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By Mary Howett.
Oh Grave, thou hast thy victory!
Beauty and strength are laid with thee!
The prophets are of former days;
Oh Grave, thou hast thy victory!
And thousands have lain down to die :
Of old thou hadst thy victory!
Thine are the isles, and thine the sea;
Oh Grave, what woe is wrought by thee!
Yet, than earth's mightiest, mightier,
Ile stood between us and despair ;
He bore, and gave us strength to bear:
Oh Grave, well might each thoughtful race
ON READING "THE COURSE OF TIME," EY THE LATE REV. R. POLLOK.
By Mrs. J. Conder.
"He touched a harp of wondrous melody.” Thine was a glorieus destiny-to soar,
While mortal yet, above the shadowy bound Of mortal things, o'er heights unscaled before,
To claim free passport for the heavenly ground. Thy native home it seemed; for thou couldst bear
With stedfast gaze, the mysteries of light And truth, that shed majestic glory there; Untried, undazzled by the venturous flight. Thy harp, of high Apocalyptic tone,
Was strung for Paradise, though given below; And thou, before the rainbow-tinctured Throne, Where from the crystal, living waters Row, Didst haste with kings and priests to cast it down, And join the holy throng, impatient for thy
Round the couch where the sufferer is laid. And lips are all pallid, and cheeks are all cold, And tears from the heart-springs are shed: Yet who that looks on the sweet saint to behold, But would gladly lie down in her stead!
There is grief, there is grief-there is anguish and strife,
See the sufferer is toiling for breath;
For the spirit will cling, oh! how fondly, to life,
But the terrible conflict grows deadlier still,
And the eye-ball is glazed, and the heart-blood is chill,
And this is the portion of Earth.
There is bliss, there is bliss-in the regions above
A spirit hath soared to those mansions of love,
And the seraphs are eager a sister to meet,
There is bliss, there is bliss-at the foot of the
See the spirit all purified bend;
And it beams with delight since it gazes alone, On the face of a Father, a Friend!
Then it joins in the anthems for ever that rise,
And its frailty or folly forgiven;
It is dead to the earth; and new-born to the skies;
And this is the portion of Heaven!
THE HOUR OF PRAYER.
By the Rev. T. Raffles, L.L.D. Blest hour! when mortal man retires To hold communion with his God, To send to heaven his warm desires, And listen to the sacred word. Blest hour! when earthly cares resign Their empire o'er his anxious breast, While all around the calm divine
Proclaims the holy day of rest,
Blest hour! when God himself draws nigh Well pleased his people's voice to hear, To list the penitential sigh,
And wipe away the mourner's tear. Blest hour!-for then where He resorts Foretastes of future bliss are given, And mortals find his earthly courts The house of God-the gate of Heaven. Hail! peaceful hour! supremely blest, Amid the hours of worldly care! The hour that yields the spirit rest! That sacred hour-the Hour of Prayer. And when my hours of prayer are past, Ob! may I leave these Sabbath days,
To find eternity at last
A never failing hour of praise.
By R. Montgomery.
Spirits that with unblasted eyes behold
The Great Eternal on his throne of light!-Dwellers in heaven! who hailed the finished
When stars all animate with music, sang.-
And make my thoughts as beauteous as your
What are ye, round whose name a glory shines?
Of fancy born, what dream like beauty-shapes
And nature prompts romantic dreams,
When evening wreathes
With billows of fantastic light, and o'er The landscape, sweeter than the errant tones From harp-strings dashed, a host of breezes sound Then Poesy, with Inspiration stands, And from some rocky pinnacle surveys The Sun go down in glory !-Then the hour When mind creates, and a seraphic throng Are imaged, walking o'er their fields of light! But whatsoe'er ye are, the Omnific Word Reveals, angelic ministers have been Bright harbingers from an empyreal sphere: When paradise lay shining in the sun, With all her progeny of fruits and flowers, Immortals! oft your godlike radiance glanced Between the garden trees, while earth's first pair Beheld ye coming like celestial dreams!And have not empires that are dead, been ruled By Angels, delegates of the Supreme? Where art Thou, Archangelic One! whom he Of Patmos with the Spirit's eye foresaw ? Wrapped in a cloud, a rainbow o'er thy head Thy face sun-bright, with limbs of fearful fire. Thou didst descend, and on the prostrate deep Thy right foot plant, and with a thunder voice To heaven didst swear-that Time should be no
Elysian era! While o'er their slumbering flocks
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
The Unconditional Freeness of the Gospel, in Three Essays. By THOMAS ERSKINE, Esq. Advocate. Edinburgh. 1828. pp. 240. 4s.
THE doctrine of justification by faith has, from the time of St. Paul, been a mystery and a stumbling-block to many. It has been misunderstood, misrepresented, per
verted: it has been derided by some, and by others doubted; we really believe, in the latter case, from the sincere apprehension that it militated against the interests of practical holiness. But the man who studies his Bible with Christian simplicity, is not surprised at this: doubtless "the offence of the Cross" has not, even now, ceased: nor in the present day, any more
than in the time of the Apostle, does "the natural man receive the things of the Spirit of God." Since then, there are necessary difficulties in the way of the reception of this great distinguishing Christian truth, it is the more important that none should be introduced which do not properly belong to it; and if such have been introduced, approbation is justly due to those who endeavour, so far as it may be possible, to take up this "stumbling-block" out of the path of the servants of God. In this attempt, however, we must be careful to guide ourselves by the Holy Scriptures: no vain notions of man's wisdom, no theories of even the most brilliant imagination, can solve the difficulties, or may be permitted to do so if they could.
The task to which we have alluded, has been attempted by the truly devout and respected writer of the work before us. He conceives that the doctrine in question has been very commonly misstated, and his object is to remove the needless objections which have been thereby excited in the minds of many sincere Christians. There is so soothing and heavenly-minded a strain of piety running throughout Mr. Erskine's pages, such an evident solicitude to promote the glory of God and the best interests of mankind, that it is with reluctance we are compelled to express our opinion that he has entirely failed in his argument. In the first place, we think he has mistaken the cause of the difficulties he mentions: in the next, his reply does not remove them and in the third, his whole system would entirely want support but for the most violent interpretations of Scripture, and a nomenclature as peculiar, and even inconsistent with itself, as it is novel.
In the first place, then, he has mistaken, as we conceive, the cause of the difficulty he alludes to. He thinks (p. 71), that "the common objections to the doctrine of
justification by faith are borne out, to a considerable extent, by the way in which that doctrine is very commonly stated." Now, we doubt whether, as he goes on to say, "faith is often spoken of as if it
were the substitute for universal obedience, or holiness described merely as an evidence of faith," in such a way as to lead fairly to the conclusion that it might be "dispensed with, if other could be procured." But even granting that such statements are made, the error would not be exactly where our author conceives. The great fault of such preaching, (and it is precisely that which pervades the whole of Mr.Erskine's own essay,) would be this, that appeal is made in the first instance to the understanding, instead of to the conscience. Till a man has a deep conviction of sin, he cannot rightly receive the doctrine of justification by faith: but that once wrought in him, the great stumbling-block is removed; he then perceives its suitableness to his own state, and its perfect consistency with the final judgment according to every man's works. Hence we find that St. Paul testified not only of faith toward Christ, but also of repentance toward God; as also John the Baptist, before him, "came preaching repentance," and then directed the attention of his disciples to Christ as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." But Mr. Erskine assumes the very point in the absence of which the difficulty really lies: he takes for granted a conviction of sin, and a desire for pardon and salvation; and thus describes the Gospel as a remedy to those who know not that they are sick, and as a pardon to those who have no feeling of its needfulness for themselves, as being already under condemnation. He endeavours, in fact, to convince "the natural man" by argument, instead of first seeking to lead him, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, to that knowledge of himself which is the
only preparation for the right reception of the doctrines of grace. He labours to erect the superstructure, without laying the foundation. If the fact of the state of man as a sinner before God be conceded, for his justification to be by faith and not by works appears to us a necessary consequence. Man, liable to condemnation, or rather already condemned, as a transgres sor of the Divine law, must be wholly dependent upon the mercy of God. Now, that mercy is offered, in one and only one way: faith in Jesus Christ, as the Author of salvation, is an acceptance of the boon or free gift as it is offered. We know why the waters of Jordan could heal the leper, while those of Pharpar and Abana had no such power we know why those who looked upon the brazen serpent were cured, while they who should have refused to look would have perished: and we know also, that in Christ Jesus, and in him alone, a fountain for sin and for uncleanness has been opened; and that "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man has been lifted up, that whosoever looks on him may not perish, but have everlasting life." Is not the eye that looks, the eye of faith? Is not the hand that appropriates this benefit, the hand of faith? And is not pardon or forgiveness one of those benefits? And does not this open the approach to God as our reconciled Father, and enable us to draw nigh to him with the confidence of filial love, so as to have peace with him, and to obtain, from the fulness of his grace, the supply of all our wants?
Such appears to us the plain answer to the objections which Mr. Erskine combats: but this is not his reply. According to him, the Gospel does not declare how, or to whom, sin may be pardoned; but, that sin is already pardoned, universally and irrespectively of any varieties in human character. He considers the message to consist
not in the offer of forgiveness to the penitent, and of grace to those who are sincerely, though in weakness, seeking God; but in the declaration that all, "whether they believe it or not," and whether they be penitent or not, but "merely, as sinners," are already actually forgiven. By the knowledge of this fact, he contends, the sinner must be drawn as by cords of love, to give his heart to God: and therefore he would conclude that no difficulty remains, for that the knowledge of this fact is what is meant by justification by faith.
In the case of the true penitent, we have no doubt that the effect of this knowledge or sense of pardon, would be such as Mr. Erskine describes: but to the great mass of mankind, we fear the doctrine here stated, would operate as a direct encouragement "to continue in sin." If all their sins, past, present, and to come, were already pardoned, they would not easily comprehend how any thing further could be necessary to secure their admission into heaven. True, the term "pardon," as used by Mr. Erskine, as we shall have occasion to observe presently, is something very different from what divines in general understand by that term; so different indeed, that after carefully perusing all he has written on the subject, we do not know exactly what it is, or how it is applicable to the solution of the difficulty which he alleges.
But whether our author's reply be or be not satisfactory to the supposed objector, it certainly is not so to us; and for this reason, that we do not think it scriptural: and it is only by the help of new renderings and free translations that our respected author himself can make it appear so. In his view, as we have seen," to be justified," is not "to be pardoned," or "to be accounted righteous," but "to have the sense of pardon," though in what way either the Latin or the Greek words come to have this significa
tion, he has not explained. Again, we read, Romans iv. 3 and Genesis xv. 6, "Abraham believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness;" which Mr. Erskine construes (p. 182), "Abraham believed in the Lord, and he reasoned it unto him;" that is, taught him to argue from it his own acceptance; an explanation contrary to the plain meaning of the words. Again, p. 176, our author tells us that Acts ii. 38 should be translated, "Repent, or rather change, your minds, and let every one of you be baptized into the doctrine of forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake;" an interpretation defended by the assertion, that "to be baptized into a doctrine is the ordinary phrase of the New Testament." Our readers will, doubtless, be surprised by this assertion; but they will be still more surprised to find Matt. xxviii. 19, and Romans vi. 3, adduced to prove it; yet so says our author.
“The commission given to the Apostles ought to be translated, baptizing them (uot in but) into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost,' that is, introducing them into that manifestation of the Divine character, (for that is always the meaning of name!) in which God reveals himself as the restorer of fallen man, through the atonement of the Son, and the quickening of the Spirit. So in Rom. vi. 3, as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized unto his death,' that is, were baptized into the doctrine that he died for sins."
According to Mr. Erskine, then, to be baptized into a doctrine is the ordinary phrase of the New Testament; and this is proved by giving it as his own paraphrase of the passages brought forward. How grievously may the best and most able men be led astray, when they form their theory first, and then seek to establish it by accommodating the Scriptures to their hypothesis!
At p. 177, we have another new translation. Meтavonσate oйv, says the Apostle Peter, Acts iii. 19, Kai εTISPEVATE εis To εαλepona iμwv τaç åμapríαç. Surely nothing can be more intelligible, more exactly in accordance with the origi
nal, than the words of our Authorised Version: "Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." This, however, opposes Mr. Erskine's theory, that sin is already blotted out, whether men repent and are converted The rendering,
therefore, must be altered, and we are accordingly directed to read, "Leave therefore your false notions of God, and be converted to that true view of his character which blots out sin, and assures of the forgiveness of sin !!"
There are many more such misinterpretations of Scripture; as, for example, of Acts x. 43, Acts xiii. 38, 39, and Romans vi., p. 36; but we think it unnecessary to quote them. We must, however, remonstrate in the strongest terms which our unfeigned respect for the piety and talent of our essayist will allow, against such principles of explanation, if principles they may be called; the more especially as the reader is directed (p. 183,) to apply them to any other passages of the same character. Such canons of
explication would enable any man to prove any thing from the Scriptures, and introduce mystery and confusion, inconsistency and uncertainty, into the oracles of God.
Our readers will perceive that we have contented ourselves with the notice of some of the passages brought forward by Mr. Erskine, to support his system. We have thought it enough to shew that his own proofs fail, without bringing forward the numerous, we might almost say the innumerable, passages which oppose it. Indeed, were we to admit his new principles of interpretation, and the interpretations which he has actually given, we do not know but he could explain every passage we could adduce, so as to make it square with his own preconceived opinions. To us, Rom. iii. 25 appears perfectly conclusive: "Whom (Jesus) God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood:"