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TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING WATCH. Sir, I have a truly excellent letter on the subject (the humanity of our Divine Lord), which I received from Mr. V-a very short time before his death: if you could make any use of it in your Journal, you are welcome to a copy : coming from such a man, as embodying his almost dying sentiments, it is very valuable.
W.F. Dec. 8, 1829.
My dear Sir, I have pleasure in endeavouring to answer your kind and intelligent letter, and will address myself to those points in which you seem especially to require assistance. I am not sure that I perfectly apprehend your notion respecting the person and atonement of Christ. My apprehension is, that God, having formed the purpose of creating beings whom he would ultimately bless, laid the foundation of his plan in the ordinance that the Second Person, who had originated from Him by an eternal necessary communication of being (as had also the Third through the Second), should take real union with the creature, when now it had brought itself into a state of ruin; and thus should justify Him in its reproduction, after dissolution, in a changed form, new state, and new relations. This is my simple element of truth. Man is the centre of the creatures : in man, therefore, the union is taken; in man, when now, according to the will and operation of God, but in perfect consistency with his free agency, he has incurred the forfeiture of his first estate, and the inferior creatures together with him. It is the junction of the Second Person with the creature in its ruin (which junction stands in making a portion of the creature a portion of his personal substance), and his consequent acts and sufferings under that junction, which constitute the ground of reproduction ; a source of existence, as opposed to first production, which is necessary to the end sought-namely, the beatification of the creature—because alone establishing the difference between blessed creature and God. Original sin, therefore, is necessary to the Second Person's being made Christ; because the Christ is the offspring of reproduction, which implies forfeiture of first being. But, then, we must be carefulto understand what original sin really is. That it is not vitiation of nature, but participation of the sin, and consequently of the guilt and curse, of Adam: which guilt was visited by, and which curse consists in, subjection to the devil, together with all that moral and natural evil of which he is the delegated and commissioned head. I consider death, natural death, as a consequence of the subjection to the devil, who must be overcome before we can be delivered from it. How is he, then, overcome? how can he be overcome by the creature ? only by God's inhabiting the creature, and actuating its moral powers unto victory. And this is just the secret of the mystery of Christ. It is the glory of the humiliated Second Person to meet and give effect to the volitions of his perfect human substance, as inspired by God dwelling in him in the person of the Holy Ghost. This makes his acts, at once, the acts of the creature, and the acts of the Co-equal though not Co-ordinate of the Father. Thus is God clearly just in causing the Second · Person to die; and as clearly just in raising him up from the dead, and subjecting the whole creation, in its reproduced form, to Him, with such distinctions as he is pleased to make in the several parts of it. Those distinctions are made in the moral part of it by the giving and withholding of his Spirit. All men were created alike in Adam; all fell alike in Adam; to all, as in Adam alike, the free offer of salvation is made. But such is man's relation to the devil, through original sin, that he is morally incapable, though naturally capable, of receiving this offer. That superadded power, which is vouchsafed in a way of sovereign distinction, and which constitutes the essence of the benefit of election, as opposed to reprobation, is found by experience to be necessary to every man, if he is truly to become a believer in Christ, on which his acceptance in Christ is suspended.
“When I speak of the beatification of the creature at large, as the end of God's counsel, I advert to a state of it which is posterior to the resurrection and final judgment; a state of it as reproduced under new heavens and a new earth. Up to the period of the final judgment, the present distinction of elect and reprobate will continue : the reprobate will then be completed, as a beacon of wrath, which will continue such for ever; and the end of the difference-namely, a notification of God's sovereignty in the creature, as necessary to the manifestation of His own distinct Being and Substance—having been effected, will cease for ever in the creature which dwells upon the earth's surface. * * *
* * Accept my sincere good wishes : and may it please God to prosper our communications, not to ourselves only, but to others, if it be His will.
“ I am, dear sir, yours very sincerely, “ June 30th, 1829."
« E.T. V."
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING WATCH.
January 18, 1830. Sir,-I have lived in the world nearly half a century, and for half that time have made up my mind on all the chief points of my creed ; but, as I protest against infallibility in a Protestant as much as in a Papist, in myself as much as in the Pope, so, when they tell me of any new doctrine, I by no means shut my
ears, but gladly listen to what they have to say. But, notwithstanding all my best endeavours to mend my creed, I do not often succeed; for I generally find their new doctrine to be very old : and when a charge of novelty and heresy is brought against myself, I am contented to bear it patiently, as long as I nestly say, with the Apostle Paul, “I confess, that after the way which they call heresy so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the law and in the prophets." A great outcry has been raised against Mr. Irving's exposition of the Scriptural declarations respecting our Lord's human nature, or what kind of flesh he took at the incarnation. Now, I have heard many of his discourses on this subject, and I have read many of his writings, but cannot discover wherein he differs from Scripture, or from my own creed. Yet, since I have been told that many good men, and men of name, are opposed to what appears to me true and Scriptural, and since I do not set up for infallibility, I have been lately reading all the publications of his opponents which I could procure; and I rise from the perusal greatly confirmed in my original belief, and convinced that Scripture, orthodoxy, and right reason bear me out in this point of my creed. From this examination, I am inclined to think that the question has been perplexed by scholastic subtleties and mystification; and that if it were looked at simply, taking only Scripture and common sense for our guides, it could scarcely be possible to hold a different opinion. I will take one text as an example, and leave others to try the same experiment on any of the numerous similar texts of Scripture. It is written Rom. viii. 3, “ God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,” We are all agreed that our Lord Jesus Christ was both Son of God and Son of man: we are all agreed that both propositions are asserted in this text-that “ His own Son,” declares Christ to be the Son of God; and that “the likeness of sinful flesh,” declares him to be Son of man: we are all further agreed that he had real flesh: therefore the only point in dispute is this, whether this real flesh was such flesh as ours-fallen, sinful flesh; or whether it was such flesh as Adam's was before he fell-unfallen, immaculate flesh.
Allow me to take a familiar homely illustration. Suppose a sheet of black paper lying before me, and I should say to my servant, “ Bring me another sheet, like this black paper.” Suppose him to bring me a sheet of white paper : I should say“ I asked for paper like this black sheet." Suppose him to reply, “ This white sheet is paper, as well as that black sheet; and I thought, when you said like, you only meant another sheet of paper, not caring of what sort it was.” To this I should only have to say, that by saying like this black paper, I had not only told him that I wanted paper, but had defined its quality; and
that white paper is not like black paper. If after this explanation he still persisted that there is a very great likeness between the two, I should dismiss him for an incurable.
Now really, sir, it is no exaggeration to say, that grave theologians have reasoned on the above text in the very same way as my pertinacious servant. Call sinful flesh, black paper; and call immaculate flesh, white paper; and you will find the conclusions the same. They allow that Christ took real flesh : the Apostle asserts that it was “ the likeness of sinful flesh ;” and yet they say, that it was not such flesh as ours, the only “ sinful flesh” we know of. But how they can fancy it like ours, if it was totally different in its quality, or whence they can get a different sort, is past my apprehension to imagine; and as I cannot find it in Scripture, it is also past my faith to believe.
I remain, sir,
WHITE is the likeness of BLACK.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING WATCH.
SIR,—The following extract from Dr. Southey's “ Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society,” will at least shew the extensive success of the Students of Prophecy in calling attention to the subjects of their inquiry.
O. L. Islington, Jan. 5, 1830. “ The Improvement of the World.". (vol. i. p. 34).
i. “ Montesinos.-My hopes are derived from the Prophets and the Evangelists. Believing in them with a calm and settled faith, with that consent of the will and heart and understanding which constitutes religious belief, I find in them the clear annunciation of that kingdom of God upon the earth, for the coming of which Christ himself has taught and commanded us to pray.
Sir Thomas More.-Remember, that the Evangelists, in predicting that kingdom, announce a dreadful advent : and that, according to the received opinions of the church, wars, persecutions, and calamities of every kind, the triumph of evil, and the coming of Antichrist, are to be looked for, before the promises made by the Prophets shall be fulfilled.
“ You, who seek neither to deceive others nor yourself; you, who are neither insane nor insincere ; you surely do not expect that the Millennium is to be brought about by the triumph of what are called liberal opinions ; nor by enabling the whole of the lower classes to read the incentives to vice, impiety, and
rebellion, which are prepared for them by an unlicensed press; nor by Sunday Schools and Religious Tract Societies ; nor by the portentous Bibliolatry of the age! And if you adhere to the letter of the Scriptures, methinks the thought of that consummation for which
you look might serve rather for consolation under the prospect of impending evils, than for a hope upon which the mind can rest in security with a calm and contented delight.
Montesinos (after a few misgivings as to judgment.”) Good and evil principles are widely at work; a crisis is evidently approaching : it may be dreadful; but I can have no doubt concerning the result. Black and ominous as the aspects may appear, I regard them without dismay. The common exclamation of the poor and helpless, when they feel themselves oppressed, conveys to my mind the sum of the surest and safest philosophy: I say with them, ‘God is above,' and trust Him for the event.
“ Sir Thomas More.—God is above, but the devil is below! - Evil principles are in their nature more active than good. The harvest is precarious, and must be prepared with labour, and cost, and care: weeds spring up of themselves, and flourish and seed whatever be the season. Disease, vice, folly, and madness, are contagious; while health and understanding are incommunicable, and wisdom and virtue hardly to be communicated. We have come, however, to some conclusion in our discourse. Your notion of the improvement of the world has appeared to be a mere speculation, altogether inapplicable in practice, and as dangerous to weak heads and heated imaginations, as it is congenial to benevolent hearts.
“ Perhaps improvement is neither so general nor so certain as you suppose. Perhaps, even, in this country there may be more knowledge than there was in former times, and less wisdom; more wealth, and less happiness; more display, and less virtue. This must be the subject of future conversation. I will only remind you now, that the French had persuaded themselves this was "the most enlightened age of the world, and they the most enlightened people in it,” the politest, the most amiable, the most humane of nations; and that a new era of philosophy, philanthropy, and peace, was about to commence under their auspices; when they were upon the eve of a Revolution which, for its complicated monstrosities, absurdities, and horrors, is more disgraceful to human nature than any other series of events in history.
“ Chew the cud upon this, and farewell!”