him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son : for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free ; Gal. iv. I must not detain you by showing at large how the apostle teaches us to discover the spirit and privileges of the Gospel, together with what all who truly receive it must expect to encounter, in a passage which we might otherwise have thought superfluous, if not impertinent. Keep this in your mind when you read the Scriptures. Assure yourselves, that there is nothing vain or useless in the word of God. Compare one place with

another, the Law with the Gospel, the prophets with the evangelists : pray unto God that he would open your understandings to understand the Scriptures, as he did for the disciples, Luke xxiv. and in a little time you will find that Christ is not only spoken of in a few verses, here and there, but that, as I said before, he is the main scope and subject of every book, and almost of every chapter.

I would add an instance or two of the meaning of the ceremonies, to what I have observed of Hagar in reference to the types. In the law of the passover, it was especially enjoined, Exod. xii. that not a bone of the paschal lamb should be broken. Now who would have thought that this referred to Christ? yet we see the evangelist expressly applies it to him, and is filled with wonder at the accomplishment. The legs of those who were crucified at the same time were purposely broken, John xix. but our Lord was passed by; and that it should be so, was intimated near fifteen hundred years before, in this charge concerning the lamb. Again, we find that in several places, where a bullock was commanded to be slain for a sin offering, it is enjoined, that the flesh and the skin should be burnt without the camp ; and from the espistle to the Hebrews, chap. xiii. we learn, that this was not a slight or arbitrary circumstance. We have there this explication : • For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest, for sin, were burnt without the camp : wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth, therefore, without the camp, bearing his reproach.' I must not enlarge any further, or it were easy, by the clue the apostles in their writings have given us, to trace the important meaning of many of those institutions which scoffers, who are wise in their own conceits, though neither acquainted with themselves nor the subject, presume to censure as frivolous. The sense of the sacred writings lies too deep for a captious, superficial, volatile survey; it must be

a search, a scrutiny; a humble, diligent, sincere, and persevering inquiry, or no satisfaction can be expected.

The import of the Scripture-testimony concerning Christ, which was the third thing I proposed to speak of, must be deferred to another opportunity. I hope what has been already said may, through the divine blessing, engage you to search the Scriptures.' Remember it is the command of our Lord Jesus Christ; it is the only appointed way to the knowledge of him, whoin to know, so as to love, serve, and to obey him, is both the foundation and the sum of our happiness here and hereafter. We, as well as the Jews, think we have eternal life in the Scripture, and shall, like them, be inexcusable and self-condemned if we neglect it. Let us not be like fools, with a prize, an inestimable price in our hands, but without heart or skill to use it. Better it would have been for us to have lived and died in the wilds of America, without either means of grace or hopes of glory, than to slight this record which God has been pleased to give us of his Son. But happy the man whose delight is in the law of his God! He has sure direction in every difficulty, certain comfort in every distress.

distress. The beauty of the precepts are preferable in his eye to ' thousands of gold and silver,' Ps. cxix. The comforts of the promises are sweeter to his taste, 'than honey or the honey-comb,' Ps. xix. He is happy in life ; for the word of God is to him as a 'fountain of living water.' He shall be happy in death; the promises of his God shall support him through that dark valley; and he shall be happy for ever in the presence and love of him for whose sake he now searches the Scripture:

whom having not seen,' 1 Pet. i. yet, from the testimony there given of him, he loves ; in whom, though now he sees him not, yet believing, he rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'

[ocr errors]

Pleraque autem, (si detur liberè loquendi venia,) quæ etiam in Thologicis scholis tractantur, et magno cum apparatu et strepitu docentur et disputantur, spinosum fortè acumen habent, sed simul certè spinosam sterilitatem : lacerare et pungere possunt, animos pascere non possunt :

Nemo enim ex spinis uvas colligit unquam, aut ex tribulis ficus. Quorsum alta, (inquit quidam,) de Trinitate disputare, si careas, humilitate, et sic Trinitati displiceas?' Et aptè St. Augustinus ad illud Esaiæ, ' Ego Deus tuus docens te utilia ;'' utilia, (inquit,) docens, non subtilia. Et hoc est quod opto et oro; ut nobis pro modulo nostro subdocentibus, ille efficaciter vos perdoceat, qui cathedram in cælo habens, corda docet in erris.Archiep. Leighton. Prælect. Theol. pag. 4. edit. Lond. 169 3.410.



John v. 39.

Search the Scriptures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are

they which testify of me.

In a former discourse on these words, I mentioned four things as highly requisite, if we would acquire a useful knowledge of the Scripture ; sincerity with respect to the end, diligence in the use of means, a humble sense of our own weakness, and earnest prayer to God for the assistance of his grace and Spirit. To engage is to this practice, and perseverance therein, I next considered how the Scriptures, when properly searched into and compared, do clearly, and in every part, testify of Christ, that he is the end of the law, the sum of the prophets, the completion of the promises, the scope of the types and ceremonies, and the great object of the whole Old Testament dispensation. I am now to say some thing to the third point I proposed:

III. Concerning the import of the testimony the Seriptures bear to Christ.

The principal difficulties on this head are, where to begin on a subject absolutely boundless; and what to select that may be most suitable and useful to this assembly, from the immense variety of topics that offer. For this being the great end and design of the Scripture, to proclaim the excellency of Christ Jesus our Lord, that we, through him may have strong consolation, Heb. xii. it is inculcated in so many places, set in such a diversity of views, and couched under such deep and comprehensive expressions, that not only our present opportunity, but my whole future life, would be too short, if I would collect, state, and explain all that properly belongs to this single article. For order's sake, I shall reduce the little I must say at this time to three or four distinct particulars, what the Scripture testifies of Christ

, as to his person, his offices, his power, and his love. When we hear of some great undertaking to be performed, we inquire, of course, about the person who is chiefly concerned in it; so, when we are told of the mighty works Jesus Christ engaged to perform, to redeem a lost world, to satisfy divine justice, to make an end of sin, to abolish death, and to bring life and

[ocr errors]

immortality to light; the first question that occurs is, Who is he? Search the Scriptures,' and you will have a clear and decisive answer. The prophet Isaiah, rapt into future times, describes him thus : 'Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and he shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,' Isa. ix. 6. The union of the divine and human natures in the Messiah is so strongly asserted, the names and attributes of God are so clearly ascribed, in this passage, to one who should be born into the world, that he who runs may read; the wayfaring man, though a fool,' must understand it'; and it requires a considerable share of unhappy ingenuity to wrest the words to any other than their obvious meaning. This text, if it stood alone in the Bible, (supposing the Scriptures to be a revelation from God,) would be a full warrant, and a firm foundation, for that great point of Christian faith and doctrine, That Jesus Christ is very God, and very man; or, as the apostle better expresses it, ‘God manifest in the flesh.' But it is not alone : on the contrary, the Messiah is seldom mentioned but something is either said of him, or referred to him, which teaches is the same important truth. “Behold the days come, (saith the Lord by Jeremiah, chap. xxiii.) that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.' Isaiah, in general, styles him · A child to be born ;' Jeremiah more particularly, “A branch of David.' Isaiah ascribes to him the name of The Mighty God;' Jeremiah says, he shall be called, • The Lord our Righteousness. You have the word LORD in capital letters here, as in other places where it is in the original JEHOVAH. Some of the names of God are occasionally applied to inferior subjects, to angels, to magistrates, and sometimes to idols. But Jehovah is allowed by all to signify the essential and incommunicable name of the Most High God. Yet this is not the only place where it is expressly and directly applied to the Messiah. David himself speaks to the same purpose : The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand,' Ps. cx. That the Messiah was to be David's son, was known and acknowledged by the Jews in our Saviour's time; but how he could be the Son of David, and yet bis Lord, was a difficulty that utterly posed and silenced the most learned Rabbies and Scribes among them; because, being destitute of that sincerity and bumility we have before spoken of, they could not understand the Scriptures, which were read in their synagogues every day.

« ElőzőTovább »