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manother community into their place, compoStr., whilst it was carrying on, an object of great - nitude in the attention of the inspired writers
understood and observed it. This event, w ch engaged so much the thoughts of the apos op is now only read of, and hardly that-the re
and the importance of it are little known or -- *** ended to. Losing sight, therefore, of the pro
occasion of these expressions, vet willing, after tje fashion, to adapt them to ourselves, and find.
n othing else in our circumstances that suited -- * reus maith them, we have learnt a: length to apply them
# the final destiny of individuals at the day of altgment; and, upon this foundation, has been bei der neted a doctrine, which lays the axe at once to Die skiet door root of all religion, that of an absolute appoint. ja ant to salvation or perdition independent of our. A centim ves or any thing we can do; and, what is extrat: puncte dinary, those very arguments and expressions
com.chap. ix. x. xi.), which the apostle employWees ** to vindicate the impartial mercies of God, wite minst the narrow and excluding claims of Jewish awarajudice, have been interpreted to establish a Bebeci pensation the most arbitrary and partial that
nieuld be devised. *** Fourthly; The conversion of a grown person i wana um heathenism to Christianity, which is the case
kertente conversion commonly intended in the epistles, ident has a change of which we have now no just con- samoption : it was a new name, a new language, a
#pw society ; a new faith, a new hope; a new obknow,'ct of worship, a new rule of life: a history was ere "clisclosed full of discovery and surprise; a prosworld;ect of futurity was unfolded, beyond imagination knowleowful and august; the same description applies, 25 mich a great part, though not entirely, to the conwe mwyersion of a Jew. This, accompanied as it was with u 2017 he pardon of every former sin, (Rom. iii. 25.),
was such an era in a man's life, so remarkable a period in his recollection, such a revolution of every thing that was most important to him, as might well admit of those strong figures and sig. 278 CAUTION NECESSARY IN THE nificant allusions by which it is described in Scripo ture: it was a “regeneration,”* or a new birth; it was to be “born again of God, and of the Spiro it;'+ it was to be dead to sin, and“ alive from the dead ;'it was to be s buried with Christ in baptism, and raised together with him ; " it was “ a new creature;' and a new creation;" I was a translation from the condition of "slavesi that of sons;"** from “ strangers and foreiguera to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and of tie household of God oft It is manifest that no chanzo equal or similar to the conversion of a heathen be experienced by us, or by any one educated a a Christian country, and to whom the facts, pite cepts, and hopes of Christianity, have been livia his infancy familiar : yet we will retain the same language, and what has been the consequence; One sort of men, observing nothing in the liver Christians corresponding to the magnificence, may so say, of these expressions, have been tener ed to conclude, that the expressions themsel had no foundation in truth and nature, or in
to be restrained it all; or whether admit of any thing but the enthusiasm of their authors. Other again, understand these phrases to signity noun more, than that gradual amendment of life
of life and conversation, which reason and religion some produce in particular Christians: of which is
to us ; for iron of Scripture, relaer relates to the pretation it is truly said, that it degrades too mu
ancient book Y any light we maves, as I conceive. the proper force of language, to apply espace ple to read the we can enable and cast upon these sions of such energy and import to an event su dinary in its own nature, and which is conil Christianity with every other moral insi
ese er Lastly; a third sort, in order to satisfy the
sinosters not of ourous in mind, that way of our pressions to their full extent, have imagin themselves certain perceptible impulses ol Holy Ghost, by which in an instant, and in a ner, no doubt, sufficiently extraordinary, they "regenerate and born of the Spirit;" they
USE OF SCRIPTURE LANGUAGE. 279
More examples might be produced, in which
I make no apology for addressing this subject to
# Tit. iii. 5.
+ John i. 13. iji. Go
come “new creatures ;” they are made the “sons of God,” who were before the "children of wrath ;" they are freed from sin,” and “from death;' they are chosen, that is, and sealed, without a possibility of fall, unto final salvation. Whilst the patrons of a more sober exposition have been often challenged, and sometimes confounded, with the question-If such expressions of Scripture do not mean this, what do they mean? To which we answer, Nothing, nothing, that is, to us; nothing to be found or sought for, in the present circumstances of Christianity.
More examples might be produced, in which the unwary use of Scripture language has been the occasion of difficulties and mistakes but I forbear—the present are sufficient to shew, that it behoves every one who undertakes to explain the Scriptures, before he determine to whom or what an expression is now-a-days to be applied, to consider diligently whether it admit of any such application at all; or whether it is not rather to be restrained to the precise circumstances and occasion for which it was originally composed.
I make no apology for addressing this subject to this audience; because whatever relates to the interpretation of Scripture, relates, as I conceive, to us; for if, by any light we may cast upon these ancient books, we can enable and invite the people to read the Bible for themselves, we discharge, in my judgment, the first duty of our function ; ever bearing in mind, that we are the ministers not of our own fame or fancies, but of the sincere gospel of Jesus Christ.