sinner to work upon, and matter enough of praise and thanksgiving? And after all, does Dr. Taylor mean any thing more, for substance, by his antecedent external privileges, than his opponents do by the offer of their internal and spiritual opes ? Again, does not Dr. Taylor plainly enough avow, in many parts of his work, that, unless his antecedent blessings are confirmed, or made good, they will be of no avail as to rendering a person more accepted in the sight of God; and is it not an uncertain affair, even in his own view, and a subject of inquiry, whether this be done or not? And is not the circumstance of these privileges being confirmed or made good, or their being substantial personal blessings, the same thing, as his opponents generally understand by the blessings themselves ? And indeed Dr. Taylor, bewildered by his own system, asserts the very thing, which he so wildly stigmatizes in others. For he adds, immediately after the passage last quoted, “ The proper subject of the Christian's self-examination is ; whether he lives agreeably to those great favours" (his opponents would say offers, invitations, opportunities, meaning, for substance, the same thing) " conferred upon him by the divine grace." The unfortunate logician, however, re. turns to his old charge, and continues, “ But those favours have been represented as uncertain ; as the result of our obedience or holiness ; and as the subject of self-examination.” Observe particularly what follows; “ This is to make our justification, as it invests us in those blessings, to be of works and not by faith alone.” This charge is pleasant indeed, when the author distinguishes his second, final, and only effectual justification, by this very circumstance, that it is by works. pp. 94-96.

• Dr. Taylor has left the outward form, and all the titles of Christianity, but he has at least so lowered it by his regimen, as to deprive it of its true vigour, and almost of life. His privileges, which are sometimes depressed to accord with the character of the irreligious, sometimes exalted not to contradict the high terms in which they are expressed, are, in reality, and in conformity with his own system, little more than sounding names-vox et prætcrea nihil ; and the cen. sure applied to Epicurus might, without any considerable violence, - bear a further application to Dr. Taylor, re tollit, oratione relinquit, deos. The whole scheme of this writer is calculated to divert men from the personal application of scriptural truth. In the descriptions of sin and the denunciations against it, they are tempted to see po. thing but Heathens, and, in general, only their outward iniquities : in the descriptions of holiness, and evangelical privileges, their thoughts are first and principally turned to the primitive converts. Nemo in sese tentat descendere. They are not invited to look into their own hearts, to examine them by the holy and inflexible law of God, to see and acknowledge their guilt with humility and contrition, to see and acknowledge the necessity of that great expedient wrought by God for their restoration, in the gift, both of his Son, and of his

« 前へ次へ »