SELF-PROPRIETORSHIP CO SIDERED. BY REV. B.
1st Cor. vi, 19 — " Ye are not your own." Man, practically, in works and ways and words — all along the generations, down to the present, — has kept up the bold assumption of self-ownership. His aims and ends, his purposes and propensities, begin and end in this fictitious claim to self — a claim the most preposterous, and in its results the most perversive of all others. The great Proprietor of all beings and worlds comes forth, in the text, with a short, emphatic denial of this high assumption. My object on the present occasion is (if possible), to settle this disputed claim to ownership ; as it must be obvious to all minds that this is a question of no ordinary importance — exerting an all-controling influence on the heart and life : For if it be a fact that I am the undisputed owner of myself, then I am amenable to myself only, and above all law out of myself. I expect to present some great arguments (or grounds) in favor of God's claim to man, in opposition to man's claim to himself. I. The first of these arguments will be found in man's history. My hearers are aware, probably, that my text
SELF-PROPRIETORSHIP CO SIDERED. 25
does not contain the full sentence of the verse. This is the omitted part — "but ye are bought with a price." If, then, we have been bought, the inference is plain that the time was when we were forfeited by some means. ow the question is, how did that forfeiture occur ? The Bible says, we sold ourselves. But this is not all. We sold ourselves for naught. Here is the humiliating transaction, — that man forfeited himself by the most abject and mean way of all others possible, viz : self-sale. But you say : " If he sold himself, the time was when he owned himself; and is it not possible that in this barter-bargain of self, there was a reserve made somehow by which original right, to some extent, has been perpetuated ?" Friends, this is a total forfeiture : not only in original, but in heirs and assigns, forever — not so much as reserving a right of way, so to speak. But the gracious God, through the atonement, has drove a breach through fictitious titles and claims to His old possessions ; and there, in the face of the occupancy of death and the clamor of devils, He maintains his claim against all comers. But to the history, as I have diverged a little. You were inquiring about original ownership, as inferred from the fact that he sold himself. Brethren, this is the last place to be inquisitive. The more we investigate here, the worse our shame and
26 SELF-PROPRIETORSHIP CO SIDERED.
sins appear. I tell you, the history is bad, and from bad to worse. The last character noticed is bad enough, viz : self-salesman ! But the next in the history back is darker still, if possible : Kidnapper, kidnapper, mansteaeer ! ! Self-stole, then self-sold ; and the low price of the sale is evidence of the steal — sold for naught ! And shall we push our inquiries still farther back in this history, with the hope of finding the where of man's right to himself ? Friends, the short truth is, there is not a creature, being or world, but can make a better show of selfownership than man. The reason is, his original production cost more. The day he was created — the hour, even — when the three-one-God breathed into him the breath of life, and he became a living soul, he was a greater debtor to the universal Lord than any being in heaven or out of heaven. There was more of him, though in the infancy of existence — more of this solitary aboriginal, standing up in Eden alone — more of complex nature and attribute — more in variety of capacity and enjoyment — more in outlay and ceremony, than of any being or world this side the Infinite. My dear Sirs, it required six days of creative power and wisdom infinite, to prepare a place to make this being in. Some natures are so coarse and earthy that they might exist, perhaps, in a world
SELF-PROPRIETORSHIP CO SIDERED. 27
but half made. Just let the dry laud appear well out of chaos and nothing, aud they would maiutain quite an existence ou this accident of a world. But when you come to man, so vast in want and dependence, he requires the all things of creation ! It would not do to risk an existence so delicate and finely wrought, without ample preparations. Hence the palace was all fitted up with the varieties of nature's elements and decorations, with the last chandelier hung in the gorgeous dome, before the inhabitant was introduced. The chronometer of the heavens wound up — the master-spring touched, and the first strike of time was heard before man was. This was not only the last article in the infinite catalogue of creations, but this was evidently designed as the crowning act of power and wisdom infinite. Here, all intelligences are to be taken on surprise by the masterpiece of <#'eations — a being unlike all others in heaven, earth or hell. There is no being in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or under the earth, that has been and is drawing so extensively on the resources of the Infinite, as man. Every wind that blows ; every stream that flows ; every star that twinkles ; every sun that rises ; every influence that breaths, with the angels of light, are under tribute to man — bearing their rich freight of blessings on to this favorite of heaven. ©© The world is contrived for his good. The tendency of all things originally was toward him. The grooving was such (so to speak), that everything
28 SELF-PROPRIETORSHIP CO SIDERED. that moved, moved that way with its freight of
good. Could you put a tongue into every creature and thing, and go round the spacious world with the question, " What ivere you made for ?" you would get just this one answer : " Made to bless man. 11 This, then, is the being — while in his Eden state, all spotless and pure ; yet in Paradise, that outer heaven, just a little out, and over against the sunny side of upper-heaven, within speaking and communion distance of angels and God ; with the good of all things flowing towards him, and the complacent God smiling sunshine into him — then and there he prostrated and prostituted himself to sin ; he disobeyed God ; and ere that sun went clown, the heavens got dark, and every light in upper Paradise went out to him, and angels turned their backs on ruin too vast and dark for sight. That being, who had been the theme of talk and song, of wonder and amazement, has gone into fellowship with Safan — he's sold under sin ! How momentous the transaction ! How sudden the change ! The sunny Paradise of yesterday is the bleak brow of storm and wrath to-day ! Flaming swords guard the tree of life ; and the pall of death — of death temporal and death eternal — comes down in double night on all our race. Man — Adam — man is dying — already dying ! As in living, so is he in dying, a double death ; a twin pang is setting in for a lasting struggle. The gall has dropped into
SELF-PROPRIETORSHIP CO SIDERED. 29 the life-blood, which shall taint every vein to the last-born of the race ! All is lost ! all is forfeited ! Man is but a burlesque on the worlds created for
him. Another rebellion has commenced — another rupture in the kingdom of God — another break in holy bonds — another gulf 'twixt God and beings, — beings created holy. What can be done ? What can be done in heaven, even, in such a surprise as this ? an event which has wrecked the most magnificent system of eternity ; for God had staked his worlds on man's obedience. The aim and end of all these wondrous works was man. He constituted the significance of all creations, so that in his fall the object of all things w T ent down also. The ponderous whirl of worlds is but a sublime impertinence ! And can we suppose the all-wise God would suffer such a glorified mockery to run on ; such a huge, nameless, aimless, blushing system, to go so much as once round, when it is to no account except for the ridicule of devils ? Do you not see, brethren, that some great untold expedient will be required for such a crisis as this ? For, here is the most magnificent system — the most stupendous idea — all developed and brought out to the gaze of the universe, but so contrived and so published, as having but one end and aim — arranged for just one object ; and that object has failed. He has taken the utility of us worlds, with our importance and dignity, and perverted all to the aims of
30 SELF-PROPRIETORSHIP CO SIDERED. death and hell. He has entered into league with anti-Christ, and taken us into the conspiracy against Ms Maker and our Maker. Earth cursed for his sake ! Here is a stress too great for words — a crisis beyond the reach of works ; and as for more worlds,
they would only increase the already blushing shame of what now are ! Stupendous failure ! Here is an emergency having no hope this side the Throne. To redeem man, and exalt creations to the rank and importance of original design, God himself must enter the wreck. For here is ruin too deep and broad for agents to cope with. Angels are of no account, and works are superfluous. The indignity is too monstrous for atonement or punishment, short of the " Lord's Christ." The honor of the throne must touch this shame ! The life of God must come in contact with this death ! And it was done ! The Godhead was committed by promise to the wondrous work of redemption ! The news ran and rang through earth and heaven — 11 / have found a ransom." u Ye are bought with a price." Another argument on the side of God's claim, and against the claim of man, is found in the harmonious gradation of all things toward the Infinite ; who is the center toward which the universe is to gravitate. Hence, whatever interrupts this gradation is discordancy in the universal harmony — is a warring element to the general design. While the extent of its damage and indignity must be estimated by the
SELF-PEOPEIETOESHIP CO SIDERED. 31 count of the series below ; for all the degrees below this break in the scale are lost to the general good, also an indignity is offered them in the perversion of their designs. If this is a correct statement of the general harmony, what must we think of him who, standing at
the head of this system — making the last degree in this sublime gradation — receiving the good and glory of all things, from self back to chaos and nothing, with the implied understanding that through him they are all to go over to the glory of Gocl, he is found consuming them upon his lusts ? Alas ! alas ! Here is a sin too mean even for God to pardon, one would think ! A robber ! a thief in the sight of the throne ! Entrusted with the good of a world, to carry up to God's glory, he stops the whole at himself, and just sends up to God the insult that he 's his own. Here, then, is the being — this is he, — O, my soul ! blush for thy kinsman and thyself ! Let the angels veil their faces ! Let them kneel in dust before the spectacle ! Here is the being who arrogates to himself independence of God ! who assumes to be his own ! who disdains to pray or repent ! He for whom all nature stands, and stars their courses keep ! He for whom God the Son came down, and groaned and bled and died ! for whom Christians weep and pray, — walks out under this high archway of worlds, facing the heavens in his nodding plumes, disputing Jehovah's
32 SELF-PROPRIETORSHIP CO SIDERED. claim to ownership, snuffing at holy law, and despising the religion of Christ ! There is another argument, strong and valid, which I must omit, viz : The universal dependence of all things and beings is such, as to preclude the possibility of self-isolation or self-possession. I close now with one terrible fact — a fact as terrible to sinners as it is precious to saints, viz : That God's claim to sinners, though disputed, is nevertheless valid — running through and back of all other
imaginary rights or titles ; and that this claim is nowhere else disputed but in probation. It is settled long since in heaven and hell. He could not renounce His ownership if He would, because He has committed himself to the work of taking care of you, sinners, and also of taking care of His realm against you. He is bound to save you, if the appliances, blessings and remedies of two worlds can do it ; but if all fails, He is bound to damn you, and under just the same obligations to damn a sinner who won' t repent, as He is to save a saint who believes. A civil government can no more renounce its criminals than it can its loyal subjects. If they cannot be endured in the kingdom, they must be transported. It must hang a murderer, as well as protect a civil citizen.
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