صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

That this From Maith.

end, Mark xi.

to the end, and

and resurrection, he obtained for all who should be qualified to enjoy it. election relates not to the final salvation of individuals, is evident from our Lord's ha- xx. 10 to the ving declared that he had chosen the twelve (Tous dudena éženežáμnr), though he knew one of 15. to the end, them to be a devil (a); from the apostles addressing by the title of elect whole bodies of Luke xix. 45. men, of whom there could be little room for hope that every individual should be finally John xii. 19. to saved; from its being reasonable to suppose, that they, who were Jews, employed the the end. word, in the sense in which it is used in the Old Testament, to the authority of which they constantly appealed; and from the unquestionable fact, that if they had employed it in any other sense, as honest men they would have explained their meaning.

The first step which the goodness of God took in the execution of his purpose of election with respect to the Gentile world, was, by the preaching of the apostles and evangelists, to rescue such of them as would listen to the truth, from the blindness, idolatry, and impurity of their heathen state, and to bring them to the light of the glorious Gospel, by incorporating them with the converted Jews, who then constituted the Church of Christ. As this was in itself as great a change as that which was made on a proselyte from heathenism to the Jewish religion under the Mosaic dispensation, it is expressed by words of the same import with those, which were employed in the Old Testament to expresss the deliverance of the Israelites from their oppression and idolatry in Egypt. Thus, the converted Gentiles are said to have been delivered (b) from the vices and lusts in which the world was involved; to have been justified and saved (c) when they embraced the Christian faith, and were admitted into the Christian Church; and to have been purchased and redeemed (d) by the blood of Christ, as well from all iniquity as from the dominion of death. The same expressions are repeatedly applied to the believing Jews; and as the Gospel was preached to call the minds of them from a vain reliance on the rites of the ceremonial law, and to invite the Gentiles from the corruptions of idolatry to all the honours and privileges of the people of God, both Jews and Gentiles are said to have been called (e), in the very same sense that the Israelites were called out of Egypt, and formed into a society under a theocratic government, though the latter call was to a much nobler inheritance than the former.

As God formed the believing Jews and Gentiles into one body or church, having freed the former from the law of ordinances-" a yoke, which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear," and brought the latter out of darkness and idolatry into a new state of existence, "into his marvellous light"-the" light of the glorious Gospel," he is said to have created or made (f) them; to have quickened (g) them, or given them. life; to have begotten or regenerated (h) them; and they are represented as new creatures (i) who have put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Hence the members of the Christian Church are called his children who have received the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father (k); his household or fumily (oixtio) (1); the Church herself his kingdom, or the kingdom of heaven (m); and as the land of Canaan was, under the Mosaic dispensation, the immediate inheritance of God's family or household; under the Gospel, heaven itself is the inheritance promised to his family (n), the members of which are indeed warned to look for no other (0), (a) John vi. 70.

(6) Gal. i. 4. Col. i. 13. (c) Acts i. 47. 1 Cor. i, 18. vi, 11. vii. 18. x. 33. Eph. ii. 5-14. 1 Thess. (d) Acts xx. 28. 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. vii. 22, 23. Tit. ii. 14. 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. viii. 28. ix. 24. 1 Cor. i. 9. 24. Gal. i. 6. Eph. iv. 1. 1 Thess. ii. 12. ii. 9, 10. (f) Eph. ii. 10. 15. iv. 24. Coloss. iii. 10, 11. Col. ii. 13. v. 14. 1 Pet. iv. 6. (h) 1 Cor. iv. 15. 1 John v. 1. 18. (i) 2 Cor. v. 17. 1 Pet. ii. 2. 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18. Eph. i. 5. 1 John iii. 1.

1 Tim. iii. 15. John iii. 3. 5. Heb. ix. 15.

Gal, iii. 26, &c.
Heb. iii. 6. x. 21.
Acts i. 3. Rom. xiv. 17.
1 Pet. iii. 3, 4.

Eph. iv. 8—25. 1 Peter ii. 9. ii. 16. 1 Tim. ii. 4. 2 Tim. i. 9. Rom. v. 9. (e) Rom. i. 6, 7. 2 Tim. i. 9, 10. 1 Pet. i. 15. (g) Rom. ii. 13. Eph. ii. 5. James i. 18. 1 Pet. i. 3. 23. Rom. viii. 14—18. ix. 26. (1) Eph. ii. 19. iii. 14, 15 (m) St Mat. iii. 2. iv. 17. x. 7. Luke x. 9. xxi. 3k.

1 Cor. iv. 20.

Philem. x.


(n) Acts xx. 32. Col. i. 12. iii. 24

[blocks in formation]

A. M. 4037, and are called heirs of the kingdom of heaven and of eternal life, and joint heirs with &c. or 5442. Christ (a).

Ann. Dom.

Vulg. Er. 33, &c. or 31.

The Christian Church being thus, as the Jewish Church was before her, the family or household or kingdom of God, the unconverted heathens are, by the inspired writers of the New Testament, described in the same terms as they are described by the writers of the Old, as aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, as strangers and foreigners, and even as not a people (b); whilst the unbelieving Jews, who had rejected the Messiah, and turned a deaf ear to the Gospel, by which alone their own dispensation could be completed, are called even enemies (c). Those aliens, however, and strangers and foreigners, as soon as they were endowed with faith in Christ, could be incorporated into his church, and thus become fellow-citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God; and those who were not a people, might by the same means become the people of God (d); whilst we are assured (e), that the time will come, when all Israel shall be graffed again into the tree, from which, for their unbelief, they are now as branches broken off; that their being received into the church shall be as life from the dead; and that all the nation of Israel shall be saved from the blindness in which they are now involved.

Ás no man, from whomsoever descended, was by his natural birth a member of the Jewish church, or entitled to the privileges of the Mosaic covenant, until he was admitted into it by the rites appointed for that purpose (f), the very same is the case with respect to the Christian church. No man is, by his natural birth, a member of the household or family or kingdom of Christ, nor can he be entitled to all the privileges of that family or kingdom, until he be admitted into it by the sacrament of baptism duly administered (g). In the first ages, when men and women of riper years were received into the church by baptism, whether from among the Jews or from among the Gentiles, their former sins were considered as washed away (h); they were themselves looked upon as persons saved (i), by being called into a state of salvation; and all, whether young or old, were, by baptism, said to be regenerated or born again (k), as the proselytes from idolatry were said, to be born again, by the Jews, and to have become new creatures (1). It appears indeed to me, that our Lord called the period at which he sojourned on earth the era of regeneration (m), when old things-the peculiarities of the Mosaic dispensation, and the impurities and vanities of heathenism-" had passed, or were passing, away, and all things become new?

As both Jews and Gentiles appear to have, in the age of our Saviour, been shockingly immoral in their lives, the latter occasionally practising the impurest vices as duties of their religion, it is obvious, that till a thorough reformation should be wrought in them, they were utterly incapable of inheriting the kingdom of God in heaven. As soon however as they were made heirs of that kingdom on earth, by being regularly admitted into the church of Christ, they were said to have been washed, to have been sanctified, and to have been justified (n) in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. This was the language of the Jews when speaking of the admission of proselytes into their church, and must therefore have been familiar to those to whom it was addressed by the apostles, and intelligible to every ordinary capacity. As it was applied to whole bodies of men-to the church of Corinth in particular, in which we know that there were great irregularities, and, as appears from one of the texts referred to in the margin, one man at least, who is supposed to have "trodden under foot the Son of God, and to have counted the blood of the covenant, by which he had him(b) Eph. ii. 12. 19. 1 Peter ii. 10. (ƒ) Gen. xvii. 14. (h) Acts ii. 38. xxii. 16.

(a) Titus iii. 7. James ii. 5.
(c) Rom. v. 10. xi. 28.
Exod. xii. 48.

(i) 1 Peter iii. 21.
(m) St Matt. xix. 28.
Heb. ii. 11. x. 29.

Rom. viii. 17.
(d) Ibid.

(e) Rom. xi. passim.

(g) St Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.
(k) St John iii. 3—11. Titus iii. 3. 1 Pet. i. 22, 23.
compared with 2 Cor. v. 17, 18.
(n) 1 Cor. vi. 9-12,

(7) 1 Cor. v. 17.

Titus iii. 3-8.

end, Mark xi.

to the end, and

self been sanctified, an unholy thing," it is evident that this washing, sanctifying, and From Mattle justification, relate not to the final salvation of individuals, but to that state of salva- xx. 10. to the tion to which men were called, when they were translated from heathen idolatry or 15. to the end Jewish superstition, into the church or kingdom of God, in which they had every ne- Luke xix. 45. cessary aid to enable them to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling." John xii. 19. All their sins committed in their unconverted state were believed to be forgiven, and the end. they themselves to be sanctified and justified for the sake of him, among whose disciples they were enrolled, when they were born again by water and the Spirit at their baptism. Hence it is, that whole bodies, or particular churches of Christians, are styled holy, holy brethren, a holy nation, a chosen and holy generation, a royal priesthood, and saints, (a) for much the same reason that the Jewish church was spoken of in similar terms when contrasted with the rest of the world. The disciples of our Lord had, however, a higher title to these honourable designations than those of Moses, because they were all partakers, as the apostle expresses it, (b) of the heavenly calling, and all entitled to that grace of the Holy Ghost, which the author and finisher of our faith, immediately after his ascension into heaven, so plentifully shed abroad on the infant church, and which he had formerly promised should abide with the Church Universal for ever. Such have been the means employed by infinite wisdom and perfect goodness, to recover mankind from the state of blindness and corruption into which they gradually degenerated when deprived of that heavenly tuition, which was rejected by their first parents when they fell from their original state of innocence and felicity. And from this view, wholly taken from the Holy Scriptures, of the origin and object of the Jewish and Christian churches, I think the latter of them at least may, with respect to spiritual advantages, be compared to that terrestrial paradise into which Adam and Eve were admitted, when the free gift of immortality was originally bestowed on them. By all Christians the introduction of our first parents into the garden of Eden, is allowed to have been one great step in their progress towards perfection; and by those who consider every person, place, or event, mentioned in the Old Testament as typical of some thing resembling it in the New, that garden has been always called a type of hea ven. To the mode of criticism which is constantly in search of types, I am not partial; but as the happiness of heaven consists not so much in the glories of the place as in the disposition and employment of its inhabitants, I would rather call the garden of Eden one of the outer courts of heaven, because the place of the departed spirits of good men, which is surely one of those courts, was in the days of our Lord called by the same name of paradise (c).

But if the terrestrial paradise may be considered as having been one of the outer courts of heaven, so surely may the church of Christ. In the New Testament, that church is everywhere described as the commencement of that heavenly kingdom, into the full enjoyment of which the righteous are to be admitted at the end of this world. It affords to its members all the advantages for working out their own salvation with fear and trembling that were furnished to our first parents in the garden of Eden; and the certain prospect of eternal life is placed before them as the end of their labours. We of this age have not indeed, though our Lord's immediate disciples had, that oral instruction which our first parents enjoyed, nor the sacramental benefits, whatever they were, of the tree of life; but we have all the instruction, for which we could wish, respecting what we are to do and what to believe, in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which are the lively oracles of God; and the benefits of the tree of life are amply supplied to us in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper (d). By means of all this hea(a) Rom. i. 7. xii. 13. xv. 25, 26. xvi. 15. 1 Cor. 2. Acts ix. 32. 41. xxvi. 10. 2 Cor. i. 1. xiii. 13. Eph. i. 1. Phil. i. 1. Coloss. i. 2. ii. 12. 1 Thess. v. 27. 1 Pet. ii. 9. (6) Heb. iii. 1. (c) St Luke xxiii. 43. (d) St John vi. 33. to the end. See Bishop Cleavers three sermons on this subject; Johnson's Commentary on the chapter in his Unbloody Sacrifice, &c. and Michaelis's Annotations on the Bible for the Unlearned. VOL. III.

3 B

A. M. 4037,

&c. or 5442. Ann. Dom.

Vulg. Er. 33,

venly teaching, we may surely acquire, through the aid of that Divine Comforter, which according to our Lord's promise is to remain with the church for ever, those principles of love, devotion, and holiness, which our first parents were intended to acquire in the terrestrial paradise, and without which no one can be meet to be an inheritor with the saints in light, or indeed to see the Lord.

But notwithstanding all these advantages for working out our own salvation, Chris. tians are sinners like other men; and "if they say-even the best of them—that they have no sin, they deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them." How are their actual sins to be forgiven? Did Christ offer his life as a sacrifice for these sins, as well as for that which brought death into the world, and exposed mankind to many temptations and dangers, from which they would probably have been exempted (a), had their first parents not fallen from their paradisaical state? The Scriptures of the New Testament certainly teach that he did; and in that fine passage already quoted from the epistle to the Romans, in which St Paul magnifies our gain in Christ over our loss in Adam, he says expressly, that " not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was of one offence to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offences unto justification."

From these words it hath been very generally inferred, that under the first dispensation, or covenant of life, repentance would not have been sufficient, to restore to the favour of his offended God, any man, who had been guilty of a wilful transgression of the moral law; but that every such offender would have been subjected to the punishment due to his offences; and that in the room given for the moral effects of repentance, under the Christian dispensation, consists its greatest superiority over the paradisaical.

That mankind would have been liable to moral evil, had they lived to multiply under that dispensation, there can be hardly any doubt; but we know too little of the dispensation itself to pronounce with confidence how sinners would have been treated under it. Accordingly Bishop Warburton, although no man held in greater abhorrence the doctrine of the Socinians on this subject, maintains (b), in opposition to the common opinion, that in every state of probation in which mankind have been placed, sincere repentance and a return to his duty would have reconciled the sinner to a God, whose mercies are over all his works; and this he thinks implied in the very idea of a state of probation, in which moral lapses must have been foreseen. I agree with the learned and ingenious prelate, that the very idea of a state of probation, implies not the possibility only, but even the probability of many moral lapses of every creature placed in such a state; and likewise that true repentance and a return to duty, will, in most cases, so far reconcile the sinner to his offended God, as to induce him to remove the punishment which the sinner had justly incurred, and which HE, all-merciful as he is, had begun perhaps to inflict. Such we know were God's dealings with his chosen people the Jews, and such dealings with every improvable creature are unquestionably implied in the very notion of probation, which would otherwise serve no purpose whatever. But we are to remember, that under the first revealed dispensation of God to man, as well as under the last, (though not directly under the Mosaic) much more was implied in the reconciliation of sinners to their offended God than the mere remission of punishment. Under both these dispensations mankind were to be translated from earth to heaven-to a state of glory and happiness to them supernatural. Now, it doth not follow, because true repentance and a return to duty may, in a state of probation, reconcile the sinner to his offended God on earth, so as that he may be advanced gradually to all the perfection of which he is capable in his natural state, that such repentance must therefore, without any other atonement, procure for him a place among (b) Div. Leg. Book ix.

(a) See vol. i. p. 100, &c.

end, Mark xi.

angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven-a place to which, by nature, From Matth. man hath no claim whatever, and which he cannot merit as wages, even by uniform xx. 10. to the obedience (a), much less, if possible, by mere repentance, however sincere. There are, 15. to the end, probably in a state of probation, many moral agents, besides the descendants of Adam, Luke xix. 45. all equally with them candidates for higher degrees of glory than those which they John xii. 19. to now possess; for any thing that we know to the contrary, the several parts of the in- the end, tellectual and moral universe are as intimately related to each other, though the relations be different in kind, as the corporeal parts of it certainly are; and if all this be true, it may be absolutely necessary, and probably is absolutely necessary to the government of the whole, that something more than mere repentance be required of every moral agent as an atonement for wilful sin (b). But it doth not appear that under the first covenant of life any other atonement was provided for wilful sin, than such personal punishment of the offenders, as might serve for a warning to the whole intelligent and moral creation; and this purpose we are sure that mere penitence, however sincere, could not serve, because its sincerity could be known only to the Searcher of hearts. In this respect therefore mankind are much more graciously dealt with under the Christian dispensation, than probably they would have been under the paradisaical; for we are assured by the words of inspiration, that "if any man," under the Gospel, "sin, we have an Advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ the Righteous, and that He is the propitiation (ixaμéc) for our sins"-evidently our actual sins, (Twv aμagт μ)" and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (c)."

As a scheme of moral government, therefore, and in no other light ought it to be considered, the great doctrine of atonement by the death of Christ, for the sins of the whole world-actual as well as original-is certainly worthy of all acceptation; and in this point of view the second covenant of life is much more favourable to erring man, than the first, from all that we know of it, appears to have been. The object of punishment is either to produce the reformation of the criminal himself; to serve as a warning to those who have not yet offended; or to answer both these purposes at once. When the infliction of pains and penalties serves none of these purposes, it ceases to be just punishment, and becomes wanton cruelty or implacable revenge. If then a method can, in any case, be devised to reclaim the guilty, without inflicting on them the severity of the punishment which they may have justly incurred, and at the same time to exhibit to the comparatively innocent the enormity of guilt, and the dreadful punishment justly due to it, all the purposes of penal justice will be fully answered by adopting that method and pardoning the penitent criminals; and such a method certainly is atonement by the death of Christ for the sins of all who are truly penitent, and put their trust in the mercy of God through the intercession of him who died for them.

Sins unrepented of can never be forgiven, because they render him who is the slave of them incapable of the rewards which are laid up in heaven for "all who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality." For it ought never to be forgotten, that our piety and virtues are not required, nor profaneness and vice prohibited, as if the former could be profitable or the latter injurious to HIM who created us, and by whom all things consist!" Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that we are righteous? or is it gain to him, that we make our ways perfect? Will he reprove us, for fear of us?" No, he was as essentially happy and perfect from all eternity as after he had created innumerable worlds; and the combined malice of men and devils could not shake the foundation of his throne: but he commands us to be pious, holy, and virtuous, and forbids us to be profane or vicious, because piety and virtue are es

(a) St Luke xvi. 10.

ii. 1, 2. See Whitby on the text.

(b) St Luke xv. 7. Eph. i. 10. iii. 15. Col. i. 20.

(c) 1 John

« السابقةمتابعة »