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complacence and delight, as often as we reflect on our own consequence and superiorty.
We may have heard of certain devotees to romance, whose imaginations have become so abstracted from the meaner and grosser concerns of this material system, and so totally absorbed in the airy regions of fiction, as to fanoy they themselves were the very heroes or heroines which has so captivated the mind in the reading, and which ultimately has led to the most insane extravagances, Nor will their conduct be deemed much more consistent and rational, by the more sober and pious part of mankind, who, through the charm of a little popular favour, and the splendid attractions of wealth, become intoxicated at the idea of their own importance, and are ready to thank God, even in this respect, that they are not as many other men are.
It will not excite our surprise, if characters such as these, should look down with contempt on their less fortunate neighhours, however great their talents and acquirements may be, or however excellent their inherent qualities ; for we know that where the treasure is, there will the heart be also; and further, that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh and the body acteth.
If the true christian, therefore, depended for comfort and support on the friendship and favour of man in his journey through the wilderness of this world, his case would often he pitiable indeed, since his fond predilections and anticipations would frequently lead him into the grossest errors, and terminate also in the severest mortification and disappointment. He would, on many occasions be ready to exclaim, alas ! how have I been deceived ! and in the anguish of his spirit cry out, “cursed is the man that putteth his trust in man!”
Here then, we may safely rest in this conclusion, namely, that it is the spirit and presence of Jesus Christ alone, that can form a rational source of joy and consolation to the true believer.
We have before stated, that Jesus Christ is alike present with every one.
On his all pervading presence and operation in the inmost recess of every human soul, depends the life and existence of that soul continually, yea from moment to moment. The lifegiving energies of this omnipotent and awfully glorious Being, is perceived in every breath we draw, and felt in every pulse that beats ; and were it possible for Jesus Christ, who is the true God and eternal life, to withdraw his providential care and protection from bis creation, even for the smallest part of a moment, in the same instant all things would perish and be reduced to a universal chaos.
But even this presence and operation of Jesus Christ, close and
intimate as it is with all and each of us; for “ in him we live and move and have our being," is, nevertheless, inadequate, as we have already seen in too many instances, alas ! either to procure or to put us in the possession of those blessings which it is the primary intention of our benevolent Creator we should ever experience from his affinity and proximity to us.
It is said by an apostle, that “our God is a consuming fire,” and to the impenitent and wilfully obdurate he is so; but he is also to the penitent and the good a refreshing and vivifying fire: and to these latter a continual sense of the Divine presence with them enables them, at all time, to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
For can any circumstance be better adapted to infuse perpetual serenity and gladness into the purified heart than the rational conviction that the Lord is not only ever present with, and near to us, but that he is infinitely able and willing likewise to impart unto us every blessing commensurate with our utmost wishes. From some such-like experience of the Divine bounty and goodness as this, the Psalmist might well exclaim, “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he will give thee the desires of thy heart." What
powers of language can describe, or what mind can conceive, the worth and dignity of an immortal soul; that is, of a purified and regenerated soul; it is not for us to grasp so vast a subject within the limits of our comprehension; it can only be duly appreciated by Him who knoweth all things. But so far, at least, we may know, that our souls may become the habitations of our God; the living temple of the Most High! Such are the men whom God delighteth to honour. And if the very hairs of our head are all numbered, every individual regenerate person may safely conclude that he is as much the object of Divine benediction and care, as though the whole of Omnipotence was exerted on his behalf alone ; nay, as if a fond father should make it his sole study to promote the happiness and aggrandizement of his beloved and only child. Sentiments like these, and the consolation and courage which they are calculated to inspire, would, no doubt, pervade the bosom of the upright Daniel, when shut up in the Lion's den, and would ensure to him tranquillity and peace, amidst the horror and danger which then surrounded him. It was the presence of Jesus Christ which suspended the ordinary and powerful operations of fire in the case of the three men who were cast bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace; and enabled them to walk in the flames and receive no manner of harmi. Again, it was the
presence of Jesus Christ, which made Paul and Silas, in the gladness of their hearts, to sing praises unto God at midnight, though their bodies were fettered and mangled; though they were almost deprived of every earthly comfort and support; and were now immured in a dark and loathsome dungeon! But if Jesus. Christ whispers peace to the soul, if he says, “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid !” lo! what a wonderful change immediately takes place ! darkness is in a moment converted into the light of day! doubt and perplexity into clearness and satisfaction! fear and terror is changed into holy confidence and peace ;
the pains and infirmities of the body are suspended, and swallowed up in present delight, and joyful anticipation; even the hatred and contempt of our enemies are succeeded by sentiments of admiration and respect.
To conclude :-From the preceding observations, we trust we are warranted in making the assertion with which we set out; namely, that Jesus Christ is the only rational source of joy and consolation to the true believer. It is admitted that there are many other sources of joy, or rather pleasure, which it may be said, are independent of Jesus Christ, as having no immediate connexion either with his presence or with his spirit, but are such enjoyments worthy of the name of rational delights ? may they not rather be called the pleasures of insanity ? are they not such as frequently to rank us in the scale of, and to reduce us to a level with, the brute creation ? may we not trace their origin in hell, and cannot we hereby perceive how closely we are linked to the infernal crew? we perhaps laugh at the idea, and those malignant and damned spirits laugh at us in their turn, to find us so completely duped ; to see us so effectually entangled in their snare.
What shall we call the gratifications of the drunkard and the epicure ? In what light shall we view the seducer of innocence. the wily adulterer, and the filthy fornicator? What shall we say of the flinty hearted miser, the profligate, spendthrift, and the unprincipled gamester? Is it not enough to rouse our indignation, yea, to call forth our execration, when we hear the ungrateful and sacrilegious wretch open his mouth in blasphemy against the God who made him; and see him trample under foot that Holy Word which has brought salvation and liberty to a lost and guilty world.
Surely the delights and enjoyments of such persons may well be deemed most irrational, in the truest sense of the word, and not only so, but they are totally opposite to the delights of wisdom, and so long as indulged and persisted in, will present an insuperable barrier to all free access to that Being in whose favour alone is life, benediction, happiness and peace.
“Lord to whom shall we go ? thou hast the words of eternal
life." What is all the wealth, or honour, or friendship of this world, compared with one encouraging smile from thy benignant countenance ? with one hour's heartfelt experience of that righteousness, peace, and joy, imparted by thy Holy Spirit? In my darkest hours of privation and distress, do thou only enlighten my eyes; do thou only whisper peace to my desponding soul; do thou only say, “Be of good cheer ; It is I; be not afraid," and I ask no more, I am satisfied.
ON THE DOCTRINE OF ATONEMENT. GENTLEMEN,
ONE of the most frequent and formidable objections opposed to a cordial reception of the New Church doctrines, is, that they have a tendency to nullify the doctrine of atonement, and of consequence to supersede the efficacy of the Lord's vica- * rious sacrifice of himself. Reflecting on the extreme difficulty with which our minds are liberated from those errors on religious subjects which have been implanted in early life, and fostered by education as well as example, it cannot be matter of much surprise that our prejudices adhere so firmly to us, unaccompanied with any desire on our parts to examine the basis on which it rests, and the influence it requires in the formation of our creed and the regulation of our practice. With christian solicitude, often has it been suggested to me, and no doubt to others similarly situated, by friends actuated by the purest and kindest motives, the danger of my religious faith and opinions; often have the most lively apprehensions been expressed on their parts, lest in rejecting the atonement of Christ, according to the popular notions of the present day, I might exclude myself from a participation in those great privileges, which our divine Redeemer came to bestow on his fallen creatures. In the refutation of such arguments I have for the most part expressed my desire to rest my hopes and my principles on the testimony of the holy Word alone, unbiassed by human opinions, and as there may be others who may feel desirous of being qualified to give a reason for their faith, as well as of the hope that is in them, I now propose with your concurrence to offer a few cursory thoughts on this hacknied subject, leaving your numerous readers to choose and adopt that system which to them appears most consonant to sound reason, true philosophy and genuine revealed truth.
It was the opinion of Dr. Paley, whose memory must ever be revered by every student in theology, that if any thing be pre
sented to a man's acceptance, as a revelation from heaven, and on investigating it, it should bear the impress of error, by incul. cating any proposition derogatory to the Divine character, which impeached the Divine Wisdom, or militated in any degree against the Divine attributes of Jehovah, it should be unhesitatingly rejected as spurious, as unworthy his attention and regard; nay, more, that if an angel from heaven were to deliver any doctrine subversive of the Divine love and goodness, it should be discarded as false and fabulous. Let us then briefly examine this favorite doctrine of atonement by this simple and unerring rule, and let it stand or fall according as we find it tally or dissagree with the universal tenor of the sacred Scripture.
In harmony with our preconceived ideas of Deity, the sacred writers universally represent Jehovah, the Lord, as the one true God and eternal life, who, as well as our Creator from eternity, in time became also our Redeemer and Regenerator; Israel's great and undivided God, in his now glorified person. Admitting the strong appeal made by himself to his church, when he says, "hear O Israel, Jehovah thy God is one Jehovah,” and believing at the same time the apostolic record, that “God is love” ; I see not how we can reconcile this doctrine of atonement, agreeable to the general acceptation of the term, but by silencing the voice of revelation, and by swerving from the rule laid down by the profound Paley; for in adopting so absurd hypothesis, we must be compelled to deny that Jehovah our God is one Jehovah ; we must inevitably divide this One God into three distinct and separate persons, of characters and disposition as diametrically opposed to each other as the two poles ; and how far such an idea is congenial with the perceptions and feelings of a man of sound judgment and mature reflection, I must submit to the impartial opinion of
That the Scriptures inculcate throughout the doctrine of a trinity, in unity is most clear and certain, and that this trinity exists in our Lord Jesus Christ, as the triune God was proclaimed by the concurrent testimony of holy men of old who were moved by the Holy Spirit, and preserved uncorrupted in the christian church, till by the intervention of schismatics, aided by synods and confessions of faith, all knowledge of the one true God hath perished; till at length, groping in the dense clouds of ignorance, men impiously throw off the mask by representing one God as irascible as themselves, who could not be reconciled to his creatures, without the immolation of some innocent victim ; and another God mild and compassionate, ready to appease the frowning ire of the former, by voluntarily giving himself as a sacrifice