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lent husband, she must in all cases refuse, even when by consenting she may be transferred from an impenitent family into a circle of piety among her husband's friends? If Christ says so, we admit it; but we want strong proof, that such is his law.
We now take our leave of the book, expressing our sincere desire, that it may have an extensive circulation; and with our feelings of love to the author's heart, and respect for his intellect greatly increased. Mr. James is our Mr. James as well as England's.
ART. VII.-EXPOSITORY VIEW OF ROMANS Viti: 19–23.
[In the following article an ingenious attempt is made to relieve a much disputed and difficult passage of scripture of some of its perplexities. On this account it deserves the attention and examination of our readers. We place it, therefore, on our pages; but without meaning thereby to identify ourselves with the peculiar views of the writer.]
COULD we penetrate the covering of flesh with which the immortal spirit inwraps itself as it enters on this mortal existence, and discern its mysterious workings just as it becomes conscious of its new-commencing being; could we, with some ancient philosophers, christian as well as heathen, imagine such a spirit but a temporary visitor to these earthly scenes—from another state where it had been long training its powers, and drinking in knowledge—and draw from it intelligent answers to our interrogatories respecting the thoughts and emotions which this new condition must have awakened and suggested; what feelings of wonder and perplexity might we expect it would tell us agitate its bosom? What earnest questionings of itself of things so new, so strange around, would engage its mind ?
What and where am I? Am I an immortal spirit? What, then, is this dying body which I feel is now made part of me? What is this new world, so strange, so different from my nature, in which I am now made to find a home? Why am I here? Why is immortality and incorruption thus mingled with decay and death ? Have I a wise, a good Creator, the kind father of my being? Why has he thus seemingly contradicted all the innate longings of my soul, opposed the tendencies of my nature, and subjected me, a spirit of heavenly birth, ethereal as the angels of light, whose very nature is freedom, and burning to my soul's inmost center with the fires of immortality, to this Vol. X.
close companionship and union with gross, heavy matter,—dull, insensible clay—frail, fleeting, perishable dust ? Why this strange incongruity, this monstrous union?' Such, we might conceive, would be the anxious, tormenting perplexities, which would rack the bosom of an immortal being on waking to existence in the condition of man.
But do these perplexities vanish with the maturity of its being? Is the mystery solved by progress in existence ? No, alas ! Adult, mature man finds his soul harrowed by the same perplexing difficulties. From the beginning of the race till now, we find man groaning under this bondage of the flesh, and sighing as he groans for a solution of the mystery. “Why am I here? Why am I thus ?' is ever the haunting question. Why am I, an undying spirit, whose very essence is immortality, bound to a frail
, perishable body, and through it dying daily a death of pain, and sorrow, and misery? Why is this spirit longing, from its own native tendencies, to fly upward in a never-ceasing ascent, chained down to this low earth? Why is it, that fired as I am with such restless, quenchless hopes, I am ever the doomed victim of unfeeling disappointment; that my fairest, brightest, and fondest expectations are ever blasted in the bud ; my warmest desires crushed by some unseen giant hand, when just on the verge of gratification ; the chalice of long desired and long toiled for bliss, dashed from my very lips; that, fitted to find such pure and elevated delight in mingling my sympathies and affections with my fellow-beings, I no sooner begin to taste the full bliss of reciprocated and confiding attachment, than the object around which I have suffered my warm affections to twine, is violently wrested from me by a ruthless necessity; and my heart just ready to bathe in the sea of fondest felicity, is plunged into the cold waters of inconsolable sorrow; that longing in my inmost soul for peace, security, and permanence, all around me and within me is but discord and tumult; mutability and transitoriness, frailty and decay,--nothing solid, nothing sure, nothing lasting; the present the only real good, and that is but the hideous ghost of past misery clad in the shadows of coming evil? Why am I here? Why am I thus ?
Such have been the anxious inquiries, that have forced themselves upon every reflecting mind in the sad hours of its pensiveness, ever since the records of the earliest thoughts of man. The effects of these unsatified inquiries have been disastrous in the extreme. Failing to find a clew to the mysteries of its existence, the mind has fancied that none can be found leading
from, or consistent with the notion of an infinitely wise and good Creator.. It has thus plunged itself into a withering atheism, and surrendered up mankind to the despotic sway of a relentless, iron-hearted necessity. Or if, held back by some secret tie of filial sympathy with its eternal Father, the soul has been kept from such a fearful, ruinous plunge, it has yet suffered itself to break out into wicked rebellion against its Maker and Sovereign, and has pined away in complaints, murmurs, and reproaches, against its allotments.
Is there, then, no corrective of these sad evils ? Can no relief be found for the anxious mind of man when burdened with these heavy doubts and perplexities? Cannot the mystery be solved, and with the approach of light to the mind, hope, peace, and joy break in upon the sighing soul ?
The essence of the difficulty is just this: Why is the immortal spirit doomed to this frail, dying state? Why is the heaven-sprung spirit, with its deathless activities, confined to this body of death; this cold, senseless, perishable mass of corruption? It is not enough to point out in general terms the purifying tendencies of suffering, the happy effects of sorrow, and the beneficial uses of chastisement. This does not cover the case ; does not fill up the deep wound of the spirit with its soothing, healing balm. The question to be answered is, Can any good and worthy end be shown in the subjection of the spirit of man to this present evil state ?
It has long appeared to us, that the word of God furnishes means of giving a full and satisfactory answer to such anxious inquiries, which have been too much overlooked. We propose, in this article, to examine more particularly an interesting portion of scripture, which we conceive was intended to shed light on this very subject.
We have endeavored, in our introductory remarks, to throw our own, and the minds of our readers, into a state somewhat resembling that of the querulous despondency which reflections on the present imperfect condition of being have not unfrequently produced. We must still further beg the indulgence of our readers in preparing the way for a clear perception of the scope and bearing of the truth, which we suppose may be taught in the passage under consideration, and of the evidence on which it rests, while we propound an hypothesis; which, whether true or false, will equally subserve our purpose in proposing it. In this we but follow the safe path of reasoners in the departments of natural science, who, as in explaining the phenomena of light and electricity, often feel themselves war
Tarof Romans viii : 19-23.
aby, omotin. imperfection, the ! cilable theories, without at all hazarding the interests of truth.
zils Peshis constitution,-“ pot Wit We do not vouch for the truth of the hypothesis which we now
3 mixent : the pure sparit
. so far from any propose, or undertake to defend it against any other which may be framed. But we shall make use of it as a kind of radiant to
e tih gross matter
. shr:king from it in every illuminate our way in traversing this field of truth; as a kind of some on all the tendencias of its crescimen
at itself rothing but strife, bondazp. de elevation from which we may look down around upon the wide amphitheater of truth, and distinctly view the outlines and bear montant tot by man of him who ish suba ings of that portion which we have now in hand to consider.
For the simple purpose of methodizing and elucidating our subject, we would throw out the hypothesis :--that God, at creation, foreseeing the future incursions of sin and rebellion into the ranks of his moral creatures, determined upon this great and wonderful measure of placing a part under a system of reclaiming sumar eril, and causing it in pass through mercy from the very moment of their commencing existence; a system which should begin to exert its peculiar power, in some respects, cotemporaneously with the first motions of the moral machinery in the new created soul, and should continue its operation till sin gave away before the power of the Holy Spirit, operating on such a being so adapted to its effectual influences, or became so inveterate by existence, as to render recovery hopeless, in the light of justice and benevolence.
Having detained our readers thus long, we now proceed to give our exposition of the passage before us; for the consideration of which the view of the relation of this redemptive scheme to the other dealings of God in his vast kingdom, indirectly afforded in the above hypothesis, will, we think, better prepare us.
The apostle had been speaking of the adoption of men by God, and of the riches of that inheritance which, as the adopt
team to be put on this passage? Can it be found to d sons of God, they would eventually receive; of its exceedng glory, as not to be compared with the sufferings of this presnt time. In proof, now, of his assertion, he alledges the fact, nat men do earnestly expect such an unfolding of the mysteous designs of God towards this world. They see something
strange in the present constitution of things, if permanent, if nal ; so contradictory to all just notions of the character of God, at they do, as a race, earnestly expect and look for the devel
y that the whole interpretation hinges upon the ment of some great and worthy design and purpose to be ac
expressions. These will occupy our brief mplished by this strange system of things; and that developni he intimates to be the “ manifestation of the sons of God;"
pracun demanding notice, is 'n atlais, the sterlin t is, the exhibition of a people reclaimed to himself-through
on like other derivatives of the same class, may operation of this gracious system, and raised in consequence
fine preteral senses, viz. it, to the exalted condition of the sons of God,“ " the creature,” that is, man, was made subject
10 na then we say, creation is the prerogative of son to say,
Starfssing simple action, without reference
ty the sole appointment and agency of its ('pe-
, “ in hope that the creator: it-
delivered from the heavy bondage oi su,
, and welcomed to his favri and love.
so full of immortal glory.
na les than this: that the present state of being por God as the means of reclaiming rebel souls, eng them in holiness ? that this was the great obseithermoplished by the subjection of man to his
a papse of ascertaining the true import of the
the center in which they
to vanity,”—was by a kind of violence, unnatural force, subjected to vanity, to frailty, corruption, imperfection, the necessary consequence of his fleshly constitution,—“not willingly," against its own consent; the pure spirit, so far from courting such an alliance with gross matter, shrinking from it in every sensibility as abhorrent to all the tendencies of its constitution, seeing in the union itself nothing but strife, bondage, degradation, and wretchedness; "but by reason of him who hath subjected the same,” by the sole appointment and agency of its Creator, who, to accomplish a greater good, has subjected the spirit to a state involving a lesser evil, " in hope that the creature itself also should be delivered from the bondage of corruption," in the benevolent expectation, that in consequence of bringing on the soul this temporary evil, and causing it to pass through this unnatural and degrading condition, the spirit in emerging from it would also be delivered from the heavy bondage of sin, the servitude of corruption, and be raised “to the glorious liberty of the sons of God,”—would be translated into that high and distinguishing relation of children of God, being received and adopted of God as his, and welcomed to his favor and love, by reason of their having entered the service of holiness, at once so free, as the service for which alone the powers of the spirit were constituted, and so full of immortal glory.
It will be perceived, from this running commentary, that we have made no serious departure, in words, from the version of the scriptures in common use, and the reasons for that slight departure will appear in our succeeding remarks. We must, here, formally demand of our readers, What is the obvious, the necessary construction to be put on this passage? Can it be found to mean anything less than this: that the present state of being was designed of God as the means of reclaiming rebel souls, and of confirming them in holiness ? that this was the great object intended to be accomplished by the subjection of man to his present condition of "vanity?"
But for the purpose of ascertaining the true import of the passage, we will now go into a consideration of its several parts.
It is evident, that the whole interpretation hinges upon the force of some few expressions. These will occupy our brief attention in the order in which they occur.
The first expression demanding notice, is 'n xtlous, the creature. This word, like other derivatives of the same class, may be taken in three general senses, viz.
1. Absolute; as expressing simple action, without reference to the effect; as when we say, creation is the prerogative of mind.