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THE NEW CREATION.
"If any man be in Christ (says an inspired apostle), he is a new creature." The language of St. Paul is definite and plain. It is not said, If any man belong to this sect of religionists, or to that-if any man comply with this or that ceremony; but "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." To be in Christ is to be a Christian, not in name, but in reality. Christianity is generally professed; and if the profession of Christianity afforded any solid proof of the possession of it, there would indeed be abundant reason to rejoice. There is, however, such a thing as the form of godliness, and there is also the power of godliness. These two are essentially distinct from each other, though very often confounded by an undiscerning world. The form of godliness may coexist with the love of sin in the heart, and the practice of sin in the life; but the power of godliness, on the contrary, cannot coexist with the allowed exercise of either. There may be the form of godliness when we are still under the dominion of Satan, and the evil lusts of the flesh, the subjects of a miserable bondage: but the power of godliness, by its existence in any soul, does imply that the chains of our captivity are broken asunder; that the strong man armed has been disarmed; and that in consequence we can exult in the glorious liberty of the children of God. To be in Christ is to be interested in him as our Saviour from sin and wrath, to be united to him by faith; it is to be "found in him, not
VOL. VII.-NO. CLXXII.
CHURCH OF ENGLAND
having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God. by faith." Much is conveyed in the expression "found in Christ,"-found in Christ as a refuge from the storm of Almighty displeasure,-found in Christ as the sweet ark of safety, found in Christ as the hope of immortal glory, when the dark shadows of time have rolled away.
Those who are so happy as to be in Christ, are indeed "passed from death unto life:" it is certain that their consciences have been awakened from the slumber of sin and carnal security; it is certain that an arrow of conviction has reached their hearts, and that the voice, "flee from the wrath to come," has been in their case a voice of power. But let us trace the blessed consequences which result from a vital union with Christ: these are exhibited to our view under the image of the new creation. God spoke the universe into being by the word of his power; God speaks the spiritual creation into being by the same word of his power. The believer in Jesus is born again of the Spirit, through the incorruptible seed of the word; and this is regeneration. A man is introduced into a new state, as different from the old state in which he was by nature, as it is possible to conceive.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." There are three images in Scripture particularly employed to represent the great spiritual change which takes place in the soul by the power of Divine grace: these are, the new birth, the new creation, and a resurrection from the dead; which are all more or less expressive of an important reality. They
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forcibly indicate the character and circum-low after holiness in heart and life; they stances of the people of God. seek to adorn and beautify the tree of profes-. sion by the fruits of love and obedience. It were easy to mention various other characteristics of the new creation in Christ Jesus, to open to our view the wondrous effect of Divine grace upon the soul of man.
The subjects of regenerating grace are ushered, as it were, into a new world, and are furnished with new perceptions of things; the change they undergo is indeed as life from the dead. It should never be forgotten, that the new creation in Christ Jesus is a state, and not merely an alteration of some circumstances in the moral and spiritual condition of man. And what are the peculiar features which distinguish the new creation? The apostle informs us, that in the regenerated soul," old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." This is a kind of negative description of the circumstances that attend the new birth unto righteousness. Vast is the change which the grace of God makes in the soul of man. The heart, which was before hard and corrupt, softened and purified by influence from above; the will, which was before perversely set in opposition to God's will, is now subdued to the obedience of faith; the understanding, which was before dark, is now enlightened by the beams of saving truth; the judgment, which was before warped to evil, is now swayed by a bias to good; the conscience, which was before asleep, or but half awake, is now quickened into sensibility;-in a word, all the powers and faculties of the new-born soul have experienced a renovating and transforming power. The man is different from what he was before; the change wrought
in him makes him a wonder to himself, and a wonder to others, who observe the effects of that change: "old things are passed away;" old thoughts, old principles, and old practices, are passed away; the new creature acts on new principles, is animated by new motives, and is engaged in the pursuit of new ends. Now he is a happy man; before he knew nothing of happiness but the name: he loves now what he did not love before; he hates now what he did not hate before; he is conscious of new hopes and fears; he has new pleasures, and he seeks new company, even that of the excellent of the earth. He is under the habitual influence of a heavenly closes this earthly scene, we are expressly warned by disposition, and this of course leads to a heavenly practice. "Created in Christ Jesus unto good works," he is careful to discharge every duty he owes to God, and every duty he owes to man. Those who are renewed in the spirit of their minds labour to abound more and more in every good word and work. Their unceasing aim and daily prayer is, to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." They shrink from sin, under any and every form, with a kind of instinctive abhorrence; they fol
Christ himself what will then be the irreversible issue: "he that is unjust, will be unjust still and he which is filthy, will be filthy still: and he that is righteous, will be righteous still: and he that is holy, will be holy still" (Rev. xxii. 11). Impressive reflection! that every emotion and affection of the soul, tending to degrade, disquiet, and torment it, no less than those which purify, ennoble, and, through God's grace, assimilate it to himself upon earth, shall continue after
death; and not only continue, but be stamped with an
THE SOUL THE GREAT OBJECT OF MINIS-
CONSIDER the object of our watchfulness, the soul. This at once invests the office before us (the ministerial) with a solemnity and a weight which belong to
no other; inasmuch as the soul of man is to himself the most precious and the most distinguishing of all his gifts from God.
The soul is a conscious being, endued with a power of self-reflection, which distinguishes rational man from all inferior grades, and to which the apostle clearly alludes when he asks, “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" (1 Cor. ii. 11). It actuates the mind or understanding within, as that again gives motion and direction to the outer frame. This, while it is made the object of our especial watchfulness, is in every one alike the source of his highest happiness and his keenest misery; of all his moral and intellectual feelings; of all that in each one makes the man. Every individual we address, whatever be his outward circumstances, or his
inward state of mind and heart, has, it must be remem
bered, some consciousness within him, conversant with joy or sorrow, desire or fear, right or wrong: and to this inward principle it is our duty to apply suitable arguments, touching and affectionate considerations,
awful warnings, and winning invitations into the paths of wisdom and peace. How delicate the structure of that machine upon which we have to act; that soul of which it is our part, by all possible means and the most skilful applications, to lead to its own best happiness and true centre of rest! Surely "he that winneth," and even he that thus watcheth for "souls, is wise."
Especially so, when we consider further, that this conscious being, with all its passions and desires, its habits of thought, natural or acquired, its virtues or its vices, is endued with a principle of immortality; and must shortly, perhaps very shortly, pass out of time into an eternal state of existence. At that dread hour which
From "The Christian Watchman;" a very excellent sermon, by Archdeacon Hoare, preached in the chapel of Farnham Castle, at the ordination of the Lord Bishop of Winchester, Dec. 16th, 1838. London, Hatchards, 1839.
intensity, a vividness and force, expressly suited to that more refined and advanced state of being. In affecting the soul, in watching for its highest and best interests, the labours of the spiritual watchman reach in their results to the invisible and eternal world. Blessings that never end, the riches of immortal souls, await the exercise of our diligence and care: and, on the other hand, reproaches loud and agonising, so as to reach, were it possible, the very seats of the blessed, must issue from those lost souls who may have, to all eternity, to rue the miserable consequences of our neglect-the fruits of ministerial indolence or culpable forgetfulness. Let us "watch," then, as for neverdying "souls."
Nor is it only for them as immortal, but as redeemed also, that we are called to watch. He who will be the Judge has now become the Saviour of the soul. Christ himself came down from heaven to redeem it: and he then gave to the "spirit of man" its deepest interest, and the highest proof of its value and importance, when he purchased its deliverance with his blood: while his own most touching question, calculated, as it were, upon the very price which he was about to pay for it, ascertains its surpassing and inestimable worth; "What is a man profited, though he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" We have not indeed looked into the eternal world: we have not experienced the intensity of those joys, or the depth of those pains, which last for ever and ever. But we have the clear testimony of Him before whom, when he spake, eternity lay open; we have the undoubted pledge of truth and love, sealed with blood, to the awful realities of the future and invisible state: and as with an unshaken veracity he who bled for us pronounced from the cross the accomplishment of his own great work, "It is finished;" so with unrivalled affection he committed to our charge those sheep for whom he laid down his life-"Feed my sheep;" ;""Feed my lambs;" watch for souls whom I have purchased; warn those whom I have redeemed; press the truths that I have taught, the price that I have paid, the debt of gratitude due to me from souls immortal, which eternity itself never can repay. "Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price;" "All souls are mine." Let us then "watch," as for "souls" which Christ hath redeemed.
motives, into a state of reconciliation, communion, and peace with him. Suffice it to say, that there are two leading changes-one of state, the other of disposition -which are designated respectively by the terms justification and sanctification. Over these it is that we are called especially to watch in regard to our flocks; these are the events which render our ministerial charge, beyond all other trusts, critical and vital. They are changes which neither education merely, nor the arts of refinement and civilisation, nor the lessons of philosophy and worldly morality, can of themselves ever produce. Yet do they affect the everlasting interests of man. And in another especial respect they demand our extreme vigilance and care, that they are most liable to mistake or failure; and are, in fact, those against which sin, the world, and the devil, have ever directed their deadliest attacks, and applied their subtlest arts.
It has been the character, doubtless, of all times, no less than our own, it has been an attempt coeval with the fall itself, to substitute something else in the place of those true regenerating acts which restore the soul to God, and qualify it for the everlasting presence and enjoyment of its Maker. With this view have been framed all the idolatries of the heathen, and all the superstitions of the Christian world. In the present day, the faithful watchman has to guard much against the error of supposing even a sound and clear exposition of the truth itself, "as it is in Jesus Christ," to be the whole (though a necessary part) of vital religion. Nor will he be less jealous of a certain tendency, now abroad, to by-gone superstitions, which would seem to mistake the sacraments of grace for the grace itself which they represent; or which would describe the blessings of justification, and even sanctification also, as changes into which we pass unconsciously; transitions of soul conducted independently of that one great personal act of justifying “faith," by which our Church expressly declares "we first come to God." Mistakes or mis-statements of this nature lie at the root of all error; and they essentially weaken the force of those solemn appeals made by the most faithful of all human watchmen; "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace for we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith;" adding, "ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" And the apostle ends his address in the same strain; "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."
The commission thus placed in our hands acquires fresh importance from a further consideration, namely, that whilst here on earth, the soul is the subject of the greatest of all possible changes. Fixed as its character and condition must be for ever hereafter, it has here the opportunity of undergoing a most necessary and important change; a change indeed no less important than that of "passing," in scriptural language," from darkness to light;" nay, even "from death unto life;" a translation " from Satan's power," or from the power of darkness, into the kingdom of God's dear Son." Without entering at any length on the meaning of these scriptural expressions, it is not too much to affirm that they denote only what might naturally be expected of fallen creatures; who, finding themselves in a state of rebellion against their Maker, opposed to his holiness and liable to his wrath, are yet invited back, by the tenderest solicitations and most urgent
THOUGHTS ON HISTORICAL PASSAGES of THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT.
No XI.-David pardoned, but punished.*
By the Rev. FULWAR WILLIAM FOWLE, M.A. Rector of Allington, and Perpetual Curate of Amesbury. IT has often been remarked that one of the strongest internal testimonies to the authenticity of the Bible as the word of God, is afforded by the impartiality with which it records the failings, the follies, and the crimes
• See First Lesson for the sixth Sunday after Trinity.
no less than the virtues, of those characters which it holds forth in their general conduct for our imitation. It neither magnifies the one, nor palliates the other. And much were it to be wished that we would act in the same manner when we make these characters the subject of our consideration.
David is first introduced to our notice when anointed by Samuel as the future king over Israel, and the first public transaction in which we find him engaged gives us an instance of his faith and piety. When the armies of Israel fled before the champion of the Philistines, David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine." And when Saul remonstrated with him, and said, "Thou art not able to go, for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war," he replied, that the Lord had already enabled him to kill a lion and a bear which had attacked his flock, and that this uncircumcised Philistine should be as one of them, seeing he had defied the armies of the living God. And when the Philistine despised and disdained him, as they drew nigh unto battle, he said to him, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come unto thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied." The necessary limits of these remarks will not permit us to go through the long and eventful history of David, further than is necessary to the true development of his character, and to shew what it was in him which rendered him, after all the sins into which he afterwards so unhappily fell, still a subject of Divine mercy and Divine forgiveness. This we shall find to have been his faith and trust in God, his humbleness of mind, his zeal for the honour of the Lord. Even when yet a boy, he had killed a lion and a bear in defence of his flock, and he ascribed the circumstance to God. When he slew the Philistine, he declared before the whole army of Israel that the battle was the Lord's, and the victory from him. When persecuted by Saul, every measure which he took for the safety of himself or his friends was with this reserve-" till I know what God will do for me." In all his distress he sought counsel of the Lord. On more than one occasion Saul's life was in his power, and some of his attendants urged him to rid himself of his enemy; he exclaimed, "God forbid that I should touch the Lord's anointed." On another, fainting with thirst, three of his friends had procured him water at the risk of their own lives; he refused to drink it, pouring it out as an offering unto the Lord. The same spirit of faith and piety led him, when he had sinned against God, to go to God for pardon, freely to confess his guilt, to declare the greatness of his iniquity, and that it was only of God's infinite mercy that he could look for forgiveness.
When Saul had fallen in battle, it pleased the Lord to raise David to the throne of Israel; to which kingly office Samuel, by his command, had long since anointed him. It was in this exalted station, when surrounded with every incitement to vice, and every facility to indulge in it, that he committed the complicated crimes of adultery and murder, which shall ever stand against him on God's record upon earth, and which nothing but the all-atoning blood of a crucified Saviour can wash away from God's record on high. The circumstances were briefly these. He accidentally saw the beautiful Bathsheba; he inquired after her-he committed adultery with her. After many fruitless efforts to conceal his guilt, he caused her husband, who was fighting the battles of his country, to be placed in a post of danger, there to be deserted by the rest of the army, and to fall by the hands of the enemy. But he soon found, as sooner or later we all shall find, how bitter are the fruits of sin. The Lord sent his prophet Nathan to him; first to convict him of his guilt, and then to pass the sentence of Divine retribution upon it.
"Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, Behold I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house. Thou didst it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun." Oh! most terrible sentence, and yet most just! So terrible, that a sinner uninfluenced by Divine grace would have hardened himself against it; or a sinner unsupported by Divine grace would have sunk into despair. Ahab, when sentenced for his sins, sought to kill the Lord's prophet; and Cain exclaimed, “ My punishment is greater than I can bear." But David instantly confessed his guilt-" I have sinned against the Lord." Nor was this merely a hasty and unfruitful acknowledgment of his sin. His grief, his misery, his mental agony, his anguish of heart, his humility, his penitence, are expressed in the 51st Psalm, composed on this sad occasion. And thousands of broken-hearted sinners, since his time, have been permitted in these words of David to give utterance to their godly sorrow for sin, and to receive through them holy consolation. And Nathan said unto David, "The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die." David's confession and God's pardon stand in the same verse; and I believe there are some who imagine that the only punishment which David's sins received was inflicted in the death of the infant, which is related in the same chapter. To an affectionate heart, as David's was, the reflection that his guilt had caused the death of his child must have given the most poignant anguish; and we read that it did so, in his manner of conducting himself whilst the child was yet alive. But if any suppose that this was the only retribution with which Divine Justice visited David, it argues a great and sinful ignorance of the Old Testament. The pardon which God had given had been expressed in these words: "The Lord hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Thy sense of thy sin, thy confession of it, thy sorrow for it, thy repentance of it, have led the Lord in his mercy to accept an atonement for thy soul. Thy crimes have incurred the sentence of both temporal and eternal death: but thou shalt not die; thy life shall still be prolonged in this world; and in the world to come I will not close the door of mercy against thee." This was the amount of God's promise. But every particular of the threatened punishment in the sentence which had been passed on him was inflicted upon this unhappy man to the very letter. God had said, "The sword shall never depart from thine house;" and so long as David lived, one after another of his family died by the sword; and his eldest surviving son was put to death just after his father had expired. God had said, "I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house;" and how miserably this prediction was fulfilled, the remaining history of David abundantly shews.
And here we gladly close our remarks upon the sins and the sorrows of David. Enough, and more than enough, has been said to shew that the sins of David afford no encouragement to the sinner. Never was sin in this world more terribly visited than his. Let the sinner, then, take warning, but no encouragement. David, whose heart from his youth up was generally with God, went down to the grave sorrowing for sin; and how shall that man hope to escape the punishment due to his offences, who has not only repeatedly broken the Divine laws, but has in his heart always departed from the Lord?
The pardon and yet the punishment of David, his spiritual pardon and his temporal punishment, afford