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An elaborate refutation of such a position cannot be demanded in this place. When we distinctly consider that God is an omnipresent spirit, we shall find it quite impossible to conceive of his exclusion from his spiritual domain ; much less shall we be able to believe it. If it is absurd to say of a given individual, that he is a learned astronomer, while he is uninformed of the most common truths of even our own solar system; or of another, that he is a skillful mathematician, while ignorant of the first principles of numbers; or of a third, that he is an able tragedian, while he is incompetent to play the humblest part in a tragedy; or of yet a fourth, that he is the prince of orators, while he is wholly destitute of eloquence; it can be no less absurd, surely, to say that a spiritual being is omnipotent, who yet cannot rule in his spiritual domain. This is his home department, as it were, — the department, in which, more especially, he is omnipotent. If he has not power here, he can have it nowhere; since it is in the spiritual that all power begins.
I repeat, it is precisely here that he is sovereign. Not sovereign in ruling men contrary to
their own will, but in making them willing to submit to his rule. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” If it is within the scope of the Divine prerogatives to bring a single soul to an adoration of his own resplendent attributes, without infringement of its freedom and responsibility, - and this is conceded on every hand, - there can be no difficulty in the principle involved; since the mere repetition of this work of redemption, until the “all things” mentioned in the text shall be included, confers upon Christ his inheritance, and redeems the world unto God.
This is the intent of the sovereign purpose of God. It is the significance of the providence appointing Christ “heir of all things,” — a providence which is the end of all other providences, — to the accomplishment of which all other providences conspire. It was the consummation seen by angels, and prompting the exclamation, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” It was the foundation of that earlier joy, when the “morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy."
1 Luke ii. 14.
2Job xxxxiii. 7.
It becomes the foundation of our hopes, since it involves the destiny of the world. In conferring upon Christ the distinguished honor of inheriting all souls, there is conferred upon man the honor of being Christ's, and of sharing with him all the blessedness of his kingdom. He enters upon the same communion with the Father, and shares it joyfully with a redeemed universe. To the clear eye of faith, the unclouded glories of God are manifest; and the soul inherits the bliss of that upper world. We thus become “ heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.”
It remains for us to live worthy the high destiny to which God has appointed us.
And if we would enter upon our inheritance and the blessedness of the heavenly kingdom, we must believe that “wisdom is better than rubies,” and that the love of God is the life of the soul.
Rom. vii. 17.
“ And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”—Eph. ii. 20: 21.
The Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, was the basis of Luther's opposition to the Roman Church.
He also protested against the efficiency of indulgences, exposed the folly of many superstitions, and ridiculed mass for the dead, but this was the essential idea of his reform.
In assuming the position, however, that “the Holy Scriptures are the only source whence we are to draw our religious sentiments, whether they relate to faith or practice,” he opened the way for the introduction of new elements of opposition, and new forms of belief. Accordingly,
we find the Augsburg Confession of Faith, “written by the elegant and accurate pen of Melancthon,” opposed by the Reformer of Geneva, who claimed to have higher grounds of opposition to the Roman Church, and to have discovered doctrines not acknowledged by the Reformer of Wittenberg. Luther made the immorality of the Church the subject of severe censure; Calvin protested against its idolatry, and demanded a spiritual worship independent of all images, tapers and pictures.
Zwingle exposed Luther's error in adhering to the Papists doctrine of Consubstantiation, and Arminius attacked Calvin for his rigid opinions upon free will, predestination and grace.
. The pietistic views of the celebrated mystic of Oxford, found able advocates in Wesley and Whitefield, - the former sustaining the position of Arminius, the latter that of Calvin. And thus one doctrine after another was evolved from controversy; new sects were founded, as old opinions were rejected and new views avowed, until every important doctrine of Romanism has been directly opposed, and, it would seem, every doctrine of the Gospel had a special organization for its defence.