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do it :-and again in these, I will not leave you orphans ; I will come to you. In general, we see almost in every verse, majesty, tenderness, love of holiness, confidence of victory, and other such characters, which it is important 10 remark.
MEAN NESS AND INFIRMITY. You will very often observe characters of meanness and infirmity in the words and actions of the disciples of Jesus Christ: as when they asked him, Wilt thou at this time Testore again the kingdom to Israel? Acts i. 6. You see, even after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they were full of that low and carnal idea which they had entertained of a temporal Messiah.
You also see a rash curiosity in their desiring to know the times and seasons of those great events which God thought fit to conceal.
Observe again, Peter's vision. A great sheet was let down from heaven, and filled with all sorts of animals; a voice said to him, Rise, Peter, kill and eat ; to which he answered, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common and unclean. You see in this answer an over-scrupulous conscience, all embarrassed with legal ceremonies; and a very defective imperfect knowledge of gospel liberty,
There is almost an infinite number of texts in the New Testament where such infirmities appear; and you must not fail to remark them in order to prove-1. That grace is compatible with much human weakness ;-2. That heavenly light arises by degrees upon the mind, and that it is with the new man as with the natural man, who is born an infant, lisps in his childhood, and arrives at perfection insensibly and by little and little ;-3. That the strongest and farthest advanced Christians ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, since God himself does not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. This he was pleased to exemplify in the most ample manner, in the person of Jesus Christ, when he was upon earth.
NECESSITY. In regard to necessity, you may very often remark this in explaining the doctrines of religion ; as when you speak of the mission of Jesus Christ into the world of his 150
familiar conversation with men-of his death-resurrec. tion—and ascension to heaven, &c.; for you may not cnly consider the truth, but also the necessity of each; and by this mean open a most beautiful field of theological irgument and elecidation.
The same may be affirmed of sending the Comforter, that is, the Holy Ghost, into the world; in explaining these words, I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter. John xiv. 16. You my very properly consider the necessity of this Comforter; either because without his light and help we can never release ourselves from the bondage of sin and Satan-or because without his assistance all that Jesus Christ has done in the economy of salvation would be entirely useless to us. You may also observe the necessity of his eternal abode with us;—be. cause it is not enough to be once converted by his efficacious power; we need his continual presence and efficacy to carry on and finish the work of sanctification; other. wise we should quickly relapse into our first condition.
Where a thing does not appear absolutely necessary you may remark its utility; as, in some particular miracles of Jesus Christ-in some peculiar afflictions of the faithful in the manner in which St. Paul was convertedand in an infinite number of subjects which present them. selves to a preacher to be discussed.
Evidence must be particularly pressed in articles which are disputed, or which are likely to be controverted. For example: Were you to treat of the second commandment, in opposition to the custom and practice of worshipping images in the church of Rome, you should press the evidence of the words. As, l. It has pleased God to place this command not in some obscure part of revelation, but in the moral law; in that law, every word of which he caused to proceed from the midst of the flames. 2. He uses not only the term image, but likeness, and specifies even the likenesses of all the things in the world, of those which are in heaven above, of those which
are in the earth beneath, and of those which are under the earth. 3. In order to prevent all the frivolous objections of the human mind, he goes yet farther, not only forbidding the worshipping of them, but also the.making use of them in any manner of way; and, which is more, he even forbids the making of them: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them. Thou shalt not serve them. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, &c. 4. Add to all this, that ths Lord subjoined the highest interests to enforce it. "He interested herein his majesty, his cove. nant, and his infinite power; for (says he) I am Jehovah thy God. He goes farther, and interests his jealousy, that is, that inexorable justice, which avenges affronts offered to his love. Yea, in order to touch us still more sensibly, he even goes so far as to interest our children, threatening us with that terrible wrath, which does not end with the parents, but passes down to their posterity. What could the Lord say more plainly and evidently, to shew that he would suffer no image in his religious worship? After all this, is it not the most criminal presumption to undertake to distinguish, in order to elude, the force ,of this commandment?
You may, if you choose, over and above all this, add Moses's explication of this command in the fourth of Deuteronomy.
You may also use the same character of evidence when you explain several passages which adversaries abuse; as these words, This is my body, which is broken for you; and these in the sixth of John, Eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood; and those passages also in St. James, which speak of justification by works: for in treating these passages in opposition to the false senses which the church of Rome gives of them, you must assemble many circumstances, and place each in its proper light, so that all together they may diffuse a great brightness upon the text, and clearly shew its true sense.
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For example, Gal. i. If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have
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preached unto you let him be accursed. After you have remarked the extreme force and significancy of the words, observe that the apostle denounced an anathema twice, even denouncing it against himself, should he ever be guilty of what he condemns, denouncing it even against an angel from heaven in the same case..
You must observe the apostle does not always use the same vehemence when he speaks, against error. In the fourteenth of the epistle to the Romans, he contents himself with calling those weak in the faith who would eat only herbs, and exhorts the other believers to bear with them. In the third chapter of the first to the Corinthians, he protests to those who build with wood, hay, and stubble, upon Christ the foundation, that their work should be burnt, but that they should be saved, though it should be as by fire. In the seventeenth of Acts, we are told his spirit was stirred when he saw the idolatry and superstition of the Athenians. Elsewhere he says, If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy. In all these there is a force; but nothing like what appears in these reiterated words, Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Why so? because the apostle speaks here of an essential corruption of the Gospel, which the false apostles aimed at in the churches of Galatia; they were annihi. lating the grace of Christ by associating it with the Mosaic economy; they aimed at theentire ruin of the church by debasing the purity of the Gospel, In this case, the conscience of this good man could contain no longer; he stretched his zeal and vehemence as far as possible; he became inexorable, and pronounced anathemas; nothing prevented him, neither the authority of the greatest men, no, nor yet the dignity of the glorious angels: If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel, let kim be accursed.
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OBSERVE DIFFERENT INTERESTS.
Thus, if you are explaining the miracle which Jesus Christ wrought in the syn igogue on a sabbath-day, when he bealed the winnered hand in the presence of the Herodiihs and Phinisecs, you may remark the diferent interests of the spectators in that act of our Lord Jesus; for, on the one hand, Moses and his religion seemed in. terested therein two ways: I This miracle was done on a day in which Moses had commanded them to do no manner of work. And, 2. This was done in a synagogue consecrated to the Mosaic worship, so that it was in a manner insulting Moses in his own house. Farther, the Herodians, who were particularly attached to the person of Herod, either for political reasons, or for some others unknown, were obliged to be offended; for this miracle had a tendency to prove Christ's Messiahship, and there. by (as was commonly thought) his right to the kingdom of Israel; and, consequently, this must blacken the me. mory of Herod, who endeavoured to kill him in his infancy. The Pharisees were no less interested; for they considered Christ as their reprover and enemy, and could not help being very much troubled whenever they saw Jesus Christ work a miracle. Observe the interest of our Lord Jesus Christ; his concern was to do good, wherever he had an opportunity, and to glorify God his Father, by confirming the word of his Gospel by acts of infinite power. The poor afflicted man had a double interest in it-the healing of his body, and the improvement of his mind.
Thus this action of Jesus Christ, having divers relations, becomes, as it were, il point, whence many lines may be drawn, one on this side, another on that; and hence arise the different remarks which may be made
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DISTINGUISH. -DEFINE.- DIVIDE.
To speak properly, we distinguish when we considera thing in different views. As for example, Faith is corr