Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

by not being prepared to take advantage of the opportunity when offered, or go in search of it in some way which God cannot sanction, such as the neglect of a positive duty or the proper time. All these are plain principles between father and child. How surely, then, will He attend to his share, who is the great Father of all, and the teacher of them !

But one thing the Christian must acknowledge, ere he can attain this faith in the overruling providence of God in all ings. Philosophers and men of science scout the idea of chance, luck, and such nonsense; and surely the believer should not dishonour God, by supposing that He does not order all things, and has a purpose in all, the good effect on the minds of his redeemed children being a prime one, although we may not be always able to trace his object. How often do we hear Christians say, “ Well, I was wishing but yesterday for so and so, and to-day I got it, or might have had it, if I had been aware of it:" but, so far from seeing God acting in it to show them his power and love, or produce some other good effect in their minds,-perhaps to show them he does hear and answer prayer, even when it is scarcely offered to him,-they say, “ How strange!” “How odd !” “What a strange coincidence !” “How fortunate !” &c.; as though the whole that takes place was but a chapter of accidents, and there was no overlooking, overruling, omnipotent God at all. God carries on, by his own immediate power, all the results which take place in the creation ; and, if it be requisite, can either so direct our minds, as to throw us in the way of what we require, or bring it to us; and as our wants are but simple, so he can grant or refuse them at pleasure ; while, as men are ruled in a great measure by the impressions existing in their minds, he who believes in this power and will of God to answer his request, will be in a very different position from what he would if not believing it, so that his faith may become a means of bringing its own reward.

I shall now draw your attention to one example of Scripture, where there existed in a simple-minded servant, and man of God, this faith in God's power and love, and where God answered the prayer by a simple combination of events. I mean the account given in Gen. xxiv. of Abraham's servant, who is answered by what might appear a natural circumstance to others. And so it was; but to him it was also an evidence of the directing hand of God, because it occurred in the way and time he required it for direction. The simplicity of the request shows the faith of the man. His patient waiting at the well until all was fulfilled which he required, shows that the hope of an answer was in him; and his after-conduct proves how readily he honoured God by acting upon it. Had he not really believed God could, and hoped he would, have answered his prayer, his duty would have been to proceed at once on his journey; and with what little confidence could he have acted, even if, after all, he had stumbled on his master's relatives !

Now, surely we have here an example all can apply in its principles, according to our various circumstances. How often would such an evidence of God's direction release our minds from anxiety, help us in the attainment of truth, or some temporal requisite ! and how consoling under difficulties to believe such aid attainable ? How delightful to the soul, not so much in the thing attained, as in the direct evid of God being our Father, full of love and compassion, ready to help in every time of need ! And what a check it would also be to sin and folly, even in our thoughts, to realize the consciousness of God's acquaintance with them !

How often do we want His help to comprehend apparently conflicting passages in his word ; and how easy for Him to supply a teacher in a work which explains that which He so much desires we should seek,--true wisdom ! Not that we should neglect the use of our own powers; on the contrary, quicken them ; but still, in the consciousness of their weakness, seek help from that Saviour who has proved Himself all-sufficient for all things, and who, hating given Himself for us, is also willing to give them to us. (Rom. viii. 32.) But each one must apply these principles to his own circumstànces. Experience, too, is requisite, and will increase by the study and trial of God's ways. The answer must be always left to God, and submission to His will keep down all murmuring. We may not always see the answer when given, through the mind being clouded by some unknown error, or not able to see the depth of that wisdom which refuses the request ; but still be instant in prayer, and it will not go unrewarded.

[graphic]

If any Christian still doubt the extent of his privileges, let him study the word, and consider whether he is not charging God in his heart with saying one thing and meaning another, and ask himself, “ Do I doubt that God is as good as I should be to my children?” For no man would consider it requisite to do that for them they could do for themselves, but only give them those general instructions requisite. It is when their weakness is the obstacle, he steps in, and shows his love and power, and that he is always at hand to help in every time of need, either to check or to encourage. I have said but little on this vast and important means of Christian happiness and perfection, in comparison with what might be; but I trust it may awaken some to a further consideration of it, and how dishonouring to the love of God any argument which would reduce the force and fulness of His promises must be ; while the honour of this permission would be strongly felt, and the most made of it, if some earthly Prince had said, “I will call you friends;" and, to show that it was not in name only, gave permission to ask for what we would, and it should be granted. But this same language from the omnipotent Creator and heavenly Saviour and King (John xv. 13, 16—24) is too often explained and tortured to mean nothing at all; for surely a principle and a promise which cannot be reduced to practice, and bear their trial, can be of no real value.

I shall now conclude this paper, in hopes it may be blessed by the great Giver of all increase to the souls of those of his family who may peruse it; and to Him be all the glory.

A SUPPLIANT AT THE THRONE OF GRACE.

REMINISCENCES OF DR. CHALMERS.

(To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) SHORTLY after my appointment to Edinburgh, in the year 1836, I called on the gentle, the generous, the eloquent Chalmers. He cordially received me as a Wesleyan Minister, and kindly gave me permission to attend his theological lectures at the University. I frequently noted down many of his wise and characteristic sayings, at the time, or immediately after I had left his company; and others I still well remember.

On one occasion he addressed me thus :- -“ Mr. Dunn, your Mr. Wesley was a most extraordinary man; all the churches of Christendom are under lasting obligations to him ; his plan of penny-a-week subscriptions was a great practical achievement, and deserves the attention of all denomina

[ocr errors]

tions. But I do not like some parts of his theology: he denies the righteousness of Christ.” I said, “ Doctor, you are certainly mistaken ; for he has a sermon on the very subject, from Jer. xxiii. 6, This is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.' Have you ever read it, Doctor ?" He replied, he did not remember that he had ; and then asked several other questions respecting Methodism.

His views of the deeply-interesting and important subject of redemption will interest your readers. I have heard him speak thus : “ Particular redemption presents the Gospel unfavourably: it is a drag and deduction to the offers of the Gospel. Those Ministers must feel the difficulty of preaching, who think that Christ died only for the elect. Thus the message of Heaven's good-will has been laid under embarrassment ; reasons have been taken from the upper counsels to retard the Gospel. The annunciation from heaven's vault is, 'Peace, good-will,' as boundless as the universe. Christianity will soon break forth from the prisonment in which, by many, it has long been held. They have made it to pass through a strainer, instead of falling as a universal shower upon the world. It is not sufficient that we believe, Christ gave himself for his sheep;' but that

He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. A man is not first to believe that he is one of Christ's sheep, but that he is one of the world : for it is not said, “Look unto me, ye few favourites ;' but, all the ends of the earth.' In no place in the Bible is pardon offered to the elect, but to every person as one of the species. If the Gospel were offered only to the elect, it would not be glad tidings to a single soul; for no one knows, when he first hears the Gospel, that he is one of the elect. There never was a more direct way to darken the message of the Gospel than to mix up the doctrine of election with it: such preaching gives a world of perplexity and alarm to hearers. There is nothing in the dogma of predestination that should in the least trammel us in our offers of salvation. It is a distorted Gospel that does not offer salvation to all. It is not a limited, but a universal, offer of the Gospel, that is the instrument of salvation in every particular case. The Sun of Righteousness has arisen as generally upon human spirits, as the natural sun has arisen upon human eyes. That Minister is not true to his commission, who does not indiscriminately offer the Gospel. That theologian darkens and bewilders himself, who goes to the decrees. But we are told it is God's work to enlighten and renew men. Yes; but God's grace is given with great liberality, and it is lamentable that any Clergyman should shroud this doctrine by any speculations on predestination, which is too deep and mysterious for our optics.

“ The offer of the Gospel is not only to men of all nations, but to all men of all nations. And all men may accept of it. All men ought to accept of it: they have a warrant to do it. It is their own fault if they do not. It is their condemnation if they do not. The only sense in which redemption is particular and limited is, that some will refuse the offer; but this is their own fault. Redemption is not universal in point of effect. The Arminians neither believe this nor the non-eternity of hell-torments, though they are often called universalists. But their meaning is, not the actual salvation, but the possible salvation, of all. I would renounce predestination if I could not offer salvation to any congregation; tell them that there is no exclusion ; that every one may wash away his sins in the blood of Christ. I would give up my views of the decrees of God, if they trammelled me in offering salvation to one and all of the human family. A

I once

Prince obtains from his Father an amnesty for all the rebellious subjects ; yet only those who accept are pardoned; but all might have accepted.

“In the offers of salvation to all, there is great difference between a Calvinist and a Wesleyan Methodist : the Calvinist is so fastened up in his armour, as to be unable to move.

heard

my

friend Robert Hall say, that

many Ministers lay down the offers of salvation in such a way, as that their hearers cannot take them up: and I think the same. The Calvinist who mentions election in his offers of salvation to the people, puts a barrier in the way of their embracing it. I agree with Dr. Whitby, and other universal redemptionists, as it respects the universal offer of salvation, honestly, affectionately, fully; telling men their salvation depends on their faith. The universalists come forward with more truth than the particularists, They say, “Christ died for all ;" * He tasted death for every man ;' that redemption is as extensive as Adam's fall. There must be a sense in which these passages are true. Peter says, that Christ redeemed those who deny him. All would not have been commanded to believe, if Christ had not died for all. Christ marvelled at their unbelief, which could not have been honest, if he had not provided salvation for them. God also beseeches men to be reconciled. He expostulates, O that thou hadst known! The offers to all would be without meaning, if all are not redeemed. The Wesleyans are not theoretical Arminians. I have never observed pride in their prayers or preaching; they abjure independentism before God; and I would sooner send a band of Wesleyans forth among a low, ignorant population that need the church.extension, than a number of staunch, buckram, Calvinist Ministers. In preaching, ply inducements ; employ the imperative mood : systematic theologians use the indicative mood. To spend time in the pulpit in talking about predestination is worse than idle ; it is ruinous. You will not thereby prepare the people for heaven, but for the companionship of devils; for so they are employed in hell.

• Others apart sat on a hill retired,

In thoughts more elevate ; and reason'd high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate ;
Fix'd fate, free-will, foreknowledge absolute;

And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.' “I object to the statement, that the number of the saved cannot be increased ; that all cannot be saved if they will. Edwards of America threw obstructions in the way of sinners. It is not true, that as many will be saved, if apathy prevail among the Ministers of the church, as if all are diligent in saving souls.

“ The saying of the Missionary Eliot, that 'prayer and diligence, with faith in Christ, can do anything,' is worth a hundred sayings of the square, argumentative Calvinist. There is a great difference between the cold, learned Divines of the Church of England, and the Wesleyan Methodists, in their dependence upon God for help. All men have something that renders them accountable. No one, who improves the means of salvation afforded to him, will be found at the left hand on the last day.”

I have many other observations which I heard made by the excellent Doctor.

SAMUEL Dunn.

WESLEY PAPERS. No. XXVIII.-REMARKS ON THE EXPLANATORY NOTES ON THE

OLD TESTAMENT. (To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) The Notes on the New Testament were scarcely published, before Mr. Wesley was importuned to write Notes on the Old Testament; but he was so thoroughly fatigued with “ the immense labour of writing” fifteen hundred quarto pages for that work, that he withstood the solicitation for many years.

He had already published “A Selection of the plainest and most useful Portions of Scripture," from the Old Testament chiefly.* Where an expression was not easy to be understood, he added a note ; but always taking care that the comment should not be longer than the text.t “I cannot, says he, “entertain the thought of composing a body of Notes on the Old Testament.” The difficulty of the work, and the period of life at which, it was undertaken, made it appear to himself almost incredible that he should commence a work of this kind when entering the sixty-third year

of his age.

The only question remaining was, “Is there extant any Exposition which is worth abridging ?” Matthew Henry had been commended by his father for his laborious work on the Old Testament ; " and he is allowed,” says Wesley, “by all competent judges, to have been a person of strong understanding, of various learning, solid piety, and much experience in the ways of God; and his Exposition is generally clear and intelligible.” But few could profit by this Exposition, having neither money for the purchase, nor time to read it. Wesley always considered the labouring classes, who were the great mass of his hearers : hence says he, “ It is not possible for men who labour from six in the morning till six in the evening to find six guineas for six folios.” Wesley viewed a great book as a great evil ; and hence has said that “if angels were to write books, I think we should have very few folios.”'S His father had spent ten years in writing a large folio of Dissertations on Job; "a work of immense learning,” as he styles it, “but not such as I admire :" being useless to common readers, and ruinous to his own family.|| He apologizes for the brevity of his Notes, by saying, “ It is no part of my design to save either the learned or unlearned the trouble of thinking. If so, I might perhaps write folios too, which usually overlay rather than help the thought. On the contrary, my intention is to make them think, and assist them in thinking. The way to

* First edition, 1746, consisting of one hundred and eighty-nine Lessons from the Old Testament, and fourteen from the Apocrypha. Second edition, 1816, reprinted from my father's copy.

+ The late Rowland Hill, having misunderstood the Notes on Gen. i. 1, and Isa. lv. 4, says, with his usual acrimony, “Mr. Wesley became a commentator on the Bible before he could read the Bible.” “ Is this,” says Wesley, “ Attic salt, or wormwood ? ” (Works, vol. X., p. 423.)

See Appendix to Jackson's “Life of Charles Wesley," vol. ii., p. 524.
Vol. xiv., pp. 301, 302.

We learn that the tracts and smaller publications of Mr. Wesley became a source of considerable profit ; for, in his sermon on “ the Danger of Riches," he says :

Having a desire to furnish poor people with cheaper, shorter, and plainer books than I had seen, I wrote many small tracts. Some of these had such a sale as I never thought of; and by this means I unawares became rich.” (Works, vol. vii., p. 9.)

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »