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carefully to be remembered, that you may “ work out your salvation with fear and trembling ;" and that you may respect the Jews, as your elder brethren, and consider that they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in ; for God is able to graff them in again," and number them with the brightest members of his church.
The apostle still dwells upon this subject; “ If thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed con. trary to nature into a good olive tree ; bow much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree.” God is, if possible, more willing to receive them than us. Far then, from being high mindell, we have reason to fear Jest we be rejected ; and to commiserate them, whose blindness has added to our light. St. Paul is exceedingly solicitous that this matter be well understood, and deeply impressed upon our minds : “ For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye sbould be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved." Comparing this with what goes before, it appears that the Jews will continue in their present state, as an astonishing display of the “goodness and severity of God," till the gospel is spread through many, perhaps the most of the nations of the earth; here called the " the fulness of the Gentiles.” But among them will be much coldness and imperfection. Then the Jews, in the time appointed, will come into the church, and cause a great increase of piety; a general renovation of religion ; a 6 life from the dead."
We see, then, that “ as concerning the gospel, the Jews are enemies for our sakes ;" they are treated as aliens, and with severity, to confer blessings on the Gentiles; their sufferings contribute to our benefit. “But,' continues the apostle, “as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.” For the sake of the patriarchs, and in gracious remembrance of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the promise was made, God will not wholly renounce their descendants ; be will correct them in measure, and in due time restore them to his favour. All the Jews were of the election ; they were God's chosen people. Those of them who believed in Christ are distinguished as “ an election of grace." The others, though for a season set aside, are not cast off for ever. “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Faithfulness is one of his attributes. In the history of his providence be is distinguished as a God who keepeth covenant. His gifts bestowed on the seed of Jacob be will not revoke. Having called them to be his people, in all his subsequent dispensa. tions, he will not swerve from bis covenant; but adhere with undeviating truth, to his original purpose of election.
The apostle urges, still further, upon the serious consideration of the Gentiles, that they were once unbelievers; and that the unbelief of the Jews was instrumental to their obtaining mercy. Now, the Jews
27 GOSPEL ADVOCATE, VOL. III.
are unbelievers, and God's mercy to the Gentiles shall be made a blessing to them. And to crown the revelation of this wondrous “ mystery,” he adds : “ For God hath concluded them all in unbe. lief, that he might have mercy upon all.” What is here rendered unbelief, means rather disobedience. God has concluded all under sin ; their guilt is made manifest ; tbat it may also appear that his goodness is impartial, and all of any nation under heaven, who are saved, receive the blessing from the fountain of his mercy in Jesus Christ. The Gentiles were in unbelief; yet to them the gospel was preached. The Jews are now in unbelief ; and to the Jews the same mercy is offered. Thus will God's mercy be displayed to all the world ; and every believer in God will adore the riches of his grace.
After such a view of God's purpose of election, well might the. apostle utter these rapturous expressions of praise and admiration : "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again ? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things ; to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
And what other sentiments; what other praises should rather, on this present occasion, possess our hearts, and employ our tongues ? This view of God's wise, and just, and merciful providence; this astonishing mystery, now unfolded, should inspire us all with the deepest reverence and adoration. We see " where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”. To the nations of the earth, though sitting in tbe darkness of spiritual ignorance, and dead in trespasses and sins, was his gospel preached ; on them has this great light shined. And the arms of the same mercy are still stretched out to the unbe. lieving Jews. Even bis judgments evince, not only his truth and equity, but that his mercy endureth for ever : that “his gifts and calling are without repentance." Those dispensations, whether gracious or afflictive, which, in his purpose of election, seem the most partial and discriminating, appear, as we understand thens, to be designed for general good. If Abraham was elected, and his posterity distinguished by peculiar favours, it was that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. If Isaac was preferred before Ishmael, and Jacob before Esau, it was for the promotion of the same gracious design. For the like benevolent purpose was Pharaoh, and afterwards the hardened Jews, though by their hardness fitted for destruction, for a season preserved in prosperity and power, that the example and circumstances of their punishment might be more glorious to God, and instructive to men. The Saviour, though “ the seed of Abraham," " the son of David,” is “a light to lighten the Gentiles." not less than “ the glory of his people Israel;" and the descendants of Esau, with those of Jacob, may well unite in praising God, and “de. claring the wonders that he doeth for the children of men." His severity to the Jews is mercy to the Gentiles ; and through this same
mercy, the Jews sball hereafter be converted, " and all Israel be saved." Daily should we bless God for his dispensations to the Jews; soon will they bless the same Saviour for bis mercies to us ; soon will it be the subject of their mutual and united gratulations, that “God hath mercy on whom he will bave mercy ; and whom he will he hardeneth.” Let us be humble, no less than thankful, and rejoice with reverence ; knowing that the depths of his judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out unto perfection. The mysteries which his mercy has revealed, most satisfactorily evince that “ God is light, and that in him there is no darkness." May be so illuminate our minds, and sanctify our hearts, that we may attain that righteousness which is by faith : and to the God of our salvation be rendered eternal praise.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE GOSPEL ADVOCATE.
It is a privilege of inestimable value, whether we consider our present or our everlasting interests, that we are in possession of a revelation of the Divine word, in which are clearly made known to us the nature and attributes of the supreme Being ; the laws to which he requires our obedience ; the doctrines that concern our welfare beyond the grave, and the consequences connected with the characters which we form during our present probationary course. Destined as we are to an immortal existence, and accountable to a higher power for all our conduct, we cannot be too fervent in our expressions of gratitude, that God has been pleased, in his great mercy, to show us the way wherein we should walk ; to provide a remedy for all the moral evils to which we are made subject, and to lay before us the strongest mo• tives to the adoption of those rules of action upon which our future safety is dependent. And it would seem, when we reflect upon the nature, design, and importance of the holy scriptures, that there could be little or no diversity of opinion, on the part of those for whose benefit they are intended, in regard to what they teach and declare. We might rationally suppose, that all serious and reflecting persons would be united, both in faith and in practice, and that, with a sincere desire to know and to do the will of their Father in heaven, they would sacrifice every discordant feeling, and every conflicting interest, before the altar of their common reverence, and for the reception of that truth which is able to make them wise unto salvation.
But we have been taught, by melancholy experience, that alarming divisions do exist in relation to those subjects which explain our duties and involve our dearest hopes. From the same source, as is pretended, contrary sentiments are imbibed, and, in their separate defence, parties are enlisted, whose leading object, is, apparently, the overthrow and ruin of one another. It is, therefore, certain, that errours in religion, and those, too, which are of no trilling magnitude or doubtful tenden
cy, are greatly prevalent in the Christian world ; and it becomes an inquiry of the utmost importance to ascertain their true cause, that we may be enabled to escape from their fatal influence and effects.
It was said by our blessed Lord to the Sadducees, a Jewish sect which denied the resurrection of the dead and the life to come, “ Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures ;" and from this declaration it may be justly inferred, that ignorance of the word of God, is the parent of false doctrine. Indeed, it would be a reflection upon the wisdom and goodness of the divine Author of every good and perfect gift, to sup. pose that, in communicating his will to mankind for their instruction and safety, he has concealed it under such uncertain and ambiguous terms as necessarily to prevent their discovery of the truth. The fault must rather be in themselves; in the want of that good and honest heart which is disposed to faithful examination, and which admits with readiness, and nourishes with constancy, the pure seed of eternal life. Taking it, then, for granted, that if all were duly acquainted with the scriptures, there would be neither mistake nor difference of sentiment in religion, it may not be unprofitable to advert to some of the reasons which lead to that ignorance which regards subjects the most important of any that can be presented to our consideration. And, in the first place, there are, undoubtedly, great numbers, who seldom or never read their bibles. By reason of their engagedness in the active concerns of life, or an habitual thoughtlessness and indifference in relation to the events of a future world, they have no dis. position to become acquainted with the truths of revelation, and, tberefore, live in a continued and uniform neglect of the inspired volume. From their early education and occasional associations with Christian people, they may have obtained some general ideas of the doctrines of our most boly faith, and be ready to admit the reality of those principles which concern their characters as accountable and immortal beings. But inasmuch as they do not repair for instruction to the only true source of light and knowledge, many errours must of necessity be interwoven with their belief, and as it respects holy things their feet stand in slippery places. Interest and self love will bias their judgment; and to countenance the irregularities of their life and conversation, and to render the dictates of conscience propitious to their forbidden pursuits, they will strangely pervert what little they may chance to know of the way of salvation. And yet, strange as it may seem, it sometimes happens, that these very persons will engage in disputes upon the various subjects of revelation, and defend the cause which they have espoused, in theory, with all the confidence of the most expert theologian. The abstruse points of divinity which have presented the greatest difficulties in the way of those who have given their days and their nights to the study of the sacred scriptures, are comprehended by an almost intuitive glance, and the hallowed mys. teries which overshadow the system of man's redemption are solved with a facility to which even an apostle could not pretend. But it is, indeed, their ignorance that renders them thus bold and assuming, while their prevailing unconcern for things of another world places beyond their view, the actual importance of the subject with which they seem familiar, and makes it a matter of little consequence with them whether tbey have the truth or not..
Religion includes both a science and a duty. In respect to the one, the way which leads to it is rugged and difficult of approach ; that which conducts to the other, presents no discouragement or hindrance, The former invites the pursuit of but few ; the latter claims the devotion, while it is open and free to the attainment, of all. And here it is, that knowledge is in the highest degree essential ; for it is upon the characters that we form; the virtues that we cultivate, and the dispositions that we manifest in our relations to God and to man, that our eternal destinies are suspended. And how can we become acquainted with the requisitions of our Maker ; with the obstructions that oppose us in the way of obedience ; with the means of resisting temptation, and with the motives which lead to constancy and perseverance, unless we diligently and thoroughly examine the chart which marks out our course ? A superficial or partial sense of Divine truth, derived from accidental circumstances, and associated with many ere roneous and corrupt ideas, can never be sufficient to guide us through the trials and dangers of life to the realms of immortal blessedness. We must be instructed and improved, by the lessons of inspiration, in their own undisguised forın, and whatever wisdom we would possess, that tends to salvation, can only be derived from the pure and unadulterated word of God.
But it needs no argument to prove that where the bible is not read, there must be ignorance of its contents, and, consequently, a great liability to errour in whatever opinions are formed upon religious subjects, particularly where the latter interfere with native passions, and customary pursuits. And a very small share of observation will produce the conviction that no inconsiderable portion of those who are called Christians, do almost uniformly, from day to day, and from year to year, neglect the perusal of the word of God. With such, faith can only be a pretence, and whatever hopes are presumptuously in. dulged, must finally perish with the expectations of the wicked. It is not required, that people who are engaged in the active concerns of life, and upon whom their families and society have numerous claims, should devote the whole, or even any great part of their time to the study of the scriptures. But the busiest occupations afford many moments and hours of leisure, which might be far more profitably em. ployed, in obtaining a knowledge of the character and will of God, and in adopting principles and cultivating habits with a view to a future existence, than in accompanying the idle and the profane to their resorts of pleasure and of vice. But bowever exclusive may be the temporal duties of the week, no one can justify his neglect of the bi. ble, on that hallowed day which God, in great mercy to us, has set apart for the very purpose of giving us opportunity to turn our thoughts from the cares and vanities of the world, and to assist us in