« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
of having too impressive appre- any ground of confidence ; the hensions of a truth so fundamen- more complete and firm is their tal in the gospel schieme. The faith in the Son of God. This clearer, the more extensive and doctrine, rightly understood, affecting your views of human gives believers the profoundest corruption, the juster and more sense of their obligations to God. efficacious will be your ideas of If they are permitted to indulge all the truths, which relate to the reviving idea, that they are the divine work of redemption. delivered from the slavery of sin,
But the most important con- and introduced into the happy sideration still remains; viz. family of the saints ; they forget that the denial of the native and not to acknowledge the divine entire corruption of man has hand which delivered them. a most hurtful practical influence. Ascribing nothing to themselves, This will appear with peculiar they say, with the liveliest, humforce, if we contemplate the blest gratitude, by the grace of salutary practical effects pro- God we are what we are. The duced by the cordial belief of knowledge, which scripture and this doctrine. Those who, experience have given them of through divine illumination, the deceit and wickedness of well understand the nature of their hearts, produces a practical human corruption, and are serie conviction of their constant de : ously impressed with the evils pendence on divine aid. Sensible implied in it, have the most pow. that, without Christ, they can do erful motives to constant peni- nothing, they rely on his grace, tence and selfabasement. In view and go forth to every duty and of this, in his own case, Paul every suffering in his strength. pronounced himself the chief of By the same views they are exsinners, and less than the least cited to constant prayer. When of all saints, and cried out, oh duly affected with their own wretched man that I am, who blindness, guilt, poverty, and shall deliver me from the body wretchedness, how fervent are of this death! It has been under their supplications to God! the deep impression of this doc- With what sincerity, with what trine, that all believers have ab- unceasing earnestness do they horred themselves, and becn approach the throne of grace, clothed with humility. The full saying, “I acknowledge my belief of this doctrine is nearly transgression, and my sin is ever connected with faith in the Re- before me. Behold, I am vile. deemer. Christians, seeing Wash me thoroughly from themselves to be guilty and help- mine iniquity, and cleanse me less, and approving the charac- from my sin. Create in me a ter of the Saviour, gratefully re- clean heart, and renew a right ceive bim in all his offices, and spirit within me. Work in me trust in him as able to save to both to will and to do.” Such the utterinost. The more clear- language agrees with the feelIs they discover that their hearts ings of believers in all ages. are defiled, that there is nothing Their heart affecting views of in them to answer the demands human depravity become the of the law, and nothing to furnish strongest motives to fervent
prayer not only for themselves, Christ ! Instead of a due cona but also for others. They are viction of their constant depenfilled with pious concern for man- dence on God's help, they trust. kind. They feel the tenderest in themselves. Listed up with a pity for perishing sinners, and high opinion of their own wisdom with many síghs and tears cry and goodness, they naturally into God, that Christ may be form- dulge an uncharitable, overbeara ed in them the hope of glory. ing, unforgiving spirit towards The same views tend to promote others. And as to devotion,-a spirit of love and candour.' they are the persons, who, Knowing the plague of their own through the pride of their hearts; how far they come countenance, will not seek after, short of duty ; how strongly God.” If they pretend to pray, their remaining corruptions urge they do it as the Pharisees did, them to sin ; and how much with that unhumbled, self-right they need the candour and for eous heart, which is an abomina , bearance of man, and the for- tion in the sight of the Lord. In giveness of God, they put away short, they who deny the docall wrath and bitterness, and evil trine now under consideration, or speaking, and become more and are not duly affected with it, are more kind, tender hearted, and hardened through the deceitful-, for iving.
ness of sin, and have yet to learn ; This brief and imperfect state. the first lesson of Christian wis. ment of the practical effects, dom. Let the churches, then, which the serious belief of hu- watch and pray, that they may man depravity produces, directly not be misled by the spirit of shows how hurtful must be the error, which has so extensively effects of denying it. Persons, gone forth, aiming, by various who overlook or deny their de- means, and with awful success, pravity and guilt, exclude repen- to blind the eyes of men to their tance, humility, and faith. How own deplorable corruption and faintly do they acknowledge their guilt, and to harden their hearts obligation to redeeming love! against all the gracious doctrines How little do they feel them- of the everlasting gospel. selves indebted to the blood of
SACRED CRITICISM. On the offence of David, and the people, in his numbering them ; and the equity of the punishment. 2 Sam. xxiv. 1. 1 Chron. xxi.
BY DR. WARD. From several passages in the people, was a sacred action ; as Old Testament, compared with the money was to be applied to each other, it appears, that this the service of the temple. (Exod. census, or numbering of the xxx. 12-16. Num. i. 2, 3. 2
Chron. xxiv. 6.) It was not like people uneasy, and averse to that in other nations, to know submit to the order. the strength of the government ; Besides, it was expressly enfor God was their king in a pecu- joined, that when the people liar mauner, and promised to were to be numbered from twenprotect them from their ene ty years old and upwards, the mies, and to multiply them as Levites should be excepted, as the stars of the sky, while they being appointed for the service obeyed his laws. David's crime, of the tabernacie. (Num. i. 47.) therefore, seems to have lain in And as they were not called out Converting a sacred action to a to war, so they had no share in civil purpose. He was culpable the land of Canaan allotted to both in the thing itself, and the them, when it was conquered by manner of doing it. For where the other tribes, who were there. as by the rule given to Moses, in fore ordered to give them a numthe passages referred to above, ber of cities, each tribe out of they were to number the males their portion, which was accordo from twenty years old and up- ingly done. (Num. xv. Josh. xxi.) wards; David gave orders, that And Josephus assigns that reaall should be numbered, who son for it, when he says : “ Mowere fit for war, though under ses, because the tribe of Levi that age. (See 2 Sam. xxiv. I. were exempted from war and 1 Chron. xxvii. 23.) This must expeditions, being devoted to have been highly criminal in the service of God, lest being David now in his old age, after needy and destitute of the neso many instances of the divine cessaries of life, they should favour expressed towards him. neglect the care of their sacred And as to the people, their of- functions; ordered the Hebrews, fence seems to have consisted in that when, by the will of God, their compliance with that or- they possessed the land of Cader. He was culpable in giving naan, they should give to the the order, and they in obeying Levites forty eight large and it. And therefore Joab, who handsome cities, with two thouwas sensible of this, and unwill. sand cubits of land round the ing to execute the command, wall.” But David seems to asks David, Why he would be have ordered them likewise to the cause of trespasses in Israel? be mustered, with a military 1 Chron. xxi. 3. For by that view, which perhaps was an ag. means he reduced them to the gravation of his crime. For it is difficulty of disobeying God, or said, that when Joab, by his com: himself, as their prince.
mand, numbered the people, doubtless their duty to have they were eleven hundred thouobeyed God; but we find, as it sand men that drew sword. And generally happens in such cases, it is added ; But Levi and Benjathat the majority at least choose min counted he not among them, to obey their king. However,
However, for the king's worel was abomina. it appears, that Joab was weary ble unto Joab. (1 Chr. xxi. 5,6.) of the office, (1 Chron. xxvii. 23.) So that it looks as if his orders and did not go through it. Prob., were to count them with the rest. ably he miglit find many of the Indeed we find them once armed
1808.] Speculative and Practical Religion contrasted. 361 upon an extraordinary occasion, and nights to the study of the which was to guard the temple sacred canon, while their souls at the coronation of Joash king have reaped no practical benefit ; of Judah. For at that time they and though the student has risen were ordered to encompass the from his labour, an acute and king round about, every man luminous commentator and critwith his weapons in his hand. ic, yet, if conduct be the test of (2 Chron. xxiii. 7.) But that principle, incapable of exhibiting was in the temple, where the any just claim to the character rest of the people were not per- of a Christian. By what alluremitted to enter. And besides ment are those speculative ditheir religious functions they vines to whom I advert, inducwere sometimes employed in ed to consume the midnight oil other civil offices. So David, over a book, wherein the essenwhen he was making prepara- tial difference between scientific tions for building the temple, theology and practical religion is appointed six thousand of them so clearly ascertained, and so for officers and judges. (1 Chron. impressively urged on the conxxiii. 4.) Grotius indeed ob- science ? Permit me to transerves with regard to this fact of scribe an answer to this inquiry, David, that he declared the peo- from the writings of an English ple innocent: Which he seems divine, who Hourished in the to have concluded from what seventeenth century. David says, 1 Chron. xxi. 17. “ Sometimes the sinner seek. But it does not appear, from eth his happiness and content in what has been said above, that largeness of knowledge, much they were altogether blameless, learning, and curious specuthough not equally criminal with lation about the nature of the himself. And in such a case, creatures, yea, and about God the equity of a national punish- himself. But perhaps it will be ment is acknowledged by Philofound, that these are near of the and Josephus, in the passages same nature with sensitive de. cited from them by Grotius. lights. For it is not the excel.
lency or goodness of God himself that delighteth them; but the
novelty of the thing, and the ag. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
itation of their own imagination, LATIVE AND PRACTICAL RE- phantasie, and intellect there. LIGION.
upon, which is naturally desirous
to be actuated, and employed, as It will scarcely be denied, receiving thereby some seeming that some whose names stand addition to its own perfection : foremost on the lists of theologic and that, not as from God, who fame, have been little influenced is the object of their knowledge, by those very truths, which they but as from the mere enlargehave laboured, and frequently ment of knowledge in itself; or, with triumphant success, both to which is far worse, they make elucidate and defend. Such the study of God and divine writers have given their days things which they delight in, but VoI, III. No. 8.
362 Speculative and Practical Religion contrasted. (Jan.
subservient to some base inferior are but preparatory to the acts object : and so, lhough they de- of the will, and so are but imperlight in studying and knowing fect initial acts of the soul, as God, and heaven, and scripture, having a further end than their yet not in God as God, or the own proper object ; and there. chief good; nor in heaven as fore it is, that philosophers place heaven ;, nor out of any true no moral habits in the under. saving love to God; but either standing, but all in the will ; for because, as some preachers, they till they come to the will, make a gainful trade of it, by (though they be in a large sense teaching others, or because it is morally good or evil, virtuous an honour to know these things, or vicious, yet) they are but so and be able to discourse of them, in an imperfect kind and sense : and a dishonour to be ignorant: and therefore they call such hab. or, at best, as I said before, they its only intellectual." desire to know God, and divine When the Marquis of Rosny truths, out of a delight in the was appointed, by Henry the novelty, and actuating, and nai- Fourth of France, his ambassaural elevation of the understand- dor to the court of London on ing hereby. It is one thing to the death of Queen Elizabeth, delight in knowing, and another the elder Servin presented his to delight in the thing known. son to that nobleman,and begged An ungodly man may delight in that he would use his endeavstudying and knowing several ours to make him a man of axioms or truths concerning some worth and honesty. Young God, but he never delighteth in Servin was a prodigy of genius God himself. So a studious and understanding; and among man desires to know. what hell his extraordinary attainments it is, and where, and many truths is recorded, that, “in theology concerning it: but he desireth he was so well skilled, that he not hell itself, nor delighteth in was an excellent preacher, whenit. A godly man desireth to ever he had a mind to exert know the nature and danger of that talent, and an able disputant, sin, and Satan's way, and wiles for and against the reformed rein temptations : but he doth not ligion, indifferently." Yet in therefore desire sin, and temp- this very man, says the illustritation itself. So a wicked man ous historian,* “ might be found may desire to know the nature all the vices contrary to nature, of grace, and Christ, and glory: honour, religion, and society ; the and yet not desire grace, and truth of which he himself evinced Christ, and glory. It is one with his last breath, for he died thing to terminate a man's de in the flower of his age, perfect. sire and delight in bare know- ly corrupted by his debaucheries, ledge, or the esteem, and self and expired with a glass in his advancement that accrues there. hand, cursing and denying God.” by ; and another thing to termi Is not this anecdote an illus. nate it in the thing which we tration, in some measure, of the desire to know, making know- extract ?
[Ch. Obs. ledge but a means to its fruition. The acts of the understanding * Sully's Memoirs, book ari.