« ZurückWeiter »
gations to rescue and preserve man, it is admitted, but that he should condescend to select a certain number only, to be restored and saved, whilst he leaves a greater proportion to sink into hell, to his honor and glory, we at least as Lutherans deny. For, the command, that the Gospel shall be preached, as a general command mall are invited to come all who do not accept of the proffered mercies, are denounced. And why invite when it is impossible to accept? Why denounce and condemn when the act could not be avoided ?
But we are told, by the Book of Life, (and we care not what man has said or may say) that “the free gift” came upon all men--learing consequently to man, to accept or reject it. But it is said that man, is no Free Agent, since the fall; however much we respect the scruples and even certain prejudices of men, we do think, that as Christ satisfied the requisitions of the law, by an oblation of himself the shackles which bound man, were broken, and the prison door was opened, so that it is left to the sinner to regain and enjoy liberty, or to continue in that prison. In this view of the matter, we are supported by Matthew xxii 37. “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, AND YE WOULD NOT! 1 Timothy ii 4 & 6. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testisfied in due time. 1 John ii 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 2 Peter iii 9. The Lord not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Numerous other scriptural passages of similar import might be adduced, but we need no more, to establish the point in question.
T'he contrary doctrine is termed Predestination, though, Fatalism, is a more appropriate term. The first man, who appears to have been so infatuated, as to teach it, was the Monk Godschalk. Soon however, it was cast aside, and but little was said upon the subject, until Calvin revived it. This accounts for the fact, that Luther did not introduce the subject formally into his writings. And, as in addition to this, Luther did not go so far as Arminius—as he taught what we would call Scriptural Predestination, it is said in modern times, occasionally, that he held the same ideas, which Fatalists or Absolute Predestinarians hold. But, the 18th Article of the Augsburg Confession “Of Free Will” surely cannot support them. Yet, if they do think so, let them look at a letter written by Luther A. D. 1528, to a poor soul at the brink of despair, from an impression, that he had been created, and predestinated to be a child of hell. Luther tells him “God decreed from eternity, to save all men and adduces in confirmation, Ezekiel xviii 23. “Have I pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God; and, not that he should return from his ways, and live? You should not give way, Luther proceeds, to foolish thoughts, suggested by the devil &c. and then quotes Ephesians i, 4, 5. According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will, &c. And this we recommend to the attention of such, who may have been unnecessarily disturbed, by the declaration “that God either withholds from those, whom he has predestinated vessels of wrath, the means of grace, or renders them ineffectual.” (These are the words of Calvin.)
But in Paul's epistles to the Romans & Ephesians, some difficulties are met with! We conceive not; on the contrary we view all that is applied to prove Fatalism, as having reference to temporal and external matters only. The Israelites every Bible reader is aware, were called the chosen people, the elect of God, but were they all saved? Will any one attempt to assert, that the thousands who were cut off in their unbelief, are seated in heavenly mansions ?
Before we conclude our remarks, we would briefly notice another part of the doctrine held by Fatalists, viz. That once in grace, we are always in grace. This we reject most sincerely, and from the best authority. We will quote a few from the many, Scriptural passages, that sustain us in our view of the subject. Galatians v 4, Paul tells the Galatians “ye are fallen from grace," 1 Corinthians x 12 “Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Ezekiel xviii, 21, 22, and 24. “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him : in his righteousness that he hath
done he shall live. But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live ? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
If we believed, that God had determined from eternity to create a certain number of intelligent creatures purposely, that he might display his power in casting them into hell, we would never again ascend the sacred desk, and ever regret, that we accepted from our fellow travellers to eternity, an annual contribution, for our support, however scanty it has been. And, if the doctrine were true, that he who has been converted from sin, can never fall, we cannot conceive why watching, and praying and fighting the good fight, should be urged upon the elect.
Luther taught, and Lutherans believe, that God determined from eternity, that all who repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, shall be saved, and that those who refuse to repent and believe, shall be cast into eternal fire. This is scriptural predestination. Since then Jesus has been exalted to give repentance and forgiveness of sin-since he is the author and finisher of faith, we admonish every man, woman and child, to fly to Jesus—to ask and seek of him, and not one shall perish.
We know that many who differ from us in opinion, upon the subject at issue, are warm and zealous in the cause of Christ. We love them and esteem them for their exertions in the cause of the Lord, but as for ourselves, we cannot through, our Glass, see a God, who is partial and that can be delighted in hurling a poor frail creature that he rendered incapable of receiving grace, into hell.
If every one who teaches, dwelt upon the depravity of man, the necessity of repentance and faith, holiness of heart and life--the importance of prayer and scearching the scriptures, instead of laboring to impress sinners with the idea, that God created one part of the human family for himself and another for the devil, no remarks would have been called for from us.-Editor.
The Commercial Advertiser of Cincinnati says that a letter recently received in that City from a merchant in Liverpool, states the remarkable fact, that he has in his warehouse in Liverpool, one hundred hoxes of eight by ten window glass, made on the banks of the Ohio!
INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON THE SOUL.
Our remarks upon the above subject, exerting such great insluence upon practical religion, are again resumed, and what has been promised in our first number (see page 218 of last vol.) will now be given ; and if the whole should gain the attention, his first number has, the writer will judge he has not unprofitably occupied the time of his readers.
In that number the readers attention was briefly called to the nature of this subject-and a few, in his view, cogent reasons why it claims our particular attention. Among others were mentioned the indefinite and vague notions many have of the real nature of the influence the spirit exerts upon the mind of the sinner in the course of his conversion, and the bewildering effect of such vague notions producing either dangerous presumption, or as dangerous discouragement and despair, and that we not only may have clear notions here without doing any injury to the spirituality of our holy religion, but that it is our duty to possess this clear understanding, and divest, practical experimental piety of the supposed mysteries, and indescribable mental phenomina may have ignorantly thrown around it. Any one of these considerations, instead of all combined would be sufficient to justify all we have to say on the subject.
In our remarks the fact of such divine influence upon the soul, the reader perceives, is taken for granted otherwise it would be absurd to go into a description of its nature. In relation to the adorable trinity, the doctrines of the Lutheran church are rigidly orthodox, and while she rejects extravagancies in religion, contends for all the high and holy influence it is the office of the spirit to exert in the conviction, the conversion and sanctification of the sinner, John xvi, 8-1 Corinthians xii, 3 and 2 Thessalonians ii, 13. To these and similar scriptures we add the doctrinal books of our church as founded upon these, such as Schmuckers elements of Biblical Theology translated from the German of Storr and Flatt, under the article of Doctrine of the Trinity, book 2 part 3, where the doctrines of the Lutheran church teaching the Trinity are set forth in detail, as selected from our standard theological works, but all founded upon Article 1st of our unalterable Augsburg Confession, and a happy compend of which is set forth in the catechism of our church. These remarks and references, without going into any direct proof of the divinity of the Holy Ghost, and the reality of spiritual influence, which is not our object, will be sufficient, we presume, to save our character for orthodoxy, and the faith of our church from misrepresentation in our strictures upon a subject on which many will agree with us, there is much ignorance, much delusion and much fatal extravagance and yet requiring to be examined with care.
The practical improvement intended to be drawn from our stric
tures, we hope will be made by those of our own church, as well as others, whom the garment may fit. For Lutherans they are intended, and if the errors we shall notice have existence in other societies, we hope we shall not be viewed as wanting in christian charity to others, in correcting evils among ourselves. This remark is promised because of the dclicate manner in which this subject is viewer, and the predisposition to condemn the piety of those v ho discuss it, thus at once cutting off all remarks upon a subject, on which nothing but a sense of duty urges us to venture non volens judicare.
The first error on the subject of the spirit's influence we notice and in the present number shall discuss, is that beside the still small voice in conviction and joy afterwards in believing there is an additimal, extraordinary influence, wholly indescribable, exerted upon. the sou! ; and that this operates both at the time of conversion and afterwards in the inexpressible joy produced in the believer.
This is the idea as plainly as we can describe it, and to this im. pression the whole class of suprapneumatists or extraspiritualists give their assent. None, who have paid attention to the peculiarities of much of the religious experience of late years will question
the fact of this general, yet vague notion. This additional extraordinary influence in the course of the sinners conversion to God, is as certainly felt as that the man, who before was a child of the Devil, is now a converted subject of grace, while the former may be true, as to his having been a child of Satan, the latter may be questioned.
A peculiarity of this doctrine moreover is, that this estra-influence is irresistable in its operations ; in other words that in the day of the Lords power the sinner must submit, which idea and phraseology in its proper place, we shall consider. John üži, 8, and the two accounts of St. Pauls miraculous conversion recorded in the 9th and 22 chapters of Acts, are favorite scriptures in proof of this mysterious and irresistable power of the spirit. Hence though God ordinarily for years was striving by his spirit with the sinner, bis conversion was delayed, till this ordinary course of Gods dealing was laid aside as insufficient, and the hitherto incorrigible sinner is now arrested by the omnipotence of Jehovah. This is a strange medley of arminianism and election or irresistable grace, we should like to see certain of our christian brethren, holding the one doctri neand rejecting the other, explain and reconcile in a way that will save them from this awkward dilemma ; ona certainly not very creditable to their idea of the divinity of the spirit, and at the same time very consistent with their system of theology.
But again the effect produced, by this extra-spiritual influence, is moral proof in favour of the doctrine amounting to demonstration; and hence is urged as indisputable and established no matter in what sad and awkward portion it represents the divinity of the spirit. The plain and necessary conclusion excites no uneasiness, which makes the spirit at one time insufficent, at another time