Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

not a regular, systematic training of the household in the knowledge of the scriptures.

Often, too, I find families without any other than the Common Version of the Bible. Seldom do I meet with even a Family New Testament in the New Version. In such cases, one cannot expect much progress in sacred learning. The Family Testament (New Version) is not, except in a few cases, read or consulted, and, con. sequently, such families are not much interested in understanding the Living Oracles--in the advanced state of christian knowledge amongst us.

The Family Testament, regularly read in any family, is always, to my mind, an indication of superior intelligence and advancement in christian erudition. No one need say, because he cannot sustain it by satisfactory evidence, that either himself or household can as well understand the mind of the Spirit from a version made two hundred and fifty years ago—not long after the commencement of an English hierarchy--in the attainments of a courtly priesthood. They could not, and they did not, then give a correct, lucid, and popular version of a book which they themselves did not understand. If a person had both the Greek and Hebrew lexicons and grammars in his head, he could not perspicuously and correctly translate a book which he does not understand, either in his own vernacular or in the original text. We, living at the nineteenth century, possess innumerable advantages over the ecclesiastics at the beginning of the seventeenth century. And why, then, constantly read, even a comparatively imperfect version, when we can read one, if not absolutely faultless, possessing thousands of emendations, great and small, compared with King James Version ? But this only in passing on to report the conversations at the Carlton House, where all helps are introduced, common and spiritual, to teach and to learn the Holy Oracles.

One addition has been made to the Carlton Family during the last year. A converted Jew, named Aquila, of considerable learning, and much devoted to the study of the New Testament, has, by invitation, become a regular resident of the Carlton House. He takes a great interest in the investigation of the Epistle to the Romans. The junior members have made a very decided progress in christian knowledge, since last I met with them. On my return, Father Oiympas ordered that the family would return to the seventh verse of the seventh chapter, six verses of it having been before considered. James read as follows:

“Do you not know, brethren, (for I speak to them who know law,) that

the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound, by law, to her husband as long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is released from the law of her husband. If, then, indeed, while her husband lives, she be married to another, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from the law; so that she is not an adulteress, though married to another husband. Thus, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law, by the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, who rose from the dead, that we may bring forth fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, our sinful passions which were through the law, wrought effectually in our members, to bring forth fruit to death. But now, having died with Christ, we are released from the law, by which we were held in bondage; so that we may serve God in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.

“What shall we say, then? Is the law sin?

“By no means. Indeed, I had not known sin, except by the law. For I had not known even inordinate desire, unless the law had said, You shall not lust.' But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of inordinate desire; for without the law sin is dead. For I was alive, once, without the law; but when the commandment came, sin revived, but I died. Yes, the commandment which was for life, the very same was found to be death to me. l'or sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore, the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good.”

Olympas. --We shall, before entering upon this passage, have a few remarks from our Bro. Aquila, on the general scope and contents of this invaluable epistle. I request this because, from my recent conversations with him, I have learned that he has been, for a considerable time, deeply engaged in studying it.

As he was not at our former conversations, and as he is well read in the Jewish Scriptures, and now much absorbed in studying Paul's Epistles, we will all be much interested in hearing something from him on this epistle, with special reference to the lesson for the day.

Aquila --Father Olympas, I would much rather hear from your self and family on this invaluable treatise on the christian doctrine, for, indeed, I have been exceedingly intent on comprehending it, if I possibiy can; but so recent has been my conversion--only two years since-that I have not made much proficiency in these writings. True, this letter, more than any other, has captivated my heart and my thoughts, and I have read it over more than a hundred times since, by the grace of God, this great apostle convicted me of my sin of unbelief, and that of my unfortunate countrymen, whose hearts are yet uncircumcised, whose ears are stopped, and whose eyes are closed against Pau), more than against any other writer in this book.

On this account, since discovering my error, I have read him more than any other; and chiefly this letter, and that to the Hebrews, command my admiration and delight my soul. I have not sought much extrinsic aid, because I did not know which of the christian

sects to prefer, nor who of their Rabbis I should choose to instruct me. I have, therefore, relied too much upon myself, to be enlightened on the premises. Still, I will expose my ignorance, at your solicitation, and suggest, for your correction, my general distribution of this epistle into parts, with a few remarks upon the first and second of them; for we are now reading the second part of the epistle, so far as I can embrace it as a whole.

I have discovered, as I think, five natural divisions in this epistle. The first, which may be called the introduction, ends with the 15th verse of the first chapter, in which there is no one subject discussed. Beginning at the 18th verse of the first chapter, there appears to be one main subject discussed to the end of the fifth chapter. That subject seems to be a development of the impartiality of divine grace, as respects Jews and Gentiles. Paul demonstrates that they were equally liable to the condemnation of God. He develops the enormities of the Gentiles, without a written law, to the end of the first chapter; and in the second, demonstrates that the Jews, with a written law direct from heaven, were as obnoxious to divine reprobation as they. Still, in the third chapter he admits the superior advantages the Jews possessed in having that law; and yet, from their transgression of it, he makes them more guilty than the Gentiles, and concludes that both Jews and Gentiles were equally without righteousness and without hope. He then proceeds to show that now, under the reign of Christ, a righteousness—without law, written or oral--was revealed, and tendered by him equally, through faith, to Jew and Gentile, and that God is now revealed equally the God of Jews and Gentiles, and has, through the propitiatory offering of his Son, tendered pardon and righteousness, or justification, to both.

In the fourth chapter he then addresses himself to the Jews, and meets and repels their plea, founded upon the faith or righteousness of Abraham, showing that it was not upon the Jewish peculiarity of circumcision, or the law, that Abraham was justified and accounted righteous before God, but by faith in God's promise. He then develops his faith, as the model faith of all who are now justified under Christ; that righteousness is imputed, and not obtained, through works of law.

In the fifth chapter he expatiates on justification by faith, and its fruits; magnifies the love of God, as developed in the atonement accomplished by the Messiah, showing that, as by Adam sin entered into the world, so by Christ a righteousness has entered and passed to the credit of all related to him, as death, the wages of sin, had SERIES IV.-VOL. I.

4*

passed to all connected with Adam; with this difference, that for one offence of one man all died, whereas, through one righteousness of one man, grace had triumphed, and abounded to the justification of all related to him, notwithstanding their innumerable offences. Thus he concludes, “ As by one man's offence" the multitude related to him are constituted sinners, so by one man's righteousness the multitude connected with him are constituted righteous. Thus, as sin has reigned to death, so grace reigns through righteousness to eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus ends the second division of the epistle.

The next, or third division of this letter, commences with the sixth chapter, and ends with the eighth. In this section of the epistle he discourses upon the obligations laid upon believing Jews and Gentiles to consecrate themselves to the Lord that redeemed them. In this he pursues the same method, first addressing himself to the Gentiles, in the sixth chapter, and in the seventh and much of the eighth to the Jews--at least to the end of the twelfth verse. Embracing both Jews and Gentiles, in their new relation to God through Jesus Christ, to the end of the eighth chapter, he tenders to them arguments and motives to personal consecration to him that redeemed them, and holds up to them the most sublime and glorious motives, as a stimulous and inducement to their perseverance in the Lord, terminating in a glorious climax of privileges and honors, as the destiny of those who hold fast their boasted hope unshaken to the end.

From the beginning of the ninth to the end of the eleventh chapter, he develops the causes of the defection and repudiation of the Jews according to the flesh, as tending to confirm the Gentiles, and as cautions to them against apostacy. This is the most recondite and profound development of the scheme, both of divine providence and grace, and tends immediately to the establishment of the Gentiles, and as a frightful warning against the dangers of apostacy. Still, he concludes with some consoling intimations, that the repudiation of the Jews is yet to have an end, and that God will yet have mercy upon them.

From the close of the eleventh chapter to the end of the epistle, he abounds in exhortations to holiness and righteousness in all the relations of life, and concludes with salutations to and from distin. guished citizens of the kingdom of grace.

Such is my synopsis of the grand divisions and subjects discussed in this letter. At least in my númerous readings of it, my mind reposes at the close of each one of these five sections, as if that

subject on which it treats was finished, and I proceed, as it were, to a new one.

Olympas.-Bro. Aquila, we are all much gratified with your comprehensive views of this admirable epistle, manifested in the distribution which you have made of it. In this classification of its con. tents you have the concurrence of some two or three of our most distinguished commentators and critics. One of the present century, and one of the last, have almost altogether concurred with you as to the distinct metes and boundaries of thought developed by the author of this letter, in the arrangement of it. Still, epistolary communications, ancient and modern, differ from essays and treatises in one great point: they are not so methodical and distinct in their subjects, or manner of treating them, as professional orators or essayists usually are. I fully, however, concur with you, that this great apostle had different and distinct items in his own mind when he commenced it, although severally dependent on each other, and all subordinate to one and the same grand end. It would, indeed, be difficult to find any one letter of that age more distinct in its prrts, or more unique in its design.

Being, then, in the third section of the letter, we shall hear from some of our young students what they have learned from the pag

bage read.

Clement.--I propose a retrospect on the first section of the seventh chapter; and would desire from Susan, James, and Henry, in turn, their several recollections and reflections on the first six verses of the chapter.

Susan.-The apostle, in the commencement of the sixth chapter, teaches that the reason why any one is baptized into the death of Christ, is that he has previously, through faith and repentance, died to sin; and that after the death to sin, he was baptized into Christ's death, and therein raised, also, with him, to lead a new life. The old man is, therefore, to be crucified, as Christ was crucified, that our bodies, 60 full of evil passions and lusts, may be continually mortified, and kept under the dominion of Christ, that henceforth we may not be the servants of sin, or of these evil passions—just as one who is really dead, is freed from the tyranny of sin working in his members. The instruments of sin the members of our bodies--are now to become instruments of righteousness; and thus sin shall not tyrannize over us, not being under law to condemn, but under grace to forgive.

Olympas.--You very judiciously begin with the sixth chapter, to understand the beginning of the seventh. So far, you confirm the

« ZurückWeiter »