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BY WILLIAM JENKS, A. M.
PRINTED FOR BENJAMIN RUSSELL, PRINTER TO THE STATE.
Russell and Gardner, Printers.
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
May 31, 1820.
ORDERED, That Messrs. Noble, of Williamstown, Humphries, of Dorchester, and Lincoln, of Boston, be a Committee to wait upon the Rev. William Jenks, to return him the thanks of this House, for his able and learned Discourse, this day delivered; and to request of him a copy for the press.
A true copy from the record.......Attest,
BENJAMIN POLLARD, Clerk of the House.
THE present year will complete two centuries since the first colony of the pious Forefathers of New England imbodied on these shores. Gratitude for the efforts of those venerable men and regard for their principles prompt us to notice such a period. The solemnities of this day assist the impression. Our Fathers consecrated by religious services their civil rights and blessings, and have transmitted to us the hallowed custom. Standing here, therefore, at the call of Providence, to address, on our most distinguished civil anniversary, the Constituted Authorities of that Commonwealth, which enjoys peculiarly the result of antient sufferings and labors in the cause of freedom; the Preacher will feel happy if he be able to transmit the views and feelings excited in his own mind by the subject contained in these words of the inspired volume
2 COR. 3, 17.
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
In making this assertion, the Apostle Paul had special reference to the distinctive features of the two divine dispensations, familiarly termed the Law
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and Gospel. The one he calls a covenant or dispensation of the Spirit, the other of the letter; and adds, the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. Pursuing the comparison, he claims for the gospel an increased regard and a higher glory; for, if in various particulars honor had been bestowed on the system of commands, whose operation was fatal, it seemed fit that the benevolence of God displayed in later times should be acknowledged with every token of respect and joy.
In the process of his reasoning, he complains that the Israelites were unable to contemplate the grand design of the promulgation of the law by Moses, and asserts that their blindness will not be removed before they embrace the spiritual dispensation of Christ. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
These words I cannot regard in any other light, than as manifesting, in a general view, the prominent feature of the Gospel itself. From the exposition, therefore, of the celebrated Macknight, by which he would make the passage indicate only "a freedom of speech" in the Apostles themselves, when explaining the revelation intrusted to them, I feel compelled to dissent, and in agreement with the greater number of commentators,* both of Romish and Protestant communions, assign to it the meaning already affixed.
*See Rhemish Version, note; Whitby and Doddridge, in loco, and Schleusner, art. IINEYMA.