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consistency between this ability of his to answer our prayers, and his purpose to do all that he wisely can for the salvation of men, lies here: that this very purpose to do all in his power for the object, is a purpose to secure all the acceptable prayer which will ever be offered to him by his children, as well as to give the answer. Since it is a rule of conduct with him to answer all acceptable prayer, the truth is obvious that he could, with propriety, do more for the salvation of men than he does at any time, if more acceptable prayer were offered for the object, than is offered at the time. But since he prefers that men should at all times and in all places lift up holy hands without any wrath or doubting, rather than neglect the duty; it is likewise obvious that he purposes to do all that he consistently can to excite men to this very duty, and that one of the very obstacles, which lies in the way of advancing his works of saving grace among men, is the fact, that men will offer no more acceptable prayer than they do. This view of the subject is, at least, intelligible. There is no difficulty, surely, in understanding it, whether the view is admitted to be just or not. And it is just as easy to perceive, that, on this view, the two things are perfectly reconcilable and har


We are disposed, however, not to leave the subject here, clear as it may be to the apprehension even of a child. The very difficulty which our opponents would attempt to thrust upon our views of the divine purposes, we insist, are fastened, irremovably upon theirs. Our views are, that God prefers that men would at all times and in all places offer up acceptable prayer; and that, in perfect consistency with such a preference, he does all that he can, wisely, to excite them to the performance of the duty. Their views are, that God does not prefer that men should universally come to him with acceptable prayer rather than neglect the duty, and that he does not do all that he wisely can to excite them to the performance of the duty. These must be their views, if contradictory, as they pretend, to ours. Well then, we are disposed to inquire, who is allowed to offer prayer? Who has the necessary warrant? Who can bring out a rescript from the purposes of God to show, that he is not the rejected one whom God on the whole prefers should not offer prayer? For without distinct evidence as to this very thing, every one, on coming to God with supplication, must necessarily hesitate and waver, notwithstanding the precepts and promises of God, on the very point whether he is not an individual whom God on the whole prefers should not pray; and whose prayers, no matter with what spirit offered, will be those with which God will be displeased, for this reason, if no other, that he prefers that they should not be offered. Who will even venture on the act of

prayer, when this stumbling block closes the very avenue to a throne of grace? Much more, who will venture to lift up his hands before God, in confidence and without doubting?

Nor is it any sufficient answer to these practical queries, to reply, that if the individual goes forward and offers the kind of prayer which is acceptable, he will then learn, from his prayer itself, that it is included in the purposes of God, and is therefore the thing which on the whole he prefers. For these queries meet him at the outset, before he prays; and throw the chill of suspicion and distrust necessarily, over those precepts and promises of God which seem to call him to the throne of grace. Nor do you silence these agitating queries, by referring the individual to previous evidences which he may have given of christian character. For who, on the principle of first finding satisfactory evidence of christian character, can have any encouragement, like Saul of Tarsus, to begin to pray? Besides: whenever an individual, however long, and justly, he may have thought himself a christian, thinks of praying, the query still arises; How can I, since God has purposed that christians shall offer just so many prayers, at so many times, and does on the whole prefer that they should not offer another, at any other time, how can I go forward, at this time, in the confidence that he is ready to hear me? Here again, his anxious queries remain unanswered. Nor can they be answered, on that view of the divine purposes which forecloses the truth, that God on the whole prefers obedience at all times, and in all places, to the contrary.

Our objection is precisely that which is made to that view of atonement, which limits it to certain individuals known only in the secret purpose of God. A limited atonement, we justly affirm, destroys the sincerity of God, in the universal call upon man to exercise faith, and in the universal offer of pardon; and presents God, in those calls and offers, as entertaining those secret reserves which justly awaken suspicion and doubt in every mind, and foreclose the very door of return to God and reconciliation. Now if you tell me, notwithstanding, to go forward and exercise faith, and assert that faith itself, when exercised, will afford the suitable evidence that the atonement was made for me; you do not remove the practical difficulty which meets me, at the very outset. I want a foundation for faith in the very call and offer of God, before I can exercise faith: otherwise, my pretended faith is mere presumption and unwarranted confidence. So here, I need the truth to meet me, at the outset, that God prefers my coming to him with humble supplications, to my remaining at distance from him, perishing in my wants. If he does not on the whole desire this of me, insincerity overclouds and darkens his precepts and promises. They can have no hold on my mind, they cannot lead me forward in confidence to his mercy-seat. That view of the di

vine purposes which does not leave this truth in the front ground, clear and unclouded; especially that view which gives God two hearts preferring obedience on the whole here, and preferring sin on the whole there,-nobody can tell where,-sets up an object of adoration, praise and prayer, to whom none can come with the simple confidence of an undivided heart: none, without the chilly suspicion, that the adoration he would fain bring to one heart of God, will be capriciously rejected by the other; the praise he offers one, will be wilfully rejected by the other; the prayer by which he would appeal to one, will be indignantly spurned by the other. All these difficulties meet him at the outset of every duty, and forever stare him out of countenance at every step of his path. A view of the purposes of God which throws irremovable discouragements and obstacles in the way of every practical duty, MUST



Just reverse the scene. Take that view of the divine purposes which we have so often suggested: that God not only prefers ou the whole that his creatures should forever perform their duties rather than neglect them, but purposes, on his part, to do all in his power to promote this very object in his kingdom. What is the practical inference of this truth on the mind of that person, to whom God addresses precepts and promises in favor of prayer? These precepts and promises come to me, he says, from a simple, undivided heart, that is ready to hear every humble and believing prayer, a heart that sends these very precepts and promises, to promote prayer in the world,-a heart so far from being offended with my attempting to offer supplication, that it will be offended with nothing else, on this very subject, but my neglect or abuse of the privilege. Who does not see here, that the will and purposes of God move in one channel, and impel the wavering, the undecided, the feeble, the animated alike, forward to duty? The individual is placed in the midst of those influences by which God intends to secure, as far as possible, that performance of duty which he ever prefers. At the outset of all duties, he feels the unabated force of the truth: God's whole heart is in favor of my performing them and against neglect. At the close of them, so far as they have been performed in an acceptable manner, he feels, also, the unabated force of the truth: God's gracious endeavors to bring men to that duty on which his whole heart is set, have here been effectual in me; and I praise him for his goodness and grace. That view of the divine purposes which thus enforces every practical duty, must be true. Ascribe it to whatever name you please— no matter-it is INTELLIGIBLE AND EVERLASTING TRUTH.


A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, with a Translation, and Various Excursus. By MOSES STUART, Professor of Sacred Literature in the Theological Seminary at Andover. Andover: Flagg & Gould. 1832.

It is not long since we met Prof. Stuart before the public, in a "Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews." We now meet him again, in a work of the same kind, on the Epistle to the Romans, prepared to welcome whatever new and just criticism or interpretation he may give us, and whatever confirmation he may furnish of truths already well established. We shall most freely and willingly speak the voice of praise, where praise is due. We would rather bestow commendation than censure. On the other hand, he will not take it amiss if we canvass his interpretations with equal freedom, when they appear to be questionable. Our plan is, to give a general view of the work in this article, reserving a more extended examination of particular points for a subsequent number. At present, we shall barely enter and survey the ground.

The book before us though rapidly succeeding the Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, purports not to have been written without deep study,'' thorough research,' painful and longprotracted labor.' From expressions of this kind, which occur with great frequency in the preface, and elsewhere, we are at least to infer, that the author supposes these things essential to constitute a good interpreter. In this he is certainly right. To make a commentary of sterling worth, on any part of the bible, but especially on one which leads us over the whole field of christian doctrine, by paths so intricate as those of the Epistle to the Romans, requires indeed profound study. Not only so; it demands a judgment steady in following evidence, not liable to be lead astray by the flickering lights of fancy; an accurate discrimination, to detect the nicest shades of difference between ideas; a power of attention, not falling off from, or glancing over, the point to which effort should be directed; good sense, to distinguish what is useful and proper, from what is unnecessary or worthless; a patience of thought, having "its perfect work ;" and a spirit, moreover, already so well imbued with the elevating and "sight-clearing" influences of divine truth, as to catch fire at once from Paul's spirit, and mount up with him to the third heaven, kindling as he kindles, and glowing, as he glows. Such views of the qualifications which are indispensable to the character of a good interpreter, at least of St. Paul's writings, should be always present to the mind of him who enters on that delicate and responsible office; and of such we may add, "if ye know these things, happy are ye if yo

do them."

In whatever light we view the work before us, it is one of deep interest, and will be so regarded by the religious community. The

station and learning of the author; his past eminent services to the cause of sacred literature in our country; the consideration that such a Commentary cannot but have important theological bearings; the perfect independence with which we are entitled to expect opinions to have been formed, which must have such bearings; invest the work with a strong claim to our attention, and awaken a natural curiosity, to learn what are the views of the author on some important and disputed passages in the Epistle, which he has selected as the field of his labors. But before we obey this impulse, we will avail ourselves of the opportunity to make some remarks of a more general nature.

Modern times have contributed greatly to the advancement of sacred interpretation. Indeed, as a distinct science, having a form and features of its own, interpretation in general, dates its origin within a recent period. Not but that most, or all of its principles have been always and every where practically understood, where language has been spoken, or signs used to express ideas. There could be no interchange of thought or of feeling, without a practical application of those principles. But they have been tacitly understood and acted upon, not drawn out and expressed in words. Now, we have the true principles of the science, as settled and determined by the known laws of language, explicitly developed; and the rules of the art, deducible from those principles, stated in form. We have moreover, treasures of materials, accumulated to aid the interpreter of scripture in the actual execution of his task. For most of these labors, especially so far as the collection of materials for the interpreter's use, is concerned, we are indebted to the assiduous scholars of Germany. In the use of these materials, indeed, they sometimes fail. There is often the same difference between the German scholar considered as a lexicographer, or a writer on the science of interpretation, and the same person considered as an actual interpreter of scripture, which exists between the man of theory and the man of practice. Or, if he succeeds in the simple business of grammatical interpretation, he seldom goes farther. He does not follow out the interpretations into the length and breadth of their theological consequences. He stops at the very point where the investigation of scriptural truth becomes most interesting. He toils through a long and dreary wilderness of verbal and grammatical criticism, and, just as he is emerging into open ground, where clear light, and beatific visions of truth, await him, turns back, as though his work was done, when not even the tithe of it is accomplished. Thus it happens, that while the interpretation of the scriptures, the business of determining their grammatical meaning, is in a great degree, settled in Germany; theology, the highest and best kind of divine knowledge, is left extremely unsettled and defective.

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