Christian Character A Power In The Redemption Of The World -- By: Austin Phelps

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 011:43 (Jul 1854)
Article: Christian Character A Power In The Redemption Of The World
Author: Austin Phelps

Christian Character A Power In The Redemption Of The World

Austin Phelps

The last years in the life of Isaiah were chiefly engrossed by visions of the closing periods in the earthly career of the Church of Christ. This should seem to have resulted as much from the instinct of his religious feelings, as from the prompting of the prophetic impulse. The prophet is sometimes lost in the man, when he turns away from the disorders and idolatries and miseries of his own day, to contemplate, with the chastened enthusiasm of age, the happier times when Christ should reign over all lands. It is congenial with the feelings of all good men to anticipate thus the events of a better age than their own. It conduces often to the acquisition of just views of duty, to propose the inquiry: What would be the result, if certain changes predicted in the Word of God, should now or soon take place?

It is for the sake of such an inquiry, that attention is invited to a principle suggested by the twelfth and thirteenth verses of the fifty-first Psalm: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”1 This is the language of hope in the depth of religious humiliation. It expresses the conviction of the Psalmist, that his own restoration to the favor of God, involving, as it would, the improvement of his own character, would be followed by the increased success of religion throughout his dominions. The principle implied in this conviction, is one which probably all enlightened Christians will recognize, as entering largely into God’s plan for this world’s recovery. In its broad application, the principle is, that the rapidity of progress in the salvation of this world is, by God’s plan of procedure, proportioned to the

degree of piety existing among those who have already been made subjects of Divine grace. In other words it may be stated thus: That the success of sanctifying power does, in God’s plan, enlarge the range of regenerating power.

This principle, it may be assumed, does not need a defence here. It lies at the foundation of all that is peculiar to Christian benevolence. It is implied in every consistent theory of Christian missions. It underlies all intelligent effort to extend, in any manner, the knowledge and the power of Christian truth. It is, indeed, so well understood and so unquestionably conceded, in the convictions of probably the large majority of Christians, that its significance often escapes appreciation. It falls back into the rank of those truths whose lot often is, to be unfelt because of...

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