« ElőzőTovább »
the inspiration of the Old Testament without the New, and the inspiration of the New Testament without the Old. But by reading them both, and comparing them together, it is easy to see that they visibly bear the signature of their divine Author. If the inspiration of the Old Testament be allowed, the inspiration of the New cannot be denied; and if the inspiration of the New Testament be allowed, the inspiration of the Old cannot be denied. The more both the Old and New Testament have been read, studied and explained, ever since the commencement of the gospel dispensation, the more clearly and fully has the divine authority of both been confirmed.
5. If the Christian dispensation has entirely superseded the Mosaic, then there is no propriety, at this day, in reasoning from the Mosaic dispensation to the Christian. This mode of reasoning has been the source of innumerable errors in opinion and practice. How many have been led to conclude, that the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance to civil authority is true, and ought to be believed and practiced by christians under the gospel, because this doctrine was taught and believed under the law? How many have argued in favor of a lineal succession of gospel ministers from the apostles to this day, because there was a lineal succession of the priesthood under the law? How many have argued in favor of three orders in the gospel ministry, because there were three orders in the ministry under the law; namely, Levites, priests, and high priests? How many have argued in favor of an ecclesiastical hierarchy in the Christian church, because there was such a hierarchy in the Jewish church, which had the supreme government of it? How many have argued in favor of dedicating new meeting houses, because Solomon's temple was dedicated ? How many have argued in favor of minister's officiating in sacerdotal robes, after the manner of the Jewish priests ? Papists, Protestants, Episcopalians, Dissenters, and Congregationalists have been disposed, more or less, to reason in this manner from the Mosaic to the Christian dispensation; but all such reasoning is vain and inconclusive under the ġospel dispensation. The Jews were taught passive obedience and non-resistance to their civil rulers, because they lived under a theocracy, or government of God, who appointed their civil rulers and gave them their civil authority. But the highest, as well as the lowest civil rulers, under the gospel dispensation, derive all their authority from their fellow men, and not from God; and therefore those who gave them authority, may take it away, and refuse to obey them, when they make laws which are unjust, unscriptural, oppressive, and tyrannical. There was a lineal succession in the priesthood under the law. No man could be a high priest, unless he could prove that he lineally descended from the family of Aaron; and no man could be a priest, or Levite officially, unless he could prove that he lineally descended from the tribe of Levi. You remember, that after the Jews returned from the Babylonish captivity, numbers were set aside from their priesthood, because they could not prove, from an authentic register, their lineal succession in the priest's office. But under the gospel, the ministerial office is not confined to a person of any particular family, or particular nation; and therefore the Papists and Episcopalians are grossly erroneous in maintaining, that no man has a right to officiate as a minister of the gospel, unless he can prove that he has been ordained by one who was ordained by another, in a lineal succession from the apostles. Under the law, the high priest was the supreme
officer in the church of God, but we find no such officer appointed in the church of God under the gospel. The pope, therefore, is extremely arrogant and presumptuous in claiming to be the supreme head of the Christian church, without any divine appointment; as though he were successor to the high priest in the Jewish church. The Episcopalians seem to imagine that there must be three distinct officers in the church under the gospel, because there were three distinct officers in the church under the law, who managed all ecclesiastical affairs, independently of all the private members of the church. Just so the Episcopalians have their bishops, priests, and deacons, who claim and exercise all ecclesiastical power, totally independent of the brotherhood. These bishops also claim authority to decree all rites, forms, or modes of public worship. And it was the exercise of this arbitrary power that brought about the separation between the Dissenters and the Episcopalians; and that constrained our forefathers to flee from their native country, to this then land of barbarians. Such great and fatal errors, both in church and state, have flowed and continue to flow, from the absurd and fallacious mode of reasoning from the Mosaic dispensation, which has been completely abrogated by the gospel dispensation. If christians would only see and avoid this palpable absurdity, it would prepare the way for the removal of Popery, Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, and all tyranny in church and state.
6. If the Christian dispensation has completely superseded and abolished the Mosaic, then it is a great favor to live under the Christian dispensation. This has unfolded the great mysteries which lay hid under the dark dispensation of the law. Many of the truths of the gospel were covered and obscured by the various rites, ceremonies, and typical sacrifices under the legal dispensation; they were mere shadows and not the sub
stance of the great truths, and good things to be made manifest by the gospel. The Jews had but a very imperfect knowledge of their own dispensation ; they did not look through the design of those rites, and ceremonies, and sacrifices, which they daily and yearly observed, and which prefigured the atonement of Christ and the great doctrines which were connected with it. But since the day-spring from on high hath visited us, and Christ has come and taken away the legal, and established the gospel dispensation, the great mysteries which lay hid for ages have been clearly unfolded, and we can read the Old Testament with an open and unveiled face, which casts a flood of light upon the New Testament. If the Jews were highly favored and distinguished from the heathen, by having the oracles of God contained in the law, then we are much more distinguished from both Jews and Gentiles, by having the oracles of God contained in the gospel put into our hands. It deeply concerns all real christians to prize and improve the precious privileges of the gospel, by which they may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Those who live under the gospel, have vastly greater advantages, and better means of gaining the knowledge of God, and of Christ, and of all the invisible things of the invisible world, than those had, who lived under the dark dispensation of the law. And common christians may now know much more about Christ, heaven and hell, than even the prophets and most eminent saints knew, before the gospel day. For these distinguishing privileges, christians ought to be thankful; and if they are thankful, they will faithfully improve them to the glory of God, and to their own spiritual and eternal benefit. There were but a very few Jews that could attend the temple service every Sabbath.
Sabbath. But christians “ have no such lengths to go” to behold the beauty of the Lord in his sanctuary.
7. It appears from what has been said, that sinners are much more criminal for rejecting the gospel under the Christian dispensation, than those were, who rejected it under the Mosaic dispensation. The gospel was preached to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to all the Jews under the law; but it was wrapt up in a multitude of mysterious ceremonies which it was difficult to explain and understand; and those who rejected it, generally rejected it through much ignorance. But those who live under the light of the gospel, have no ground to plead ignorance. Hence Christ told the unbelievers in his day, “Ye have both seen and hated both me and my Father.” The apostle represented unbelief under the gospel, as far more criminal than under the law. The apostle demands, “ If the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and
disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” And he solemnly declares, “If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace?”
SERMON LXX VI.
PLATFORM OF ECCLESIASTICAL GOVERNMENT ESTAB
LISHED BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
MOREOVER, if thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone ; if he shall hear thee thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church ; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican. – MATTHEW, xviii. 15, 16, 17.
Our Saviour, in the beginning of this chapter, exhorts his followers to become humble and harmless as little children. “ Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” He next warns the world against abusing his harmless and inoffensive disciples. “Wo unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but wo to that man by whom the offence cometh!” He then directs his followers how they should conduct under the offences which they may receive from the world. And immediately after this, he proceeds to direct christians what steps they must take, to settle difficulties and maintain peace and purity among themselves. “ Moreover, if thy brother,” (not one of the world,) “ trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; and if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." This passage of