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think they may be as good without them, and as safe? This is taking a ground, which the all-perfect Son of God was too modest to assume. Is it, because they cannot see how there can be efficacy or importance in these institutions? This is judging without knowledge, and arraigning the wisdom of heaven. In short, whether men may be saved without these means; how they effect what is attributed to them; whether they are the best which might have been selected,—are points with which we have nothing to do. They are quite foreign to our business. The questions' which concern us are, Whether Christ instituted baptism, and the eucharist; and, if he did, Whether his injunctions are binding upon us, or not? On this plain ground, every man may easily form a just determination concerning the propriety of observing all the precepts and institutions of the revelation under which he lives. His observance of them should be a simple act of faith and obedience, by which he should testify both to God and men.
Finally, let the name, which was given him when he was circumcised, induce you both to obey and confide in him for ever. His name was called Jesus.' He was so named of the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.' The hosts of heaven knew it should be his name, and on account of it felicitated the world, when he was born. It signifies Saviour. What peace in the sound! He was a Saviour in his infancy; for then his blood began to be shed for his people. He was a Saviour upon the cross; for then his blood was fully poured out for their iniquities. He is a Saviour in heaven; for there his blood is pleaded in expiation of their offences; he ever liveth to make intercession for them.' His name is the 'consolation' of his people. Amongst the weary travellers through this sinful state, it is as ointment poured forth.' They think of it, and are refreshed. Jesus! It is a name above every name,' which God hath given him. He is known by it in heaven. And to what name shall the feeble knees of men on earth so devoutly bow; what name shall the tongues of sin-. ners so gladly confess to the praise and glory of God the Father'? Disciples of Jesus, take up his cross; and go on your way rejoicing. Your help is in the name of the Lord." Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.'
ISAIAH lx. 3.
ON THE EPIPHANY.
ADORATION OF THE MAGI.
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
[Text taken from the first Morning-Lesson.]
Ar the season of the Epiphany, did these words begin to receive their fulfilment. Led by a star, there came, soon after the nativity, Magi from among the heathen, to worship at his rising the Sun of Righteousness.' These were the first gentiles, who rendered homage to the head of the Church. By some, they are believed to have been royal personages, and thus to have accomplished exactly the ancient prophecy in the text. Be this as it may, at the promulgation of the Gospel the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down: and at this day the Gentiles are the inheritors of God's most precious gifts, having, for a while, taken place of the Jews, through the blindness which hath happened to the latter, because of their unbelief.
The rejection of the Jews and calling of the Gentiles is styled by the sacred writers, a 'mystery.' And a mystery it is, the depths of whose fitness and utility we shall be unable to fathom, till we come to contemplate, with enlarged powers, the manifold wisdom of God. Some views of the subject, however, it becomes us to take: for all the dispensations of God are good and instructive.
In the first place, we are not to think the Deity unjust, in leaving the Gentiles, a long time, in the darkness of heathenism. Their blindness was the consequence of their transgression. In the morning of the world, God revealed himself fully unto man, and gave him a law whereby he might have lived. He foolishly transgressed, and became subject to sin. A spiritual and moral blindness justly ensued; and having voluntarily departed from his Maker, his heart became more and more
alienated, till he plunged himself into the deepest abyss of
idolatry and iniquity.
God, however, left the Gentiles at no time without sufficient manifestations of his being and presence. The wonders of his hands surrounded them. His works, if pondered with attention, proclaimed his glory. The invisible things of Him
from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.'
The Holy Ghost also did frequently strive in the hearts of the heathen. Whatever attainments in true wisdom or virtue we find in the heathen world, all was the fruit of the assistance of that blessed Spirit, by which we are sanctified. His motions enabled them to show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.' And had they yielded to his gracious influences, he would, no doubt, have led them to God and virtue. But they resisted and quenched the Spirit. And God, surely, was not obliged in justice, to preserve them, supernaturally, from the consequences of their wickedness. No creature can claim anything of him, as a right; much less, sinners the interference of his mercy.
In many ways, also, there was some communicated knowledge of God diffused, in all ages, among the Gentiles. He had selected a peculiar people, to preserve in the world a knowledge of himself, and of his will. The wanderings of the Patriarchs, in the first ages, carried a knowledge of the true God among the Canaanites, the Egyptians, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, and many countries of the east. The captivities of the Jews under the Mosaic dispensation, made known the Divine name and character among the Assyrians, the Medes, and Persians, and many polished neighbouring nations. The dispersion of the tribes, and, indeed, the commercial intercourse of the Hebrews with other nations, must have introduced the mention of the true God among the inhabitants of Europe, and Asia, and of all places whither they went. The prevalence of circumcision among some heathen nations, and many parts of the mythology of others, are to this day vestiges, defaced vestiges, of the course of truth; monuments of opportunities afforded to all men, to become ac
quainted with the true theology. But, as the sacred writers observe, and as profane writers prove, they were' vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful. They changed the truth of God into a lie,' hankered after idols and sinful pleasures, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator. And forasmuch as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God,' in just and awful vengeance, gave them over to a reprobate mind,' and suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself' at any time without witness, in that he did good, and gave them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness.' Again. The righteousness of God, in the rejection of the Jews, is worthy of observation. To act in conformity with the requisitions of justice is not to act inconsistently with mercy. The Jews had been a highly favoured people. To them pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenant, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; theirs were the fathers, and of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.' Of a people, so distinguished, the Most High might justly expect an eminent degree of holiness and fidelity. But their inconstancy and insincerity, their idolatries and impurities, had many times brought upon them his displeasure and vengeance. Still he favoured them. Still he fulfilled his promises. In the fulness of time, he sent to them his beloved Son, the bearer of the blessings he had promised to the fathers, the Messiah, whom it was their nation's most glorious privilege to produce. But how did they receive this author of salvation, for whom their prophets had directed them to look? Proud and presumptuous in their descent and privileges, going about to establish their own righteousness, and to justify themselves by external observances of the law, they scoffed at that righteousness of faith, by which Abraham and all the worthies were justified; and held in contempt the adorable Emmanuel, in whom alone we have salvation, even the remission of sins. Though informed of his character, and the time of his coming; though he was the end of the law for righteousness to every one who believed; though he united in himself all their types
and prophecies, and exhibited the most stupendous evidences of his divine authority; though God had done everything to turn their hearts to him, and designed for them the highest mercies, and most glorious privileges in him;-they despised his humility and purity, and after embittering his life with most unjust persecutions, and impious mockeries, caused this most gracious messenger of heaven, this blessed Saviour and minister of reconciliation, to be barbarously crucified. In this they filled up the measure of their iniquities. The hedge,
therefore, of their vineyard he hath taken away, and the wall thereof he hath broken down. The wild boar out of the wood doth root it up, and the wild beasts of the field devour it.' He hath laid it waste that it is not pruned nor digged. With dreadful vengeance he hath commanded the clouds, that they rain no rain upon it. Let those who hope for the mercy of God, while they obstinately reject his counsels in the Redeemer, consider their fate, and learn from it the certainty, that he will avenge his Son of all his adversaries; that he will not fail to recompense his enemies.
But in what part of the divine government is not judgement connected with mercy? Behold,' says St. Paul, writing upon this subject to Gentile converts, behold the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness.' The calling of the Gentiles was, indeed, an infinite display of compassion in the Most High. Who can speak the greatness of the mercy, which brought the nations that had polluted his glory and their own nature, and lay in darkness and the shadow of death, to a knowledge of himself and a participation of grace, and pardon, and everlasting life? He was found of them that sought him not; he was made manifest unto them that asked not after him.'
In this economy of his government, God has most strikingly displayed to the world both the freedom and the extent of his grace. We see him bestowing his mercy, where in his sovereign wisdom he sees fit: and perceive that the greatest sinners may be partakers of it, if they will comply with the conditions upon which it is offered. The Gentiles, by embracing the gospel, have attained to the hope of salvation, though they were buried in ignorance and sin; while the Jews, who re