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VI. “In him was LIFE.” The coherence of this with the preceding sentence, appears to be the position of a cause adequate to the effect. So that the argument is : the production of all things is fitly attributed to the Word, because he possesses conscious and active existence in such a manner that he is able to impart existence: he is the Former of all things, because he possesses essential and infinite life, and has the power of communicating life, that is, of bringing animated beings into existence. In many places of the old Testament, Jehovah is called the Living God, or the God of life: in opposition to the lifeless and imaginary beings which the heathen worshipped; and to show that he is the only underived existence, and the Author of existence to all other beings : “With Thee is the FOUNTAIN OF LIFE.” The resemblance of this phraseology to the language of the evangelist, is very evident. Both the connexion and the terms, therefore, bind us, in all reason, to understand the clause as it has been explained.
VII. “And the Life was the Light of men.” The Messiah was predicted by the prophets, and described by himself, as the Light of Israel, the Light to illuminate all nations, the Light of men, and the Light of the world. In the passage before us, it is therefore with just coherence that he, who is the Author of existence, is further represented as the Author of all that constitutes the good of existence: deliverance from error, sin, and misery, all of which are, by the frequent scriptural metaphor, called darkness. This exalted idea of the Divine Redeemer coincides with all the passages which describe him as the immediate Bestower of all spiritual blessings on the chil. dren of men.
The reader will permit the request, that he would, with the closest attention, review this portion of the divine word, and the observations which have been submitted to him upon it; that he would scrutinize every term and expression; that he would rigorously but impartially sift every argument; and that he would compare the separate parts of the passage with each other, and with the apparent scope and design of the whole.
I would in particular, with the most respectful earnestness, solicit any intelligent and candid Unitarian, when he has risen from the serious perusal of the evangelist's Introduction, to form the supposition that he himself was about to write a narrative of the actions, or a compendium of the discourses, of Jesus Christ; and the further supposition that his mind was entirely free from acquaintance with any controversies on this question. Let him then ask his own mind and conscience, “Is this the way in which I should open my subject? Are these, or anything equivalent to these, the terms and expressions which I should naturally and readily take up ?-Rather, am I not conscious of the reverse? Do I not feel that, if it were possible for them to be suggested to me, all my principles would rise against them, and I should reject them with the strongest disapprobation? — And, dropping the visionary supposition, am I not inwardly sensible that, in my attempts to frame an interpretation of this paragraph, which may wear at all the semblance of consistency, I am rowing against the stream ; I am putting language to the torture; I am affixing significations to words and phrases which all my efforts can scarcely keep me from exclaiming, that they could never have been in the contemplation of the original writer? - Have I not, then, awakening reasons for the suspicion, that I have not formed my opinions with that close and faithful investigation which the solemn greatness of the case requires ? And am I not bound to review the whole subject, in the sight of the all-seeing God, and under the sense of my accountableness to Him as the Author and Revealer of truth ?"
NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.
1. Concio ad Clerum. A Sermon delivered in the Chapel of Yale College, Sept. 10, 1828. By NATHANIEL W. TAYLOR. New Haven : Ilezekiah Howe. pp. 38.
We have here an able and satisfactory discussion of the natural and entire depravity of man, founded on Eph. ii. 3, “And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." The plan of the preacher is to show, first, in what the moral depravity of man consists ; and, secondly, that this depravity is by nature.-In discussing the first of these propositions, Dr. T. observes, that the depravity of men “ does not consist in any essential attribute or property of the soul,” nor in their being guilty of Adam's sin ; nor “in any constitutional propensities of their nature;" nor“ in any degree of excitement in these propensities not resulting in choice ;” nor" in any disposition or tendency to sin, which is the cause of all sin;" but in “ man's own act, consisting in a free choice of some object rather than God, as his chief good ;-or in a free preference of the world, and of worldly good, to the will and glory of God." This view of the subject he endeavors to support, and we think does support, by " the testimony of some of the ablest divines, of the apostles, and of common sense."
In explaining the proposition that the depravity of men is by nature, the author observes, “that such is their nature, that they will sin, and only sin, in all the appropriate circumstances of their being. They sin, not only in one situation, and under the influence of particular circumstances, but in all situations, and in all circumstances,
—which makes it proper to say, in the common and legitimate use of the term, that they sin by nature. The proposition, thus explained, is established, by an appeal to the Scriptures, to human consciousness, and to facts.
The discussion is concluded with the following remarks:
1. “ It is consistent with the doctrine of this discourse, that infants should be saved through the redemption of Christ. They belong to a race who, by nature, and in all the appropriate circumstances of their being, will sin.” “When made meet, therefore, for the celestial paradise, and admitted there, their song may tell of the grace that brought them to its glories.”
2. “That sin or guilt pertains exclusively to voluntary action, is the true principle of Orthodoxy." The old Orthodox divines held that men sinned in Adam, and thus became depraved. We hold that they sin by nature-sin in in themselves and for themselves, and thus render themselves depraved.
3. “ The view of sin, or moral depravity, maintained in this discourse, cannot be justly ascribed to mental perversion, or to any sinister or selfish design."—We know not on what grounds the .theological Professors at New Haven have been charged with a dereliction of Orthodox principles, in their views on this subject. We see no reason at all for such a charge. So far as the nature of sin* is concerned, their views are substantially the same with those of Hopkins, and Spring, and Dwight, and Emmons, and of the Orthodox clergy of New England generally. If, indeed, there is any perceptible difference, we are satisfied it is chiefly verbal.
4. “ The universal depravity of mankind is not inconsistent with the moral perfection of God.”
5. “ The view of man's depravity here given is of great importance “in its bearing on the preaching of the Gospel.”
“Does God charge on men, as that which deserves his endless indignation, what Himself does? Does God summon men to repentance with commands and entreaties, and at the same time tell them, that all efforts at compliance are as useless, as the muscular motions of a corpse to get life again. Does this book of God's inspiration, shock and appal the world, with the revelation of such things, respecting God and respecting man? Will the charge of such sin on man, touch the secret place of tears? Will the exhibition of such a God, allure the guilty to confide in his inercy? If so, preach it out-preach it consistently, preach nothing to contradict it,-dwell on your message, that God creates men sinners and damns them for being so.—Tell them such is their nature and such the mode of his interposition, that there is no more hope from acting on the part of the sinner than from not acting ; tell them they may as well sleep on, and sleep away these hours of mercy, as attempt anything in the work of their salvation; that all is as hopeless with effort as without it. Spread over this world such a curtain of sackcloth, such a midnight of terror, and how, as the appropriate effect, would each accountable immortal, either sit down in the sullenness of inaction, or take his solitary way to hell in the frenzy of despair!
“But such is not the message of wrath and of mercy, by which a revolted world is to be awed and allured back to its Maker. The message we are to deliver to men is a message of wrath, because they are the perpetrators of the deed that deserves wrath.-It is a message of mercy to men who, by acting, are to comply with the terms of it, and who can never hope to comply even through God's agency, without putting themselves to the doing of the very thing commanded of God." pp. 36, 37.
The preacher concludes with remarking “on the fearful condition and prospects of the sinner.”
“ His sin is his own. He yields himself, by his own free act, by his own choice, to those propensities of his nature, which under the weight of God's authority he ought to gorern. The gratification of these he makes his chief good, immortal as he is. For this he lives and acts-this he puts in the place of God and for this, and for nothing better, he tramples on God's authority and incurs his wrath. Glad would he be, to escape the guilt of it. Oh-could he persuade himself that the fault is not his own, - this would wake up peace in his guilty bosom. Could he believe that God is bound to convert and save him;
* The difficult subject presented in a note (pp. 29–31) we have not space or time here to discuss. And without opportunity for discussion, we prefer not to bazard an opinion respecting it. VOL. I.
or even that he could make it certain that God will do it,-this would allay his fears,—this would stamp a bow on the cloud that thickens, and darkens, and thunders damnation on his guilty path. But his guilt is all his own, and a just God may leave him to his choice. He is going on to a wretched eternity, the self-made victim of its woes. Amid sabbaths and bibles, the intercessions of saints, the songs of angels, the entreaties of God's ambassadors, the accents of redeeming love, and the blood that speaketh peace, he presses on to death. God beseecluing with tenderness and terror-Jesus telling him he died once, and could die again, to save him--mercy weeping over him day and night-heaven lifting up its everlasting gates-hell burning, and sending up its smoke of torment, and the weeping and the wailing and the grashing of teeth, within his hearing, and onward still he goes.See the infatuated ininortal-Fellow sinner,--IT IS YO[.
“ Bowels of divine compassion-length, breadth, height, depth of Jesus' love Spirit of all grace,-save him-Oh save him-or he dies forever." p. 38.
2. The Character, Trials, and Security of the Church. A Sermon proached at the Dedication of the Mecting House of the Evangelical Society in South Brookfield, August 13th, 1229. By Mican Stone, Pastor of the Church. Brookfield : E. and G. Merriam. pp. 31.
We have read this discourse with great satisfaction, knowing as we do the various afllictions through which its estimable author, and his beloved church and people have recently been called to pass. The bush with them has indeed been burning, but we rejoice to know that it has not been consumed.* We rejoice that it still lives, full of vigor, of hope, and of promise, a monument of the faithfulness of its covenant Head and Redeemer. We congratulate the members of this suffering tlock, in the so speedy accomplishment of their wishes and endeavors in regard to a temple for the public worship of their God, and would devoutly implore for them the presence of Him who walketh in the midst of his golden candlesticks? to fulfil in them all those benefits of allliction which are suggested in this excellent discourse. May the scenes through which they have passed be so sanctified to them, as to increase their faith, promote their knowledge, give importunity and fervency to their prayers, inspire them with “a tender sympathy for each other," and purge out from among them all those who are not' builded on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.'
3. A Discourse delivered at the Ordination of the Rev. Frederick A. Farley, as Pastor of the Westminster Congregational Society in Providence, Rhode Island, Sept. 10, 1828. By William ELLERY CHANNING. Boston: Bowles and Dearborn. pp. 36.
There are parts of this discourse which we cordially approve; others, which we cordially disapprove; and others which, afier several readings, we cannot be sure that we understand. The author clothes himself often in a mysticism of expression, through which the sense is but dimly seen, and not unfrequently the reader is left in doubt whether it is seen at all. The admirers of Dr. C.
* An allusion to Mr. Stone's text, Ex. i. 2.
will, of course, attribute this to his superior refinement; but such a reason, if admitted, does not furnish an apology : For, however refined a public teacher may be, and however sublimated his conceptions, if he deign at all to come down, and discourse'with men of ordinary minds, he ought to adapt himself to their capacitieshe ought to discourse in such a way that the sense may be easily and certainly apprehended.
The discourse is founded on Eph. v. 1, “ Be ye followers of God, as dear children.” This exhortation is addressed by the apostle to truc believers in Christ-who are spoken of in the immediate connexion as “ saints"—whom “God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven" —and who “are sealed by the Holy Spirit of God unto the day of redemption:" Dr. C., however, by a gross perversion, applies it without distinction to the whole human race, supposing all of every character to be exhorted, as the “clear children” of God, to be followers of him.
That the author would deny the doctrine of human depravity was, of course, to be expected ; but he does more than this. He uses expressions in regard to the nature of man, such as we have never before heard from a professed minister of the New Testament. Mankind are here represented as enjoying “a participation of the Divine nature'' -as having a “like nature to God," and a “kindred nature to God"-as having “a Divine likeness," "a heavenly treasure within them." pp. 9, 17, 22, 34. “God does not sustain a figurative resemblance to man. It is the resemblance of a parent to a child, the likeness of a kindred nature." p. 10. “We discern the impress of God's attributes in the universe by accordance of nature, and enjoy them through sympathy." p. 13. “What is it to be a Father? It is to communicate one's own nature, to give life to kinárod beings.” “ This name belongs to God, because he frames spirits like himself, and delights to give them what is most glorious and blessed in his own nature." p. 18. “I cannot but pity the man, who recognizes nothing godlike in his own nature." p. 20. Dr. C. repeatedly speaks of “roverencing human nature.” “I reverence human nature too much to do it violence. I see too much divinity in its ordinary operations, to urge on it a forced and vehement virtue.” p. 22. “I do and I must reverence human nature. Neither the sneers of a worldly scepticism, nor the groans of a gloomy theology, disturb my faith in its godlike powers and tendencies." p. 27. “I conclude with saying, let the minister cherish a reverence for his own nature."' p. 31.*
If, by such variety of expression, our author had intended no more than this, that men naturally have noble faculties, and precious, immortal souls, we could cheerfully have accorded to the sentiment, however much we might dislike his mode of expressing it. But he does mean more than this. He means, not only that men have godlike faculties and powers, but that they naturally employ them in a godlike manner. Ile believes that we inherit, by nature, the moral
* A new duty this for ministers of the Gospel-one to which, we venture to say, they never were exhorted before.