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fulfilling the design of her Master; every soul gifted with spiritual life, every community brought to obedience to the truth, will show the folly of human wisdom, as they set in a light too strong to be unnoticed, and too clear to be mistaken, this great principle of God's government-" not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."
In these days, when the intellect of man is so greatly on the stretch, so full of its own power, and so confident in its own resources, while there is a manifestly growing repugnance to anything like dependence upon an invisible agency, it is well for the friends of truth to stand nobly by the doctrine of the special influences of the Holy Ghost. The experience of the past, no less than the Word of God, has taught us, that a forgetfulness or denial of this doctrine has prepared the mind for the reception, and made way for the working of the most dangerous errors. When men have been too blind to see, too infatuated to confess the necessity of special spiritual influences, God has abandoned them to the vanities of their own wisdom. The vital truths of the gospel have been lost sight of, the religion of men has become little else than a cold, and heartless, and almost heathen morality. There has been no moving among the dry bones in the valley of spiritual death, and the truth of the Bible relative to the agency of the Comforter," has been plainly demonstrated amid the abuses and formalities of a spurious religion.
It is then upon the fulfilment of this "promise of the Father," upon the manifestation of the Spirit, that we build the hopes of the Church and the world. If ever one soul now out of Christ is brought to the experience of the power of the gospel, it must be through the special agency of the Holy Ghost. If this world is to be converted to God, it must be by copious effusions of His influence, of which the scenes on the day of Pentecost were but the types and earnests. Sad indeed will it be for the Church of God, when her members become blind, or sceptical, in reference to the "ministration of the Spirit" as the peculiarity of our age. The history of the Church of Christ puts beyond all question, not simply the necessity of the Spirit's influences, but the necessity likewise of their copious effusions. Without them, the daily, hourly movement of the Church is retrograde, while her life and energy are inseparable from her advancement. There has been, we apprehend, a growing scepticism, for some time past, as to the advantage, if not the necessity of these outpourings from on high, and the result we have before us, in a manifest leaning to mere formalism on the one hand, and in efforts to bring down religion to the mere natural effect of a natural cause on the other -a result which has furnished to doubters and unbelievers this problem for their solution:-how long, at the present rate of progress, will it be, before spiritual Christianity, which now scarcely
holds her own, shall, according to the sure word of prophecy, overspread the earth? The ages which have gone by have been signalized by wondrous outpourings of the Holy Ghost. Scarce a land upon the earth, not one blessed with the revelation of Jesus Christ, but has been more or less refreshed by these spiritual visitations; and these revivals of Pentecostal days have endowed the Church of Christ with new elements of spiritual power, or quickened into new action those which had ceased to work. It is indeed so (as President Edwards has conclusively demonstrated in his History of Redemption), that, by means of these special and abundant influences shed down from on high, God has established and carried forward his work in the world.
To them mainly, is religion in our land indebted for its foothold and its influence; and if they are withheld from us, we are lost. As our numbers swell, and the field of our action widens, and worldly influences become more and more rampant, vice, immorality, scepticism, and divers forms of error walk onward with strides too large, and a pace too quick to be overtaken by any ordinary means; and when the necessities of our case lead us to plead for revivals of religion, as our only hope, we feel that we are but pleading for what is embraced in the glorious promises of the gospel, whose meaning has been made plain amid the scenes where their fulfilment has been witnessed.
The posture of the early disciples, as they remained secluded in Jerusalem, according to the commandment of the Savior, was a posture of believing expectation. With their eye upon the pro-mise of their Master, they waited in faith, and hope, and prayer, for its fulfilment, and the result showed neither a visionary faith, nor a deceitful hope, nor an unanswered prayer.
Such should be our posture now-the posture of those who believe in great things, and hope and look for great things to come; for we have the same word of our truthful Master upon which to rely. The promise upon which their faith laid hold, and which kindled their sanguine expectation, was not the promise of the Spirit for a temporary purpose, but of a Spirit, who was to abide with the Church for ever. It stands upon record now, as a warrant for our faith, and hope, and prayer; and our right to look for the effusion of the Spirit is as clear and strong as was that of the primitive disciples, previous to the day of Pen
Nay, more than this, the Spirit of God is yet to do his greatest work, and magnify his power more wonderfully than ever upon the earth. The prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, when "a nation shall be born in a day." The analogies of things, as well as the sure word of prophecy, teach us to look for outpourings of the Holy Spirit, more copious in quantity, and more frequent in occurrence, than any which have marked past ages in the history
of the Church of God. As we draw near to the consummation of all things, the full development of the results of the gospel, we may expect more wonderful spiritual achievements, and more magnificent results, than this world ever yet has seen. As the hour draws near, fixed in the unchangeable counsels of eternal wisdom, for the full triumph of Christianity, the onward movement of the Church of God will become more rapid, as the Spirit of Christ will give more abundant success to the instrumentalities of conversion. The inquiry is yet to start from the lips of wondering thousands, as they see men pressing into the kingdom of God, "Who are these that fly as clouds, and as doves to their windows?"
For this, the sure word of God's testimony bids us to look, and under the influence of the hope which inspiration warrants, to pray earnestly for them. Doubtfulness as to their expediency or necessity to accomplish the great ends of the gospel, will not only repress everything like that spirit of prayer on the part of God's people, which in the Scripture is placed in connexion with them as their essential pre-requisite, but will tend to draw away our minds from the truth, that by God's Spirit alone is the gospel to be rendered successful; and lead us to place our dependence elsewhere, upon mere means or instrumentalities, the result of which will be seen, either in transferring the life and spirit of godliness to its mere forms, or in reducing the experience of the "new creature in Christ Jesus" to a mere change in the outward manifestations of the carnal man. Give up the special influences of the Spirit of God in conversion, or relinquish the hope of his abundant outpouring, and we can look for no other
Men may talk of new plans for doing good-may broach new theories upon the subject of the world's conversion; but it seems to us that a Christian mind should be satisfied with the "ministration of the Spirit." Living as we do, under the light of the gospel, under the reign of the Holy Ghost-that Spirit who has come into the world in the place of Christ; that Spirit, who, as he has been shed down upon the Church in time past, has quickened, and strengthened, and enlarged her, what more do we need, or can we wish for? The promise of God is enough for us; let us believe it, and in a spirit of faith and sanguine hope, let us pray and wait for its fulfilment, and we shall yet see scenes which shall prove the vanity of human theories, and show that while man's wisdom fails, God's word shall stand for ever.
THE NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT.
By REV. THOMAS H. SKINNER, D.D., New York.
NOTHING is more emphatically taught in Scripture,' than that the grace of God which bringeth salvation, could not have been bestowed arbitrarily, or without regard to principles of propriety and decorum, as to the mode of procedure; but was under the highest necessity of adhering to apt and fitting mode, in accomplishing its object. God, though above every other necessity, could not disregard His own dignity, or act in a way unworthy of Himself, as the Lord and Maker of all. Such a way is conceivable, but it was not possible, because not consistent with the essential perfections of the Divine nature. It would not have become the Most High.
2. It may have been well, if not necessary, on our account also, that respect should have been had to mode. The mode of showing favor is itself often, of more value than all particular benefits; yea, essential to the permanent value of every benefit. A family may have received a father's generosity in the amplest measures, and yet be less indebted to him for this, than for his having always bestowed his offices of kindness in such a way as to make them so many instances of wisdom and dignity of deportment in himself-so many exemplary lessons to his household, as the paramount value of character. It is often better that things in themselves very desirable should be left undone, rather than be done in an improper manner. Might not, then, the Divine favor towards man have proved no favor in the end, if God had disregarded propriety in the mode of conferring it?
3. It was not only well, but absolutely indispensable for our sakes, that mode should have been observed. Had not God consulted his own honor, He would have done nothing to the ultimate benefit of mankind. God is Himself the portion of man ; but God dishonoring Himself were no more God. No happiness, no possibility of it, would be left to man, if God should do an unwise thing, or a thing on any account misbecoming the Supreme Majesty of heaven and earth. The benevolence of God, His power to bless mankind, depends on His acting always worthily of Himself.
4. But the Scripture teaches that the glory of God, "the
1 Heb. 2: 10, 14, 17. Gal. 3: 21, &c.
2 In the text before referred to and others.
essential perfections of the Divine nature," required, that He should not only have had respect to mode, but have limited Himself to one only mode, namely, "the making the Captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings." For this mode-this, and no other-the necessity was the same as that God be unchangeably God, a being of infinite perfection, who will not dishonor Himself by conduct unbecoming or indecorous in such a being.
5. The doctrine we are to explain, takes for granted concerning this mode, that it embraces what evangelical theology has termed, AN ATONEMENT FOR SIN. By this phrase is intended, an amende, a compensation, or satisfaction, for the remission or setting aside of the condign punishment of sin; or the punishment of the sinner according to his desert. The idea of Atonement is sometimes identified with simple at-one-ment, or reconciliation; but if the design be to exclude what has now been expressed, it will not be pretended that this is the evangelical or orthodox meaning of the term. The atonement, as commonly held by the Church, rests on the assumptions that man is a sinner, and that there is in the nature of sin that which deserves and calls for punishment; and is something which comes in place of punishment, supposing this to be forborne. Our object does not require us to examine the assumption just mentioned. Taking as conceded, that man is a sinner, and that sin incurs punishment, we are to show the principles and nature of that atonement or satisfaction for the remission of punishment, which, we assume, the mode of the Divine mercy to mankind embraces.
6. We ground the necessity for an atonement, under the circumstances supposed, in the perfection of the Divine Nature, and the necessity that God always act as it becomes him to do. Supposing that there is forgiveness with Him,-that He may and does remit the punishment of sin, God, we say, owes it to Himself, as the best and greatest, the Lord and Creator of all things, to require an atonement. Sin calls for punishment, and God cannot disregard the demand; cannot---if it be necessary that the Deity retain the glory of His nature inviolate. Of this the proof is in itself. The difference between good and evil, holiness and sin, is essential and immutable, and to this difference, no good or upright being can be insensible; neither can such a being refrain, if occasion arise, from expressing appropriately, approbation of holiness, and hatred of sin. The Most High, then, infinite as he is in moral perfection, and holding the provinces of Lawgiver and Ruler of the world, was under a necessity-that repeatedly mentioned, of being true to Himself in His mode of agency,-to manifest, in fitting measure and form, His disapprobation of sin. It became Him to do this, in the first place, in His Law-the rule
1 Dr. Owen, on Heb. 2; 10.