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i

THE

"Spruce street lectures,


DELIVERED

BY SEVERAL CLERGYMEN, DURING THE AUTUMN AND


WINTER OF 1831-32.

'

TO WHICH

IS

ADDED,

LECTURE

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS

WITH

AN APPENDIX,

BY SAMUEL* MILLER,
Professor of Ecclejiiastical History and Church

D. D.

Government

in the Tlieological Seiui-

nary, Princeton, N. J.

PHILADELPHIA:
RUSSELL AND MARTIEN, 9 GEORGE STREET.
1833.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1833, by

& MARTIEN,
sylvania.

RU.SSEIJL

AND

RUSSELL

in the Clerk's Office of the Eastern District of Penn-

AIARTIEN, TKlNTERsi,

GEOllGE STREET.

THE ELDERS

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

THIS

IN

THE UNITED STATES.

VOLUME
IS

RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

RY

THE EDITOR.

THE EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT.

To

Members of the Presbyterian Church.

the

This course of Lectures was founded

The

design was to furnish the

members and

in prayer.

families of the

Presbyterian Church, with a Manual containing interesting

and popular discussions of some of the most important


subjects, both doctrinal

and

ecclesiastical, taught in

the

"Confession of Faith."

When
faith,

doubts are entertained in regard to any point of

taught by our holy religion and our venerable stand-

ards,

it

is

important that the members of the Church

should be furnished with a calm and able defence of those

which are

truths

called in question.

The well known

character of the gentlemen engaged in

this course, will be regarded as a sufficient

recommenda-

tion of the volume.

Although the work

is

especially dedicated to the Elders

of the Presbyterian Church, yet

patronage of

may

all its

attend this

which

He

members.

it

And

is

commended

to the

that the Spirit of

God

defence and inculcation of the truth

inspired,

is

the prayer of your brother in the

Gospel,

SAMUEL
Philadelphia, January, 1833.

G.

WINCHESTER.

CONTENTS.

Page.

Preface,
Introduction. By

Lecture

y^

I.

The

Rev. Dr. Green,

The

Lecture

II.

Lecture

III.

The

Lecture

IV.

On

Rev. Dr. -/isk,

Fall of

By

Man^ and

its

Rev. Dr.'fiow,

On

VIII.

On

105

143

By Rev.

Regeneration.

By

171

Rev. Dr.

.215

...

Justification.

'-Keill,

Lecture X.

Rev.

Ecclesiastical Polity.

On

On

By

Rev. Professor^odge,

'iMartin,

Lecture IX.

69

Discipline.

Dr.^iller,

Lecture

41

the Nature of the Atonement.

By
VII.

of Grace.

Mr. M^Farlane,

On

effects.

Rev. Dr. Janeway,

Church

Use of the Means

By

Lecture

ix

Inability of Sinners considered.

By

Lecture VI.

By

Christen Missions.
John*Breckinridge,

Rev.

By
.

Dr.

239

Rev.
.

255

ADDENDUM.
Lectujce on Creeds and Confessions.
'I'liller

By

Rev. Dr.

299

ERRATA.
Page
"

"
"
"

10, line 7

12,

"14

from

top, /or declation

"
"

read declaration.

for divide read describe.


for planned read placed.

*'

74,

"

"

92,

"

"

"5

"

for sustain read restrain.

"

"

for ask read act.

37,

" 173,
" 210,

for

And

the read Another.

strike out must.

INTRODUCTION,
BY REV. ASHBEL GREEN,

The

framers

Church

D. D.

OF PHILADELPHIA

of the Constitution of the Presbyterian

in the United States, introduced their

Church Government by specifying

certain

*<

Form

preliminary

principles," or fundamental truths, as the basis on

the whole superstructure had been erected, or


as

they express

it,

"they were governed

principles, the fourth section


in order to goodness;

is

by which,

in the formation

as follows:

fruits

"That

truth

and the great touchstone of truth,

tendency to promote holiness; according


'by their

which

In this statement of radical or elementary

of the plan.'^

rule,

of

ye

shall

know

is

its

to our Saviour's

them.'

And

that

no

opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd, than

which brings truth and falsehood upon

that

represents

On

it

rable connexion

between

faith

it

truth or to

embrace

is

an insepa-

and practice, truth and duty.

would be of no consequence

Otherwise

fidel

and

of no consequence what a man's opinions are.

the contrary, they are persuaded that there

"The

a level,

either to discover

it."

innocence of error," was a favourite dogma of in-

writers and loose moralists, of the last age; and

it

was

INTRODUCTION.

was intended

against this, that the foregoing statement

But

be more immediately directed.


timent was,

believed, never so openly

is

it

avowed and

formally defended, as in the present age; for

it

modification of the principle, while the essence

which we

find

now

guished literary

man

is

to

this mischievous sen-

is

is

only a

retained,

advocated by some of the most distin-

men

of Europe, in the position ^*that a

To

not responsible for his belief or opinions."

de-

monstrate the falsehood of this baleful doctrine, which goes


to the subversion of all
faith

and practice,

is

moral obligation, and

now

all

religious

the task of the able and erudite

friends of revealed truth and Christian duty, both in the


old world and the

But many

we

the error

reject

it,

in

but this

(it

be with honest abhorrence)

when broadly

who, nevertheless,

some of

is

may

contemplate,

in its extreme,

for

new.

its

violation, are

tolerate

it,

and viewed

and even plead

degrees and modifications.

What

when

a strict and strenu-

sound doctrine and

a jealous fear of its

virtually advocated,

ous adherence to

stated

made

the subject of undisguised reproach,

or represented as the indication of a narrow and bigotted

mind; and when

active exertions for the promotion

of visible religion are extolled, as marking not only greater liberality of mind, but

be expected

creed?

among

This

we

those

is

piety, than is to

are tenacious of an orthodox

often hear; and does

truth, or just principle,


is

more of genuine

who

it

not imply that

not necessary to the best action

not always favourable to

it ?

or,

may

be even

less fa-

INTRODUCTION.

xi

vourable than principles received with

and partaking of
site

who

of this

is

held, and

is

it

little

Now

mixture of error?

examination,

the very oppo-

believed must be held, by

all

understand and honestly profess an attachment to the

standards of the Presbyterian Church.

It is readily

may be a zealous contention

admitted that there

and orthodox doc-

for abstract principles of truth, or for sound


trine,

without activity in promoting the cause of

world; yea, with the destitution of all

The

liness.

may

truth

vital

God

in the

and practical god-

be held in unrighteousness.

Let this,

whenever apparent, be unsparingly censured and pointedly


condemned.
that there
fess,

is

Let

it

be shown, as

a glaring inconsistency

it

easily

may

and what they do, or what they refuse to do,

maintain with ardour the truth as


late his

it

is in Jesus,

in all

who

and yet vio-

by withholding

precepts themselves,

be shown,

between what they pro-

their

best

energies for the extension of his cause and kingdom, and


the salvation of perishing sinners.

mated

or implied, that there

is

But

let

it

not be inti-

any other safe and firm

basis for right action, than truth or sound doctrine; far


that without this, there

than with

it.

may

be a better practical system

If such, for a time,

any given instance

-as it is

will assuredly prove, that

seem

when

the

to be the fact in

the

result

mixed system of

truth

conceded that

and error becomes fully developed, and


effects

less,

and consequences, the want of

it

is

may

seen in

strict

its fruits,

adherence

to

sound doctrine will be strikingly and lamentably apparent,


in practical evils of a

very pernicious character.

In a word,

INTRODUCTION.

xii

let

be remembered, that as there

it

so there

is

is

an icy orthodoxy^

also a fanatical heat, and that both are to be

carefully avoided; that the truth

is to

be strenuously main-

tained, and to be fully carried out into practice;

and that

that practice or course of action will be the most correct,


the most exemplary, and the most firm and efficient,
rests for its foundation

in its greatest purity.

on the greatest measure of

So

tution, as already quoted,

there

is

tendency

terian

^^

truth, held

and truly says, our Consti-

Truth

is

in order to

goodness-

an inseparable connexion between faith and prac-

and duty; the great touchstone of truth

tice, truth

The

says,

which

is

its

promote holiness."

to

fact is too palpable to

Church,

at

be denied, that

in

the Presby-

the present time, doctrines not in accord-

ance with our public standards, are freely promulgated, both

from the pulpit and the press; that


with

many

it is

a favourite topic

of the advocates and propagators of these doc-

trines, to represent

them

as better

adapted to the awakening

of careless sinners, producing revivals of religion, and multiplying converts, than those contained in our Confession of

Faith and Catechisms


tainly

understood

as these formularies cer-

were understood, by those who formed them, and

they are

still

held and taught, by those

their genuine import.

who adhere

Those who think

to

them

as
in

that they ought to

disregard or violate our doctrinal creed, do not act consistently


in retaining their

connexion with

Church whose standards

they consider as impeding and restraining the best and most


efficient action for the

good of mankind, and the glory of the

INTRODUCTION.
Redeemer: and while they remain,
that

xiii

it is

reasonable to think

they will embrace any favourable opportunity to

effect

such changes in the doctrinal system of the Presbyterian

Church,

as shall

opinions

render

it

more

unless, indeed, the

in conformity with their

example of Geneva

own

shall

be

preferred and followed, where the doctrinal standards, framed

under the auspices of Calvin and Beza, have remained untouched, while

all

the leading doctrines they embrace are

renounced and ridiculed, and their adherents reviled and


persecuted.

Believing that the doctrines of the Confession of Faith and

Catechisms of the Presbyterian Church, are those of the revelation of

stated;

God, most accurately systematized and correctly

and consequently that they must be more favourable

than any other to the advancement of genuine Christianity,

and the eternal salvation of the souls of men; believing


that they admit of a fair

and

effectual defence,

also

on the princi-

ples of sound reason and philosophy, as well as of sacred

Scripture; and believing, in fine, that such a defence was

loudly called

for,

when these

doctrines

lated, disparaged, or disfigured,

who had

were impugned, muti-

even by writers and speakers

adopted them solemnly and formally

those who

planned the Spruce Street Lectures, determined

to solicit

from some of their brethren, whose talents and opinions were

known

to

qualify

them eminently

for such a service, the

discussion of certain leading and fundamental points of our


doctrinal standards, in a series of Lectures, of

speaker should deliver one.

which each

It is greatly regretted that the

INTRODUCTION.

-xiv

series is less complete than

whom

of the brethren to

it

would have been,

approved the plan proposed, had not found

whom

several

if

application was made, and


it

all

of

incom-

patible with their health, or with previous engagements, to

contribute their aid.

But notwithstanding every

many

deficiency, there are

still

so

cardinal points of doctrinal and practical theology

discussed in this volume, and in a


pressive, that

it

is

manner

so clear

and im-

confidently believed that every candid

and attentive reader will receive sensible benefit from


perusal

the well informed, by the revival

in their

its

minds of

a distinct view of truths which have long been most precious


in their estimation;

and those

who need

instruction

the removal of doubts and difficulties,

by finding the

mation, explanations and illustrations,

which

and

infor-

their circum-

stances require.

The method

of communicating instruction and defend-

ing truth, by courses of lectures professedly prepared and


delivered for the purpose,

is

In the country from which

we

this character

have long been

well

known

derive our origin, lectures of


in use;

try there have been a few instances,


the

same kind

has

and
in

in

our

own

is

coun-

which something of

been attempted.

heretofore

they will hereafter be frequent,

mode

not to be novel.

That

not improbable; as this

of conveying to the public the opinions and rea-

sonings of

men

of learning, piety and talents,

mended by many

considerations.

The

is

recom-

preparation of a

INTRODUCTION.
single discourse is not onerousj and

manded, and

its

XV

when

but one

is

occasion and connexion are considered,

deit is

not likely to be a hasty or careless production; and the


concentration of the talents of able men, each discussing

an important point in a single lecture,


prepare for the public volumes of
Street and

Bury

much

may

be expected to

value.

Street Lectures, contain

The Lime

some of the most

able, useful,

and pious disquisitions of the English dissent-

ing divines.

The Spruce

Street Lectures accord entirely in

doctrine and spirit with those admirable discourses; and

without claiming to equal them,

same blessing from the

known to have
io the latter.

it is

humbly hoped

Spirit of grace

attended the former,

and

may

truth,

also

that the

which

is

be vouchsafed

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES


LECTURE

I.

Delivered on the Evening of the 2d November, 1831, by the

Rev, Ezra Fisk,

D.D. of

Goshen, N. Y.

THE INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.

No man

"

can come unto me, except the Father, which hath gpnt me,
draw him." John vi. 44.

It has pleased

God

to reveal, not only his existence

his personality, in Father, Son, and

glorious

economy

Holy Ghost.

but

In the

of redemption, the Father sends the Son,

and the Holy Ghost proceeds from both the Father and the

The agency

Son.

sometimes

When
draw

men

*'I, if I

the

On

Spirit

is

ascribed to both,

be

lifted

to

the other.

up from the earth, will

unto me," he ascribed the influence of the

Spirit to the Son: in

by

Holy

one person and sometimes

to

Christ said,

all

of the

my

text,

he

tells us,

the Father draws

same agency.

this

fundamental doctrine of the Holy Spirit's

influence, executing the

official

commission of the Father and the

Son, rests the propriety of ascribing his agency to either


or both.

The

recognition of this doctrine seemed necessary,

to understand definitely the

meaning of the exception

in

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

10

my

text.

consider

Holy Ghost,

men

ence,

it

in bringing

as referring to the

men

can come and do come

This

do not and cannot come.


ing of the passage.

With

to

him

agency of the

With

to Christ.

this influT

without

it,

the plain and only

is

God

men

them.

Leave out the exception, and modify the

are capable of doing

tion so as to include the agency,

come unto me,

can

draw him."
all

who

This

is

if

all

the Father,

it;

who

home

declaration in our text, as

made
it

decla-

"every

hath sent me,

Christian experience
its

glory in the

But

to Christ in heaven.

leaving out this agency, the whole

taught his helplessness and

thus,

The whole economy

all

and the great day will reveal


millions, brought

requires of

and encouraging truth to

a precious

preach the gospel of Christ.

redeemed

that

would read

it

of grace illustrates this great fact;

proves

mean-

the agency intended in the ex-

ception,

man

they

is

reversed

man

is

only

The

to feel his misery.

fell

from the

Christ, expresses an important fact,

lips of Jesus

which should be well

understood.

Before

which

is

proceed to consider the inability asserted,

the principal object of this discussion, there

important inquiry to be answered:

What

is

is

an

coming

to

Christ?
I

answer the question, and discuss the assertion.

I.

Tlie question

tion of

its

But

hour.

it

necessary for

Coming
process.

some

is

of great importance, and the illustra-

answer might profitably occupy the whole of


admits of a brief solution, which

my

is all

this

that is

present discussion.

to Christ, in these days,

is

altogether a mental

In the days of our Saviour'.^ pilgrimage in the flesh,

miglit have understood

it

otherwise.

When

he

tra-

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.

1 1

versed the regions of Palestine, the people flocked to the

many

places of his instruction, and, douhtless,

nothing
side,

ble

On

else.

and

in the wilderness,

human

thoug;ht of

the mountain, in the plain,

by the

he stood before them

sea

in tangi-

Their eyes saw him, and looked on

form.

his

miracles; their ears heard the gracious words as they pro-

ceeded from his

But

lips.

withdrawn and enthroned

by us only

Mind

in mind.

since his bodily presence

in glory,

he

is

alone can

to be

now

is

approached

penetrate the

heavens, and contemplate the Saviour where the beloved

and exiled disciple saw him, exalted

in purity

and splen-

dour, with the rainbow of Jehovah's merciful covenant


reflecting his delightful radiance.

We recognize,

it is

true, the

grand and glorious principle

of his spiritual divine existence, one attribute of which


his

omnipresence: and

attribute, '^he is not far

we know,

is

that in reference to this

from every one of

But we

us.''

speak of a moral approach to Christ, as the Redeemer and


Saviour.

A brief
in

sketch of this mental process

may

be comprised

spiritual apprehension, gracious feeling,

Nothing

action.

is

more

and holy

certain than the fact, that the

pure, spiritual, holy and gracious character of Jesus Christ,


as the
all,

only and

all-sufficient Saviour, is not

or misapprehended,

Coming

to Christ,

by men who

apprehended

are ^'far from

at

him."

must include some apprehension of

his

character as found in the gospel, of his divine existence and


glory, of his holiness and compassion, of his grace and loveliness,

and of his suitedness

this spiritual

apprehension

to the case of lost sinners.

is

included faith in his

offices

In
of

prophet, priest and king, in his atoning sacrifice and intercession

at least, so

much

of faith

is

included as belongs

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

12

to the exercise of intellect.

more than

am aware

mere apprehension of

that

a matter of testimony, is included in that faith

There

gospel demands.

is

something

character, or accrediting

which the

upon the merits of

a reliance

the Redeemer's sacrifice, an affection of the soul, resting on


the loveliness which

is

spiritually

the intellectual exercise there

which the unbeliever has

not,

is

apprehended

hut

in

a spiritual discernment,

and which

who

fallen spirits,

tremble before the majesty of the Son of God, never possess,

it

is

discernment of the excellence, glory and

loveliness of Christ, and an appropriation of his rich and

gracious promises to the soul.

There may be degrees of

clearness and strength in this spiritual apprehension, but

Ihe characteristics are essential.

They

divide

which, rather than the degree, the estimation

Gracious affection
process, in

coming

is

its

nature,

is to

by

be made.

an essential part of the mental

to Christ.

Penitence, humility, grati-

tude, love, and faith, are connected with that spiritual appre-

hension just named.

These are

feelings of the heart, with-

out which there can be no Christian grace. Sorrow for sin,

hatred of

its

intrinsic loathsomeness

and opposition

to

God,

humility under a sense of unworthiness, and forsaking the


servitude of Satan, are indispensable, in a sinner's approach
to Christ.

must be

Gratitude for such a Saviour and such a privilege,


called into exercise in this transaction.

process.

It

is

But

most direct and important exercise

to Christ is the

love

by which

faith

works

love

in the

in fact,

it

is

an essential part of that faith which relies on the great


atoning sacrifice, and unites the soul to Jesus Christ.

By

holy action,

mean, not only

a living exercise of

gracious affections, but a subjection of the will to the obe-

dience of Christ.

mean

directing

all

the faculties of the

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.

mind

in the service of

called us with an

i3

him <*who gave himself for

holy calling:"

speak

now

us,

and

of mental, not

external action, profession, or observance of religious duties.

These

all

have their importance

in their

proper place, but

they are the result of coming to Christ, and necessary evidences of the

fact.

The man who

and loves Christ, comes

trusts,

come.

All this

is

spiritually apprehends,

him, and none others

to

often expressed in the gospel by a single

comprehensive term, faith,

love.

presses the whole transaction;

it ^^is

hoped
love

for, the

is

evidence of things not seen."

The

faith

ex-

Sometimes

used in the same comprehensive sense

the fulfilling of the law."

reasons

why

^^love

and love are so prominent and

vital in the transaction;

and because either of these graces implies the whole.

may, perhaps, be asked, whether the '^coming


mentioned in the

text, intend

To

former, beyond peradventure.

It is

this,

coming

answer, the

to

him

vation -into covenant union with him, perpetual in

But while

It

to Christ,"

union to him, or merely an

approach, to ask some blessing

rious results.

is

these graces

whole process, are very obvious, because

are used for the


faith

Sometimes

the substance of things

the text

is

for salits

glo-

thus interpreted, the

exercise of these graces should be cultivated in

all

ap-

proaches to Jesus Christ.

The assertion of the text, that without the agency of


Holy Spirit no man can come to Christ, demands care-

II.

the

ful attention.

Taking the obvious

of this coming, and


Spirit's agency,
I

am aware

its

scriptural interpretation

form may be thus

no man

stated:

without the

can love Christ, or believe

that this doctrine

is

on him.

denied, and the whole

agency of the Holy Ghost rejected. His divine existence

is

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

also denied,

and the doctrine

man needs

propagated that

is

no aid to his reason, except what instruction he gains from


nature and some moral

God and

lation, to love

But

this doctrine I

maxims found
fulfil all

need not refute.

a denial of God's plain declarations,

gospel of Christ.

Few

in

what we

reve-

call

the obligations of his being.

in this land,

It necessarily includes

and
it

sets aside the

is

whole

to be hoped,

have

the hardihood unequivocally to espouse an opinion so

di-

rectly in the face of divine revelation.

But there

is

much

speculation on the inability intended

in this declaration of Jesus Christ;

and there

great importance attached to the inquiry into

The

is

certainly

its

meaning.

much from any

importance, however, arises not so

inherent difficulty in the investigation, or any liability of an

honest mind to err, in the interpretation of the text, or in


practical application, but

and bad philosophy of the

no man ever did come

Holy

Spirit;

age.

It is

to Christ

undeniably true that

without the agency of the

no believer of the gospel can suppose that any

man

ever will come without

that

none can come, except by

it

and the Saviour asserted

this agency.

necessary then, to admit that the inability

is

its

from the multiplied speculations

What more
is

entire, a

complete preventive?

Apart from the meddlesome philosophy which has


truded

its

one reason for pursuing the inquiry another


to

show

That

is,

to love

him and

believe on Christ.

this subject, the facts, as stated in the Scriptures, are

entirely satisfactory to
that

step.

the consistency of this announcement with God's

commands, which bind us

On

in-

blindness to obscure the light, I perceive only

my

mind.

There can be no doubt

God's commands are peremptory and binding

individuals of the

human

famil}^, to

whom

the

ofi

all

word of

his

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.


revelation

Here

facts,

Are they

consistent with each other?

the question. If they are not, there

is

men

Holy Ghost.

of the

revealed with equal plainness, and each

positively asserted.

This

can there be any doubt that

come without the agency

two

are

Nor

sent.

is

are unable to

15

is

inconsistency

and inequality with God, because he has asserted both, and

We come,

applied them to the same persons.


this examination,

with the assurance of their entire con-

sistency in fact; and if ive cannot perceive


certain the defect

is

in us,

It is a case in

tion.

therefore, to

it,

we may be

and not in the divine administra-

which we are not


Both are

one and reject the other.

at liberty to hold to
facts,

and must be

consistent.

Whether such commands would have been given to us if


Holy Spirit, perliaps we

there had been no mission of the

we know
speak not now of

are not competent to say; but

given without

it.

agency which God exercises over and


of that mission of the Spirit
^^

influence, to
ness,

the providential

in his creatures, but

whose object

reprove the world of

and of judgment,"

that they are not

sin,

is,

by an unseen

and of righteous-

to take of the things of Christ,

This influence constitutes

and show them unto his people.

an essential part of God's administration, and he

ready to "give the Holy Spirit

The
Christ,

Here

them

that ask

character and effect of this inability to

is

ever

him."

come

to

a proper subject of inquiry, and should, in these

is

days, be well understood.

and

to

The

subject embraces

can only receive a brief examination


let

me

say, that the circumstances

at this

much,
time.

under which

address you, and the occasion, together with the false phi-

losophy so often mingled in the discussion of this subject,

must be

my

apology for detaining you with a philosophical

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

16

Some apology seems

investigation.

necessary, for I have

not forgotten the Apostle Paul's caution to " avoid opposi-

But

tions of science falsely so called."

has been so involved,

may

since this subject

be permitted to recollect ano-

man

ther caution by the same Apostle: "beware, lest any


spoil

you through philosophy and vain deceit."

regard these cautions, and show

how

hope

to

philosophy has obscur-

ed this subject.

The terms which

indicate

power, are used more vaguely

and more variously than almost any others in the English

The

language.

power.

reason

No man

get the idea, but the thing itself

We perceive the relation


that

power which

we

is

it.

beyond our cognizance.

it is

efiect,

and

call

What

it is,

we

between cause and

constitutes this relation.

do not know, and


if

We know not what is


We know how we

obvious.

is

has ever defined

But

useless to attempt its definition.

take that relation which suggests the idea of power, in

the place of

its

definition,

we

shall not err in

The

important applications or uses.


tion and the efiect

which

tion of man's power.


volition ability, nor

the connexion

is

Yet the

rests is precisely

may

will

any of

between

its

voli-

be used for a defini-

is

not power, nor

the effect power, nor

ability;

is

follows,

relation

is it

is

true that

but that on which the connexion

what we

call

power.

Nothing

be properly so called, which belongs to man.


substitute this connexion for that

can see no error in any of

its

which

else can

Now

if

constitutes

we

it,

applications in argument or

illustration.

Perhaps some
substitute

any

finable?

may be disposed

to ask here,

why

would

definition for ability, which, in itself, is unde-

answer, because

it is

desirable to divest

it

of the

perplexity and vagueness to which usage and speculation

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.


This

have subjected the term.


illustrate

my

Christ.

Is there a

reason

is

17

To

sufficient.

meaning, take the case before

us,

coming

connexion between volition and

between

and

to

spi-

or

ritual

discernment

tween

volition and the appropriate holy exercise of all the

mind's

volition

If there be such a

faculties?

love

connexion

as

be-

between

cause and effect, a dependence of this discernment and love

men have

on volition, then, certainly,


to Christ, without the
is

no addition of

But here

it

asserted

which

Is

with volition?

moral power.

Call

it is

it

all

event with volition,


perly so called.

it

so;

*^come

it is

What

to Christ."

Is volition a
is

moral

moral

which

act?

And

act.

whether
if

so connects

physical, natural, or moral

I care not

them

is

let it

be

the same; that which connects the

is ability,

know
Now,

what

it

the latter

and nothing

else can be pro-

there are other notions of power,

will presently be examined; but let not this

be yet forgotten.

kind

Be

not that which connects moral *

effect of the former, that

remembered

which

it

God

so or not, love to

be the

not the power.

that this description of

physical or natural.

obey the command

moral ability?

effects
is

is

men have

by some,

by many that men have natural power, but lack moral

ability, to
is

ability in the conferring of divine grace.

will be said

ability is of that

it

if

men have

may

be called

view

this ability of

any

without the draw-

come to Christ, or to love God, it must


have been ascertained by the fact having, at some time, taken
ing of the Father, to

place.

No

other evidence can be admissible, in opposition

to the positive declarations of Jesus Christ.

such a

power of coming

agency of the Holy Ghost; and there

no such connexion,

If there be

the

fact,

and

I will

admit the ability

such a fact has never occurred, and

is

Show me

in that case.

But

utterly impossible.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

18

had

If Christ

said,

it

man

impossible for any

is

who

unto me, except the Father

hath sent

me draw

would not have varied the meaning of the

it

him,

What,

text.

becomes of the distinction between natural and

then,

and inability?

Tworflr/ ability

It is set aside as useless, so

concerned.

far as its application to this case is

Ability always indicates a connexion

and

effect;

those

come

to

have not greatly mistaken the meaning of

if I

who contend

consider

for

man's natural

something which

as

it

between cause and

or that belongs to the will

They

God, they

ability to love

connected with volition,

is

represent the whole process

of coming to Christ as depending on a man's choree

men have
Whenever they

natural powder to come,

this is because

choose.

come.

All that

is

and

they

if

choose to exert that power, they

necessary, therefore,

is,

that they should

be induced to choose to love God, and then they will


actually love him.

Now

indeed be a

men have

But

is it

fact, that

if all

natural

Let us examine the

so?

not govern the understanding.

man's

will

possess

mere statement of

man

were

true,

power

The

it

God.

volition does

does not depend upon a

illumination.
is

would

to love

spiritual things, or

spiritual

this fact,

case.

It

whether he discern

intellect

his

this

whether

think the

^'The natural

sufficient.

receiveth not the things of the Spirit of

arc foolishness unto him; neither can he

God:

for they

know them,

be-

cause they are spiritually discerned."

The

volition

moreover does not govern the

heart.

not depend upon a man's will, whether he love

him;
for

**

it is

be."

because the carnal mind

It

does

or hate

enmity against God;

not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can

The

rntion.-:,

is

God

truth

the will

is,

is

by an

irreversible

govci'ne

law of mental ope-

by the affeclions, and they

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.


must be changed, before there can be any love

were

so tliat the affections followed and

every sinner, alarmed

tion,

at

19

God.

to

If

depended on

it

voli-

the prospect of the everlast-

ing wrath which awaits him, and accrediting the fact that

him from going down

love to Christ would deliver

would certainly love him. On

no danger of self-deception; no need of

among

Christians to

with the

know

to the pit,

this supposition, there could be

their state;

much

so

no need of

anxiety

a warfare

no danger of being brought into

lusts of the flesh;

which

captivity to the law of sin

members.

in their

is

cannot be true, that the will governs the affections.


just as easily conceive that a

It

can

may govern

man's volitions

his appetite for food, as his taste for

moral

man might

influence of volition,

as well transform,

which he chooses

his aversion to a medicine

sinner change,

both

ness:

by the same

are impossible.

by

indicated

to love

If natural ability, therefore, be


will, as the

men have

not natural

God

as the effect,

God.

merely the possession of

natural ability, to

faculties,

which

As

this
is

am

is

constitute

true,

them

That men have

ability.

and responsi-

free, moral,

and of great importance

to

not disposed to contend for words,

meaning of

be recollected.
I will

The understanding
But has

it

heart loves; in the same sense

heart has ability to love.

But has

it,

or

it

man,

the ability of spiritual

discernment, without divine illumination?

The

examine

perceives;

proper, therefore, in this sense, to say, that

has ability to perceive.

indicate

which, rightly employed,

do love God, and perform Christian duty.

ble agents,

to take, as the

influence, his aversion to holi-

But some use the phrase

faculties

sick

connexion between volition, or

cause, and loving

power

by the

truth.

it is
it

Certainly not.

proper

to say, the

ability to love

holi-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

20

Nay,

ness?

enmity against God, and cannot be sub-

is

it

which enjoins holy

ject to the law of God,

chooses;

love.

therefore, has ability to choose.

it,

two questions

be answered

to

choose independently

and

has

The

will

But here are

the will ability to

can the choice control the

affections of the heart?

To

the

first

question, I answer, that man's will has no

self-determining power,

but

pleasure of the heart; that

This

is

is

is,

always governed by the

by the prevailing

that I consider

affection.

mental philosophy,

a principle so well settled in

unnecessary, at this time, to investigate

it

the proof.

Although the

cannot act independently,

will

it

The ultimate

choose subordinately, and ultimately.

may

choice

always terminates on the object most agreeable to the heart.

A subordinate choice terminates on some object, not always


own

for its

sake, or because

the sake of something with

Now,

agreeable.

it is

in itself agreeable, but for

which

it

connected that

is

conceive that an awakened sinner

is

may

have such a sense of his danger, and be so fully convinced


that

away from

the Saviour he must perish, that he

come

really choose to

may

to Christ for the sake of escaping

hell; not

because he discerns any beauty in Christ, or has

any love

to

sick

This

man
is

choose subordinately, as the

not only conceivable, but

occurrence.

It is,

when they begin


them

He may

him.

chooses medicine, for the sake of his health.

that they

to

seek the Lord.

do not choose

to

convince them that their choice

is

matter of frequent

paramount

to all

You

come
is

heart does not love him; but their

choice

is

obviously, the usual course with sinners,

cannot convince

to Christ;

you may

of no avail while the

own

argument.

consciousness of
Tell

them

that

it

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.


depends on their choice, and that

would do

if

21

they chose to come, they

many
we do choose to come, but we know
that we have not come; and we suppose therefore we do not
choose it, because those who have a right to know tell us
certainly

have

it

said,

it

seems

it;

they will say, as in such cases

to us

depends on our choice.

who

not a few,

own

depends on their
such a case,

is

Such

generally the case with

is

coming

are taught to believe that

more

Man's own

will.

to Christ

consciousness, in

likely to accord with fact, than are the

inferences from speculative theories.


If the will can thus choose subordinately, the second

question

can

answered

the choice control the affection?

in the negative.

highest affection
in the case just

is

It is perfectly

is

easily

'^

evident that the

placed on the ultimate object, which,

now mentioned,

wrath; coming to Christ

is,

from impending

safety

is

therefore, chosen subordinately,

and has no tendency to change the

affection.

here be observed, that the Spirit of

God

men

It

should

often convinces

of their sin and danger, and the necessity of loving

Christ, long before they do love him.


distinctly before his mind, the

With

these thoughts

awakened sinner

tries the

process of subjecting his heart to his will, for days, or even

weeks, before he learns that he must despair of accomplish- ^


ing the object, and must rely on the Spirit's influence. The

more he

tries to love

God

in this

way, the more hard

his

heart seems, and the farther he goes from the object which

he seeks.

The

truth

that willeth, nor of

must be

him

realized, ^*it is not of

that runneth, but of

God

him
that

showeth mercy."

Let

me

here

state, briefly,

government and freedom,


the Scriptures and with

the doctrine of the will's

in accordance, as I conceive,

fact.

The

will

with

always obeys the

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

*Z2

pleasure of the heart, and in this consists both

ment and freedom.

To

philosophical form,

it is

is

present the whole operation in


thus

the excitement to action

which the

the

heart, or faculty

spring or source of action

feels, is the

Thus, the choice of the will

entirely governed

is

the highest kind of freedom conceivable.

be more free than to choose as


desire

ble,

Can the

will

Can any

will than to choose just as

If he had liberty to choose

he never would use

heart; and this

most. agreeable?

is

any other liberty of

he pleases?

the motive

is

by the pleasure of the

is

man

its

which

the ultimate object

and pleasure

always obeys.

will

govern-

its

what

is

disagreea-

Such choosing could not be

it.

freedom, except in cases already referred

where

to,

disa-

greeable objects are chosen subordinately for the sake of


the ultimate,

which

We have heard

is

of a

always agreeable.

dogma which

teaches, that

men may

choose to be damned for the glory of God, from which,


although

it

ment, nor

be most lovely in
to see

any

another kind of freedom

But

except pain.

rally laid aside,

bear the

name

ties

in

choosing

of

its

author.

of these

It is

and

absurdities,

One

it

which

is,

in

free

it

gene-

well that so monstrous


still

better, if the

peculiari-

belonged, were as generally


I

voluntary
in

is

are willing to

which constituted the

dogmas

God's ejficiency

century

who

would be

a single aspect, viz. that all

exclusively,

without any motive

this figment of the last

of the system to which

exploded.

This, verily, looks like

and disowned by those

an absurdity should die;

two remaining

they expect no enjoy-

itself,

loveliness.

have occasion

examine

holiness and sin consist,


exercises.

producing

belongs to the same philosophical

immediately within the range of

to

my

sin,

The

although

speculation,
subject.

other,

falls

it

not

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.


Since, according to this
sist

dogma,

exclusively in voluntary exercise,

lence included in coming to Christ


the will
is

all

is

is

much power

as

holiness and sin con-

volition only: and since

God

to love

which

This, I believe,

as to hate him.

and breath

men

true, I

But

and sanctify men.

would think

is it

true

it

a waste of time

admit that volitions are

which they proceed

principle or propensity from

is

also

^*Out of the heart (not volition) proceed evil

sinful.

thoughts."

am

aware, however, that some use, though

inaccurately, voluntary exercises to include

On

of the heart.

chooses

renew

Spirit's influence to

maintain that feelings are sinful, and that the

sinful; but I

of

new and

are naturally able to exercise.

pray for the Holy

to

only a

is

It is

a fair representation of the doctrine.

is

were

if thi^

all

it

wrong; -men, therefore,

furthermore inferred, that regeneration


right choice,

Now,

the moral excel-

all

not governed by any good or evil principle,

just as easy to choose right as

have

23

has

many

it

that principle, I ask,

no character?

the feelings

all

what

feels

what

ask for the appositeness

of our Lord's parables, such as of the tree, leaven,

What

and mustard seed.

man? What

is

absurdities to

The way

is

punishable?

connects the exercises with the

But

which the principle

now

cannot pursue the

prepared to examine the real character

of that inability which keeps the sinner


It is sin.

It is

many

leads.

away from

Christ.

not want of faculties, which are capable,


j

under the Holy

coming

Spirit's influence, of all that

to Christ, but

employ them.

The

without that influence,


inability

is

and perversion

implied in

men

cannot so

recognized in three aspects

blindness of the understanding


of the will.

is

hardness of the heart

These

qualities

are

expressed, by ignorance, deadness, and obstinacy.

again
Is

it

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

24

Or

right to call this sin, moral inability?


natural inability?

The

tinctive phraseology

is

truth

the heart, that seat of the affection

Men

it,

only impediment in the

In order that any

all,

come

There must be

man

call

way of sinners coming

should love God, repent

on the Lord Jesus Christ, or what includes

sin, believe

them

However

we may

describe this depravity, and whatever

this is the

to Christ.

of

are depraved in

and source of action; and

evinced by blindness and perverseness.

we may

be called

it

out of place, and worse than useless,

in the explanation of this subject.

this is

shall

the whole use of this dis-

is,

to Christ, his heart

new

must be regenerated.

propensity or preparation of heart to

love holiness and hate sin, and the understanding must be

enlightened to discern the spiritual excellence and loveli-

The impenitent man has neither

ness of Christ.

without them, coming to Christ

is

of these; and

Should

impossible.

ing to Christ, and that the inquiry respects the

it

is

com-

fact,

whe-

here be said that the development and propensity

ther he has or has not the ability for their production and
exercise; and
I

answer

what

is

the nature of that ability or inability

in several particulars.

It is

admitted on

all

hands,

that the impenitent sinner has not this discernment or pro-

pensity

he cannot, therefore, develope what he has

That he has not power

to enlighten his

own

not.

understanding,

or to originate a propensity to love holiness, I have already

shown.

As

already said

to
it

the

character

of that inability,

consists in a principle

the mental faculties, and having

its

of

have

sin, affecting all

primary

seat in the

heart.

Now, what the nature of that inability is which renman incapable of regenerating his own heart for the
whole inquiry may concentrate here it matters very little

ders

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.

25

Let us examine more carefully the philosophi-

to define.

cal definitions

of the day.

but

losophically true;

If

we

call \i

physical,

it is

phi-

an improper use of the term,

is

Physical ability, though

therefore calculated to mislead.

ever so great, could not produce the moral change called

power

as a fallen angel,

now

is

for

much

If a sinner had ten times as

regeneration.

him

renew

to

would be

it

his heart.

as

employed

is

it

Physical power never


All their

originates moral results in responsible agents.

physical ability

physical

just as impossible as

for physical purposes, except

used instrumentally, by the governing principle of

it is

The

the heart.

physical action,

principle
is

which moves and controls

to be the subject of change.

be changed by that which only acts under

cannot

direction and

its

Thus, the truth of the assertion

control.

It

all

is

evident; but

such are the associations and uses of the term physical, Xhdl

improper

it is

ology, connects
a

man

here, and

it

it

is

calculated to mis-

familiar uses of the phrase-

with volition and external action. Thus,

chooses to walk, and the efiect follows; but his limbs

become

employ

to

The more common and

lead.

palsied,

and then he

is

physically unable to walk.

child cannot perform the operations of a

illustrations

Such want of power

all.

is

ners are physically unable to love God,

them

lead

we

call

effect

to the

any thing

inference that they


else,

except that

with volition, physical power,

and obscures the subject


If

we

But

call it

similar abuse.

natural

to

which

it is

inability, the

if

we

say sin-

is liable to

mis-

are excusable.

If

it

which connects the

makes confusion,

it

applied.

terms are liable

It is nevertheless true, that

to

evidently excusable; and from

and warrantable use of the phrase,

this fixed

man.

need not be multiplied; they are familiar

man's

to a

inability

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

26
is

by

nature, because

represent

tures

which the Scrip-

his depravity

is

it

to

natural

be

to

But

him.

natural^ in distinction from moral,

we

if

use

means the same

it

as

physical, and ought not to

be employed

cussions of this kind.

however, natural inability mean

want of the

If,

in theological dis-

requisite faculties to constitute

sible agent,

love God.

They do

is

men

not true that

it

possess

man

the requisite faculties; but

all

very few men have so disciplined their minds


distinctions

and theorising,

terms and their use

as

to technical

carry along with the

ought not, for these

It

technical and differently ex-

reasons, to be used.

In

plained meanings,

true, or

it is

to

meaning.

this

a respon-

are naturally unable to

its

it is

appropriate meaning and use,

it

is

false;

but in

its

common

altogether inapplicable

to this case.

Now,

we

if

say

it is

moral

If I understand the

as objectionable as the former.

m,oral,

it

indicates something

The

right or wrong.

ful,

made
and
that

in this place,

why
is

is

it

Any

man,

Several

besides the one

some

of a moral nature,

use,

answers

which

it is

is

moral belonging

then,

is

moral power to

arc given to this inquiry,

Take one

have before given.

a heart

prepared to love

ness; sinners have not this.

would say

that

all

What,

in his heart.

is

love God?

that

man

moral, and nothing else,

is

the primary seat and source of


to

to

thing which belongs to. man,

be faculty, principle, or conduct.

it

term

either holy or sin-

is

inquiry should, therefore, be

either sinful or holy,

whether

which

what belongs

moral?

terms are quite

inability, the

God and

holi-

But take another meaning,

the possession of a faculty or faculties which are moral; and


sinners surely have moral
to perceive

why

it

is

power

to love

God.

am

unable

not just as proper to say that they

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.


as natural ability, to

have moral,
is said, in

one

change their

men have

case, if

power, they cannot be obliged

may, with equal propriety, be

to

But

statute.

am

mean

keep God's law

said, if

men have

why

tion, I ask,

is

so

it

often under-

is

wisdom

On

is

affected in

this supposi-

considered the essence of obe-

power of any kind, and

dience, should be called

No

not a moral

which, in the estimation of those

that,

use the distinction,

sense?

It

obey the moral

aware, that moral ability

willingness; and great

using the distinctive terms in question.

who

hearts.

not natural faculties or

faculty or power, they cannot be obliged to

stood to

>7

The

good reason can be given.

any

in

truth seems to

me, that those men who use the distinction of natural and
moral in explaining the inability of sinners, are deceived,

by

transferring an

actions,

where

and

is

which belongs

association

where

not true;

is

it

true

it

transfer

to external

belongs, to mental affections,

which

will,

therefore,

always mislead.
It will

now

not loving
a

more

are to

definite

blame

how

can a sinner be blamed for

The answer

to this question, will lead to

be asked,

God?

view of the

sin

men

it is

and for that always.

the object of God's displeasure,

are criminal.

philosophy which

Men

be in action or principle, in the temper of

the heart or in volition,


it

under discussion.

for nothing except sin,

Now, whether
and for

inability

is

It is a

specimen of the bad

becoming prevalent

in this age, that

no

being can act wrong unless he has ability to do right; and

none can act


is

right, unless

he has

ability to

do wrong;

all this

applied to mental operations as w^ell as to external actions.

But
err?

is

not

God always

right and good, although he cannot

Is not Satan sinful

love holiness?

and blameable, although he cannot

Certainly.

But

if this

principle

may

not

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

28

be applied to men, will not the guilt of the damned be


greatly diminished, the

Are

impassable gulf?

moment they are

less criminal than others,


difficult to

change

leopard's

spot

whom
The

to

as the Ethiopian's skin,

Are

grace, or

'^ it

Is

it

is

and punish

it,

how man

human

men

for

its

can be blamed

If I understand

precisely of the character of one pro-

posed to Paul, *^why doth he [God] yet find

fault? for

who

Although connected w4th the

his will?"

hath resisted

all

change that principle from

to

agency proceeds?

his criminal

all

the source of

is,

asked,

it

power

for sin, if he has not

this question,

of

impossible to renew

is

and must be changed by divine

will forever hate

character and agency.

which

as the

repentance?"

ability is sinful,

God

and fixed

comparatively innocent

those

true account of the case

agency and

placed beyond the

the prophet speaks,

because their habits of sin are as

the Apostle declares,

them again

whom

those of

subject in a different aspect,

is

it

the same inquiry.

might give the Apostle's rebuke with great propriety,


"nay,

Here
that

it

art

would be proper

thou that repliest against

to leave the inquiry,

modern philosophy laughs


by which

be divine,
tion.

man, who

but,

Let

it

a question

is

settled

be remembered then, that

philosophy to explain

were

at all authority,

it is

how God's law

God?"
it

not

though

it

without explana-

not the province of

reaches the heart and

binds, but every man's conscience can testify the fact, and

reproach him for his malice.

became thus
man's

fall,

sinful? let those

If the question be,

who

ask

in the third chapter of the

it,

how man

read the history of

book of Genesis, and

Paul's account of the covenant relation and imputation, in


his epistles to the
this question;

Romans and

Corinthians, for a solution of

and there we leave the inquirers.

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.

Take another method of solving

own

constituted his

to

is

it,

enemy

an

no matter what

by

The

rule

shows him

His power

power.

intelligent, free,

and found opposed

this standard,

of God.

his

is

to be such,

by

not estimated

simply his moral character.

this standard, but

has

are holy, the stand-

Every

ard of right and moral obligation.


responsible agent, tried

God

the difficulty.

which

perfections,

29

Ability

is

not the basis or measure of responsibility in this case, but

man

the faculties which constitute

repeat again, to prevent

all

ing of obligation to love God,

man

am now

employed, and

is

responsible, according to that

is

Man

and not according

love

God with

God

for the exercise of all his faculties; if they are

employed,

it

his physical ability.

the character
I recur

sistent

has

now

is

that source of

to the question,

a right to

Be

remembered

is

responsible to

wrongly

wrong; and the


the worse

would not be

or, in

this doctrine is con-

more

to love

explicit terms,

him,

if

they have

answer yes, most undoubtedly.

that this refers not to external conduct,

where physical power


it

is

human agency,

whether

command men

not the ability to obey?


it

He

does not

the more criminal.

with God's commands

God

not.

proves the source of action

more depraved
is

he has

for

which he

has,

to that

speak-

not of external actions,

where physical or natural power


which

moral agent.

a free,

mistake, that

cannot be rightfully

is

employed, and concerning which

man who
commanded to

true.

has no hand or foot

An

use them.

idiot

cannot be rightfully ordered to solve a mathematical pro-

blem, or an infant to calculate an eclipse.


such ability to do with loving

command over

God?

But what has

speak

the heart, and man's inability

to turn the atfections to

God.

all

now of God's

Let me here

by nature

repeat, that

.^

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

30

God

command men

does

Moreover

the only impediment in the

The
plain

all

fact

its

and

we need
now

Further

After

all

character of the inability

not speculate.
recurs,

what

Holy

saith the

the speculations on this subject, to ex-

Scriptures

of the Spirit, so are


the Spirit

goodness,

is

is

incomparably more satisfactory than

its

for

all

to

God

a fruit

is

^^The

the Christian graces.

fruit of

gentleness,

Salvation

meekness, temperance."

is all

plan, developement and completion, '^not of

we

are his

workmanship, created

Jesus unto good works."

Holy

Love

love, joy, peace, long suffering,

faith,

of grace, in

of the

which he

this reason of the righte-

that philosophy ever can teach.

for

that

is

philosophy, the simple and very plain language of

Holy

works

same time

right; because

of their obedience

command, show the

great question

Ghost?

the

This

men.

ousness in the
to be sin.

way

at the

it is

which God condemns, and

sinful principle,

will punish

him, and

to love

says they cannot love him.

Spirit

Regeneration

^^according

is

in

Christ

by the agency

mercy he saved

to his

us,

by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy


Ghost

bora not of blood, nor of the


God born

will of the flesh, nor

of the will of man, but of

from above

formed by renewing of the mind."


challenged

<^who

maketh thee

me
we are

the Apostle,

*'not that

from another?
Christ said

ye can do nothing."

Said

sufficient of ourselves to

think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency

God."

What

language, plain or figurative, could

explicitly declare

man's inability without the Holy

than the Scriptures use again and again?


in the chapter of

my

text

trans-

Christians are thus

to differ

and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?"


to his disciples, '^without

Elsewhere

It is

is

of

more
Spirit,

twice stated

sinners are repre-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.


sented as "alienated from the

mind," which

nal

power of Satan

the
sins

having

enmity against God,

-^is

subject to the law of

God"

of

life

31

for

God, neither indeed can be"

and

of sin

dead

them

their hearts fully set in

to

it

^*

is

car-

not

under
and

in trespasses

Man's

do evil."

deliverance from this spiritual death and servitude to sin

and Satan,

^'is

runneth, but of

that

showeth mercy."

those very numer-

Take

ous passages of Scripture which

ascribe to the

dominion,

lost, blind,

ascribe

all

all

men

enemies

to

as

dead in

God and

sin,

and the curse, are found

all

under

helpless

those prophecies, in which the figures of dry bones,


ity

Spirit,

all

the character and state of fallen


its

Holy

those which
those which represent
those which represent

as his fruits, the graces of piety

regeneration to the same agency

change as a new creation

all

that

But quotations

need not be further continued.

this

him

not of hijn that willeth nor of

God

all

steril-

those records of history,

which describe the progress of the gospel and the conversion of


facts,

men

to

God

and

all

those supplications, directions,

and promises, which indicate a reliance on Christ and

the

Holy

me

if

Spirit for sanctification

and salvation

then

tell

there can remain a doubt of man's inability and

crime.

What now

are the uses to be

One very important


If

men

use

is to

made

of this doctrine?

humble man

before God.

are so sinful that they cannot deliver themselves,

either

from

to be

humble.

its

curse or from

They have

its

dominion, they have reason

reason to be humbled under a

sense of their sinfulness and their impotence.

few things of which men


of power.

There are

are more inclined to be proud than

Children early discover a disposition to glory

in their strength, or their capacity to accomplish

what they

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

32

Men

consider important.
all its

relations and influence,

their imaginations,

in

by the Holy
themselves

and are prone

to

at the disposal of

humbled

to be

this doctrine

"Whoso

manifested in them.

feel

The pride
own benefit and God
his own power may be

sovereign mercy.
for .his

humbled, that

will have sinners

in

become vain

they are prostrated in the dust, and

Spirit,

man needs

power

forgetting their sin and weakness

But when once they are taught

before God.

of

are naturally fond of

exalteth himself shall be

abased."

Another use of the doctrine


So long

as sinners perceive

no danger, and

God

their ability to turn themselves to

No

representations of their danger.

much

he considers

There
and

is

no

sin.

feel confident in

at

any time, they

sinner will be likely

anxiety for the salvation of his soul, while

depending on

as

it

truth,

convince

ger, than their lost, helpless


felt this

his

own

choice or ability.

which the Holy Ghost more frequently

efficiently uses, to

publican

men of

mercy, or care for the

will not listen to the invitations of

to feel

convince

to

is

when he

men

of their sin and dan-

by

condition

cried,

"God

nature.

The

be merciful to

me

fully does the Spirit convince men of their


when he draws them to Christ, that their cry
^^Lord save, or we perish;" and ever after they live and

a sinner.

'^

So

helplessness,
is,

walk by

faith,

looking to Christ, in

whom

is

their strength,

and depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance.

The
teaches

Spirit often teaches sinners their

them

their helplessness

danger before he

they look more

of their conduct than the sin of their hearts.

they

commence an

effort to

make themselves

at the sin

In such cases
better.

They

try expedient after expedient, confident that they can turn

themselves to God.

But under the teaching of the

Spirit

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.

make themselves worse

they learn that they

imminent dangor of

in

is

make

has power, he will

him perceive
tion,

his soul

if

he

has, or think

he

But

let

exertion for his safety.

that he is ready to sink into everlasting perdi-

feel that his sin renders

and

distress will

his soul;

fill

Spirit, despair

and

if

and

is

him

helpless, an

agony of

Christ had not sent the

would drink up

trusts in Christ,

the

instead of bet-

Let a sinner perceive that he deserves endless misery

ter.

and

33

his

own

spirit.

Holy

Then he

thus drawn by the blessed agency of

Holy Ghost.

But here

it

may

possibly be asked,

suppose

it is

even wrest

it

if this

doctrine be not

from seeking the Lord ?

calculated to discourage sinners

possible for cavillers to pervert the truth, and

own destruction; but that it is calcumen from trusting in Christ and accept-

to their

lated to discourage

ing salvation, as

it is

freely offered to them, I cannot admit.

know that some have said the doctrine is calculated to


lead men to sit down quietly and wait God's time to save
I

them, alleging, that

if

he do not save them, the

be in the Saviour, and not in themselves.

came from
But

if

a sinner, deeply anxious for his soul's salvation.

the objection

were founded

would not be to quiet the feelings.


I think,

may

in fact, the influence

Suppose

illustrate the influence of the

Were it announced

tended in the objection.

a case,

in

it

to us, that the

be

filled

what

lie

if

we

re-

few moments longer we must inevitably be

consumed, and that

would we

which,

sentiments in-

flames are encroaching upon this house, and that

main

fault will

This cavil never

we

are unable to get out of the house

down and

sleep

with wakeful agony.

No, every bosom would

But

to

make

the case some-

parallel to the real situation of the simler,

suppose two things more

we must

that our sinfulness alone disables

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

34

God

us from escaping, and that

Then

his efficient and certain relief.


in the flame to night,

entreating us to accept

is

if

we

should perish

would there not be crime

Would

helplessness in our case?

as

well as

there not be a striking

analogy in the feeling, likely to be excited in such a case,


to the conviction of sinners taught of

the analogy

is

To my mind

God?

easily traced.

It is again objected that this

doctrine sets aside the use of

means with impenitent

To

sinners.

un-

this I reply, in

that exactly the reverse

qualified terms,

is

If the

true.

excellency of the power were of men, every thing would

But

be confused, uncertain, and discouraging.


of God, and not of men,

on his

ability,

which

is

means with the end.

we may hope

since

it

is

for success, relying

constant and efficient to connect the

This

is

too plain to need further

illustration.

It is further objected, that it is inconsistent

to exhort sinners to repent or

and useless

perform any Christian duty,

know

if this

doctrine be true.

some

ears to hear such addresses to sinners as **look

blind

hear

ye deaf

awake

from the dead, and Christ


not

many

men

ye

thou that sleepest and arise

shall give thee light."

But

so

think such exhortations useless.

doubt
it

is,

are thus described and thus exhorted in the gospel of

Christ
tent?

sounds very singular to

it

and

God

who

will undertake to say they are inconsis-

has ordered us in the gospel commission to

announce most

distinctly^ the guilt, helplessness,

of sinners; and at the

command them

same time

to repent.

and misery

to exhort, entreat,

Our warrant

is

plain,

and

and our

prospect of success, in these announcements, rests on the

mission of the

Holy

Spirit.

When

the voice of the Spirit

accompanies the exhortation, sinners hear and come to

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.

35

trine with

have already shown the consistency of the docGod's commands, and this rests on the same

principle.

But

Christ.

me

say once for

must not longer dwell on


the

all,

human

have employed their utmost

heart and

this topic

human

very strong

closed

by the

markedone

be distinctly

fact

Here

fixed

and

upon the character of the heart

light

me,

for I

him with shame,

No

am undone."

tians

deep
is

by the

Spirit of

use of this doctrine

is

God.

to lead Chris-

and ministers of the gospel to cultivate a sense of

pray for his agency.

No

matter

power may be considered by


entire

which alone can bring men

sensible

how

men

must

Spirit's blessed

and

and glory.

feel

agency,

to Christ, enlighten their

for his service

minds

The more

are of their helplessness and real necessity,

more they

will pray for the grace of

trine tends to induce .in Christians a

God.

is

sent to humble,

The

doc-

more constant sense of

responsibility under the gospel administration,

Holy Ghost

Spirit,

great man's physical

others. Christians

dependence on the

and sanctify them

the

in

dis-

crying, ^^wo

dependence on the special influence of the Holy

their

intel-

as dis-

cavil or objection can stand

before a conscience enlightened

A very important

let a

and teaching of the Holy Ghost,

arms every objection, and prostrates the sinner


self-abasement, and covers

let

multiply and propa-

efforts to

gate objections and cavils against this doctrine.

ligent look within,

ingenuity

where the

enlighten, sanctify,

and

guide them in the knowledge of his will, and discharge of


Christian duty.
bility

Dependence on the

Spirit

and responsi-

The whole gospel urges upon us this


Holy Ghost. He takes of the
and shows them unto us and we cannot

go together.

sense of dependence on the


things of Christ,

be too thoroughly impressed with the importance of relying

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

36

on

Christians do not pray enough for this

this influence.

blessed agency; and too often they attempt the perform-

ance of duty with

little

or no sense of their dependence.

explains their frequent failure

This

While Paul recognized,

their graces.

"without

Christ's declaration,

me ye

fully, the truth of

can do nothing," his

and confident reliance on the influence of the

humble

Ghost, enabled
Christ,

and the meagreness of

who

him

"I can do

to say,

strengthens me."

standing, and relying on their

own

view of the helpless condition

They

and

in grace

their

own

more

under-

strength.

will

of sinners, ministers of the

likely to rely

agency

for his

on the

accompany

to

Spirit's influence,

their ministrations.

keep the doctrine of the Holy

distinctly in their

own and

the

view of

Spirit's

others.

agency

It

was a

judicious remark of a sensible elder in the Church,


ministers of the gospel would honour

more

in

ful-

the influence of this sentiment of dependence, and

gospel will be

and pray

things through

all

It is not a sense of inability,

which prevents Christians from growing


filling their obligations, but leaning upon

Under

Holy

their preaching, the

the

"if

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost would honour

them."

One
its

direct object of preaching the gospel

is,

to

of sin

their lost,

sin,

everlasting destruction from the presence of the

from the glory of


to

convince

disabled, perilous condition under


of
influence of the direct and certain consequence of

men

his

power.

Lord and

Another important object

is,

convince or teach them of the righteousness, not only of

the law

which condemns

alone they can be justified


tion

by

Christ,

thorn,

but of

Clirist,

to explain the

by which

scheme of

salva-

and the principles of the administration

INABILITY OF SINNERS CONSIDERED.


under which they are planned.
in the

This

words which man's wisdom

Holy Ghost

how

teaches.''

is

to

37

be done, " not

teaches, but

which the

necessary that ministers of

Christ should be deeply impressed with the sense of their

dependence on

They

heavenly instruction and influence!

this

should go from their closet to the pulpit, to the

They

family, and every parochial service.

the case of sinners before the

mercy

should carry

seat, unite the

convic-

tion and conversion of their souls to the intercession of

Jesus Christ, which alone can prevail, to send

down

the

answer of peace.

One important

practical question

tracted discussion.

assembly.

Is the

you

is

striving with you.

not the

must

close this pro-

every individual in

That some such

Be

here, I doubt not.

Holy Ghost.

this

your salvation;

inclinations

cautious that

you

are
,.-

resist

Recollect that you live under an

which

administratioii in

to

seek the Lord, be sure the Spirit

feel inclined to

awakened

it

agency of the Holy Spirit drawing you?

If

for

propose

this is the last

resist this,

agency employed

and you must perish forever.

Recollect that you live in a time greatly distinguished for

You

the outpouring of this blessed influence.

yourselves a fearful responsibility,


influence.

if

you

take upon

resist the gracious

You may, for aught I know, have come very


when it shall be said of you as of

near to that point,

Ephraim, "let him alone."


pect!

How

the

your carelessness

Holy

tremendous the pros-

urgently should this caution be pressed upon

your excited attention


that

How

Spirit;

and

And ye

costs

wo

careless ones,

you no small

be to you,

when you

succeeded effectually in quenching the

remember

efforts to resist

Spirit.

shall

have

>

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

38

Christian brethren! take heed that

Holy

Spirit of promise.

you grieve not the

Cherish his influence; live under

his guidance; pray for his agency to convince

perishing sinners.
bless,

and save us

May
all

the

Lord

and convert

hear, answer, forgive

in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.


LECTURE

II

Delivered on the Evening of the 27th November, 1831, by the

Rev. Jacob J. Janeway, D. D. of

THE FALL OF MAN AND

Rom.
"Wherefore, as by one
sin;

man

ITS EFFECTS.

v. 12.

all

men,

for that all

subject assigned for discussion this

" the fall of man and

Yorlc,

sin entered into the world,

and so death passed upon

The

New

its effects.^^

The

and death by

have sinned."

evening,

is,

passage just read

will bring both parts of the subject distinctly to view.

The

inspired writer's chief design in this epistle

illustrate

and establish that fundamental

religion, justification

The

faith

in our

necessity of this free and gracious

Having proved

all

be in such a

state,

tiles, to

article of

method of

Christ.

justifica-

state of the

mankind, Jews

to

our holy-

Lord Jesus

founded on the sinful and guilty

tion, is
race.

by

is,

human

as well as

Gen-

and under the curse of God's

violated law, the Apostle deduces from his premises, this

incontrovertible conclusion: "Therefore, by the deeds of

the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for

by

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

42
the law

is

knowledge of

the

He

sin.''*

immediately to exhibit the plan of

then proceeds

infinite

wisdom

for

delivering us from our fallen and helpless condition; show-

ing

how

believers are ^^justified freely"

through the redemption that


other words, ^^how

works

to

him

that

*^

grace,

in Christ Jesus;" or, in

is

God imputeth
worketh

by divine

not,

righteousness without

but believeth on

him

that justifieth the ungodly, "t

To remove
them

the prejudices of the Jews, and to reconcile

to the truth,

trious father, in

he evinces that Abraham, their

whom

they gloried, was

way;

righteous, in this

justified, or jnade

was thus

that he

illus-

justified

while

uncircumcised; that circumcision was designed for the


purpose, not of introducing a
but of confirming that

mable blessing

to

by

faith,

new method

of justification,

and transmitting

this inesti-

every believer, whether Jew or Gentile,

throught he operation of that gracious covenant, in which

Abraham was

constituted

father

of the faithful, under

Christian as well as under the Jewish dispensation. J

Pursuing his design, the Apostle begins in the text the


parallel

he runs between Christ and Adam; and by show-

ing that as

all

mankind

fell,

by

the offence of their

common

progenitor, into a state of sin, guilt, and condemnation, so

who

all

believe are restored,

by the obedience of

Christ, to

a state of righteousness, peace, and acceptance with

and then he establishes the adaptation of


to the case of all
to

need

The
fall

men; and, consequently, proves the Jews

its relief as

really as the uncircumcised Gentiles.

text contemplates the

of his posterity.

Rom.

iii,

20.

God;

this gracious plan

fall

of the

man, and the

first

Both parts of our subject are included

Rom.

iv. 5, 6.

Rom.

iv. 9, 17.

THE FALL OF MAN AND


and

in its terms,

ITS EFFECTS.

43

your serious and unpreju-

to both I invite

diced attention.

The fall of the

I.

Adam,
happy

As

state.

first

man.

known, was created

well

is

it

his

body was brought

into existence in a

mature condition, capable of performing


of a

full

ponding

grown man;

so his soul

with

state of maturity,

developed, and
volition,

and

fitted for all

in a holy and

all

the operations

was created

all its

noble faculties fully

the diversified acts of intellect,

The knowledge he

affection.

in a corres-

displayed of

the marriage relation, the facility with which he imposed


appropriate names on

all

him

the animals brought to

for the

purpose, and the intelligent intercourse he enjoyed with


his Creator, furnish clear proofs of his having been created
in a state of mental maturity.

Besides,
rian, that

we

are distinctly informed

Adam

by an

his likeness'y'^^ and

that

the

the sacred histo-

inspired Apostle,

we

found, that

sought out

That our

"Lo,

God made man (Adam)


many inventions. J
first

this

his relations,

mind was enlightened.

and of his

The

duties, as his

His heart was

26, 27.

pure

his

perfect

loved his Creator as fervently as duty

demanded; and he was

i.

as

volitions of his holy

will accorded entirely with the dictates of

He

only have I

upright; but they have

state of probation required, is clear.

Gen.

are taught

parent possessed as distinct a knowledge of

God, of himself, of

judgment.

after

image of God denotes especially knowledge,

righteousness, and true holiness, t

as his

by

was created "in the image of God,

tCol.

fully inclined to render all the acts

iii.

10.

Eph.

iv.

24.

Eccles.

vii.

29.

.0^

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

44

homage and obedience prescribed by the

of

In a

law.

word, he was entirely free from every moral defect, and

was what

Maker

his

required

him

to be.

and holiness,

Created in this state of intelligence, purity,

Adam was

perfectly happy, enjoying not only the plea-

sures of that delightful garden in

which he was placed, and

intercourse with that rational and unequalled female

panion
but

whom
and

also,

chiefly,

communion

the smiles and

In his garden he walked,

Maker.

com-

the bounty of his Creator had given him;

of his

admiration of

the

angels and the envy of devils, lord of this, and heir to a


better world.

With

this

highly gifted creature, the

scended to enter into a covenant, in

mised

as the

God

was pro-

It is

worthy of remark,

has regulated his dealings with

covenant engagements.

Noah and

life

reward of obedience, and death threatened

the penalty of disobedience.


in every age,

Most High conde-

which

He

as

that

men by

established a covenant with

with Abraham and his seed;

his descendants;

with David and his offspring; with Phineas and his children; and ought any to be surprised,
that

God made

when

it

is

affirmed

covenant with the parent of our race?

the brief history given of

him by Moses, we discern

In
all

that belongs to a covenant; the parties, the stipulations,

the promise, the threatening, the

And when

it is

seal,

and the

recollected, that a covenant

with Christ, the head of the

new

assent.

was established

creation,

the

second

Adam, can it be doubted that a covenant was established


with him who was his type, the head of the old creation,
the

first

says,

by

Adam?

Reproving

his ancient people, the

his prophet Hosea, ''They, like

Lord

men," [Jidam

THE FALL OF MAN AND

ITS EFFECTS.

45

have transgressed the

in the original) "they, like Jldajn,

covenant."*

This covenant was not only just and equitable, but

Adam

gracious.

also

powers

was endowed with ample

to

promised

perform

its

condition,

reward.

By

the positive precept annexed to the moral

and thus secure

the

law, his obedience seems to have been so concentrated to

one point, that here alone danger of

was

to be appre-

hended; and had he duly guarded himself in

this quarter,

he would probably have been


Besides, his

trial,

failing

safe in

every other point.

which, without this covenant arrange-

ment, would have been indefinitely extended

was reduced

to a very brief term, that

have lasted longer than the

But

this

fruit

as to time,

would not probably

he was forbidden

to eat.

adorned as he was with the

noble creature,

moral image of God, honoured with his smiles and com-

munion, and aspiring

after a higher state

from that holy and happy condition,


placed

by

alone, he

The circum-

Through the agency

enemy both

of

God and man,

prevailed with our

common

made with him, by

eating the forbidden fruit .t

parents,

parent to violate the covenant

sin could gain admission into the

who

of Eve,

had previously and successfully

tempted, Satan, the great

How

fell

deplorable apostacy are briefly stated

inspired penman.

whom, when

of being,

which he had been

the munificence of his Creator.

stances of this most

by the

in

minds of our

had been created perfectly holy, or

first

how

it

gained an entrance into the holy minds of angels, and

converted them into fiends of darkness, I do not under


take

to

explain.

* llosea,

It

vi. 7.

is

deep, unfathomable mystery,

Gen.

iii.

1, 6.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

46

which God has not revealed.

I content

myself with stating

the fact, and the circumstances that are revealed.

Dreadful were the


Conviction of guilt

and

of the

him with shame.

filled

voice,

effects

made him

which was before music

Conscious of
to his ear,

ill-desert, that

and awakened in

no emotions but those of delight,

his breast

him with

man's apostacy.

first

sensible of his nakedness,

terror, that

now

inspired

prompted the vain attempt of hiding

himself from an omnipresent and omniscient Being,


the trees of the garden.

the culprit

At

command

the

Convicted of having

compelled to appear.

is

violated the covenant,

sentence

among

of his Judge,

pronounced on him.

is

The ground is cursed with barrenness on his account. He


is doomed to labour and toil, and to eat his bread in the
sweat of his brow, and in sorrow of heart.
death was passed on him: ^^Dust thou

art,

Sentence of

and unto dust

shalt thou return."

Deprived of that divine image in

which he was

he became totally depraved, dead in

created,

trespasses and sin,

had

it

and alienated from the

life

of God; and

not been for the wonderful interposition of divine

grace in his favour, through the promised seed, the calamities

of his earthly

bitter

most deeply
was,

we

grace, of

II.

us

would have been succeeded by the

as

he was with the

hope, selected to be the

which

grace might

let

life

pangs of eternal death. Our great progenitor, stained

it is

guilt of a ruined world,


first

triumph of that rich

recorded, ^^That where sin abounded,

much more

abound.''

Having contemplated the fall of the first man,


now contemplate the fall of his posterity.

The connexion between


apostacy of his children,

is

the apostacy of
a subject

Adam

worthy of our

and the
serious

THE FALL OF MAN AND

ITS EFFECTS.

47

and devout investigation; a subject that has been frequently


discussed, and in their views of

which Christian divines

widely.

differ

Some

was

It

first sin.

ble for

we have

boldly affirm,
his,

We are

not ours.

not at

fVe did not eat the forbidden

it.

existence

when our common

of his sin

is

*In the

nothing to do with Adam's

first

father

a novel doctrine, a

mere

number of the 2d vol. of " the

responsi-

all

we had no

fruit;

The imputation

fell.

fable.*

and Theologi-

Biblical Repertory

cal Review," edited at Princeton, N. J. p. 77, will be found a valuable paper,


entitled "

traces

who

The early History

up the

In that paper, the writer

of Pelagianism."

belief of the imputation of Adam'' s sin to the days of Augustin,

shows that

flourished in the fifth century, and

as a doctrine that had always been

That the Jews were

it

commonly received

familiar with the doctrine o^ imputed sin,

manifest from the sacrificial system, in which

it

was

daily held

"

view, and especially on the great day of atonement.

upon the head of the

lay both his hands

was then regarded

in the Church.

the iniquities of the children of Israel^

live goat,

and

is

perfectly

up

to their

And Aaron

shall

and confess over him

all their

all

transgressions in all

their sin^

putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away

by a

man

fit

into the wilderness;

and the goat shall bear upon him aix

THEIR iNiauiTiEs uuto a land not inhabited." Lev. xvi. 21, 22.

In the conclusion of Edwards^ discourse on original

number of

extracts to show, that " there

is

sin, will

be found a

a great deal of reason, from the

ancient Jewish writers, to suppose, that the doctrine of original sin had even

been allowed in the open profession of that people." In that taken from 2 Esd.
iii.

who wrote

21,

ble words,
tation

"

before the Saviour's birth, are contained these remarka-

which looks very

thou

like

Adam, what

an acquaintance with the doctrine of impu-

hast thou done

sinned, thou art not fallen alone, hut

our point

is

we all

that

For though

the language of another ancient Jewish writer,

Christ's appearing

" It

is

it

was thou that

come of thee^

generations; because on the day that

Adam was

all

more

to

lived after

no wonder that the sin of Adam and Eve

ten and sealed with the king's ring, and to be propagated to

finished, so that

Still

who

is

writ-

following

created, all things

were

he stood forth the perfection and completion of the whole

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

48

It is perfectly

assertions; but they

make such

easy to

are reconcileable neither with the language of Moses, nor

who

with the language of those theologians

How

obvious

is

it

to

any one who

the inspired history of the

fall,

utter them.

attentively examines

Judge of

that the

all

the

earth had, in passing sentence on the offending pair, respect

That

to all their descendants?

all

mothers participate in

the peculiar sorrows of their mother Eve,

and alike incontestable


toil

and sorrow

to

is it,

which

nothing to do with the

that

men

all

Adam was
first

sin

is

are

undeniable;

doomed

of

to the

we had
Adam, why are we
If

sentenced.

included in the sentence pronounced on account of

Why

was the

entire constitution of nature

And why

punishment?

changed

it?

for its

did the curse of barrenness de-

Eden, Adam's residence, but on the

scend, not only on

whole earth?
Equally irreconcileable are these assertions with the
language used by those Christian divines

when speaking on

That

the subject.

who

utter them,

"Adam

was our

"was not on
admitted by them.
They also

federal head and representative, '^ and that he


trial for

himself alone,''

teach " that

were

by

is

a divine constitution,

to have, in their natural state, the

all

his descendants

same character and

condition with their progenitor;" and that "the universality

and certainty of

sin, therefore, are

workmanship of the world;

so that

whose sin we bear and suffer.

logical science.

in every age,

and

learn

how

he sinned, the whole world sinned;

But the matter

How clear and

the sins of his posterity."

From this, we may

when

not the result of imita-

is

not thus with respect to

decided this language

valuable are the recent discoveries in theo-

doctrine that has been taught in the Christian

in the

Church

Jewish Church before the advent of our blessed

Lord, has, in this age of discovery, been found out to be a novel doctrine

THE FALL OF MAN AND

ITS EFFECTS.

49

tion or accidental circumstances, but of a divine constitu-

Who

tion.^^

We
are, in

can reconcile such conflicting statements?

have nothing

do with Adam's

to

consequence of

born under a divine constitution

it,

renders the sinning of

that

every one of his natural

We

descendants certain and inevitable!


responsible for

Adam's

and yet we

sin;

sin;

are not at

and yet, on account of

are delivered up to the certainty of sinning!


a terrible punishment?

reconciled, I confess

The

fall

of the

it

be above

to

my

comprehension.

fall

of his posterity,

believe to be inseparably connected.

statement of your Shorter Catechism,

To
we

*<The covenant being made with

scribe:

for himself, but for his posterity; all

that

we, with our

bidden

fruit

nor that

we

own

from the

cordially sub-

By

in

that his sin


this

kind

know

is

fell

meant

hands, actually plucked the for-

tree,

and eat

had, at the time of

first

it

with our

Adam's

fall,

own mouths;

a real existence

we

nor that

parent one natural person^ so

was one actual and personal

Nothing of

sin.

Our brethren know

intended.

him, and

this is not

so as to be capable of personally sinning;

constituted with our

not only

mankind descending

transgression."

first

we

the scriptural

Adam,

from him by ordinary generation, sinned


with him, in his

we

Is not this

If these opposite statements can be

man, and the

first

it,

all

it,

or ought to

it.

But we mean,

that as

Adam

was, by the supreme Lord

of heaven and earth, in that covenant he condescended to

make with him, appointed ouv federal head and

represen-

tative, his act was, in this sense, regarded as our act;

we

are justly

sentative,

by

and

viewed
as

as

having sinned in him, our

and

repre-.

being rendered guilty in the sight of God,

his first transgression.

His

sin

is

imputed

to us, not

on

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

50

Adam

the ground of our relation to

as our

but on the ground of the relation

our covenant representative.

we

but

latter relation;

relation constito establish the

we
of Adam, because we

by no means

follows, that

his children; for then all his sins ought to be


us, contrary to the doctrine of Scripture,

we

as

which

justly chargeable with the offence

teaches us, that

father,

him

The former

tuted indeed a proper foundation on


it

common

sustain to

are
are

imputed to

which plainly

are held responsible for his

first sin

alone.

The

principle of

imputation

very texture of human

is

interwoven with the

Remove

affairs.

it,

and the wheels

of civil government would cease to revols^e, confusion

would prostrate the

facit per alium, facit per

se,'' is

every student of law, which


thus: **he

who

''Qui

edifice of civil society.

fair

a Latin

may

maxim

familiar to

be rendered in English

does any thing by another person,

considered as having done

it

that the act of an attorney

himself."

is

Who

is

justly

does not

know

the act of his principal; that

the act of an agent

is

the act of his employer; that the act

of a representative

is

the act of his constituents; and that

the act of an ambassador


this State, the

people

personal attendance

is

the act of his government?

make
at

all

their

own

laws, not

the seat of goverment,

In

by

but by

sending thither a few individuals chosen by them, and


invested with

Now,

power

to deliberate

and act

in their

in all these cases, the principle of

name.

imputation

is

applied, so that the personal acts of certain individuals are,


for

particular purposes, and

to

be the acts of other individuals by

personally done.

to a definite extent, reported

whom

they are not

THE FALL OF MAN AND


Precisely similar

mankind sinned

our meaning,

is

We

Adam.

in

ITS EFFECTS.

when we

51

affirm that all

do not say they sinned

personally or actually , but virtually, federally, repreJehovah,

sentatively.
race of

was

men

head and representative

imputes his

them, as

to

him

to appoint

act for

whole

this purpose,

their

them, justly

by which the covenant was

first sin,

violated,

had been committed by them, holds them

if it

responsible for

to try the

and who, for

wisdom,

pleased, in his infinite

federal

to

who determined

in their first parent,

it,

and subjects them

to its threatened

pun-

ishment.

This

and

is

our meaning, this the doctrine of your Church,

But

this is the doctrine of the Bible.

it is

contested,

and must be proved.

My

hearers, if

testimonies, that

can be proved, from clear scriptural

it

all

the natural descendants of

condemned on account of
subject to
it,

in its

its

for this sin

Adam

that they are

are
all

threatened penalty, and w^ould have to endure

whole extent, were

divine grace

it

that infants are

that all

nature

and

many

words, that

men

not for the interposition of

condemned and

actually die

Adam

a depraved

receive from

that the inspired writer tells us, almost in so

arguments can be

we wish

truth

his first sin

to

all

men

fairly

sinned in

made

Adam;

if all

these

out, then, surely, the great

prove will be fully and firmly estab-

lished.
It will
infidels,

The

be seen that in this argument

who

reject the authority of the

truth under consideration

is

do not address

Holy

Scriptures.

matter of pure revelation,

and, of course, the arguments to prove

it.

must be drawn

from the Scriptures, and they will have weight only with
those

who

are willing to submit their faith to the testimony

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

52
of

God speaking

my

urging

proofs,

Such

word.

in his

could wish

while

I address; and,

my

hearers had their

Bibles in their hands, and were looking carefully at the


latter part of the chapter containing

tion of divine revelation will, in

my

That por-

text.

connexion with a few

other passages elsewhere recorded, furnish ample and decisive evidence of the important truth to be established

by

and which

we

the arguments which have just been stated,

now proceed
1.

to illustrate

and urge.

All the natural descendants of

on account of

With

so

surprising

Adam

condemned

are

his first sin.

much plainness is this fact taught, that it seems


how any professing Christians can deny it. In

we read these words:


one many be dead;" that

the 15th V.

^^for if

offence of

is

through the

by

legally,

tence of death passed upon them: in the 16th v.

judgment was hy one


V.

to

we

used to teach us, that

to

are judicially

Were you

first sin.

condemned on

to enter a court of

and hear a judge solemnly pronounce sentence of

death on a

human being

diately conclude

when,

all

Plainer language than this could not be

account of Adam's
justice,

in the ISth

one judgment came upon

''by the offence of

CONDEMNATION."

condemnation:" and

a sen-

'^for the

led

he was

by sacred

for

some crime, you would imme-

guilty,

Scripture,

and hear the Judge of


sentence of death on

all

all

and deserved

to die

and

you enter the court of heaven,

the earth solemnly pronounce

men

for

Adam's

first sin,

can you

hesitate to believe, that they are guilty; that they are justly

chargeable with

mitted

it,

it

and that

or, in other

great representative?

in

some way they have com-

words, have sinned in

Adam, their
God would

Surely a just and holy

THE FALL OF MAN AND

ITS EFFECTS.

not lay this sin so to their charge, as to


it,

were

if it

All

2.

Adam's
were

men

condemn them

endure

to

for

legal. sense.

penalty due

are actually subject to the

and would have

sin,

and

not theirs in a just

53

it,

to

in all its extent,

not for the merciful interposition of divine grace in

it

favour of some.

This follows

ment

for if

men

are

condemned

they must certainly be subject to

sin,

from the argu-

as an indisputable inference

just closed

its

for

Adam's

penalty; because

sentence of condemnation always expresses the punishment

due

to the transgression.

^^And

Apostle in the text, ^^passed upon

Again, in the 14th

sinned."

death reigned from

Adam

v.

so death,'' affirms the


all

men;

he says, ^^Nevertheless

Moses, even over them

to

that had not sinned after the similitude of

Adam's

trans-

Death has reigned from the days of Moses

gression,"

the present time; and death, '4he

wages of sin ^

successively into
its

more

existence,

till

come

And

the end of time.

terrible forms, will reign

to

will con-

tinue to reign over unborn generations, as they shall

death, in

have

for that all

over millions

of our race, and would thus reign over every son and

daughter of our fallen parents, were

it

not for that rich

"grace which reigns through righteousness unto eternal


life,

by Jesus Christ our Lord."

Contemplate,
look

at the

fallen

my

hearers, this universal reign of death;

immeasurable triumph he has gained in

world; behold the desolations he has made

the generations he has trodden in the dust: and

earth,

when you

reflect that

he received his commission thus

reign and triumph over men,

Adam,
sin

this

in the

can you doubt that

If

it

on account of the

we have

were not justly imputed

to

sin of

deep interest in that

to us,

why

should the

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

54

penalty be inflicted on us

and that too in execution of a

by the

formal sentence of condemnation passed on us,

We might suiSer

righteous Judge, for this very sin?

in consequence of the sins of others, and yet


free

from the

guilt of

them: but

it

is

Adam's

should be condemned for

much

be entirely

not possible, that

we

by the Almighty,

sin

and endure the penalty, and yet be entirely free from

its

guilt.

Infants are

3.

condemned, and actually

die, for

Adam's

SIN.

Their case

is

worthy of

attentive consideration.

Con-

template the manner in which they enter this fallen world.

How are

Not

they born ?

in ease

and pleasure ; not amid

They come

smiles and joy; but in pain and sorrow.

cry-

ing into the world; and often perish on the very threshold
of

life.

row

How

is

this to

be accounted for?

are the penal consequences of sin; but

Pain and sor-

why

are infants,

before they are chargeable with any actual sin, subject to


these penal evils?

Why does

a good and righteous

treat

them

Why

are they brought to the grave

they are

as sinners, if

convulsive agonies?

What

in

God

no sense sinners?

by severe pains and

multitudes of infants perished

How many suffered in the conflaSodom and Gomorrah, those wicked cities
angry God consumed with fire and brimstone?

in the general deluge?

grations

of

which an

What immense numbers

have, in successive generations of

men, perished by disease and

different calamities?

If infants are not fallen creatures; if

sinners;

this

explained and vindicated.


creatures,

they are in no sense

procedure of divine providence cannot be

who have

But admit

sinned in

Adam,

that they are fallen

their federal

head

and representative, and, therefore, justly subject to the

THE FALL OF MAN AND

ITS EFFECTS.

penal consequences of sin; and then the question

55
solved;

is

the difficulty pressing on this fact of God's moral govern-

ment over the world,

make them moral

to

and subjected often

ners,

We

removed.

see the reason

whose mental powers are not

w^hy infants,

developed

is

Speaking of

to great pain

infants, the

sufficiently

agents, are treated as sin-

and agony.

Apostle says, in the 14th

v. that

they *^have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's


transgression

sinned at

all

;''

but he does not assert that they have not

for his

argument

designed to prove, that,

is

although they have not sinned personally yet they have


^

sinned in their covenant-head; because,


fact,

by subjecting them

ners,

sin.

All

4.

men

derive from

out as sin-

dominion of death, the

to the

"-Sy one man^s

us in the 19th v., '''many were

were not the

mark them

divine providence would not

penalty of

if this

he

disobedience,''^

tells

made sinners."

Adam

a corrupt

moral na-

ture.

How

depravity

is

transmitted from the parent of our

through each successive generation of men,

race,

not undertake to explain.


this point
is

and

it

were pretending

written, to attempt an

mode

Sacred Scripture
to

That

fact is revealed,
all

men

explanation.

and ought

to

I shall

silent

on

be wise above what

appears to be beyond the reach of

But the

is

The particular
human intellect.

be believed.

are sinners; that no man, save Jesus Christ,

our immaculate Lord, was ever perfectly free from

sin,

might be very easily

since our

first

evinced.

Scripture, history, and observation, furnish in-

parent's apostacy;

contestible evidence.

and

how

is

Our

this universal

accounted for?

race

is

universally depraved;

depravity of mankind to be

Neither education, nor imitation will ex-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

66

plain the awful fact

minds

for

we

see this depravity corrupting

from infancy, have been blest with the

that,

influ-

ence of the best education, and watched over with the


care

greatest

parental

that

and anxiety could

affection

sometimes breaking down, in

afford; and

mad

its

career,

the strongest barriers raised for the purpose of restraining

and checking

its

ruinous progress: and

we

see

it

displaying

hateful aspect in children, before they are capable of

its

being influenced by example.

This wide spreading flood of iniquity, which bears along

human

the whole

must be traced

race,

Depravity

source.

polluted

first

some common

to

Adam; and

since come down


The language of our Saviour proves

it

has ever

from father to son, as a sad inheritance.

born of the flesh

Except

new and holy

from his

dom
*^

of

first

Behold,

The

birth

^^he cannot see the king-

in iniquity,

and in

that the wickedness of

his

says,

image

"Adam

;"||

begat a son in his

when

likeness to fallen spirits,

dience to his Creator.

John

viii. 6.

Gen.

vi. 5.

man

Speaking of Seth,

own

likeness, after

not in the image of God, which was im-

pressed on his soul

my

and that every imagination of his

thoughts was only evil continually.^ ^^

Moses

sin did

Other testimonies of inspiration

God saw

in the earth,

lamentation of David proves this:

me.":j:

prove this: *^And

was great

is

sinful.

nature, as he received a depraved nature

was shapen

mother conceive

*'That which

again;" receive, by spiritual birth,

and natural

God."t

this:

flesh;"*' corrupt, depraved,

man be born

**

is

first

created; but in that deformed

which he contracted by
His

posterity,

Job

||

Gen.

iii.

3.

v. 3.

like

his disobe-

himself, are

Ps.

li.

5.

THE FALL OF MAN AND

ITS EFFECTS.

57

deprived of original righteousness; despoiled of those splendid endowments of a holy nature, with which

he was

adorned by his Maker; abandoned to the dominion of a


corrupt heart, and dead in trespasses and

But

we

if

we have

sin.

nothing to do with Adam's

born with a corrupt nature

To

sin,

why

are

be thus degraded

thus deprived of the divine image; thus alienated from the

God

of

life

is

flicted?

we

But

surely a severe punishment.

but the imputed sin of

Were we

Adam

free

for

what

can this punishment be in-

from the

guilt of this sin, surely

should enter this world in a very different way, and be

born with a very different nature


robed, as our

first

we

should come forth

parents were, with the glorious image

of God, and exhibit, as they did, holy desires and obedient


acts in the

commencement

different is this
sinful,

from the

and our

acts

first

But how

of our moral agency.


fact!

Our very

disobedient.

first

desires are

The manner

which we are born, and the nature we bring with us


the world, can be accounted for, only
are guilty of

Adam's

sin.

The

by admitting

in

into

that

we

belief of this revealed truth

sheds light upon the conduct of divine providence; and


explains to us

why

inspiration affirms,

"we

are

it

by nature

(mark the expression) by nature the children of wrath f'^'^


born under the righteous displeasure of the Almighty.

The

reason

is, all

ners through his

the children of
fall.

Adam

Jehovah views

naturally from his loins, as

have become
all

who

sin-

descend

such; and, therefore, justly

withholds from them those original

gifts

of his bounty

with which he had beautified his nature, and abandons


them to that wretched servitude to sin which they have

wickedly chosen, t
* Ephes.
t

ii.

3.

recent writer, in his "views of theology," insists that Calvinistic

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

58

that

Scriptures teach us, almost in so

The

5.

all

have sinned

Adam.

we acknowledge,
a near

and

found in Scripture; but the

to be

language of the Apostle


alent,

words,

identical terms, in this precise arrangement, are

These
not,

in

many

is,

in our opinion, entirely equiv-

approximation to them.

<^By one man," says the inspired writer, "sin entered

That by the term world we are

into the world."

stand

its

disputed

inhabitants,

and not the earth

and consequently

it

by one man.

affirmation

it

To

among

defines

The context
many are dead;"

authors teach the doctrine of physical depravity; that

He

the essence of the soul.


trine ; yet he will have

it

that they do in reality teach

no more than the inference he chooses

same process

it

is,

condem-

to

that

it

belongs to

knows, and admits, that they disclaim the doc-

extracts he gives in proof of his assertion,

the

this

the sin of

speaking.

is

by which "judgment was by one

the offence

to

meaning of

will be necessary to determine

be "the offence by which

to

it

under-

the inhabitants of

ascertain the

which the inspired penman

to

will hardly be

must be admitted, that the

Apostle affirms that sin entered


this earth

itself,

and

to

all

it.

But

after all the

his reasoning,

draw from

it

amounts

their language.

By

might be proved, that the inspired writers themselves

teach physical depravity; for they use, on this subject, language as strong
as that of the Calvinistic writers he cites, and as liable to a perverted conBtruction.

Indeed,

of the

it

soul,

if

he were

would be no

to write a treatise

difficult

on the nature and faculties

thing to prove, by the same process of

reasoning, that he taught the doctrine of materiality; because, in speak-

ing of the

he would necessarily use terms that primarily belonged to

soul,

material things.
soul.
Man was holy,
Man is now depraved, and, by divine grace, he
holy.
What is thus separable from the soul, cannot

Both holiness and depravity are separable from the

and he

is

now

may become
belong to

its

depraved.

perfectly

essence; because the soul

is

a spiritual indivisible substance.

Consequently there can be no such thing as physical depravity, or physical


holineeSf in the sense in

which

this writer uses these terms.

THE FALL OF MAN AND


nation;"

reigned; "the offence of one,"


all

men

Now,

the

upon

to

69

by which

man's offence,"

<^one

the

ITS EFFECTS.

death

by which ^^judgment came

condemnation."*

sin

Adam's personal

because

this,

be merely

cannot

thus characterized
sin

although

brought on

it

him judgment and

death, did not affect his descendants, but

terminated, in

penal effects, on himself.

sin,

its

which, in some sense,

ble the

is

their sin

world should be subject

a sin in

It

for

to the penal

it is

must be a
not possi-

consequences of

which they had no concern, and from the

which they were entirely


expressly

it

was the

Yet the Apostle

free.

us

tells

But how

one man, Adam.

sin of

guilt of

could his sin be the sin of his descendants, in any other

way

by

than

its

being imputed to them, because com-

mitted by their representative?

consequently

it

was just

God

in

demnation and death, for the

were

Such

Adam

sin of

was; and

them

to subject

one by

to con-

whom

they

to stand or fall.

made between Adam's personal sin and


by him as his children's representative,
in reference to one and the same act, may be thus illusSuppose a parent, by his last will and testament,
trated.

The

distinction

the sin committed

bequeathes to a son a portion of his estate in fee simple^


for the use of

and bequeaths the other portions, intended


his other children, to this son as trustee.

the estate, such a

personal

personal

act,

act

name

to a

and in a

Or,

as trustee

In reference to

act in a twofold capacity

representative character.

he would bind

and by his act


relatives.

man would

his

own

by

By

interest in the estate

he would bind the

by one and the same

act,

interest of his

by signing

his

paper drawn up for the purpose, he might bind

Rom.

V.

1518.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

60

whom

he repre-

both his

own

sented.

In this case, one act would be viewed in a twofold

light, as a

interest

personal

and that of those

act,

So

act of his relatives.

and
it

as the act of a trustee, or the

was with Adam.

In the cove-

nant he acted both for himself and for his posterity

whom

he represented; and, consequently, the sin by which he violated the covenant

was both

di

personal

As personal

representative.
as representative

it

it

affected only himself; but

his natural descendants,

we

I ask, if

are taught

not equivalent to his saying that

in

Adam?
But

in the close of the text,

declaration

we

by the Apostle,

men have

all

What

is

words are written

had affirmed that

"by one man

meaning of

the

In the Apostle's argument

is

sinned

find a nearer approxi-

for there these

have sinned."

*<for that all

He

phrase

to this

sin.

all this

it

mation

and the sin of a

affected all

and was, by a legal imputation, their

Now,

sin

we

this

shall find

it.

sin entered into the

world, and death by sin;" and he subjoins this declaration,


as a proof that the sentence of death passed

was

Does he mean, then,

just.

have committed actual

We

illogical

tell

on

this

and inconclusive.

would render

He had

all

to die.

his argu-

spoken of Adam's

and the declaration under consideration

is

brought as

a proof of the justice of a sentence of death passed

men
while

for that sin.


it

would be

But,
a

if

it

it

to assign for a

all

sentence

would furnish no proof

of the justice of the sentence of death passed on

Adam's

on

refer to their actual sins,

proper reason

of death on their account,

men
men

all

us that

and therefore deserve

apprehend not; because

ment
sin,

sin,

to

at all

them

for

sin.

If then this

man's actual

meaning be excluded

sin

to

what can

it

if it

do not refer

to

refer, but to their sin in

THE FALL OF MAN AND

Adam
^^all

man by whom

and conclusive; for

all

deserve to die for his

if all

that

is,

sin entered

This makes his argument perfectly

cal

That

61

His meaning then

as their representative?

have sinned" in the ^^one

into the world."

ITS EFFECTS.

logi-

have sinned in Adam, then

first sin.

this interpretation is correct, will further appear,

from considering that infants mus the included


versal term all in the declaration

for

the Apostle assigns the fact, that

have sinned,"

^^all

justification of the sentence of death passed

he must refer
sentence

upon

in

men,

all

to infants, as well as adults; because the

passed upon them also, and

is

over" them.

in the uni-

undoubtedly when

Infants, then,

*^

death reigns

But how?

have sinned.

Not

personally ; for they are not capable of moral action: yet


an inspired Apostle affirms infants have sinned.

This can

be true only by their sinning in Adam, their representative.

I am aware that some


we have endeavoured to

interpret the declaration to

which

assign a true and consistent

mean-

But

ing, as referring to native depravity.


tation the

same insuperable objection

urged against referring

it

to

to this interpre-

will apply, that

man's actual

sins.

It

was

renders

the Apostle's argument illogical and unworthy of the pen

of an inspired writer;

because the native depravity of

and adults cannot, with any propriety, be offered

infants

as a proof of the justice of a sentence of death passed


all

men

for

Adam's

sin.

No

which the Apostle presents


infants

and

adults,

proof can sustain

the

fact

"have sinned,"

that

in

it

^*all,"

their

upon

but that

both

covenant

representative.

Let

it

be further remarked, that the phrase translated,

"for that
all

all

have sinned,"

have sinned."

may

be rendered, "In

This translation

is

whom

contended for by

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

62

good Greek scholars


the

and they bring

original terms

two

may

proof that

sufficient

properly be so rendered as to

establish this translation.

In view of
I leave

all

my

with

it

been said under this argument,

that has

hearers to decide, whether the Apostle

does not teach, nearly in so

HAVE SINNED

my

Review,

Adam
its

are

condemned

All

the

to

endure

descendants of

All
it,

are subject to

in all its extent,

not for the merciful interposition of divine grace in

it

favour of some

Infants are condemned, and

All men derive from Adam


And Scripture teaches nearly

in so

us,

words, that

actually die

a corrupt moral

for this sin:

nature:

men

which have been

natural

for his first sin

would have

penalty, and

were

words, that all

hearers, the arguments

and urged.

illustrated

many

AdAM?

IN

men have

all

proof be required?

sinned in

Is not this

Jehovah has revealed the

Adam.

enough

fact, that

many

Can more

to satisfy us, that

he does impute to us

the gnilt of Adani^s first sin; and that he regards us as

having fallen and sinned in him, our great representative ?

Two

objections to this doctrine merit notice: and, in

opposition to them, I shall endeavour to show, that the

covenant-arrangement of

infinite

wisdom, which has

result-

ed in an event so calamitous, was both just and good.


Its

ed,

justice

where

is

is

strongly contested.

the justice of

ponsible for a sin

Adam

we

did not

Where,

it is

demand-

procedure that holds us res-

commit

to be our representative, before

and that appointed

we had

existence to

consent to such an arrangement?

The

latter part of this objection is

based on the supposi-

tion, that

our consent was necessary to bring us under the

operation

of the

covenant.

But such

supposition

is

THE FALL OF MAN AND

ITS EFFECTS.

incompatible with the supreme authority of

God

63

AhTiighty.

An

earthly parent can impose duties on a child, and sub-

ject

him

with

to the authority of a teacher

whom

he cove-

nants for his instruction, not only without his consent, but

Can

in opposition to his inclination.

that

it

was necessary

it

then be believed,

for our Creator to ask our consent,

before he could include us in that covenant which he con-

descended

to

He

make with Adam?

sent to be created.

In the

full

did not ask our con-

exercise of his adorable

sovereignty, he selected the time for giving us existence,

determined the place and circumstances of our


designed

parents

the

from

without deigning to consult

whom we

birth,

should

or to ask our consent; and

us,

could not the same sovereign Lord of

all

comprehend

us in

a covenant affecting our interests, without stooping so


as to ask us

whether we were willing

arrangement of

infinite

wisdom?

to abide

The

in obedience to his will,

in baptism.

You were

rite,

by the surrender of your

arrived at

covenant

this audience,

your parents presented you

then incapable of understanding the

meaning of the Christian


yet,

low

by such an

seal of his

was impressed on many of you who compose


when,

and

descend,

or of yielding your consent;

parents,

you were bound, when

an age to understand the subject, to accede to the

terms of the covenant, and to devote yourselves personally


to the adorable
If,

Three, in whose name you were baptized.

then, Jehovah had a right to bring you, without your

consent, within the Christian covenant, and to impose


obligation on

you

a transaction

unbelief, result in fatal consequences


that

make

all

naturally from the


that

can

it

He, the sovereign Lord of heaven and

right to

whom
first

its

which may, through your


be doubted
earth,

had a

he determined should descend

pair of

gracious covenant, which

human

beings, parties in

his infinite

wisdom deemed

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

64

proper

between

establish

to

common

and our

himself

parent?

When God

Adam,

proposed the covenant to

he could not refuse to accede to


fections of his Creator

were

without

it

is

it

plain

The

sin.

per-

a sufficient pledge that the

proposal was just, equitable, and good; and the dependance

of

man on him> and

existence

and

him

his infinite obligations to

faculties,

made

it

for his

duty instantly and

his

without inquiry, to embrace the offer with adoring grati-

The

tude.

proofs, then, that the covenant

be found, not in the fact that

to
its

very nature, and in the

Being who devised

was

just,

acceded to

it,

infinite rectitude of the

And

it.

Adam

to the

are

but in

Supreme

same sources are we

to

look for proofs of the justice of the covenant transaction, in

The

reference to his posterity.

and equity of the

justice

covenant did not depend on the consent of the

was inherently

It

Nor

obtained.
all

just

man.

and equitable, before his consent was

did the justice and equity of

upon the consent of

was

first

his ofispring.

it

depend

at

So just and equitable

in its provisions, requirements, responsibilities, pro-

it

mises, and threatenings, that had


at the time,
to entrust

and

it

all

been in existence

to us

by our

our vital interests in the hands of our

to act as our representative,

proposal,

we

had been proposed

we

Creator,

first

parent

could not have declined the

without dishonouring his infinite wisdom, and

opposing his sovereign and righteous will.

As

the justice, so the s^oodness, of this dispensation of

divine providence,

Had
by

his obedience,

eternal

is

the result of

life,

questioned and denied.

Adam's

trial

been difierent; had he,

merited for himself and his posterity

none would have complained;

rejoiced in the benefits secured to them.

was unfortunate and calamitous.

Adam

all

would have

But the
fell

result

by transgres-

THE FALL OF MAN AND


sion,

and involved

of

65

children in the wide-spreading

all his

many

ruin J and now,

ITS EFFECTS.

them murmur and complain about

the consequences.

How unreasonable
in this transaction,

man's

trial,

to

of

God

not to be determined by the result of

but by the nature of the covenant, and by the

endowments of
ability

is

The goodness

such conduct!

his

new made

creature.

Had man

full

Was

the

perform the required obedience

These

threatening just, and the promised reward glorious?

are the questions to be asked, in relation to the goodness of

God

in this

most interesting

And who

transaction.

that

understands the subject, can hesitate a moment, in giving

an affirmative answer to the inquiries?

The

covenant, then, was good, before the apostacy of

man; and
atfected

Adam,

was good then,

if it

goodness could not be

its

by the unreasonable and inexcusable conduct of


in violating its precepts,

How

and his unborn race.

and thus ruining himself

extravagant would

it

be in a

criminal, suffering justly the penalty due to his offence, to

complain of the severity of an administration that would

have rejoiced

to protect

obedient to the laws.

covenant transaction,
affected

by the

and favour him,


If,

in

fatal result

then,

reference

of his

he had been

Adam, was

to

trial,

if

goodness of this

the

in reference to his posterity, could not be affected

same unhappy event.


to

our

first father,

not

the goodness of

That the covenant,

by the

in its application

was good, has been shown; and none,

presumed, will venture to deny

it

can never be proved to be otherwise than good, in

it.

application to his offspring; because the

same reasons

establish the one, can, with equal force, be urged to

it

This being admitted,

is

the other.

it

its

that

prove

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

66
Besides,

ought to be considered, that this covenant

it

Adam's

chil-

faculties,

and

dispensation was peculiarly kind in respect to

He,

dren.

with his

mature

in the

state of his

glorious endowments, was unquestionably

qualified for the trial, than

any of

He

developed and matured.


to

far better

in an infantile state,

their faculties can be

had stronger motives

obedience than any other

have

his children could

who are brought into existence


must live some years before
who
and
been,

him

mental

man

bind

to

could have had; for

he knew that he was constituted the acting representative


of

his posterity,

all

as his
will.

and that their highest

own, depended on

Had we

all

common

have consented

cordially,

compliance with the divine

been in existence when God established

with our

his covenant

his

interests, as well

to his

parent,

we

appointment

would, most
as

our federal

head and covenant representative, and would have believed


our interests to be more secure in his hands than they

would have been

was "holy,

just,

in

The covenant

our own.

therefore

and good."

Several appropriate reflections might be subjoined to this

But neither our time, nor your patience

discussion.

grant the necessary indulgence.

one

reflection

ful

should

we

be to

for our recovery

the

first

The same

forbear to trespass.

must not be omitted.

God

provision which his infinite

By

from

It is this:

for the gracious

how

will

Yet

grate-

and glorious

wisdom and mercy have made,

a state of sin, guilt,

Adam we fell; by the

and misery

second

Adam we

rise.

principle,

which, in the covenant of w^orks,

resulted in our ruin,

applied to the covenant of grace,

aflects

our salvation.

Adam, our

representative in

the

former, sinned, and thus destroyed the hopes of the world;

but Christ, the Lord of glory, the representative of his

THE FALL OF MAN AND


people, in the latter,
for sin,

ITS EFFECTS.

by yielding the required

67

satisfaction

and by performing most perfectly the demanded

obedience, saves from sin, and death, and hell, and leads

and glory,

to everlasting happiness
fallen

who

race,

believe in him.

overcome by Satan

the millions of our

all

Our

first

parent was

in a garden of delights; but Christ, our

Lord, foiled him in a wilderness, combatted him amidst


poverty, sorrow, and persecution, and finally triumphed

over him on his cross.

The

intelligent reader of our chapter cannot fail to notice

the parallel which the inspired writer runs between Christ

and Adam, and


of the latter
the former,

how he shows

that, as

by the disobedience

we were made sinners, so, by the obedience of


we may be made righteous; and that the grace

of God, through his Son, triumphs, not only over the


sin of

Adam

imputed

to us, but

first

over our numberless and

aggravated personal transgressions, and secures to us eternal


life.

And

might be urged,

this parallel

as an additional

proof of the truth contended for this evening.


Believe

it

then,

my

imagine and represent


the contrary,

it

is

dear hearers;
it,

it

is

not,

as

some

On

an unimportant doctrine.

highly important, particularly in

its

bearing upon another doctrine of deep and vital interest in


the Christian system.
sin,

and

then, to

Deny

the imputation of

Adam's

be consistent, you must discard from your

creed the imputation of Chris fs righteousness to believers, for their justification before

God;

a doctrine which, in

the opinion of the great reformer Luther, was of para-

mount importance
vital; for

in the religion of sinners.

although a

man may, through

tion, disbelieve this doctrine,

that

no sinner ever was

Indeed,

it is

prejudice of educa-

and be saved, yet

or will be conducted

it

is

from

true,
thia

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

QQ

world

fallen

without the imputed righteousness

to heaven,

of our Lord Jesus

Christ.

Believing, then, our

fall

Adam,

in

confess before

that for his first transgression, as well as for

Both

you are justly condemned.

sins,

original as well as actual, should

shame and humiliation

causes for

your personal

classes of offence,

be regarded as proper

in the presence of infinite

Bewail, therefore, at the throne of grace, your

purity.
fall

God,

Adam, and

in

that deeper ruin into

which you have

plunged yourselves, by your numberless and aggravated

But despair

personal transgressions.

and triumphs.
dead.

*^I

am

Adam,

In the second

not;

there

mercy reigns
is

life for

the

the resurrection and the life," said Jesus to

Martha; <^he that believeth in me, though he were dead,


yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in

me,

us bless and praise


infinite

Delightful truth! Joyful new^s! Let

never die."

shall

God

for tlie

wonderful provisions of his

wisdom and mercy, by which the ruins of man's

apostacy are repaired, the lost recovered, rebels pardoned,


the guilty justified, sinners saved, hell-deserving wretches

and the prisoners of justice exalted from the

glorified,

pri-

son house to thrones in heaven, and changed into companions for angels,
their first

and holy

who never fell,


"God so

estate.

but always retained

loved the world that

he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in

him should not

perish,

Cometh the end, when he

dom

to

down
reign

enemy

shall

and

all

he hath put

shall

have put

authority and power; for he must

all

enemies under his

that shall be destroyed


* John,

"Then

have delivered up the king-

God, even the Father; when he

all rule,
till

but have eternal life."

iii.

16.

is

death."

Cor. xv.

2426.

feet.

Amen.

The

last

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES,


LECTURE

III.

Delivered on the Evening of the 25th December, 1831, hy the


Rev. Samuel B. Howe, D.D. of Carlisle.

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.

" Strive to enter in at the strait gate."

The
its

xiii.

importance of genuine piety, and the

24,

difficulty of

attainment and cultivation, are frequently pressed on our

attention in the sacred pages.

pends on our possessing


it,

Luke

it,

innumerable foes oppose

must be surmounted.
every

foe,

stancy,

we

and

To

to bear

The

encourage

every

alluring promises; assistance

dise of

God.

evil

us,

however,

to

meet

with unshrinking con-

most urgent exhortations and

from on high

him who overcometh

to eat of the tree of life,

efforts to obtain

and innumerable obstacles

u.s,

are addressed with

the conflict, and to

salvation of our souls de-

and yet, in our

which

is

is

it *^

offered us in

shall be given

in the midst of the para-

^'

In the passage before us, and in a similar passage in the


gospel of Matthew, the design of our Lord

is

to

show

the

necessity of directing our attention to secure the salvation

of our souls, from a consideration of the difficulties which

10

we

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

70

must encounter

we may
lers,

in so doing,

and from the ease with which

He

mistake and perish.

journeying

to

represents us as travel-

unchanging abodes of

assures us that our final destiny will

conduct.

Wide

^'

is

at."

While

"strait

which leadeth unto


It

becomes

since,

depend on our present

the gate, and broad

leadeth to destruction, and


is

many

there be

is

the

carefully to

that

in there-

the

way

find

it.''

is

and few there be that

us, therefore,

way

who go

the gate, and narrow

life,

wo, and

bliss or

seek to enter

in,

we mistake and fail, the consequences will be


The exposition of the passage is
fearful.

if

tremendously
easy.

through

when

gate usually stands

it

we

at the

are admitted into the

head of a way, and

way,

the term way^


men, means

applied to the actions and condition of

their habitual

temper and conduct; and the narrow way, of

which our Lord speaks, means

which are necessary


enter on this
to holiness,

and, until

that

temper and conduct

thorough conversion from sin

evidenced by unfeigned repentance and

we have experienced

this conversion,

taken one step in the pathway to

bliss.

strait, because of the anguish of

our Lord

original, the

commands

word which

It signifies, to

make

is

faith;

we have

This gate

mind which

companies the commencement of a religious


this gate

We

for our admittance into heaven.

way only by

not

called

is

usually ac-

Into

life.

us to strive to enter.

In the

very

forcible.

translated strive,

is

a violent efibrt; to contend as in

bat; to labour against opposition

com-

with the utmost endeav-

command is evidently
who have not entered the narrow way, who are outside of the gate, who are
living impenitent in sin.
Such are commanded "to strive

our, both of

body and of mind.

This

addressed to the unconverted; to those

to enter in at the strait gate"

that

is,

to

seek for the con-

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.

71

version of their souls, that in the exercise of repentance and

We

ence.

here

may

they

faith,

new

enter on and lead a

need not fear

life

of holy obedi-

our Lord Jesus; and

to imitate

a direct exhortation to the unregenerate to seek for

is

repentance and

they are the

But how

faith.

are they to be sought, since

fruits of the Spirit, the gift of

we never

out his grace

God, and with-

We

them?

shall attain to

reply,

they must be sought in the diligent use of those means of


grace which

God

has appointed, and which are usually ac-

companied with the influences of the Holy


trate,

confirm, and enforce this truth,

suing Discourse; and


cation

what

Two

shall

may

the

Holy

To

illus-

Spirit bless to our edifi-

be spoken.

propositions invite our attention.

There are means of grace; and

I.

Spirit.

the object of the en-

is

means divine

in the use of these

influences are usually received, both for the

conversion of sinners and the edification of believers.


II. It is

the duty of

all

men

diligently to use these means.

Having discussed these two propositions we shall,


III. Notice some objections which have been urged against
the doctrine which

we

advocate, and then,

IV. Conclude with the practical improvement of our


subject.

There are means of

I.

By a

mean,

is

grace.

intended that which, as an instrument, con-

duces to the attainment of an end; and by


are

meant

man

all

those institutions of

in the use of

seeks and usually obtains divine grace.

means

which

All these

are adapted to the rational nature of man, and are

fitted to

inform his mind,

awaken

his afiections.

It

God

means of grace,

pleases

God

for the

to touch his conscience,

illustration of his

and

wisdom,

to

his

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

72

goodness, and his power, to administer his government by

Were

the intervention of means.

he could, by
us

all

that

a direct

we

it

do

his pleasure to

so,

and immediate act of his own, bestow on

need, preserve our existence, give health to our

bodies, and knowledge

manna from heaven;

to

our minds; or he could rain

without the

or,

toil

down

of the husbandman,

he could cause the harvest to spring up in rich abundance

from the earth.


his infinite

Such, however,

wisdom has seen

fit

is

not the method which

His blessings

to adopt.

we can obtain

flow to us through the intervention of means;

them only when we seek them by the use of proper means.


If

we would preserve life, we must usefood if we would


we must practice temperance and prudence;
;

enjoy health,
if

the scholar

ledge, he

would acquire rich

must give

study; and

if

the

his days

stores of various

and his nights to unremitted

husbandmen would

rejoice in the abun-

dance of his crops, he must submit to the


the ground, and of casting into

it

toil

of breaking up

the precious seed.

success of these efforts depends on the blessing of

without

that,

manded,

they will be wholly ineffectual.

therefore, to put

them

forth in

on his assistance and blessing, and thus


cognise him as the author of
tice

all

and admire his perfections

The same system


as that

who

Wisdom's

shall find

who

tliis trutli

are

com-

we

are taught tore-

as exhibited in his

kingdom

works.

kingdom

of Grace

of Providence.

seek, find.

He who

They

watches

gates, waiting at the posts of her doors,

of grace

the appointment of

We

good, and carefully to no-

her," and, along with her,

The means

The

God, and

humble dependence

established in the
in the

ask, receive; they

daily at

keep

is

which prevails

know-

life

become such only

God.

It is

and blessedness.
in

consequence of

of the utmost importance to

steadily in view, for there

is

a sinful pro-

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


pensity in

men

^'In vain do

trines the

commandments

any ordinance,

is

inventions in place of

This propensity God frowns upon

the divine appointments.

and rebukes.

own

to substitute their

73

ye worship

of

men."

me

teaching for doc-

Our warrant

for using-

derived from his appointment of

our encouragement to observe

it,

arises

from

his

it,

while

promise of

accepting and blessing us in so doing.

Whatever appear-

ances of zeal, or of devotion, or of success,

may

be exhibited,

awful delusion must attend the pursuit of any measures

which God has not ordained.

Among

the means which are designed for the conversion

of sinners, and the edification of believers, the three principal are, the preaching of the Gospel; the written

Word of

God, and fervent prayer.

One

of the chief

means of

grace, both for the conversion

of sinners, and the edification of believers,


of the Gospel.

" It hath

pleased

God by

is

the preaching

the foolishness of

"How," asks the


apostle, "shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe on him of whom they
have aot heard? and how shall they hear without a

preaching to save them

who

believe."

preacher?"

The

ministry of reconciliation was appointed by the Re-

deemer, just before his ascension to glory, when he com-

manded

his disciples to

" go

into

the Gospel to every creature."

by

his grace,

he was sent

as a

all

the world and preach

After Paul had been called

messenger of mercy

Gentiles, to open their eyes and to turn


to light,

*^

to the

them from darkness

and from the power of Satan unto God."

The

di-

vine blessing has accompanied the ministers of the word

from the days of the apostles

to the present time.

On

the

day of Pentecost, thousands were converted by the preaching

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

74

of Peter; the Lord opened Lydia's heart to attend to the

by Paul; and

things which were spoken

in

every succeed-

ing age the preaching of the Gospel has been to thousands


<'

power of God unto salvation."


And the principal instrument employed by the Holy

the

Spirit in the

work

of regeneration and sanctification of our

The

the written Word.

souls, is

apostle Peter reminds his

other brethren that " they were born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,

which

liveth

Lord," says the Psalmist

The

special design of

to lead us into the

of

*^

life.

by the word of God

and abideth forever."


^'is perfect,

God

"The law

the

of

converting the soul."

in giving to us his

knowledge of himself, and

Word,

All scripture," says the apostle, "is given

inspiration of

God, and

is

in the paths

by

profitable for doctrine, for re-

is

proof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that

God may be

the

man

all

good works."

of

It

perfect, thoroughly furnished unto

has guided through

third heavens, myriads of the

ing in the presence of God, and

heed

to

it

life,

redeemed who

we

shall

are

up

to the

now

walk-

do well

to take

"as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until

the day dawn, and the day star arise in our hearts."

Any

attempt to sink the value of the living ministry, or of the


written
kind.

Word, is injurious
The Word without

to the highest interests of

man-

the ministry would be neglected,

and the ministry without the Word, would run into error,
and introduce woful delusion.

The word and

the ministry

united, are the great bulwarks of religion, and the instru-

ments which God designs

for the conversion, not

merely of

individuals, but of the world.

To

the ministry and the

"Ask, and

it

shall be given

Word, we add

fervent prayer.

you; seek, and ye shall find;

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


knock, and

shall

it

great

medium

God,

in

be opened unto you."

of the intercourse which

which he opens the most

75

Prayer

man

is

the

holds with

secret desires of his soul,

and makes known his


The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man
availeth much."
"If ye, being evil, know how to give
good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your
heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask
Him."

and confesses and deplores his


wants.

sins,

Besides the means of grace already mentioned, there are


others

which

are highly important in themselves, and in

the use of which,

Among

grace.

God

has promised to bestow on us his

the chief of these

education of children.

should go, and

The

amount of
surest
it

when he

irreligion

method

from

opinion, that

is

The

if

way he

a principal reason of the awful

which every where

to banish religion

families.

place the religious

old he will not depart from it."

is

neglect of this duty

we

Train up a child in the

'

prevails; for the

from the world,

is to

pious Baxter has given

it

banish
as his

every parent would faithfully discharge his

duty in bringing up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,

living ministry.

deep

guilt

it

would almost render unnecessary the

Certain

it is,

that the neglect of

relation to the highest interests of his child,

exposed

brings

to the pernicious influence of false

by leaving him

sentiment and vi-

cious example, without any fixed principles to save


their contagion.

The

are, generally, such as


life,

it

on the parent, and shows an awful unconcern in

him from

consequences on the part of the child

might be expected

and an unhappy death.

faithful parents, especially

From

from the

an

irreligious

the lips of pious and


lips of a pious

mother,

the child generally receives his earliest, his best, and his

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES,

76

most
first
all

thoughts,

to

his feelings

ings,

To

lasting impressions.

mould

her

belongs to direct his

it

his temper; to give an impulse to

and desires; and her instructions, and warn-

and prayers, and

which, amid

tears, are the things

all

the waywardness and folly of mankind, are last forgotten by

her child; which exert over his heart a most salutary influence,

and are often recalled with fond remembrance and

Should he be so unhappy

gratitude.

ungodly companions, and to

membrance of

fall

as to

his mother's instructions

haunt his gayest hours, and check his

may have run deep

though he

be enticed by

into dissolute habits, the re-

and prayers will

mad

career;

and

in sinful excesses, will pro-

bably bring him back a humble penitent to

God

blessed

reward for the anxieties, and sorrows, and instruction, and


prayers, of maternal love, thus to have trained a child for

and heaven, and God!

holiness,

Precious

her and

call

the

memory

"her children

of such a parent to her offspring, for


after

is

rise

up

her blessed."*

striking instance of the correctness of the above remarks occurred to

the author immediately after he had preached this discourse.

home from

Philadelphia, there

was

ger, a respected brother in the ministry,

who

of his religious history.


in early

life

When he

to

He is the

his return

resides in one of the western

In the course of conversation, he gave

States.

On

in the stage with him, as a fellow-passen-

to the author a short

son of pious parents,

account

who had devoted him

God, and carefully instructed him in the principles of religion.

had attained a

sufficient age,

he studied medicine, and,

not, attended the medical lectures at Philadelphia. Unfortunately,

if I

mistake

by perusing

the works of some infidel writers, and by the influence of ungodly companions,
his

mind was

corrupted, and he

that he never could entirely

owing

him

to his

the

sceptic.

He

remarked, however,

having read so extensively in ancient history, which enabled

to detect the falsehood

menced

became a

embrace the sentiments of sceptical writers,

of many of their statements.

practice of physic,

and

his irrcligion

He afterwards com-

and scepticism were

fre-

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


Without enlarging on the other means of

77

we

grace,

content ourselves with simply mentioning them.

shall

They

are the following:

"I

Serious meditation.
Psalmist, ^^and turned

Self-examination.

my
'

thought on

my

way,"

333^8

the

thy testimonies."

feet unto

Examine yourselves whether ye

own selves; know ye not your


own selves, except ye be reprobates."
The company of pious men. <He that walketh with
wise men shall be wise but a company of fools shall be
be in the faith; prove your

destroyed."

The

sacraments, which are especially designed to edify

believers.
It is

that

by the

men

are

diligent and conscientious use of these means,

commanded

to seek for spiritual blessings,

quently noticed by others, and caused great grief to his pious parents.

an

infidel

and

One day

neighbour began conversing of his irreligious conduct before a com.

pany, one of which was his mother, and with a view, it was thought, of wound-

ing her feelings.

He

scoffingly said that there

" train up a child in the

way he

should go, and

part from it;" that those children

is

no truth in the old saying,

when he

is

who were brought up

old he will not de-

religiously always

turned out more wicked than others, and noticed him as an instance.

His

mother, a pious Scotch lady, was indignant at the impiety of the declaration,

and afterwards

said, that, at the time, she felt

more anxious

that

God would

vindicate the truth of his declarations than even for the salvation of her son.

She had been anxiously praying

God would

exhibit his glory

for his conversion,

but

by proving the truth of

now slie prayed

his word.

About

that
this

time her son was led to read the Scriptures with Scott's notes; deep impressions

were produced on his mind; he was led

salvation of his soul,

He

Jesus Christ.
self to bestow

is

and became, we

now

trust,

to

a salutary concern for the

a sincere believer in the Lord

a minister of the Gospel, and nobly exerting him-

on others those blessings which the Gospel alone conveys.

He

considered his conversion as an answer to the prayers of his parents, and


said to

me, "

was saved because

11

am

a child of the covenant."

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

78

when they thus use them, these blessings are usually reGod will have his own appointments honoured,
ceived.
we any right to expect his blessing while we nehave
nor
The
glect his institutions, or violate his commandments.
most diligent use of these means, however, does not lay

him under any


so,

God would

obligation to bestow on us his grace; for if

be our debtor, and bound in justice to save

But, in the same individual, grace and merit cannot

us.

co-exist;

nor can any unregenerate

works acceptable
ness which

to

we have

man perform good

''Not by works of righteous-

God.

done, but according to his mercy he

saved us."

Considered simply in themselves, these means have no


efficacy to convert the soul; but all their efficacy is derived

from the accompanying influences of the Holy


are, indeed,

to

adapted to our rational nature, and suited alike

inform the mind and to

work

They

Spirit.

of regeneration,

affigct

God

In effecting the

the heart.

deals with

man

as a rational

by placing before him motives; by addressing to


him commands, promises, warnings, threatenings, and invicreature,

tations;

soul

and by appealing

to

every passion and desire of the

to the affections, the reason,

the preaching and reading of the

and the conscience.

Word,

truth

clothed with the authority and majesty of


tion

is

called to subjects the

lemn, and
ties

affecting.

God; our

most sublime,

The worth

comes

In
to us

atten-

interesting, so-

of the soul, the solemni-

of death, the terrors of the judgment, and the glories

and horrors of eternity, are placed before us to rouse us


from the slumbers of

The

Lord

is

denounced against the hardened transgressor, and he

is

warned of

sin.

that awful perdition

the sweet message of

mercy

is

indignation of the

which awaits him

while

addressed to the humbled

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


penitent, and he

79

pointed to the cross of the Redeemer,

is

and assured that there

forgiveness for the chief of sinners.

is

we approach into the immediate presence of the


God we contemplate his infinite majesty, his spot-

In prayer
eternal

less purity, his

sion;

we

boundless power, and his amazing compas-

confess our depravity, our un worthiness, our guilt,

and our dependence on


for mercies,

and

Every thing

fying grace.

we offer our thanksgivings

his grace;

we humbly

ask his pardoning and sancti-

prayer

in

is

duce deep impressions on the heart, and


affections.

Still,

Even

awaken

its

without the influences of the Holy

The new

will be in vain.

all

calculated to proto

heart

is

best

Spirit,

the gift of God.

the eloquence of an Apostle will be of no avail for the

conversion of the soul, without the accompany influences of


the

Holy

Spirit.

but ministers
to

then

*'I

is

who

Paul, and

is

believed, even as the

Apollos,

Lord gave

have planted, Apollos watered, but

Any

the increase.'^

success that

may

attend our

should be ascribed to the power and goodness of

efforts

"The weapons

God.

"are not

down

Who

by whom ye

every man.'^

God gave

'<

carnal, but

of our warfare," says the apostle,

mighty through God

of strong holds; casting

high thing that exalteth

to the pulling

down imaginations and every

itself against

the knowledge of God,

and bringing into captivity every thought

to the

obedience

of Christ."

Having thus exhibited the nature and design of


of grace,

II.

we

it is

means

proceed to consider,

Our second head of

That

the

the duty of

all

discourse,

men

which

is to

show,

to use with diligence these

means.

We are

not aware that any have denied that

it is

the duty

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

80

of sincere believers in Christ to use them, but

it

has been

questioned whether the unregenerate should be exhorted

Much

the use of them.

we

think, be

ture and

aspects

removed by

a clear apprehension of their na-

They may be

design.

considered under three

as duties, arising out of the relation

between man and God;

to

of the difficulty on this point will,

as

which

exists

means, in the use of which sin-

ners usually receive divine grace

and

as

means of

edifica-

tion to believers.

The means which we have

1.

as duties arising

which

man

is

may be considered

The Gospel message

between him and man.

exists

and the written

every

specified

from the command of God, and the relation

Word

bound

are addressed to every creature, and

when God speaks. Prayer is


God as our Creator, Ruler,
No man on earth has authority to

to listen

an humble acknowledgment of
Preserver, and Judge.
say to another, that

it is

not his duty to listen to the preach-

ing of the Gospel, or to read the Scriptures, or to offer


prayer.

These are solemn

acknowledge God

as

acts of worship, in

our God, and therefore no

which we

man

is at

liberty to neglect them.


It is in

vain to reply, that since unregenerate

men do

not

perform these duties from holy principles, they will not be


pleasing to God, and therefore the observance of

not to be enjoined

for the

same objection

every act of the unregenerate, and,


will reduce

are

them

commanded

to a state of

all to

pushed

will apply to
to its utmost,

complete inactivity.

^''whether, therefore,

whatsoever ye do, do

we

if

them ought

ye

We

eat or drink, or

the glory of God.'^

But must

forbid sinners to eat or drink, because they are not in-

fluenced
arises not

by holy principles ?

Our

obligation to

obey God

from the possession of holy principles of action,

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


but from the relation which
creatures,

endowed with

we

faculties

bear to

As

and, as he

we

server, Ruler, and Judge,


sible obligations to love

believe

all

that

service and glory

our Creator, Pre-

is

perform

We

the powers

are

bound

to

he commands,

that

all

he appoints, and

all

worthy of

is

under the strongest pos-

are

and obey him.

that he says, to

all

submit to

the most glorious

and infinitely perfect, he

in the universe,

our supreme affection

to

as his rational

which render us capable of

knowing, loving, and obeying him.

Being

him

gt

to consecrate to his

which we

possess.

It is

man to hear, and believe, and


God addresses to him in his holy

therefore, the duty of every

receive the message which

Word; and by humble

and supplication, and thanks-

pra5'er,

giving, to acknowledge and worship

him

and nothing can release him from these

as

God over

all;

duties.

Moreover, since our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded


his ministers to preach the Gospel to every creature,

it

is

the duty of every creature to hear; and not merely to hear,

but to remember, to meditate upon, to lay to heart, and to

pray over, what he hears;

compare with

Scriptures, and to
duct.

It will not,

Berea,

who

we

it

his

it

by the

own temper and

are spoken of. Acts xvii. 11,

Word

with

light of the

imagine, be asserted that

verted, and yet, they are

ceived the

examine

to

all

all

con-

they of

were truly con-

commended, because they

re-

readiness of mind, and searched

the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so; therefore, it is

added,

"many

The numerous, and

of them believed."

strong

commands which

the unregenerate, to seek for the divine favour,

"Strive

ion, decisively settles the question.

the

strait gait.'-'

found,

call

"Seek ye

the

ye upon him while he

are given to
in

our opin-

to enter in at

Lord while he may be


is

near."

" Stand ye

in

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

g2
llie

ways, and

see,

and ask for the old paths, where

good way, and walk

the

man

me, watching

that heareth

Blessed

is

waiting

at the posts

of

my

For w^hoso

doors.

at

the

your

it

my

not.

gates,

findeth

and shall obtain favour of the Lord."

life,

is

shall find rest to

*'Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse

souls."

findeth

and ye

therein,

me,

These,

and a multitude of similar commands, are addressed to all


men alike, urging them to the use of the means through

which divine mercy


2.
is,

is

obtained.

Another consideration which establishes our doctrine

that,

on the use of these means, sinners usually receive

the renewing influences of the

When we
the world,

Holy

Spirit.

look back on the history of the Church, and of

we

those nations

find, that true religion

who enjoyed

has prevailed

among

these means, and, generally, in

the same degree as they were enjoyed in purity and abundance.

The

destitute

of

who were
was among

condition of the heathen nations

them was truly gloomy.

the descendants of
pricstliood, the

It

Abraham, who were blessed with the

Word, and

the ordinances of the

House

of

God, that the great body of the pious who lived before the
coming of Christ were found. Since that event, true piety
has prevailed, almost exclusively, in the Christian Church.
It

has been preserved

by means of the various

which God has appointed

and

if

institutions

these institutions were

once abolished, or neglected, impiety would universally


prevail.

When we

turn from nations and communities, to con-

template individuals,

we

still

find the divine blessing ac-

companying the use of these means.


limit the

Holy One

instances of conversion; but

We pretend

not to

we deny extraordinary
we find, in fact, that God puts

of Israel; nor, do

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


honour on his own

among

success

truths,

its

and

institutions; that the

83

Gospel has most

those who, from infancy, are instructed in


in the strict

observance of

Thousands have been brought

its

ordinances.

to saving faith in Christ,

through the divine blessing accompanying the preaching

and reading of the Word, when attended on with devout


meditation and prayer.

In one of the most admirable un-

inspired representations of the rise and progress of reli-

the soul, with which the world

gion in

blessed, the
his sins,

awakened

represented as seeking for retirement, there to

is

read, and pray, and meditate,

and directs him

The

tion.

has ever been

sinner, oppressed with the burden of

to the

narrow

till

Evangelist meets him,

gate,

and to Christ, for salva-

excellent Dr. Scott, in his

has given us the history of his

own

"Force of Truth,"
conversion, and

it

clearly shows, that they have reason to expect the divine


blessing,

who

seek

it

by

devout perusal of the Scriptures,

with meditation and prayer.

In one word, divine grace

has flowed forth in this way, to the myriads of the re-

deemed.

While they

w^ere seeking

God

in the use of the

means, his Spirit came upon them with his renewing


fluences,

in-

and wrought in them unfeigned repentance and

faith.
3.

we

A third

argument in favour of the sentiment which

are advocating,

is,

that those

who

live in the wilful

and

habitual neglect of these means, have no right to expect the


salvation of their souls.

companies them, then,

If the divine blessing usually acto neglect tliem, is to

the reception of this blessing,

we can

is

to

guard against

put ourselves as far as

out of the reach of mercy, and deliberately to choose

the paths of death.

Whoever

acts thus, will, hereafter, in

the bitterness of his soul, repent of his folly.

By

so doing

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

34

An

he incurs the displeasure of God.

awful denunciation

pronounced by the Redeemer himself, on those

is

which

wo

<<Wo unto

rejected his preaching.

unto thee, Bethsaida! for

if

cities

thee, Chorazin!

the mighty

works which

were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they
would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.'' Impenitent sinner, it is no speculation, it is solemn truth, that
if

the Gospel message

rejected

is

by thee,

if it

does not lead

thee to offer fervent supplication for the renewing influences

of the Spirit of God, and

penitence and
ble;

more

faith,

if it is

not cordially received with

thy condemnation

is

and

certain

terri-

Sodom and Gomorrha. To


now addressed; to thee, pardon,

terrible than that of

thee, the Gospel message

is

purchased by a Saviour's blood,


the hour of

freely offered

is

mercy is announced, and thou

to thee,

art pointed to the

throne of grace, and a compassionate Saviour, that thou

mayest obtain

salvation.

not the mercy,

Reject not the message, refuse

peradventure, throughout eternity

lest,

thou mayest curse thy folly and thy


4.

But

finally, the question

sin.

of the propriety and impor-

tance of a diligent use of the means of grace,


fact,

is

settled, in

by the conduct of every awakened sinner and every

When

pious parent.

the arrows of conviction have pierced

the sinner's breast, you cannot prevent

him from praying,

from reading, from hearing the Gospel preached.


sees that he

is

and ruined man; he

a guilty

feels

'

himself to

be sinking amid the billows of wrath; and fears

lest

shadows of everlasting death are coming over his soul.

how

vain

is

mercy from

What

every
his

shall I

a sinner."

do

How

effort

God

to be

now
His

to deter

cries

saved?"

precious to

<<

He

him from asking

the

Oh,
for

pierce the heavens

God be

him now,

is

merciful to

me

his once slighted

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.

what intense anxiety does he Hsten

Bible, and with

minister of Jesus, hoping for


glad tidings of peace,

some promise of

soothe the anguish of his

to the

some message of mercy, some

wounded

may

salvation, that

Helpless and

spirit.

ruined, he casts himself at the feet of the Redeemer, resolved


that if he perishes, he will perish with the cry for mercy,
as the last

sound that

is

uttered

by

his lips.

Again: Does the pious parent, because he


child

is

fears that his

unconverted, hesitate to place him under the preach-

ing of the Gospel; or to teach him to read the Scriptures;


or to offer his prayers to

absurd would

it

God?

How strange, how

utterly

sound, to hear a pious parent plead, as an

excuse for the neglect of these things, that he has no reason

No

to believe that his child is regenerate.

he knows that

the most important duty which he owes to his child

"bring him up

He

in the nurture

to

therefore devotes him, as Samuel was devoted, to the

Lord; he teaches him,


to

is

and admonition of the Lord. '^

know

of the

as

Timothy was taught, "from

a child

Holy Scriptures;" he accustoms him to the use


means of grace, because he knows that in this way
the

divine grace

is

usually received, and he asks, with fervent

supplication, that the divine blessing

may accompany

his

efforts.

Such, then, are our reasons for asserting, that a diligent


use of the means of grace
is

is

not a sinner on earth to

the duty of every man.

whom we

dare say,

'

There

you must

not attend the preaching of the Gospel; you must not read
the

word of God

religious duty.'

It

you must not pray, or attend


would be

as absurd to

do

to

this, as it

any

would

who is dying with hunger, to ask for


food; or to debar a sick man from the use of medicine for
It would be to exclude men from
the recovery of health.
be to forbid a beggar,

12

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

86

remedy which God has provided

the

for their healing;

from

the very means which he has instituted for their recovery

and death, and in the use of which only,

from

sin

hope

to receive those influences of the

Holy

we

Spirit

can

which

But,

prepare us for heaven.

Objections have been raised against the doctrine

III.

which we are advocating, and

We

be considered.

it is

proper that they should

shall notice but

two, since they are the

most common and important.


1

The

means

first

vation,

means.

God

the decree of

is,

unavailing; that,

if

God

renders the use of

has predestinated us to

we shall be saved whether we


To this objection our reply shall

sal-

use or neglect these

be short.

It

pro-

ceeds on a misrepresentation and mistake of the nature of

The Bible

the divine decrees.

speaks of no absolute, un-

conditional decree, but always represents the

creed in connexion with the end.


tends to every event and to
raise this objection

apply

it

all

The

means

as de-

divine decree ex-

concerns; but they

who

exclusively to our religious con-

cerns; whereas, to be consistent, they should carry it through-

out

all

their afiairs,

any end;

if sick,

and use no means for the attainment of

they should take no medicine;

should use no efforts to obtain wealth;


principles, if

God

for,

if poor,

on their

they

own

has decreed that they shall recover health,

or obtain riches, these events will happen as certainly with-

out as with

sentiment
is

just as absurd
2.

applied to the

when

sees the absurdity of this

common

affairs

of

life,

and

it

applied to religious subjects.

A second objection, which has been very strongly urg-

ed against the truth


tural

Every one

effort.

when

we

and dangerous

to

arc advocating

is,

that

it is

unscrip-

exhort sinners to use the means of

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


grace, since, to do so, has a tendency to lead

87

them

to rest

in the means, without exercising saving repentance and faith.

contended, that sinners should be exhorted to imme-

It is

diate submission to

and that

it

at

is

God;

our

immediate repentance and

to

peril, if

we

To render

short of these, or which does not include them.

we

this objection plainer,

ner,

awakened

state the following case:

to a sense of his guilt

on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou

replies,

my mind

there

so

is

much

cannot believe,

guilty; all

my

unless I receive

we

shall

say to

is

so blind,

He

cannot repent.

him

to

sin-

am

is

told

"be-

be saved."

He

arc so depraved,

my

heart, that

as helpless as I

am

resolutions and efforts are ineffectual, and,

mercy from God, I am forever lost. What


him in reply? Shall we direct him to ask,

by importunate prayer,
to enable

shalt

my affections

hardness and corruption in


I

and danger, anxiously

inquires '*what shall I do to be saved?"


lieve

faith;

exhort them to any thing

to repent

for the influences of the

and believe

Shall

Holy

we

Spirit

exhort him

break off from every sinful practice; to read, meditate

upon, and pray over the word of God; to attend on the


preaching of the Gospel, and seek the company and conversation of the pious, that thus he

God?

No, say some,

this

may

obtain the blessing of

would be

to

give dangerous,

soul-destroying advice, and to be accessary to the sinner's


perdition.

Immediate submission

to

on him, and he must be warned, that

God must
if

be enjoined

he does not imme-

diately repent and believe, his damnation

may

be sudden

and awful.

There are two


last

sentiment.

classes of theologians

One

class holds it in

who

maintain this

connexion with the

belief of the moral inability of the sinner to change his


heart,

and that repentance and

faith are the gift of

God:

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

88

the other maintain, that


it

to

is

it is

as easy to repent

and believe

perform any bodily action; that there

is

as

no other

divine influence necessary or bestowed in our religious concerns than

is

exerted in the preservation of our lives, and

the performance of our

man

common daily actions; and that


and absolutely active in

universally , necessarily ^

is

regeneration.

We are

constrained to observe in relation to this last senti-

man is active in regeneration,

ment, namely, that


sider

it

a fearful departure

that

we con-

from fundamental Gospel

truth.

The most eminent and successful divines of former days considered

it

a matter of the first importance, that a sinner should

be convinced of his entire inability to perform good works


acceptable to God, or to recover himself from a state of sin

and misery; that being thus convinced, he might be brought,


as a depraved, guilty,

dependence on

on the mercy of

own

to

renounce

all

recollection, a remarkable difference has taken place in

mode

the theology and

vines in our Church.

and

and helpless creature,

own strength, and cast himself entirely


God through Christ. Even within our

his

of preaching, of a large class of di-

The

moral inability was formerly

much

was considered of great importance


bility of the sinner as of a

represented as a

new and

a natural

insisted on,

and

it

to represent the ina-

moral kind.

This was then

important improvement in the-

ology, though the distinction had been


in the writings of

between

distinction

some of the soundest

and when properly explained,

is

made long

before,

Calvinistic divines,

wholly unobjectionable.

Now,

however, the ability of the sinner to repent and be-

lieve,

and his activity in regeneration, are earnestly incul-

cated as most important improvements in theology, and

intimately connected with the prevalence of revivals of

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


The

religion.

sinner

stantaneously, and

do so

as to raise

who

and they

frowned on,

on

to repent
is

it

and believe

in-

him

to

as easy for

an arm, or to perform any bodily motion;

exhort him to use the means of grace are

as

In relation

called

is

assured, that

is

89

though they would delude, or mislead him.


several remarks present

this sentiment,

to

themselves to our minds.


If sinners have

1.

power

and repent instanta-

to believe

neously, then, they must, necessarily, have ability to use


the means of grace aright.

power

that a sinner has

and repent
the

Word

and

Surely

it

will not be asserted,

to regenerate himself,

yet, that

he has not power

There

of God, and pray aright.

to believe,

to hear, or read

can, therefore,

be no possible reason for discouraging him, any more than


the truly pious

for discouraging

The

means.
tion,

and

were

it

2.

we

think, that

we might

own

refuta-

discourage a sinner from using the means of grace,

under the pretence that he has

and repent,

retort the charge,

not exhort
prayer.

it its

rest the subject here,

not too serious to be thus dismissed.

To

lieve

from the use of these

objection carries along with

men

The

is

ability, in himself, to be-

alike delusive and

and say, that

to hear,

it

is at

and read the

dangerous.

our peril,

Word

of

We

we do
God with
if

opinion, that they are able at any time to re-

pent and believe,

is

precisely the grand delusion which

men careless in sin. Every unrenewed


man, whatever may be his speculative opinion, trusts, in

keeps impenitent

fact, in

himself, in confidence of his

duty.

Here,

all

class of divines

power

to

perform

all

impenitent sinners are agreed with that

who

human ability, and it is no


has many advocates, for it entirely

maintain

wonder that the doctrine

accords with the feelings of the unrenewed heart.

But

it

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

90
is

somewhat remarkable,

man

which

that the grand blunder of

has been guilty in every age, since the apostacy of

Adam the

error to

tachment, and the


Christ,

ment

which he

last

that this error is

in theology; as

clings with the fondest at-

which he relinquishes

in accepting of

now represented as a great improve-

evidencing the march of mind, and the

possession of superior light; and that they w^ho do not assent


to

it

are often assailed as unfriendly to revivals, as behind

the improvements of the day, and as

Gospel truth
doned, and

do not

is,

it

is

lukewarm

our duty at every cost to defend

representations which are frequently


ability, as directly at variance

and the experience of every

made

They

generate?

sins; as

that they

with the

Word

men

to

of God,

Do

while unre-

are then represented as dead in trespasses

who

is

declared to be enmity against God, so

are in the flesh cannot please God.

men from this


described ?
Then God

deliverance of

death

in relation

without strength; as alienated from God; and

mind

the carnal

We

it.

consider the

real believer in Christ.

the Scriptures speak of the condition of

and

we

hesitate, therefore, to declare, that

human

formalists.

however, too precious to be lightly aban-

state of spiritual
is

Is the

bondage and

uniformly declared to be

the author of this deliverance, and the strongest terms which

language can supply are used, to express the greatness of


the work, and the power which
plishment.
tion
it

It is a resurrection

a victory gained

is

exerted in

from the dead

its

accom-

new

over enmity and opposition.

crea-

Let

not be objected, that these representations are figurative.

True, they are; but the figures are strong and expressive.

What

is

a resurrection but the infusion of

new

dead body, into an inactive and inert corpse?


apostle asserts, that such

is

the change which

is

life

into a

Yet, the
effected in

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


regeneration.

"You

in trespasses

and sins."

hath he quickened,

What

the

is

91

who were

work

dead

of creation but

bringing into being that which did not previously exist?


Yet, to denote the absence of
ties in

men, previous

all

to regeneration,

tion in the soul

by the Holy

work, the apostle

calls it a

in Christ he

new

is

workmanship, created

work

Spirit,

new

and their

"

creation.

produc-

first

when he

effects this

any man be

If

"We

creature;" and again,


in Christ Jesus to

men

more, to show that

holy principles and quali-

Nay

neither concur in, nor favour the

of regeneration, that

in

it is

no respect

theirs,

it is

in

your

hath he reconciled."

Let

<*You that were sometimes alienated, and enemies

now

mind by wicked works, yet

be remembered, that such are the representations of

work which

the

Holy Ghost

Inspiration, and though the

may

be dismissed with a

tisfied, that

it

de-

overcoming of enmity and opposition.

clared, to be the

it

are his

good works."

has

made

this

volume of

in the

argument derived from them,

cavil,

and a subterfuge,

To

cannot be fairly refuted.

we

are sa-

represent the

sinner as having full ability to repent and believe, in oppo-

and strong declarations of Scripture,

sition to such plain,

equally erroneous and dangerous.


trust in himself;

fulness,

it

It

is

encourages him to

prevents a suitable conviction of his sin-

and weakness, and danger, and thereby interposes

way

a serious obstacle in the

of an immediate application to

Christ, and an entire dependence on him.


3.

Wp

remark,

further, that the

still

manner

in

which

sinners are exhorted to immediate submission to a sovereign

No

truths are

repeatedly taught in

Scripture

God, has excited both surprise and alarm.

more

and

clearly, strongly,

than these two:


Christ; and that

that

we

we

are

are reconciled to

God through

renewed and prepared

for heaven,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

92

only by the operation of the Holy

which

tre in

medium

all

Christ

Spirit.

is

the cen-

the lines of he Gospel must meet; the only

of access to the Father; the only source of forgive-

ness and peace

and yet,

to the sinner;

we sometimes

addresses to unregenerate men, exhorting


diate submission to a sovereign

God,

to

them

hear

imme-

to

be disposed of ac-

cording to his will, irrespective of Christ, and losing sight


of

him

this

as the

mode

only source of salvation.

We

believe that

of address arises from peculiar views of the nature

of the atonement, as a mere exhibition of divine displeasure at


sin,

and from not considering Christ, in his mediatorial cha-

racters, as the

Covenant Head, Substitute, Surety, and High


But, from whatever source

Priest of his people.


arise,

we

cannot but think that

of the Redeemer, and that


the sinner,

by not

it

it

derogates from the honour

calling his attention

of the

Holy

may

jeopardizes the salvation of

with

ness to Christ, as the only source of eternal

The work

it

sufficient clearlife.

Spirit in regenerating

other fundamental part of the Gospel scheme.

men,

"

is

an-

We

are

saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the

Holy

Ghosf

He

sheds celestial light into the darkened

mind; he elevates, and


revealing to the

purifies the

debased affections; and

sinner his guilt, and

helplessness, and

misery, enables him by his grace to receive, and rest on


Christ for salvation.
exhortations,
truths;

which

What

then are

we

to think of those

lose sight of these important Gospel

which would persuade the sinner of

his ability to

repent and believe, and which do not direct him to the

Holy
who alone can renew and purify his heart?
They may be boastingly proclaimed as improvements in

Spirit,

theology, and as evidencing the march of mind, and the increase of light; but they really divest the Gospel of

its

most

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.

93

Those exhortations, which,

peculiar and lovely features.

instead of directing the sinner to Christ that he

may

glorify

the Father, by believing in the Son, through the assistance

Holy

of the

Spirit,

him

direct

saved or

damned according

drawing

his attention

though

practically,

to

to his sovereign will,

from Christ

we hope

submit to God, to be

as the

by with-

only Saviour, do

unintentionally, withhold from

both the Redeemer and Holy Spirit that honour which


the Scriptures ascribe to them, in the deliverance of our
souls
4.

work

from

spiritual death.

Our

last

remark under

this

head

is,

that usually a

of conviction precedes a w^ork of true conversion.

Sudden or instantaneous conversions, such

as

happened on

the days of Pentecost, sometimes occur; but they should be

considered as remarkable occurrences; and special care

is

necessary, to be satisfied that they are true conversions.

The

events of the day of Pentecost were for the special

purpose

of

tks, at the

attesting the divine

commencement

commission of the apos-

of their ministry; and though the

same divine influences are now exerted


of sinners,
to

it

in

the conversion

yet appears to us to be an erroneous procedure,

hold up the immediate conversions of that day, as a model

we are now to expect to be of frequent occurrence.


am aware that I am touching a delicate point, and that I
shall, probably, be denounced by some, as an enemy to re-

of what
I

vivals of religion.
slander.

The

accusation I indignantly repel as a

real revival' of religion

which God bestows on


self-deception in religion
to be accessary to

Hence we

find the

13

is

great; and

leading

most

distinguishing between

is

the greatest blessing

But

apostate man.

men

into

is

it

the danger of

an awful thing

spiritual

delusion.

skilful priictical writers, carefully

mere conviction

of sin

and

real

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

94

down marks from the Scriptures by


which we may judge whether we have, indeed, experienced

conversion;

laynig

change of heart; guarding against a too hasty conclusion

own favour, and exhorting us to make sure work for


Now, frequently, we hear of sudden and almost
eternity.
in our

instantaneous conversions

and

these conversions are spo-

ken of with the utmost confidence,


nal to doubt their reality,

we

sometimes,

fear,

as

though

it

were crimi-

and the number of converts

is

ostentatiously proclaimed to the world.

when
we speak of the work of the Spirit of God; and wo to the
man who reviles or opposes that work! But there are some
The present
points on which we may speak without fear.
Caution and reverence are never more necessary than

age

is

remarkable for a fondness for innovation and novelty,

and for contempt for what belongs

to

other times.

But

the old precious truths of the Gospel, which were preached

by

apostles,

and martyrs, and reformers, are those only

which the Holy

Spirit will

of sinners.

is

tine,

It

make

eJQTectual for

the old Gospel

the conversion

which Paul, and Augus-

and Luther, and Owen, and Whitefield, and Davies,

and Edwards, and Witherspoon preached, that the Holy


Spirit always has, and always will bless,

no other Gospelj

we dare embrace no mere modern

ments or innovations,
should

fall

and we dare preach

upon us

lest,

**if

any man preach any other Gospel

unto you than that which you have received,


cursed."

refine-

haply, the apostolic malediction

Magnifying the

let

him be

ac-

ability of the sinner; diminish-

ing a sense of our indebtedness to the grace of the Re*

deemer and the Holy

Spirit; confidently

pronouncing on

the reality of what are represented as immediate conversions;

undervaluing the attainments and graces of aged

Christians, and determined denunciation of those

who do

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE,


assent to these things, as though they
formalists,

and enemies

95

must be cold hearted

to revivals of religion

these,

are confident, are not the fruits of the Spirit of God.

deed,

there

reason to fear, that dark days in relation

is

While we

to real religion are before us.

revivals with

which

there are yet

many

awaken

things to

measures in action, and for

new

though that which

the assumption of

opposition

to creeds

old must therefore be

is

arbitrary principles in philosoto

the explanation of
its

were

hostile to

quiry, and the various attempts which are

innovations on the Church, with

minds of many a

The

will,

we

freedom of in-

made

to force

the distractions

which

greatly fear, produce in the

heartless indifference to religion, or

open

advocates of error have always laid claim

to superior sanctity, zeal,

ways been loud

plain declara-

and confessions, and denuncia-

tions of them, as though they

these attempts cause

new

fondness for

Scripture, instead of implicit submission to

infidelity.

for the

metaphysical speculations

phy, and bringing these principles

tions

God

serious apprehensions,

them, will be greatly diminished.

wrong,

bless

different parts of our land are favoured,

which would otherwise be derived from

that the benefits

in theology, as

v^re

In-

and benevolence; they have

in proclaiming their

own

and piety, and success; but they have

also

al-

superior wisdom,

always been

disn

tinguished for undervaluing the importance of sound doctrine, for a bitter and crafty disingenuousness, which, under
the pretence of liberality, denounces, as bigotted and narrow

minded,
truth

all

which

those
is

who contend

for the" importance of the

according to godliness, and

firmness the inroads of error; and

when mere
for a

if

who

oppose with

ever that time comes,

conviction of sin shall be generally mistaken

thorough conversion to God, and when multitudes,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

96

under a transient excitement,


verted state, into the

shall be hurried, in

communion

an uncon-

of the Church, and

when

in addition to these things, Gospel truth shall be under-

valued, and error on fundamental points shall be extensively preached, then will the glory have departed from our

Church, and the paralysing

death pierce

chills of spiritual

its

vitals.

The plainness of these remarks, will, no doubt, be censured by many, who are for treating with gentleness the inroads of error, and would cast the mantle of charity over
the defects of those

would reply,

who

to the cause of error,

conduct of

its

are

most

that the

is

To

advovates.

its

effectual aid

such

we

which they can lend

to palliate, excuse, or

advocates, and represent

them

defend the

as holy, de-

voted, and zealous above others, while they censure those

who oppose
zeal.

Truth

their errors as exhibiting a rash


is

not thus to be sacrificed, nor

be thus defended; and

we remember who

and mistaken
is its

cause to

condemned

has

the prophet and the priest of ancient Israel, for having

"healed the hurt of the daughter of his people slightly,


saying peace, peace,

We

when there

remarked, that there

who, while they

is

is

no peace."

a second

class

of divines

assert the inability of the sinner to

change

own heart, yet maintain, that it is perilous to exhort


him to any thing short of immediate repentance and faith.
One of the most distinguished advocates of this sentiment
is the late excellent Andrew Fuller, who contends not only
his

that a sinner

is

unable to change his heart, but that

conviction of our being utterly lost must precede an application to the Saviour.

" So long " says

he,

as a sinner

can find any hope, or any help in himself, he will never


at the feet of Christ as utterly

undone."

fall

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


To

this class of divines

we

reply,

Their objections would be valid,

1.

peril, if

we

is

point of inquiry

not the question before

is,

exhorted

for

sin-

is at

it

our

fluences of the

The only

us.

whether there are not means,

may hope

gent use of which, a sinner

to rest

we

exhort them to rest any where but in Christ.

This however

him

if

mere use of the means;

ners to rest in the

97

Holy

Spirit,

on Christ by

which
If

faith.

in the dili-

those in-

to receive

are necessary to enable

any exhort

sinners, as

it

has been asserted that some do, to lay at the pool of ordi-

nance waiting, and


shall

satisfied

with their waiting,

bestow on them his grace, they greatly

God

till

Such,

err.

however, was not the practice of sound Calvinistic divines


of former days, neither

is

From

in the present day.

it

the practice of their admirers

the multitude of passages which

can be selected with ease, from the writings of the old di-

we

vines,

take but one, which however

of their sentiments as a body.


liene's

Alarm, and

as follows:

is

dressing the unconverted sinner,

The
<^
^^

is

a fair exhibition

quotation

is

from Al-

Settle it," says he, adSettle

it

upon thy

that thou art under everlasting inability ever to


thyself.
fessing,
to,

Never think thy praying,

art a lost

man,

if

if

thou restest in them.

must unlearn

thyself,

Rom.

x. 3.

thou hopest to escape drowning on

any other plank but Jesus

own

recover

hearing, con-

amending, will work the cure; these must be attended

but thou art undone

Thou

reading,

heart,

Christ.

Acts

and renounce thy

iv.

12.

Thou

own wisdom,

thy

own strength, and throw thyself


man that swims casts himself upon
While men trust
the water, or else thou canst not escape.
and
establish
righteousness,
themselves,
own
and
in
their
righteousness,

thy

wholly upon Christ,

as a

have confidence in the

flesh,

they will not come savingly to

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

98

Luke

Christ.

xviii.

Phil

9.

iii.

Thou must know

3.

and clung, thy strength but weakness,

thyself to be but loss

thy righteousness rags and rottenness, before there will be


an effectual closure between Christ and thee.
2 Cor.

8, 9.

shake off

Can the

Isa. Ixiv. 6.

5.

iii.

who
when thou

thyself,

Therefore,

passes and sins.

directed, go out of thyself, and call

the

7,

strength.

the
in

Yet neglect not thy duty, but be

at

way

in the

of

%ficts

fell

While

Spirit.

When

28, 29.

viii.

Holy Ghost

the

Holy Ghost

were praying, when Cornelius and


ing, then the

here

art

in the help of

God

pool, and wait

Philip to him.

tres-

goest to pray, or

despairing to do any thing pleasing to

the eunuch was reading, then the

did send

the disciples

his friends

upon them and

were hearfilled

them

Strive to give up thyself to Christ; strive to pray;

all.

hundred and an hundred times;

strive to meditate; strive an


strive to

do

deavouring
will

dead in

art

which thou

meditate, or do any of the duties to

thy own

iii.

graves clothes, and loose the bands of death?

its

Then mayest thou recover

Spirit, as

Fhil.

lifeless carcase

as well as
in the

come upon

thou canst, and while thou art en-

way

thee,

of thy duty, the Spirit of the

and help thee

to

Lord

do what of thyself

thou art utterly unable to perform."


2.

We

reply again, that the objection would be valid

sinners were exhorted to use the

or in a sinful way.

generate

more

men

It
all

all

is

if

sinful motives,

agreed that the works of unre-

sinful

sinful than others.

maintain that
sinful

are

means from

but

It

is

some

actions are vastly

absurd, and dangerous to

the actions of the unregenerate are equally

that they are equally guilty,

whether they pray or

whether they swear; whether they speak truth or utter


falsehood; since,

if

this is true, there

can be no reason for

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.


choosing a virtuous, rather than a vicious

would be emboldened

and they

life,

commit every crime.

lo

99

It is better

that they should attend on, than that they should neglect

the means; and they should be warned of the sinfulness of

formality and lukcvvarmness in religion;


conviction of the dcceitfulness and
hearts

may

There

be fastened on their consciences.

is,

moreover, a great difference

performances of unregenerate men.

mote

thereby a

that

wickedness of their

the religious

in

Some aim

only to pro-

their reputation, or interest, or wealth, and thus

make

these performances subservient to their worldly interest.

Of such,

it is

^*

said, that

abomination."

Others

forts to be saved,

the sacrifice of the wicked

are sincere in their desires

and though these desires and

is

an

and

ef-

efforts arise

not from faith and love, but from the fear of deserved wrath,

yet they are more acceptable to God, than the heartless per-

These desires and

formances of the former.


arise

from conviction of

sin,

efforts

which

and fear of perishing, are often

preparatory to saving repentance and faith; and hence


has been said, that

religion begins in fear,

^^

hope, and ends in love."

from grace,

carried on

is

by

cry of nature, apart

we pretend
the young ravens when they cry;

God hears
Ahab humbled himself

which had been threatened


averted during his
truction,

far the

avails for the procuring of blessings,

not to decide.
because

How

it

because

and forsook their

to

before the Lord, the evil

him and

his posterity,

was

days; and Nineveh was spared from desits

king and people

evil

mercy of an awakened
pretend to determine.

ways;

and

sinner avail

far

the

with God,

Besides, no one can

renewing influences of the Holy

and prayed,

fasted,

how

cries for

we

tell

Spirit are first

shall not

when

the

communi-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

100

an awakened

or what actions of

cated,

sinner

proceed

from nature, or from grace.


3.

We

tempt

observe

further, that,

still

means of grace,

to use the

when men

that they

ed with their real character and condition

The

with their de-

and thus their self-confidence

pravity and helplessness;


destroyed.

seriously at-

become acquaint-

chief reason that

is

means of grace

ing the unregenerate to use the

is

offered against exhortis,

they

lest

should rest in them; and that by urging them to immediate

repentance and

they

faith,

w^ill

be kept from trusting in any

thing which they can perform.

who

is

tell

him he must

a sinner,

language only of denunciation,

in the

treatment, as unskilful as

Redeemer,

and the smoking

that

flax

it is

to

him, appears

be a

to us to

We are

unkind.

told of the

<Uhe bruised reed he did not break,

he did not quench," and that "he spake

a parable to this end, that


to faint,"

you

instantly believe or perish, and that

have nothing further to say

blessed

to address

distressed with the perplexity and anguish of an

awakened conscience,
and

But

men ought always

The preacher

of the Gospel

is

to

pray and not

commissioned

to

proclaim a message of mercy, and should sympathize with


those

who

are alarmed at their guilt and danger, in

all

their

doubts, and discouragements, and temptations, and should

them the

cheerfully afford

instruction and

encouragement

which they need.


Besides, as
sinners are

it

has been already observed,

awakened

and make an

to a sense of their

effort to

spiritually good.

forth strength,

only when

save themselves, that they feel their

utter inability to repent, or believe, or


is

it is

danger of perishing,

Then

first,

do any thing which

when they attempt

do they learn their weakness.

they seriously attempt,

in

sincerity, to

to

When

put
first

use the means; to

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF


may

hear the preached word that they


read, and meditate, and pray,

is

it

GRACE.

loi

learn and live- to

then that they become

sensible of the impenitence and depravity of their hearts, of

the blindness of their minds, and of their alienation from

They

good.

all

are often filled with surprise and dismay,

when they contemplate

the sin that attaches to

ligious performances; the coldness

their weakness,

prayers;

their resolutions, their

backwardness

to

hold

and

many

all

their re-

and formality of their

failure in the fulfilment of

omissions of duty, and their

communion with God.

It is after

sad

experience has taught them their weakness, and they are

compelled

to

that grace

is

they are striving

way

to enter in

God meets them

ment

gate

by the use
in the

A few remarks designed for the practical improveof our subject, shall close our discourse.

mercy of the Lord.


no

cles discourage,
shall

for the salvation of their

be encouraged fervently and perseveringly to seek

*^The kingdom of heaven suffereth

violence, and the violent take

his

at the strait

mercy, and places them

in

Let those who are anxiou?

1.

souls,

ven

Thus, while

be saved.

to life.

IV.

the

parish without thine aid,"

may

believe in Christ, that they

of means,

we

cry 'help, Lord!

bestowed, and the Holy Spirit enables them to

it

own
is

strait

profit a

soul?"

bliss.

Let no obsta-

weary you. "What


world, and lose
of conflict, hea-

"Strive to enter in

at the

Prize the Sabbath, and the ordinances of the

House of God, and take


guide.

by force."

man if he gain the whole


The present is the season

the abode of perfect

gate."

it

difficulties affiright, or

his

Word

"Search the Scriptures."

devoutly, and with deep meditation.

14

for

your counsellor and

Read them

By

frequently,

daily and impor-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

102

tunate prayer, ask that your sins


hearts be renewed.

commit your

be forgiven, and your

may

Repair to the merciful Redeemer, and

souls to

him; live

and he will keep you from

in

falling,

dependence on his grace,


and present you

faultless

before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.


2.

sinners to use the means,

While we exhort impenitent

we also solemnly remind them, that repentance and faith are


their immediate duty; that impenitence and unbelief are hateful to

God, and will ruin their

Unbelief in Christ is,

souls.

It will

emphatically, the great soul destroying sin.

no

avail to plead in

and

believe, for that inability arises from,

corruption of your natures.


against

The

my

is

carnal

God; and are you content

my

is

a proof of the

mind

to live at

that I prefer

thee

against
it,

such

is

my

God

enmity

mourn over

delight

even before thy approbation?"

sadors for Christ, as though

is

enmity with

aversion to thee, that I cannot

offences

and

Will you say, " Lord,

God, and under his displeasure.


such

be of

inability to repent

excuse your

in

"As

did beseech you

by

sin,

ambasus,

we

pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.'^

Is

the enmity of your hearts against the divine

government

and laws so strong that you cannot subdue

do you find

that

no

no promises, no resolutions, no vows can

efforts,

avail to deliver

you from the debasing

sheds over your souls?


fess before

God your

he would give
however,
of

sin

to

and

it;

go, then, to the

influence, that sin

mercy seat, and con-

depravity and weakness, and ask that

his Spirit to

renew your

souls.

Suffer

remind you that you are now in an awful


spiritual death; that

me,
state

you are neglecting your

most important concerns, and becoming more hardened


irreligion

under the very means which are designed

mote your

salvation.

in

to pro-

Remember the many privileges which

THE USE OF THE MEANS OF GRACE.

103

you have abused; the many sabbaths which you have profaned; the many prayerless days which you have spent;

many admonitions which you have slighted; how much


your Bible has been neglected, and how often the voice of
the

conscience has been

stifled,

Think you

proof hated.

stand convicted of

instruction despised, and re-

that

and

You may now

in scenes of riot

may

companions, you
gion, but

you

will be a light thing to

these sins, before the throne of your

all

awful and incensed Judge.


things,

it

jest

with these

and mirth with your

sinful

scoff at the sacred institutions of reli-

will stand confounded in the presence of Al-

mighty God.

When

the heavens shall pass

away with

great noise, and the earth be burnt up, and the elements

melt with fervent heat, and assembled worlds stand before


Christ to be judged

by him,

jesting and scoffs will cease.

Can your heart endure, or your hands be strong


consuming

fire

of the Almighty's wrath

then to become wise in time.


vain.

Immersed

in

As

.^

Be

before the

entreated

yet you have lived in

worldly pursuits, you have forgotten

the heavenly inheritance, and have been posting with rapid

But there

strides to ruin.

is

yet hope concerning you.

To you the voice of mercy calls, inviting you to return to


'' Seek ye the Lord while
your God that you may live.
he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the
wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his
thoughts, and let

him

return unto the Lord, and he

have mercy upon him, and

to

our

God

for

wiU

he will abun-

dantly pardon."
3.

Finally.

endeavour

In the use of the means of grace

to hold

communion with God, and

vances in knowledge and holiness.

we

hold intercourse with God,

we

to

we should
make ad-

Through these means


express our reverence

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

104

and love, and implore his grace; and through them he be-

Let us guard against

stows on us heavenly blessings.


ing in the
that

mere

lifeless

by such a use we have

we
God is

fulfilled

sliould

the Redeemer, "

a Spirit,

in spirit

our duty.

remember

attempts to worship,

must worship him

rest-

formal use of them, or imagining

and

In

all

our

the declaration of

who worship him


Whenever we
truth."

and they
in

have attended on the means, we should press on our consciences the inquiry,

^'what

spiritual benefits

ceived? what good resolutions have

vances have

made

in

we become more meet

I re-

formed? what ad-

wisdom and purity?"

Thus

shall

to be partakers of the inheritance

of the saints in light; and


this region of

have

when

shadows, of

death shall remove us from

conflict,

and of

sin,

we

shall

be

admitted into the immediate presence of God, and unite

with the whole company of the redeemed in the exalted

worship of heaven.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES,


LECTURE

IV.

Delivered on the Evening of the 22d January, 1822, by the


Rev. Alexander M'Farlane, of Carlisle,

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

Therefore put a\vay from


1

among

yourselves that wicked person.

Cor. V. 13.

A man that is
Tit.

iii.

an

and second admonition, reject.

heretic, after the first

10.

The Church

God

of

is

a regularly constituted society,

possessing laws and government, adapted to secure her purity

and permanence, and

The

of her Lord.

and vindicate the honour

to manifest

glorious Mediator, being exalted to the

right hand of the Majesty on high, and having received

all

power

in-

in

stitutes

heaven and on earth, promulgates laws and

ordinances, establishes government in his Church,

and appoints

some

officers for its administration.

apostles;

And

work

for the perfecting of the

of the ministry, for the edifying of the

body of Christ."

The language

dressed at

first to

his apostles,

sense to

the ministers and rulers of the Church;

all

he gave

and some prophets; and some evangelists;

and some pastors and teachers;


saints, for the

<'

15

of the Lord Jesus, ad-

applies

in a

subordinate
<

What-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

106

soever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven:

and whatsoever ye

The

heaven."
quired,

shall loose

by divine

shall

be loosed in

were authorized and

institution, to teach

"Take

Churches.

on earth,

pastors and elders

and

heed, therefore, unto yourselves," says

the apostle Paul to the elders of Ephesus, *and to


flock over
seers.'^

re-

to rule in the

which the Holy

Spirit hath

*<The elders which are among you

the apostle Peter, *<feed the flock of

you, taking the oversight thereof."

all

made you

the

over-

I exhort," says

God which is among


On the other hand,

the people were required to render obedience and honour,

Obey them that


"Let
over you, and submit yourselves."

to those appointed to rule

have the rule

over them.

the elders that rule well, be counted


our, especially they

who

<'

worthy of double hon-

labour in the

word and doctrine."

In every society, government of some kind


able.

No community

can exist

is

indispens-

among men without

and an adequate power to put them in execution.

would become of the family


harmony,

if

circle,

the parental authority

laws,

What

sacred to order and

were prostrated ?

How

could public tranquillity, or private security, be maintained,


if

none were empowered

The Church

is

to assert the

majesty of the laws?

distinguished from other societies, not

by

being without law and government, but by possessing them

The Lord

from divine appointment.


officers in his

to

Church, whose duty

make known

their observance

it is

Jesus has ordained


to teach

and

to rule;

the laws of his kingdom, and to secure

by

all

the Church, therefore,

its
is

subjects.

established

The government

of

by the wisdom and

authority of her glorious head; and whatever acts are done

according to the instructions which he has given, receive


his sanction

and

ratification.

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
But here perhaps

it

may

be inquired,

tainty about the laws of Scripture?

107
there no uncer-

is

Do

not different de-

nominations of Christians understand the doctrines and


of revelation very differently?

stitutions
fact

prove our

mistake in this matter?

liability to

possible, that whilst

we

we

laws of Christ,

Does not
Is

in-

this

it

not

are claiming to be administering the

are in reality enforcing nothing better

than the inventions of men?

To

these inquiries

we reply, the Holy Scriptures give no


God are ambiguous or uncer-

intimation that the laws of


If they

tain.

were

so, the

Church would be

without

left

laws; for laws that are doubtful or incomprehensible, are

of no validity where righteousness directs the administra-

On

tion.

the contrary,

it is

invariably assumed, that the

humble

doctrines and ordinances of the Bible are, to the

and teachable, easy of comprehension, and remote from


uncertainty.

tion of Scripture; but


tians

who

all

It is true, Christians differ in their intrepreta-

will

impute

where

is

the denomination of Chris-

this diversity, in matters of import-

ance, to the ambiguity or uncertainty of the sacred record,

or will admit that there


their interpretation?

Christians, if

we

aright
tions.

no

fault in those

all

doctrines and precepts,

No man

differ

from

name of

things essential to faith and godli-

and the obligation resting upon


its

who

not entitled to the

be not prepared to affirm the perfect plain-

ness of Scripture, in
ness;

is

We are

its

all,

to

understand

commands and

institu-

can be innocent, whilst pretending to de-

duce from the inspired volume a system of error; or whilst


maintaining opinions in opposition to the pure doctrines of

Divine revelation.

It is

absurd to object that the Bible

is

a communication from heaven, and yet unintelligible; that

the laws of

God

are so obscure or ambiguous, that they

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

108

may

We

be misunderstood or disregarded with impunity.

therefore consider ourselves as chargeable with neither pre-

sumption nor usurpation, whilst interpreting the doctrines

and

institutions of the Gospel,

and applying them for the

body of

perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the


Christ.

The

officers

appointed by the Lord Jesus in his Church,

are invested with authority to prevent the entrance of the

unworthy;

to exercise salutary discipline

members; and
I. It

to

upon offending

exclude the contumacious and impenitent.

belongs to the oiSters of the Church, to prevent the

admission of unworthy persons to her fellowship.

We cheerfully
Saviour's
all

and readily recognize the obligation of our

command, '^Go ye,

nations."

We

therefore, and

acknowledge

it

to

make

disciples of

be the sacred duty of

the Christian ministry to preach the Gospel to

all,

to incul-

upon men universally, the duty of believing

cate

Lord Jesus

Christ, and to

make known

aging and gracious promise,


tized shall be saved."

prospects furnished

*'

He

to

them the encour-

that believeth

We rejoice in

the

in the

and

is

bap-

new and animating

by the favour of Providence,

for the

promulgation of the glad tidings of salvation, to the remote

and

destitute.

We

rejoice to hear of multitudes,

who

hav-

ing received Christian instruction, and having given credible evidence of faith and piety, are admitted into the'bosom

of the Church,

We

take pleasure in believing that exer-

tions to evangelize the world will not cease, or be relaxed,

whilst any portion of the

human family remains estranged

from the household of God.


as

it is

reign of
bless

It

is

our joyful anticipation,

our constant prayer, that the righteous and benignant

all

Immanucl

will soon extend over the

whole

the nations, and continue to the end of time.

earth,

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
It is lamentable,

the Gospel

is

however,

Look upon

in the Church.

who

observe

how many, to whom

published, remain unqualified for membership

towns, and country


bers,

to

109

think so

the population of our

at large;

you

will find

cities,

immense num-

of Christ and his salvation, that

little

They

they have never been baptized in his name.

give

no evidence that the message of heavenly grace has ever


engaged their serious
at least

attention.

They hear

the Gospel,

and witness the solemnities of our

occasionally,

holy religion; yet they show an utter aversion to the


cred obligations and duties of the Christian profession.

deeply deplore, whilst

lament the

who

we

state,

the melancholy

fact.

many
we pray that the Holy Spirit, by
may incline the hearts of men uni-

insensibility,

and criminal apathy, of so

hear the Gospel: and

his efficacious influence,

versally to hear, believe, and obey the words of eternal

But

Church

are the doors of the

the reception of
Is

sa-

We
We

every

who,

all

restriction,

for

life.

opened wide for

to be

any reason, may seek

to enter?

upon the indiscriminate and unlimited

admission of members, to be removed? Most assuredly not.

In every age, and in every condition of the Church, some


corrupt and vicious

name and

men have been

willing to assume the

profession of Christianity; and even to undertake

To

the sacred functions of the Christian ministry.


officers of Christ's

kingdom

it

fications of applicants for admission;

Lord requires them

to

To admit

a grievous violation of the


is

fidelity to their

the wicked and irre-

Church membership, would be

ligious to the privileges of

which

and

prevent the entrance of the ignorant,

the profane and licentious.

that

the

belongs to judge of the quali-

command

of Christ,

holy unto the dogs."

born again he cannot see the

16

kingdom

"Except
of

^*

Give not

man be

God:" he cannot

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

110

understand the nature, perform the duties^ or participate in


the enjoyments, of the
the

kingdom of grace upon

kingdom of glory in heaven.

earth, or of

For the kingdom of God

'*

not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and

is

joy

in the

Christ

is

Holy

Spirit.

For he

that in these things serveth

UnGod commands his

acceptable to God, and approved of men.^'

der every dispensation of the Church,

ministers to ''put a difference between holy and unholy,

between unclean and

clean.'^

existence and purity of the Church require this dis-

The

crimination.

The promiscuous

every character would destroy


nature.

tainly

essential

its

Of whom does the Church

who know and

of

introduction

of

and appropriate

consist? of

believe the truth;

men

who

them

cer-

give evidence

of repentance for sin, union to Christ, and conformity to


his image;

who, being delivered from the delusions and

corruptions of this world, manifest

by

a life of holiness that

they are partakers of the divine nature, and of the righteousness of our Lord Jesus; who, by a diligent obedience to
the

commands and

and by the sancmade meet for the in-

institutions of Christ,

tifying operations of his Spirit, are

Are

heritance of the saints in glory.

the ignorant and er-

roneous, the profligate and profane, to be received into such


SI

society as this?

Nothing

ated in any other case.

so incongruous

would be

Would you aumit

enemies of your country, and of

aii

toler-

tne declared

tne iioeral and equit-

able institutions, to the rights and privileges of citizens?

Would any

society receive to

its

fellowship

men whose

opinions and conduct are in manifest hostility to

mary design and fundamental

principles?

It

its

pri-

surely re-

quires no labour to prove, that the unholy and profane are

not qualified for membership in a

community whose grand

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
characteristic is holiness to

the Lord; that the enemies of

truth and righteousness ought not to be admitted into the

Church,

to

dishonour the doctrine of Christ, and the pro-

fession of his

The

name.

officers of the

Church are required

to

guard with

as-

siduous care against the admission of the ignorant and unsanctified.

From

the desire prevalent, in most Christian

communities, to increase their numbers, to extend their influence,

and

to gratify those

their favour, there

will not be
cially to

by

employed

who

evince a prepossession in

reason to fear that sufficient caution

is

to exclude the

unworthy; and espe-

prevent the sacred ministry from being profaned,

the conceited novice, the corrupt worldling, and the

Hence

equivocating heretic.

the danger of filling the

Church with men who neither know nor obey the


and of admitting

to the sacred office those

There

learned the distinguishing doctrines of Christianity.


is

truth,

who have never

cause for apprehension, where large numbers are hurried

into the Church,

upon the

ment; and many are added

feeling and impulse of a


to its ministry,

the pains of concealing their hostility to

knowledged

its

who

mo-

are not at

peculiar and ac-

principles.

It is undeniable, that

within a few years a great change

has taken place in the theological opinions of


teachers of our denomination.

many

Are we expected

of the

to find,

in every Presbyterian minister, a lover and defender of the

venerable standards of our Church; one


culcates

and which we believe

Holy

who

zealously in-

upon the people the doctrines which they

Scriptures.

Now

to be faithfully derived
it

has become no

contain,

from the

uncommon

thing

to hear of Presbyterian ministers sneering at the Confession

and Catechisms of the Presbyterian Church; pronouncing

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

113

the very idea of a creed an absurdity; and, as might be

expected, industriously setting forth a system of opinions


as different

day.

from that of our standards

This

of

state

Church could scarcely have

cision

and perspicuity.

The

anticipated.

which they adopted,

the standards

as darkness

from

things the revered fathers of our

is

language of

remarkable for pre-

not possible to mistake the

It is

system of doctrine which they were designed to teach.

Could

it

be thought, therefore, that any would seek a con-

nexion with a Church, without believing her


faith?

Might

it

articles

of

not have been supposed, that every feeling

of candour, honour, and uprightness,

from solemnly professing

to receive

would deter men

and adopt a system of

doctrine which they do not believe, and which they consider themselves required to contradict and repudiate?

Our Presbyteries

are

bound

to watch,

fidelity, against the entrance of

istry.

with vigilance and

unsound men into the min-

Whatever might have been

anticipated, the history

of the Church abundantly shows, that the matter cannot be


safely left to the

themselves.
will gain

honour and conscience of the applicants

If permitted, every kind and degree of error

admission into the Church.

The

doctrines of

our standards will be forgotten, or calumniated; and puri-

A tide

ty and peace will be estranged from our borders.


of innovation and error, will sweep

away

all

the landmarks

of truth and order, erected in the early and purer times of

the Church.

As watchmen on

to us to see that

the walls of Zion,

it

no enemy, whatever disguise he

on, be permitted to

belongs

may

put

enter our gates; as constituted guar-

we must beware of committing


men who are hostile to our best

dians of the public welfare,

the direction of affairs to


interests.

man who

is

not cordially and thoroughly at-

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

i;j;35

tached to our system, ought not to obtrude himself uponus; and if he should attempt it, the Presbytery must abhor
the thought of participating in the guilt of his prevarication

and falsehood.

The
is

present distracted state of the Presbyterian Church

owing, in

a great degree, to the facility

with which

men

of almost every shade of opinion have been admitted to

preach

among

Some

us.

Presbyteries,

said,

it is

have

pensed with the Constitutional questions required


proposed to every candidate

at his ordination;

dis-

be

to

and others

have not considered opinions, the most remote from our


standards, a sufficient cause for rejection.

Perhaps

may

say with truth, that none have been duly alert in guarding

We

the entrance to the holy ministry.

are

now

suffering

the deplorable consequences of such unconstitutional and


culpable remissness.

Some

departures from truth are far

more pernicious

their nature and tendency than others: against such

comes us
ror

may

as to

to guard

with special care and diligence.

be of such a nature, and lead

Any

An

er-

such consequences,

material error in respect to the

tant doctrine of atonement,

we

error,

objects;

whom

it

and

is

is

Such an

committed, whenever the

represented as indefinite in regard

Indeed

was made.
to

it

nothing better than

is

denominate any thing an atone-

ment, which does not make an

and insure,

impor-

as not insuring the salvation of those for

an abuse of language,

offences of

all

of this character.

is

hesitate not to say,

atonement of Christ
its

be-

be incompatible with a sound and scriptural system of

divinity.

to

to

in

it

him or them,

effectual satisfaction for the

in behalf of

whom

it is

offered j

as its consequence, the reconciliation of the

parties previously at variance.

The

inconceivable suffer-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

114
ings of our

Lord Jesus Christ may be

called an exhihitiouy

or a display, or a symbolical representation, or whatever


else

you

an atonement;

please, except

an atonement

but

they can with no propriety be denominated,

if

they did not

fully satisfy the divine justice for the sins of

men, and

make

those for

certain the reconciliation with

whom

God, of

Redeemer became

the atoning

all

the substitute and

surety.

An

error here never remains solitary;

it

will soon be

found in company with a denial of the doctrine of original


sin,

of the vicarious nature, altogether, of the sufferings of

Christ, of the imputation of his rigliteousness to believers

for justification, and of the necessity


Spirit's operations, in regenerating

Did time permit,

it

and reality of the

and sanctifying the

would be easy

show how

to

all

soul.

these

pernicious errors are naturally, and almost unavoidably, con-

nected with each other; but


fact

it is

enough

they are usually seen associated.

ardous

is it

then, to admit any

following in

Let
to

we must

that in

One

of these

Church?

its train.

those, then,

who

are appointed to guard the avenues

justly appreciate the high

to the office of the ministry,

and responsible

Let them beware of receiving

trust reposed in

into the

Church of

Christ the ignorant, the scandalous and irreligious; let

beware of admitting
the Church,

to the office of teaching

men who,

An increase

its

noft

authorized princi-

of numbers will be a poor compensation

for the introduction of

Church.

them

and ruling in

they have reason to believe, do

accord in judgment or practice with


ples.

haz-

of them,

expect to find a host of others

Church membership, and

them.

know

man who holds one

to be a teacher in the Presbyterian


errors admitted,

to

How extremely

unsoundness and irreligion into the

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
2.

The

officers of the

Church are required

upon offending members.

discipline

whose members

Ufl
to exercise

In every society,

are imperfect, discipline

is

necessary.

If

one of your children do wrong, you admonish, reprove, or


chasten him, as the case

from the

may

In seats of learning,

require.

village school to the dignified university, the dis-

orderly are reclaimed, and a healthful state of the institu-

by the application of

tion maintained,

The Lord

suitable discipline.

Jesus has appointed discipline as the means of

restoring his erring children, and of promoting the purity

and welfare of

Warnings, admonitions,

Church.

his

re-

bukes, and even separation from the communion of the


saints, are to

be employed for these purposes.

In the reception of members to the Church, the ministers

and elders are not exempt from mistake.


the utmost caution,

and even the

Notwithstanding

some unworthy persons gain admission;

real disciples of Christ are imperfect,

ble to error and transgression.

and

lia-

In what manner then shall

the honour of Christ, and the authority of his laws, be vin-

How

dicated?

shall the erring disciple be restored,

and

the Church preserved from the contamination of the wick-

ed?

The

Scriptures

No

means.

the misconduct of
cipline be

point out discipline as

discredit can be incurred


its

members,

promptly applied.

if

the proper

by the Church from

the salutary rules of dis-

No

encouragement

is

given

to transgress, if there be reason to expect that transgression

will be followed
3.

The

by adequate

rules of the

the contumacious and

ployed
cient,

to reclaim

correction.

Church possess the power


impenitent.

an offending

If every

member

to

exclude

means em-

be found insuffi-

he must be separated from the communion of the

Church.

The

Scriptures prefixed to this discourse leave

SPRtCE STREET LECTURES.

^16
no room

for doubt

yourselves that
tic after

the

on

first

" Put away from among

this subject:

wicked person."

<*

man

that

is

an here-

quotations might be

made

"If he

same purpose.

to the

neglect to hear the Church, says our Saviour, let

unto thee as a heathen

man and

commands the Thessalonians

to

must

power

him be

a publican;" an apostle

"withdraw themselves from

Every

every brother that walketh disorderly."


possess

Other

and second admonition reject."

to exclude those

society

whose membership

is

found incompatible with the chief design of the institution.

The Church
ciate

members

asso-

basis of certain recognized principles,

and

can be no exception to

upon the

Its

this.

If the con-

for the attainment of certain important ends.

nexion of any one be found to infringe these principles,

and

to frustrate these ends,

it is

within the province of the

constituted authorities of the

Church

no longer

The

when

in its fellowship.

a proper occasion calls for

him

to declare

to

be

exercise of this power,

it, is

an indispensable and

However unpleasant to our feelings,


command and glory of God, to the puri-

'very important duty.


a due regard to the
ty,

peace and welfare of the Church, requires that

should not shrink from the performance of

But here the question

will arise,

by

whom

pline of the church to be administered?

we

it.

is

Who

the disci-

are author-

ized to judge of the qualifications of members, to apply the

laws of Christ for the correction of what

and
I

to exclude the scandalous

have no disposition

to ecclesiastical

wrong

in

them,

and contumacious offender?

to enter into

polity;

is

an argument in relation

whether the government of the

Church belongs, by divine

right, to pastors in conjunction

with ruling elders, or to the congregation

at large.

You

are satisfied with the doctrine and practice of the Presby-

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
lerian

Church on

this subject.

II7

You have no

disposition to

renounce the system approved by Calvin and Knox, and

by

the able and pious founders of our religious community.

The Waldenses,

those famous witnesses for

God and

truth,

retained the simple and scriptural form of Presbyterianism,

when
the

all

the world

Romish

was corrupted by the abominations of

Under

hierarchy.

the influence of this sys-

tem, the most glorious triumphs of the Reformation were


achieved.

When

found most

effectual in

strictly

maintained,

it

has ever been

checking the aberrations of heretics;

Church from error and

in purifying the

and in promoting sound doctrine and pure


Shall the degenerate

licentiousness

religion.

Church of Geneva, the corrupted

Presbyterian Churches of England, or even the present


condition of our

Presbyterianism

own Church,

is

be adduced to prove that

not adequate to prevent the entrance of

baneful error, or the prevalence of pernicious practices?

We deeply

lament the degeneracy of churches planted and

watered by the labours of Calvin, and Beza, and Turretin.

We

are grieved to learn that places of worship, dedicated

to the

honour of the Son of God, by the pious and ortho-

dox Presbyterians of England,


phemies of Socinianism.
learn that, in our

are polluted

And we

by the

blas-

are no less grieved to

own beloved community,

opinions have

gained a currenc}^, which are more in harmony with the


creed of Pelagius, than with that of the excellent

founded our Church, or framed

Whilst

we

its

men who

standards.

admit and lament these departures from the

purity of the Gospel,

we

are far from conceding that they

can be fairly imputed to any defect in the Presbyterian form


of church government: or that the rules and discipline of

Presbyterianism,

17

if

faithfully applied,

would have been

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

lis

found

insufficient

her

efficient

to

them.

prevent

commander, her able and

be wanting, the
shoals, or be

The

noblest ship

on the bosom of the deep, must have

that ever floated

faithful

The

dashed against the rocks.

and laws of the country

may

if

these

run upon the

will soon

ill-fated vessel

crew;

constitution

be wise and excellent; but

if

the administration become corrupt, and the execution of


the laws be neglected,

it is

preposterous to suppose that the

commonwealth can escape detriment.


If the discipline of the

glected;

if

Church be relaxed, or wholly ne-

no pains be taken

to

prevent the entrance of

whose adverse propensities and foreign attachments


torious; if public teachers be permitted to declare

selves in opposition to the

men

are no-

them-

acknowledged doctrine and

or-

der of the Church, whilst the appointed guardians of her


purity and peace

make no

effiart

to repress their

and punish their treachery; ought

tion,

upon

as a matter of astonishment,

it

to

presump-

be looked

that the floodgates of

error and delusion should be opened upon us, that ortho-

doxy should become


herence

to

term of reproach, and a

our standards be branded as

illiberal

If the majority of pastors and elders

rian?

or remiss,

it

strict ad-

and secta-

become corrupt

cannot be expected that care will be taken to

preserve inviolate the pure and scriptural doctrines of the

Church,

or to

inflict

and licentiousness.

deserved

censure upon treachery

In such a state of things, corruption

and error of every kind will not be slow in making their


appearance.

But

if,

whilst the Church

is

substantially sound, whilst

the pure doctrines of the Gospel are venerated, and the duties

it

show

enjoins generally practised, heresy and immorality


their hated front, there

is

no system of government

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
which possesses superior

pating them.

facilities for

119

checking and extir-

church session can act with incomparably-

greater promptness, decision, and energy, than the entire

body of the congregation.

more exempt from

Its

members

are, in general,

the influence of passions and prejudices,

adverse to the right discharge of duty; they are less likely


to

be deceived by the wily

arts of heresy, or the

pretensions of specious iniquity;


intelligence,

and deeper sense of responsibleness, they are

better qualified, as well as

and

imposing

and from their superior

more anxious,

to

do what

is

just

right.

The

advantages of the Presbyterian organization for the

support and defence of truth, and for the suppression of


error, are great

bytery, after

and obvious.

full

The members

of the Pres-

examination, judge of the qualifications of

the candidate for the ministry, and

if

they find him

defi-

cient in ability, soundness, or piety, they have the power,


as

it is

their duty, to reject him.

office is,

by

this

The avenue

to the sacred

arrangement, guarded in the best possible

manner.

To

the Presbytery

it

also belongs to

watch with

tude over the reputation and conduct of


to arrest those

who abandon

all its

the safe course

solici-

members;

marked out by

our standards, and launch into the sea of novelty and error;

and to preserve the churches under their care from the con-

The

happiest ef-

be expected, will follow from a

faithful ad-

tagion of wickedness and false doctrine.


fects, it

may

herence to our ecclesiastical standards, and a firm determination to assert their authority.

It will

be found that a

decided movement in condemnation of erroneous opinions,


will operate efiectually to cool the ardour of heretical enthusiasts,

and

to

check their presumptuous career into the

wild regions of delusion and fanaticism.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

120

To

the higher judicatories, to our Synods and General

Assembly,

pertains, to superintend the concerns of the

it

Church more

at large, to correct

what

is

amiss in the lower

courts, to defend the sacred cause of evangelical truth

and

piety, to guard the churches against the approaches of pesti-

lent error

and

and execute measures, for the more

to devise

general prevalence of truth and holiness in the world.

Here, then,

system of

compact,

harmonious,
united

is

wisdom and

is

is

wrong

in

any

may

common

Whether we contemplate

we

and authority,

it,

the

judged useful can, in an orderly and

practice, or in

theory or

to

be exerted for

and on the other

part;

authoritative manner, be established for the

of the whole.

government,

According

energetic.

piety of the Church

the correction of what

hand, whatever

ecclesiastical

regard

benefit

system in

scriptural evidence

to

can see no reason

this

why

it

may

not com-

pare to advantage with any other.

When the Lord

Jesus organized his Church, he imparted

the keys of the kingdom, not to

whom

apostles

he had chosen.

all

the people, but to the

And

the apostles, acting by

the authority of their Master, committed the

power of gov-

whom

they ordained

and discipline to the elders,

ernment

The

in every city.

people having exercised their right of

choosing, in the case of the seven deacons, were afterwards


to obey, not to rule.

authority

by the people

tenanced in the

The
1.

The

administration of ecclesiastical

at large, is

an assumption, not coun-

New Testament.

uses of discipline are various and important.


It is

necessary to prevent the anger of

resting

on his Church; which must be the

lowed

in its

manded

to

members.

The

God from

case, if sin

be

al-

ancient Church were com-

put a difference between the clean and unclean.

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
between the holy and unholy; and

them every cause of

to

121

remove

from

far

When

pollution and guilt.

they ne-

glected to do so, they were soon visited with the manifestations of

holy.''

Sin, at

all

times, and

obligation rests

*'Be yc holy; for

wherever found,

The wicked he

the Divine Majesty.

to

The same

God's displeasure.

New Testament Church.

upon the

is

make

it

evident, that his forbearance

offensive

reserves to the

day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.


then

am

He

will

by no means

is

in-

consistent with the strongest disapprobation of sin, and an

unchangeable determination

redeemed people

are,

and the wrath

tion

to

to

punish

His chosen and

it.

indeed, delivered from condemna-

come.

Yet, whilst in this

are liable to faults and imperfections.

If,

life,

they

therefore, sin be

allowed in them without admonition or correction, Christ


will rebuke and chasten IhRm; and

if

corrupt doctrines and

practices be tolerated in the Church, he will

against

it,

and remove

To

cept they repent.

its

come and

fight

candlestick out of his place, ex-

avoid, therefore, or

remove the Di-

The

vine displeasure, discipline must be faithfully applied.

God's children must be corrected, and the

faults of

cal

hereti-

and abominable must be excluded from the communion

of the faithful.
2.

Discipline

of believers,
sinful.

and

is

necessary to promote the sanctification

to reclaim

them from what

For these important

sation of the

pensable

offensive

and

j)urposes, the ordinary dispen-

word and ordinances

utility.

is

The ambassador

are of great and indis-

of Christ must

show unto

by

a faithful

the people their transgressions and sins; and

exhibition of the admonitions and reproofs of the Divine

word, as well as by the sweet accents of the Gospel, he

must

call

them

to repentance

and amendment.

But

if

an

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

122

member be

offending

not reclaimed

trations of the Gospel,

and

if

by the common minis-

the private

our Saviour have been used without

the Church

Pub-

to discipline, properly so called.

must have recourse


lic

means enjoined by
effect,

admonition, rebuke, suspension, or separation, must be

employed
found

may require. If milder remedies be


we must not neglect the use of the more

as the case

insufficient,

There

severe.

is

hope that the erring brother will be

"In

brought to wise reflection, and humble penitence.

name

of our

Lord Jesus

my

gether, and

spirit,

one unto Satan for the destruc-

of the flesh, that the

day of the Lord Jesus. '^

word by

this epistle,

with him, that he

may

spirit

"And

if

may be saved
any man obey

note that man, and have no

be ashamed.

its

in

the

not our

company

Yet count him not

an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

among

the

are gathered to-

with the power of our Lord Jesus

Christ, to deliver such a

tion

when ye

Christ,

as

Discipline,

other uses, ought to be regarded as a means,

appointed by our Lord for the recovery of his straying

When,

children.

members

therefore, the conduct of

rulers of the

Church ought not

to

derness to lead them to withhold


3.

any of the

requires the salutary correction of discipline, the

Discipline

is

permit an ill-judged ten-

it.

necessary to preserve the purity and

peace of the Church.

The

greatest defections

which have

taken place, from the purity and simplicity of the Gospel,

have proceeded from small beginnings; from deviations,


slight at first, from the authorized language and approved
customs of the Church. These, under the notion of improvements, the young and unstable are too often ready to adopt.
If permitted

to

pass without animadversion,

something more decisive, and


soon follow.

The

still

or rebuke,

more dangerous,

will

standard doctrines of the Church will be

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
assailed; pernicious errors will

123

be embraced and propagated;

and licentiousness, and every enormity, will come


flood.

new

Look

at the

in like a

degenerate Churches of the old and the

world; you will find that such has been the progress of

things

among them. No sound community becomes wholly


at once. From slight beginnings, and by little and

corrupt
little,

the most dreadful and ruinous apostacies have been

brought about.

We

ought not, therefore,

to account

any de-

parture from sound doctrine and evangelical practice, as void

of danger.

Some may, perhaps,

in

judging from the supposed

greater light of the present age, and from the apparent piety

of those

who

are given to change, consider our

Church

cure from the catastrophe which has befallen others.

se-

To

such I would say, in the language of the apostle, ^'Your


glorying

is

Know

not good.

leaveneth the whole lump?


leaven, that ye

The peace

may

be a

ye

not, that a

Purge

little

leaven

out, therefore, the old

new lump."

of the Church will be endangered and destroy-

Unless unscriptural innova-

ed, if discipline be neglected.


tions be discountenanced

and suppressed by the judicial

acts

of the Church, disputes and distractions must be perpetual;


at least, as long as there

remains in the community any re-

Are we charged with

gard to truth and piety.


the peace of the Church

we

There

is

disturbing

no good reason

should be discomposed under such an accusation.

charge applies with

have given us
ger;

who have

stitutions

much more

sufficient cause to

propriety to those

why
The
who

sound the alarm of dan-

brought into jeopardy the doctrines and

which we are under the most solemn

in-

obligations to

cherish and defend. Disturbers of the peace of the Church

Sweet peace

heavenly peace

much

as

we

love thee,

we

are willing to dispense with thy presence, whilst a hostile

banner waves over our Zion, and her bulwarks are assailed by

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

124

Whilst opinions and practices, unknown to

an invading foe.

our standards, and abhorrent

to the

judgment of the Church

in every age, possess credit and currency within our ecclesiastical limits,

we

neither expect nor desire peace.

Changes

cannot be introduced into any religious community without

producing disturbances and contentions.

The

evil, if these

changes be unscriptural, must be charged upon those


Opposition to them

attempt to introduce them.


of praise, not of censure.

To

is

who

matter

preserve the tranquillity of the

Church, therefore, and to promote

its

highest permanent

welfare, the correction of errors and abuses

by

discipline

is

often indispensable.

Discipline

4.

is

necessary to vindicate the honour of

Christ and of religion, by separating from the

ever

is

offensive and scandalous.

brethren,

mark them which

"Now,

Church whatbeseech you,

cause divisions and offences,

contrary to the doctrines which ye have learned, and avoid

^'Now, we command you brethren,

them."

in the

name

of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from

every brother that walketh disorderly. "

What will become

of the honour of Christ, the sacredness of the Christian profession,

and the veneration due

the Gospel,

if

to the

holy institutions of

the ignorant and heretical, the vicious and

profane, be allowed to participate in the sacramental solemnities,

try?

and

still

more,

in the functions of the sacred minis-

Before the world, the Church must put a difference

between truth and

error,

between holiness and

sin.

By the

authority of Christ, for the glory of his name, for the reputation of religion in the world, the licentious

and disorderly,

the blasphemer and the heretic, must be excluded from the

fellowship of the saints.


Discipline, to accomplish

its

purposes, must be exercised

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

1|6

with tenderness, impartiality, and solemnity; and, when


the case
rules laid

demands

down

formity with

The

with promptness and vigour.

it,

constitution of the Church, in con-

in the

must be

Scripture,

scrupulously followed.

There must be no appearance of personal

hostility, or pri-

vate revenge, or a disposition to seek an occasion for discipline.

are

It

by

motives;

and

must be evident

that the officers of the Church,

by upright

influenced

and conscientious

intentions,

solemn regard

to the authority of Christ,

promote the welfare of the Church,

a sincere desire to

and of the offender himself.

If the case be otherwise, if

there be a manifest exhibition of passion and prejudice, of


partiality

and

injustice,

cipline should produce

it

would be vain

to expect that dis-

upon the

a favourable impression

Church, or upon the world.


In this age of affected liberality, but of real licentiousness
in religious belief, the ordinance of discipline

much
sess.

fiance,

of the weight and solemnit}'- which


It

is

not unfrequently

by men who justly incur

it

is

divested of

ought to pos-

contemned and
inflictions.

its

set at de-

This can-

He

not be done, however, without extreme peril.

that

despises the discipline of the Church, despises the institution and authority of the

Son of God.

The impenitent and

presumptuous offender, will find the sentence of the Church


confirmed by the Supreme Judge,
count.

"Whosesoever

The man

sins

ye

at the

retain,

day of

final ac-

they are retained.''

w^ho has fallen under the righteous censures of

bound

the Church,

is

repentance,

and

and contempt of

to practise

amendment.
this

submission, humiliation,

If he

do

condemnation and punishment, when Christ


world.

18

not,

his

abuse

Divine institution, will aggravate his


shall

judge the

136

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

not possible, perhaps, nor

It is

is

it

of importance, to

mention every occasion upon which the exercise of


pline

is

Whatever

proper and necessary.

wrong by

is

proved

disci-

to

be

and by the authorized

the sacred Scriptures,

standards of the Church, may, in certain circumstances, re-

quire the correction which discipline alone can furnish.


the intention of discipline to encourage

is

every thing that

remove every

to

and promote

pure, and lovely, and of good report;

is

stain

and imperfection from the Christian

character; and to banish from the


offence, dishonour,

It

and

any professor of religion

If

guilt.

Church every cause of

be guilty of neglecting the worship of God, of profaneness,


or Sabbath breaking;

formance of relative

if

he be grossly deficient

duties, if

in the per-

he be chargeable with fraud,

falsehood, covetousness, malignity, or licentiousness; if he

be intemperate, or a promoter of intemperance in others; he


is

The

private

having been found

insuffi-

certainly a proper subject for discipline.

means

for reclaiming offenders

cient, the

Church must

munication.

resort to public

The command and honour

censure, or excom-

of God, the purity

and tranquillity of the Church, the welfare of the offender


himself, render the

employment of

discipline, in such cases,

an imperative duty.

The

discipline of the

Church must be used, when oc-

casion requires, to maintain and vindicate the truths of the

Gospel, and to suppress heretical innovations.

The maintenance of evangelical


possible importance.

truth that

God

is

It

is

glorified,

doctrine,

is

of the highest

by the manifestation of the


the

Church preserved and ex-

tended, sinners converted, and believers prepared for celestial

blessedness.

On

the contrary, false doctrine tends ne-

cessarily to dishonour the divine perfections, to corrupt the

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

127

Church, and to ruin the souls of men.

may

error

be employed

It is possible that

successfully in catching the atten-

tion and exciting the feelings of the ignorant; but after

We

counterfeit religion.

all,

produce nothing better than a

a counterfeit Gospel can

must be able

to

furnish

more

authentic proofs of the correctness of our opinions, than that


to

alarm the fears,

and

to agitate the passions of the hearers.

*'To the law

and

to the testimony; if

they are adapted to arrest the attention,

word,

it is

because there

they speak not according


is

to this

The

no light in them."

trans-

cendent value of truth will be in some measure appreci-

we remember
God is pleased to

ated, if

that

sanctification,

that

it

is

only in connexion with

it

exert his power, for the conversion,

and salvation of men.

Christian instruction, there

is

Beyond

the limits of

no indication of divine

influ-

ence descending to renew the nature of man, and to qualify

him

Church

for the holiness of heaven.


also

The

history of the

shows, that a perversion or abandonment of the

truth, is soon followed

by an interruption of the refreshing

showers of heavenly mercy.

Surely, then, the Churches

redeemed by the precious blood of

Christ,

have the highest

interest in the preservation of the truths of the

Gospel; and no

zeal,

however

ardent, no exertions,

blessed

however

strenuous, directed to this object, can be considered dispro-

portionate to
It

its

importance.

might perhaps have been thought

that the exercise of

discipline would, on no occasion, be necessary for the de-

fence of the truth; that no


self

upon

man would

community, whose

harmony with

his

own; and

seek to obtrude him-

religious faith

that

was not

in

no minister, of any de-

nomination, would venture to contradict the established


principles of the Society of

which he

is

member.

But

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

128

these anticipations,

however reasonable,

are contradicted

by ample experience, both of the past and the present.


Too often has the Church been surprised and outraged, by
finding her ministers acting in direct contravention to the
obligations they assumed, and the professions

made,

the time of their ordination.

at

of the communities into which the Church of

Most
is

which they

God

divided, have published to the world a Confession of

exhibiting the doctrines believed,

Faith,

among them.

practised

give information to

all

upon which any

ples

Christians

is

The

whom

and the rules

design of this exhibition


it

may

is

a right to
society
ral,

is

common ground

founded; and to provide a

thing deserving the

Concealment

name

all

as true

croachment upon

is

disingenuous, illibe-

How

indeed can any

of a society exist, unless there be

basis of agreement,

nized by

has

the principles upon which any religious

constituted.

and a just ground of suspicion.

some

of

This

The world

frank, upright, and honourable.

know

to

particular association of professed

agreement among the members of the same society.


conduct

is

concern, of the princi-

some

principles

and important?

which are recog-

In this there

is

no en-

We have unques-

the rights of others.

tionably the right of choosing our associates; of settling the


rules of our intercourse, and the terms

upon which we are

willing to admit others to our fellowship.

Some

professed Christians have indeed opposed

and confessions of human composition.


they,

is

The

all

creeds

Bible, say

our creed: and they speak, in no measured terms,

of the presumption, folly, and danger, of introducing any

other creed into the Church.

The

would answer every purpose,

if all

the Scriptures concurred

in

the

plan which they propose

who

profess to believe

same interpretation of

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

The

them.

139

profession of faith in the Bible would then se-

cure an agreement, about the truths contained in the Bible.

But

from being the

this is so far

shade and variety of opinion,


fess to believe the

down

tion,

tial to

Bible

Church,

we

to the rejection of all that is peculiar

alone

every

find

equally pro-

from the pure doctrines of

revealed religion.

profession

case, that

among men who

It is

cannot

salva-

and essen-

evident therefore, that

secure sound

tliis

doctrmc in any

nor exclude the most destructive errors;

there can be no agreement, no harmony,


fering so widely as they do,

who

that

among men

are equally ready to

dif-

make

this profession.

In

fact,

of belief

every religious denomination have some standard

among them,

besides the Bible;

some

creed,

avow-

ed or understood, which expresses their judgment respecting the chief articles of

some

case,

to

faith.

object, not so

much

Perceiving

this to

be the

to a creed or confession, as

one so extended and particular

as those

churches have thought proper to adopt.

which the

are,

The

creed of the

Church, say they, ought to be confined to a few simple


principles, in
is

which

all

obvious to inquire,

principles, in

we

shall

which

no

who
all

What

shall ascertain these

difficulty in

to the satisfaction of all

But here

Who

it

few simple

Christians can unite? or rather

preliminary question.

settle the

Is there

tians?

Christians can unite.

how

are Chris-

answering these inquiries,

who may

be interested in them?

remains, then, but that men, agreeing about the

chief principles of religion, form themselves into a society

upon the
their

basis of this agreement,

common

faith;

to writing, for the information

cerned.
pel,

upon the profession of

and that they commit their principles

and

satisfaction of all con-

Heretical departures from the truths of the Gos-

gave occasion to the formation of creeds and confes-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

130
sions;

and the number of

ed

regulated, in a great measure,

is

rors to

which they are extend-

articles to

by the number of

er-

which men are exposed.

few simple principles, however, do

mine the whole extent of the

The

denomination of Christians.

volume, are either held

details

common by

in

in reality deter-

theological creed of every

which

all,

up the

fill

or are logically

The
much to
They may pro-

deduced from the cardinal principles of the system.


opposers of our Confession of Faith object, not so
its details, as to its

fess to find fault

extended; but

far
it is

its

fundamental doctrines.

with

it

to explain themselves,

soon discovered that their hostility

y^rmc^;^/ doctrines,

will

as too minute, too particular, too

when they come


its

is

directed against

This

e^^e;?//^/ characteristics.

be apparent from an enumeration of some of the

grand principles of our theological standards.

These venerable instruments teach the doctrines of

di-

vine predestination and eternal decrees, that **God hath


foreordained whatsoever comes to pass," and in particular,
that

men and

'^some

angels are predestinated unto ever-

lasting life,

and others

" Yet, so

thereby neither

as

fore-ordaiiijed to everlasting
is

God

death."

the author of sin, nor

violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor


liberty or contingency of second causes taken

rather established."
sec.

i.

ill. vii.

is

is

the

away, but

See Confession of Faith, chap.

iii.

Larg. Cat. 12.

They teach the complete representative character of


Adam, <that the covenant being made with Adam, not
only for himself, but for his posterity,
scending from

him and

fell

him

all mankind deby ordinary generation, sinned in

with him, in his

first

transgression;" that in

consequence of the imputation of Adam's

sin, all

men

are

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
by

nature in a state of condemnation, depravity, and help'Uitterly indisposed, disabled, and

lessness,

unto
all

131

that

all

spiritually good:

is

ability of will to

man

in sin,

any

not able

is

opposite

and being dead

spiritual good,

by

made

so that having wholly lost

own

his

strength to convert

himself.''

They teach

that

'^

the

Lord

Jesus, the eternal

was made the Substitute and Surety of

Son of God,,

his people; that

by

his vicarious obedience and sufferings, he hath fully satis-

of his Father, and purchased not only re-

fied the justice

conciliation, but an everlasting

whom

inheritance,

Father hath given unto him.

the

any other redeemed by

for all those

Neither

are

Christ, effectually called, justified,

adopted, sanctified and saved, but the elect only."

They

teach that believers are justified on account of the

satisfaction

and righteousness of Christ, imputed

and received by

They

them,

instruct us to believe that effectual calling, or re-

generation,
in

to

faith alone.

is

the

which man

is

diate, internal,

work

power and

grace,

altogether passive; and that by the

imme-

and

of God's almighty

effectual operations of the

Holy

Spirit,

believers are enlightened, sanctified, and sealed, to eternal

redemption.

They show
fruit

that holiness

and good works are the proper

and evidence of eternal

election,

and that without

them there can be no well-founded hope of

They

instruct us, that all

acceptance and sanctification

who

everlasting

life.

are brought into a state of

from the unchangeable

shall,

love of God, the efficacy of the death and intercession of


Christ, and the inhabitation of the

Holy

Spirit, certainly

persevere to the end and be eternally saved.

These are some of the

essential

and characteristic princi-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

132

pies of our religious system.

there

is

of his objecting

Faith;

of

It

details.

its

If

any man believe them,

no danger of his quarrelling with our Confession of


to

its

extent, or the minuteness

what we deem the

against

is

essential

truths of Divine revelation, the very basis of our religious

system, that the enemies of our Confession take exception.

Before satisfaction could be given to them,

^way what we

we must change

remote from pure Christianity,

human

cast

consider the chief excellence and glory of

scriptural Divinity;
as

we must

our system to a form

as the

wanderings of the

imagination are from the infallible dictates of Divine

inspiration.

In framing the standards of the Church, every reason-

made

able allowance ought to be

for the

human understanding; and for the


are unavoidable among men

which

A determination

ought not

no

or

importance,

of

to

weakness of the

diversities of opinion

of independent minds.

be attempted of questions of

doubtful

disputation,

concerning

which there may be a difference among men who agree


in the

main points of Christianty.

It is

highly expedient,

however, that every religious society should furnish an exhibition of the principal articles of their faith,
rules and practices prevalent

bols of the Church, a

bond of

ment and communion,


a

fair

ful

and

among them.

is

By

and of the
these

sym-

association, a basis of agree-

provided among the members;

liberal disclosure is

made

to the

world; and use-

aids are furnished in subserviency to the Scriptures,

for the instruction of believers

and of their children.

But the most important ends of


not to be attained, unless

community

in

Church indicate

which
to the

it

is

it

a Confession of Faith are

be strictly regarded by the

adopted.

Will the creed of a

world the opinions of

its

members^

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

183

every man allow himself an unlimited license

if

in the re-

ception and interpretation of theological doctrines?

Can
any harmony of judgment or sentiment exist in such a community? Is not the bond of union and fellowship virtually
and necessarily broken, by such unwarrantable liberties?

We
larized

have often heard of such

of things in the secu-

a state

Church establishments of Europe; of men embrac-

ing every opportunity to impugn the very doctrines which


the standards of their Church pronounced true and sacred: and

we

have heard of

it

with amazement.

We

never considered

short of insincerity and treachery of the most malignant

it

What judgment,

we form of the same


conduct when found among ourselves? Shall we pronounce
kind.

then, shall

a flagrant breach of faith, a scandalous dishonesty in the

it

Churches of Europe, but quite innocent and reputable


the Presbyterian Church of America?

It is

in

not to be de-

among us men who have embraced a


scheme subversive of the known and established profession
of the community to which they belong; who do not hesinied, that there are

tate to use the language of disapprobation

when speaking

they solemnly declared


tures.

me,

it

and contempt,

of the doctrines, which, at their ordination,

However

this

to

be agreeable to the

conduct

may

Holy

Scrip-

appear to others,

to

seems an outrage upon the rights and feelings of their

fellow members, a violation of the fundamental principle


of the association, and a gross imposition upon the world.
It

may

indeed be alleged by these men, that the system

of doctrine which they once professed to believe, has fallen


far

behind the improvements of the age; that

lately burst

upon

new

their astonished minds; and that

light has
it is

un-

reasonable and impossible to cramp the expansive energies

19

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

134

of their original and powerful genius, by the framework of


creeds and confessions.
If

it

be true, that the

enabled them
to

new

make improvements

ments of their
intellects

light, of

to detect the errors of

it

new scheme

former times, and

beyond the

attain-

is

to be essentially erro-

alone worthy of their

What

the consequence?

is

boast, has

be admitted, that their masterly

have proved the old system

neous, and that some

all

in divinity far

fathers; if

high approbation, what

which they

course

of conduct would a due regard to sincerity and integrity

A continuance in the Church, to contradict and vilify

dictate?
its

acknowledged doctrines? Certainly

not.

Every manly

and honourable sentiment, every principle of consistency

and duty, requires them

to

withdraw from

whose doctrines they think proper


tempt

to

bring into reproach.

pretensions to

new

light,

made whilst they

Church,

retain

whose doctrines they

except at the expense of every

We

repudiate, and at-

and an improved system of theo-

their connexion with the

honesty.

community

They may advance high

logy; but these claims cannot be

reject,

to

title to fairness

and

man who, at
when

admire the ingenuousness of a

every hazard, separates himself from a community,


dissatisfied

with

its

which can convert


destruction of

its

principles;

office

we

detest

the

baseness

and standing, in any society, to the

vital interests.

Such

a course deserves

the indignant rebuke of an ofiended community, and the

severe disapprobation of

all

honourable men.

Every

gious denomination has an interest in stamping the

of condemnation upon a procedure so remote from

and honourable dealing.


kind pronounce

man

it

The common sentiments

uncandid, offensive, and wrong.

disapprove the constitution of his Church,

let

reli-

mark

all

of

fair

man-

If

any

him, be-

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
impugn

fore he permits himself to

which he knows
well

It is

to

it,

I35

renounce

a profession

be neither cordial nor sincere.

known

that opinions are entertained in

These

taught in our sound and scriptural standards.


ferences are neither few nor unimportant.

would be

fatal to

fathers,

The

exploded.

moulded

fication are

If adopted, they

we

and which

we

believe to be

The covenant made with

founded on the word of God.


is

are
dif-

the venerable system of truth, which

have received from our

Adam,

some

we

portions of our Church, very different from what

doctrines of redemption and justi-

which we can discern

into a form, in

scarcely a lineament of their former perfection and glory.

The

ability of fallen, sinful

man,

is

maintained to be ample

and universal; whilst the agency of the Holy


limited to the presentation of truth to the mind,

the ex-

These are some of

ternal instrumentalities of the Gospel.

the changes, which are so zealously

Spirit is

by

recommended

to our

acceptance, and which are so confidently pronounced im-

provements

When

in theology.

tempted, the duty of

all

such innovations are

who know and


Has

not be a matter of uncertainty.

at-

love the truth, can-

the

Lord Jesus made

us acquainted with the glorious and precious doctrines of


his

word? and can we be

and success in the world?


pression of baleful error?

indifferent about their reception

Shall

we have no zeal for


we do nothing to

Shall

the sup-

discoun-

tenance a presumptuous and dishonest departure from the

acknowledged doctrines of the Church

by

those,

The

who, above

all

others, are

to

which we belong,

bound

to be faithful?

attachment of the Presbyterian Churches of Scot-

land and Ireland to the genuine doctrines of their ecclesiastical

standards,

salutary.

It has

has

proved

done much

to

to be

powerful and most

purify these communities

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES,

136

from the pestilent influence of heresy.


soundness of some of their ministers

is

The former un^


well

known: and

nothing has cor\tributed more to preserve those churches


corruption and apostacy, than their firm adher-

from

total

ence

to their excellent

and scriptural standards.

deter-

mination has been evinced, to assert the authority of the


doctrines of the Church, and to compel the patrons of difto seek their sphere of action elsewhere.

schemes

ferent

American Presbyterians!
your imitation.

commendable

Here

are examples

becoming and

It is

and zeal of others, in

fidelity

worthy of

right to emulate the


behsflf of the

and the happy success which has crowned the

truth;

of your transatlantic brethren,

your exertions.

may

animating,

It is

it

efibrts

well serve to stimulate


is

delightful, to behold

by some of the British churches,

the noble stand taken

in

defence of truth, and in opposition to error and delusion.

May we

not hope, that at length the same spirit will be

awakened

in

our Church;

that a determination will

be

manifested to preserve inviolate the pure doctrines of Scripture and of our Confession; and that a state of things will

soon

exist, in

which

heresies,

whether old or new, can no

longer be avowed and propagated with impunity by men,

who,

to

the sin of disseminating false doctrine,

superadd

that of contradicting their profession, and -infringing their

solemn engagements.

Nothing operates more powerfully


and prosperity of the Church, and
strife,

and every

evil

to

to

destroy the peace


excite wrath,

and

work, than heretical departure from

the truths of the Gospel.

Would

it

not be strange,

if

the

guardians of the purity and welfare of the Church had no


authority to arrest an evil so formidable and ruinous?

The

Scriptures recognize this authority; and not only so, they

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
enjoin

to avoid, to

reject, to cut

and trouble theChurcli, by

We

tlie

retain

much

them

in

off",

those

are

who

com-

corrupt

propagation of false doctrine.

are not permitted to bestow

tenance,

We

exercise as an indispensable duty.

its

manded

I37

upon tlicm the

less to receive tliem

to

least coun-

our fellowship, or to

"If there come any unto you, and bring

it.

not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither

him God speed:

bid

he that biddeth him God speed

for

is

partaker of his evil deeds.

In the infliction of discipline, on account of error, the


judicatories of the

Church must be regulated by her

lished standards.

We

maintain,

estab-

indeed, that the Scrip-

supreme and ultimate rule of truth and duty,

tures are the

and that the subordinate standards of the Church ought


be framed in

strict

If they be not, they ought to be

spiration.

its

member

authority, no

appeal from

thrown

But whilst the Confession of Faith

or corrected.

its

to

accordance with the suggestions of In-

of our

decision.

community

is

aside,

retains

permitted to

proper and immediate

It is the

criterion of truth and error, in the Presbyterian Church.

No man

has a right to complain,

if

he be judged by the

law under which he has placed himself.


satisfied

with

the reach of

he

it,

its

is

at perfect liberty to

We

jurisdiction.

If he

become

must pronounce

be truth which accords with our standards, and


error

that to

that to be

which contradicts them.

The most consummate

address has always been em-

ployed by the advocates of error,

and

dis-

withdraw beyond

to

screen

themselves from

to

cover their advance,

deserved rebuke.

them attempting

At

bring for-

one time,

you

will find

ward

new

divinity, during the heat and tumult of a

their

religious

awakening;

at

another

time,

to

they

are

seen

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

138

recommend

labouring to

by

it,

argument and meta-

subtle

men

If one of these

physical reasoning.

count for his heretical opinions, he

is

be called to an ac-

found ready to de-

He

fend himself with a world of explanations.


asserts, that

he

He

not essential.
trines

differs

his explanation,

Much
age, of

is

although

is

flat

light,

it is

differs

evident, that

contradiction

same doc-

only in his

what he

calls

of the doctrine.

and improvements of the

spirit

and more

positively

words^ or in points

and that he

believe,

heard of the

new

in

declares that he believes the

which others

explanation of them

from you only

liberal ideas in religion; of

the importance of being divested of prejudice and a servile

dependence upon authority.

amazement,

It is

enough

our

to excite

not our indignation, to see a youth

if

whose

attention has been directed to religious subjects only a

few

years, perhaps months, undertaking to depreciate the at-

tainments of the Church in

all

former times; and

to set

himself in advance of the most learned and able divines

which the world has ever known.

But surely

to talk about

the improvements of the age, will not cover the arrogance

and absurdity of such pretensions. Improvements of the age

Improvements

in divinity!

to

which the Church,

Nothing of the kind.


provements

Has any new

revelation been

Can any important truth be named,

received from heaven?

in

former ages, has been a

stranget"?

In what, then, consist the boasted im-

in divinity, of

which we hear

so

much?

I an-

swer, in the revival of old and exploded errors, upon which


the Church has long since, and repeatedly, placed the
of reprobation.

from the lively

Our modern discoveries


oracles,

mark

are derived, not

but from the graves of Pelagius,

Socinus, and other heretics.

In the

name of our Lord Jesus

Christ,

we

call

upon

all

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.
the

members

I39

of our Church, deeply and solemnly to con-

sider the present state of things

among

At no time

us.

the history of our community, has the aspect of

The

peared so dark and appalling.

in

affairs ap-

tide of delusion and

innovation has been advancing upon us with portentous im-

sweep away

petuosity, threatening to
as excellent,

and lovely, and

all

that

we

venerate

scriptural, in our doctrines

and

institutions.

We

awake

dangers which threaten the purity, the peace,

to the

beseech every Presbyterian, therefore, to

and the highest welfare of our denomination; and


every attempt which

may

to repel

be made, to set aside, or mutilate,

we

the genuine and approved system which,

at

present enjoy.

We ought to, and I hope we do, love and revere the establishWe know that under their
ed principles of our standards.
influence, our society has greatly prospered; and

our ardent wish, that they


our children.

many among
and

How

may

it

should be

be transmitted unimpaired to

then can any be unconcerned, whilst

us are labouring to bring them into disrepute,

to substitute another, and, in

opposite system, in their place?

your own sakes,

for the sake of

many

We

essential respects, an

entreat you, then, for

your children,

for the regard

you have for the honour of Christ, the advancement of truth,


and the prosperity of the Church, to beware of giving encouragement, in any way,

to the

promulgation of notions

unknown

The
to our orthodox and scriptural Confession of Faith.
to
meet
every atindignant rebukes of the churches, ought
tempt

to introduce

another Gospel, in the place of that

which you have learned from the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We
rity

call

upon the ruling

elders, the guardians of the pu-

and welfare of our churches, duly

to reflect

high obligations which devolve upon them


juncture.

Beloved brethren,

it is

at this

upon the
eventful

your province and duty

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

140

to see that the people

under your care be instructed in the

pure doctrines of the

word of God, and

that the

acknow-

ledged principles of our Church be respected and maintained.

It

belongs to you to prevent, so

far as

your authority

extends, the propagation of a system of opinions

unknown

to our standards,

disowned by the Church of God

in all past

ages, essentially

repugnant

structive to

all

Holy

to the

Scriptures, and de-

Much is expected

true and scriptural religion.

from your firmness, your soundness

in the faith,

and your just

sense of the duties which belong to your station.


to

you

as

most

likely,

under God,

We

look

to sustain the cause of

evangelical truth, and to arrest the tide of novelty and delusion,

which, for some time past, has been advancing within

our limits.
Ministers of the everlasting Gospel,
exert the authority, which

Lord

we

call

upon you

to

you have received from the

Jesus, in defence of the truth, and for the prevention

of error, delusion, and discord, in the Churches.


especially,

it

To

you,

pertains to provide that the people be fed with

knowledge and understanding; and

to see that the poison of

heresy be not administered to them, instead of the bread of


life.

When men

Church by

corrupt

the

their pernicious innovations,

ligation to stay the plague,

sound

state,

by

and

you are required,

and

distract

the

you are under ob-

to restore the

the use of discipline, the

vine wisdom has appointed.


obligation,

Gospel,

body

to a

remedy which Di-

In the discharge of this high


it

is

true, to act in the ex-

meekness, forbearance, and kindness:

ercise of Christian

but you must not permit a feeling of tenderness, or a dread


of opposition and censure, to deter

you from the perform-

ance of an indispensable, although an unpleasant duty.

You may expect

to

incur odium, suspicion and reproach.

OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

141

But, being actuated by a pure regard to the honour and

command

of God, the glorious truths of the Gospel, and the

you can well endure them.

best interests of the Church,

To

the sincerity and uprightness of your intentions, you

will

have a witness

you

light

fidelity

in

your own hearts

May the

witness in heaven.

and direction in

and firmness,

resist the progress

all

let

us

all,

you

Head

will

have a

of the Church give

things; and enable you, with

to stand for

God and

truth; and to

of unscriptural novelties, and the en-

croachment of mischievous

And

great

my

errors.

beloved hearers, be assured that

we

possess a spiritual discernment of the excellence and glory

of divine truth; and that the truth has

made

us free from

the predominance of corrupt desires and affections.

we have come

Unless

to Christ, in consequence of our having heard

and learned of the Father; unless

we

Holy

mere

Spirit through the truth,

are sanctified

by the

speculative under-

standing of the doctrines of religion will not accomplish our


salvation.

Let us endeavour, by

becoming the Gospel,

to

things, that

Saviour in

all

also appear

with him

20

a life

and conversation

God our
appear, we may

adorn the doctrine of

when he

in glory.

shall

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES,


LECTURE

VI

Delivered on the Evening of the 5th February, 1832,

hrj

the

Rev. Charles Hodge, of Princeton, N. J.

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.

"When we

were enemies we were reconciled unto God by the death of


his

The

truth that

countable being,

man
is

Son." /2om.
is

v. 10.

a moral, and consequently an ac-

the foundation of

all

religion.

It

is

necessarily involved in this truth, that our happiness de-

pends on the favour of God, and that


ed by

Just so

sin.

far,

and so

this favour is forfeit-

clearly,

therefore, as

men

are conscious of sin, are they convinced that they are the
objects of the divine displeasure.
sin is universal, so also is the

The

As

the consciousness of

apprehension of God's anger.

question, therefore, forces itself on the attention of

every considerate human being, with an energy and importunity which cannot be resisted.
to

be regained

The answer

How

is

if

he

is

mistaken here,

securing this object, he

21

is,

if

God

to this question decides the

religious character and the destiny of

For,

the favour of

he adopts

him who gives


a

it.

wrong method of

on his own principles, undone.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

144

Here, then, more immediately than any where

For

in contact with the vital principle of religion.

we

else, are

as there

can be no real happiness, so there can be no holiness except

enjoyment of God's favour, [Bom.

in the

sequently there can be no true religion

may

of securing his favour, whatever that

is

it

be,

is

denied or

Such being confessedly the importance of

neglected.
question,

14), and con-

vi.

where the method

need hardly be remarked, that

the subject on which

mere speculation and theorizing

When

should be forborne.

this

this of all others

man

is

seeking for himself a

footing on which he can stand alone in the presence of his

God, or on which he

is

willing to assume the responsibility

of exhorting others to stand, he needs,


the divine testimony beneath his

Happily

There

is

serted,

with

we

ever, the rock of

are not left in uncertainty on this subject.

no one doctrine of the Bible more frequently

as-

more variously implied, more intimately interwoven


the rest, than that which teaches the

all

gaining the forfeited favour of God.


explicit,

unto

if

feet.

and so frequently repeated,

God by

method of re-

The declaration is so
that we are reconciled

the death of his Son, that no class of men,

professing to recognize the authority of the Scriptures, ven-

deny

ture to

that

Christ this result

what

is

is

in

some way through the death of

secured.

But the question here

the nature of this connexion

sufferings of the
It

it

is

how

is it

arises,

that the

Son of God secure the remission of sins?

must be admitted that there

is

no

little

diversity of opi-

nion as to the answer which should be given to this question.

But why need the question be

agitated

be contented with the general statement,

we

Why

are saved

not

by

the death of Christ, without perplexing ourselves or others

by inquiring how these events

are related

We should

be

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


an answer to these interrogations, and

at a loss for

to

145

admit that

the Bible was silent on the subject.

if

Did the Scriptures

teach us the fact only, that the death of Christ

with the pardon of

mode

feel ready-

such inquiries are worse than useless,

all

is

connected

without explaining the nature or

sin,

of that connexion, then indeed would inquiry on the

subject be vain,

The manner

in

if

But

not impious.

which the

this is not the case.

sufferings of the

connected with our salvation,

much

as

is

Redeemer

object of our faith and ground of our hope, as the fact

Besides, this question


true piety.

is

itself.

most intimately connected with

If the death of Christ has

with the remission of

are

revealed as the

sins,

than as

it

all

no other connexion

confirms his doctrines,

then must our views of the divine character, of the ground


of a sinner's confidence towards God, of the nature of

and mode of salvation,


ther Gospel

and

all

all

be changed

then have

faith,

we

ano-

those exercises of piety, which sup-

pose a different view of this subject, are fanatical delusions.

We

are not, therefore, travelling

beyond the

limits of re-

vealed truth, nor instituting an inquiry unconnected with


practical religion,

when we

ask,

How it is

Christ secures the remission of sins

that the death of

Various as are the

opinions entertained on this subject, they

may

all, it is

be-

lieved, be reiluced to these three general views.

The
as the

first is

that

which represents the death of

Christ, not

immediate or proximate ground of pardon, but

securing this result only so far as

it is

ducing a change of character in the sinner himself.

tendency

to effect this

firmation which

someone
makes of

it

change

is

as

instrumental in proIts

ascribed either to the con-

gives to the Gospel in the general, or to

truth in particular;

to

the exhibition which

it

the divine mercy, or the excellence of the Re-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

146

deemer

some more m5^sterions and undefinable

or to

The

influence.

be produced,

on the sinner himself, and

is

pardon

this effect that

however, in what ever way

effect,

is

it is

According

secured.

it

view,

to this

every constituent idea of the doctrine of Atonement


jected, and Christianity

end of punishment

is

the prevention of crime,

this end can be otherwise attained, the obstacle to the

exercise of
is

re-

general view proceeds on the assumption,

The second
if

is

either a modified system of natu-

or of mystical philosophy.

ral religion,

that as the

is

may-

in virtue of

The

mercy would be removed.

death of Christ

designed to accomplish this object, by making an im-

pression on the intelligent universe at least as efficacious


in deterring

from

sin, as the

punishment of the actual

Atonement,
nor

it

of-

Such being the object of the

fender would have produced.

consists in sufferings not of a penal character,

inflicted in the execution of the law, but

endured under

circumstances adapted to produce the desired impression.

remove

Its effect is to

governmental

difficulty to the dis-

pensation of pardons.

The
sity of

view proceeds on the principle,

third

punishment does not

arise

that the neces-

merely out of the necessity

of making an impression on the universe, and on the sinner


himself, adapted to deter

from

sin,

but also and primarily

and the

out of the inherent ill-desert of sin

itself,

rectitude of the divine character, in

which the idea of

tributive justice

Atonement

is

is

included.

Consequently,

its

divine justice.

while

dis-

the

designed and adapted to produce the deepest

impression of the holiness and justice of


gent beings,

infinite

primary object
It is, therefore,

tion, consisting in vicarious

is

to

God on

all intelli-

answer the demands of

of the nature of a satisfac-

punishment, or

in the infliction

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.

147

of the penalty of the law on Jesus Christ as the substitute

And

of the sinner.

its effect is to

secure reconciliation on

the condition of faith and repentance.


It is the object of this discourse to

that the third of these views

trine

is

presented in the word of God.

the subject,

may

it

be necessary to

the terms here employed

endeavour

to

show

the form in which the doc-

is

Before entering on

state the sense in

When

are used.

it is

which

said, the

sufferings of Christ

were of the nature of punishment, the

word punishment

used in

is

ordinary acceptation, for suf-

its

fering judicially inflicted, or sufferings imposed in execution

The

of a legal sentence.

idea, of course, is not in-

cluded, that the sufferer himself must be chargeable with


sin in a

This would be no

moral sense.

who

to the feelings of those

consistent

with

when

Again,

the

it is

use this expression, than in-

plainest

declarations

of

said that the penalty of the

cuted on the Redeemer,

it

is

same

self.

is

The

is

it

any and

pain,

all

the relation of a sanction.

according to
definite

penalty of the law

its

which

sustains to the

regard to

human

is

any one

however

suflering, but all evil,

varied in nature or intensity, by which sin

punished.

laws, the penalty never in-

volves precisely the same kind and degree of pain in


execution.

not

Thus, the word death,

scriptural use, does not import

form or amount of

Even with

is

degree or character of pain which the law

specific

imposes, but

law

in

not necessarily, nor properly, con-

veyed by the expression.


any

more than

would have come on the sinner him-

as

Such an idea

Scripture.

law was exe-

not intended that his suffer-

ings were, either in nature or degree, any


duration, the

abhorrent

less

The terms may remain

character and

amount of

suffering are

its

the same, but the

modified

by ten

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

148

thousand

circumstances in the moral character, natural

temperament, and physical constitution of the individual.

A youth

of tender feelings, susceptible conscience, alive to

the good opinion of society, with


friends, suffers unspeakably

same sentence, than


cumstanced

fair

more and

many

under the

hardened offender differently

in all these respects.

worthy of

objections, the least

prospects and

differently

It is,

cir-

therefore, of

all

notice, that Christ's suffer-

ings were not penal, because they were not the same in
character as those which the actual sinner would have ex-

perienced.

There may be even an

entire

commutation

of the punishment, without the penal character of the infliction

We

being

lost.

cling to these expressions, not

from any fondness for

terms, but because those which w^e are urged to substitute


for
is,

them do not express the

idea

we mean to convey.
we maintain, in

therefore, in the sense just stated,

It

ac-

cordance with the language of the Scriptures, that Christ


suffered the penalty of the law.

and Christ

suffered death

ing of the term; that

is,

The law

in the

threatened death

proper scriptural mean-

misery or pain judicially

inflicted

in support of the claims of the law.

The

definition of the phrase vicarious

give in the words of a

modern Lutheran

suffering judicially inflicted

of the actual offender."

It

punishment,

we

divine.* *<It

is

on condition of the exemption


derives

its

character from

its

being judicially substituted for the punishment of the real


transgressor, with a

of this definition
tion,

and from

all

is

view

to his

pardon.

The

correctness

evident from the nature of the transac-

the examples and illustrations of vicarious

* Storr, Object of the Death of Christ.

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


sufferings recorded in the Scriptures.

It is true, the ex-

emption of the offender need not be, and


us, is not, absolute

149

in the case before

may

and immediate, but

be suspended

on any condition the judge and substitute have pleased to


determine.
Christ, then, saves us

from the penalty of the law by

own

vicariously suffering that penalty in his


this is the doctrine of the

we

Word

think can easily be shown,

if

That

person.

of God, on this subject,

two following

the

princi-

ples of interpretation be admitted, and faithfully applied.

The
to

first is, that as

the sacred writers unquestionably meant

whom

be understood by the persons to

they wrote, they

must have employed the terms which they use


which they knew would be attached

to

them by

in the sense

their readers

or hearers, and, consequently, that the business of an interpreter

is

to ascertain the sense in

which the cotemporaries

of the sacred writers employed the terms these writers used,

and the mode

in

which they would naturally conceive the

doctrines which they presented.


tains the

mode

in

mode

understood; and the

all

in

this,

he ascer-

which we are bound

This simple rule

ceive their meaning.


tion of

In doing

which the inspired penmen meant

lies at

to

be

to re-

the founda-

certainty in the interpretation of written docu-

ments, ancient or modern.

The other

principle

is,

that although

it is

not only proper

in itself, but absolutely necessary in a teacher to

date himself to the capacity, the

speaking of his hearers,


or honesty to
naturally lead

it

employ such

them

is

modes

accommo-

of thinking and

not consistent with fidelity

mode

into error; or,

of instruction as would

by adopting

opinions, to confirm and sanction them.

Much

their false
less

would

such a course be consistent with the character of inspired

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

150

teachers, and least of all

We

when

teaching the plan of salvation.

are, therefore, never at liberty to

assume that the

sa-

cred writers really meant something different from the obvious import of their language, on the ground of their having

accommodated themselves

To

they wrote.

what
at

is

to the opinions of those to

whom

attempt to draw a distinction between

exegetically true, and

what

doctrinally correct,

is

is

once and entirely to destroy the authority of the Scrip-

The

tures as a rule of faith.

of cabbalistic signs for every

Nothing more

but to

make

man

become

away every

doctrine of the Bible,

the Scriptures teach any conceivable system of

And

in point of fact, they

have thus been made

every form of doctrine, from icy deism

pantheism

and the Apostles alternately presented

then moralists, and mystic philosophers.


possible to prove

either

avowedly, or

such a principle of interpretation.

If

know what

its

as hea-

im-

to the satisfac-

practically, adopt

we

are not to take

the simple exegetical meaning of the Bible for

can never

to ideal

It is clearly

any thing from Scripture,

who

tion of those,

we

set

he pleases.

to interpret as

to contain

ing, then

mere

necessary than this principle to enable any

is

one, not only to explain

opinions.

Scriptures

its

meaning

true

is.

mean-

Let

us,

under the guidance of the simple rule of construction, that


the sacred writers say

they

knew

their readers

quire in what

way they

what they mean, and mean what


would understand them

teach the doctrine of Atonement.

That they represent the death of Christ


punishment of our
considerations

I.

is

we

as

a vicarious

think clear from the following

This doctrine

Christ

sins,

to say, in-

is

taught in

all

said " to bear our sins."

those passages in which

Thus, repeatedly, in the

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


'<The Lord hath

fifty-third chapter of Isaiah.

the iniquity of us

all. ''

<^

He was numbered

gressors: and he bare the sins of

ledge shall

my

many."

righteous servant justify

bear their iniquities."

It

what was the import of

this

jsj

is

on him

laid

with the trans-

'*By

many,

his

for

know-

he shall

our duty simply to inquire,

phrase

among

the ancient

He-

brews; what idea did they attach to the expression, ^Uo


bear sin," for this must be the idea which the sacred wri-

meant

ter

phrase

Thus,

is

to

This point

convey.

is

easily decided, as the

one of frequent occurrence

in Levit. v. 1,

it

is

testimony, '^he shall bear his


lent expression

in the

Scriptures.

man who
iniquity."
As

said of the

in the next verse,

it

is

gives false

an equiva-

said of

him who

touches any thing unclean, ^'he also shall be guilty."


V. 17,

he

*'yet

ly>

who
is

he guilty, and

chap.' vii. 18,

day,

^^

though he does

violates the law,

it

shall bear his iniquity."

he that eateth of

a peace-offering

shall bear his iniquity."

In

ignorant-

In

on the third

So, xvii. 16, he that does

not wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh after eating any
thing torn by a wild beast, "shall bear his iniquity."

Numb.

ix. 13,

he that does not partake of the passover "shall

be cut off from among his people

This expression

he

shall bear his sins."

sometimes interchanged (and thereby

is

explained) with the phrase "he shall die," "he shall be cut

from among the people," {Numb.

off

In

shall be guilty."

in

all

the numerous

which these words occur

ing

is

xix.

in reference to

obvious and uniform, for a

man

19.) or,

men, the mean-

to bear his sins, is to

bear the blame of them, to be punished for them.


accordingly, to bear the sins of another,

blame of them
xiv. 33,

to be

Jeremiah's

22

punished for them.

Zam.

v. 7,

"he

passages, therefore,

and Ezek.

is

And,

to bear the

So, in

Numb.

xviii. 19, 20,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

152

"The

son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither

shall the father bear the iniquity of the son, but the soul that

sinneth

it

Where

shall die."

That

at all questionable.

as applied

to Christ,

the sense

this is the

is

too obvious to be

meaning of the phrase

by the prophet,

is

not only evident

from the constant usage of the Bible, but from the prophet's

own

explanation,

our sins,"

*^to bear

sorrows, stripes, sickness, chastisement; that

ment.

It is to

God,

for our sins.

ficial

services.

sion,

i.

be

oflferer.

bear our

our punish-

wounded, smitten, and

It is plain, too,

from

its

that of

use in the sacri-

After the imposition of hands, and confes-

after the act of substitution,

e.

transfer of sin, the

the

afflicted,

is to
is,

And,

and the symbolical

dying victim was said

to bear the sins of

same thing

finally, the

is

evident from

the admitted opinions of ancient nations in reference to this

The

subject.

case, indeed,

is

so plain, that the interpreta-

tion just given has secured the assent of all impartial

mentators, orthodox or infidel.

guished of the latter

wish

all

all

this phrase,

we must

"If we

revert to the

early nations, and especially of the

calamities, particularly those of

severity,

com-

of the most distin-

remarks on

understand such expressions,

to

opinion of
that

class,

One

Hebrews,

more than ordinary

were punishments

inflicted immediately by God,


and that they could only be removed by an innocent victim
undergoing the punishment as a substitute, and thus stilling

the anger of the ofiended Deit}^"*


class, says, in

chapter,

[ha.

liii.)

having their minds


stitution,

Another of the same

reference to representations contained in this

"The

filled

majority of

Hebrew

readers,

with the ideas of sacrifice and sub-

must, of necessity, have so understood these pas-

* Martini on Isaiah,

liii.

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


sages

and

it is

not to be doubted, that the

153

mode

which

in

the apostles presented the atoning death of Christ, rests

mainly on

this

ground."*

It

therefore, with ihe fullest

is,

"To

authority of scriptural usage, Grotius asserts, that,

may

bear sins by suffering, that others

mean nothing

And

sins.'^t

bear the punishment of those

else than to

Archbishop Magee, though he

for the sake of peace, to give

" But

evident, that

it is

be pardoned, can

it

is

willing,

up the word punishment,

(the suffering of Christ)

says,

is,

not-

withstanding, a judicial infliction;"^ the very idea which


the

word

is

intended to express.

may

Although, therefore, the expression, *'to bear sin,"


to

our ears, mean either,

the occasion of
it

it;

1st, to

or,3d, to suffer

remove
its

it;

2d, to suffer on

punishment;

could in such connexions, convey only the

consequently, to substitute for this either of the


is to

make

it

express a sense, which, as

to the Jews,

last idea,

and

two former,

we have shown,

is

contrary to Scripture usage, the opinions of the people to

whom the

prophet wrote, and therefore contrary

to the ob-

vious intention of the sacred writer, and mind of the Spirit.


It is in this sense, too, the

dressing those
sacrifice

New

Testament writers,

"whose minds were

and substitution,"

filled

who were imbued

and language of the Old Testament,


offered

to

bear the sins of

he "bare our sins


ii.

So

24.

in

John

in his
i.

29,

with the ideas

assert that Christ

many," Hebrews

own body on
"Behold

the

in ad-

with the ideas of

ix.

the tree."

Lamb

of

"was

28, that
I

Peter

God which

beareth the sin of the world," (according to the reading of


the margin), and

John

* Gesenius on Isaiah
t

Grotii

On

iii.

6,

"He

was manifested

liii.

Opera Theologia,

the Atonement, vol.

vol. iv, p. 300.


i.

p.

347.

See also

p.

316.

to

bear

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

154

Precisely the same idea

II.

Gal.

tle in

is

proving, that faith in Christ

is

can attain the favour of God.

many

following: <^As

under the curse

for

continueth not in
to

cursed

is

^^

every one

and that

mean

the same

to be

of his arguments

every one

is

redeemed

us

who

from the curse

a curse for us: for

^*

under

and

of

It will

a tree."

this curse,

written,

is

it

the curse of the law,"

pe-

is its

be 'a curse

to

he

thing, the apostle himself teaches, as

are ^^underthe curse," because

it is

written, "cursed," &c.

and Christ was "made a curse," for it

There can be no doubt, therefore,

is

written "cursed, &c.

that the literal

meaning

^no one can be saved by obedience to the

is,

law, because, as the law


violates the least

We

word "cursed."

substitutes for both expressions, the

of this passage

the

is

works of the law, are

who hangeth on

course be admitted that


nalty,

engaged in

means by which we

written, cursed

Christ has

made

of the law, being

One

is

things written in the book of the law

all

But

do them."

the only

as are of the

it is

by the apos-

clearly expressed

In this chapter the apostle

13.

iii.

demands

commandment

perfect obedience, he
is

exposed to

its

who

penalty;

but Christ has redeemed us from this penalty by bearing


in our stead.

It

hardly seems possible

apostle's language in

it

to interpret the

That Christ was pro-

any other way.

perly considered as suffering a penalty, the apostle confirms

by appealing
dicially

to a declaration of the law, that

every one ju-

condemned was accounted accursed of God,

expression

is in

the passage quoted, Deut. xxi. 23,)

posed as an object of divine displeasure; one on


the divine law, a penalty has fallen.
this reference to the

the
it.

to

far,

ex-

whom, by

therefore, is

Old Testament from explaining away

previous assertion,

According

So

(as the
i. e.

the

that

is

it

doctrine

intended
of the

to

confirm

apostle,

then.

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


we

saved from the penalty of the law, by Christ

are

bearing

it

And

in our stead.

this

seems

our death, and that

it

as to its penalty, but

"Fori, by
from

tion to

the law,

its

to

is

tantamount

to

not .by the relaxation of the law,

is

by

execution that

its

am dead

to the

law,"

demands, so that there

me, nor

ground

to be the

of his arguing so often that Christ's death

free

155

any who are

is

we

arc saved,

GaL

ii.

19.

i. e.

now no condemna-

in Christ Jesus.

Rom. viii. 3. The same course of reasoning occurs


Rom. viii. 3. '^The salvation which men in vain look
For
for through the law, God has secured in another way.
as the law was insufficient, God having sent his Son in a
III.

in

nature the same with our own, and as a sin offering punished
sin in
fied

him, that thus the demands of the law might be

by us."

This seems

be the view of the passage best

to

suited to the context, and the peculiar expressions

the apostle here employs.

In this passage

have sent his Son "in the likeness of

was

in this flesh, (or nature)

demned

satis-

God

is

sinful flesh,"

which
said to

and

it

"that he punished or con-

sin," not in our flesh, for this the context will not

allow, but in the flesh in


his person,

which

and the object of

his

Son appeared,

this vicarious

i.

in

e.

condemnation

is

our exemption.

IV. The same representation

The

apostle had stated "that

is

found in 2 Cor.

God was reconciling

v. 21.

the world

unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;"

and then

states

"God made him

how
to

it

is

that

be sin for

us,

pardon was thus secured;

who knew no

sin, that

might be made the righteousness of God in him."


treated the Redeemer as though he were the sinner

we

He
that

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

156

we might
<<to be
fied, so,

be treated as though

made

we were

the righteousness of

be made sin,"

*'to

is

God," means

As we

penalty of the law.

subject to the

be justi-

to

be condemned or

to

nitely far

is it infi-

to say, that Christ

from the apostle's intention


a sinner.

made

are not consti-

tuted morally righteous, by the death of Christ, so

was made, morally,

As,

righteous."

Both expressions are ob-

viously used in their usual forensic sense.

V.

We

may now

which Christ

is

These

texts

all

prove the doctrine of


It is true

in our stead.

that Christ died

e.

i.

in

<<to suffer the just

said, ^'to die for us,"

for the unjust," &c.

substitution,

numerous passages

refer to those

mean nothing

expression might

that taken

by

more than

that Christ suffered for our benefit, but the fol-

itself this

lowing reasons seem

required, as

when

many," where
last

words

Rom.
die,"

to

it.

2.

it is

<'he gave his

the force of the

life a

clearly to

it is

said,
it

he

may

live,

which the death of Christ

this interpretation

a curse for us,

i.

e.

it

is

in

who

sufficient

in his stead.
is

3.

will

In

one

"but when we were

must mean,

seems with

dying

man

in the place of a righteous

expression, to die for a man,

to express the idea of

is

for

word ransom, requires the

mean,

when

therefore,

to death, that

ransom

be rendered, *in the place of many.^

which seems

The very

this is not all

of the prepositions

In some connexions this sense

said,

yet sinners Christ died for us,"

in

One

V. 7, itis said *^scarcely for a righteous

man; and,

4.

1.

seldom has any other meaning than,

(avti) thus translated,


'*in the place of."

prove that

sufficient to

mean by

the sacred writers

5.

our place.
is

exposed

clearness

The manner

said to benefit us, requires

by bearing our

sins

being made

enduring the punishment

we had

in-

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


curred.

where

Finally:

6.

teach,

If the sacred

we have

as

port,

writers clearly else-

seen they do, the doctrine of

legal substitution, then, as their


to this point

157

by passages which

meaning

is

ascertained as

are obvious as to their im-

when

can be no longer doubtful what they intended

it

they declare that Christ <'died for us."

VI. Another important


Christ
is

class of text is that

called a ransom, and his

is

freely admitted that the

words

work
*'

to

redeem" and

demption" are often used when merely the general


deliverance
said to

meant

is

to be

have redeemed his people out of Egypt.

mitted,
is

is to

in this,

deliver

and not

as is

on

more general

'^re-

idea of

Their

That

mere

sense of

verance, they are used in reference to the

work

is

pri-

hands ad-

all

by the payment of a ransom.

in the

It

As when God

conveyed.

mary and proper meaning, however,

which

in

redemption.

it

deli-

of Christ,

is

evident from the simple consideration that the ransom, or


price paid for our deliverance,

Eph.

i.

Peter

in

whom we have redemption through his


20.
"Ye are bought with a price."
19.
"Ye are not redeemed with corruptible

Cor.

1
i.

Thus

expressly stated.

''In

7,

blood."

is

IS,

vi.

things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of


Christ, as of a

lamb without spot or blemish."

Gal.

iii.

13.

"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having


been made a curse for us."

mere deliverance
cific
is

method; by

true these and

that
a

all

figurative language

times more

so.

is

In

all

these cases,

asserted, but deliverance

ransom, by the payment of

it is

by

not

a spe-

a price.

It

similar representations are figurative, but


is

often as intelligible as literal, and some-

The simple

question

is,

what idea would

this language naturally excite in the minds of

men

accus-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

158

to regard their sacrifices as

tomed

ransoms, and familiar

with the mode of deliverance which these expressions properly describe?

It is

sentation should

fail

impossible that this

of repre-

of exciting the idea of deliverance on

This Christ and his Apostles

the ground of a satisfaction.

knew; and

mode

this idea, therefore,

they must have intended to

convey.

VII.
in

We may

which Christ

appeal to the frequently recurring passages


is

God, or

said to propitiate

ciliation for the sins of the people; or to

pitiation,
is to

which

to

make recon-

be himself a pro-

imply that the object of the atonement

all

satisfy divine justice.

God

is

represented as angry

with the wicked, and the death of Christ, as the means by

which he

is

As anger among men is commonand expression of malice, we know that

propitiated.

ly a modification

from association these expressions are apt to excite ideas


derogatory to the divine perfection, and furnish an easy
topic of declamatory misrepresentation.

remembered,

tliat

But

it

should be

these are scriptural expressions, expres-

sions intended to convey important truth, and to represent


ideas, which, so far

from being inconsistent with divine ex-

cellence, necessarily enter into the conception

perfection.

The anger

of

God

is

of infinite

the expression of his dis-

approbation of sin; the exhibition of his holiness in view

of moral evil; or, in other words, the manifestation of his


justice.

It is to

turn

ofi*

from us

this anger,

by rendering

our pardon consistent with the justice of the divine Being,


that Christ died.

mentioned.

And

this is expressed in the

For when God

unto himself, or

we

connexions,) the idea

to
is

is

terms just

said to reconcile the

world

be reconciled to him, (in such

not that

we

are led to lay aside our

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


enmity towards

liim, but that this favour

word means,

us, as the

bring thy gift to the

i.

And

in

favour.

Rom.

reconciliation,"
^*

In the phrase
it,

first

e.

e.

i.

v. 10.

go and be reconciled

first

go and
^^

satisfy

him and regain

whom we have

In

sense of these expressions

by

VIII.

his cross,

The only

That

is

is

of Christ

viii.

called the

5,

sin for us.

Lamb

an acceptable

of God, Joh7i

clared and proved to

Bo?n.

sacrifice,

more

is at least

Old Testament than

tiation, or propitiatory sacrifice,

Horn.

means

perhaps the largest and most im-

more frequently expressed, by

to the sacrifices of the

He

17,

*'by the death

it is

by Christ being made

The work

all.

illustrated, if not

way.

further evident from the

is

ii.

this is the

other class of texts to which our limits

will permit us to refer,

portant of

obtained

for sin," Ileb.

this reconciliation is effected,

of his Son,"

to

his

restoration to the the divine favour.

making reconciliation

of course, can have no other meaning.

by which

any one.'

of our Saviour, "If thou

and there rememl^erest that thy

altar,

brother hath ought against thee,

thy brother,"

propitiated for

is

^to restore to the favour of

command

It is thus used, in the

159

iii.

fully

a reference

any other

in

19, a propi-

i.

24, a sin offering

Eph.

He

v. 2.

be a Priest, Heb. v. and

all

is

de-

the duties

of the office are ascribed to him, the sacrifice, which he of<' He offered himself without spot unto
fered, was himself.

God," Heb.
of

ix.

man5V' ^eb.

when he

offered

^^He was once

12.
ix.

28.

He

rowed from the

manner
services.

sacrificial

purged our sins,"

Heb.

was of any

avail,

goats

offered a sacrifice for sin,

up himself," Heb.

his sufferings are in like

23

i.

3.

"

offered to bear the sins

vii.

27.

The

described in

"once

effects

of

terms bor-

" Having by himself

If the blood of bulls and of

how

mucli more

sliall

the blood

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

160

of Christ purge your consciences for dead works," Heb.

appeared to put away sin by the

"He

14.

himself," Heb.
fering of the

ix.

2Q.

"We

ix.

sacrifice of

are sanctified through the of-

body of Christ," Heb,

of Jesus Christ cleanses from

all

x. 10.

sin,"

"The

John

blood

7.

i.

All

these expressions refer, not to moral purification, but to

the removal of the guilt of sin,

So

by atonement.

of application of the benefits of his death

mode

his blood

on the conscience,

also the

express-

is

to indicate

ed,

by sprinkling

its

pardoning efficacy; or on the throne of God, as expres-

sive of
it

influence in propitiating the divine favour.

its

conceivable that such representations,

ly, or

by

allusion, but

gued, could
their

fail to

produce

in the

minds of

youth had been familiar with

those,

sacrificial rites,

meant

ar-

who from
the con-

to teach, that Christ

really a sacrifice in their sense of the term, that his

death saves us from the penalty of the law in the same


as the sacrifices of the old dispensation saved the

If this be admitted, then

way

Jews from

the consequences of the transgression of the law of

ters

Is

casual-

dwelt upon, urged, defended and

viction that the sacred writers

was

made not

Moses?

must we admit, that the sacred wri-

intended to produce this conviction.

For who

will

maintain they designedly led their readers into error; that


inspired

the

men were

intentional deceivers while propounding

method of salvation.

In what

light, then, are the sacrifices of the

presented in the Scriptures?

We

Old Testament

arc clearly taught that

they sustained a two-fold relation; the one to the theocratical


polity of the Jewish state, and the other to the great truths

which were afterwards


pcct,

we

to be revealed.

In the former reS'

learn, in the first place, that

they were concerned

about God, designed to propitiate his favour, and thus secure

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.

161

the pardon of sin; and in the second that this was cOccled

through the

medium

these points

seem evident from the language,

of vicarious punishment.

Both of
rites,

and

opinions of the ancient Hebrews, and the ancient world in

The

general.

design of these services,

indeed, clear-

is,

make

ly indicated by the expressions to propitiate,


ciliation

for,

and others of similar import,

recon-

as already re-

marked; and the nature of the observance shows how

was

to be

When

accomplished.

man had

violated

the laws of Moses, the penalty was excision from

The method

the people.

head of the Jewish

state for averting this evil,

imposed on one with the view


is

But

to the

was

sin,

was

to pre-

suffering, judicially

exemption of another,
This idea of sub-

the definition of vicarious punishment.

and transfer of

among

prescribed by the judge and

sent a victim to suffer in his place.

stitution

this

any of

clearly expressed

by the

imposition of hands and confession of sin over the head of


the sacrifice.

was

And

hence, after this ceremony, the victim

said to bear the sins of the offender,

blame or

guilt of

i.

e.

to

bear the

them, and being thus laden, was considered

unclean, and, at times, burnt without the camp, and

touched

it

were regarded

all

who

All this to be sure

as defiled.

is

figurative, but these figures are designed to teach something,


to teach that

dium of

pardon was

to be obtained

vicarious punishment.

idea of a sin-offering.

This

only through the me-

is

the essential, formal

In the language of Grotius, ^*Thcy

secured pardon, by inducing

God

of a satisfaction." p. 330.

Such being the obvious nature

and import of those

mony,

to forgive,

rites in relation to the

Mosaic cere-

their connexion with the Christian dispensation

not less clear, and far more important.


tions,

on the ground

they were designed

to teach

by

As

is

typical institu-

significant actions,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

162

by

method of

prefiguring, to predict and explain the

tion through Jesus Christ, the

Lamb

Their own

bear the sins of the world.

salva-

who was

of God,

to

efficacy, in securing

pardon, did not extend beyond the mere ceremonial and


civil penalties of the old dispensation.

As

it

that the blood of bulls or of goats could take

w^as impossible

away

had no bearing on the relation of the -offender

Judge and moral governor of the universe.


Apostle reasons, they availed

more

shall the

to the

pardon of

sin.

it

taken into view.

is

He

sacrifices,

is

called a sacrifice, not

mode

in

it

is

to

cause he takes our place, bears our sins,

and thus propitiates God in our

merely be-

which this

the very point of the comparison; he

us,

avail

not the result or effect merely that

cause he secures pardon, but the


is

God,

In the comparisons so frequently in-

between Christ and the ancient

be remarked that
is

how much

disabilities,

a divine nature, offered himself unto

i.

stituted

as

as the

if,

blood of Christ, who, possessed of an eternal

spirit,

e.

But

they

God

to the purifying of the flesh,

removal of mere external

to the

sin,

to

is

made

is

behalf.

is

done

a sacrifice, bea curse for

All the ideas,

therefore, of substitution, legal transfer of sin, vicarious pu-

nishment, and propitiation, which enter into the Jewish


idea of a sacrifice are, over and over,
in the great

in the

asserted to

atonement by Jesus Christ.

Jewish sense of the term, that he

It is,
is

meet

therefore,

called a sacrifice

for sin.
It is easy, indeed, to get

tuting for the ancient

over

all this,

by simply

view of sacrifices, our

they were, or ought to have been.

To

own

substi-

idea of

what

assert that

they

were merely symbols, or signs of God's disapprobation of


sin,

of

designed to exhibit and impress that truth on the minds

all

concerned; and thence infer that in this sense, and to

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


this extent, Christ

was

Or, as others have done,

a sacrifice.

maintain that they were only intended to


feel his guilt,

ig3

make

the sinner

and assure him of pardon, and then limit the

death of Christ to the same objects.

This, however,

terpreting Scripture not according to the views of

but according to our

ters,

ness of things.

we

find

own views

wri-

of the nature and

fit-

not taking the sense of the Bible as

It is

but interposing a sense of our own.

it,

is in-

its

It is obvi-

we once abandon the rule of interpretation so often


referred to, if we do not understand the Bible in the way
in which the inspired writers knew they would be understood by their readers; then are we far and hopelessly at
sea, without a star to guide us.
One man has as good a
ous

if

right to interpose his sense of the terms of Scripture as

another; one

impress the

be debated
to

as well say, a sacrifice

Which is

spectators.

made

may

offerer, as

at the

another

right, or

was designed

was intended

whether

to

to

impress

either, is a matter to

bar of reason; and the plan of salvation

Our only hope of any

await the decision.

foundation for

it

faith,

orof any security

for truth,

is

is

solid

to receive

the Scriptures in the sense which they were designed and

adapted to convey to the minds of their original readers.*

When,

Christian Brethren,

we remember

that the repre-

sentations just given, are not casual or incidental, but that

they pervade the sacred volume, are insisted upon,


established

and defended, made

practical inferences;
to

when we remember,

have borne the punishment of our

that Christ

sins,

in

The

limitations to

view here given.

which

this

principle

is

is

said

the plainest

terms the language of the Old Testament admits

illustrated,

the grounds of doctrinal and

of; that

he

subjeet, do not affect the

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

164

was made

or treated as a sinner in our place; that he

sin,

bore the curse of the law; that he died in our stead; that he

gave his

our ransom; bought us with his blood; that

life as

he propitiated God on our behalf, and saved us


fice;

we

can

hesitate to

of atonement

is

as a sacri-

admit that the very constituent idea

vicarious punishment.

This doctrine, thus clearly taught in the word of God,


has an advocate even in natural conscience; for this

which

light in

and among
ter

how

all

sacrificial rites

have been viewed in

people. Gentiles as well as Jews.

various the offerings, nor

monies, the object of such

rites

how

may

be assumed that this

is

the

ages,

No

mat-

diversified the cere-

was the

satisfaction of di-

vine justice, and the means, vicarious punishment*


it

is

all

And

the form in which the doc-

trine presents itself to every pious unsophisticated reader

of the Bible.
feels that

tribute

When

oppressed with a sense of

some atonement must be made

which leads

Him

to

God.

sin,

he

The

at-

to punish, the convinced sinner

sees to be perfectly lovely and excellent, and

it is

not until

he discovers some method by which the exercise of mercy


can be reconciled with justice, that pardon appears possible.

Such a method he

There he
endured

finds revealed in the cross of Christ.

sees that the penalty of the

in his stead.

ally to the Gospel,

mercy there presented.

he has been taught by others, what

phy

him

so cordi-

and enables him to embrace, without any

misgivings, the ofiers of


til

broken law has been

It is this that reconciles

of the subject, that he

is

is

It is

not un-

called, the philoso-

led to imagine all this

is a

de-

lusion, that the atonement, instead of being designed as a


satisfaction or propitiation to

press his

own

heart,

God,

is

intended either to im-

or to symbolize a general truth for

the instruction of the universe.

And

even when thus

in-

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.

io5

structed, he reverts in his ordinary exercises of faith and

devotion to the scriptural representations of the subject.

This

too, let

me

add,

is

the form in which the doctrine

has been held in the Christian Church from

first to

last.

For although during the ages in which the Scriptures


were buried, many absurd ideas were entertained on this
subject; yet

when

the Reformation brought them again to

was the doctrine which burst with redeeming

light; this

Much

brightness from the sacred pages.


the

men

and

bitterly as

of that day disputed about other points, in this

they were agreed.

Lutherans and Calvinists, the Hugo-

nots of France and the

Reformed

of

Holland, the Scotch

Presbyterians and English Reformers,

all

conspired to re-

present this as the cardinal doctrine of the Gospel, the article


of a rising or a falling Church.

The Atonement, then. Christian Brethren, as exhibiting


the mode of the sinner's salvation, is the characteristic doctrine of the Gospel.

of

men

to

God.

To

Its direct object is the reconciliation

secure pardon of sin, the sanctification

of their nature, and eternal

life.

In this light,

who

can

comprehend the importance of the work of Christ!


any one endeavour

to estimate the value of there results in

the case of any one individual.

one soul

to

Let

Let him ask, what

be delivered from hell and raised

to

for

it is

heaven; to

be freed from eternal degradation and misery, and raised


eternal purity and happiness; let him strain his powers

to
to

the utmost to take in the full blessedness of such a redemption.

And when he

finds

how

vain

is

ask himself what he ought to think and

the efibrt,
feel in

let

view

o""

him
the

ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thou-

sands redeemed out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue

under the whole heaven, a multitude which no man can

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

16G

number, whose robes have been made white


the

in the blood of

Lamb.

Inconceivably great as
effected,

accomplishment

its

The

death of Christ.

ward

to the

amount of blessedness thus

the

is

not the sole object of the

is

rays from the cross are cast far on-

ever there are immortal minds


tion here

made

to see or learn the exhibi-

of the divine character, there do the effects

So

of the atonement reach.

view of the

Where-

utmost verge of the universe of God.

subject,

far

from supposing that the

which we have endeavoured to

present,

excludes the idea of a moral impression on the world of

we

intelligent spirits,

Atonement derives

consider that the

this impression,

its

adaptedness to produce

its

being a satisfaction to divine justice.

wonderful of

all

commands was heard

sword, against the


then was

it

man

seen and

that

felt,

should perish, the law of

deed an

evil so

enormous

Only

impossible.

ercise of justice,

is

fact of

that

most

^^

Awake

saith the

Lord/'

though heaven and earth

God must

was

stand; that sin

that to pass

so far as the

is it

When

in heaven,

mine equal,

that

from the

it

w^ith

in-

impunity was

atonement involves an ex-

a manifestation of justice.

Viewed

in

the light, not of setting aside the penalty of the law, but as

involving
viction on

its

all

execution,

it is

better adapted to seal the con-

minds of the immutability of the law, and of

the certainty of sin being punished, than the eternal con-

demnation of ten thousand worlds.


informs us, the
spirit,

fact that Christ

It is, as the

or divine nature, Heh. ix. 14, and thus

with God, Thil.

ii.

8,

Apostle

was possessed of an eternal

was equal

which gives the Atonement

its effi-

fills

the wondering universe with awe,

and constitutes the most

effective of all exhibitions of the

cacy.

It

is

this that

divine holiness and justice.

Whatever moral impression,

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.

i67

therefore, the exhibition of divine justice can produce,

is

thus most effectually made, and whatever benefit, in deter-

ing from sin, this impression can

The law
through

worlds

all

This truth

to

made

is

ner.

or

is felt

be impossible.
to bear

with

all its

was not

if it

upon the

force

" If these things be done in the green

be done in the dry,"

thus secured.

is

by being executed;

by man or seraph,

transgression, with impunity,

its

effect,

sustained and vindicated,

is

tree,

what

sin-

shall

possible that the cup of

wrath should pass from the Saviour's

lips,

from whose

lips

Where is the man who believes the doctrine


of Atonement, who does not feel that his destruction is just
shall

it

pass?

and inevitable,

Who

if

he neglect the salvation of the Gospel?

does not feel that

the utmost limits of infatuation

it is

to believe that the sinner can escape,

own Son?
The ill desert of sin, and
are,

if

God

the certainty of its punishment,

however, not the only truths exhibited

God commendeth

Christ.

while

we were
is

Christ.

love towards

his

that

he sent his Son.

is

this,

which

therefore,

is

us,

us.

in that

God

so

It is this attribute

most conspicuously displayed


It

in the death of

yet enemies Christ died for

LOVED the world


which

spared not his

in

the cross of

the constant

theme

of praise with the sacred writers; a love whose height, and

depth, and length, and breadth, are beyond our knowledge.

As

it is

by the exhibition of

truth,

character of God, that holiness


in all

created minds; so does the

means perhaps the most


throughout the whole universe.

is

and especially of the

sustained and exercised

Atonement become

effective in

made, which commonly leads

It is the exhibition

men

to repentance.

here they see the evil of sin; the holiness and love of

24

of

all

promoting holiness
here
It is

God;

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

168

the wonderful grace of their Redeemer.

here they

It is

learn the vileness and ingratitude of their conduct;

Him whom they

when they look on


mourn and turn unto God with

is

contrition and penitence.

most

cross, too, that the Christian derives his

from the

It is

it

have pierced, that they

Constrained by the

active impulses to duty and self-denial.

love of Christ, Paul laboured and suffered with constancy

and

of

And

alacrity.

strains

from

it

Nor

Redeemer.

the

world.

when God

If,

is the

same influence which now

and urges on

sin,

is

re-

to duty, all faithful followers

the

effect

confined

to

our

spread these garnished heavens, and

called these countless worlds, with their endless variety of

happy inhabitants

into being, a shout of rapture

in heaven, at this display of his

ness;

we need

wonder

not

work

interest the

was heard

wisdom, power, and good-

that the sons of

of Redemption.

wonders and brighter glories of

God regard with

It is into the

this

new

deeper

creation, they

desire to look; and thence they derive their chief materials

As

of praise.

ness, therefore,

throughout

all

means of promoting holiness and happi-

among

all

orders of intelligent beings, and

eterqity, the cross of Christ

is

perhaps of

all

others the most effective.

The
to

effect

which the consideration of

this doctrine

have on Christians, time does not permit us

Paul
hold

tells
fast

us, that

ought

to indicate.

having such a high Priest,

we

should

our profession, never be tempted to give up either

the faith or hope of the Gospel; that

we should come with


we should live for

boldness to the throne of grace; that

Him, who

died for us; that, having experienced the un-

searchable riches of Christ,

we

should esteem

it

the chief

business and honour of our lives, to endeavour to bring


others to the enjoyment of

its

blessing; that

we

should

fix

NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.


no limits

to our desire for the extension of the

of the Saviour, until

We

the great deep.

it

will

all

be

little,

sacrifices

all

eyes when

Though

we

others;

it is

all

for the salvation of others,

it

own

will all appear little in our

enter in the eternal world.

this

block in the

and

Do what

compared with what Christ has done and

And

suffered for us.

tion.

should esteem

what we may,

will, suffer

knowledge

covers the earth as the waters do

slight for the attainment of this ohject.

efiforts

we

it

169

doctrine has always proved a stumbling

way

of some, and foolishness in the eyes of

wisdom

nevertheless the

Presenting the plan which

of

God unto

infinite

vised for the redemption of men,

it

salva-

wisdom has

de-

teaches most clearly

who refuse to accede to its terms, that they make


The refuges of lies to which
their own destruction sure.
they betake themselves will not stand a moment before the
to those

coming storm of divine wrath.

Their prayers or penances;

their deeds of charity or honesty,

averting the sword of divine justice.

will avail nothing in

Rejecting the

offer-

ing of Christ, there remains no other sacrifice for sin; refusing this Saviour, there

is

duty of

tive

all

such,

no other name given under

The obvious imperais an immediate return to God through

heaven whereby they can be

saved.

Jesus Christ, a sincere and penitent acquiescence in the


plan of salvation proposed in the Gospel.

Hear, then, and

cross, "Look
me all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved."
And now, unto him who loved us and gave himself for

obey the voice of the dying Saviour from the


unto

us,

to

be blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, even un-

him

that sitteth

ever and ever.

on the throne, and unto the

Amen.

Lamb

for

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.


LECTURE

VII

Delivered on the Evening of the 12th February, 1832, by the

Rev, Samuel Miller, D. D, of Princeton, N. J.

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.

"

The Elders which

among you

are

I exhort,

who am

also

an Elder, and a

witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that
shall be revealed

Feed the

flock of

God which

is

among

you, taking the

oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but

of a ready mind

examples

The

Bible

and

spirit

social.

neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being

to the flock."

of

v. 1, 2, 3.

Christianity

it

is

characteristically,

it

is

in reserve for

to be a state of perfect

and finds

it

to

and most

the object of this retirement

cending the mount,

not

is,

like that of

that he

of

be as profitable

God.

But

Moses

in as-

delightful, to be often alone with his

25

was made

It is true, the Christian, in the course

the spiritual life, is required,


as

are,

holy heaven which

hereafter, will find

blessed society.

The

of a solitary religion.

and redeemed and restored man, when

shall reach that

him

Peter

in his state of primitive rectitude,

a social creature;

he

knows nothing

duties

Man,

may remain

there;

but

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

172

may come down

that he

with his face shining; his heart

and

expanding with holy love;

all

his graces refined

and

thus prepared the better to act his part in

invigorated, and

those interesting relations which he sustains to his fellow

Accordingly, the visible Church, with which

men.
are
so

bound

all

many

body.

social

be connected, and which

to

blessings to

its

members and
our text a

It is called in

the

is

<<

means of

world,

to the

we
is

flock," under the

"Shepherd and Bishop of souls," and

care of the great

under the immediate superintendence of the under-shepand sent for

herds, commissioned
elders

which

among you

are

I exhort,

who am

God which

is

to

guard and govern,

ed, not

only by

many

sight thereof;

very

not

its

We

'<

perfect;

ment
from

have here presented, then,


Church, or the "flock"

government. It is represented as
Head and Lord, under superinIn

all

the garden of

and there

is

society there

the remains of sin, shall be

in the full

enjoyment of God

must

There was

Eden, where human nature

now, and ever will

Heaven, where the happy

in
all

in

by the

Taking the over-

be government, from a family to a nation.

was

confirm-

great

tendence and REGULATION.


government

is

over God's heritage, but as

distinctly, the idea of the

of God, being under

rendering

follows:

as lord's

to the flock."

being placed, by

this

other Scriptures, but also

charge which immediately

examples

as well as to dispense food

And, accordingly,

to the flock.

flock

The word here translated


perform the work of a shep-

among you."

*<feed," literally signifies to

herd;

also an elder,

Feed the

and a witness of the sufferings of Christ.


of

<'The

this purpose.

be,

inhabitants,

made

govern-

redeemed

perfectly blessed

to all eternity.

There have been, indeed, enthusiasts and

fanatics, in

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
ancient as well as
true

modern

who

times,

17 3

taught that, in the

Church there can be no need or place

ment; ^'because,"
being

members

said they, ^^the

for govern-

of the Church

holy persons, cannot be supposed to require

all

either law or authority to sustain them;

evangelical

law

of love,

members

this delusive theory forgot that the

those of their

all

truly sanctified persons

number who

are

are

all

sponta-

But the advocates of

neously and, of course, regulated."

Church are not

nothing but the

by which they

the

of the visible

and that even

sincere

friends

of

Christ, are sanctified only in part, and, therefore, need the

They

salutary application of discipline.


in

almost every page, the

New

forgot, too, that

Testament recognizes,

either directly or indirectly, the necessity and the actual

existence of rule and authority in

all

the apostolic churches,

Nor must we

even in their simplest and purest form.

forget that the vain theory of these fanatical teachers has

been invariably found


in practice, as

it

as worthless,

was contrary,

and even mischievous

at once, to the principles

of

human

nature, and to the instructions of holy Scripture.

has

always resulted in disorder, licentiousness, and

It

every

evil

work.

Quite as erroneous and no

less pernicious in its conse-

quences, was the doctrine of Erastus, the learned and in-

He

genious contemporary of the Reformers.*

taught that

the Church, as such, can possess no power, and ought not


to be allowed to exercise

any authority or

the alleged principle, that

ernment"
sible.

is

"a government

a practical absurdity, and

His theory, of course, was,

See his work,

discipline;

that

De Excommunicatione

upon

within a gov-

by no means admisall

lawful authority

Ecclesiaatica.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

174

resides only in the civil

may

the Church

more; and

government

instruct, persuade

when crimes

that

that the ministers of

and exhort, hut nothing

against religion occur, the

offenders can be reached and punished only

by the

civil

In short, his doctrine w^as, that the civil gov-

magistrate.

ernment alone can exercise authority

in

any community;

and, consequently, that no man, as a professor of religion,

can incur any penalty, for the most serious delinquency,

he be prose-

vvuth regard either to faith or practice, unless

cuted and convicted before the tribunal of the State.

theory more weak and

It contradicts the

proposed.

timony

fanciful, could scarcely

most abundant scriptural

in favour of ecclesiastical

from the

cally refuted

government,

and

be produced:

civil, hereafter to

have been
tes-

as distinct
it is

by the experience of every day.

practi-

The

au-

thority and discipline exercised in every family, and in

every seminary of learning, plainly show that the funda-

mental principle on which the whole theory rests


that there

gether delusive;

may

is

alto-

be ten thousand govern-

ments within a government, without the

least collision or

interference.

Accordingly,

among

in

Jlntioch^ to

Ephesus

the corruption of

forms;

whatever direction

the apostolic churches

we

we

whether

to

or Crete, to Corinth or

human

turn our eyes

Jerusalem or

Rome, we

find

nature disclosing itself in various

find the outbreaking of pride, ambition, heresy,

and moral irregularity, disturbing the peace of the Church,

and calling

for the application of its

discipline; in

ment.

Now,

wise and wholesome

other words, for the exercise of


if

its

govern-

such were the case in the days of inspira-

tion and miracle, under the eyes of the apostles themselves,

and when the

spirit of love

might be said pre-eminently

to

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
reign in the Church; what

is

to be

I75

expected when these

extraordinary aids are taken away, and the covenanted

family of Christ

the ordinary

left to

which he has appoinlcd

power

for its edification

It is evident, then, that there is, and,

must

ture of the case,

means

of the

from the very na-

government; that

be, ecclesiastical

the Church of Christ, as such, has essentially vested in her


a certain kind and degree of attthortty,
in fidelity to her

Lord and Master,

great purposes which she

was founded

which she

to

is

bound,

exercise for the

to accomplish.

The principal questions in relation to this subject which


demand an answer, are the three following: What is the
NATURE of this government? What are its limits? And
what is its legitimate and scriptural end? Let me request
your serious and candid attention
to furnish a brief

L Let

answer

to

some remarks intended

to each of these questions.

us begin with inquiring into the

government which the

ecclesiastical

Word

nature

of that

God

appears

of

to warrant.

And

order to ascertain this with any degree of certainty

in

and clearness,

what

are

because

\\\q
it

is

it

will be necessary previously to determine

purposes

for

which the Church was founded:

manifest that

all

that

power which

is

really

indispensable to the attainment of these purposes, must, of


course, be considered as vested in the Church; and she, as

not only at liberty, but as

We are taught,
is

bound

to exercise.

then, in Scripture that the visible

Church

a body, called out of the world, and established under the

authority of her divine


faithful depository of

Head and Lord,

Gospel

trutli,

that she

may

be a

worship, and order; that

she maycarefullymaintain,and diligently propagate thegenu-

26

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

176

inedoctrines of our holy religion, in opposition to

may

that she

preserve in their simplicity

all

heresy;

and purity the or-

dinances which the Master has appointed, bearing testimony


against

superstition and will-worship; that she

all

mote holy living


world lying

in

among

all

wickedness; and that she

is

And

unnecessary.
it

from Scripture

so evident

if this

may

thus be a nur-

that formal proof

is

representation be correct, then

follows,
1.

In the

first

government, the

By

power.

place, that in

her only

power

legitimate ecclesiastical

all

Lord Jesus Christ is the sole Fountain of

his authority the

her divine King and Head.

Church

infallible rule of faith

to institute

is instituted.

His word

is

is

She has no

other rites or ceremonies


to enjoin

He

her statute-book;

and practice.

which he has appointed; no right


is

pro-

kingdom of heaven.

sery to train immortal souls for the

All this

may

her members, in the midst of a

than those

any thing which

not found in Scripture, or which cannot ^^by good and

necessary consequence,'^ be established by Scripture.

power

heaven, and on earth

in

head over
one

is

all

is

things for the Church. Call no

your Master even Christ."

of ecclesiastical rulers

which

is

He

given to him.

"All
is

man master,

the
for

All the authority, then,

They

derived.

can exercise no

them by Him

in whose
name they come, and by whose commission they act.
2. The authorized government of the Church is wholly

power but

moral

that

or spiritual in

exclusively, to
sively,

viour,
that

is

delegated to

its

nature.

moral objects, and

That
is

to

is, it

has a respect,

be carried on, exclu-

by moral means. "My kingdom," said the Sa"is not of this world;" by which he meant to say,

it is

wholly separate from, and independent

ly governments.

It is

of, all

earth-

not conducted on worldly principles.

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
It is

not maintained by

sanctions, and

its

end are

^^

carnal

I77

weapons."

all spiritual.

It

Its

its

has nothing to do

No

with corporeal penalties, or secular coercion.


in a

laws,

word, but those which are moral, that

means,

those which

is,

are addressed to the understanding, the conscience, and the


heart, can be lawfully

employed

in that

kingdom which "is

not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy
in the
3.

Holy Ghost."

Further; in laying

authority,

it

is

plain,

down

the nature of ecclesiastical

from the design of the Church, that

she must be considered as invested with

power

main-

to

tain, within her sacred precincts, the pure doctrines of

the Gospel.

If these doctrines

were delivered

to her, that

she might be their keeper and guardian, then, surely, she


not only has the right, but

maintain them against

all

is

bound

to

opposition;

adhere

and

to

them;

to publish

testimony in their favour, from time to time,

in the

to

her

form

of creeds, confessions, and other formularies, as the state of


the Church and the world

may demand.

The Church,

in-

deed, has no right to compel any one to receive her doctrines;

no right to impose her creed or confession on the

conscience of any

have power
her to do,

to

human

being.

But she must, obviously,

do that which her Master has commanded

viz. to

"hold

"the form of

fast," for herself,

sound words once delivered

to the saints;

" and

to

prevent

any, within her bosom, from denying or dishonouring

Even

if

the

Church were

mere voluntary

would, of course, have the power, which


sociations have, of declining to receive as

who

it.

association, she

all

voluntary as-

members

those

are hostile to her essential design; and also of exclud-

ing those

who

are found, after admission, to entertain and

publish opinions subversive of her vital interests as a body.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

178

But the Church


She

is a

more than

is

mere voluntary

association.

body organized under the authority of her divine

Head and Lord; and must,


to decline all fellowship

of course, be vested with

with those

holy doctrine which she

is

who

fectly manifest that the exercise of this

consistent with the

It

power

is

system of
It is per-

neither in-

acknowledged supremacy of Christ

Church, nor hostile


tian liberty.

reject that

required to maintain.

power

to the

in his

most perfect enjoyment of Chris-

cannot be deemed inconsistent with the su-

preme authority of

Christ; because the Church, in forming,

publishing, and maintaining her creed, professes to receive

no other doctrines than those which Christ has revealed;


and

to receive

them as being, and because they are taught

in his Word; and


site

to

warn

doctrines, for this

to the will of Christ.

all

her members against oppo-

very reason, that they are opposed

Nor

is

the exercise of the

power

in

question in the least degree hostile to the enjoyment of


Christian liberty.

enter her

Because the Church compels no one

communion; she only

states

to

what she considers

her divine Master as requiring her to believe, and to practice;

and practically declares, that those

the important doctrines, which go to

who

make up

reject

any of

the substance

of that Gospel which he has committed to her to keep and


to propagate,

cannot be admitted to her fellowship.

this an invasion of Christian liberty

Nay,

is it

Is

not rather

one of the indispensable means o^ protecting liberty of conSurely a body of professing Christians have a

science?

right to decide, and to profess


as agreeable to the

that

Word as

Word

what doctrines they consider

of God, and as represented by

essential to the Gospel.

And

as evidently, a further right of agreeing

that

none can be admitted

to the

tliey have, quite

among themselves

number of their members,

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
and especially of their public teachers and
opinions adapted, in their
If they

peace.

have not

different

rulers,

who avow

view, to destroy their purity and

this right, there is an

If an individual,

ligious liberty.

I79

who

end of

all re-

entertains materially

views of Gospel truth and order from those

re-

ceived by such an associated body of Christians, can force


himself, contrary to the wishes of the body, into the ranks

of their instructors and guides; on whose part,


the rights of conscience in this case, invaded?
individual

who

thus intrudes

is

I ask, are

Surely the

the invader, and the Church


If the rights of con-

which he enters becomes oppressed.

or are worth any thing, they are

mu-

tual; and, of course, a body of professing Christians

who

mean

science either

think alike, have as good a right to enjoy them in undisturbed peace, as any individual

who

from them, and

differs

yet wishes to join their body, can possibly have to enjoy


w^ithout molestation his opinions.

the part of the latter to intrude

of the former,

came

Christ
4.

Again;

Church

power

is

to

on

the teachers

his people free."

manifest, from the purpose for

w^as founded, that she

to

among

an invasion of that ^'liberty wherewith

make

it is

If so, every attempt

himself

must

be,

and

is

which the

vested with the

who violate the


To deny the Churcli this power,

exclude from her fellowship those

laws ofpractical holiness.

would be

to

deny her

ing the Master's

that

which

command,

to

*<

is

indispensable to her obey-

have no fellowship with the

works of darkness, but rather to reprove them.''


She is said to be ^Hhe light of the world;" to be ^< the salt
of the earth; " to be a witness" of the holiness as well

unfruitful

as of the truth of

believing world.

God,

She

in the midst of a rebellious and unis

commanded

to

^^

withdraw her-

self from every brother that walketh disorderly," and to

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

180

"keep

these characteristics to be realized;

mands

to be

to

com-

are these

exclude from the Christian society those

are found to bear a character inconsistent with the

honour of religion and the

Without
if

how

are

obeyed, without the possession, and the exer-

power

cise of a

who

But how

herself unspotted from the world. ^^

need

power

this

edification of the sacred family

to rebuke, to censure,

be, to banish

and ultimately,

from the fellowship of the professing

people of God, the Church can present no visible, effective


there can be no

testimony in favour of Gospel holiness;


real

separation

between the precious and the

Lord" from the

sacred fence, inclosing the "garden of the

And, without such an

world.

CONGREGATION, but

Church.
which

Of

wiU

may

inclosure, there

be a

veuturc to say, there can be

course, one of the

no

most important purposes

a visible, professing people of

answer, would
5.

no

vile;

God were

intended to

be, in this case, virtually abandoned.

It is further manifest, that

government must be such

as

the nature of ecclesiastical


will enable the

regulate, agreeably to the laws of Christ,

INVESTITURE OF ALL HER OFFICERS.


in this respect, powerless;

if all

Church

to

the choice and

If the

Church Were,

that pleased,

however

ignorant, erroneous in doctrine, or profligate in practice,

might thrust themselves into the number of her teachers


and

rulers, contrary to her

command

wishes and the

of her

Master, she would be destitute of the means of


defence,

and

self-preservation.

Corruption,

and eventual destruction must inevitably ensue.

self-

dishonour,

No

soci-

ety could exist in peace and order for a year together,

without the power of regulating the choice and induction


of her

own

officers.

Accordingly, the

abounds with directions

in

reference

New

to

this

Testament
important

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
point of ecclesiastical order.
the Church

as authorised

reign

power

those

who

the great
to

It

every where represents

and required

in this matter; to

181

to exercise a sove-

examine and make

are candidates for sacred office;

work

and

6.

and

Church, that her government,

if it

within

settle

and

difficulties

The members

which arise within her bosom.

part.

in the faith,

be of any value, must

herself all the ordinary controversies

visible

God

from the nature and design of the

be of such a nature as will enable her to

fession,

of

adapted to promote her edification.

zeal, are

clear also,

It is

trial

commit

of instruction and rule in the house of

none but those whose knowledge, soundness

fidelity

to

of the

Church, even when sincere in their religious proare sanctified,

Of

infirmities

conflicting

as

was before remarked, only

they are compassed about with

course,

in

many

and hence differences of opinion, variance,


claims,

and multiplied forms of ofience and

complaint often arise

between the private members of the

same Church; between ministers, and the people of

their re-

spective charges; between the pastors of different churches;

and between different churches of the same denomination.

Now, when

these complaints and controversies arise, the

Church ought
is

to

obliged, from

be prepared to meet them; and


the

when

she

want of appropriate and adequate

provision in her form of government, to resort, for settling

them,

to foreign arbitration,

and even to

civil courts;

she undoubtedly labours under a serious defect in her


ecclesiastical organization.

tion as the

It

cannot be such an organiza-

Master has appointed.

The

inspired Apostle

expressly reprobates the practice of Christians going out of


the Church to reconcile differences, and to adjust matters
in

controversy.

He

evidently teaches that the Church

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

182

ought to have tribunals of her own, by which

and

of an ecclesiastical kind,

difficulties,

And

tively decided.

may

Church which

that

questions

all

be authorita-

is

destitute of

however richly and happily furnished


respects will undoubtedly find herself unable

such tribunals

in

other

to

carry into effect some very important provisions exhibited


in the

New

Testament

for maintaining Christian order

and

edification.

Another

7.

characteristic of ecclesiastical polity, indis-

pensable to the attainment of the great purposes for which


it

was

instituted

that

is,

such as will bind all the

he

it

parts of the Church together in one homogeneous body


and enable all these parts to act together with authority
and efficiency, for the benefit of the whole.

There

is

of every

a visible

Church

denomination,

catholic,

who

together with their children.

comprising

profess

the

all

true

those

religion,

These, though divided from

each other by oceans and continents, as well as by names

and forms, are

all

one Church, '^one body

every one members one of another."


they cannot,

all

worship together.

prehensions, as well

prevent them from

But
so,

still,
it

is

ledge

it

as

they are

delightful to

all

and

numbers,

assembling in the same

remember, whether they acknow-

or not, that, in a very important sense, they are


to

recognize each

other as such, as far as circumstances will admit.

be so,

much more ought

the same name, profess the


as

to

make

edifice.

united to the same divine Head,

one covenanted people, and are bound

this

and

not, nay,

Prejudices and misap-

local separation

as
all

in Christ,

They do

But

if

those Churches which bear

same

faith,

and are so situated

admit of their being ecclesiastically connected, to


a point of sustaining this

connexion with each other

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
in reality, as well as nominally.

Now,

Church cannot be

answer

so united as to

which her divine Head,

as well as

enable

her

all

such a

the purposes

own

peace and
will

the several parts of the body, to meet together,

all

their

T say, that

form of polity which

edification require, without a

by

183

representatives, in

appropriate judicatories

plan, consult, and decide for the benefit of the

to

whole body;

and that not merely by way of advice, but by authoritative acts, to correct abuses, redress grievances, obviate the

approach of error, heal schismatic contention, promote the


unity, purity, and co-operation of the whole body;

employ

and

co-operation in spreading the glorious Gospel

this

If the

Church

she

required, in

all

her several branches, to "walk by the same rule," and

to

for the conversion of the world.

manded

<*

to maintain this unity;

speak the same thing;" and

Church,

to be active

creature;"

if

she

if

is

is

sending the Gospel "to every

in

Master has not withheld

her

then, surely

to the attain-

If this principle be admitted, then the

the end.

system of our Independent Brethren, who

Synods

thoritative

of review

courts

all

reject all au-

and control

labours under a defect of the most serious kind.

no provision
acting with
far as

for the

harmony and

it

authority as one body.


is

undoubtedly

many

makes

And

so

chargeable with the same de-

is

as well as in Great Britain,

respect to

It

Churches of the same denomination

Congregationalism

ficiency, as

com-

commanded, as a

from her the means which are indispensable

ment of

is

in

some

it

is

parts of our country,

altogether powerless in

of those things in which the Church

is

called to act as a united body.


8.

farther

and very important feature of that go-

vernment which the Church

27

is

warranted in exercising,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

184
is,

that

he

it

of such a nature as that

may

it

ried into execution in all parts of the world,

any and every form of


kingdom

civil

of this

"is not

government.

world:"

be car-

and under
As Christ's

other words,

in

as

the government of the Church has no necessary connex-

and ought never

ion,

government
without
objects,

of

be in fact connected, with the

to

State

the

and

obstruction,

without the

aid,

accomplish

and even

we

all

may

be

its

operate

legitimate

its

in spite of the

of the civil government, whatever


this

of course,

can,

it

enmity

Of

form.

need no stronger evidence than the fact, that the

Christian Church, for nearly three centuries, did exist, and

did exercise

all

the

power

for

frowned and persecuted, and did

Amidst

the Church.
rulers of the

right

all this

hand or the

left,

whom

Church those

hostility

permitted

them

they thought worthy


all

their

undoubted
to the

to the

offensive,

of

admonish-

excluding those

with regard either


all

the

exercising a

members

who

to faith or

moral purpo-

which the King of Zion had committed

for the edification of his sacred family.

Erastus

to destroy

instructing the peo-

and, in a word, exercising, for

ses, that authority

an

power

from the world, the

the fellowship

ing and censuring the disorderly;

were incorrigibly

it

carrying the Gospel of the grace of

sacred moral inspection over

to

all in its

baptizing and receiving to

practice;

contend, while

nay, while the State

Church went forward, without turning

God wherever they were


ple;

wo

which

had no connexion with the State

Here was

notwithstanding the dream of


contrary of
government within a go-

example

vernment, and each proceeding without interference; because, as long as each kept in

not possibly

come

in

its

collision

proper place, they could

with each other.

In like

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
manner, the Church of Christ,
adheres to the

any land,

in

in

any

may

carry

into plenary execution

it

and under any form

state of society,

of civil government; nay, though


the world should

ages, as long as she

in all

government which alone the

spirit of that

Saviour has warranted,

again

185

all

the governments of

they once were, firmly

be, as

leagued against her.

The

9.

last characteristic

which

government which the Church


to exercise,

ed

to

is,

that

it

is

be not, in any of

promote ambition,

to

piring spirit in the Church.

mention of that

I shall

warranted by Scripture

excite

features,

its

adapt-

and

a lordly

as-

"Neither," says the Apos-

"as LORDS OVER God's HERITAGE, but as examples

tle,

to

the flock."

is

natural to man.

love of pre-eminence
It is

one of the

most universal principles of our nature.


control in

ought

we
this

to

and of power

earliest, strongest,
It reigns

and

without

wicked men; and has more influence than

it

And when

have in the minds of the most pious.

recollect to wdiat complicated and deplorable mischiefs


spirit has

given rise in the Church of God,

corrupt-

ing her doctrines, alienating her members and ministers,


disturbing her peace, and breaking her unity;
desirable

that

every thing in the form of

it is

surely

ecclesiastical

polity should be, as far as possible, adapted to obviate and

repress the spirit of which

we

speak.

Accordingly, our

blessed Saviour, not only while he was on earth, frowned

with severity upon every thing which looked like aspiring

and ambition among his followers, declaring that the question, ' which shall be the greatest?" ought to have no
place in his kingdom;

for that

low-servants, and that none of


called

'^master," or ''rabbi:"

all

his ministers

them

but

he

sliould

were

fel-

seek to be

also, as

we

confi-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

186

dently believe, after


ecclesiastical order,,
ity,

liis

resurrection, appointed a form of

which placed

all

pastors

upon an equal-

and precluded the possibility of any one ^*lording

over another in virtue of any

official

it''

When,

pre-eminence.

therefore, I find the inspired Apostle saying to his son

Timothy,^

man
good work"
*'If a

desireth a

were no other
this alone

mind

desire the office of a bishop, he

had almost said that

text in the Bible declaring against Prelacy,

of Christ.

me that it was contrary to the


we interpret the word, *^ bishop"

For,

if

mean, what Presbyterians say

the pastoral or ministerial office;


self-denial;

an

office

it

means,

of great labour

then the whole passage conveys an idea,

the seasonableness and importance of which

is

obvious to

every one, and the consistency of which with the


the Epistle, and with the spirit of the

But

equally obvious.

an

office

if,

by

this title,

New

we

no

gloss,

ing the Apostle


in

it

"desire" for the

eager desire^

Paul

as the

be an

office

and Sacra-

mak-

He

surely meant to encourage a

*^

bishop;" nay, an earnest and

word undoubtedly

original

hungry person

signifies;

to obtain food.

But

of pre-eminent ecclesiastical rank, as our

Prelatical brethren

say

this construction,

it

is,

then,

is

undoubtedly, Paul,

encourages every Presbyter eagerly

On

to covet the place of his diocesan.

inspired Apostle

Word

a favourer of ambition and aspiring

of a

office

a desire like that of a

upon

is

are to understand

appears to me, can prevent our

the holy ministry.

if this

rest of

Testament,

of pre-eminent rank and authority, above that of

the ordinary authorized dispensers of the

ments

there

would convince

in this place to

and

if

set at variance

other parts of his Epistles

this supposition the

with himself, in

at variance

* 1 Timothy

iii.

1.

many

with his brother

E(XLESIASTICAL POLITY.
Apostle, John,

who

who

strongly censures one

have the pre-eminence"

Church;

in the

many

Master, who, on so

his

197
<'

loved to

at variance

with

occasions, reprobated

aspiring after mastership, or priority of place

all

among

his

ministers; and, indeed, at variance with the whole spirit of

the Gospel.
It is

by no means contended

dual ambition

is

that the exercise of indivi-

either necessarily, or in fact, precluded

by

the adoption of Presbyterian parity in the holy ministry.

This

spirit

is

found, in a greater or less degree, wherever

there are men.


tive

But, as the constitution of our truly primi-

and apostolic Church, precludes

of rank

among

more

turn of aspiring to be
gent, and

same

all official

learned,

more

An

many

ambition which, in

no doubt, sadly unhallowed; but which


honourable and corrupting in
exhausts

pious,

more conspicuously and extensively

office.

itself in

inequality

pastors, their ambition can only take the

its

canvassing for

luments; and which

is

on the culture of those personal

Having endeavoured

to

cases,

may

influence, than that

show

to

qualities

official

be,

which

chief seats, and

titles,

dili-

surely, less dis-

is,

tempted, of course,

favourable to the attainment of

more

useful in the

emo-

be most intent

which

are

most

precedence.

the real nature of that

ecclesiastical polity

which the Scriptures warrant, by point-

ing out, in detail,

its

purposes which

ought

it

adequate to answer

essential features,

let

to be,

us

and the specific

and must be intended, and

now

see

whether we do not

find the apostolic churches actually exercising their ecclesiastical

power, in the very cases and for the very pur-

poses which have been specified.


irresistible, that

we

If so, the testimony

is

have not misapprehended or misapplied

the foregoing principles.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

188

We

ministers of the sanctuary, then, in various

find

parts of the

New

Testament, distinguished by

the benefit of the Church,


cise in the fear of

^^

are called

which they were bound

God, and under

ability to the great

the Church;

all

implying

all

King upon

^^sits as

Head.

ereign

God;"

*^over-

implying

office in

delegated poioer,

Further

the holy hill of Zion^^


:

be exer-

to

body of which

cised for the edification of that spiritual

who

They

souls."

house of God; ^^shepherds over

^^stewards of the mysteries of

"ambassadors of Christ;" *

seers;"

to exer-

deep sense of account-

"Shepherd and Bishop of

rulers'^ in the

the flock;"

which

titles

were invested with authority for

plainly imply that they

is

He

the sov-

the Apostles, again and again,

exhort the churches to which they wrote to '^obey them

had the rule over them, and

that

membering

that those rulers

they that must give account."!


self, in

to

submit themselves," re-

"watched

for their souls as

Our blessed Saviour him-

giving direction to his disciples respecting ofiences,

evidently authorizes the Church, by her proper ofiicers,


after

due inquiry and evidence,

to pass a judicial sentence

against incorrigible ofienders, cutting

them

from the

off

fellowship and privileges of the Christian body. J

In con-

formity with this direction, the actual exercise of ecclesias-

power

tical

in the excision of the heretical

from the Apostolic Church,

denied the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, so as

to preach
to

"another gospel," should be refused admission

the Church;
*

iv.

Rom.

10.
t

and the immoral

expressly and repeatedly

In several cases the Apostles enjoin that those

recorded.

who

is

xii.

8.

or, if

Acts XX. 28.

Heh.

xiii. 17.

Tim.

already admitted, excluded from

iii.

4.

2 Cor.

v. 20.

Tkess.

v.

12.

Peter

v.

13.

1 Cor.

iv. 1.

Matt, xviii.

its

Peter

1519-

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
<<

privileges.

The man

that

is

second admonition, reject."

mark them which

thren,

''If

an heretic, after the

No\v

first

and

beseech you, bre-

cause divisions and offences, con-

which ye have learned; and avoid

trary to the doctrine

them."

1Q9

any man preach any other Gospel unto you

than that ye have received,

let

him be accursed."

''Who-

soever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of


Christ, hath not

God.

come any unto you, and

If there

bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house,
neither bid

speed

is

him God-speed:

for

he that biddeth him God-

Equally undoubted

partaker of his evil deeds."*

are the examples of judicial censure and exclusion from the

Church on account of corruption


Church of Corinth, the
and authoritatively

who had

practice.

in

to cast out of their

communion

salonians, the

the

And

same Apostle

man

"Wherefore put

fallen into gross immorality.

away from among yourselves,"


"that wicked person."

In

rulers are directed to assemble,

says the inspired Apostle,

again, in writing to the Thesdirects

"If

any man obey

word by this Epistle, note that man, and have no


company with him, that he may be ashamed."* The

not^ our

New

Testament, moreover, abounds with directions con-

cerning the proper character, the choice, and the ordination

of Church officers

prescribing those qualifications

without which they ought not to be admitted

to office;

and

committing to the rulers of the Church the arduous duty of


judging of these qualifications, rejecting the unworthy, and
presiding over the choice and investure of those

they approved.
in the Apostolic
* Titus

iii.

1 1 Cor. V.

10.

115.

And,

crown

to

Church of
Rom.

we

a Synodical

xvi. 17.

2 Thess.

all,

iii.

Gal
14.

i.

9.

whom

have an example

Assembly, brought
2 John

9, 10, 11.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

190
together, not

men,

by the

civil

government, but by

ecclesiastical

deciding matters of great importance, in the

for

name, and

whole Church.

for the benefit of the

I refer to

the Synod of Jerusalem,^ formed by "the Apostles and

who

Elders,^' convened in that place,


tion concerning

decided the ques-

Jewish observances, so interesting

at that

time, which had been sent up for consideration from Jin-

And, what

tioch.

is

no

less

remarkable, having authorita-

tively decided, they transmitted their judgment, under the

name

of '^decrees,^^ to be recorded and observed

throughout the

New

the visible Church; with the

ing," in the

name

superintending

of the

all

seeing that
is

the Church

What

II.

And

King

with authority in

*'

binding and loos-

of Zion; with the

what appears

power of

things be done decently and in order."

the nature of that spiritual government


is

of

be for edification; and

to

authorized to maintain

which

Our next-inquiry

are the limits of that authority

in determining these,
in

mind

that

is,

which belongs

we

shall be aided essentially

nature and design of

which we have already endeavoured

we may
power

the

Church ?

by keeping
rity

all

is,

power of

the affairs of the Church, as such;

judicially directing

to the

all

Testament, as entrusted with *^the

keys of the kingdom of God," that

Such

by

In a word, ecclesiastical rulers are represented,

Churches.

rest assured

that the

no power beyond what

this autho-

to ascertain.

For

Church has no superfluous


is

absolutely necessary for

the attainment of those great moral purposes for which she

was formed by her divine Master.


1.

And,

The Church can have no authority over any but her


* Acts XV.

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.

own members.

191

There have been periods indeed,

which

in

an encroaching, tyrannical Church claimed universal do-

minion; when she arrogated to herself the power

whom

and put down

when

she would;

and to make

bow

before her with ignolile homage.

this

was most presumptuous usurpa-

need not say, that

tion; contrary to reason

and Scripture; and adapted

God

troy the Church of

to des-

her appropriate character.

in

from the very nature and design of the Church,

It follows,

beyond her own

that she can have no authority


it

up

she undertook to

dispose of crowns and kingdoms at pleasure;

kings and emperors

to set

And

pale.

was, no doubt, because she so frequently transgressed

this rule, in

due

former times, that so

many

adopted, without

examination, the principle before noticed,

government cannot

would never have occurred

Be it
who are

out," she

may

remembered, then,

To

send missionaries.
to

limits, this

to a thinking

mind.

that she can judge only those

within" her bosom.

and persuade them

"a

If the

exist within a government.'*

Church had not so often transcended her proper


principle

that

come

in,

those

who

She may

are

with-

instruct, invite,

and accept of her privileges;

but until they comply with her invitation, and become her

members, she has no right

to

extend

to

them her appropri-

ate authority.
2.

Again; the Church has no power

own members,
relate to their

no right

to

to control,

even her

other concerns than those which

any
moral and spiritual

in

interfere with

interests.

She has

their political opinions; with

their domestic relations; or with any department of their


As long as they infringe no law of
secular pursuits.

Christ's

kingdom,

it is

no part of her sacred

question or censure their course.

28

It

trust to call in

cannot be too

fre-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

192
quently

repeated,

Christ's

''kingdom

authorize

its

or
is

rulers to

not of this world," and can never

Yet

if a

member

pro-

be visibly and palpably chargeable

with a departure from purity, either


is

of the Christian

conflicts, or his

Church, in the course of his political


avocations,

that

he ''judges and dividers" in the tem-

poral concerns of men.

fessional

remembered,

constantly

too

incumbent on the Church

to call

for his political partialities,

in faith or practice, it

him

to an account; not

or his secular employments,

but solely for his moral delinquency.


3.

Further; the Church has no power to hold in a state

own members any

of inspection and discipline, even her

longer than they choose to submit to her authority.


I

am

not

now

speaking of the right of these members in

Head

the sight of the divine and heart-searching

Church.

No

doubt,

all

who

of the

depart from the body of his

professing people, and refuse to submit to the just and scriptural authority of his sacred household,

him; and, however lightly they

commit

may think

of

it,

will be held

But

accountable at his bar for their disobedience.

Church has no means, and ought not

sin against

to claim the

the

still

power,

of compelling any to remain under her "oversight" and

authority an hour longer than their

judgment and

conscience dispose them to remain.

He

must be allowed

him with her

The Church

to depart.

tears,

their

that will depart,

can only follow

her prayers, and her parental censure.

4. Closely allied to this, or rather involved in this,

another limit to the power of the Church; and that


the highest penalty she

aggravated his
nion.

is,

is

that

can inflict upon any one, however

offence,

is

exclusion

She can exact no pecuniary

corporeal pains or penalties.

fine.

from

her

She can

She cannot

commuinflict

no

confiscate the

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.

^93

property, or incarcerate the person, or touch a hah' of the


head, of the most obstinate ofTender.
When she has shut

him out from her

fellowship, in other words, disowned

as a Christian brother, she has

Her power

a right to do.
.

done the utmost that she has

exhausted.

Intimately connected with the foregoing,

5.

principle of limitation

the

is

which

him

I shall

power of ecclesiastical rulers

the last

is

mention, which
is strictly

is,

that

ministerial:

that is, they have only the power, as servants, of communicating what the Master has taught them, and of doing what the Master has commanded them. They de-

whom

rive their power, not from the people

and

whom

Head

of the Church.

In his

authority they speak and

them

act.

to observe all things

you."
the

By

name they come.

Their commission

whatsoever

at

my

his

" Teach

is

have commanded

'^Preach the preaching that I bid thee. '^

word

Their

they serve,

they represent, but from Christ, the King and

<^Hear

mouth, and give them warning from me."

office is ^<is

2.ministry , not a dominion.^^ Teachers

and rulers have, of course, no right

to prescribe

terms of

communion which the Bible does not warrant; no right to


denounce or condemn any thing which the Bible does not
condemn; no

right to enjoin that

Like ambassadors

enjoin.

go one jot or

tittle

which the Bible does not

at a foreign court,

beyond

they cannot

their instructions.

am

not

ignorant, indeed, that ecclesiastical bodies, calling themselves Churches of Christ, have often set

both of faith and practice.


Councils,

up other standards,

Tradition, the Fathers, general

and the judgment of the Church, have

all

been prescribed as authoritative guides both to truth and


order.

Every thing

supremacy

in his

of this kind

Church, and

is

an invasion of Christ^s

a practical denial of the suffi-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

194

ciency of the Scriptures as the great code of laws of his

kingdom.

not maintained, indeed, that there must

It is

necessarily be a direct scriptural warrant for every

But

of ecclesiastical polity.

detail

must be the warrant of either

And, above

example.

tural

cal principle

on

it

governing feature

for every leading,

maintained, that

is

in

minor

the system, there

scriptural precept, or scrip-

all, it is

this subject, that

maintained, as a radi-

nothing can ever be law-

made a term of communion for which a warrant


from the Word of God cannot be produced. It remains that

fully

we

consider

The legitimate and scriptural

III.

End

of Church

government.

The

good government

all

community over which

the

pose

and
to

great end of

was

it

to this

it

instituted at first

end ought

its

is

is

exercised.

the benefit of

For

this pur-

by the Governor of the world;

whole administration,

be supremely directed.

Tyrants

in all cases,

in the state, indeed,

have taught, and acted upon the principle, that the great
end of
at

all civil

government

the expense of the

that the grand design

when

is

many.

the aggrandizement of a few

Of

course, they supposed

was most successfully accomplished,

the rulers were most enriched and honoured, and the

ruled kept in the most abject and unresisting subjection.

And

it

is

deeply

to

be deplored that the same principle

has been too often adopted,

if

not avowedly, yet really,

bodies calling themselves Churches of Christ.


ecclesiastical

Hence

by
the

exactions and edicts to which hood-winked

and infatuated millions have so often, in past ages, and so


long submitted.
*<

interdicts,"

Hence

the haughty Papal

''

bulls" and

by which kings, and even kingdoms have

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
been frequently made to tremble.

195

Nothing can be more

opposite than these things to the spirit and law of the Re-

The "authority" which

deemer.

Apostle

inspired

the

claims for the rulers of the Church, he represents as "given


for edification

Not

and not for destruction."*

for the pur-

pose of creating and pampering classes of privileged orders,


to

"Lord

tem of

it

over God's heritage;" not to build up

polity

which may minister

a sys-

to the pride, the cupidi-

ty, or the voluptuousness of an ambitious priesthood;

to

form

terests

body under the

title

from the laity, and making the

mere ma-

latter

All this

chines and submissive instruments of the former.


is as

wicked

not

of clergy, with separate in-

No

at it is unreasonable.

office,

no power

is

which

is

authorized by Jesus Christ in his Church, but that

necessary to the instruction, the purity, the edification, and

All legitimate govern-

the happiness of the whole body.

ment, here,

as well as elsewhere,

means, not an end: not


acquiring

to be considered as a

as instituted for the

dominion over the

property of men;

is

purpose of

bodies, the minds,

or the

but for promoting their temporal

and

eternal welfare; and as no further resting on divine authority than as


truth,

it

is

adapted to propagate and maintain the

to restrain vice,

to secure the

order and well-being

build up the great family of those who

of society, and to
profess the true religion, in knowledge, peace, and holiness, unto salvation.

Accordingly, the divine Founder of our religion himunto, but


self tells us that he "came not to be ministered
to minister,

and

to

give his

life a

to gratify himself, but to obey,

* 2 Cor.

ransom

and

X. 8.

suffer,

for

many;" not

and

die, that

he

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

196

might

this declaration, the inspired Apostle,

had drunk deep into the

^^We

but Christ Jesus the Lord,

And

<*Not for that we have dominion over your

And

helpers of your joy."

los, or

Cephas,

and who
ed,

as

is

the

body of

to the

a Chris-

things are yours, whether Paul, oxApol-

all

are yours."

And

again

by

Jipollos, but ministers

Lord gave
to teach, that

" the

his son

"Who is Paul

whom

every man

to

man reminds

not strive, but be gentle unto


in

but are

all

the same inspired

mands him

faith,

again:

"All things," says the

again:

same Apostle, addressing himself


Church "

?"

Accordingly,

Timothy, and com-

servants of the

all

ye believ-

men, apt

Lord must

to teach, patient,

meekness instructing those who oppose themselves,

peradventure,

in

who

of his Master, declares,

spirit

preach, not ourselves,

and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake."

tian

And,

seek and save that which was lost."*

conformity with

God

will give

them repentance

if,

to the ac-

Accordingly, in pleading be-

knowledging of the truth."

fore king Jigrippa, he declares that the great design of the

Saviour in sending gospel ministers to the children of men,


is,

to "

open their eyes, and

to turn

power of Satan

light, and from the

them from darkness

to

receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance

which are
he

tells

sanctified,

it

was not

for

and teachers were sent

Christ;

forth,

till

we

all

saints,

come

for the edifying of the


in the unity of the faith,

and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto

he de-

any purpose of self-aggrandizement, but

"for the perfecting of the

body of

among them
And when

faith in Jesus Christ."

the Ephesian Church for what purpose apostles,

evangelists, pastors
clares

by

to

God, that they might

Matt. XX. 28.

Lulie. xix. 10.

a perfect

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
man, unto the measure of the

197

stature of the fuhiess of

Christ."*

This subject,

may have
It enters

my

more deeply

Christian

life,

then,

trespass

to

stating,

however dry and

friends,

appeared to some of

than

commonly
to

From what

government
many,

is

has been said,

practical.

supposed.

me,

Sufier

patience

by

may

be naturally drawn

evident that Church


a very important means of grace. To

know,

all

walk and duties of the

And,

this

is

it

whole subject appears unimportant,

They

not repulsive.

if

is

it

your attention some of the

mzx^Y practical inferences which

1.

speculative

longer on your

little

and recommending

from the subject.

hearers,

into the daily


is

my

are apt to consider and represent

exercise of ecclesiastical authority, and especially the

all

discipline of the Church, which

is

nothing more than the

application of the Church's authority, as an oihcious and


offensive intermeddling with Christian liberty.

not say to those

who

from the Bible, and fi'om the best experience,


only important, but absolutely essential

body of

edification of the
to be regarded as

by which

Christ.

need

It

that

it is

to the purity

not

and

ought, undoubtedly,

one of the most precious means of grace,

offenders are humbled, softened, and brought to

repentance; by which the Church

members;
moted; the
<*

But

take their views of ecclesiastical polity

magnified;"

purged of unworthy

removed; the honour of religion pro-

offences
office

is

of the Chrisian ministry regulated and

real

Christians stimulated

and guided

in

their spiritual course, faithful testimony borne against error

* 2 Cor.

Adz

iv. 5.

xxvi. 18.

i.

24.

1 Cor.

ETphts. iv. 2.

iii.

22.

Cor.

iii.

5.

2 Tim.

ii.

24. 25.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

198

and crime; and the professing family of Christ rescued

from disgrace, and made

to

the view of the world.

The

appear orderly and beautiful in


truth

is,

the faithful mainte-

nance of Church discipline; in other words, the exercise


of a faithful watch and care

among

rity of each other, in doctrine,

Christians, over the pu-

worship and

life, is

so im-

portant a part of the purpose for which the Church was

we may

founded, that

say with confidence, she cannot

flourish, as to her best interests, without


safely affirmed, that a large part of all that

Church,

at the

It

it.

is

may

be

holy in the

may

present day, either in faith or practice,

be ascribed, under God, as really to sound ecclesiastical

No

discipline, as to the faithful preaching of the Gospel.

matter

how many

<<the garden of the Lord,'^ or

may
to

may be introduced into


how much time and labour

precious plants

be expended in endeavouring to

apply to

it

fertilize the soil,

the most skilful and diligent culture:

if

and

there

be no fence kept up to defend the whole from intruders,


be vain; every beast of the field will devour

all culture will


it;

and what ought

to be a beautiful

sure, will be a barren


2.

and productive inclo-

and dreary common.

If the foregoing representation be correct,

plenary and

then the

constant exercise of ecclesiastical autho-

rity is not usurpation, but simple obedience to Christ.

There

is

extreme sensitiveness on

this subject in the

minds

who profess to be zealous for the ** rights of conThey believe, and sometimes very clamorously
science."

of many,

assert,

that

all

ecclesiastical

censure on any one, for any

moral delinquency, and especially for any departure from


the true faith,

is

an interference with the prerogative of

God, who alone

is

Christ, the divine

Head

^'Lord of the conscience."

But

if

of the Church, has solemnly en-

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.

jgg

joined on his professing people the exercise of


rity,

and the

surely

end of

an

this autlio-

faithful infliction of this censure,

who acknowledge

is

controversy on the part of those

all

the Scriptures to be the only infallible

rule of faith and practice.


beautiful and

there

Suppose the proprietor of a

valuable garden to have committed

to the

it

entire care of servants, formally chosen and commissioned

Suppose the master

for that purpose.

to

have given them

a strict and repeated charge, carefully to exclude from

mischievous intruders, and as soon as possible

all

those
sure.

it

to banish

who had improperly made their way into the incloAnd suppose, when these servants faithfully obeyed

their orders,

any one were

to

denounce them

as usurping

power, and as presumptuously interfering with the liberty


of

What would

neighbours.

their

Would

charge?

it

moment,

that if the servants

would have been

the

see, in a

had not done exactly

liable to the

fulness and gross disobedience.

The command

case before us.

thought of

Every one must

ous that could be conceived?

did, they

be

not be regarded as the most preposter-

they

as

charge of unfaith-

Precisely so

is

it

in the

of Christ, to his commis-

sioned servants, to watch over, rule, and guard the Church

committed

and

to exclude

from

those

it all

principles or practice are manifestly hostile to its

whose
great

to their care;

design;

is

plain,

repeated,

Can

and decisive.

it

when they obey

this

command, they

are so far from usurping power, that a

fail-

ure to obey

strictly and faithfully, would be an act of

be for a

moment
it,

doubted, then, that

direct rebellion against


for

Him who

is

''

Head over

all

things

the Church?"

From what has been said, it is plain, that every departure from the essential principl&i of Gospel order,
29
3.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

200

an unhappy influence on the best


interests of the Church, and may be productive of the
most injurious effects. It is the habit of many to speak
will be likely to exert

of the established rules of ecclesiastical order, with sneer

and contempt,

as if they

observance of which
der, than to

is

were cold and

rather adapted to repress and hin-

promote the

of the Church.

spiritless forms, the

real life, the spiritual prosperity

Unless the preacher

is

greatly deceived, a

more erroneous estimate was never made. There


doubt, indeed, that there may be much pompous and

is

adherence to ecclesiastical form, where there

or no

life.

order

is little

no

rigid

And there is as little doubt that the rigour of Church


may be maintained at the expense of more vital inter-

ests.

But the question

when not only old,


ed; when rules of

is,

when

be likely to flourish

its

Lord
down;

fences are broken

but important landmarks are disregardorder, as wise as they have been long

established, are set at

nought?

doubt what answer ought

to

Can there be

moments'

be given to this question?

not the author of confusion, but of peace and order

*^God

is

in

the Churches."

all

will the garden of the

will be likely to render

Let no one imagine, then,

God

service, or

permanently

that he
to build

up the Redeemer's kingdom, by violating the order of

his

house; for example, by giving encouragement to "lay-preach-

ing;" by favouring the introduction into the ministry of men

with talents adapted

to dazzle as

meteors, but destitute of

sound principles, and other prescribed qualifications; by violating

wholesome

scriptural rules, for the purpose of either

favouring a friend, or opposing an adversary; by giving

countenance to proceedings manifestly disorderly, for the


purpose of carrying a point, or with the hope of gaining

some temporary advantage; or by adopting measures

in the

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.

201

public service of the sanctuary, better fitted to


intoxicate, than to enlighten

the conscience, or impress the heart.


affairs, as all

wise

may

larity,

It is in ecclesiastical

men acknowledge

a single departure from

to be in civil

it

some important

Such deviations may appear

but the appearance

is

strong drink,

may

they

mischievous

may

consequences, of which a whole generation


end.

do good

to

life,

principle of regu-

directly or indirectly, to

lead,

or

inflate

the understanding, convince

not see the

for a while;

Like the excitement of

delusive.

and even appear

stimulate,

to

strengthen, for a short time; but they only prepare the

way

for increased

weakness and disease

were unwise, indeed,

to insist

in the issue.

on adhering

to

form

expense of substance; but it were equally unwise

is

abandoned.

most ample and

subject are
4.

The

when

instructions of history on this


decisive.

A further inference from

ous and irresistible, viz

It

the

to cherish

the hope, that the substance will long be retained,

form

at

what has been

said is obvi-

that the Presbyterian

form

of ecclesiastical polity is manifestly and by far, best


adapted to strengthen, purify^ and build up the Church
,

of Christ.

among

all

If

uniformity of

faith,

order, and worship,

the Churches which bear the same denomination,

and profess

to

walk by the same

rules,

be of real impor-

tance; if the maintenance of enlightened and faithful discipline, be essential to the purity and genuine health of the

body of Christ; and


shall

if

that

ecclesiastical polity

which

be adapted to answer the great purposes for which

the Church was founded, must be such as will authoritatively

bind

all

the Churches which profess to receive

pact and

homogeneous body; then

other form than the Presbyterian

it,

in

one com-

manifest that no

it

is

is

adapted to attain

all

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

202

the purposes, and secure

all

which the gov-

the advantages

ernment of the Church was intended by the Master


In saying

mote.

even

have no desire

this, I

to depreciate, the

denounce, or

to

forms of government preferred by

other denominations of our fellow Christians.

my own

utmost cordiality can I adopt as


the framers of our excellent

when they

say,

those Christians
tice,

to pro-

in the spirit of charity


us, in

opinion or in prac-

This, however,

on these subjects."

the

Constitution,

ecclesiastical

*'We embrace
who differ from

With

the language of

perfectly re-

is

concileable with the conviction, that one form of ecclesiastical

government

is

more

scriptural,

promote good order, purity, and

On

and better adapted to

edification than another.

we have no

the one hand, to speak w^ith frankness,

doubt that a Church formed on the plan of our Episcopal


brethren,

may

may be, and


of many souls.

be a true Church of Christ, and

has been blessed to the everlasting welfare

Yet we are persuaded,

that the peculiar features of that

system, besides having no foundation in the word of God,


are

by no means adapted

to the

discipline in the Church, and,

with

it.

On

the other hand,

that the plan of our

maintenance of a scriptural
indeed, scarcely compatible

we

are as perfectly confident

Independent brethren, and,

to a con-

siderable extent, that of our Congregational brethren,


less materially defective as a

and the

efficient

means of promoting the

and authoritative co-operation of

Churches of the same nominal communion.


leaves

which

deem
as in

them
it

entirely powerless in regard to

would seem no friend of

of small importance.

many

rian system

It

is

no

unity,
all

the

obviously

many

points,

ecclesiastical order can

In both these respects, as well

others which might be specified, the Presbyteis,

at once, liberal

and

efficient;

in the highest

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.

203

degree friendly to the claims of Christian liberty; and yet


adapted to maintain the purest discipline, and the most entire

harmony and

Much

depends,

with which
I

am

energetic co-operation of the whole body.

it

must be acknowledged, on the spirit

system

this

is

borne forward.

not prepared to adopt, in

ecclesiastical

For, although

extent, in reference to

government, the sentiment which

repeated as an admitted

administered

all its

is

maxim,

best," yet I

am

that

^<

free to

that

is

so often

which

the Presbyterian form of government and discipline

administered with so

little

is

best

acknowledge, that

may

be

of the spirit of charity, and of zeal

for the glory of

God, and the extension of the Redeemer's

kingdom,

make

tious

as to

and unedifying

that the infirmity

mar the

it little

more than
But

litigation.

a course of vexa-

this

and corruption of man

is

only saying,

may sometimes

beauty, and invalidate the efficacy of the best pro-

visions of a benevolent God.

impelling power

is

of Christ

machinery

is

adequate and adapted

necessary to set the most perfect ma-

And when

chine in motion.

Some

the vital spirit of the religion

present and active, here

in the

world with which

it

is

can operate.

this spirit habitually governs, there is


clesiastical polity so well

the noblest plan of

Where

no other plan of ec-

adapted as the Presbyterian to se-

cure order; to promote peace; to accomplish every thing

with fraternal counsel and deliberation;


tial

and equitable

discipline,

at

to maintain impar-

once over ministers and

private members; to secure the rights of the people; to

protect pastors from injury and oppression; to guard, on

the one hand, against the intrusions of

laymen

into the

functions of the clergy, and, on the other, against the en-

croachments of

clerical ambition;

to

promote uniformity

of doctrine and worship; to afford redress in every species

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

204

of difficulty; to bring the state and proceedings of every


part of the Church under the distinct and official review of

the whole; and to enable the whole to act together as one

body, under the authority and guidance of a

Are

these things desirable? are they really

common

head.

important

the greatest strength and purity of the body?

to

If so, I will

be bold to say, they can be fully attained only by that form


of ecclesiastical polity under which

we

are so

happy

as to

live.

From

5.
it

the

ought not

As
so

to interfere

^'Christ
all

Head

view which has been given of

plain that diversity

is

is

who
of

as there is but ^^one Christ;"

not divided;"

by

are really united

all

this subject,

informs of ChurcJi government


with the com,munion of saints.

principality and

Him who

faith to

is

*Uhe

power," are ^'one body

in

Him, and every one members one of another." We


grant, that among individual Christians there may be <* diall

versities of operation," that is great variety in the order,

and aspect of those exercises which mark the

intensity,

entrance as well as the progress of the divine


that^^it

may

there not be a similar variety in the

zation adopted

by

ecclesiastical bodies,

their ecclesiastical character?

from the

and yet

we may

without destroying

While, therefore, the great im-

safely assert, that

scriptural order of the

out subjecting those

who are

is

prehended,

is

maintained;

no material departure

Church can ever occur with-

guilty of it to a serious disadvan-

tage; let us guard against the mistake of those

among i\\Q fundamentals

Why

modes of organi-

portance of the subject of ecclesiastical polity

and while

life;

the same spirit which worketh in all."

is

of our holy religion.

who
This,

an entire and mischievous mistake.

Scriptures manifestly do not, like

place
it is

it

ap-

The holy

some ecclesiastical men, of

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
narrow views, and of more

zeal than

the "covenanted mercies of

God"

who

knowledge, cut off from

who

those

form of church government;

favourite

Gospel of Christ.

reject the

Head

against the great

205

We

of the Church,

reject a certain

but

only those

undoubtedly

when we

sin

consider

and treat

as a

matter of indifference that which he has ap-

pointed

but

we may

against

Him, and

be considered as

equally

sinning

against *'the generation of the righteous,"

when we attempt to place the external order of the Church


among those things on which its vital character depends;
on which the exercise of Jehovah's mercy
6.

If

what has been

said be correct,

suspended.

is

evident that

it is

an

honest attachment to a particular form of ecclesiastical


order, does not, necessarily, deserve the

church and sectarian bigotry.

There

is

name of higha strong tenden-

cy, at the present day, to stigmatize with these epithets

every thing that indicates a marked preference

denomination of Christians.

formed

for

If a

recommending any

Christian community,

as, in

more conformed

to Scripture,

than others,

is

it

church" book;

as

an

a plan

the estimation of the author,

and more worthy of adoption


as

and clamorously

"high-

Nor

"sectarian" plan.

illiberal,

to utter,

any one

particular portion of the

immediately denounced,

any more disposed

to

book be written, or

are

urge this

to

denunciation, than those who, under the pretence of a most

expanded "charity," are


in

far

more exclusive and

contending for some opposite peculiarity.

more severe on
bigoted.

unjust?

ized in

intolerant

None

are

bigots and bigotry, than the most intensely

But can any thing be more unreasonable and


If the visible

some

Church

exist at

particular form:

and

all, it
it

is

must be organ-

manifest that

forms of Church order cannot be equally agreeable

all

to Scrip-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

'SOS

Some one

ture.

model than the

is,

to be the case, with the

if

any one honestly believes

form with which he

connected, and prefers, and endeavours to

form accordingly; provided he do


and with due respect

ness,

has a right to complain ?


course,
liberty.

must

is

is

recommend

to the opinions of others,

nunciation;

of maintaining, Christian

abridge,

instead

the sincere and intelligent inquirer

zealot,

who

out of

it;''

who
if

who

Surely to censure him for this

is,

proclaim this preference with bitterness and rancour


those

this

without uncharitable-

it

prefer one form of faith and order to others.

assail

this

particularly

truth

to

The

the primitive

of course, nearer to

And

rest.

if

he

cannot agree with him with unsparing de-

he exhibit himself as a

can see no evil in his

terms

let the

^*

**

own

fiery, controversial

party, and no good

high-churchman,"

"bigot,"

He

"sectarian," be heaped upon him without reserve.


richly deserves

he

If

them

But,

all.

if

he meekly and humbly

obey those convictions of duty which he considers the


Bible as warranting

if

he lay no more stress upon modes

of faith, and forms of order than the Bible lays upon them;
if he,

not merely in words, but practically, allow to others

the same liberty

which he claims

for himself;

look with unfeigned and equal affection upon


the image of Christ, whether they belong to

nomination or not;

such

if

he

who bear
his own de-

an one, whatever opprobrious

epithets the latitudinarian, or he

ration"

and

all

who

is

"fierce for

mode-

may heap upon him, has little reason to fear the


Those who would call such an one "bigot,"

abuse of men.

or " sectarian," would, undoubtedly,


first

if

they had lived in the

century, have applied the same appellation to the Sa-

viour himself and his inspired Apostles.


7.

From

the foregoing discussion

it is

manifest, that all

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.

Church and

alliance between the


is

and

unscriptural,

serious kind.

and the

letter

It

is

the civil

government

with mischief of the most


unscriptural ; contrary alike to the
replete

spirit of the

solemnly forbidden.

207

New

Testament; and, therefore,

unhallowed in

It is

its origin, the

offspring of priestcraft, or statecraft, or both,

and, of

course, entitled to no countenance from the real friends of

And

the Church of Christ.


all

tendency and

effects are in

cases injurious; necessarily and universally injurious.

All

civil

posed

establishments of religion, then, ought to be op-

Whatever may be

Zion.

who wish

utmost by those

to the

rigour

by

its

their form, or the degree of their

whether they are intended

fear, or

well to the cause of

to operate

by

force,

by bribery; whether we consider them

tax on error,'^ or as **a bounty on faith


vision for instructing the people in

as *'a

as a legal pro-

;'^

what the

civil

magis-

trate,

(who may be an

say

truth; or as a convenient engine in the hands of gov-

is

ernment

infidel or a gross heretic) chooses to

and controlling the popular mind;

for reaching

in all cases

they are corrupt in their principles, and perni-

cious in their influence

courage hypocrisy;

make
and

to

and adapted

the care of souls an

to prostrate the

to

generate and en-

degrade the Christian ministry;


affair

of secular merchandize;

Church of God, with

all its officers

effects of religious establishments

Constantine

to the present

long as

human

hour ;

and

Such have

ordinances, at the feet of worldly politicians.

been the

to

from the days of

and such will be their

nature remains what

now

effects

as

Every

friend of Christ, then, ought to recoil with instinc-

tive dread

gion, in

and horror from

any form, by

evei^y

law.

attempt

support

Nay, they ought

from every attempt, on the part of the

30

to

civil

it

is.

reli-

to recoil

government,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

208

to interpose in the least degree in the affairs of the

All experience has

even to help her.

Church

far less, injurious to the

to

pampered by her

State, than to be

shown

that

Church,
it is less,

be persecuted by the

and laden with

caresses,

her treasures.

8.

further practical inference from our subject

committed

the trust

Church rulers

and solemn.

degree weighty
affairs

to

is

To conduct

of the Christian Society, in which so

the

momentous

many

interests,

divine and human, temporal and eternal, are involved


in

judgment

in cases in

that

is,

in the highest

to sit

which doctrine and order, Christian

character and Christian peace and edification are

concerned; to administer the laws of Christ with

all

deeply

fidelity,

and

yet with prudence; with proper zeal for Gospel purity, and
at the

same time with

surely requires

no doubt, in
be

all

can exercise.

tals

felt

to

a sacred regard to the

the wisdom, and

The

trust

all

the grace that mor-

committed

a high degree important

Church's peace;

to civil rulers

But

be so by every thinking man.

to the eccle-

siastical ruler are committed interests unspeakably

momentous; which put in requisition


tion,

is,

and arduous; and will

all

more

the sagacity, discre-

meekness, benevolence, and zeal for the honour of

Zion's King, which belong to the most intelligent and de-

voted Christian;

and in the view of which, he who sus-

tains the trust, ought,

with unceasing solicitude, to implore

divine aid and guidance.

Into this sacred inclosure, preju-

dice, passion, partiality, rashness, or

any kind, ought never

to

grand, and only leading question


duty,

up

is,

to

The

be asked, as a guide to

not what course will tend most effectually to build

this party, or to defeat that

will be

unhallowed feelings of

be permitted to enter.

most

likely

to

adversary

but what course

promote the purity, the harmony,

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.
and the edification of the Church of God?
in

which every banner

that

if

This

Another

that

camp
Re-

ever, the tribunal of conscience ought to be con-

of the Master's

is,

in the deepest abhorrence.

sulted with the most sacred vigilance, and the

9.

is

raised, save that of the

is

deemer's glory, ought to be held

Here,

209

it is

Statue Book

kingdom studied with unceasing


plain inference

from

diligence.

that has been said,

all

incumbent on professing Christians

to

make

themselves acquainted with the subject of Church govern-

ment.

body

every professing Christian a member of that

Is

called the Visible

Church

Does he

bear, of course,

And

intimate and most important relations to that body?

has he, consequently, important duties to that body every

day devolving upon him

Can

demonstrate, that he ought to

ture and structure of this

it

be necessary, then, to

know something

body;

to

of the 7ia-

understand, in some

good measure, the constitution and laws under which


is

obligations resting upon


It

were an

insult,

my

its

friends,

officers

and

its

members

your understandings,

to

attempt to reason on a point so perfectly self-evident.


well might

consider

strate, that a

member

it

as necessary formally

him

good

and to avoid violating the law of the land?

in a great

man may be

this evening.

Christian he cannot be.

enable

citizen,

have no

a real Christian,

measure ignorant of the subject on which

been addressing you

to

As

demon-

lives, to

intelligently to discharge the duties of a

doubt, indeed, that a

to

of civil society ought to understand

enough of the government under which he

is

it

not only authorized, but required to act; and the various

But a

icisc

who
have

and intelligent

Christian ready to perceive, to

appreciate, and to discharge the various duties which he

owes

to his

Master

in

heaven, to his Ijrethrcn of the Church,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

210
and

own

to his

only wonder

many

that so

is,

professing

would be ashamed of ignorance on

know

tliey

undertake

thatt

to

hey are

danger every hour,

Ark

of God, the character

of which, if they understood the subject,

effect

would deprecate

in their

inmost

Many a

souls.

they

real Chris-

from ignorance of the very elementary principles of

tian,

flict

in

speak or ask in reference to this

subject, of giving a touch to the

this

thousand other subjects,

Such persons, however sincere and

profoundly ignorant.
devout, ought to

and

be.

importance, are willing, on this subject, to remain

of far less

when

And the
Christians who

be cannot

best edification,

subject, has

spoken and acted

in

such a

way

as to

in-

wounds on the Church of God which no subsequent

regret or tears could ever heal.


10.

The last

one which,

is

ately beg

closing, I

in

must respectfully and

affection-

my hearers to remember and lay to heart. It


man may he -perfectly sound on the subject

all

that a

is,

inference with which I shall tax your patience,

of Church government, and yet be utterly defective as


to the essentials of Christian character.
There has been
a

tendency among those

in

every age,

for that

to

which

attempt
his

who
a

word

called themselves Christians,

kind of commutation with

God

requires; to substitute rites and

forms for the religion of the heart; to cry out with confidence,
are

"The

temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord

we/' while their hearts were going forth

Hence that

ness or sensuality.

after covetous-

fury of zeal for an ecclesiasti-

name and connexion on which many appear

to rely as a

passport to heaven.

Against

this fatal

my beloved

friends, I desire to

warn you.

It is a

cal

to

mistake,

mistake not confined

any particular denomination; and a mistake

and dangerous as

it is

prevalent.

It is

as insidious

more than

possible

ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY.

211

that a caution, in connexion with the subject which we are


now considering, may be neither unseasonable, nor useless.
Be entreated, then, my friends, to lay no stress whatever,
as to the great question of

your acceptance with God, on the

correctness of your opinions and practice as to Church gov-

ernment.

In the religion of Jesus Christ, as in other mat-

ters, there are

outworks, and there are vital parts.

Christianity

may

the

With

latter.

and

fectly fair

may
see

Real

exist without the former, but not without

respect to the former, you

faultless

be as ^'whited sepulchres."

you well informed,

may

while, in respect to the

It is

be per-

latter,

you

my earnest desire to

thorough Pesbyterians;

intelligent,

because I verily believe, as before stated, that this form of


ecclesiastical

government

more

is

closely conformed to the

Apostolic model than any other; and better

than any other, to promote


in the

that

Church of

Christ.

all

But

fitted,

by

far,

the great ends of government


I

beseech you

to

remember,

you may be zealous Presbyterians, and yet not real

Christians.

You may contend

strenuously and ably for

those outward forms which Christ has established in his

Church, and retain every one of them with scrupulous


exactness

which we

and yet be strangers


are

none of his."

sires to see the face of


siastical order,

God

however

to

that

Spirit without

^'

Let no one, then, who deforms of eccle-

in peace, rest in

scriptural.

They

important

are

in their place; but they are not that ^Mioliness without

which no man

shall

see the

Lord."

They

are

useful as

means, but they are not the foundation of that *'hopc which

maketh not ashamed."

While, therefore,

thing which Christ has revealed;

let

our

we

first

neglect no-

and highest

attention be directed to that regeneration of the heart,

which alone we can be ^^rnade meet

by

for the inheritance of

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

212

the saints in light;" and to that vital union

by

faith

and

love to the blessed Saviour, which alone can give us an interest in his atoning blood,

and a

title to

out the sanctifying and justifying

man

is

a Christian.

To

eternal life.

power of

this great foundation of

hope, then, be entreated, every one of you,


brethren,

your

first

hearts.

of

all,

Here

and above
rest.

all,

Here

to turn

live.

my

Here

Amen!

Gospel
beloved

rejoice,

Holy Ghost, our God, and our

God, be glory forever!

no

your eyes and

holy hope of <Uhe glory that shall be revealed.'^


Father, Son, and

With-

that blood,

And

in

to

father's

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES


LECTURE

VIII.

Delivered on the Evening of the 20th May, 1832, by the Rev.

Samuel Martin, D. D, of Chanceford, Pa.

ON REGENERATION.

Therefore, if any

man

be in Christ, he

passed away; behold,

Paul and

all

is

new

creature

things are become new.

his fellow apostles, as the

old things are

2 Cor.

v. 17.

whom

Master

they

served, were constantly exposed to the reproach and hatred

of the enemies of the cross.


fanatic, their
tice

cion,

Their zeal was regarded

eloquence as pompous display,

Their success excited suspi-

and procure applause.


and exposed them

to

as

to attract no-

unspeakable malice.

rity of their lives, their disinterested labours,

The

pu-

and their ex-

tensive charity, instead of procuring esteem, heated public

resentment.

To whatever

quarter they turned their eyes,

causes of trouble and perplexity arose before them; deaths

and dangers stared upon them.

them? Did they


their course?

Instead of this, they rejoiced

were counted worthy

The

Did these things move

them from

retard their motion, or drive

to suffer

shame

^'that they

for the sake of Christ."

entreaties of friends enforced with tears, and the ter-

rors of death in joint array, could not stay the progress of

Paul on his journey to Jerusalem, though he well

31

knew

that

216

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

"What mean ye,"


my heart ? for I am ready,

bonds and imprisonment awaited him. "


says he, " to weep and to break

name

not be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the


of the

Nor were

Lord Jesus."

these the vauntings of a

desperado, nor the ebullitions of an overheated imagination;


but the composed and well digested resolutions of a soul

devoted to the will of Christ, and

But

ploits," in his service.


Christ, did not spring

They were not

in

from any resources

devotion to

common

man.

to

the most favoured schools of science or

They

arose out of a depression of


a spirit akin to that

and the possession of


sentially to the

strong to do ex-

the attainments of native greatness, improved

and cherished
experience.

^^

this fortitude, this

all

these,

which pertained

Master whom they served.

es-

Their pure, and

sublime addresses, their self-denying and heavenly conversation, clearly

They were

New

them

at

first,

creatures, in a
all

new

things

had created them anew.

They were new

in Christ Jesus.

away, behold

world.

be in Christ, he

is

new

Nor was

<^For,

if

this

any man

creature."

be in Christ, involves every thing, immediately or

remotely, that

is

or can be important to man.

It implies an interest

in

his vicarious

through a cordial acceptance of

which he

To

creatures!

<*01d things were passed

were become new."

peculiar to Paul and his fellow apostles:

To

He

proved that they were born from above.

that had created

fulfilled

it,

and for

all

it

righteousness,

for all the purposes for

the ends of

its

imputation.

be in Christ, supposes union with Christ, by which

union the sinner

is

made one with

Christ in reckonin": of

law, and so, by the obedience of Christ his Surety, account-

ed

his,

he

is

delivered from condemnation.

condemnation

to

them

**

For there

that are in Christ Jesus

is

for the

no

law

ON REGENERATION.
of the Spirit of

life

from the law of

sin

To

in Christ Jesus, hath

whom

tlie

ye are the temple of God, and


eth in

To

Know

that the Spirit of

this, be-

ye not

God

that

dwell-

be in Christ, implies an alliance to Christ so


the supplies of the spiritual

all

from him, and that


its

''

''that

you."

mate, that

for

For

you."

shall be in

temples of God."

'^

free

possession of the Spirit of

the Saviour says to his disciples,

he dwelleth with you, and


lievers are called

made them

and death/'

be in Christ, implies

Christ; of

017

this life is entirely

maintenance.

''

Because

And

dependent upon him

And

act accordance with Paul's experience.

me."

inti-

are derived

live," said the Saviour to

his disciples, ''ye shall live also."

but Christ liveth in

life

this

"

view

in ex-

is

yet not

1 live,

I,

does light dwell with dark-

bosom ? Does holiness

ness ? Does love enclasp enmity in

its

entwine herself around the

deformed, and loathsome

monster sin

new

Not

creature."

at all:

any man be

is

human

heart

He

it,

and takes possession.

new

creation of the sinner,

a mysterious and an almighty work.

come the

he

temple.

regeneration or

work of God.
"But as many

in Christ,

of grace prepares the

sweeps and garnishes

The

'"If

He builds for himself a new

The God

for his reception.

filthy,

It is

Speaking of Christ, John


as received

is at

once

exclusively the

states as follows

him, to them gave he power

to be-

sons of God, even to them that believe on his name;

which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,
nor of the will of man, but of God." John'i. 12, 13. Speaking of himself and his fellow Christians, Paul says
are his, that

is,

"we

God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus,

created unto good works."

The

creation of

all

things was

by the word of God's power, without the supposed preexistence of any materials.

And

the spiritual creation,

m^

is

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

218

the exertion of ^Uhe exceeding greatness of his

power compared by the

wrought
set

him

in Christ,

at his

own

above passages,

God

cribe to

to

when he

palsy,

in the

the dead, and

The

heavenly places."

But besides

as-

this

form of expression furnishes an argu-

They

forcible with the positive declaration.

to create is exclusively the prerogative of the

When

Almighty.
^^

hand

right

him from

the regeneration of the sinner.

ment equally
created

raised

power;"

which **he

that

which many might be added, directly

direct testimony, the

are'

apostle to

man

the Saviour said to the

sick of the

thy sins be forgiven thee," the Scribes, kindling

into rage at the

apprehended blasphemy, exclaimed,

''

Who

God ?" The conviction from which this


proceeded was just. With equal justness we all exclaim,
Who can create but God ? In one of the above passages, it
is said, concerning those that are brought to Christ, " He,"
can forgive sins but

that

<*gave them power to become the sons of

God,

is

God," and he describes them

as

"born not of blood, nor of

the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of

Why,

I ask,

was Christ

called the

was begotten of the Father.


have

"

God."

Son of God ? because he

Thou

art

my

Son, this day

Peter ascribes to God, in behalf of

begotten thee."

"God

the regenerated, special praise, in that

the Father had

begotten them again to a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ

or

woman,

again.
heart,

is

from the dead." The

begotten again by

may
man be

God

force the exclamation

Can

born w^hen he

it is;

power

if a spiritual

them

to

grown man,

is

No.

old

No

But

is

born

from a carnal

if

if re-

the case be

truth be the thing intended; if

be the agent, the answer

eth in

full

the Father, and

Surprise

ference be had to created

taken as

God

is.

Yes.

It is

God

that

work-

change them from carnal, sensual, and devil-

ish, to spiritual,

holy, and heavenly.

If the phrases

'

begot-

ON REGENERATION.

219

ten again,' 'born again,' 'created anew,'

mean any

thing,

they must mean something above human conception, something beyond the reach of
that regeneration

Again

If the estate of

human

man be

We

agency.

work

a glorious

is

infer, then,

of God.

such as the Scriptures re-

Two

present, regeneration must be a supernatural work.


appellations fully describe the whole

eous and the wicked.

The term,

human

race; the right-

righteous, includes

all,

who,

being united to Christ, have, by divine appointment and

They

reckoning, his righteousness as theirs.


after the

image of

Him who

renewed

are

created them; and have the

Holy Ghost within them, to perfect what he has begun.


Of these two descriptions of men, the apostle speaks as follows:

"We

is born of God sinneth


God keepeth himself, and
wicked one toucheth him not; and we know that

that

we

are of

ness"
is

know,

he that

not, but

is

that

whosoever

begotten of

God, and the whole world

All except the

by Homer,

often used

lieth

The word

justified.

denote one

to

in

wicked-

translated lieth,

who

The whole world lieth slain in wickedness.


heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries,

lieth slain.
''

Out of the

fornications,

murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceits, lasciviousness, an evil

heart

who

eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness."

deceitful

is

can

know

above

it?"

all

"The Lord

upon the children of men,

looked

are

gether become filthy, there


not one."

And

Psalm, presents

"All

that

is

down from

heaven,

were any

that did

to see if there

understand and seek after God."

which he brings? "They

''The

things, and desperately wicked,

all

is

And what
gone

none

is

the report

aside, they are alto-

that doeth

good

no,

Paul's quotation and paraphrase upon this

this picture in

in the

shadesof still deeper darkness.

world, the lust of the

eye, and the pride of life"

such

is

flesh,

the lust of the

the description, which

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

220

He, who well knows what


our race, out of which
be like angels

yea,

is

many

in the hearts of

men, gives of

are to be so transformed as to

And who

God.

like to

in earth or

in heaven, but God, can effect the wondrous change?

Can any turn

any heal themselves?

God

their hatred of

Then

and holiness, into love and delight?

Can

^^can the Ethio-

pian change his skin ;" then "can the leopard change his

Can any produce the required change upon

spots."

Recourse has been had

man?

fellow

to

human

The experiment

stay the progress of wickedness.

his

justice to

has been

fully made, through a series of years, reaching back to the

youth of time, now become old and hoary. All the while, the
protection of law, and the immunities of organized govern-

ments, have joined their influence with the fear of hell and
the hope of heaven, to

prompt men

Justice has dealt out

threatened and inflicted.

And

ties.
its

what has been effected

greatest strength,

to the practice of virtue.

the enormity of crime, have been

by

Penalties, graduated

The

deadly thrust
ness; and

steady at his

to

be scanned by man.

more covertly

still

more devoted,

phets, and teachers have spent their skill and


all

in vain.

added watchfulness, and

And where

prayers.
rists

of

human

aim

his

to

abide

Philosophers, and wise men, and pro-

stall.

our race, and

to

the debauchee to look for thicker dark-

voluptuary,

the

severi-

schemes too deep for the

in laying

discernment of justice, or too intricate


assassin has been taught

its

Avarice has put forth

is

power upon

Parents, to instructions, have


correction,

and entreaties, and

the proselyte?

Let the panyge-

him out?

Sportive nature

nature point

might produce a white crow or a black swan; but in the production of man, a field of operation far
ture

is

guilty,

utterly impotent
all

polluted.

more

her ofispring are

The enemy

all

splendid, na-

of a spot

occupies the citadel,

all

all

m.

ON REGENERATION.
human

the springs of

221

action are poisoned

of soul and body partakes of vileness.

sometimes say of chronic

sicians

make

every power

And

diseases, "

as
it

wise phy-

were

easier

only cure

new man than cure them." So in this case, the


for man is new creation.
And who, but God,

can create

to

Bear with me, while

place before you another class of

Scripture testimony on this gloomy view of

human

and be assured,

to

I should not call

upon the melancholy scene, did

upon you
I

nature

look so long

not believe that a long

and attentive look might prove the means of exciting you


flee

to

from the grasp of death, now binding many of you


the arms of Christ your deliverer.

shall

produce specify the extent of

powers and

faculties of

man was

ness of

The

sin's

Scriptures

we

dominion over the

^God saw

man.

to

fast,

that the

wicked-

great on the earth, and that every imagi-

nation of the thoughts of his heart was only evil contin-

Rom.

ually."

God;

for

can be."
Spirit of

he

it is

viii.

"The
God:

^'The carnal mind

7.

is

enmity against

not subject to the law of God, neither indeed


natural

man

receiveth not the things of the

for they are foolishness unto

know them,

him: neither can

because they are spiritually discerned. "

The

Apostle describes the heathen, as "having their understandings darkened, being alienated from the

through the ignorance that


ness of their hearts."

"My

people

is

is in

Over

foolish

life

of God,

them, because of the blind-

Israel and

Judea God lamented:

they have not

known me

they

are sottish children, and they have none understanding,

they are wise to do evil

knowledge."

but to do good they have no

Paul speaks of Christians

dead, and as quickened or brought to


death.

These are

a few, out of

the reign of sin over

all

many

life

as alive

from the

from an

estate of

passages,

which show

that pertains to man.

Over

his

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

222

powers,

intellectual

the heart"
the

*<every thought of the imagination of


"The

affected.

is

mind," or the mind of

carnal

Here the understanding,

enmity against God.'

flesh, *is

together with the will and affections, are included, as subject to the

The

enmity.'

other passages are equally com-

prehensive: while, in some, our ruined and helpless estate


is signified

human

by a term, whose import duly

spirits

and inclines

to

passes and sins." Deplorable condition!

were

not that a

it

promised

to raise

depresses the

'^Dead

in tres-

and desperate too

the Spirit of Christ,

life giving-spirit,

men from

felt,

melancholy.

once ruled the whole man, and so spread the image of


before the soul as to engage

all its

is

Knowledge, which

the dead.

powers

God

in cheerful har-

mony and delightful unison, in the praise and enjoyment


of Him who is alone lovely and who alone can bless, is supplanted by ignorance
ness.

its seat is

Without knowledge, man

Until the understanding

man

will

What

Our bodies

work around
tained
that
is

it is

the nature of

But

Jehovah

of our powers

a vile,

have

from

man

The

shattered frame-

reminds us of what

ask what

its

is

now

it

once con-

we

within,

are told

insecure moorings, to be engulphed

casts out

said that the

Who
in the

till

polluted, deformed thing, which, ere long,

Charybdis that

almighty.

None

are vile, nor can they be refined

a ruined soul,

to be torn

in a

is

when we

but

had not been man.


rightful dominion,

and are raised and fashioned anew.

dust,

to

wreck

its

Sin has universal possession, and universal do-

are whole.

they turn

in paradise

restored to

be far below himself.

still

minion.

is

become the abode of dark-

none of

work

is

dead.

its

mysterious as well as

can trace and develope the operations of


creation of the world

Who

can

tell

by

what process rude and undigested chaos, from nothing, was


brought into being?

Who

can explain the

way

of the

ON REGENERATION.
Lord,

223

Who

reducing the jumbled materials into order?

in

can illustrate the manner of balancing and adjusting the


worlds, so that each maintains

under laws eternal

as its

sang together, and

when they
spired

Its

mystery and magnificence

and gave elevation

one sinner repenteth, or

in heaven.

^'I

XV. 10.

God over one

This

is

way

to

'*To

from our

Him

own

sins in his

praise.

created, there

is

joy

work

to

to

in the

is

joy

presence

of man's redemp-

look;"

them

is

strains, the glorified saints join the

in notes like these,

their

in-

sinner that repenteth."

a part of the

they adore the author, whose

lower

new

which ^Uhe angels desire

tion into

in

is

say unto you, there

of the angels of

Luke

the sons of

all

song,

their

"The morning stars


God shouted for joy,"

with astonishment on the finished and

gazed

stupendous system.

When

destined place, and moves

its

existence?

Though

heavenly choir,

that loved us, and

blood, and hath

and where

hid.

washed us

made

us kings

and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever, amen." The people of God, who
witness the happy change in others, look on with devout
admiration, and as they see the babe in Christ growing to

maturity, their anticipations of the crowning scene,

they shall put on immortality,

Though

man

the

way

of

God

in regeneration be thus

how
in

when

transporting

operating on the nature of

mysterious

yet he has gracious-

ly revealed the means which he employs, while he has en-

joined on us the duty of seeking to become partakers of it.


When we speak of means as employed by God, and as
not mean to intimate that God canwithout the use of external
sinners
renew
not, or does not,
For ought that we can discern, our salvation was
means.

enjoined on us,

we do

conferred by Christ on one of his fellow-sufferers on the

32

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

224

who,

cross,

until

on the

of the Evangelists

Yet

with him, reviled him."

*'they, that

affirm

general plan of

on

God

Allow me here

were

crucified

one of these, the Saviour

to

me

declared, ^'This day shalt thou he with

What we

One

was ignorant of him.

cross,

testifies, that

this subject

in paradise."

means go

that

is,

into the

in the regeneration of sinners.

to say, that

men

are to be regarded, ordi-

narily, as possessing all the faculties

and powers proper

to

question by none.

man this I presume will be called in


As little, surely, ought any to doubt that
;

all

these, of

what-

ever name, are so perverted and polluted, that, until re-

newed by

them

grace, the exercise of

We

sinful.

are

men, but men

fallen

in

every case

is

We are men, but


We are men, but

men dead, as to holy or spiritual action.


men in ruin, and exposed to the wrath to come. Now, that
men may be prepared for heaven, which is at least the secondary end of the Gospel dispensation,

must undergo a thorough reform.


of their nature must

The mental
from the
ought
all

faculties,

to

guide, and

grace,

God

first

Every power and

become the opposite of what

faculty
it

was.

which especially distinguish man


and which are the light which

inferior creatures,

the rest,

obvious, that they

it is

power which ought

the

to

impel

must, in the order of nature, as well as of

Hence

be acted upon.

the grand

uses for the conversion of sinners,

is

his

means which

Word.

Be-

lievers are said to be *^born again, not of corruptible seed,

but of incorruptible, by the

abideth forever."

word of God, which

The word

of

God

is

liveth

and

addressed to the un-

derstandings of men, whether in the reading or preacliing


of

it:

and

if

the heart

is

to believe

must be reached through the


of this,
his

I refer

Sermon on

you
the

to the

Mount.

unto righteousness,

intellectual faculties.

In proof

manner of the divine Saviour,

What

does

it

it

contain that

is

in

not

ON REGENERATION.

225

directed to the understandings and consciences of

By

what other avenue does he seek

The sermon

hearts?

power and
of the

men?

approach their

of Peter, so justly celebrated for

success, had

plainly for

its

aim the conviction

its

The burden

consciences of his hearers.

whom

preaching was, the proof that he


crucified,

to

was constituted both Lord and

of his

they had lately

The

Christ.

effect

was, their convinced consciences compelled the inquiry addressed to Peter and the rest of the Apostles,
brethren, what shall

Agreeably

do?''

Holy Ghost prepared

Chrit, the
truth,

we

and wrought through

<<Men and
promise of

to the

their hearts to receive the

means the proper

its

Vainly do men address the feelings of the human


the hope of changing

Let any show me an instance

it.

wherein Christ or his Apostles endeavoured


ners into a religious course,

and dispositions, and

by

"how

fail."

Faith

"faith

how

is

whom

God." The word


all

So

softened with

broken. Yet

all

if

the persuasion of

the same

ance of the Holy

and even

lisp its

felt,

or break.
or rather

human

of God, I admit, addressed to the

the native force of truth, and adorned and

human

eloquence,

be nothing more, will leave the human heart

its

he has

he hear without a preacher."

shall

cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of

mind with

will be

the grace

Lord Jesus Christ

can the sinner believe in him of

not heard, and

back sin-

direct addresses to feelings

that savingly unites the sinner to the

but

to

will consent that they preach to

and benches

these, "till sides

effects.

heart, in

Spirit,

word come
though

whisper,

it

and the heart

it

to the ear

come

as a

by the

still

will reach the heart.


will, as

He

there

if

a stone unutter-

small voice,
Its

power

pleases, either

melt

When He bears home the truth upon the heart,


when He prepares the heart to receive it, and wills

renovation, the designed issue

may

be confidently ex-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

226

When

pected.

God
and

this

chaos lumbered in impenetrable darkness,

"Let there be light:" and

said,

same God

light

commanded

'^vvho

shone

all

around

the light to shine out

of darkness," says the Apostle, "hath shined into our hearts,


to give the light of the

knowledge of the glory of God

face of Jesus Christ."

The Gospel

enticing;

words of man's wisdom," but


is

cross of Christ full effect.

"The

let

him

speak

it

wheat

tell his

dream," but

faithfully;
Is not

for,

my

let

demonstration of
to give to the

prophet that hath a dream,

him

that hath

"what

says God,

word

in

means

the grand

the Spirit and of power,

in the

preached, "not with the

the chaff to the

hammer

and like a

like as a fire,

that breaketh the rock in pieces?"

is

God's word,

Jer. xxiii. 27.

"It

is

quick and powerful, sharper than a two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and
of the joints and marrow, and

and

speaks, will not

all

is

a discerner of the thoughts

Heb.

intents of the heart."

nature hear?

When

12.

iv.

On one

the

Lord

occasion, while

the Saviour slept, the winds and waves had combined their
forces,

and his disciples

The Saviour

felt

that their ship

arose and rebuked the winds, and

the swollen billows, "Peace, be

commanded

and there was a great

still,

of Bethany, already four days dead, comes forth alive.

Unclean

spirits

depart at his rebuke.

inveterate, are healed


his

sink.

"Lazarus, come forth," exclaimed Jesus, and the

calm."

man

must

Spirit

his

word.

to

Diseases, the most

And

and his Word, quicken into

and lead them forth


natural

by

follow him

cannot Christ by

life

the dead in sin,

Ignorance of our

condition, and mistaken views of the plan laid for

our salvation, may, and often do give occasion to devise


plans,

and form purposes,

to

turn to Christ;

and these

purposes are often accompanied with strong expectations

of success.

How

hollow,

how

airy, are such

hopes

ON REGENERATION.
scribe, a

man

227

skilled in the law,

comes

most

liberal,

clares his purpose in terms

to Christ,

<*Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou


Christ

treats

plainly

what he might look

proposal

his

and the birds of the

air

have

all

cut

goest."

Son of man hath

nests, but the

His ex-

This was enougii.

He

Again

him

tells

*'The foxes have holes,

for.

off.

hear no more of him.

and

with respect,

not where to lay his head."


pectations were

and de-

most unreserved:

slips out of

view

Lord Jesus

the

you

fixes his

He

eyes on one, and addresses him saying, "Follow me."

entreats a delay until he should perform the last offices of


filial

piety to a deceased father.

dead, but go thou and preach the


there

is

This, indeed, was a

no further objection.

a special end, but then


greater danger and

it

more

was

"Let the dead bury their


kingdom of God." Here,

a call to an

arduous

call to

office, to

self-denial, than ordinarily falls to

the lot of the private Christian.

Here

proper to remark, that Christ, while he pre-

is

it

sents divine truth before the

prophetical

office,

exerts

his

mind

in the execution of his

power

as

king upon the

human heart as a prophet or teacher, he speaks as never


man spake. The brightness of truth shines upon the mind
with a lustre unknown before, when he comes to show the
way of life. Though the truths exhibited, are none other
;

than those contained in the Scriptures, the light


supernatural.

It

comes home upon

with evidences of truth that constrain conviction


as a king,
it

while,

As

hibited to the

being

mind, so that the word

at the

to

give

king, new powers of perception, of appre-

While

hension, judging, and choice are given.

soul,

he exerts his mighty power upon the soul

efficacy.

withal

is

the mind, accompanied

is

truth

is

ex-

with power, the

same time convinced, persuaded, and ena-

bled, accepts the offered salvation.

As

a prophet, Christ

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

228

immediately by the word,

acts

same time

at the

immediately and directly upon the soul

acts

Thus

renovation.

manner

we have

far

work

of this mysterious

ventured to speak of the


of God.

Apostle seems to our view

to exhibit

open

a glass, the

face,

beholding as in

In this light the

Spirit of the Lord.^'

this is the

to

whose

hand

was

withered.

communication of health

Christ

assembled

heart of Lydia.

what

lieve

it

is

when

Philippi, the

and

out,

Here the

command

the

a little

ope-

group

Lord opened the

others, she listened to

but she had listened in vain, unless the

had turned her heart

heart to receive
If

at

it

the motionless and diseased

to

common with

In

Paul's instructions
Spirit

man

commanded him,

as the other."

the time

at

as

Analagous

10.

While Paul talked with

rated on the mind.

women

even

to glory,

iii.

and he stretched

hand was restored whole

member, was plainly


of

with

all,

glory of God, are

instance of the cure performed on the

"Stretch forth thine hand;


his

Co7\

"We

it.

changed into the same image from glory

by the

that he

as a king, in its

prepared her

to the truth, or

it.

have said be scriptural

we may

then

and for one

boldly affirm, that

all

be-

shall

be regenerated that were given to Christ in the eternal

God

purpose of

the means shall never be withdrawn, nor

the operations of grace suspended, until

with the blood of Christ

"For,

to heaven.

saith

shall be cleansed

God,

all

that are

bought

and brought home

as the rain that

cometh down

and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but
watereth the earth, and maketh
it

may

my

word

turn to

and

it

it

to

bring forth and bud, that

give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall


be, that goeth out of

me

shall

void, but

it

shall

my

mouth

it

shall not re-

accomplish that which

prosper in the thing whereunto I sent

I please,

it."

ON REGENERATION.

229

In the past discussion on the importance of the word of

God

means of

as a

salvation, as used

neration to produce
fulness as

now

shall

employed by man
you

trouble

by

tlie

author of rege-

have necessarily exhibited

it,

its

use-

and

seeking salvation;

in

few remarks.

farther but with a

word,

It

read and

will be admitted, that in the use of

tlie

preached, there

accomplishment of the

end intended.

is

a fitness for the

It reveals all that is necessary to

or believed, or done
that

God

effect

upon

by men.

hath done, and

We

it.

all

It

he hath promised

that

and obey

It is

it.

prospects of unspeakable benefit.

unto salvation, through


Scripture

is

be known,

presents to our view

are enjoined to hear the

to believe

it;

as

word;

all

to do, to

meditate

to

recommended under

^'It is able to

make wise
All

Jesus Christ.

faith that is in

given by inspiration of God, and

is

profit-

able for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction

God may be perfect,


thoroughly furnished to every good work." The Scriptures ^^convert the soul; they make wise the simple."
As the word is the important means by which God ap-

in

righteousness, that the

man

of

proaches the sinner, so that the sinner


various uses of

of

much

it,

concern.

which

it

may

recommends, must be

While the Eunuch read

the Spirit told Philip to

be found in the

draw near and

matter

the Scriptures,

instruct

the effect was, that he that read believed.

<'

him

and

While Paul

reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment

to

come, Felix trembled."

The

sacraments, considered as means of grace, are mainly

concerned with real Christians.


seals,

and

They

are

employed

as

to renew and confirm their covenant engagements

in

given.

general, to

promote the growth of the

Attention to these

the present discussion

in

is

life

already

not, therefore, necessary in

which we

arc singly concerned

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

230

with the instrumentality employed, in procuring and constituting the

new, the heavenly

Let us turn our attention

to

life.

prayer

as a duty,

which the

Holy Ghost may bless to our souls, as instrumental in their


Of this our Saviour says, that " men ought
regeneration.
always

to

pray and not to faint." Paul,

in

addressing the ido-

latrous Athenians, states to them, as reasons

bend them
are

made

to the

of one blood

that they are all

most minute concerns and


this, that

haply they might

dependent on

God

and that

relations of their lives,

may

they

be excited

feel after

This seeking

27.

to

nations

all

whose extended providence embraces the

their Creator,

he does

which ought

worship of the true God, that

him and

'^

to seek the

find

him."

Lord,

if

Jicts xvii.

here held up to view as reasonable,

is

and not 'altogether hopeless to the heathen. "

thou that

hearest prayer," says the Psalmist, "unto thee all flesh shall

come." Psalm

Peter,

Ixv. 2.

who

says of Simon,

^'

Thou

art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity,"

yet

commands him

pray God,

if

forgiven thee !"


all

Repent of

*'

this

thy wickedness, and

perhaps the thought of thine heart

Sets

vii.

22.

That prayer

is

may

be

the duty of

men, whether regenerate or the contrary, the above

passages seem to prove.


tained
to the

upon what

worst of men.

perfection

And

have never yet ascer-

grounds, prayer

command were

command, then

fail

of acceptance, for none could so pray.

pable of performing

the

it

perfectly, then

the reasons of

was

all

vain;

all

Were

were

it

would

they ca-

unnecessary.

Adam

in paradise;

that he could wish or enjoy.

Abundant

There could be no reason


he possessed

and the

If the purity of the heart,

of the performance, constitute

the

indeed

been forbidden

has

for prayer to

his reason for praise.

We

never hear that

ON REGENERATION.

that

we

We

offer then,

For

perfect.

will be noticed here,

It

word prayer, singly

use the

231

made

angels pray, nor the spirits of the just


praise they have ample reason.

to signify petition.

one reason of preferring requests

as

to

God, or of the duty of prayer, our forlorn and necessitous

The Gospel

condition.

and

liable to all the

come

to

God

to

we

as

is

addressed to us as sinners, under,

consequences of

This duty again,

cious promises.

sin

and our duty

is,

encouraged by his gra-

really are,

we

say,

is

founded on

the fulness of blessing treasured up in Christ, in behalf of

for

When

"

sinners.

men," even

he ascended up on high he received

These he holds

for the rebellious.

Another reason on which

session.

is

ness of Christ, as mediator,

is

in

Him to eternal

in

thus full of blessing

among you, whose

What

will

you be

is

life;

No

it is

you could repent

the ful-

all

God

the gift of
it

He

Who

willing to give.

the

on those that

and, therefore,

that

is

there

is

conscience condemns him as guilty?

told that

you must do,

ment? The modern theology commands,


repent?

that

is,

Him, by

Father, for the specific end of bestowing

were chosen

in pos-

founded the duty, and

the encouragement to pray,

I will add,

gifts

only obtained by the

could

you by

that

punish-

to escape

Can you

repent.

gift

But

of God.

means cancel the

if

ac-

count that stands against you? Impossible; what course then


can be

the sinner, but to ask forgiveness? and

left for

when

inspiration tells you, that

not with prayer

Lord

forgiveness, with the

there

is

and with him

is

Lord there

<*

is

mercy,

plenteous redemption."

I say again, that the earnestness, ardour, sincerity, or

the faith of the suppliant, cannot be the reason

accepts his prayer or his person.


is

acted upon

by

why

with the

The

even

why God

unregenerate sinner

the Spirit of Christ, as a prophet and as a

33

STREET LECTURES.

SI/RUCE

232

The

king, in regeneration.
Christ finds

recipient.

Father finds him


teousness;

sinner

him dead

guilty,

he

passive,

is

he gives him

and reckons

him

to

mere

The

his Son's righ-

he forgives him, and adopts him

For what reason, or on what account

is

life.

as his son.

For none other

Now

surely, but the sacrifice and intercession of Christ.


that

he

is

become

new

He

ing in him."
author,
it is

is

how

creature,

He

by what means does he grow ?

worketh

that

good pleasure.

If

" by

in

him

He now

moved

even a real

by what

but because he

it;

He

sake, and for his sake alone,


to their prayers

may

thank God when they receive


hast

For

him.

is

Christ's

good men receive a gracious

and they

ask, that the spirit of prayer

"Thou, Lord,

to feed

is

belongs

and the great Shepherd of the sheep

bound by covenant engagement

claim,

works, but

bless

in Chri.'Jt, because the fulness of Christ is his.

answer

"the

is

so to do, either

he does, or by his manner of doing

and

and do of his

will

to

God, then, accept and

Christian, he cannot be

to Christ's fold,

live,

Christ liv-

grows by him, who, while he

also the finisher of faith.''

by God

does he

lives,

all,

with one accord, do

be given them
it;

wrought

they

all

do

while they jointly exall

our works in us."

Should any one declare the contrary, and affirm that his

ar-

dour and importunity had melted the heart of Jehovah to


pity,

and rendered him propitious, ye

a one,
to

" Thou

suppose that

all

would say

God would weigh

is vile,

the latter would

side of purity would kick the

such

the prayers of the righte-

ous in a scale of equity, having separated what

what

to

Were you

hast a lie in thy right hand."

still

is

pure from

and the

preponderate,

beam

but

whatever amount, has been communicated

this purity, of

to

them

and

to

God be the praise. The elect of God in Christ Jesus are,


in common with others, the subjects of sin, and charged

ON REGENERATION.
with guilt while

in their

233

natural condition

and

they

as

are not yet united to Christ, nor dealt with as those that are
in him, their prayers, cannot be approved

Yet

contend that there

is

by

Holy God.

unspeakable importance

in

prayer to them.

Because they are chosen

1st.

be holy, and so Christ

in Christ, that

they should

concerned to make them

is

end the great High Priest above intercedes

this

" I pray

them,

for

pray not for the world, but for those

which thou hast given me out of the world,

Here he intercedes

thine."

him by

For

so.

for them.

But again he

actual calling.

for these alone, but for

through their word."

for they are

for his disciples, as being given

them

says,

who

also,

<^

Neither pray
on

shall believe

In this you behold

me

the Saviour

looking forward to generations rising into existence

in or-

derly succession to the end of time, as embraced in the


travail of his soul, as objects of his intercession, as to be

made
fold

them

and there
this

To

the subjects of his grace.

attention turned.

*<

also I

shall

Other sheep

all

quarters, too,

is

his

have, that are not of this

must bring, and they

shall hear

be one fold and one shepherd."

my voice,
How will

shepherd gather his flock together? Hewill send his word

to the places

where they wander and address them; he

will

turn their hearts to prayer by speaking through his Spirit to

them, and compel them to come.

Now

when

God may

prays, can

tell

the Spirit of

or that he will always pray in vain.

If

what man

he be one for

Christ intercedes, there surely will be a time


will

encompass him, and when the power

whom

when means

that raised

Jesus from the dead, will give elevation to his soul, and

up

to heaven.

The

opposition

made

that

inspire him,

up

lift it

to Paul's ministry at

Corinth, had discouraged him, and had tempted him to turn

away;

at

which

crisis the

Lord spoke

to

Paul in the night

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

234

by

saying,

a vision,

not thy peace, for I

*'

am

thee to hurt thee, for

Thus does

he, to

Be

not afraid, but speak and hold

with thee, and no one shall set oa


I

whom

have much people in


the

kingdom

this city.''

belongs, provide that

things shall conspire, whether preaching or praying,

all

reading or hearing, with the Almighty power which he

employ

waits to

at the

proper

moment

eternal decree, for calling the elect


for creating

work

clusively the

men

in

showing that regeneration

of God,

all

is

ex-

the powers and faculties of

being deeply depraved, and incapable of any right exthen it


towards God
God command what no man is

employment

ercise

or

asked,

why

does

why

perform.^ and

who have

fathers,

God's right

be

will

able to

does he punish them for not obeying?

not a better answer than the old one given

know

to light,

them anew.

have succeeded

If I

appointed in the

from darkness

long since fallen asleep in Christ.

by our

That

obedience cannot be dissolved by the diso-

to

bedience of his subjects; and that the lower


a spirit of rebellion, the greater

is

our

guilt.

we

are

sunk

But I enter

in

my

solemn protest against all the reasoning of men on the subject


of

ability, as

concerned with the question whether

justified in requiring

those
lar,

at

who

your hand

To

to

hear

God

Sure

men on

shall sim.ply lay before

that all

I trust

men,

the law

asking,

who

hath required this

am, that the discussion of

this sub-

brought forth sentiments near akin to blasphemy.

theories of

teach.

God is
To

are unable to perform.

labour to defend the Divine plan in this particu-

seem

ject, has

what we

this subject I

you what

pay no

attention.

believe the Scriptures

none of you will condemn me, when

in an estate of nature, are

I say

under the curse of

care not, in this case, whether

original sin, or depravity, or both united,

you regard

as the cause,

if

ON REGENERATION.
you admit

that

all

the world stands guilty before God.

will surely be admitted,

that

can deliver themselves.

If

is

in

God

hath

any could, then hath Christ


for our deliver-

What

and which he

laid,

is

then

executing?

hath appointed his Son, and sent him to obey the law

our room and stead.

In his

life

he has

fulfilled the right-

eousness of the law, or the obedience which

our substitute.

as

us,

It

damnation none

this

matter of unspeakable joy and praise.

is

the plan which

He

from

That God hath interposed

died in vain.
ance,

235

By

ple

means God has opened

these

required of

In his death he has offered himself

and made an atonement for the

a sacrifice,

it

course between himself and sinners.

sins of his peo-

channel of inter-

Through Christ

as

God comes down with blessings to men. Through


men appear before the mercy seat

the way,

Christ the intercessor,

All fulness dwells in Christ, as mediator

above.

be bestowed on men.

fruit of his

purchase

count,

the promises are said to be <^in

all

him Amen,

to

to the glory of

calls sinners to

come

not because he

him; but he does

yea, and in

to Christ, to believe in Christ

are able and ready to

and aversion are most


so,

as the

this ac-

God." This accomplished, God

knows they

for their inability

him

On

fully

surely
comply

known

to

because he has amply provided through

his Son, whatever exertion of

power on

his part

may

be

needful, and whatever gift to be bestowed for fulfilling his

merciful design.

any contend

that they

they are aside of the Gospel plan of

believe

power

If

proposes

care not whether they

faith,

matter of

gift.

and every thing

call it

have power

to

natural or moral
salvation,

which

else needful to the sinner, as

Such, seeking to be justified by the deeds

of the law, or deeds of their own, "are fallen from grace.''


If a

he

man

is

is

able to believe,

able to repent,

why

is

why

is

he not able to love?

he not able

to avoid

sin

If

and

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

236

render repentance unnecessary


pel

scheme contemplates man

The

truth

guilty,

as

that the

is,

condemned,

as

And

utterly impotent, as lifeless in a spiritual sense.

grace of

God

man

takes

as

it

not hear the voice, (so deaf

is

alarm him,) which


die"

shall
stir

up

he

ought

to

soul that sinneth

it

open his ears to hear

until the Spirit

What

fear of death.

in his soul the

as

the

sinner does

to the things that

'Uhe

him,

tells

The

finds him.

Gos-

it,

shall I

and
do

says the guilty rebel; what shall I do to escape hell and


secure heaven

Son of God,

Believe in the name of the only begotten

But

faith of

sake,

let

says the sinner, I cannot

Unbelief reigns, enmity rages,

apply the remedy.


believe.

Alas

the order.

is

the sinner recollect, that

an unbelieving man, he bestows

who hath purchased faith

ed, through faith,

cannot

God demands

too, for Christ's

it

"By grace are ye sav-

for him.

and that not of yourselves,

God." Faithisthegift of Godjtoallthat


duty, under these circumstances, clearly
to all the

if

it is

haveit.
is,

the gift of

The sinner's

diligent attention

outward means ordained of God for

men

in seek-

ing; and in this, through the grace of God, his hope rests.
Sinners,

you are commanded

converted.

*'God commandeth

pent."

Ye

exclaim

look back upon

my

Repent and be

to repent.
all

men every where

"Impossible. My

sins,

will not glance at

it

to re-

heart refuses to

my vileness,

it

cannot bear the purity, nor look upon the spirituality of

Oh, that

God's law.

bold offender against

hot displeasure."

could feel as I ought to

God

and

While your

hardness, think of this, and see


case.

God

him

a Prince

fear, as I

heart
if it

is

ought

a Saviour, to give

and the forgiveness of sins."


hither, and seek relief.

sore, because of its

will not apply to

says concerning his Son, that he has

and

feel, as

to fear, his

*^

your

exalted

repentance unto Israel

Turn your whole

Ask what God

offers.

attention

ON REGENERATION.
You

Again.

237

commanded, "Wash

are

ye, make ye clean

put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes;
cease to do evil, learn to do well."
to regenerate yourselves.

indeed

it

As

is.

You

commanded

are

cannot, you exclaim, and so

down
As well

well might you undertake to pull

your clayey tabernacles, and build them up again.

might you attempt

to extinguish the

within you, and kindle

None

could not.

gels

immortal spark that

but the Almighty can.

hear again the welcome voice of mercy.


clean water

upon you, and ye

and from

filthiness

Here you

your

all

is

Regenerate myself! An-

again.

it

''I will sprinkle

shall be clean
idols, will

discern the promise of

Sinner,

God

from

your

all

cleanse you."

covers the whole

ground of the command.

God commands

Again.

new

you, "Cast away

whereby ye have

gressions,

heart and a

new

spirit, for

why

will

away

new

spirit will I

your

new

put within you.

the stony heart out of your

and

flesh,

:"

heart will

I will

sion made, cover the

whole ground of the command.

condition

again the promise and

promise,

men

and when the condition of any

is

it

not to be regarded

take

give you

Here

not the above promises address

Hear

I will

an heart of flesh/^

Do

trans-

make you

you die

"A

again the grace provided and ready.


I give you, a

all

transgressed, and

provi-

tlie

in their natural

is

described in a

as specially directed to

them, and more especially, when the promise contains the

very blessings which they


affirm that

any thing

can affirm, that


in

is

they need

the duty of a

man

man

it:

all

ye

not to plead

it, is

in

If

any

can

case, I

sees and feels himself painted

the description annexed to a promise,

plead

me

when

feel that

it is

wilful unbelief.

that labour and are

his duty to

"Come

heavy laden, and

unto

will give

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

238

you

Now

rest."

I assert, that

with the burden of

he that

sin, is a wilful

and oppressed

toiled

is

unbeliever,

if

he does not

"Lord sprinkle me with the blood of reconciliation,


me peace of conscience and peace with thee."
grant
and
plead

So

with

is

it

the promises, as addressed to the various

all

conditions and necessities of the people of God.

The same
Their duty

is

true with respect to unregenerate

is

have hearts of stone

they have

Can they regard God

ted.

mercy,

if

they

upon me, and


from

all

to plead,

fail

I shall

my idols,

as a

sins,

many and

"Lord

sprinkle clean water

be clean, from

my

all

His ordinances.

all

Seek an acquaintance with your own hearts

May

blessing.

and cease not


the

God upon your minds;


God

to strive

till

keep the prowrestle with

ye receive the

of grace and peace grant

may

Lord

you peace.

If I

have spoken the truth,

If

have erred from the truth, Oh, Lord, forgive

thou show

me

and

filthiness

do thou cleanse me." Sinners, be exhort-

mises of a faithful
in prayer,

aggrava^

God, keeping covenant and

ed to wait on God, in an attendance on

God

men.

They

to plead promises that describe them.

wherein

the

bless

it

to
;

you

all.

and do

have mistaken thy holy

will.

Amen.
In conclusion.
mises to do for

them

men

ask any one to

as in

me why God

pro-

which he requires
he contemplates

any sense able of themselves

to

do what he

re-

Again,

I ask, that

room and

man

stead,

how

with the substitution of Christ in our


it

can consist with this substitution,

himself should be the performer?

The demand
To talk
and be saved.
Again.

and

tell

the very things

to do, in order to their salvation, if

quires

that

men

is

not,

do and

of doing,

to risk the natural plan.

is

live,

but believe

to reject substitution,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES


LECTURE

IX.

Delivered on the Evening of the 6th November, 1832, by the

Rev, William Neill, D, B, of Germantown.

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
Therefore,

of the law.

we conclude
Rom.

iii.

This conclusion

man

is justified

is

accepted, and saved.

shown,

in the

by

without the deeds

faith,

The

the result of argument.

concerning the ground, on which

is,

is

that a

28.

momentous

question, indeed.

preceding context, that

and Gentiles, have sinned, and

question

a sinner is acquitted,

failed to

all

promote

tlie

of God; and, of course, are liable to be punished.


law, under which they are placed

every way suited

to secure

and the happiness of the


mitigated in

its

is

The

Lawgiver^

It cannot, therefore,

rigour, without a reflection on the

and goodness of the Creator; and

glory

holy, just, and good;

the honour of the

subject.

It

mankind, Jews

to give

obedience, altogether, would be to open

up

tiie

its

be

wisdom

claims to

flood-gates of

profligacy, and encourage universal anarchy and confusion.

To

expect a perfect obedience from a creature

who

has,

even in a single instance, violated the rule of duty, would

34

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

240

be to expect an impossibility; and to talk of God's accept-

ing sincere endeavours to honour him and do his will, instead of entire conformity to his law, as the ground of ac-

ceptance with him,

is to

talk at

random,

by words without knowledge.

Tsel

to be justified at

all, it

seems

tue of something done for


sition is recognized

by

darkening

plain, that

him by

coun-

If then the sinner is

must be by

it

whose

another,

vir-

interpo-

by the Law-

the law, and accepted

giver, as answering all the purposes contemplated in the

The

administration of a holy and righteous government.


apostle's doctrine, therefore,

'^That a

faith, without the deeds of the law,"

[Jhe

is,

is

justified

by

from the nature of

case, at least plausible.

The

We

man

text

might be rendered rather more

conclude, then, that

That

iporks of law.

literally, thus:

ma n is justified by faij

is,

ii'

mankind

are justified

without

by

faith,

without regard to works, performed by them in obedience


to

any law,

natural, ritual, or mopal; which,

though of vast

importance in other respects, are of no account whatever in


(Ihe matter of justification.

This doctrine of justification by

faith in Jesus Christ, stands out, in bold relief, in the

jjDlan of salvation.

It

warm

occupied a high and

the estimation of Paul the apostle; as

is

Gospel

place, in

evident from the

pains which he has taken, particularly in his epistle to the

(Romans,

to state

and defend

it:

Luther pronounced

it,

em-

phatically ^^The article of a standing or a falling church."

And

all

regard

the reformed churches, of Protestant Christendom,


it

belief, as

To

as a

fundamental and essential

article of religious

appears in their respective creeds.

exhibit and illustrate the doctrine

by

a series of re-

marks, and by the induction of several passages of sacred


Scripture, bearing on the subject,

is

the simple and sole de-

ON JUSTIFICATION.

And

sign of this lecture.


doctrinal,

it

may

241

as the discussion

to

be mainly
is

on the subject in the doctrinal standards of the

taught

Presbyterian Church.

See

XI. sections

"Those whom God

eth,

is

be proper to advert, here, to what

he

1, 2, 3.

Confession of Faith

^^

also freely justifieth; not

by pardoning

into them, but

chap.

\^

effectually calU]

by infusing righteousness
by accounting

their sins, and

and accepting their persons

'^

as

righteous

not

any

for

thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's

sake alone: not by imputing faith

any other

ing, or

the act of believ-

obedience to them, as

act of evangelical

their righteousness

but by imputing the obedience and

by

his righteousness

have not of themselves,

it

is

faith;

which

the gift of God.

faith

alone instrument of justification; yet


justified,

but

saving graces, and

is

is

it

no dead

faith;

his obedience

debt of

all

those that are thus justified, and did

and

other

full satisfaction to his

make

a pro-

Father's justice in their

Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for

them, and his obedience and


stead,

all

but worketh by love.

by

behalf.

the

and death, did fully discharge the

Christ,

per, real,

is

not alone in the

ever accompanied with

is

they

Faith, thus

receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness,

person

sat-

them, they receiving and resting

isfaction of Christ unto

on him and

itself,

satisfaction accepted in their

and both freely, not for any thing

tification is

in

them, their jus-

only of free grace; that both the exact justice,

and rich grace of God, might be

glorified in the justificatioiij

of sinners."

See

also,

<<

Larger Catechism ," answers

to questions 70,

71, 72, and 73.


'Justification
in

is

an act of God's free grace unto sinners,

which he pardoneth

all

their sin, acccpteth

and account-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

242

eth their persons righteous in his sight; not for any thing

wrought

in

them, or done by them, but only for the per-

obedience and

fect

satisfaction of Christ,

full

puted to them, and received by


Christ

and

by

full

his obedience

inasmuch

that are justified: yet,


isfaction of a surety,

God

accepteth the sat-

only Son, imputing

this surety, his

his righteousness to them,

and requiring nothing of them

for their justification but faith,

them of

is to

as

real,

them

in the behalf of

which he might have demanded of

them; and did provide

justification

Although

alone.

faith

and death, did make a proper,

God's justice

satisfaction to

by God im-

which

also

is

his gift, their

Justifying faith

free grace.

is

saving grace wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit

and word of God; whereby he, being convinced of his sin


and misery, and of the disability in himself and
creatures to recover

him out of

all

other

his lost condition, not only

assenteth to the truth of the promise of the Gospel, but re-

ceiveth

and resteth upon Christ, and his righteousness

therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting

and accounting of
for salvation.

his person righteous in the sight of

Faith

^justifies a

sinner

i n.

God

the sight of God,

not because of the other graces which do always accom-

pany

it,

or of good

works

that are the fruits of

it;

nor as

the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to


for his justification; but only as

it

is

if

him

an instrument, by

which he receiveth and applieth Christ and

his righteous-

_ness."

These views,
texts,

we

it

will be seen

are well supported

by

a reference to the proof

by Holy Scripture; and, while

claim for them, no inspired authority, and are far from

placing them on a footing with the ^Mively oracles,"

we

must, as consistent Presbyterians, be allowed to regard

ON JUSTIFICATION.
them, as of weighty import, and

whole analogy of the Christian

243

good keeping with the

in

religion.

On the ne^;ativebranch of the apostle's general concluwe need spend but little time: << Without works of

I.

sion,

The

law."

and best meant works of righteousness, J


that can be performed by a frail, fallen creature, must be
holiest

but as filthy rags, in the eye of that rule of moral rectitude

which detects and denounces the


murders of the

heart, before

<^The commandment

view.

thefts, the adulteries, the

they are disclosed


is

human

to

exceeding broad," cover-

ing the whole system of man's motives, ends and aims, no


less than his overt acts

and professed principles.

every one that continueth not in


in the

book of the law

one point
best
a

works

title

is

to

all

"He

Of what

avail, then,

can our

All that the law can do for

our present ruined condition,


our malady, the malignity of
nation, and thus act

us to Christ."

upon

to

and

"as

us, in

show us the extent

sin, the justice

us,

It is true, that

law of the Lord,

is

"^

that faileth in

be, in procuring, for us, forgiveness of sins

to eternal life?

is

things, that are written

do them."

guilty of all."

<<Cursed

of

of our condembring

a schoolmaster to

the Christian delights in the

after the inner

man, regarding

it,

as for-

ever the rule of duty, the high and holy standard of moral rectitude, in

heaven and earth,

to

which

it

would be

glory and his happiness to be perfectly conformed.

with the holy apostle, he finds another law in

his

his

But

members,

warring against the law of his mind, aiming continually,


to bring
i. e.

him

into captivity to the law of sin.

works, good

to be maintained,

Good worksp.

as to the matter of them, re,

"for necessary uses."

and ought

They

are useful

to our fellow-sinners; and they are important, too, as

evi^

~|

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

244

dences of a divine principle in the heart, that works by

/love;
\
\

,^ut as to

part, the

of everlasting

life, it is

a thing not

tion,

James says of works,

we have

named

when expounded by

in the

in the business of justifica-

our minds, that his design

where opportunity

offers, are

make

is to

show

affirmed, in the text, that

Let those who put

him

if

that

it

evident

good works,

necessary to satisfy ourselves

and others, that we really possess that

guage, reconcile

employs,

the illustrations he

the application of the acknowledged

principles of sound biblical interpretation,

God.

known,

or

only to observe, that the scope of his epistle;

the examples he adduces;

to

in

In regard to what the

revealed plan of redeeming love.


apostle

whole or

their constituting, either in

ground of our acquittal before God, or of our hope

man

faith,

is justified,

a different

by which

it

is

in the sight of

meaning on

his lan-

they can, to the apostle of the Gen-

tiles.

To Justify,

II.

in

its

primary import ,

is to

acquit; to ab-

solve from a charge of criminality; to declare one,

been put on

trial,

to all the privileges of that


is

community

to

of an

official

justice, ex-

act of a judge, quite different from,

and indeed inconsistent with, the idea of pardon.

man

is

arraigned before a

investigation,

has

which he belongs.

term taken from the practice of courts of

fit
pressive

who

righteous, according to law, and entitled

either

human

acquitted

tribunal,

or

demned, he may h^ pardoned, on

he

is,

condemned.

If a

upon due
If con-

certain conditions; but if

acquitted, he cannot be pardoned; in this case he needs no

pardon; the law has nothing against him; the charge has
not been substantiated; and he

gally just, or justified.

is

When

therefore pronounced le-

applied to religious sub-

ON JUSTIFICATION.
jects, these terms, jusHfi/

245

and jus iijication, are commonly

used with some variation of meaning from

import; though

some doubts
change.

It

as

is

we do
the

to

is

ori<rinal

not see the necessity, and have

wisdom and expediency

true that every one

theological sense,

tlicir

also pardoned.

who
But

is

of the

justified,

is

in a

he not likewise

regenerated, adopted, and invested with the privileges of


the sons of

God ? These acts

of Divine favour take place,

suppose, simultaneously; hMiihey

d^vQ

we

our apprehension, the terms that denote them, ought not

be used interchangeably, as

Those who

if

to

nearly or quite synonymous.

are in the habit of regarding justification, and

the forgiveness of sin, as one and the same thing substantially,

will be

very likely

to

overlook the ground, the rea-

son, or the meritorious cause of the sinner's acquittal and

warranted hope of Heaven.

This thought

is

respectfully

submitted to those beloved fellow-servants, whose

duty and business

it is,

to preach the

III.

The faith hy which

That

is

word of

said in our

evangelical faith in the

which

faith

it is

oilicial

Gospel and expound

the Scriptures, '^rightly dividing the

is justified,

truth.^'^

icx\.,

that

Lord Jesus

man

Christ.

credits the divine testimony, concerning

the Son of God, the only Redeemer; which apprehends

him, and confides in him, as "the Lord our righteousness,

and the propitiation

for our sins;" as,

tion, possessed of all fulness,

termost,

all

that

by divine

and ^^able

constitu-

to save, to the ut-

come unto God by him."

This

is

so ob-

viously involved in the whole process of the apostle's reasoning, in the context, that any attempt on the present occasion, to

make

it

more

plain,

judged use of our limited time.

distinct acts; and, in

would be deemed an

ill-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

246

jButh ow does
liar efficacy, in

faith

merely

believe, considered

own

tures
nial,

act;

Wherein

consists its pecu-

as a mental exercise,

To

is

the crea-

and does not seem to require more self-de-

more merit than many other

or to possess

Nay; the human mind

operations.

which

believes truth,

it

justify

the article of a sinner's justification?

accompanied by

is

intellectual

so constituted, that

is

sufficient evi-

dence, and which does not interfere with predominant pas-

very readily; and

sions,

some

in

faith,

nated,

faiib^jts

it is

the

p;ift

sometimes and very

it

is

of

God

i. e.

grace of

does
The

for

the

faith justify a sinful

man?

How,

solution of this

And we

cussion.

the very

problem

solve

it

is

we

denomi-

cannot originate or
to

the special

question returns upon

the main point in this dis-

by saying,

in the spirits if not

words of the Holy Scripture,

for its object, the merits, or,

faith has

fitly

as

the result of a divine

which we are indebted


then,

God?

by

can any credit be due to

that which

us, for the possession of

command, and

is

it

how

influence on the heart; and

in

And

there would seem to be no special merit.

jo savin g

us

cases, instinctively, or

so that, in this species of

a kind of qualified necessity;

That

which

is

saving

the

same

thing, the righteousness of Christ; an object of infinite va-

lue in

itself,

object, in

answered;

and
is

and intimately related

which the law


its

majesty maintained;

to the

its

authority vindicated,

great end and design accomplished.

its

Rom.

x. 4.

law of God; an

uncompromising claims

said to be *^the enc[^f jtheJaWiJbr

one that^ belie veth."


\

finds its

HencjeJClhmt^

rig^

The righteousness of

Christ, then, and not the sinner^s act of believing,

ground,
tion.

the reason, or the meritorious cause of

By

the Redeemer's righteousness,

is

the

justifica-

we mean

his ac-

ON JUSTIFICATION.
tive

247

and passive obedience; or that perfect obedience which

he rendered to the moral law, as well in


its

precepts, in the

thus,

by

room and

its

penalty, as in

And,

stead of his people.

and wonderful mediation, grace ^

his voluntary

reigns through righteousness, unto eternal


that are saved, of our fallen race,

them

life, in all

from the beginning

to the

end of the world.

The

righteousness of Christ having been wrought out ex-

pressly for his people,

counted

them, and

to

imputable, or capable of being ac-

is
is

actually

imputed

to

them, or

their account, in the divine act of justification.

sented, in the chapter from which our text


robe, that

when he

is

out the law,

is

taken, as a

mean

put on believers: what else does Paul

says: *<But
is

now

the rigliteousness of God, with-

manifested, being witnessed by the law and

the prophets; even the righteousness of God, which

unto and upon

faith of Jesus,

Bom.

ii i.

set to

It is repre-

all

them

that

is

by

believe. ''.

21, 2 2.

This righteousness, moreover,


cation of as

many

participation in

its

as the

is

available, for the justifi-

Lord our God

sees

fit

to call to a

merits, because of the glorious excellency

of the Redeemer's person; Immanuel, God-with-us,


of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and, yet,

bone

God over

all,

and blessed forever; wearing our nature, and embodying


the fulness of the Godhead; angels, and principalities, and

powers being subject unto him.


It is
^<

very properly

Justification

doneth
sight,

all

is

our

said, in

our Shorter Catechism,

that,

an act of God's free grace, wherein he parsins,

and accepteth us

as righteous

only for the righteousness of Christ imputed

in

his

to us,

and received by faith alone."

On

this part of the subject

35

we would remark

very briefly:

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

248

l/That

this, like

and must take

Those who

he

acts, is

without repentance,

'^Whom he

justifies,

them he

calls,

also glorifies

They

themselves.

to

left

are sanctified

progressively, in soul, body, and spirit; and <'kept

power of God, through


*'an act of

he receives; while

to the

He

redeeming Substitute,

e.

which
is

it

an

has a fair claim to *^see of the travail

of his soul, and be satisfied."


i.

is

redeemed

the expressions of divine favour,

all

act of justice.

to the

by the

2/ It

unto salvation."

faith,

God's free grace" undoubtedly

sinner, as are

too;

also
."^^

them he

are justified, are not furnished with their title

heaven, and

to

effect:

whom

and

justifies;

God's

all

full

3/"0ur

sins are

pardoned"

they are remitted to us; but the penalty of the

violated law, due to us, on account of our transgressions,

was exacted
in

his

at the

hands of Christ, when he "bore our sins

own body on

we were

healed."

the tree:" and

Sin

is

and

is,

a Saviour."

also,

Let

never connived

<^a
all

consuming

or allowed to

at,

an intelligible form,

vite 3'our attention, for a

by

The

ledge shall

Isaiah

my

in a

summary,

we have only

few moments,

justify

of, in

Spirit:

but,

we

further to in-

few passages

to a

11, latter clause:

Christ

is

<^

man

is

jus-

his

knowledge,

'*

he

By

many;

i.

e.

his

know-

for he shall

It is said

shall

he shall

by the knowledge of

which he acquaints them by

"for," or because

'^

the righteous servant here

the capacity of Mediator.

many by

himself, with

liii .

righteous servant justify

bear their iniquities."

spoken

is

God,

without works of law."

faith,

first is,

<^God

*'a just

fire,"

of Scripture, confirmatory of the doctrine, that


tified

his stripes

the earth fear before him.

Having thus presented the subject


trust, in

by

<^

kingdom of Jehovah.

pass unpunished, in the

love;" but he

when

his

word and

bear their iniquities."

ON JUSTIFICATION.

Now, how

he justify tliem, or declare them

shall

righteous, in consequence
cept

24y

by giving them an

hearing their

oi'

made unto

is

Jer emiah x xui.

Lord, that
a

King

6.

I will raise

shall reign

ment and

''

Behold the days come,

and prosper, and

be called,

shall

This

is

is,

the

shall execute judg-

In his days, Judah shall he

saved and Israel shall dwell safely; and this

ness."

saith

unto David a righteous HiiANcu,and

justice in the earth.

whereby he

VVjio, of

Another passage

us righteousness."

5,

'^

ex-

which

interest in (hat righteousness,

the law demands, and which he alone fulfilled

God

/ega//i/

ini([uilics,

name,

his

is

The Lord our RighteousChrist.


And to

prophecy concerning

represent the intimate relation between his righteousness

and his people's salvation, and,


petuate the knowledge and

own him,

as their

would seem,

it

secure

of the precious doctrine, that


ceive and

as

the

who

all

to per-

acknowledgment
shall cordially re-

Lord, are authorized

his perfect obedience as theirs, for justification,

it

to regard
is

decla-

red that he shall be called, and known, and honoured

by

this

singularly

compounded

The Lord, our

title,

Righteousness. "

A
him,

third

made

we

passage

who knew no

is,.

2 Cor,

sin, to

the righteousness of

21

"For he hath made


we might be
him." Now, how can
:

God

in

God can look


how can we,
righteousness of God

be made, or constituted so righteous that

upon us with approbation?


in

v.

be sin for us; that

any

or, in other

intelligible sense, be said to be

words,

in Christy except by his obedience being reckoned, or


placed to our account, in the eye of the divine law, upon

"The Lord

our faith in him, and acceptance of him,

as

OUR Righteousness ?
The last text that we adduce,

the epistle

is

in

to

the

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

250
Phillippians,

dung

that

where the

8, 9:

iii.

had suffered the

loss of all things,

apostle tells us that he'

and accounted them but

he might win Christ, '<and be found in him,"

says he, "not having mine


the law, but that which

eousness which

of

is

is

own

righteousness, which

through

is

of

faith of Christ, the right-

God by faith." There is an allusion


when shipwrecked. He would

in this passage to a mariner,


cast

away, and disencumber himself of any thing, and

every thing, that might interfere with his rescue from a

watery grave: So, Paul would renounce, utterly abandon,


as,

not only useless, but detrimental to his

derogatory to his Saviour's honour,


ness,

and cling

to that

which

by

is

many

"That man

law," then,

safely,

float

amid the

from both Testa-

others might be cited, of like import)

do not tend, strongly,


text,

and

nature, into the haven of eternal bliss.

If these passages, taken, as they are,

ments, (and

safety,

faith in Jesus Christ, as

the only plank on which he could

wreck of fallen

own

his self-righteous-

all

is

we have

conclusion, in our

to confirm the

justified

by

yet to learn

without works of

faith

how

to interpret

and ap-

ply the holy oracles, by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

PRACTICAL INFERENCES.
l/jal vationjsj^fjjod

by the merits of

Christ,

The method

is

purpose; and this purpose

is

gin,

its

progress, and

its

by

men, through the

Spirit, and, ordinarily,

mentality of revealed truth.

and eternal

carried into effect,

cious influence on the hearts of

agency of the Holy

of saving sinners,

a matter of divine

The

by

the instru-

entire scheme, in

consummation,

is

a gra-

efficient

its ori-

such as to secure

the glory of God, and the most perfect safety and happiness

ON JUSTIFICATION.
The Lord

to his people.

redeeming Saviour,
a

way

is

051

Jesus, our legal Substitute and

God; the Holy

the gift of

Spirit, in

suited to our moral and accountable character,

makes

us willing in a day of his power, to be saved by grace; and


the sacred

Scriptures give us

righteousness, and

all

all

needful instruction in

desirable encouragement, in the good

word of promise, while we pursue the

race that

be-

is set

fore us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our

Let

faith.

no attempt

there, therefore, be

to

divide the

honours of eternal redemption between works of law, done

hy

man, and the perfect, finished, and ac-

fallen, guilty

Him, <*Who,

cepted work of

of God,

wisdom, and righteousness, and


tion: that, according as

him glory

made unto

written.

He

us,

and redemp-

that glorieth

let

LordP

in the

2/Those who

is

it

is

sanctification,

believe this doctrine of justification, by faith

in the

imputed righteousness of Christ, should be very

ful to

demonstrate the holy tendency of the doctrine, by a

life

The most

of piety, charity, and active benevolence.

plausible objection to
as if

it

it

isj its

supposed liableness

to abuse,

superseded the necessity of personal holiness, or that

love of righteousness, which

moral virtue.
silence

care-

is,

This cavil ought

confessedly, the basis of


to

be refuted and put to

by the holy temper and upright deportment

fessing Christians;

and the doctrine should be

show

of pro-

so exhibited

while justification

by preachers and

writers, as to

takes place solely

on the ground of Christ's righteousness

accepted by

faith,

the believer's personal righteousness, or

santification, is secured

and right

spirit,

that,

by the bestowment of

new

and by the Lord's blessing on Gospel

Gospel ordinances, and

all

holiness in the fear of God.

instituted

heart
truth,.

means of perfecting

-^

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

252

3/ Let

Christians act up to their professed belief, that

Jesus Christ

mankind

Redeemer.

the only

is

are setting in

Vast multitudes of

heathenish darkness, living and

dying, and passing to the

judgment, ignorant of the

final

way of saving
no human being

/true God, and his published

profess

to

believe

that

but through the merits of the Son of


that his Gospel
t

is

We

men.

lost

can be saved,

God; who teaches

us,

the chosen instrument for the illumina-

tion

and recovery of mankind from the ruins of the com-

mon

apostacy.

deeming
called

We

plan, to

and

know,

too, that

employ the

justified,

in

is a

it

of those

efforts

making known

part of his re-

whom

riches and efficacy of his truth and grace;

he has

world the

to the

we

and

hear

him, in tones of commingling authority and mercy, say-

"Go, preach

ing:

believeth and

is

the Gospel to every creature: he that

baptized, shall be saved; but he that be-

lieveth not shall be damned.'^


tj^IJ:kyMbl!^j._ij?-

Ho3y^an we^

dear Chris-

^^^ honest and cordial JbelifiL-of -these

truths be

lukewarm,

^od, and

the millions of souls, that are perishing for lack

of vision

inactive, or indifferent in the cause of

Oh, when will Christendom

bility in this matter, and,

forth

awakening

lowship of the Gospel!

world

the

till

it

in heaven, that the

kingdom of God

is

and

Spirit of

crown the

the hearts, increase and

and celebrated

filled, that

to the faith

Come, thou blessed

of thy people, with divine favour,


earth,

pour

exertions propor-

magnitude and benevolence of the

object, for the conversion of the

warm

her responsi-

to righteousness,

make

her joint supplications, and

tionate to the sublime

sions;

feel

fully

shall

fel-

Mis-

efforts

be felt on

prophecy

is ful-

come, that truth

and grace have gloriously triumphed over ignorance and


sin,

and that Jesus, the Christ,

is

acknowledged

as

Lord,

ON JUSTIFICATION.

253

to the glory of God, the father, <*from sea to sea, and from
the river to the ends of the earth! !"

4/ There
make

of this subject for himself.

have been
is

an obvious use, which every reader should

is

and

in Christ Jesus;

purpose,

justification

with

connected

If

you

you

are a believer,

through the redemption that

justified, graciously,

is,

holiness

in

God's unchanging

and

heavenly

bliss.

Surely, then, you will feel that you are not your own;

but that

^ou

are the

table right to assign

any

tribulation,

See

proper.

in

to

L ord?Sj

you any

this

that

it,

and that he has an indubi-

life,

service, or subject

which he

see

shall

deny

You

your firm adherence

live also: ;^our life

to Christ; for

Heaven and

you are

Because he

God, you

God

life.

hid with

C hrist,

in

you

God.

eternal life are yours.

are in a state of

shall

Death

But

if

is

you

Son of

condemnation, with the wrath

abiding on you; and, in this

Should

can

interested in

lives

are yet in your sins, not having believed on the

of

to

yourself, and be reproached, if need be, for

his victory, and intercession.

yours.

to

and

fit

you resign yourself wholly

God, actively and passively, living and dying.


afford to

you

state,

you cannot

see

be your case, be entreated to lay hold,

this

straightway, on the hope set before you in the Gospel.

Your works of law

will never justify you.

God

has re-

vealed but one method of saving sinners, of our guilty race;

and that

is

gotten Son.

by the blood and righteousness of


you

If

any other way,

all

reject this,

his only be-

you embrace death.

Ju

your best works, seconded by the deep-

est repentance, and the most painful self-imposed penances

will not

cannot

save you,

sadors for Christ, as though

we pray

<'Now, then, we are ambas-

God

did beseech you, by us;

you, in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God:

for

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

254

he hath made him who knew no

we might

be

made

the righteousness of

the religion of a sinner,


ithere salvation in

sin, to

**

Christ

any other."

is

be sin for us, that

God

ail."

in

him."

^'Neither

In
is

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES


LECTURE

X.

Delivered on the Evening of the iSth May, 1832,

the Rev.

bij

John Breckinridge, of Philadelphia.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

This people have

Isaiah

xliii.

formed

for

myself; they shall show forth

That thou mayest know how thou oughtest


house of God, which
of the truth.

my

praise.

21.

Tim.

is

to

behave thyself in the

the CJiurch of the living God, the pillar and ground

iii.

15.

And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word
in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost so that ye were ensamplcs
:

Macedonia and Achaia, For from you sounded out the


word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place
your faith to God-ward is spread abroad so that we need not to speak any
thing. 1 Thess. i. 68.
to all that believe in

If the Church of Christ had been in any adequate measure

pure in her

spirit,

and

faithful to

her

trust, as the

depository

of the Gospel for mankind, then the history of the Church


would have been the history of missions. *

But on the contrary, the history of


*

Some of the views advanced

in

tliis

is

often,

Lecture were published by the au-

thor in the Biblical Repertory, October, 1830.

36

the Church

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

256

in a principal degree, the record of its corruptions in doc-

and

trine

life

we would

and when

trace

from

its rise

to

the present time, the pure stream of Christianity, instead

of" the river of God," we

find in

many

ages only a scanty

brook, well nigh lost amid the rubbish and delapidations

through which

The
to

it

wends

its

weary way.

Apostles of Christ, in a qualified sense,

have defined with their

line of foreign missions;

own hands

may

be said

the present frontier-

and what has since been done for

the conversion of the world, has been the result


natural causes, than of the spirit of missions.

more of

What

they

achieved in a few years, under divine influence, by heroic


enterprise,
to the

was ignobly

work

left

by

after ages, to a great extent,

of time, and to the indirect influences only of

Christianity.

Indeed, for several centuries before the days of Luther,

was missionary ground. The religion


its own altar, the victim of its
And when at the ever meprofessed votaries and friends.
morable reformation, <'the spirit of life from God efitered

the

Church

itself

of Christ lay expiring on

into her,

and she again stood upon her feet," the servants

of Christ found Paganism within the very recesses of the


sanctuary.

They had but

a foreign field,

tions

who

little

leisure for the cultivation of

w^ere absorved in purging out abomina-

from the very temple of God

busied in breaking

down

casting out those that

itself.

Their hands were

the idols from the holy places, in

made merchandise of

the truth, in

overturning the tables of the money-changers, and in restoring to

its

purity the worship of God.

most before the work of reform had been

And

then, alas! al-

sufficiently extend-

ed to give numbers and strength to Christianity, the


of contention and of schism arose

spirit

the progress of the holy

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.
cause was arrested by the
the

fatal

257

divisions of

friends

its

and

Reformed Church
"To

The

party gave up, what

was meant

for

mankind."

revival in latter days of the spirit of missions in Pro-

testant Christendom, is a great

generations, passing

epoch

We

Church and of the world.

in the history of the

have no doubt that future

by the fading

glories of this world, will

regard this as the most brilliant characteristic of the age in

which we

live:

may become

and

the

if

first in

we

are faithful to

God and man,

a series of progressive

which, with the divine blessing,

it

movements,

issue in the conver-

shall

sion of the world.

But
ject,

if

we would

take the proper impression of the sub-

and gird ourselves fully

for the great

vice w^e have to perform, then must

and solemn

we esteem

the

ser-

work

of

missions for the conversion of the world as but just begun.

For though, compared with the


other ages,
yet,

much

is

doing

spirit

now

and labours of some

for this noblest of causes,

compared with the vast extent of unreclaimed heathen-

ism, with the bountiful compass of the divine

we can and ought to do, our


much more of humiliation than of

command,

or

with what

achievements are

matter

mutual congratu-

lation.

The

subject of Christian Missions having, in the order of

discussion, been assigned to us,

present some

hints in relation to

we proceed this evening to


it, which we trust will not

be found unprofitable.

The
to

passages selected from the

form rather the

word of God

are intended

basis than matter of discussion;

and

may

be considered more a continued motto, or running caption,


than as a text for regular analysis.

The

first

named

passage

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

258

exhibits the divinely derived character, and appropriate influence of the people of God.

for myself :

expanded

This people have Iformed

<^

they shall show forth

my praise.^

follows by the Apostle Peter:

as

This

''

is

Ye are a

chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a

peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of

Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. '^^

The next

portion refers to this peculiar and

chosen people, organized into a church, furnished from on


high, as the house of God, with the
'*

requisition for this labour of love.

under

God, which

is the

and ground of

Head

great

Church of the living God, the pillar


Not that the Church is that

rests, for

the action of the truth

the truth rests on

God

by the power of God which

the Church into being, organized


it

its

" The house of

the truth.^^

on which the truth


is

means of extending

the truth" through the earth, and put by

it

and

it

called

and furnished

into form,

with beauty and the means of doing good.

Hence

it is

the effect of the truth, and, of course, can never be that on

which the

truth depends, to be

without which, according

God

truth of

'^

world.
seat

the

what

ground of the

pillar

'

The

But

it is

that,

truth,^^ as God's chosen

his truth is stationed, supported,

on which the truth

to view, as a public proclamation of

action

it is.

the divine arrangement, the

will never be adequately extended in the

It is the

on earth; where

upheld,'

to

is

mercy

and

continually held
to a lost world.

last passage represents to us this Church in successful

in the

work

of faith and the labour of love.

" From

you sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Jichaia, but in every place; so that ye became ensamples to all that believe.^'
* 1

Peter

ii.

9.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

259

It is

taken for granted in this discussion, that the

God

is

of

the great end of

his works.

all

with our world, he has made his supreme glory

upon the

of redemption subordinates to

" The

to

depend

influence and final triumph of Cliristianity.

has magnified his i^orc? above

in our

g;lory

In his dealings

own, and,

God

so far as

of our

hath set him at his

itself all

Lord Jesus

own

beings and

all

all

nion,

and every name that

plan

things

in all other worlds.

Christ, the Father of glory,

hand

right

above

principality,

The

we know,
in

heavenly places,

is

named, not only

is to

in

this

come, and hath put

all

head over

all

things under his feet, and gave

him

things to the Church, which

his body, the fulness of

cipalities

by

all,

is

to be the

to the intent that

and powers in heavenly

the Church the manifold

economy

far

and power, and might, and domi-

world, but also in that which

that filleth all in

He

<<

name."*

his

all

places,

is

salvation; as an agent, he

is

might be known

regarded

object and an agent; as an object,

it

him

unto the prin-

wisdom of God."t

man

of redemption,

now

at

In the

once as an

proposes his eternal

to be occupied in extending

the knowledge of this salvation to his fellow men, in

By

the world.

the subject,

"Christian Missions," J we

are to under-

stand the nature, obligations, importance, &c. of that


in

which we

ments

all

the comprehensive and general terms of

work

are required to engage as agents or instru-

in the hands of

God,

for publishing the Gospel to

every creature.
In examining this important subject,
I.

*
I

That the Christian

Psalm

man

cxxxviii. 2.

series of subjects, of which this

and assigned

to the several speakers.

is,

t
is

we remark:

in the very constitution

Ephes.

i.

17,

2023, and

iii. 1

0.

one, had been previously selected,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

260

of his character, a Tnissionary ; or, in other words, that


which makes him a Christian, endows him in the sam,e

and

degree with the missionary spirit

The

influence.

Christian character and spirit, properly so called, are

peculiar, original,

and from God.

new and

In the

divine

many-

constitution of this character, the Christian differs in


essential respects
tian,

from

men, who

his fellow

a declaration of this difference

the

continued exhibition, or

embodied

proposition

first

is,

it is

of religion

of a Christian

life

Our

Christianity.

intrin-

and designed by God,

to ex-

tend the influence of the Christian religion.


establish this, let us for a

is

is its

and character are

that this spirit

sically fitted in themselves,

are not Chris-

A profession

and from his former self

moment look

at

In order to

some of the

dis-

tinguishing characteristics of a Christian.

The Christian

is

distinguished by a supreme regard

for divine truth, and


ence.
is,

under

lives

Divine truth exhibits

and

controlling influ-

its

as

he

and

is,

man

as

he

things in their true light and just proportions.

all

It gives

God

him

right views of time and of eternity, of sin, and

of the soul, of the law of God, of the plan of redemption

and

its

glorious author; in a word,

of action, sets a true value on


pression to

his relations,

all

into practical use,

''

who has

left

gives right principles

things, gives the just ex-

all

and by reducing his knowledge

under the divine

some degree,

liever, in

it

feel,

Spirit,

makes the

and think, and act

-like

be-

him

us an example that we should follow his

steps.''*

Personal holiness
Christian.

Lord."

'^

is

" Without

Ye

an

essential characteristic

holiness

are a holy nation."

*1 Peter

ii.

21.

no man
<<

If

shall

of a

see the

any man be

in

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.
he

Christ,

By

He

creature."

is

renewed by the

"being his workmanship," '^created

image of God

God

new

is

Spirit of God,

2G1

in

after the

Christ Jesus, unto good works, which

hath before ordained that he should walk in them."*

a holy

man, we mean one cleansed from the pollution

and delivered from the curse of


so, is

sin,

and having been made

kept so by the power of God.

Holiness also includes

the idea of dedication to God, being God's temple, inhabited

by

that ^beauty of the

seen of

them

This

is

which

is

set apart for his service.

Lord our God upon

his people,'

men, by which the world take knowledge of

all

that have been with Jesus, and glorify

This characteristic will necessarily

behalf

hate sin for


to a

and

his Spirit,

own

its

God on their
lead a man to

evil nature, for the indignity

holy God, and for the unbounded ruin which

sions;

and will impel him to seek

its

it

offers

occa-

it

extinction every

where.

Holy
tian.

love is

We

a leading characteristic of the Chris-

can, of course,

do no more than allude

these qualities, while forming

united force.

an argument out of their

But supreme love

terested love to his

fellow men,

is

to

God, and

summary
Thou

the spirit and duty of a Christian.

^^

Lord thy God with

all

all

all

thy heart, and

thy strength, and with

This

as thyself

God-ward

is

intelligent,

is

the great

all

thy

disin-

expression of
shalt love the

soul,

and with

thy mind, and thy neighbour

commandmcnt."t And

this love

not a vague and heartless theism, but a supreme,

commanding, and

practical

affection

for

the

man

And
of the Bible God in Christ.
knight
not a vain sentiment, or a wild spirit of religious
this love of

God
is

to

which
errantry; but a wise, dutiful, and disinterested love
* Ephes.

ii.

10,

and Colos.

iii.

10.

Luke

i.

27.

MaUi.

iiii. 37.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

262

seeks to do good unto


of the spirit of Him

was

men.

all

who

It is a faint,

not perish, but have everlasting


its

to

s,'''

clearly

is

characterized by holy obe-

God's commands.

my commandment

'^

If ye love me, keep

the great test of Christian cha-

is

I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things


As sin is the
right, and I hate every false way.^^

racter.

to be

is

we might

spirit necessarily

make every sacrifice which


God and his fellow man.

The Christian inan


dience

cross, that

This

life.

possessor to

required, for

he

became poor, and gave himself

rich, yet for our sakes

up unto death, even the death of the

leads

but real copy

so loved the world, that though

'^

transgression of the law, so he cannot be a holy man, a

who permits himself to live in disobedience to,


any known transgression of, any law of God. Now
who commands us in the decalogue to keep holy

Christian,

or

he

the Sabbath day, and says


said,

^^do good unto

Thou

all

shalt love

all

" thou

men

as

shalt not kill," has also

ye have opportunity."*

thy neighbour as thyself."

" Go

quires us, under pain of eternal death, to obey the

of the law as to the duties especially

owed

to

first

sum

nence, offensive to God, because


the tomb!

drawn unto

table

which

of our love and duty to our neighbour, and

especially to his soul; and a neglect of these

'^

re-

God, under

the same pain, requires us to obey the second table,


defines the

teach

He who

nations" the Gospel of the Son of God.

If thou forbear

it

is,

kills the soul,

to deliver

by emibeyond

them that are

and them that are ready to be slain;


behold we knew it not, doth not he that

death,

if thou sayest

pondereth the heart consider

it ?

* Galatians vi. 10.

And

he that keepeth

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

263

And

shall not he ren-

thy soul, doth not he

man

der to every

Once more:

know

it ?

according to his work?^'*

a distinguishing- characteristic of the

It is

God

Christian, that he intends to glorify


actions.

ye

It is

whatever ye do, do

eat or drink, or

God."

Glorify

<<

which are his."

God with your


This

Whether

to the

glory of

all

<^

bodies and your spirits,

But the chief glory

the triumph of the Gospel.

<

of

God

To

results

from

God in the
and good will

glory to

is

highest, because it brings peace to earth,


to men.''

in all his

one great law of the kingdom,

the accomplishment, therefore, of this great

end, the desires, labours, sacrifices, prayers of the believer


are directed, in a degree that

even

in his darkest

beings glorify
extorted, and

God

in

supreme and controlling,


All things and

some shape; but

unknown.

^'

If not, ^'he restrains it."

The wrath
But

effort of the Christian to give

by

is

and coldest hours.

is

it

may

it

of

man

very

spirit

distinguish the Chris-

suffice for the present use.

that these qualities do, in their

missionary
blessing,

world.

to

spirit,

But these just

fit

own

Now our

first

world

and useful

their possessor with the divine

as ours, is

to his fellow

honourable

men.

which he professes;
*

37

in

the

place, the very presence of such

Such

representative of an unseen Saviour; he

the religion

argument

nature, constitute a

extend the influence of Christianity

a being in such a
religion,

and

For, in the

Now

and work of missions.

tian, as the spirit of prayer, self-denial, &c.

named may

him."

the purpose and the

glory to God, and especially

There are other characteristics vvhich

is,

be reluctant,
praises

the universal diffusion of the religion of Christ.

this is the

all

is

a practical

Proverbs xxiv. 11-12.

to

our holy

man

is

the

specimen of
proof of

its

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

264

and divine power.

truth, value,

his marvellous light.

known and read of

''^

their reproof,

God

among

a guilty people; a

of heaven; at once their honour,

and their security;

But

the light of the world.'^


is

Me

^'

of the earthy

salt

the influence of such a

He

not merely the result of proper character.

man

in the

is,

His views of

next place, intentionally and actively useful.


divine truth lead him to set

man,

solitary, but yet expressive

earnest of the divine presence


living witness for the

Sometimes such

men?^*

all

forth the

called

Sodom, stands the

like lot in

He shows

him out of darkness into


''He is an epistle of Christ

who hath

praises of him

<*

a proper price on man. He has

an impression of the true value and importance of the soul,

more just and elevated than ever entered the cold

infinitely

and narrow calculations of


sures

it

by the word of God,

existence; he sees his ruin


tion provided

and

infidel

for

by

he beholds a great salva-

him; he^ takes truth's view of

common

for both will impel

foe of

him

to

when

the law of

the great

all

His nature

^^let

**

him

vation.

He

them

will labour

him

to the

to stand

Go ye unto

still,

all

the

that heareth say

an active nature; his affections are

strong affections, and eminently social.


religion will give to

while his love

His obedience

love, will forbid

nations;"
is

things,

seek the honour of the one, and

command sounds forth

world, and teach

come."

all

His holiness makes him

God and man,

the eternal salvation of the other.

law of God

mea-

in the scale of an eternal

sin;

properly afiected by them.

is

hate sin, the

He

philosophy.

The

influence of

intensity, refinement,

where labour can

avail.

and

ele-

Where he

cannot go in person, he will give of his substance, and give

on a

scale

which shows the greatness of


* 2 Cor.

iii.

.'i.

his holy pity to a

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

265

ruined world, and the supremacy of his love, with tho entireness of his dedication

Lord who poured out

Lord Jesus

to the

will not give grudgingly, or

by measure, unto

He

Christ.

that beloved

his soul unto death for him.

having influence in heaven by his prayers, he

And

will send

out his alms, directed by his supplications, and by steady

and fervent intercession, press the throne of grace with the


wants of a ruined world.
than a lovely vision

When we

Oh! brethren,

its

search of such examples,

we may

see the truth

this

no more
theory!

still

professing millions now, in

spirit at

is

our hands.

we
remnant shall he
ideal.
God requires

well tremble while

indicated, that only a

But yet the character

very

this

read the history of the Church in past ages, or

even look around upon

saved.^^

is

but impracticable

fair,

not

''^

It is that,

and that alone,

with which we can enter heaven.


then apparent, that the very constitution of the

It is

Christian character,

what makes

man

measure with the

II.

in

its

is

a Christian,

spirit

We remark that
organization,

missionary in

its

nature, and that

endows him

in the

same

and influence of missions.

Church of God

the

and

is essentiality

in the purpose of God, a Mis-

sionary institution.

We speak,

of course, of the visible Church catholic, pro-

perly so called.

The Church

of

God was

established, in

order to keep alive and extend the true religion in the


world, and thus to glorify
It has

God

been essentially the same

ral dispensations

through which

successive development of

its

in

it

has passed; and every

scheme of mercy

has added new sanctions and helps


tution.

the salvation of men.

institution during the seve-

to its

to

mankind,

missionary consti-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

266
as

If,

we have shown,

who

the individual Christian

truly

possesses, an J properly displays the spirit of his religion,


is

missionary man; when united

into a society, with the

accession of power, under God, peculiar to combined action,

and when invested from on high with corporate

work

qualifications for the

rights,

and

body thus orga-

of missions, the

nized must be, in the highest form, a missionary institution.

The Church

a social institution. '^A chosen genera-

is

tion^ a holy nation, a peculiar people, called out of dark-

Each

ness into God's marvellous light."

of course, brings into the body,


his

person an accession to the

Thus united

sionary influence.

living

member,

we may speak so, in


common stock of misto Christ, the common
if

members one of another, <* the whole


hody fitly joined together, and compacted by that which
every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working
head, and being

all

in the measure of every part, m,aketh increase of the hody,

unto the edifying of


gree

is it fitted

work

for

itself in /oi;e;"*

harmonious and

and in the same de-

efficient action, in the

of faith and the labour of love.

But, besides the relation of society, or the collective


fects of

numbers,

of the living

'*

the house of

God,"

is

tion in its furniture.

God, which

is

eminently a missionary instituFor this " peculiar people" are en-

dowed by their sovereign for the work of missions.


sense already explained, that the Church

ground of the truth."

ef-

the Church

To

her

is

" the

" are committed

It is in the

pillar

and

the oracles of

God,"and that not for her own manifold "advantage"

alone,*

but as a depository of the matchless blessings therein revealed,


for all the

world.

" The truth by which she

* Ephes.

iv. 5.

Roms.

iii.

2.

is

sanctified,"

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

2G7

the sword of the Spirit for cleaving the closed hearts of

is

men, and thus opening

And

light of an eternal day.

the standing

worship

is

means

darkened understandings

their

"show

to

God's praise,"

forth

established, and sustained

by

performed

public, with

in

mercy,

his public

his authority.

ordinances of his house are observed, and

sence and the good of men.

to the

in order to give to this people

direct reference to

And

with

infinite

a day, originally set apart to celebrate

Him

and keep alive the knowledge of

The

sacred rites

its

the

pre-

wisdom and

God's

praise,

in the world,

is

turned to the peculiar use of publishing the salvation of the


Gospel.

an emphatic and peculiar sense, the Lord's

It is in

day; and returning,

measured and rapid revolutions

in the

of each succeeding week, renews to the listening earth the

evidences of his resurrection, and the incessant

calls of his

mercy.
In addition to

by

God

to the

all

an order of men, given

this, there is

Church,

set

apart for the special purpose

of ministering in his house, and ofpreaching


The ministers of
the Gospel of his Son.
truly

tion,

if

their

work by

his

holy

ed by his authority.
sionary effortj
is

made

it

successful

of God.

go

Spirit, as

This

is

his

by

his

furnished

forth,

men

reconciliafor

well as commission-

chosen method of mis-

has been selected

mean of evangelizing
ted, if

God,

of

called

to all

by

his

Almighty power.

wisdom, and

Now

the nations of the earth,

this great

is

commit-

we may

say so, to the fostering care of the Church

She

under God, the mother of her ministering

is,

The Head of the Church gives them unto her for


" When he ascended on high
the work of the ministry.
he gave gifts to men: he gave some apostles, and some
prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and
sons.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

268

for the works of the ministry. "* And God is


prepared to give them in sufficient numbers, and in heavenly
teachers,

fitness, for

the perfecting of the saints, and for the conver-

whenever the Church truly asks them

sion of the world,

make

at

his hands,

and

crifices, in

order to train them, and send them forth under

is

really prepared to

the necessary sa-

the great commission, to preach the Gospel to every creature.

But

the

God,

to

tion.

Each

Church of God

give direction

man

sanctified

his graces the gifts

who

minister,

her missionary ac-

a temple of God,^'
by the Spirit, led by the
is *

and adornings of the

truly Such,

is

attended by the Spirit of

effect to

believer, as such,

a spiritual

is,

rit,

is

and

is

Spirit:

that

Spi-

and each

personally and officially

at-

tended by the Spirit: and the collective body of Christians


has the

Spirit

God

of

two, and to three,

Head

as

the midst of

this Spirit

He

of the Church; and

Church,

Holy

is

in

the divine

to

promised by the gracious

of Jesus,

and goes forth,

Even

dwells perpetually in the

representative

Paraclete and Guide

it.

as

her

" without mea-

sure," amidst the administrations of the Gospel to convince

men

of sin, and to convert

of the Gospel, that


that the

Church

is

it is

them unto God.

inhabited and attended

Thus

eth unto

an holy temple in

ple

all the

glory

by His perpetual

body fitly framed together, grow-

presence.

^^

It is the

the m.inistration of the Spirit; and

the

Lord; in whom,

are builded together for

his peo-

an habitation of God

through the Spirit, "f

And

while the Spirit of Truth

Church, as an abiding

gift,

is

thus vouchsafed to the

there *'are seasons of refreshing

from the presence of the Lord," in which


blessings

is

this greatest of

dispensed with peculiar plenitude and power;

* Ephes. iv. 8.

1112.

Ephcs.

ii.

2122.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

when

the

Holy

Spirit,

of grace, gives

by

Ofjg

a simultaneous and diffusive

new impulse

to

his people

work

in the divine

and converts great numbers of sinners unto God.

life,

These

and

special

illustrious occasions hasten, in

They

degree, the conversion of the world.

dinary means of grace; they transcend

men and

and divinely furnish

devils,

Church from on high,

an especial

outrun the or-

the resistance of

all

a faithful

and revived

for spreading to all lands the saving

knowledge of the Son of God.

We

might add, that the Church

ing institution, and


to

thus,

is

extend her influence from generation

it is

a self-perpetuat-

under the divine blessing,

equally true, ihdX success from

is fitted

to generation.

God is promised

And
to the

proper action of the Church in sending abroad the Gospel of

But we have dwelt

Christ.

sufficiently

which

on these suggestions,

show

Church

to

answer the end

is

furnished for the successful prosecution of the great

in view,

is

to

of missions, by her glorious Head.

union; she has the truth and

its

that the

work

She has numbers and

preachers; the social ordi-

nances of religion, and the time, and the opportunities, for


their public, ever-returning and successful administration;

and the Eternal

Spirit attends his truth,

effect to the calls

What

then

is

wanting,

sionary institution
divine Author in

and gives divine

and labours of the Church.

its

(to

say no more,) towards a mis-

And how apparent is the intention of its


entire constitution?

Is

it

not the very

husbandry (plantation, or nursery) of God, from which every

wind
forth

that blows should waft


its

But

it is

work

odours abroad; and carry

forest,

and

to

every

field!

time that we pass, in the third place, to consi-

der the direct


the

its

winged-seeds to every

commands of the Lord Jesus


What we infer from

of missions.

Christ, as to
the organiza-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

270

we

and furniture of the Church,

tion

learn explicitly from

work

the standing laws of Christ, that the

of missions

is

commanded duty of the Church.


admirably said by a

"Duty," (as has been


modern missionary, now in the field)*

from the command of Christ ohligation


the
authority of Christ, is the great argument
on
founded
'<

resulting

in behalf of missions. ' ^

* William Swan, Missionary in Siberia.


apposite and forcible, that

we

The

following remarks are so

cannot forbear to give them a place here

" Suppose an order issued from the highest authority in the kingdom, re-

quiring certain faithful subjects to perform a specific service in the character

commanding

of soldiers, and

all faithful

subjects generally to be aiding to the

utmost of their power in the execution of the will of their sovereign. In urging the people to obedience, what would be the most obvious, and
almost say, exclusive topic that could present

itself in the

unquestionably the authority of the command.

must not be neglected.


the loss of character
if it

be not

It is at the peril

and,
It

fulfilled.

it

may

would be

be,

must not be

It

we might

of argument ?
resisted.

It

of the sovereign's displeasure and

under the pain of condign punishment,

self-evident that

the character of a loyal subject if he disobeyed

teem and confidence of

way

no one could justly retain

and he must

his better affected brethren if

forfeit the es-

he not merely should

refuse obedience, but should attempt to justify his conduct."

" I feel that this illustration, as indeed every illustration taken from earthly

and sensible

mand
his

of the

objects,

must

kingdom and the

mortal man, and he

may

fall

paramount authority of the com-

short of the

King and Head of

the Church, in reference to the extension of

subjection of all nations to

may

Him.

An

earthly king

is

His commands

err through ignorance or passion.

be the dictates of cruelty, or imbecility, or ambition, or a wanton exer-

power

cise of

but even allowing

liis

will to be in all respects accordant to

the principles of the strictest justice and highest honour and universal bene-

volence

his subjects

can never be under such obligations

to

obey him, as

Christians are to " bring every thought into subjection to the obedience of
Christ."

And

if

any one should disregard

his authority, 1

would not endea-

vour to work upon that man's mind by any other consideration.


other arguments a place, but that place
Christ."

is

allow

a lower one than the authority of

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

The

ultimate appeal

then does

is

He command.

unto them, saying,

Ml

271

to tlie authority of

God. What
" Jind Jesus came and spake
power is given unto me in hea-

ven and in earth. Go ye, teach all 7iations, baptizing

them in
the

name of the

the

Father,

and of the

Holy Ghost; teaching them

whatsoever

Soji,

to observe all

I have commanded you, and

lo !

and of
things

I am

ivith

you always, even unto the end of the world.'' Go ye


into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved) he
that believeth not shall be damned.''
to them, thus
suffer,

and

it is

<<

Jlnd he said un-

and thus it behoved

written,

to rise from the

Christ to

dead the third day; and that

and remission of sins should be preached in


name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem;
and ye are witnesses of these things."^ Such is the lan-

repentance
his

guage of standing, sovereign law.


true, to but a little band; but

it

was

It

and

interest in Christ,

Christ; and he

who would

tion, shuts himself out

runs to the

last

of the Lord:

day

for

who

it

rect and official

to all

who

from the blessings


last

comprehends

work

It

of

^^

all

man.
the

it

its

obh"ga-

announces.

It is

It

the great law

Though

rest.

all

ever heard of

excuse himself from

and the

it is

extends to

the Church, and the entire Church.

have an

was addressed,

to the Church, and

the di-

preaching the Gospel" regards

especially the ministers of Christ, yet the ministers must

spring from the Church; they must be sent forth by the

Church; and the only choice of every one

in the

Church,

is

between going or sending; between preaching the Gospel,


or causing

it

to be preached.

* Matt, xxviii.

1820.

38

Mark

It is

xvi.

under law, the royal law,

1516.

Luke

xxiv.

4648.

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

272
that the

Church of God

soever shall

How

then

call

shall

they

have not heard? and

And how

Now

required to do

on him

call

whom

in

For who-

shall

be saved.

they have not

they believe in him of

shall

how

shall

whom

they

they hear without a preacher?

they preach, except they be sent?^^

shall

the whole duty comprehends

to its constituent character,

necessary to

^<

this.

upon the name of the Lord

how

believed? and

is

its

all

the parts essential

and the end includes the means

accomplishment.

Therefore, as they can-

not hear without a preacher, nor preach except they be

they cannot be sent, except they be trained.

sent, so

Church must do

others Tnay train them, the


against the fundamental

may

law of the kingdom.

train them, she alone, in her

official

If

or sin

it,

If others

character, can

ordain them for the work of the ministry; and she cannot
divest herself

any more of the duty

to send

them

forth,

than she can alienate, or delegate to another, her ordaining

her love and duty to her risen Lord.

rights, or

While
Christ

all

as to the

the people of

God

agree that the Church of

thus bound to send forth the Gospel, they differ

is

form

of doing

Some

it.

prefer the action of the

Church, as such, in her ecclesiastical organization; while


others choose an association, (unhappily denominated voluntary, since the ecclesiastical is

voluntary too,) not

officially

the Church, nor the ordaining body, nor directly constituted

by

it,

great end.

AND TO DO
will

do

it.

or responsible to

it;

but formed for the same

The most important part is to do the work,


AT ONCE; and none but God's people ever

IT

But surely

perly done, since on

it

it is

also important, that

will, in

it

be pro-

a great measure,

depend

both the speed and the efficiency of the service.

It will

not be denied, that the Church, as such, ought to do what

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.
she can in this cause; and

we

suppose

273
will be allowed,

it

that if her ecclesiastical action be equally good,

be preferred to any other form.


acts,

And

it

ought to

as the preliminary

such as receiving the candidate for the ministry into

her communion, ordaining him for the work of the ministry, &c. are peculiar to the

Church, so there would seem

to

be a special fitness and unity in her carrying forward the


entire
is,

work, from

And

first to last.

publication of the Gospel,

the agents and

direction,

accomplished.
rily unfits

then

it

we

it

work

should think

that Church,

and

its

it

without

it,

institution,

is

to

be proper, re-

by which

the operations

it

is

any Church necessa-

of missions, in

its

proper person,

time to question the authority of

conformity to the principles of Gospel

Not

constitution and order.

sionary action

as such,

for the universal

to subordinate to her ultimate

If the organization of

for the

God

would seem

and even obligatory,

quisite,

Church,

as the

without a question, responsible to

that

mere adaptation

to mis-

an evidence of this conformity; but to be

seems incompatible with the very genius of an

which has been organized and commissioned

for

the conversion of the world.

To

convince us that the organized Church can do the

work,

we

need not look beyond the very striking spe-

cimens afforded
circuit

abroad.

system

to the

at

world

home, or

in the

Methodist Episcopal

that of the

While we consider

neither of these schemes a

perfect model, yet they stand forth to the

and admiring Christendom,

United Brethren

illustrious

view of reproved

examples of what

the Church, in her organized form can do, to save the

world. Especially do
unparalleled

we

admire, while

self-devotion

we

gaze upon

it,

and attendant success of

labours of our Moravian brethren.

They

the
the

pitched their

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

274

open

tents in the

enemy

plain, like

two

them, and they have sent through

Him

flocks of kids, before an

little

But God was with

that well nigh filled the world.*

in

all

the earth the praises of

May they never

whose name they have prevailed.

supreme

loose that godly simplicity, that


terested self-denial

faith, that disin-

and holy love, which have made the

page that records their labours, the most brilliant in the


history of missions!

In regard to our

we have been

that

doing good.

in

The

system.
it,

in

own

institutions,

we

freely

But the

defect has been in us, not in our

organization of the Presbyterian

no ordinary measure, for combined and

The

to an unlimited extent.
siastical bodies,

gradation of

Church

fits

efficient action,

its

various eccle-

through the whole line of which the great

principle of representation runs, renders


ble to usurp

acknowledge

from realizing our hopes or our duty

far

it

power, and entirely so to hold

continued responsibility of

its

next to impossiit

long: and the

peculiar institutions to the

whole Church, gives unity, without consolidation, and


secures supervision, without impairing efficiency.

One reason why we

are so earnestly desirous that our

Church should be occupied


in the

in

conversion of the world

must exert upon


spirit of the

its

various

people at large.

her ecclesiastical character


the happy influence

is,

official

it

bodies, as well as on the

The very name by which we

are accustomed to define them, Church-courts," indicates


that

they have been too exclusively devoted to conducting

business and directing discipline, in contradistinction to the


specific

work

Again;

if

of missions.

others feed, and clothe, and train, and establish

* 1

Kings XX.

27.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

075

our children, and leave to us only the duty of governmcnl

may

and of the rod, our children

give to our authority a

cold assent, but their hearts will flow out after their bene-

The

factors.

in blessing

parent's sweetest privilege,

them,

discipline also

is

is

which

give to his children.

to

But these

a duty.

rable; they are wisely

him

blesses

In

place,

its

are relative and insepa-

and mercifully blended

in the

same

person; and are necessary to the right support of the respec-

And

tive relations of parent and child.

ministry, and of our

so

it is

with the

For the sake of our candidates

ecclesiastical relations.

for the

bodies, as well as for the sake of

official

the people, these great duties, joined together by God, ought

never

to

The bodies who

be put asunder by man.

benevolent institutions, both directly and


sion, if properly

act in these

in general supervi-

engaged in them, would

find

their

it

most

it

would bind

our youth and the people in love and confidence

to the judi-

pleasant, honoured, and useful occupation; and

catures of the Church, while


siastical

* It

is

body an

due

apostolical

to ourselves,

it

would make every

eccle-

assembly for doing good. *

and the noble

institutions of

our age and land,

which have arisen in aid of the various benevolent operations of the day,
here explicitly to declare, that

we do most

cordially approve

them

that

we

think them highly necessary, as well as greatly useful, and that they can no

more be dispensed

witli

by the several great families of the ChurcJi of God,

than each family can dispense with


order.

its

peculiar institutions and ecclesiastical

Without interference with the proper action of the Church, as such,

they sustain the union, and extend the influence of the people of God, and
afford a fine moral demonstratior^of the truth of Christianity
all

may

be one in us
xvii. 17.

" that they

may

be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also
:

that the world

And wo

sister institutions,

may

believe that thou hast sent me."

John

are equally far from intending to assail those valuable

which are now carrying forward

in our

own Church, by

voluntary associations, the work of missions, either foreign or domestic, or

of education for the ministry.

Their existence

is

called for

by the present

cir-

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

276

But however

question

this

may

be settled, as to the

of the service, (in the discussion of which

form

already been too long engaged,) the

Nothing can be more

the Church of the living God.

or urgent, than the divine

and we need rather

to

command

clear

respecting this duty;

be incited, with

all

than to be reasoned with in evidence of


it

we have

work must be done by

speed to obey

it,

obligation.

Is

its

borne in mind by the people of God, that obedience to

this standing

law

is

a discriminating test of our fidelity

devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ

my

If

and

ye love me, keep

own affecting standard of Chriscan we love him, and yet forget


or violate his great, his last command?
To this, he set the
seal of his own blood in death. To this, he added the sanction of divine authority and power, when he arose from
the dead.
In this, all other commands centre.
The sercommandments,

vice

it

enjoins

dence, the
this is

is

is

work

in the direct line of the operation of provi-

when he ascended on
command, not only
In a word,

and

high, he appointed obedience to this

as the test of his people's love, but as

supreme method of doing honour

man.

To

of redemption, and the glory of God.

appended, the overwhelming condition of heaven or

the decisive alternative of redemption or ruin;

hell,

the

his

And how

tian character.

however our

to

Him, and good

to

patient and injured

Lord

may have borne with the ignorance and lethargy of


now that channels for missionary charity and

other

ages,

effort

cumstances of the Church


cntiro resources

and mutual

and peace

toleration.

their continuance is necessary to call out its


will be best secured,

But yet we

Church are binding on her and her people


to the

end intended

exist in

its

by the

spirit

of an'enlarged

insist that the organizations


;

of the

that they are peculiarly adapted

and without them the Presbyterian Church cannot long

present form.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.
are opened to our very doors,

then lands

all

277

from the most

disregard of this great law,

distant

is to

a deliberate

and continued

dience

prevent Christ's kingdom from being

is to

the world,

it is

no

less

sin;

and

Hea-

he esteemed

as the effect of disobeset

up

in

than high treason against the Son of

God.

While the authority of God


missionary

considerations,

an inquiry as

is

the supreme reason for

yet there are other and most affecting

effort,

which cannot properly be omitted

in such

this.

Consider, then, in the fourth place,

The spiritual state and prospects of the Heathen,


without the Gospel.

We

here waive a discussion of the state of those

have heard the Gospel, and rejected


taking

it

for granted, that there can be

Christians as to their guilt

In our attempts

we have

its

too

who

merciful provisions,

no difference among

and exposure

to eternal death.

to assert the claims of foreign missions,

commonly taken

for granted, that the great

body of professed Christians was correctly informed as to


the spiritual condition and prospects of those

We forget that the

never heard the Gospel.

compassion are out of their


them.
is

They seldom

who have

objects of their

They seldom

sight.

When

think of them.

nothing definite or palpable before the mind as

religious state.

They

feel

hear of

they do, there


to their

vague pity for distant and

endangered nations, whose condition they would gladly


better.

But they hardly apprehend

nal ruin: they scarcely believe

think and

feel,

their exposure to eter-

And

it.

while they thus

perhaps the teachers of religion among them

shrink with a false and

fatal sensibility

exhibition of the awful subject: or

if

from the proper

they are

faithful,

the

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

278

people too often view

with suspicion as a romantic cause,

it

partaking of the nature of a religious crusade, and wasting

without profit the treasures of the Church.

But what

is

in fact the divine

testimony on this question?

following propositions no Christian can,

The

we

think,

consistently reject, viz:

That

1.

in all ages since the

fall,

the natural state of every

has been a sinful, and therefore a

man

Hence no man

2.

in

lost,

one.

any age or country can reach the

kingdom of God, without the

interposition of Jesus Christ

in his behalf.

God may

3.

interpose for the salvation of sinners, as he

does in the case of those saved in infancy,

and of those

who

word

received immediate revelations, before the written

was given.

But the decided intimations of the Bible are, that as a


great fact, Jesus Christ is revealed to adult men, through
" For whosoever shall
the ordinary means of grace alone.
4.

call

on the name of the Lord


they

shall

call

on him in

shall

whom

be saved.

How

then

they have not believed?

And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not
heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And
how shall they preach except they be sent? So then, faith
cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."*

And

that this

doubt

who

is

the clear import of this passage, none can

will look at

second proposition,
Christ.

And

all

its

connexion.

are lost

who

According

are not saved

to the

by Jesus

then the prospect of salvation to those

have not the Gospel,

is

in proportion to the probability that

Jesus Christ will save them by direct interposition.

who

Rom.

X. 13, 14,

15.17.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

5.

man

holy*

we know,

has never been found on earth, so far as

was given, who had

since a written revelation

made

not been

so

And

No

by the power of the Gospel.

no foreign missionary, has ever reported


character.

279

apostle,

a single case of this

yet they have traversed every sea, ex-

plored every country, and in some age and form, offered

Now

the Saviour to almost every nation under heaven.

allowing that

men

are

made holy

in heathen lands, without

the instrumentality of the Gospel, yet

made known
ceive

it,

when

that Gospel

is

them, would not such persons instantly re-

to

and with spiritual relish adopt

it

for their

own,

as

kindred sunbeams mingle into one? But no such persons have


ever been found, since a written revelation was given, unless
indeed Cornelius, the centurion, be considered an example.

Allowing him

that

to

But the

men!

be such,

how

sadly solitary

memorable occasion,

that Cornelius

the speci-

is

sermon on

apostle distinctly declares in his

and his household

were already acquainted with God's written revelation to


the Jews; with the doctrine and baptism of John; and with

the

work and ministry

The
the

of the Son of God.t

inhabitants of the

Sandwich

nearest appjjpach to this.

though ignorant of Christianity.


sionaries arrived, they found

having no

made perhaps

islands

They

abolished

But when

idolatry,

Christian mis-

them unholy and degraded men,

taste for a spiritual religion,

and like

sinners, needing the renovating grace of

God

to

for heaven: and any previous changes had been

all
fit

little

other

them

more

than the wearing out of an obsolete, impure, and idolatrous

We

use this word, of course, in the Gospel sense

not to

mean

perfect,

but religiously dedicated to God, and delivered from the dominion of sin.
t

Acts

X.

.3639.

39

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

280
religion,

which had been outgrown by

made no response
Again;

if

their wants,

and

to their cry for succour.

such cases of salvation without the Gospel

were numerous enough

to justify the pleasing

hope of an

extensive redemption, surely out of hundreds of millions of

men, and through a

multitudes would be

series of ages,

found exhibiting the evidences of having

Such cases

as Job,

felt its influence.

and Jethro, and Lot, and Melchisedec,

and Abraham, might be looked

for in

But no

every land.

we know,

missionary or apostle, as far as

has been ever

While then

cheered by the discovery of a single case.

the

that loves the

may be redeemGod through Christ, yet


Saviour, or the souls of men, would make

this the exclusive

ground, or in any degree the ground, on

hope

still

trembles in our breasts, that some

ed by the direct interposition of

who

which

heathen?

to rest the salvation of the

Or who

that

believes the word of God, would suspend his own eternal


life upon such a condition? With these overwhelming facts
in

full

view,

we

are in

some measure prepared

to under-

stand and feel the urgency of those motives which press us


to send forth the Gospel, as

"on the wings

to the uttermost parts of the earth

the meaning of our Master

when he

require their blood at our hands,

ous duty to them.


us,

we may

if

Here, with the

of the morning,"

E^re we may know

tells us, that

he will

we neglect our momentmap of the world before

survey whole continents immersed in Pagan

darkness, and count the innumerable millions of heathen


population; and looking up into heaven and

may
set

calculate the

on our own.

worth of

He who

all

their souls

can look

spectacle, cannot be a Christian,

pathies

common

to all the race.

and

is

down

into hell,

by the value we

unmoved

at

such a

devoid of the sym-

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

281

In fine, there is one view, in which all Christians can


meet, and which directly transfers this awful subject from
our sympathies, to our consciences, and identifies our personal interests, in

some degree, with the

the heathen world.

It is this, that

state

and prospects of

however we

settle in

our

own minds the question of their condition in a future world,


our own will, in a degree, depends upon the way we feel and
act and give for their salvation: and God has declared, that
when we withhold the Gospel from them. He will treat us
precisely as

if

they were

lost;

and

lost

by our

disobedience.

Consider, in the fifth place, in affecting contrast with


the last view, the very limited extent of Christianity in
the world. It

of

this,

is

not

but into the

now

our place to inquire into the cause


It

fact.

may

passing, to remark, that the cause

be proper, however, in

is

chiefly to be sought in

But

the inefficiency of the Christian Church.


the fact, no one can doubt,

who

that such

is

acquainted with the

is at all

many ages
which have elapsed since the command was given to make
Christianity universally known, how little has been done towards this result! The Church has always been kept alive

history and present state of the world.

in the world:

After the

and millions, without number, have been

saved from eternal ruin, by her instrumentality.

But the

great mass of men, in the successive generations which have

passed into eternity since the death of Christ, have been


strangers to his religion.

And

even

in this age of the world,

not one-fourth part of the population of the earth have even

heard of the Saviour of sinners.

Look

at

the whole conti-

nent of Africa, lying under the thick darkness of

Mahome-

dan delusion, or of pagan superstition: converted by Christian America and Christian Europe into a
a market,

where men are bought and

sold!

field

of blood,

Look

at India,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

282

What

and China, and the Islands of the Sea.

has been done

toward giving them the Gospel? The whole force of our missionaries abroad, if distributively disposed,

ford a
sion,

pastor

on

for a nation;

world

would scarcely af-

and the points of their impres-

in ruins, break at distant intervals

on the

view,
" Like sunny

islets, in

a stormy sea,

Like specks of azure, in a cloudy sky."

At

this

moment, the race

as such

may

be said to be

still

revolted, lost race; and at the present speed of our efforts


for

its

recovery, though greatly accelerated in latter years,

the world will never be saved!

VI. Our next suggestion

is,

that the best interests of the

Church of Christ at home require her to be actively enthe work of missions.


What we mean to say is, that the Church, as well as the

gaged in

world, gains by this service; and that


to the healthful action of the

Church,

it is

as

even

it is

as necessary

to the salvation

of the world.

One

of the most extraordinary facts in the history of the

present age

name

is,

that a grave attempt had been

made,

in the

of religion, to prove that the Church and the domestic

field are in

danger from an excessive issue of foreign mis-

sionaries.

We

regret that

we

cannot present in

a tabular

view, the number of evangelical ministers in the world


are labouring in

amount of
the

what

who

is

called the domestic field, with the

their hearers

on the one hand, and on the other

number of

evangelical missionaries, with the

amount of

heathen population in the world.


In such a view, the disparity would be

unspeakably great and awful.

By

made

the scale

it

to

appear

afforded us,

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

more

283

millions would be assigned to each foreign missionary,

than the same number of thousands to each pastor at home.

would be found

It

into a

that the ministers of Christ

few corners of the

desolations

earth, while the

was surrendered

self-devotion of a

little

we

send so

shall feel too

many

were crowded
field

of pagan

holy daring and generous

to the

At

band of foreign missionaries.*

ihe present time, therefore, there


that

wide

much

no ground for the fear

is

interest in the foreign field, or

damage the domestic

ministers abroad as to

* The following remarks, from the pen of the lamented and extraordinary
youth, John Urquliart, are so admirable and appropriate, that \vc cannot for-

bear their insertion here in a note.


" Let us imagine, that instead of the world, a single country had been

pointed out by our Lord as the


liar

with our

fied

was

own

the island of Great Britain

to

go through

and

since

we

that, instead of the

and preach the Gospel

forth to all nations,

been

And

of action.

field

are most fami-

land, let us just suppose, that the particular country speci-

to

command

to

go

every creature, the order had

the counties of this island, and preach the Gospel to

all

every inhabitant. I find that on a scale which would

make

the population of

Great Britain represent that of the world, the population of Mid Lothian
sufficiently accurate representation of the population of

might be taken as a
our

own

"In

land.

order, then, to have a just picture of the present state of the world,

only conceive that


other,

all

had contrived

single county.

who had

to

Imagine

England immersed

received the above commission,

to yourselves all the other divisions of Scotland

in heathen darkness

had so unaccountably happened


effort

was made

some how or

gather themselves together within the limits of this

to settle

down

together in one

little spot,

to evangelize the rest of the land, except by collecting a

money, and sending

forth

two or three

and

and that by these Christians who

itinerants, to

no

little

walk single handed

through the length and breadth of the country.


" I shall be

told,

however, that illustration

have our views been on

this subject, that

perfect caricature of the matter.


It is
it

But

is

you

not argument

and so distorted

will be disposed to think this

deny that

merely a representation on a reduced scale

this is

and

an

I believe

to be a correct representation of the state of the world."

illustration at alL

you

will find

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

284
work.

The wonder only

that

is,

any one acquainted with

the history of missions, should apprehend such a result even

A blush

in a distant futurity.

of shame would seem a

much

more appropriate concomitant of such a history than idle


and ill-omened auguries about the danger of excess in our
efforts for the

It is

heathen.

one of the most striking and merciful features in the

constitution of Christian character, that duty and our best in-

" Do

terests are inseparably blended.

" do good unto

all

men," meet

We

you."

shall be given unto

give and

*'

do ourselves harm, when

wisdom

refuse to do others good, and

thyself no harm,"

in the result,

it

we

unites with love and

duty, in prompting us to seek the salvation of our fellow-

men.

It is

grace,

*'

It is

the great law of moral action in the

that

it is

more

promised alike

Christians,

"they

be good,

to

is

abundantly.

to individuals,

and

to

kingdom of
to receive.^'

communities of

To

that water, shall be watered also."

do good: and

As

than

blessed to give

to

do good

is

to get

good more

well might the husbandman in time of

spring withhold his seed from the fallowed earth, to rescue


it

from waste,

as for us to

look for injuries to the Church

" If we sow

from the sending forth of foreign missionaries.


sparingly,

we

we

shall reap sparingly."

Did not the Jews


Christ
*' I

If

we

save the seed,

shall lose the harvest!

by refusing

Church of

lose their birthright in the

to give their religion to the Gentiles?

say, then, have they stumbled that they

forbid; but rather through their

fall,

might

salvation

is

fall?

God

come

to

the Gentiles."*
It is a

memorable

fact, that

Rom.

the corruptions of the primi-

xi. 11.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.
tive

church increased in proportion

Nor

ary enterprise.

revival of religion at

is

it

285

to the

decay of mission-

harmony, and even exact degree, with the


of foreign missions.

our day, the

less true, that, in

home, appeared and grew

It is

spirit

in perfect

and work

not necessary to determine whe-

ther this spirit be the cause or the effect of reviving religion

among

the people.

If

be the uniform

it

sence denotes religious decay;

then

is it

if it

The

a blessing to the Church.

once the cause and the

As

effect.

then

effect,

its

ab-

be the uniform cause,


truth

Christians

increased regard for God, and for their

own

is, it is

awake

souls,

at

to an

they ac-

quire also an increased regard for the well-being of other

men: they

feel a

duces increased

they

offer,

more tender and holy

An

ing heathen.

efforts for their salvation

every

they bestow,

gift

make, returns into


pression

pity for the perish-

increased interest in their welfare pro-

their

made abroad

own

is felt

bosoms.

and every prayer

every

with electric force

as Scipio raised the siege of

Rome

at the

and thus a repercussive influence

thage:

exchanged.

Let

effort

those, therefore,

who

they

Thus, every imat

home,

gates of Caris

constantly

shelter their con-

sciences against the claims of foreign missions, under the


idle

and

fallacious

home," henceforth
to

at

we have

remember that

home

is

heathen enough at

the Church cannot afford

way

to carry

to carry on missions abroad;

and that

do without the foreign

on missions
all

adage "that

field;

that the best

neglect of this great cause not only violates the last com-

mand

of Jesus Christ, and endangers the souls of innume-

rable millions of our fellow-men, but impairs the vital energies

(3f

VII.

the Church

We

itself.

remark again, that the world never

ivill be

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

jgSe

converted to God, ivithout the active

and

intentional

agency of the. Church of Christ.


It is evident from the word of God, and the

Not

the instrumentality of the people of God.

necessary on God's part; but

should be

In this

so.

same time,
he uses

as

is

if

it

frail

an

at

the

kingdom of darkness; and

already seen, the instrument which

prepared for heaven by the service which he

This plan of operation

performs.
on, but

we have

that

break the oppressor's power, and rescue the

to

oppressed,

Him

is

puts eternal shame upon

way God

destroy the

to

has pleased

it

that this

honour on his Son, by using so

Satan, and eternal

agency

past history

world never will be saved without

of Missions, that the

we may speak

so,

is

not only determined

the divine veracity

is

pledged,

and the divine honour committed, on the principle that

men, Christian men, are

The

men-

human

to take the

Gospel

to their fellow

divine influence must of course attend and bless

exertion and Gospel means.

But human agency

inseperable from the success of the arrangement.


into all the world,

and Lol

lam

and preach the Gospel

to

^'

is

Go ye

every creature;

with you alway, even unto the end of the

world!"
In

all

ages,

since the apostles

closed their illustrious

labours, the grand diificulty has been to induce

their part in this great work.

Gospel by his holy providence,

Redeemer,
If

we

that of

all

has done;

may

it

the people, there

subtract from the

Christianity,

God

'^

sum

men

to

of

almost be said of the


is

none with him."*

what has been

effected for

that the course of human afiairs overruled


all

do

In the propagation of the

by

that natural generation has done; all that

* Foster.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

287

emigration and colonizing(withChristian population) heathen


lands, have done;

all

that the bringing of the heathen to the

Gospel has done;

all

that

wars and revolutions, inventions

and discoveries, and human enterprise have unintetition'


ally done; in a word,

if

we

fluences of Christianity, and

subtract

all

the indirect in-

all

the overruled events of the

world, from what has been done for the cause of Jesus, then

how much

Now

will remain?

by

these agencies, and indeed

all

verse of agencies,

is

the great

on the work of Redemption.

which

steadily sets in

world,

is

the navigator

work

But the

with the

by the whole

uni-

of the Church carrying


tide of providence,

eonversion of the

final

only the stream on which the "tall and goodly

vessel" of the Gospel

of Jesus

Head

fill

man

the

of the

sail.

and

to reach its desired

Heretofore,

if

is

we may

so speak, the

the Church;

required to carry forward the

God demands

of us that

haven,

as well as the Spirit

Lord has been carrying forward

but .the Church


the Lord.

floats:

must take the helm,

we

work

of

give not only an

overruled and indirect assistance (for that he extorts even

from his

foes,) but that

positive, direct,

and

VHL We proceed

to

we

should co-operate with

him

in

intentional instrumentality

remark, that a crisis appears now

to have been arrived at, in the history of the world, in

which

it

Church
of

is

peculiarly important for

to bear

the heathen.

with

all her resources

the

Christian

on the conversion

In a somewhat inverted application of

the apocalyptic symbol, a

" voice" seems

from the temple of God, saying, thrust

to

" come

in the sickle

forth

and

reap, for the time to reap has come; for the harvest of the

earth

is

ripe."

40

The

spirit of the

age

is

ripe for action, for

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

28a
it

is

and

ripe, if well directed, not

is

public

It is a

a spirit of extraordinary enterprise.

spirit also,

only for action,

but for combined action, on a scale of noble daring and subIt is an age of
lime extent, hitherto unknown on earth.
revolution; and

provement
ing
<<

it is

ripe not only for change, but for im-

While the God of providence

too.

of nations must be

nations, the desire

all

While he removes diadem

crown

after crown,'^*

hand.

diadem, and takes

after

He must

shak-

is

at

be near whose right

it

off
is

to rule.

And

then our

the universal diffusion of the

facilities for

Gospel, are great and manifold, to a most surprising extent.

By

the

all

nations,

by the

by

power of the
arts,

spirit

press,

by

all

by the general

great rival systems of religion, and

is

commerce of the

and growth of liberty, by the decay of the

the heathen world, as well as

Gospel,

the

by arms, by the progress of improvement,

the

way

by

ajl

Lord prepared before

of the

state of

the provisions of the


us,

and our

long delay reproved.

And

again, every step

conded and sustained.

we

our hopes, has attended our


a

take seems to be divinely se-

Success beyond our


efforts,

above

and beckoned us on

more devoted and extended work of

which seemed

faith,

missions.

a rock has sent forth gushing waters,

to

That

when

smitten by the rod of the Gospel herald, in the Redeemer's

name.
us, or

Nations have thrown away their idols to receive

have given them up

at

our bidding; while other na-

tions are inviting us to come, and


sail

weep when

a Christian

appears, bringing no Bibles and no missionaries.

a reproving providence,

Ilaggai

And

opening a way for the Gospel to

iii. 7.

Ezekiel xxi. 27.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.
mankind, seems
^'

339

to say, in the voice of all

operations,

its

go forward, go forward," to the lingering, hesitating

Church.

The next

IX.
try.

It is this:

suggestion has reference to our

the concomitant spirit of the people, fit


liar

manner

missions.
stitutional

own

coun-

and

that the genius of our institutions,

to receive

There

with favour appeals in behalf of

exists in the

sympathy

them in a pecu-

bosom of

the people a con-

and a fervid

for oppressed nations,

desire to impart to others the blessings


It is, in this respect, a nation

which we enjoy.

of philanthropists; a deposi-

tory of civil and religious liberty for the population of the

we may

Here, then,

earth.

successfully approach

the guardians of the Bible for other lands.


a national

highway

transition,

though

to

elevated freedom; to

We

may

easy to

the

delicate,

of the

hearts
is

not

resist,

as

people.

The

more

difficult,

to

more pure and enduring

say to them with a force which

them

Here we have

it

blessings.

will not be

you, the people of this happy land, who, in

the noble disinterestedness of freemen and of brethren,


exult in the political independence of Spanish America, in

the emancipation of injured Greece, and the rising liberties

of France; you

who welcome with

enthusiastic hospitality

the arrival on your shores of the oppressed Irishman and


the persecuted Pole;

you who pant and pray

for universal

freedom, and delight to impart the blessings of your national republican institutions to

you

stifle

plead

an admiring world; will

the convictions which rise up in your breasts to

for the rights of

man?

Can you withhold from

heathen nations the covenant of their

bury

in

your rusting

coffers their

spiritual peace,

and

heavenly citizenship and

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

290
their eternal

and the

freedom?

spirit of

And

American

if

such

is

citizens,

the feeling of freemen

what ought we not

to

look for from the Christians of America, upon whose


hearts have been superinduced the unearthly influences and
resistless appeals of eternal truth

and holy love!

it is a missionary spirit which we need in


Church of God, in order to give her the proper efficiency in the work of missions. By this we mean a spirit

X. Finally;

the

of supreme devotion to the divine Redeemer; a spirit in

unison with the end for which the Saviour died; a spirit

which properly estimates the value of the

soul; a spirit of

enlarged and generous love to man, and of holy pity to the


perishing heathen.
religion,

In a word,

This

and of Jesus Christ.

tian enterprise,

which

a Christian people.

'^

is

we mean
is

the spirit of true

the spirit of Chris-

attributed in ancient

The people

that

be strong, and shall do exploits."

know

prophecy to

the

It is this

Lord

shall

which burnt

with holy and consuming ardour in the great apostle's


breast,

when he

declared,

<

only, but also to die for the

am

name

ready not

of the

to

be bound

Lord Jesus."

<'

have strived to preach among the Gentiles, where Jesus

was not named, the unsearchable riches of Christ."* Under


the influence of such a spirit as this, a

and of movements would

new

arise, altogether

order of

and long tolerated standard of the Christian Church.

men
The

as Paul,

men

above the tame

Such

and Luther, and Whitfield would re-appear.

sons of thunder would again fulminate upon the na-

tions,

and the sons of consolation again pour into the weary

and heavy laden hearts of pagan men, the

* Acts xxi. 13.

Romans

xv. 20.

oil

Ephesians

of Gospel joy

iii.

8.

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

The

and gladness.

might of God, and


transcend

would

heroic heralds of the cross, clad in the

with the

fired

human

all

nations,

and

would hasten with the Gospel


fly

human
dying

to the

through the earth as avant couriers of the

A few such

approaching King of Kings.*

home and

would

spirit of missions,

calculations; impatient of delay, they

outstrip the tedious and timid expedients of

policy; they

men

as tliese at

abroad, would kindle the whole Church of Christ

into one broad blaze of light;

every

291

would

call

out into action

and every temporal resource; and

spiritual energy,

cause a resistless enginery of Gospel means, to bear upon


the entire destruction of heathenism.
It has

been the uniform

and even with ridicule from

The

the weak, the selfish, and the over cautious.


called profane,

meet

fate of all great enterprises to

in their origin with resistance

and even mad, the

first

ancients

brave mariner

who

ventured out to sea: Columbus was for almost an age an un-

heeded suppliant
asked

at their

NEW WORLD
ing, the

European

hands the permission

Our own

So

it

princes, though he

to present

them with

glorious revolution was, at

wonder of one

the other.

Even

at the feet of

its

dawn-

half mankind, and the derision of

has been with the missionary enterprise.

at the present day,

it is

the by-word of

prudent^^ of this world; and a great

*^

the wise and

number of professed

Christians, preferring ease to self-denial, and thinking the


state of the

heathen so good, and the value of the Gospel

them so small, regard every such attempt as in the

last

to

de-

gree extravagant and wild.

We are aware

that this spirit, like every other,

* "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam,"


sanctified

by divine grace.

is tlie

is

liable

true missionary prinri|)lp,

when

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

292

We

to abuse.

remember the crusades of one

We are

fanatical zeal of several others.

gious knight-errants, or

through the world


adventures.

It

^*

no friends

to reli-

who

crazy cosmopolites,

travel

without wisdom to direct" in quest of

may

be worthy of remark, however, that

which such

the very attention

age, and the

counterfeits excite,

shows

the fine impression that the true missionary character


to

fitted

make, when embodied

is

the persons of such

in

no advocates of extremes on either side.

But we are
The extreme

of indifierence or of cowardice

itself; is

men

Buchanan and Martyn.

as Whitfield,

hurtful,

The extreme

tical rashness.

criminal in

is

common, and perhaps more

mere worldly expedien-

of

cy and secular policy in missions


ous enterprise.

The system

is

the work, entitled

School,"

and spurn

For Missionaries

He

on one extreme.

is

all

helps, and outfits,

and

warm
<*

is

but wild fancy.

after the Apostolical

and means, save only the

The work, on
is

This

is

quite exces-

its

own

the contrary, entitled

quite as extreme on the other side.

plan of operation which

astrous in

author of

destined to live only in the fervours of his

Hints on Missions,"

The

The

would storm the world,

vagrant and unfurnished missionary.


sive,

presumptu-

as evil as

of the Jesuits was as fatal as

the spirit of the crusaders to true religion.


^'

more

than that of fana-

it

suggests would be

more

dis-

consequences, because not speculative and im-

practicable like the other, but mainly secular, and requiring

only secular

men

to

promote

it.

The

author would civilize

and colonize the world into Christianity; he would make a

mere business-matter of
tions; in a

giviiig Christianity to

heathen na-

word, he would so adjust things, that the world

grow up into Christianity.


Now, the medium between these extremes is the true Gos-

should

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

No

pel plan.

scheme abounds so much

293
wisdom,

in practical

and powerful means, directly adapted

produce the

to

in-

tended end, as the Gospel method of converting the world.

And
is

the spirit of missionary enterprise of which

that divine influence

and impelled

The

by which man

speak,

to spread this salvation.

great agents must be the ministers of reconciliation,

sent out into

the world, under the supreme dominion of

all

the people of the Lord,

this spirit:

not to go, yet

if

they possess this

heaven by their intercessions, and

who

cannot, and ought

spirit will

help them in

On

such a

will " shed his selectest influences;" a resistless

attend every effort directed

by

by

their

spirit

God

power

will

in heathen lands

manifold and abounding charities.

effort

we

once qualified

is at

this spirit;

and

would succeed universal impression.

to universal

Thus

the pro-

mises of the Gospel would travail in the birth of nations,

and soon a renovated world would people the Church, and


a glorified

Church would people heaven.

We have pursued these suggestions so far,


is left for

the application

that little

which we had intended of

room

this dis-

cussion.

It

may seem in

strong contrast to some of our remarks, yet


to say, that

prophecy,

by general consent, represents the conversion of

the world

it is

in perfect consistency

as near at hand.

who were

with them,

When the

about to

flee

Apostle Paul assured the crew

out of the ship,

^*

except ye abide in

the ship ye cannot be saved," he did not forget or disparage


the revelation of the

" There

shall

a hair shall

fall

Angel of God, who had

be no loss of any man's

life

said unto

among you;

not

And so

the

from the head of any of you."*


*

Acts

xxviii.

him,

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

294

world must soon be converted

God; but

to

The means

done by the agency of man.

must be

this

are no less neces-

sary and certain than the end; and as in order of time, they

must precede, and by divine appointment bring

about, so

it

nothing ever can nor ever will be done without their proper

When

use.

"Daniel understood by the books" of divine

prophecy, that a time was set for the restoration of

he

at once,

and for that reason, betook himself to the work

of intercession for the predicted deliverance.

not that the conversion of the world

is

If

it

God

and we expect

has said

it,

therefore

it is

true;

not only certainly, but soon.

it

were

a predicted and pro-

mised event, who could believe that

word,

Israel,

ever will occur! But

In order to

it

this,

at his

how-

ever, Christians must begin to feel, and pray, and labour,

and give and make

sacrifices, in far

another style; and great

events must succeed each other, with a celerity and effect


heretofore

unknown on

The

earth.

last forty years,

com-

pared with the centuries past, have been distinguished by

many
But

such events; and

in these

may

be a type of the years to come.

few years just before

The

us, the

world and the

God must be
dew of the morning; and they must grow
in stature, as they augment in numbers. The irreconcileable
enemies of God may expect to perish with accelerated speed,
and great terror. As it is written, "one woe is past, and
Church must

live

very fast.

friends of

multiplied like the

behold, there
the third

come two woes m.ore hereafter; and, behold

woe cometh quickly. ^^

One most cheering

characteristic of the present crisis

the increasing union of the people of God.


spirit of

enlargement that

many

of our

ning,

perhaps,

national

with

now

Another

is

is,

the

possesses and distinguishes

benevolent

only a very

institutions.

distant

Begin-

regard to so

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

295

great a work, Ihey have imperceptibly, and even rapidly,

been led on by the finger of God, until

now

the Bible, and

the Tract, and the Sunday-school, and the Temperance, and


the Mariner's Societies have, in succession, passed the limits

of our

own

of action.

country, and taken the world for their theatre

It is a

heavenly token

too, that

God is j)Ouring

out his Spirit upon our missionary labours and institutions abroad; thus setting his approving seal to the work,
and,
the

by divine

God

interposition, giving evidence of his being

of the Bible, and the

the most important of

all

God

of the race.

the tokens for good

God's method of converting th^ world,


of the Gospel, has begun

a great

youth have dedicated themselves

word

is this,

still

that

viz. the j)r caching

to take its true place in the re-

gards of the Church of God;

home and

And

number of devoted

to the

honoured work,

at

abroad; and the earth seems preparing to hear the

of the Lord.

Who,

then, will dare to slumber at such

Who will dare to shut up his bowels of comWho will hoard God's treasure, when the
Who will refuse, when God
may
be in
souls
life of
Who will
calls him from on high, to come up to his help
here am I, send me?'' Did Christ Jesus
refuse to say,
a time as this

passion

now?

it }

.^

*'

pour out his soul unto death


fuse to give our substance

every hesitating heart


speaking from heaven,

for us,

and

we now reunto Him? To

shall

or ourselves

seem

to hear an

injured Saviour

'^If thou altogether holdest thy

peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise

from another

place; but thou shall be

destroyed."^

The

organization, the numbers, the character, and the in-

fluence of the Presbyterian

Church

* Esther

41

iv.

14.

in

the United States

SPRUCE STREET LECTURES.

296
have
the

She has not met

of foreign missions.

cause

reasonable hope.

She has not acted on

way worthy

avowed

of her

fessed love to

by her

the expectation of a noble effort

justified

allegiance to

this

this subject in a

God, of her pro-

man, and of her pure and powerful witness

to the truth at

Her

home.

disregard of foreign missions

has been in singular contrariety to the promptitude and effect

with which she has sustained each great domestic enter-

have in succession

prise in behalf of Christianity, as they

At

presented themselves before her.

this

moment every

Presbytery in the Church (and they amount to more than

one hundred) ought, on a general average,

provide

to

one foreign missionary, and then to sustain him in the


field

of his labours.

Whether our lethargy on

this subject

from the want of missionary organization in the

result

bosom of the Church, or from the


criminal want of a missionary

more

still

public sin to confess and to forsake.

ned; and

we had

all

and

all

a great

The Church

has sin-

we her ministers have sinned

high time that

distressing

we have

spirit,

still

repented of this

more.

sin,

It is

and evin-

ced the soundness of our repentance by a due and deep re-

Then

form.

let

every minister awake, and

ber awake, at the

let

every

mem-

of the divine Redeemer, to regard

call

the claims of the dying Heathen?

To

the youth of our

the Gospel

we

which, under God,


shall rescue

Church who

are preparing to preach

especially look for that Christian enterprise,


shall rouse the energies of the

her venerated name from reproach

and bear her heavenly charities

to

young brothers

who

in the

Lord,

heathen lands.
are

Church;

among men;

To

standing on the

threshold of the most elevated and most awful of


trusts,

we would most

affectionately

these

say

take

human

not your

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.

297

standard of action from your fathers and elder brethren in

Shame covers our

the ministry.

faces

when we

turn them

towards the continents, where darkness and death eternal

Pause before you

reign.

select a field of future labour;

and survey these wide and awful desolations of many geneListen to the groans of dying millions as they as-

rations!

cend

to

Count not your own

heaven!

in comparison of their eternal

lives dear to you,

Come

good!

your sacred shades of study and devotion


hearts

anew in

to

kindle our

Come! not only to

this great service!

us, but lead us to that field to which the finger of

rects you,

and the wail of perishing nations

Finally.

in a

calls

point

God

di-

you!

In associating ourselves with the empire of God,

as agents in this great


tion, that

from

forth

we

work,

it is

are a spectacle to

most

men and

affecting considera-

angels: that

we

public world, which has been selected by God,

live
as a

theatre for the display of the most sublime and awful events
in the history of the universe.
to the entrance of sin into

ruin,

on the one hand

We allude more especially

with

it,

all its

train of death,

and the method of

the other, by the death of the Son of God.

which
its
is

is

going forward,

issue all beings

now

its field, is

all

creatures

have an

THEN, THAT

a jjart; in

Our world, which

appointed of God, to be the tomb of

and the trophy of Divine Redemption.

on such a stage?

In the contest

may have

interest.

Oh

WE ARE

and

destruction on

its

And

are

distinction full of terror!

COMPASSED ABOUT WITH SO

we
<<

sin,

actors

Seeing

GREAT A CLOUD

OF WITNESSES, LET US LAY ASIDE EVERY WEIGHT, AND THE SIN

THAT DOTH MOST EASILY BESET


TIENCE THE RACE THAT
JESUS."

IS

US,

AND LET

US

RUN WITH

PA-

SET BEFORE US, LOOKING UNTO

ADDENDUM

42

Dr. Miller's celebrated Lecture on " The utility and importance of Creeds

and

Confessions,''^

reference
ter.

As

is

made

it falls

Lectures,"

it

has been out of print for a considerable time.


to

it,

and, especially of late,

This Lecture unquestionably adds


Ed.

much

Frequent
sought

af-

Spruce Street

has been deemed advisable to supply the demand, by giving


;

with a view

has carefully revised, and somewhat enlarged

volume.

has been

in so happily with the general scope of the "

a place, as an addendum, in this volume

dix."

it

much

it,

and

to the

it

to

which, the author

also

added the "Appen-

worth and

utility

of the

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE OF CREEDS AND


CONFESSIONS:

AN

INTRODUCTORY LECTURE,
DEUVERED

AT THE OPENING OF THE SUMMER SESSION OF THE THEOLOGICAL


SEMINARY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH,

PRINCETON,

N.

J.

JULY

2,

1824.

7^BY SAMUEL MILLER,

D.D.

Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government in said Seminary.

In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis

libertas, in

omnibus charitas."
Jiugustin.

SECOND EDITION,
REVISED AND ENLARGED BY THE AUTHOR FOR THIS WORK.

PHILADELPHIA:
PUBLISHED BY RUSSELL & MARTIEN,
9

GEORGE STREET.

1833.

AN

INTRODUCTORY LECTURE,

&c.

BELOVED CANDIDATES FOR THE HOLY MINISTRY,

The

character and situation of one

who

is

the Sacred Office, are interesting beyond the

guage

Such an one,

to express.

professes to love and serve,

again of

many

In

in Israel.''

Master

like the

"set for the

is

all

that

he

preparing for

power of

is,

fall

and

lan-

whom

he

and rising
in

all

that

he does, the temporal and eternal welfare, not only of himbut of thousands,

self,
is

beset with perils.

may

On every

be involved.

Whatever may be

side

he

and

his talents

learning, if he have not genuine piety, he will probably be

a curse instead of a blessing to the Church.

not the only danger to which he

is

exposed.

But

this is

He may

have

unfeigned piety, as well as talents and learning; and yet,

from habitual indiscretion; from

a defect in that sobriety of

mind, which

all

every one

for novelty

which

is

is

who

so precious to

so natural to

men;

peace, and a corrupter of

self,

whatever

say,

<iit

to

and innovation, or from that love of distinction

the *^body of Christ," he

most

men, but especially

occupies a public station; from a fondness

may

after

all,

instead of edifying

may become
its

a disturber of its

purity; so that

we might

be the result with respect to

had been good for the Church

if

al-

him-

he had never

been born."

Hence
is

it is,

that every part of the character of

coming forward

to the

him who

holy ministry; his opinions; his

temper; his attainments; his infirmities; and above

43

all,

his

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

304

character as a practical Christian;

are of

inestimable im-

portance to the ecclesiastical community of which he

Nothing

destined to be a minister.
uninteresting.
to

ino-,

it

him,

for

is

strictly speak-

<Mive to himself/' or to *^die to himself," the

would be

case

If

were possible

is

him

that pertains to

But

different.

it

is

His de-

not possible.

fects as well as his excellencies; his gifts and graces, as well

as the

weak

points of his character,

must and

will all

have

their appropriate effect on every thing that he touches.

Can you wonder, then,

that,

employed

to

conduct the edu-

cation of candidates for this high and holy office, w^e feel

ourselves placed under a solemn, nay, an awful responsi-

Can you wonder

bility?

fore

you

in

that,

having advanced a

our experience in relation to this

rish the deepest solicitude at every step

be-

little

office,

we

che-

you take?

Can

you wonder, that we daily exhort you


yourselves and your doctrine;'' and that we cease not
to <^take

entreat you, and to pray for you, that

God and

approve yourselves to

to

faithful servants

did

we

Independently of

not feel and act thus,

bility to the interests of the

we

you give
his

all

heed

to

to

diligence

Church able and

all official

obligation,

should manifest an insensi-

Church, as well

as to

your true

welfare, equally inexcusable and degrading.


It is in

provement

consequence of

this

deep solicitude for your im-

in every kind of ministerial furniture, that

we

not only endeavour to conduct the regular course of your


instruction in such a

manner

promote the great end of


seize the opportunity

all

as

we

think best adapted to

your studies; but that

we

also

which the general Lecture, introduc-

tory to each session affords us, of calling your attention to


a series of subjects,

which do not

course of our instruction.

fall

within the ordinary

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

3a5

subject of this nature will engage our attention on the

present occasion: namely,

the importance of Creeds


AND Confessions for maintaining the unity and puRiTy of the visible Church.
This

is

a subject, which,

though

properly belongs

it

to the

department of Church GovernTnent, has always been, for

want of time, omitted

in the

that division of our studies.


call

your attention

to

it,

Lectures usually delivered on

And

am

because, as I said,

induced

longs to the department committed to me; because


itself a subject

much

still

to

in

is

it

highly interesting and important; because

has been for a number of years past, and


of

now

properly be-

it

is,

it

the object

severe animadversion, on the part of latitudina-

rians and heretics; and because, though abundantly justified

by reason, Scripture, and universal experience, the spontaneous feelings of many, especially under the free govern-

ment which
against

it

is

our happiness to enjoy, rise up

in

what they deem, and are sometimes pleased

arms

to call,

the excessive ''rigour,''^ and even ^'tyranny,^^ of exacting


subscription to Articles of Faith.

my

some remarks on

the

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE OF WRITTEN CrEEDS; and

^e-

It

is

design, first, to ofler

condly, to obviate some of the more

common and

plausible

OBJECTIONS which have been urged against them by

their

adversaries.

I.

By

a Creed., or

exhibition,

in

human

Confession of Faith,

mean, an

language, of those great doctrines

which are believed by the framers of it to be taught in the


Holy Scriptures; and which are drawn out in regular order, for the purpose of ascertaining
to unite in

how

far those

who wish

church fellowship are really agreed in the funda-

mental principles of Christianity.

Creeds and Confessions

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

306

do not claim

to be in

themselves laws of Christ's house, or

enactments, by which any

legislative

set of opinions are

constituted truths, and which require, on that account, to

be received as truths

They only

among

profess to be

members

the

of his family.

summaries, extracted from the

Scriptures, of a few of those great Gospel doctrines, which

are taught

the

by Christ

summary

portant,

himself; and

which those who make

in each particular case,

and agree

to

concur in deeming im-

the test of their religious union.

make

They have no idea that, in forming this summary, they


make any thing truth, that was not truth before; or that
they thereby contract an obligation to believe, what they

were not bound by the authority of Christ

But they simply consider

fore.

to believe be-

as a list of the leading

it

which the Bible teaches, which, of course,

truths

all

men

ought to believe, because the Bible does teach them; and

which

a certain portion of the visible church catholic agree

in considering as a formula

by means of which they may

know and understand one another.


Now, I affirm, that the adoption of such
lawful and expedient, but
the

Creed

also indispensably

harmony and purity of the

visible

establishment of this position, let

me

is

not only

necessary to

Church.

For the

request your atten-

tion to the following considerations.


1.

Without

how

Creed explicitly adopted,

it is

not easy to

and members of any particular


CHURCH, AND MORE ESPECIALLY A LARGE DENOMINATION
OF Christians, can maintain unity among themselves.
see

the ministers

If every Christian

inquired,

man

felt,

were

mere insulated

individual,

who

and acted for himself alone, no Creed of hu-

formation would be necessary for his advancement in

knowledge, comfort, or holiness.

With

the Bible in his

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.


and with his eyes opened

closet,

things" which

contains, he

it

Church

is

to see the

would have

But the

ful for his edification.

case

is far

a society; a society which,

*'one body in Christ," and

Nor

one of another."

'<

that

all

wondrous

was need-

otherwise.

The

however extended,

who compose

all

307

it,

is

"members

society merely required to

is this

be one in name, or to recognize a mere theoretical union


but also carefully to maintain "the unity of the Spirit in

They

the bond of peace."

one

spirit

are exhorted to "stand fast in

They

with one mind."

"speak the same thing," and

And

mind."

this

*^

to

unity of spirit"

who

comfort and edification of those

church fellowship, as

mand
less

are

of their Master.

they be agreed?"

it

commanded

all

to

be "of one accord, of one


is as

essential to the

arc joined together in

to a

compliance with the com-

"How

can any walk together un-

is

Can

body of worshippers, com-

posed of Calvinists, Arminians, Pelagians, Arians, and Socinians, all pray,

and preach, and commune together

profit-

ably and comfortably, each retaining the sentiments, feelings,

and language appropriate

to his

denomination

would indeed make the house of God

What! can

who

those

believe the

This

a miserable Babel.

Lord Jesus Christ

to

be

God, equal with the Father, and worship him accordingly;

and

those

idolatry:
their

who

consider

all

such worship as abominable

Those who cordially renounce

own works

all

dependence on

or merit for justification before God, rely-

ing entirely on his rich grace, "through the redemption that


is

in Christ Jesus;"

and those who pronounce

liance fanatical, and man's

of hope:

own

all

such re-

righteousness the sole ground

Can persons who cherish these irreconcilably op-

posite sentiments and feelings on the most important of


subjects, unite

with edification in the same prayers,

all

listen

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

308

from Sabbath

Sabbath to the same instructions, and

to

together in comfort at the same sacramental table

might Jews and Christians worship together


temple.

They must

in the

sit

well

same

either be perfectly indifferent to the

which they are thus divided, or

great subjects on

As

all

intercourse must be productive of jarring and distress.


a discordant assembly

their

Such

might talk about church fellowship;

but that they should really enjoy that fellowship which the

Bible describes as so precious, and which the pious so


delight to cultivate,

impossible;

is

just

much

as impossible as

"that righteousness should have fellowship with unrighteousness," or " light hold

communion with

darkness, or

Christ maintain concord with Belial."

Holding these things

any church

to

guard

from that

itself

perpetual strife of feeling,

which must ensue, when

it

its

I ask, is

baleful discord, that

not of words and conduct,

if

Nay, how

neous materials?
of harbouring in

be self-evident, how,

to

is

made up

of such heteroge-

is

Church

to avoid the guilt

bosom, and of countenancing by

its fel-

lowship, the worst heresies that ever disgraced the Christian

name?

who

It is not

many who

for

enough

for attaining this object, that all

are admitted profess to agree in receiving the Bible;


call

themselves Christians, and profess to

take the Bible for their guide, hold opinions, and speak a

language as foreign, nay, as opposite, to the opinions and


language of
tians,
is

many

others,

and equally profess

to the west.

who

equally claim to be Chris-

to receive the Bible, as the east

Of those who agree

fession, the greater part

acknowledge

the whole sacred canon, as

we

in this general pro-

as of divine authority

receive

it;

while others

would throw out whole chapters, and some a number of entire

books from the volume of God's revealed

will.

The

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

309

orthodox maintain the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures;


while some

who

insist that

inspiration altogether.

they are Christians, deny their

In short, there are multitudes who,

professing to believe the Bible, and to take

it

guide, reject every fundamental doctrine which

So

was

it

in the beginning as well as

now.

Apostle declares, that some in this day,

who

for their

it

contains.

An

inspired

not only pro-

fessed to believe the Scriptures, but even to "preach Christ,"

did really preach "another Gospel," the teachers of which

he charges those

to

whom

he wrote

"accursed;"

to hold

and he assures them that there are some "heresies" so


deep and radical that they are

"damnable."

to be accounted

Surely those

who

together'' in

"church fellowship" with those who are "ac-

maintain the true Gospel, cannot

cursed" for preaching "another Gospel," and

who

"walk
espouse

"damnable heresies," the advocates of which the disci" receive into their

ples of Christ are not permitted even to

houses," or to " bid


are the

members

God speed!" How,

then, I ask again,

of a Church, to take care that they be,

according to the divine command, "of one mind," and "of

They may

who

commuto profess a belief in the Bible; nay, they may require


profession to be repeated every day, and yet may be

one way?"
nion
this

require

all

enter their

corrupted and divided by every form of the grossest error.

Such
is

a professiori,

bond of no

ship.

it

is

manifest, ascertains no agreement;

real union; a pledge of

no spiritual fellow-

It leaves every thing within the range of nominal

Christianity, as perfectly undefined, and as

much exposed

to total discord as before.

But perhaps

it

dy, that there be

will be proposed as a
di

more

clTicient

reme-

private understanding, vigilantly

act-

ed upon, that no ministers or members be admitted, but

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

310

who

those

are

known, by private conversation with them,

substantially to agree with the original body, with regard

In this way, some allege, dis-

both to doctrine and order.


cord

may

be banished, and a church kept pure and peaceful,

without an odious array of Creeds and Confessions.


this proposal, I

answer, in

ihe,

first place,

it is,

To

to all intents

and purposes, exhibiting a Creed, and requiring subscription to

it,

while the contrary

making use of

It is

insinuated and professed.

is

most rigorous

a religious test, in the

manner, without having the honesty or the manliness to

avow it.

For what matter is it,

as to the real spirit of the pro-

ceeding, whether the Creed be reduced

who

them

as a

body,

are not approved

if it

equally exclude applicants

But

to this

proposed remedy,

answer, in the second place, the question, what


ness in the faith?

members
left to

be

minds of the church members, and

registered only in the

applied by

to writing, or

however

of the church

sound-

upon by the

explicitly agreed

among

is

themselves, cannot be safely

the understanding and recollection of each indi-

vidual belonging to the

body

As

in question.

well might

the civil constitution of a Slate, instead of being committed

to

writing, be

left

to

the vague and ever varying

impressions of the individual citizens

In

it.

such a constitution,

be neither certainty nor


tailers of its articles

who

stability.

it

under

Scarcely any two re-

would perfectly agree

persons would expound

live

every one sees there could

and the same

differently at different times, as

their interests or their passions

might happen

Quite as unreasonable and unsafe,

to

say the

to bear

least,

sway.

would

it

be to leave the instrument of a church's fellowship on a similar footing.

as a

Such

nuncupative creed,

when most needed

means of quieting disturbances, or of excluding corrup-

tion,

would be rendered doubtful, and, of course,

useless.

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.


by having

most important provisions called

its

A case in

on every

side.

at all,

would be

it

which,

more

f\ir

if it

311
in question

were made operative

likely to be perverted into an

instrument of popular oppression, than to be employed as

means of sober and wholesome government.

The

inference then plainly

is,

that

no church can hope

maintain a homogeneous character;

to

no church can

be

secure either of purity or peace, for a single year; nay, no

church can effectually guard against the highest degrees of


corruption and

without some

strife,

test of truth, explicitly

agreed upon, and adopted by her, in her ecclesiastical capacity

something recorded ;

something publicly known;

something capable of being referred to when most needed

which not merely

this or that private

have been received

to

agreed

to adhere,

member supposes

but to which the church as such has

as a

bond of union.

a church, in order to maintain

and

As

to a

to

In other words,

"the unity of the

the bond of peace and love," must have a

ten Creed

Creed

Spirit in

which she has formally given her

conformity

writassent,

which her ministrations are pledged.

to

long as such a test

to

\s

faithfully applied, she cannot

fail

of being in some good degree united and harmonious; and

when nothing

of

tlie

kind

is

employed,

see not

can be expected, without a miracle, to escape

all

how

she

the evils of

discord and corruption.


2.

The

necessity and importance of Creeds and Confes-

sions appear from the consideration, that one great design of

establishing a
all

ages, a

Church

in

our world was, that she might be in

depository, a guardian, and a witness of

THE truth.
Christians, collectively as well as individually, are repre-

sented in Scripture as witnesses for God.

44

They are com-

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

312

manded

to maintain his truth,

of life," in

<f

all its

have

to

<'

buy the

hold

received ;"

truth,

converted.

and not

plainly

lar import,

'^

to

and

make

many

" lift up

comes

to

the

it

other commands, of simi-

the duty of every Christian

and expose prevailing heresies;

to detect

to

strive together for the faith of

such as embrace radical heresy from their

all

They

to sell it;"

form of sound words which they

fast the

and

These, and

the Gospel."

church

may be enlightened and


^

to

earnestly for the faith once delivered to

contend

saints;"

word

purity and lustre before a perverse gene-

ration, that others

are exhorted

to *^hold forth the

and

a standard" for truth,

to

exclude

communion

whenever '' the enemy

in like a flood."

But does not

all

this

imply taking

effectual

Does not

distinguish between truth and error?


cessarily infer the duty of

measures
all

to

this ne-

drawing, and publicly mani-

festing, a line between those who, while they profess, in


general, to believe the Bible, really

deny

all

essential

its

who simply and humbly receive ^the


But how is this distinction to be
truth as it is in Jesus?"
made, seeing those who embrace the essential doctrines of

doctrines

and those

the Gospel, equally profess to receive the Bible

only be done by
claring

how

suspects

Bible

the church herself, and

of being in error,

that

is,

can

It

carefully ascertaining and explicitly de-

by axtracting

how

those

whom

she

understand and interpret the


certain articles of faith

from

the Scriptures, according to her understanding of them, and

comparing these

whom

articles

with the professed belief of those

she supposes to be heretics.

And what

is

this but ex-

tracting from the Scriptures a

Confession op Faith

Creed, and applying

test

It

does really appear to

it

as

me

of sound principles

that those

orthodox brethren,

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

who admit

that the

against error, and to

church
^^

bound

is

313

to raise her voice

contend earnestly" for the truth;

and yet denounce Creeds and Confessions,

are, in the high-

est degree inconsistent with themselves.

They acknow-

ledge the obligation and importance of a great duty

yet reject the only means by which

am

Quite as unreasonable, I
<'

task masters of

constrained to say,

Egypt^^ they require work

without allowing the materials necessary

them out from her bosom

"a

voice, in

to its

to

the

as

be done,

accomplish-

is

before she can raise her

day of rebuke and of blasphemy," against pre-

vailing errors, her governors and

what

and

Before the church, s such^ can detect heretics, and

ment.
cast

can be performed.

it

truth

members must be agreed

and, unless they would give themselves up,

in their official

judgments,

to all the caprice

and feverish

ef-

fervescence of occasional feeling, they must have some accredited,

permanent document, exhibiting what they have

There

agreed to consider as truth.


ternative.

They must

either

is

really no feasible al-

have such "a form of sound

words," which they have voluntarily adopted, and pledged


themselves to one another to

''

hold

fast ;"

or they can have

no security that any two or more successive decisions concerning soundness in the faith will be alike.

words, they cannot


consistent

form,

attain,

in

any

In other

thing like a steady, uni-

manner, one of the great purposes

for

which the visible church was established.


It surely will

not be said, by any considerate person, that

the church, or any of her individual members, can


ciently

fulfil

from time

the duty in question,

to time, in the

midst of surrounding error, her

adherence and her attachment

must

see that this

would

suffi-

by simply proclaiming

be,

to the

in fact,

Bible.

Every one

doing nothing

as

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

314

" witnesses of the truth ;"

because

would be doing

it

noihmgpecuHar ; nothing distinguishing ; nothing which


every heretic

in

Christendom

is

not ready to do, or rather

is

not daily doing, as loudly, and as frequently as the most or-

thodox Church.

The very

idea of ^'bearing testimony to

the truth," and of separating from those


that Christian

who

are so corrupt

communion cannot be maintained with them,

necessarily implies

some public discriminating

which

act, in

the church agrees upon, and expresses her belief in, the

from

great doctrines of Christianity, in contradistinction

who

those

Now

believe erroneously.

suppose that any

to

by making

a pro-

fession, the very same, in every respect, with that

which

thing of this kind can be accomplished,

the worst heretics make,

is

too palpably absurd to satisfy

any sober inquirer.

Of what

value, let

me

ask,

had the Waldenses and Albi-

genses been, as witnesses of the

THE WORLD, amidst


tion

especially of

in succeeding times,

truth

as

lights in

the darkness of surrounding corrup-

what value had they been


and

to

us

at the

to the

present day,

church
if

they

had not formed, and transmitted to posterity those celebrated

Confessions of Faith,

as precious as they are

memo-

which we read in their history, and which stand as so


many monumental testimonies to the true ^^ Gospel of the
Without these, how should we ever have
grace of God?"
known in what manner they interpreted the Bible or
rable,

wherein they differed from the grossest heretics,


at

the same time, and professed to receive the

Without
and

these,

how

satisfactorily as

should

we

we

''

man

lived

same Bible

.^

ever have seen so clearly

do, that they maintained the truth

and the order of Christ's house, amidst


lations of the

who

of sin ;"

and thus

all

the wasting deso-

fulfilled his

promise,

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

315

that there shall always be <a seed to serve him,

who

shall

be accounted to the Lord for a generation?"


3. The adoption and publication of a Creed, is a tribute
TO TRUTH AND CANDOUR, which evory Christian church
OWES TO THE OTHER CHURCHES, AND TO THE WORLD

AROUND HER.
Every wise man

wish

will

be united in religious

to

duty and privilege, with those who most nearly agree


with himself in their views of doctrine and order with
;

those

in intercourse with

and best

Of

edified.

he joins any church,

government,

whom

he can be most happy,

course, he will be desirous, before


to

know something

and general character.

of

will

its

faith,

suppose a

pious and ingenuous individual about to form his religious

connections for

life.

He

looks round on the churches to

which he has most access, and

desirous of deciding with

is

which of them he can be most comfortable.


that,

in this survey,

scriptural

and primitive church

He

to belong.

is

anxious to

the order which he

How

our body.

is

I will

suppose

he turns his eyes towards the truly

may

to

which

know

it is

our happiness

the doctrine as well as

expect to find in conned ion with

he to

know

this

Certainly not by

going from church to church throughout our whole bounds,

and learning the creed of every individual minister from

own

his

This would be physically impossible, without

lips.

bestowing on the task a degree of time and


scarcely any

man

could afford.

He

toil,

which

could not actually hear

for himself the doctrines taught in a twentieth part of our


pulpits.

cide,

And

from

if

he could, he would

this source alone,

how

far

still

be unable to de-

what he heard might

be regarded as the uniform and universal, and especially

as

and not rather

as

the permanent character of the church

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

316

But when such an inquirer

an accidental exhibition.
that

we have

a published

how we

creed, declaring

finds

under-

stand the Scriptures, and explicitly stating in detail the

which we have agreed

great truths

he can ascertain in

to unite in maintaining

few hours, and without leaving his

own

we profess to believe and to practice, and


how far he may hope to be at home in our communion.
And while he is enabled thus to understand the system to
which we profess to adhere, he enables us to understand
his views, by ascertaining how far they accord with our

dwelling, what

published creed.

Further

wish

to

what

know

is

thus due to ingenuous individuals,

the real character of our churchy

is

who

also

due

who may have no less desire to


It is delightascertain the principles which we embrace.
ful for ecclesiastical communities, who approach near to
to neighbouring churches,

each other in faith and order, to manifest their affection for

one another, by cherishing some degree of Christian

of

its

inter-

But what church, which valued the preservation

course.

own

purity and peace, would -venture on such inter-

course with a body which had no defined system, either of


doctrine or government,

which might,

to

which

it

stood pledged

therefore, prove a source of pollution

order to every other church with which


interchange of services?

denomination,

whom

confidence
heresy.

tendency

it

dis-

had the smallest

of the ministers of such a

a similar

satisfaction

mark

while the very

of Christian affection and

was shown, might preach the most corrupt

Creeds and Confessions, then, so


to

and

invited into the pulpit of an orthodox

might give entire

brother,

next to

when

One

and

^^

denominations,

alienate''

far

from having a

and "embitter" those Christian

which think nearly

alike,

and ought

to

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

317

maintain fraternal intercourse, really tend to


acquainted with each other

and cordial intercourse


thus to promote the

to lay a foundation for regular

beget mutual confidence

to

harmony of

I scruple not, therefore, to

dual minister owes to


Christian faith,

church owes

and explicit

it

when any

and

the church of God.

aiFirm, that, as

around him

all

make them

frank avowal of his

know

desire to

every indivi-

it

so

every

to her sister churches, to be equally frank

She, no

in publicly declaring her principles.

doubt, believes those principles to be purely scriptural.

In

publicly avowing them, therefore, she performs the double

duty of bearing testimony


to

draw from

less

to the truth,

rounding world, new support


believes to

may be

and of endeavouring

pure denominations, and from the surto

what she conscientiously


She

be more correct sentiments than theirs.

erroneous in this estimate

but

still

she does what

she can, and what she unfeignedly believes to be right

and

what, of course, as long as this conviction continues, she

bound

to

And

perform.

maintaining,

that,

in

all

have no hesitation

ages,

those

is

in further

Christian churches

which have been most honourably distinguished

for their

piety; their zeal, and their adherence to the simplicity of

the gospel, have been, not only most remarkable for their
care in

forming, but also for their frankness in avowing,

their doctrinal creed

them

and their disposition

to let all

what they professed

distinctly understand

around

to regard as

the fundamental doctrines of our holy religion.


4.

Another argument

ted and maintained,

is

in favour of

that

Creeds publicly adop-

they are friendly to the

study of christian doctrine, and of course, to the

prevalence of christian knowledge.


It is the general principle

of the enemies of Creeds,

tliat

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

318

who

all

profess to believe the Bible, ought, without further

inquiry, to unite

and

to

maintain ecclesiastical

But

to live together in peace.

way

the only

which those who

in

is it

communion

not manifest, that

from

essentially differ

each other concerning the fundamental doctrines of the

can

gospel,

live together in perfectly

fellowship,

tical

is

by becoming

harmonious

other words, by becoming persuaded that


are of

ecclesias-

indifferent to truth

modes of

in

faith

or no practical importance to the Church, and

little

are, therefore, not

worth contending

for; that clear

and

dis-

criminating views of Christian doctrine are wholly unneces-

and of

sary,
ter

But

little

use in the formation of Christian charac

in proportion as professing Christians are indif-

ferent to truth, will they not be apt to neglect the study of

And

it?

if

the study of

be generally neglected, will not

it

gross and deplorable ignorance of it eventually and generally

The

prevail?

enough
mate
for

to

its

study

value

against

it,^'

age

fact

and

it

is,

when men

with care, they will soon learn to

they will soon be disposed


its

enemies,

who

this will inevitably lead

that *^form of

love gospel truth well

to

numerous

are

them

to adopt

esti-

contend

every

in

and defend

sound words" which they think they find

the sacred Scriptures.

On

the other hand, let any

in

man im-

bibe the notion that Creeds and Confessions are unscriptural,

and of course unlawful, and he will naturally and speedily


pass to the conclusion, that
useless,
to the

and even criminal.

contending for doctrines

From this

the transition

abandonment of the study of doctrine,

zealous and diligent study of


all

all

Creeds, naturally tends to

it.

Thus it

make

is,

is

is

easy

or, at least, the

that laying aside

professing Christians in-

different to the study of Christian truth

interested in the attainment of religious

comparatively un-

knowledge

and,

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.


regardless, and,

finally,

once delivered
I

319

of course, ignorant of "tlic faith

to the saints.'*

would by no means, indeed, be understood

no heretics have ever been zealous


ing their corrupt opinions.
tory abundantly show, that

in

to assert, that

publishing and defend-

The pages of ecclesiastical hismany of the advocates of error,

both in ancient and modern times, have contended not only


pertinaciously, but even fiercely, for their peculiar doctrines.

But

my

position

fessions usually
its

is,

enemies of

that the

all

Creeds and Con-

assume a principle, which,

legitimate consequences,

if

carried out to

would discourage

zeal in

all

maintaining the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel; that


zeal in

maintaining

if all

peculiar doctrines were laid aside,

all

ardour and diligence in studying them would be likely


be laid aside also
things

and

that, if this

more unfriendly

Christian

to the

were the

to

case, a state of

growth and prevalence of

knowledge could scarcely be imagined.

Look

at

the loose, vague, undecisive character of the preaching

heard in nine-tenths of the Unitarian, and other latitudinarian pulpits in the United States, and, as I suppose, through-

out Christendom.
for their distinct

-If

the occupants of those pulpits Jiad

and main object

to

render their hearers

different about understanding, and, of course,

it

in-

indifferent

about studying, the fundamental doctrines of the gospel,

they could scarcely adopt a plan more directly calculated


attain

their end, than that

Their incesssant cry

is,

*<

which they

matters of opinion

God and a man's own conscience.


to

meddle with them."

maxim, they

Hence,

do, indeed, take care to

No
in

one

are

between

pursuance of this

We

little

with

conjecture

their doctrinal opinions are, in general, not so

45

to

pursue.

else has a right

meddle very

the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel.

what

actually

much

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

320

from what they say,


the truth

come

as

from what they do not say.

And

was

to be-

that if this character of preaching

is,

universal,

discriminating views

all

of gospel-truth

would, in thirty years, be banished from the church.


If the friends of

orthodoxy and piety, then, really desire

and maintain a love for the discriminating study

to cherish

of Christian doctrine

religious

a taste for

knowledge

a spirit of zeal for the truth, in opposition to that miserable

to articles of faith,

indifference

which

so replete with

is

mischief to every Christian community in which

then

let

them be careful

to

it is

present, and diligently

found
to

keep

before the eyes of one another, and the eye of the public,

if,

commanded

^^good confession" which they are

that

many

"profess before

that

the Bible

and manners,

(a

the

to

that great Protestant


infallible rule of faith

precious all-important truth; which, pro-

perly understood,

speak and act as

is

to

this;

only

under the guise of adherence

maxim,

do

If they fail to

witnesses."

cannot be too often repeated)

if all

who

standing upon equally solid

word, they consider

it

they

profess to receive the Bible were

and

safe

as unnecessary,

ground;

if,

in a

and even criminal, to

select

from the mass of Scriptural truth, and

such,

the

fundamental doctrines of the

to defend, as

gospel

then,

nothing short of miracle can prevent them from sinking


into that

coldness and sloth with respect to the study of

doctrine, and finally into that deplorable

ledge" by which millions


5.

It is

^'

lack of

know-

are constantly "destroyed."

an argument of no small weight in favour of

Creeds, that

the experience of all ages has found

THEM indispensably NECESSARY.


Even
tion

in the

and all

ter heretics

days of the Apostles, when

their miraculous powers,

from spreading

were

all

their inspira-

insufficient to de-

their poison;

men,

calling

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

301

themselves Christians, and professing to preach the religion


of Christ, perverted his truth, and brought
pel,''

which

He

had not taught.

An

did the churches proceed?

them not

to

inspired

how

apostle directed

be contented with a general profession of belief

in the religion of Christ

them

another gos-

<*

In this exigency,

on the part of those who came

as Christian teachers

but to

to

examine and try them,

and to ascertain whether their teaching were agreeable to


the

^'

form of sound words" which they had been taught by

him: and he adds with awful solemnity

"If any

man

bring any other gospel unto you than that ye have received,
let

Here was,

him be accursed."

in effect, an instance,

and that by Divine warrant, of employing


test

of orthodoxy: that

is,

men making

sion of Christianity, are expressly directed

ed apostle,

to

be brought to the test,

THEY understood THAT GOSPEL,


terms, they declared

plained

its

It

Creed

as a

by an

in

inspir-

what

cense

of which, in

general

how

they ex-

their reception

leading doctrines.

a general profes-

and

would seem, indeed,

that

the Confession of Faith then required was very short and


This, the peculiar circumstances of the times, and

simple.

the no less peculiar administration of the Church, rendered


entirely sufficient.

or short

whether

Still,
it

whether the Confession were long

consisted of three articles or of thirty,

the principle was the same.

In the second century, in the writings of Irenxus ; and,


in the third, in the writings of Teriullian, Origen, Cy-

prian, Gregory Thaumatiirgus, and Lucian,i\iQ martyr,

we

find a

ly

drawn

of earlier

number of Creeds and


out,

Confessions,

more formal-

more minute, and more extensive than

date.

They were

those

intended to bear testimony

against the various forms of error

which had

arisen

and

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

322
plainly

show

that, as the arts

and corruptions of heretics

creased, the orthodox church found

more

in-

attention to the

adoption and maintenance of these formularies indispensa-

bly necessary.

when

In the fourth century,

the church

was

agitated

by the prevalence of heresy, there was

demand

for accredited tests,

be tried and detected.

more

by which the

Of

this

louder

still

heretics

were

under

When

that far-famed assembly.

the

of

the Council entered on


diffi-

from Arius any satisfactory explanation of

He was

his views.

when

consideration

the examination of the subject, it was found extremely


cult to obtain

to

was

there never

striking instance than in the Council of Nice,

heresy of %^rius was

the

demand

more

still

not only as ready as the most orthodox

divine present, to professs that he believed the Bible

he also declared himself willing

to adopt, as his

own,

but
all

the language of the Scriptures, in detail, concerning the per-

But when the

son and character of the blessed Redeemer.

members

of the Council wished to ascertain in

what

HE understood THIS LANGUAGE, he discovered


sition to

sense

a dispo-

evade and equivocate, and actually, for a considera-

ble time, baffled the attempts of the

most ingenious of the

orthodox to specify his errors, and to bring them to

He

declared that he was perfectly willing to

light.

employ the po-

pular language on the subject in controversy; and wished to

have

it

believed that he differed very

of the church.
various

titles

little

from the body

Accordingly the orthodox went over the

of Christ plainly expressive of Divinity,

such

"the
God" the "express image of
God," &c. every one of which Jiriuszxi^
followers
most
subscribed claiming
however,

as

<<God''

true

to

readily

put THEIR

his

OWN CONSTRUCTION

a right,

on the scriptural

to

titles in

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.


question.

333

After employing

much time and ingenuity in


vain, in endeavouring to drag this artful chief
from his lurking places, and to obtain from him an
explanation of his
views, the Council found

it

would be impossible

plish their object as long as they permitted

him

to

accom-

to intrench

himself behind a mere general profession of belief in


the

They therefore, did, what common sense, as well


word of God, had taught the church to do in all preceding times, and what alone can enable her to detect the
Bible.

as the

artful

advocate of error.

They

own

expressed, in their

language, what theji supposed to be the doctrine of Scripture

concerning the Divinity of the Saviour;


words, they drew up a Confession of Faith on
ject,

which they

called

upon Jirius and

in

other

this sub-

his disciples to sub-

scribe.

This the heretics refused; and were thus virtually

brought

to the

acknowledgment

that they did not under-

stand the Scriptures as the rest of the Council understood

them, and, of course, that the charge against them was correct.

The same

course was taken by

OP THE TRUTH

in the

the pious witnesses

all

dark ages, when, amidst the surround-

ing corruption and desolation, they found themselves called

upon

to bear ^'witness to the truth."

They

their belief in the

Bible, and their love

stantly appealed to

it,

practice;

as the

and they studied

ration and diligence than

This

all

it

only

futility of

all
it;

infallible rule

professed

they con-

of faith and

with incomparably more vene-

any of the

history plainly evinces.

they saw the

to

errorists

But

at

around them.

the same time,

doing nothing more than proclaim

in general, their adherence to the Sacred V^olume.

would

mony

This

have been no distinction, and, of course, no testiat all.

It

would have been nothing more than

tlic

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

324
bitterest

enemies of the truth were proclaiming busily, and

even clamourously, every day.

They, therefore, did what

the friends of orthodoxy had been in the habit of doing

from the

They framed creeds, from time

earliest ages.

exigencies of the Church demanded,

to time, as the

means of which they were enabled


for

God;

to vindicate his truth;

and

glorious Reformation from

at the

Head

great

And

memofinally,

Popery, by which the

may be said again to have ^^set


memory of \\^ich shall never die;

of the Church

his people free," and the


in

by

testimony

to transmit the

of their fidelity to distant generations.

rials

to bear their

drawing the

line

between "the precious and the

one accord, formed their Creeds

and

vile,''

They, with

the friends of truth followed the same course.

Confessions, which

served, at once, as a plea for the truth, and a barrier against

heresy.

And

is

it

not, perhaps, too

volume which contains the

much

to say, that the

collection of these Creeds, is

one of the most precious and imperishable monuments of


the piety, wisdom, and zeal of the sixteenth century.

What, now,
tlie

the inference from

is

Church of God,

all

this

experience of

so universal and so uniform

It

cannot

When

the friends

ages and situations, even those

who were

be misunderstood.
of truth in

all

It

speaks volumes.

most tenacious of the rights of private judgment, and most

happy

in the

found

it

enjoyment of Christian

liberty,

have invariably

necessary to resort to the adoption of Creeds, in or-

der to ascertain for themselves, as a social body, and to

communicate

to

others, for their benefit,

THE HOLY scriptures;

WO

not only that the resort


so

"baneful"

that there

is

as

is

neither so ^'unreasonable" nor

many would

really

their sense op

are naturally led to conclude,

persuade us to believe; but

no other practicable method of main-

taining unity and purity in the

Church of

Christ.

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

A further argument

6.

sions,

may

in favour of

325

Creeds and Confes-

be drawn from the remarkable

fact, that their


MOST ZEALOUS OPPOSERS HAVE GENERALLY BEEN LATITUDINARIANS AND HERETICS.

do not affirm that the use of Creeds has never been op-

posed by individuals substantially orthodox, and even by


orthodox churches: for

is

it

believed that a few rare cases

of this anomaly have occurred, under

the

influence

strong prejudice, or very peculiar circumstances.


far as I can recollect,

ancients.

we have no example

of

it

among

Such cases are the growth of very modern

Nor, on the other hand,

is it

my

of

Yet, so
the

times.

purpose to deny that

heretics have sometimes been extremely zealous in forming

For of

and maintaining the most corrupt Creeds.

this the

early history of the Church abounds with examples, and


later periods

what

have not been wholly without them.

venture to assert

is,

its

But
most

that, as a general fact, the

ardent and noisy opponents of Creeds have been those

who

held corrupt opinions; that none, calling themselves Christians,

have been so

as the friends of

bitter in reviling

them,

UnitarianisTn, and those

in

modern

who were

times,

leaning

toward that awful gulph; and that the most consistent and
zealous advocates of truth have been, every where, and at
times, distinguished

Nor

has this been

precisely

by

by any means

what might have been

likely to be realized.

It is

a fortuitous occurrence; but

calculated,

and reception of truth;

their

Master

maintaining

stress

as

on the knowledge

that they consider

it

as necessary

they deem an essential part of

in heaven, to consist in
it

on principle,

an invariable characteristic of

the orthodox that they lay great

to holiness; that

all

their friendship to such formularies.

in opposition to

all

fidelity to

contending for

it,

the forms of error.

and

On

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

326
the contrary,

almost as invariable a characteristic of

is

it

who

modern heretics, and more especially of those

un-

fall

der the general denomination of Unitarians, that they


profess lightly to esteem
a

marked

modes of

faith; that

they manifest

indifference to truth; that they, for the

many words,

maintain, in so

most

part,

the innocence of error; and

hence very naturally reprobate, and even

villify, all faithful

attempts to oppose heresy, and to separate heretics from the

Church.

From

those, then,

who have

or at least

begun

to depart,

form "the
do

to the saints, '^ almost exclusively,

either y^r departed,

once delivered

faith

we

hear of the

<'

op-

pression,^'

and the "mischief" of Creeds and Confessions.

And

any marvel

is

it

who

that those

maintain the inno-

cence of error, should be unwilling to raise fences for keeping

it

out of the Church ?

Is

it

any marvel

that the Jirian,

the Socinian, the Pelagian, and such as are verging to-

ward those

fatal errors,

evangelical formularies,
line of distinction

the

Redeemer?

ed,

"men

should exceedingly dislike

which tend

to

make

all

the

visible the

between the friends and the enemies of

No;

men,

as has

been often well observ-

are seldom opposed to Creeds, until Creeds have

become opposed

to

them."

That they should

oppose them, in these circumstances,

is

dislike

and

just as natural as

that a culprit arraigned before a civil tribunal, should equally


dislike the law, its officer,

Accordingly,

if

we look

and

its

sanction.

a little into the interior of

history, especially within the last century,

we

these remarks often and strikingly exemplified.


find,

Church

shall

with few exceptions, that whenever a group of

began to

slide,

find

We shall
men

with respect to orthodoxy, they generally

attempted to break,

if

by

de-

They have

sel-

not to conceal, their

claiming against Creeds and Confessions.

fall,

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

dom

failed, indeed, to protest

had no objections
fession

beginning, that they

in the

to the doctrines

themselves of the Con-

which they had subscribed, but

subscribing Confessions at

melancholy

all.

327

to the principle of

Soon, however, was the

fact gradually unfolded, that disaffection to the

doctrines which they once appeared to love, had

more

in-

fluence in directing their course, than even they themselves

imagined, and that they were receding further and further

from the ^^good way"

which

to

in

Truly that cause

rejoice.

which they formerly seemed


is

to

of a most suspicious character

latitudinarians and heretics,

at least

in

modern

times, almost as a matter of course, yield their support;

and which they defend with a

general,

in

zeal,

strictly

proportioned to their hatred of orthodoxy!


7.

The only

which

further argument in support of Creeds on

I shall dwell,

is,

that

their most zealous opposers

DO themselves virtually employ them in all ecclesiastical. PROCEEDINGS.

all

The favourite maxim, with the opposers of Creeds, that


who acknowledge the Bible, ought, without hesitation,

to

be received, not only to Christian, but also to ministe-

rial

urge

communion,
it,

the

is

moment

invariably abandoned
a case turns

up which

Did any one ever hear of

to the test.

by those who
really brings

it

Unitarian con-

gregation engaging as their pastor a preacher of Calvinism,

knowing him
adopted, or
vinist surely

to

at

\QQ.si

it

But why

not,

his Bible

in

The

Yet we know

that, in fact,

and pro-

Why

not that

it

these advocates of unbounded liberality.

Cal-

his hand,

as cordially as they.

46

on the principle

professed, by Unitarians?

comes with

fesses to believe

enough?

be such?

is

is

not enough for

Before they will

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

328

consent to receive him as their spiritual guide, they must


be explicitly informed,
in other words,
it

is

they are not


sions

what

substantially the

is

how he interprets the

particular Creed; whether

his

same with

their

own

satisfied that this is the case,

and protestations will be in vain.

rably rejected.

Bible;

Here, then,

we

have, in

or not: and if

other profes-

all

He

will be inexo-

all its

extent, the

demanding subscription to a Creed; and

principle carried out into practice as rigorously as ever

it

principle of

was by the most high-toned advocate of orthodoxy.

We
ages,

have before seen, that the friends of truth, in

have found,

in

all

their sad experience, that a general

profession of belief in the Bible,

was altogether

insufficient,

either as a bond of union, or as a fence against the inroads

of error.

And

here

we

find the

warmest advocates of

contrary doctrine, and with a contrary language in their

mouths, when they come to act, pursuing precisely the

same course with the friends of creeds, with only


this difference, that the

Creed which they apply

as a test,

instead of being a written and tangible document,

is

hidden

bosoms of those who expound and employ

it,

and, of

in the

course,

may

be applied in the most capricious as well as ty-

rannical manner, without appeal; and further, that, while

they really act upon this principle, they disavow

would persuade the world

that they proceed

it,

and

upon an en-

tirely different plan.

Can there be

more conclusive

fact

than

this?

The

enemies of Creeds themselves cannot get along a day without them.


is

It is in

vain to say, that in their case no Creed

imposed, but that

all

is

voluntary, and

the choice of the parties concerned.


after that the

left entirely to

It will

same may be with equal truth

be seen here-

asserted, in

all

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

329

those cases of subscription to articles, for which I contend,

No

without any exception.

less vain

that in their case the articles insisted

and by no means

is

to say, again,

it

on are few and simple,

so liable to exception as the long

Creeds which some churches have adopted.

tailed

principle of subscription to Creeds which

is

and deIt is

the

now under

If the lawfulness and even the necessity

consideration.

of acting upon this principle can be established, our cause


is

gained.

plying

The extent

articles, is a

which we ought

to

to

go

in multi-

secondary question, the answer

to

which

must depend on the exigencies of the church framing the


Creed.

Now the

adversaries of Creeds, while they totally

and even the lawfulness, of the gene-

reject the expediency,


ral principle,

yet

out adopting

it

duct

is

show

that they cannot proceed a step with-

This

in practice.

Their conduct

is

dictated

believe,

from

wonder.

practical ex-

them by the evident necessity

of the case: while their reasoning

must

Their con-

And no

by good sense and

perience, nay imposed upon

enough.

is

sounder than their reasoning.

is

a theory, derived, as

a source far less enlightened,

and

less

safe.

Several other arguments might be urged in favour of


written Creeds, did not the limits to which
in this Lecture, forbid
It

were easy

to

show

me

am

confined

further to enlarge.

that Confessions of Faith, judiciously

drawn, and solemnly adopted by particular churches, are


not only invaluable as bonds of union, and fences against
error; but that they also serve an important purpose, as ac-

credited manuals of Christian doctrine, well fitted for the


instruction of those private

members

of churches,

who have

neither leisure nor habits of thinking sufficiently close, to

draw from the sacred writings themselves

a consistent sys-

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

ggQ

It is of incalculable

tern of truth.

has but

with

use to the individual

time for reading, and but

little

books, to be furnished

little

who

acquaintance

with a clear and well arranged,

compend of doctrine, which he is authorized to regard, not


divine; but
as the work of a single, enlightened, and pious
of the
wisdom
collected
the
by
adopted
and
out
as drawn
Church

to

which he belongs.

to plain, unsophisticated

There

mind, nut

to

often a satisfaction,

is

be described, in going

over such a compend, article by article; examining the


proofs adduced from the word of God in support of each;

and "searching the Scriptures daily


things which
It

might

it

also

whether the

to see

teaches are so or not.^'

be further shown, that sound and scriptural

Confessions of Faith, are of great value for transmitting to


posterity a

knowledge of what

is

done by the Church,

at

Every such Con-

particular times, in behalf of the truth.


fession that

is

formed or adopted by the followers of Christ

one age,

is

a precious legacy transmitted to their chil-

in

dren, and to

that

all

may come

after

them, in a succeeding

age, not only bearing their testimony in support of the true

doctrines of Jesus Christ, but also pouring


light

more or

on those doctrines, for the instruction of

that testimony

may

all to

come.

But while we attend

to the principal

arguments va favour

of written Creeds, justice to the subject requires that

II.

Examine some

have been made


1.

And

the

to

first

we

of the principal objections which

Creeds by their adversaries.

which

I shall

mention

a Creed, and requiring subscription to


is

less

whom

it

is,

that

forming

as a religious test,

SUPERSEDING THE BIBLE, AND MAKING A *HUMAN COMPO-

SITION INSTEAD OP IT

A STANDARD OF FAITH.

"The

Bi-

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

who urge

ble," say those

it
it

"is the only in-

this objection,

of faith and practice.

fallible rule

It

is

331

so complete, that

needs no human addition, and so easily understood, that

human

requires no

desire

any other
or

Creed than

this plain, inspired,

we do

volume,
ble, or

as

call

this

we

we

to

we

then, should

Why

standard?

upon others

ourselves,

time

Why,

explanation.

ecclesiastical

subscribe

any other

subscribe,

and perfect one

Every

public indignity to the sacred

offer a

virtually declare, either that

it is

not

infalli-

not sufficient."

This objection

And

catalogue.

is

the most specious one in the whole

although

it is

believed that a sufficient an-

swer has been furnished by some principles already

down; yet the confidence with which

it

is

peated, renders a formal attention to

it

expedient;

especially as

it

bears, at first view, so

much

by

its

more

the appearance

of peculiar veneration for the Scriptures, that


captivated

laid

every day re-

plausible aspect, and consider

many
it

are

as deci-

sive.

The whole argument which


founded on a

false

this objection presents, is

No

assumption.

Protestant ever pro-

fessed to regard his Creed, considered as a


tion, as of equal authority

with the Scriptures, and

Every

of paramount authority.

with one voice, disclaimed, by

to

this,

impartial will judge.

And

whether, notwith-

argument, or gross calumny, the

fair

church Creed professes to be, as

was before observed, merely an epitome, or

to

is,

the Creeds, and defences

the constant repetition of the charge, ought

be considered as

hibition OP

far less

principle of this kind

all

of Creeds, that I have ever read.

standing

human composi-

WHAT THE

SCRIPTURES TEACH.

be deduced from the Scriptures, and

summary
It

ex-

profcSSCS

to refer to the Scrip-

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

332

whole of

tures for the

one subscribes
ble, that

by

it,

he

its
is

authority.

he does public homage to

solemn

how he

act,

Of

course,

when

any-

from dishonouring the Bi-

so far

He

it.

simply declares,

understands the Bible; in other

words, what doctrines he considers

In

as containing.

it

short, the language of an

orthodox believer, in subscribing

his ecclesiastical Creed, is

simply of the following import:

<While
and

understand

to

Christ:

believe the Bible,

the Socinian professes to

while

it

Bible, and to find in

exalted of

it

the Saviour represented as the most

creatures, but

all

mere humanity of

as teaching the

the *firian professes to receive the same

still

a creature:

While the Pe-

lagian and Semi-Pelagian make a similar profession of


their general belief in the Scriptures,

teaching a doctrine, far

and

far less

pear to
ing,

me

honourable

faith

more favourable

FOR MYSELF,
is

that,

the

while

it

tial

with

I believe,

word of God,

Divinity of the Saviour

Christ

Spirit,

These

justification

and
as
I

all

my

heart,

the only perfect rule of


in all

test

con-

the
the essen-

plainly teaches, as I read and believe

deplorable and total depravity of

Godhead

nature,

beg the privilege of declar-

and manners, and the only ultimate

troversies

human

to

grace of God, than they ap-

to the

really to teach;

that the Bible

and interpret them as

human

nature

a Trinity of persons in the

by the imputed righteousness of


by the Holy

regeneration and sanctification

indispensable to prepare the

believe to be the radical truths

soul

for heaven.

which God hath

re-

vealed in his word; and while they are denied by some,

and frittered away or perverted by others,


believe that blessed word, I

am

who

profess to

verily pursuaded they are

the fundamental principles of the plan of salvation."

Now,

ask,

is

there in

all

this language,

any thing

dis-

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

Any

honourable to the Bible?


sede

333

thing that tends to super-

authority; or to introduce a rule, or a tribunal of

its

paramount authority?

Is there

on the contrary, in

not,

the whole language and spirit of such a declaration, an ac-

knowledgment

of God's

word

and supreme

as of ultimate

authority; and an expression of belief in certain doctrines,

SIMPLY and ONLY BECAUSE they


vealed IN THAT WORD? Truly,

to be re-

are believed
if

THIS be dishonouring

the Scriptures, or setting up a standard above them, there


is

an end of

But

all

still it is

meaning
asked

Are they

to

plainer than their

more

explicit test than

has thought proper to frame:

To

presumptuous?"
that,

of any definito

Author has done?

Why

hold a candle to the sun?

frame

actions.

need

not intelligible enough in themselves?

Can we make them

Why

the

is

what we understand the Scriptures

tive declaration of

teach?

words or

either of

"Where

make an attempt

He who

an attempt,

this plea

it

is

gave the Bible


as vain as

sufficient to

it

is

answer,

although the Scriptures are undoubtedly simple and

plain; so plain that

^'he

who

runs

may

read;" yet

it

is

equally certain that thousands do, in fact, mistake and misinterpret them.

This cannot possibly be denied; because

thousands interpret them, and that on points confessedly


fundamental, not only in different, but in directly opposite

ways.

Of course

wrong, then,

all

and orthodox man

church, to exhibit, and endeavour to


their

world

mode
is

acknowledged, on

have more

or

it

all

recommend

hands, to be, in

as to the true

to others,

As

the

fact, full

of

meaning of Holy Scrip-

be thought a superfluous task for those

light,

be

it

for a pious

of interpreting the sacred volume?

mistake and error


tures, can

Can

cannot be equally right.

for a pious

and more correct opinions,

to

who

hold them

UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE

334

up

view, as a testimony to the truth, and as a guide to

to

such as

may

neither

more nor

be in error?

maintenance of

am

Surely

it

a scriptural Confession of Faith for

however,

men

or set of

it

may

which

be asked, what right has any man,

to interpose their authority,

deal out the sense of Scripture for others

impious in

itself,

and undertake to
?

Is

answer,

it

not both

this reasoning

prove too much, and therefore proves nothing.


mitted,

it

and an improper assumption over the

minds of our fellow men?

would prove

that all

would

For,

if

ad-

preaching of the gospel

presumptuous and criminal; because preaching always

consists in explaining
for the

deed,

most

if

part, in the

and enforcing Scripture, and

that,

words of the preacher himself.

In-

the objection before us

were

that all the pious writings of the


all

this is

pleading.

Still,

is

Yet

cannot.

than precisely that formation and

less

ages,

who have had

valid,

it

would prove

most eminent divines,

for their object to elucidate

in

and ap-

ply the word of God, were profane and arrogant attempts


to

mend

to

promote

his revelation,

and make

great design.

its

ciple of this objection,

it

Nay,

it

better fitted than

further;

it

is

upon the prin-

not only follows, that no minister

more in the pulpit than simply


READ OR REPEAT THE VERY WORDS OF SCRIPTURE; but

of the Gospel ought ever do


to

it is

equally evident, that he must read or repeat Scripture

to his hearers,

only in the languages in which they

WERE GIVEN TO THE CHURCH.


served,

it

For, as has been often ob-

cannot be said, that the words of any translation

of the Bible are the very words of the


are only the

which

to express, as nearly as

the original.

Holy

Spirit.

They

words which uninspired men have chosen,

If,

in

they were able, the sense of

therefore, the objection before us be ad-

OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS.

man

mitted, no
velation in

Hebrew
New, in

is at

335

liberty to teach the great truths of re-