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would have me think, and feel, and do. I had only read it with the explanations of the different commentators; and whatever they said respecting it, I took for granted to be the truth. But I now felt that this implicit confidence in man, in a matter of such infinite importance as that of knowing what God requires of me, is hazardous and unwise ; and I felt how misplaced such confidence was in the present case, when I remembered how frequently these commentators differ from each other. The revealed word of God was not meant to be kept as a hidden mystery, but was given to all Israel ; that every individual might learn from it that which concerns his eternal welfare. I therefore began to study the Bible with views and feelings very different from any I had experienced before.
I felt that my own condition was precisely that of Adam and Eve, when they sought to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord : I was in a state of alienation from the Being by whose mighty influence I was ever surrounded ; and I felt that they and I needed one and the same remedy, -even perfect reconciliation with this omnipotent and omnipresent Being, “the great, the mighty, the terrible God.”
I was much struck with the circumstantial manner in which God has seen fit to detail what He said to the serpent, to the woman, and to the man. When I considered how completely every word pronounced against the man and woman had been fulfilled, I thought it certain that every word spoken to the serpent must have as full an accomplishment; and that as surely as the word of the living God is true, so surely shall the “ Seed of the woman”-shall some descendant of the woman—" bruise the head ” of Satan ; that is, shall undo the evil which he has wrought in the creation of God.
The question then naturally occurred: What must this Seed of the woman do, in order to restore man to the state of happiness which he lost by the fall? And the obvious answer was : He must bring back the alienated heart of man again to rest its affections on God as the supreme good : be must so exhibit the love of God to man, as to draw forth man's love in return. And the love he must now reveal is love of a higher kind than that of mere complacency in a holy being, such as we may suppose God to have felt towards unfallen man; it must be a love that can, with consistency to the perfect holiness of God, be extended towards guilty and rebellious creatures. But here a difficulty arose : If this Seed of the woman be merely one of the fallen race to whom this new revelation of love is to be made, if he is one of the alienated and rebellious sinners, how is he first to be raised out of this state? where, and how, is he to acquire a knowledge of this forgiving love of God ? Must he not be an intermediate person ? an umpire, who can lay his hands upon both ? (Job ix. 33.)
It was impossible to conceal from myself that I was involuntarily portraying the character which Jesus of Nazareth assumed to Himself. In spite of my struggles against them, these convictions irresistibly forced themselves upou me :-Man is a fallen creature ; his heart is by nature
alienated from God; he cannot recover himself from this state of alienation; the promised seed of the woman must be a mediator between God and man; he must partake of the nature of both, and yet he must not partake of the sin of man; and how can all this be, except by-I shrunk from adding-the incarnation of Deity in man? for I saw at a glance where this admission would land me.
Though I had thrown aside the New Testament, I could not get rid of the light I had acquired from it. It seemed to shed a radiance on every line of the Pentateuch, which I was now studying ; making that clear which was before dark and mysterious ; giving order and consistency to what had formerly appeared arbitrary and unconnected. It cannot be denied that the explanations of modern Judaism in regard to the sacrifices are far from satisfactory. Long before their appointment as a portion of the Jewish economy, even from the days of Abel downwards, they formed the chief part of outward worship. Why did a God of mercy command His creatures to imbrue their hands in the blood of an innocent animal ? Why, under the law, were these sacrifices multiplied ? and why was the sprinkling of blood a means of purification ? Man, as a guilty sinner, is obnoxious to death ; in taking the life of the animal brought in sacrifice, he confesses this, saying : “ Lord ! my life is forfeited by sin ; but Thou art graciously pleased to accept the penalty in the person of another :” “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Lev. xvii. 11.) Yet, surely, the blood of bulls and goats could not do this, unless it was connected with something of a higher and spiritual character! I was forced to confess that the view taken by Christians of the design and meaning of sacrifices is at least consistent and plausible ; and more suited to the prominent part they held in the ancient Jewish religion, than the vague notions of modern Jews on the subject. I remembered the confused idea of some connexion subsisting between sin and sacrifice, which I had formerly entertained; as, for example, when we say on the day of atonement, “Let it be willed before Thee, O Lord, our God, and the God of our fathers, to forgive us all our sins, and pardon us all our iniquities, and grant us remission for all our transgressions :-For the sins for which it is our duty to bring the barnt-offering : And for our sins for which it is our duty to bring the sin-offering," &c. What were these offerings to do for Israel, or to teach thern? Whatsoever benefit accrued from them when offered, are we not now deprived of that benefit? In the days of old, the high priest confessed the sins of the children of Israel," and put them on the head of the goat," which carried them away into the wilderness ; (Lev. xvi. 21, 22 ;) but who carries away our sins now?
These, and many other reflections, were suggested to my mind, by the Christian doctrine that the sacrifices were typical of the work of the Messiah ; and I felt disposed, with a more definite meaning than I had hitherto attached to it, to adopt the petition in our service for the day of atonement : “ Raise up for us an upright advocate ; and cause the backsliders to hear : “I have found a ransom.'”
After some time spent in the diligent study of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms, it occurred to me that my abandoning the study of the New Testament was very unreasonable. “Why should I hesitate to read it ?" I asked myself. “If I am sure it is false, it can do me no barm ; and if I am not sure it is false, is it not my duty diligently to examine if it be true?” I reflected that Jesus of Nazareth came to Jews, to people who must have had the same difficulties and the same prejudices as myself; so I resolved to give the question of the truth of Christianity a fair and a patient investigation.
On returning to the perusal of the New Testament, I was much struck with the truthfulness of the whole narrative. The mistakes and unbelief of the disciples, the success or the failure of their mission, the numbers who believed their report, or the nuinbers who rejected it, all appear to be faithfully recorded as they occurred, without any calculation of expediency, any thought of making out a good case. Jesus of Nazareth appeared to me to have said and done exactly those things which an impostor would not say and do. Austerities, which men may admire and wonder at, have been common in all false religions; the denial of sense being compensated by the gratification of pride : but a self-denial that was to be known only to Him “that seeth in secret,” was a device as little calculated to gain followers as could well be imagined. Not one promise did Jesus make to His disciples that was gratifying to the carnal desires of man,-poverty, contempt, tribulation, this was the inheritance promised them in this world. Nothing, surely, but an overpowering conviction that this was the true Messiah, sent of God, could have induced men to follow a Leader who held out prospects so little inviting.
The Acts of the Apostles, which I now read for the first time, interested me powerfully. The resurrection of Christ, His ascension into heaven, and the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost conferred on the apostles, occupied my attention for a considerable time. I found the difficulties involved in supposing them to be false were much greater than the difficulty of believing the events as stated. After a strict and careful examination, I came to the conclusion, that these wonderful narratives are as well established as any bistory in the Old Testament. The account of the conversion and subsequent conduct of Saul of Tarsus gave me more insight into the true nature of Christianity than anything I had previously read.
. Were I to relate the impressions made on me by the various portions of the Gospels and Epistles, it would rather be a commentary on the New Testament, than a statement of the way in which God led me to believe in Jesus of Nazareth. The more I examined into the truth of Christianity, the more did the question appear to be narrowed into a small compass : Jesus of Nazareth was either the promised Messiah, or a deceiver. The New Testament is either a revelation from God, or an invention of lying and wicked men. After mature deliberation, I was forced to come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah, and that the New Testament is, equally with the Old, the word of God.
But this conviction, so far from bringing peace with it, seemed at first to increase the trouble of my soul tenfold. All the hatred and prejudice with which I had been accustomed to view Christianity, instead of being subdned, were rekindled in full vigour; and my heart shrunk with aversion from that which my understanding was fully convinced was true. One day I cast myself upon the ground, and wept bitterly before the Lord, entreating Him to give me peace. I besought Him that He would give me to feel what Paul experienced when he said, “ Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. v. 1.) Long did I continue my supplication ; remembering that Elijah, when on Carmel, sent seven times before he received the answer to his prayer. But still no peace came. Suddenly these words of Jesus came into my mind : " Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name.” (John xvi. 24.) I cannot describe the reluctance I felt to pray in the name of Jesus ; and yet I saw how inconsistent was this reluctance, with the belief that He is the Saviour of the world. The struggle of that moment can never be forgotten. At length I was enabled to cry out : “ Lord, I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Redeemer, and King of Israel, who was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities ; for His sake have mercy upon me, and give me peace.” No sooner had I offered this prayer than my burden was removed; the peace of God that passeth all understanding entered into my soul; I felt that I was redeemed from destruction, that God loved me, that Christ had died for me, and washed me from all my sins in His own blood ; that, guilty and sinful as I was by nature, I was now "justified freely by grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Rom. iii. 24.)
The enjoyment of inward peace was soon followed by outward trial and affliction. I felt it right to inform my beloved relations of the change that had taken place in me. Those whose affections cling round their home, and who fondly remember the protectors of their early years, may conceive my feelings on receiving the reply to my communication, of which the following is an extract :
" Thou wicked one, may thy name be blotted out! thou hast united thyself with the assembly of the wicked. Thy father and grandfather, with all thy relations, will go together to the grave of thy sainted mother, and announce to her the sad tidings. Cursed be the day wherein thou, wicked one, seed of the serpent, wast born. Woe is me, for the Lord has afflicted me. Thy name shall henceforth be blotted out, and no more named by us ; and may the hottest judgments of the Almighty fall upon thee, because thou hast forsaken the God of Israel, and joined thyself to idols.”
This was indeed bitter ; but it was part of the promised inheritance. "In the world ye shall have tribulation.” I could, from my heart, bless them who thus cursed me, and pray for them who thus despitefully used me.
Many years have elapsed since the change took place, of which I have thus endeavoured to give an account; and during all the time I can testify
that “goodness and mercy have followed me.” The truth that at first brought peace has day by day become more precious to me. Like my brother Paul, I can say :“I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ : for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Rom. i. 16.)
“WHAT IS THE USE OF BAPTISM ?" Thus harshly, not to say profanely, is the question sometimes put. The spirit which such terms betray must be condemned ; yet the question must be answered. The questioner, indeed, may be sincere in the confession of his ignorance ; and, not perceiving the force of language, may speak profanely without being aware that it has happened to himself as to some of old, who professed their disbelief in like manner :-“ It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance ?" There are others, however, not to be confounded with scorners, who sincerely wish to be informed more fully concerning the benefits of Baptism. They would put the question in other words, and would join us in good faith, and reverently, in seeking for information in the Bible, and in pondering such considerations as the following.
1. It cannot be useless for Christian parents to consecrate their offspring solemnly to God. Under the Mosaic dispensation there was a law written, “ The firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me;” (Exod. xxii. 29 ;) and the consecration of the firstborn, the firstling, or the first-fruit, signified the consecration of the whole family and the whole estate to God, whose blessing would be graciously imparted in return. In the Gospels, also, it is recorded that our blessed Saviour said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not : for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark x. 14.) The Israelite who should refuse to sanctify his firstborn son with payment of the redemption-money would incur God's displeasure ; or, if he did not circumcise his male child according to the Divine law, that child would be “cut off from his people.” (Gen. xvii. 14.) With the disciples, too, who endeavoured to prevent the little children from being brought to Him, our Lord was “much displeased.”
We are not careful to inquire of what use was the ceremony of sanctification, or that of circumcision, to the Hebrew child ; nor would we presume to say of what use the touch of our Saviour might be to the infants whom Jewish mothers put into His arms. But we certainly believe that the breach of a Divine law, or the inward contempt of a Divine institute, while outwardly observed, provokes God's displeasure.
2. But our inquirer may rejoin, “ If that be all, if Baptism be merely the presentation of an infant to God, after the example of those who brought their young children to Christ, might we not dispense with the ceremony of baptizing, and call our neighbours and friends together to dedicate the babe to God with social prayer?”