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with the Spirit's agency in our conversion, is it necessary for us to understand it, as intimating a physical work on the part of God or Ilis eficient creative energy.
We notice a few of those most commonly quoted in proof of such a creative power being put forth by God in the regeneration of the sinner.
“Thy people,” says the Psalmist, shall be willing in "the day of thy power. This is commonly quoted to prove, that it is the power of God which makes us willing, and that power not a moral influence which is through truth and motives ' presented; but a physical efficiency. We design not criticism, but even the unlearned reader
1. Ps. cx. 3. Populus tuus spontaneitatés tempore potentiæ tuæ in magnificis ornamentis sanctitatis: ex utero auroræ fluat ros juventutis tuæ. Quibus verbis. d. Morales civiúm Messiæ qualitates describuntur, et b. immensa corum icopia. . Hujus populi internas externasque qualitates delineant voces spontaneitatum, et ornamentorum sanctitutcs; quarum illæ ad animi, hæ ad totius hominis actiones pertinent. Internam animi qualitatem et dispositionem laudabilem ob oculos ponit epitheton spontaneitatum, nomini populi adelitum: sive vertatur, populus tuus spontaneitatum per ellipsin vocis popukus ut plene sit, populus tuus est populus spontaneitatum, sive reddatur, popu. kus tuus spontaneitates.sc, sunt, pro spontaneus est summo gradu; utrum que his admitti potest, et eodem redibit. Sensus enim est populum Messiz esse lubentem, ingenuum, generosæ ac liberalis indolis, qui sese Christo šponte sua, et toto anitno submisit, et ad quævis officia promptum paratum. que præstat. . Venema in Psalmos ad loc.
The Hebrew scholar needs not to be told that the translation of this verse in our English Bibles and the use that is commonly made of it, are alike incor. rect. The power spoken of, is something different from physical efficiency. Populum enim Messiæ talem futurum, seseque præstiturum, dicit poæta, die potertiæ, sive in genere, tempore potentiæ tuæ, sc. regis Messiæ quem adloquitur. Interpretis hic varie quisiem instituunt, et vel tempus copiarum cal ligardartm,vel victoria, velsimile quid intelligunt. Sed corum potiores sunt rationes, qui tempus potentiæ, vel strenuitalis regis interpretantur; qui satis usitatus est vocis sign'ficatus: modo illud hic intendi' statuatur, quo Messias omni vilitate'et imbecillitate, quam inter homines, carne vestitus circumtulit, deposità, ad dextrum potentia Dei exaltatus eam singulari modo exseruit in Spiritus; s. donis efundendis, cuangelio potente et exserta manu potentissima propaganda. Hoc est tempus putentiz Messiæ opposite ad tempus cornis et imbecillitatis inter homines. Idem.
may perceive by the letters in italics in his Bible, that the words, “shall be,” are supplied by the translators. The proper rendering of the verse does not at all convey the idea of an exercise of power on the part of God to make his people willing. They are spoken of as already willing, and the power adverted to, is that of an army or a triumph, which furnishes the occasion for demonstrations of loyalty. Thy loyal people shall come to thee attired in holiness in the day of thy triumph. Let not the text be made to mean what it cannot, by any fair interpretation, be understood to-express.
When Paul prayed for christians at Rome, that "the God of hope (would) fill (them) with all joy and peaee in believing, that (they) might abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost,” he did not ask that God would
"1 by any physical efficiency produce these acts of faith and hope, and feelings of joy and peace; but that the Spirit might exert His influence, and so order it, that they should abound in these exercises and emotions. We have already yeen that God can, and does exert an influence, which is "successful, and is very properly denominated powerful, without any act of creative power. To say that the power of the Holy Ghost, in producing hope and faith, is his creative efficiency, lodging in the soul, “a principle or disposition” that causes such exercises, is saying no more of it than what may he said of his power in creating the instincts, &c. of animals, and thus making His work in regeneration altogether natural, i. e. like that in nature, not supernatural which it is in fact-an influence exerted in pursuance of special design, and not uniformly and infallibly, according to fixed laws of nature. The apostle speaks of the continuous exercises of faith, hope, &c. induced by nithe special influence of the Spirit, and not of any cause of them, philosophically speaking, in the soul itself.
1 Rom. Iv. 13.
In the same way we can understand his prayer for chris. tians at Thessalonica, that God would "fulfil in them) all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.!!! The work of faith is not the simple act we call faith, but all those things which they who believe : incline to, and do in obedience to God, and with a view to His glory- the actions and labor consequent upon or in. duced by their faith. The prayer, therefore, is for the powerful influence of the Spirit, to stimulate them to increased and prolonged labor, and by His co-operating agency to sustain and give them success in it. What he has here brought to view in his prayer, he has elsewhere. introduced in the form of precept. “Be ye steadfast unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your labor is not vain in the Lord." In this sense he used the phrase in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, when he said, that he remembered “without ceasing their work of faith and labor of love."}3
When Paul speaks of "glorying in (his) infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest, upon him," he speaks of the supporting, sustaining, or co-operating and strengthening care and agency of God, by which he was enabled, in the midst of his poverty and afflictions and weakness, still to work for Him. The idea is not that of physical efficiency.
When believers are said to receive "power to become the sons of God," the reference is to dignity, excellence; right or authority, as any one, acquainted with the origimal, can perceive.
When the apostle speaks of "the gospel of Christ, and 1 2 Thess. i. 11.
2 1 Cor. xv. 58. 3 1 Thess. i. 3.
4 2 Cor. n. 9. 1 5 of similar import are the following, Col. i. 11; Pet. i. 5; # Tim. i. 8, &c.
6 John, i. 12. og svolev license, or liberty of action. See Mat. xxi. 23, V 2 Thess. iii. 9; authority or right, Acts, xxvi. 10; Mat. ix. 5: viii. 2., 5. 1. zxvüi.'186 privilege, prerogative, or dignity, John, v. 27.
the preaching of the cross,” being the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,'' he is not speaking of the act of faith, or any other grace, but of the gospel, i. e. the wondrous faets and gracious truths which it was given him in charge to preach, the very annunciation of which to guilty rebels such as we are, is news of the most gladdening nature. There are other reasons to be assigned for its receiving this denomination, than any physical efficiency, which, some philosophical expositors of scripture, have supposed, the Spirit of God exerts, on the niinds and hearts of men in connection with the preaching of the gospel. As the grand medium or vehicle of those powerful influences, which the Uncreated Mind exerts on our minds and hearts, it may well receive such an appellation, especially as the sudden transformations of character, which result through that influence, are so decisive and surprising, and so far beyond the power of mere human suasion, as to prove the moral influence to be superhuman.
To the same purport are the declarations of the same apostle, specifically with regard to the success of his preaching. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you
for your sake.” Whether the power of which he speaks, as distinct from the Holy Spirit, be the miracles wrought in proof of the religion he taught, or the cogent influence of the truth revealel, we are not concerned to inquire; but one thing is certain;-it cannot mean physical efficiency. For, he notices that it was "in much assurance," i. e. in full proof of the truth, whether that aşsurance was the hearer's conviction or bis own confidence of speech. "My speech and my preaching," says he, "was not with enticing words of men's wisdom, but 1 Rom. 1.° 16, 1 Cor. 1. 18.
2 Thess, i. 5.
in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power," in, they cogent, powerful demonstrations of the Spirits. He sought not to allure, by human cloquence, nor to convince by human reasoning; but claimed the credence of his hearers, for what he communicated to them as the word of God, the proof of which fact, viz: that it was the word of God, they had in the miracles and gifts of the Spirit which attended, his ministrations.' "That your faith,” he adds, should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."
We have the authority of the scriptures theinselves for this explanation of these expressions. The Saviour is said to have taught the people as having authority,??? yet he did not then exert any thing like a physical eficien, cy.. And so Stephen is said to have been full of faith and power.", He spake with undoubting assuraned him
3 sell, and so conviacia, were his arguments, that they were not able to resist the wisdown and spirit with which he spake,” for she did great wonders and miracles among the people.!" All this is perfectly intelligible without the supposition of a physical efficiency.!: Why then must-it be admitted, when it is said of "the word of God," that it “is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow?” Especially when this glowing inetaphorical language is explained by the apostle himself to mcon, that it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart?!!!!
The success of Paul's preaching was very remarkable, Thousands were converted by means of it. Much of its potency depended on the miracles he wrought, and gifts of the Spirit, which God had conferred on him. These things gave him energy. They were all
They were all expressions of 1 1 Cor. ij. 5, 6.
2 Mat. vu. 29. 431 Acts, ir 8, 10, ;
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