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enings, its encouragements. And the same God, the author of his moral nature, has given him eyes to see, and ears to hear, and understanding to discern, and is ever ready by the influences of his pure spirit to assist his humblest effort. But if the sinner long persist in hardening himself against those calls of Providence, those admonitions of the divine word, those suggestions of divine grace,~in the just judgments of heaven, that
eye shall be darkened, ibat he cannot see, that ear shall be closed that he cannot bear; and the soul that has so long been proof against tbe offers of mercy, the tenderest solicitations of paternal love, shall soffer without remedy. Indeed such is ibe confirmed hardness of some, who have been favored with the choicest means of religion, that they may be considered as having sealed their doom before they leave the world : their term of probation has closed before their term of life; and God, who bas witnessed all their hardness and insensibility amidst his reproofs, has given them over to a reprobate mind. Tremendous is the condition of him, of whom Jehovah has said, as of his impenitent and unfaithful people, “ Ephraim is joined to idols, lei bim alone."
It would however be a gross abuse of this general sentiment, to make the application of it of ourselves, to any particular individuals. The general rule is established in the word of God for our warning and exhortation ; but judgment belongs to God. He alone knows our situation and character, the good that is mingled with our evil, and the evil, that is mingled with our good. As long as life remains, duty must be performed, whether it be of penitence or praise. The most profligate and abandoned sinner is exhorted to repent, and the command loses nothing of its obligation, because he is on the verge of eternity. Life is the appoinied day of grace, and its last moments must not be wasted in despair, because its best strength and opportunities have been abused in sin. Whether a death bed penitence can in any case be accepted, is not for man to declare, for it is not among the promises of God. But of this we may be assured, that to live in sin, with the hope that it will hereafter be forgiven, is presuming against the whole tenour of God's moral government and the most explicit declarations of his word. It is to suppose what is utterly groundless, because it contradicts every just idea of the nature of sin or holiness, that the character can be changed at once ; that a few days or hours of weakness and fear, amidst the pains of sickness and in the near prospect of eternity, when religion is our only refuge, and we are penitent by necessity, may blot out the remembrance of a corrupt life: it is to suppose that
God, who sees the end from the beginning, and surveys at one glance the whole of our past probation, as well as the fleeting present, attaches more importance to the day of our death, and to the feeble services we can render amidst languishing nature and appalling fears, than to the whole tenour of our lives, when we had the will and opportunities of free agents. In fine, it is to cherish a most unchristian, and therefore unreasonable hope, which offends against the dictates alike of natural and of revealed truth, and which will be put to shame amidst the solempities of a final retribution.
FOR THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.
ON ROMANS ix. 3.
“ For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for
my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
This clause has been considered of peculiar difficulty ; but this difficulty, I am convinced, would never have appeared, had the import of the original been exactly followed. It arises from two circumstances; one, that the verb nuqqunu, translated in the common version, I could wish, is rendered in a wrong mode and tense; and the other, that the words in this clause are, as I conceive, improperly connected together, the first half of it being, as I think, a parenthesis, and the last half being connected in sense, not with this parenthesis,but with the words which precede it in verse 2. Thus; “ I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.' This, which seems to me the true interpretation, has been pointed out by Gilbert Wakefield, a name dear to every advocate of civil and religious freedom.
But before proceeding further in illustrating this exposition, I will quote what is said respecting the passage by Doctor Doddridge.
Dr. Doddridge, interwoven with bis paraphrase, gives a translation in the words whicb he has printed in italics, as follows;
For methinks, if I may be allowed to express myself so, I could even wish that as Christ subjected himself to the curse, that he might deliver us from it, so I myself likewise, were made an analheia, afler the example of Christ; like him exposed to all the execrations of an enraged people, and even to the infamous and accursed death of crucifixion itself, for the sake of my brethren and kinsmen, according to the flesh; that they might thereby be delivered from the guilt they have brought upon their own heads, and become entitled to the forfeited and rejected blessings of the Messiah's kingdom : so cordial and disinterested a regard have I for my dear nation.”
In a note the Doctor observes, that he adopted this manner of translating the passage from Dr. Waterland.
“ Next to this,” he continues, “I should incline to the interpretation given by Dr. Clarke, who supposes the apostle means, that he could be content that Cbrist should give him up to such calamities as those, to which the Jewish people were doomed for rejecting him; so that if they could all be centered in one person, he could be willing they should unite in him, could he thereby be a means of saving bis countrymen. Compare Deut. vii. 26; Josh. vi. 17. and vii. 12.-Grotius understood it of a separation from the Church of Christ, (which is sometimes called by the name of Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 12; Gal. iii. 27.) or of excommunication. Elsner shows very well, as many other commentators have done, how very absurd it would be to suppose be meant, that he could be content to be delivered over to everlasting misery for the good of others.”
There are some classes of christians who will not thank the Doctor for his last observation, regarding as they do this kind, of disinterested benevolence, as the true test of the christian character.
To return then to the explanation which I have before suggested, I conceive that the first part of the passage under con. sideration, contains an accidental thought, a parenthesis, such as is not unfrequent in the writings of the glowing and fullminded apostle. The verb translated could wish, may mean and does here, I conceive, mean boasted, gloried in, or professed. The passage in connexion with what precedes may be thus rendered.
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart, (for I myself once gloried in being separate from Christ) for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the Aesh.
The following version of the whole period exbibits the combined efforts of several distinguished men :
“I say the truth in Christ, I speak not falsely, my conscience bearing me joint witness in the holy spirit, that I have great sorrow and continued grief in my heart, (for I also was once an alien from Christ *) for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh; who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the
* Bandinel translates “ I boasted that I was an alien." New Series-vol. I.
law, and the service of the temple and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, by natural descent, Christ came. God, who is over all, be blessed forever.”
Wakefield justifies this version of the parenthesis by the use of a similar phrase in Homer. “It gives an obvious and a beautiful sense, similar to a sentiment advanced by the apostle upon another occasion, Gal. iv. 12. “Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am ; for I also was as ye are."
On the subject of this text I will quote a passage from a sermon of the Rev. Peter Eaton of Boxford-distinguished for good sense and chaste composition-as in many respects the opinions which he expresses coincide with my own.
“ The doctrine of submission has been carried to a singular length by modern theorists. They have considered it as requiring in us a willingness to be forever separated from God and all good, if it may be for his glory. This is made the test of the christian temper. If you are willing to be miserable forever, that God may be glorified, you have christian submission; if you have not been formed to this temper of mind, you are yet a stranger to the power of religion. This sentiment is maintained, as a requisite for future happiness.
“In support of the sentiment two passages of scripture, more especially, have been adduced. One is from the writings of Moses, when he was interceding for his countrymen the Hebrews. Yet now if thou wilt, forgive their sin, and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book, which thou hast written. By this book is understood by some the book of eternal life. Does not the passage admit an easy and natural solution, if we consider him as speaking of bis natural life? This then is the plain import of his language. •If so heinous their offence, that thou must, o God, withdraw thyself from them, I wish no longer to be their guide ! If so aggravated their crime, as to preclude their pardon, permit me not to live to witness their overthrow and utter destruction; or if their pardon can be purchased by my life, I freely resign it up.' We consider this a noble expression of patriotism, which does great honour to the Hebrew law-giver.
“The other passage is from the writings of St. Paul. I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Various opinions have been expressed on this text, and recourse had to different methods to solve the difficulty. A certain ingenious writer bas remarked, that the expression, 'I wish myself accursed, or separated from Christ,' is an incidental thought, naturally suggested by his subject, and ought to be included in a parenthe
Then the connected reading will be, I have great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for my brethren, my kingmen according to the flesh.'. When he speaks of wishing himself separated from Christ, he alludes to his former state of unbelief, when he was an opposer of Christ; when separated, and be gloried in that separation from him. A willingness to be forever separated from God is rather an evidence of a positively wicked, than of a good temper of mind. For what is the employment of the miserable beings, who are separated from God ? Is it not profaning the name of that Being, who has doomed them to sorrow? If then willing to dwell with the forloro inhabitants of darkness, this implies a willingness to unite in their employ, which is a certain proof of a wicked temper of heart. Besides the very supposition is inconsistent. Was not this the expressive language of David, Whom have I in heaven, but thee ? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. Is it possible with this temper of mind, be should be willing to be forever separated from this most beloved and estimable object? The supposition is absurd. It is certainly more reasonable to believe a wicked man should be willing to be separated from God, than the good man, who loves him with all bis heart.”
REASONING OF BISHOP BEVERIDGE.
“I believe, that as there is one God, so this one God is three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
“This I confess, is a mystery which I cannot possibly conceive, yet it is a truth which I can easily believe ; yea, therefore it is so true that I can easily believe it, because it is so high that I cannot possibly conceive it; for it is impossible any thing should be true of the infinite Creator wbich can be fully expressed to the capacities of a finite creature : and, for this reason, I ever did and ever shall look upon those 'apprehensions of God to be the truest, wbereby we apprehend him to be the most incomprehensible ; and that to be the most true of God, which seems most impossible unto us.”
Privale Thoughts, Part I. p. 29. The author of this remarkable passage was a dignitary of the episcopal church of England, renowned for his talents and his piety. We are not disposed to question either his piety or his talents, but the principles on which he justified his belief in the mysterious doctrine are, we think, incorrect and of dangerous tendency. To evince the fallacy of those principles, let them be applied to other mysterious propositions. Suppose