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tain degree of knowledge, and the open profession of obedience to the precepts of Christ.
The gospel is addressed to no particular class of men, to no peculiar nation, but to all mankind. Our Saviour's command to his apostles is, “ Go, and teach all nations." His gospel is to be publicly and unequivocally proclaimed; his institutions to be openly celebrated and observed. His followers need be ashamed of none of his doctrines, precepts, or appointments. They shun no scrutiny, no inspection. They bid defiance to malignity itself. They claim the united support of reason and of divine authority. The native simplicity of the Christian faith, in all its branches, is impregnable to the assaults of sophistry, to the insidious approaches of sarcasm, and to the flashes of petulant ridicule. It is weak only in its corruptions, and these have always been, both to its enemies, the chief objects of attack, and to the great seducer of mankind, the most effectual means of converting into the poison, the heaven-provided nourishment of the soul. After all, man's present happiness and eternal salvation are not so much connected with the performance of external worship and ceremonies, as with internal sanctity and reformation of life, of which the former are only the appointed means.
a Matt. xxviii. 19.
In regard to inferior matters of order, in the appointment of particular times for divine service, and the proper conduct of it, and such other points, the great rules are, “ Let all things be done unto edifying: Let all things be done decently, and in order."
Thus have I endeavoured to unfold the different branches of the apostle's summary of Christian duty, as expressed by living soberly, righteously, and godlily in this present world;' the principal objects to which each of these branches is directed; and those external acts, by which the internal dispositions they require are fitly expressed. I have already, in some measure, explained the grand incitement which the apostle proposes to the practice of all those branches of duty, and the two great ends of Christ's sufferings and death, on which he fixes the attention of his followers; namely,
66 that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.b
It may not, however, be improper to add a few words on this animating motive, as well as the grand result of the whole Christian scheme, to which it directly leads the mind. This last
1 Cor. xiv. 26, 40.
b Tit. ii. 13, 14.
point I conceive to be intimately connected with the main subject of this work, of which, though for reasons to be afterwards briefly stated, I have found it necessary to introduce the preliminary matter, hitherto discussed, and that which is immediately to follow, I have never lost sight, but have, on the contrary, been paving the way for it. This is often a more laborious and difficult task than reaching the main question itself, after free access to it has been opened.
I mean not at present to insist on the proof of our Saviour's divinity, which is evidently contained in the passage now under consideration. The ablest commentators are of opinion that our Saviour is here styled the great God. To them, therefore, I refer the reader, in regard to this point."
The Christian's kingdom is not of this world. He must not lay up treasures upon earth. For, as we brought nothing into this world, so it is certain we can carry nothing out; and having food and raiment, we must therewith be content.”d This world we may use ; " for every creature of God is good, and nothing to be
a This refers to the separate work which I intend to follow the present.
b Grotius indeed refers the words pegádou osoő, the great God, to the Father. But sufficient reasons have been stated by others for evincing his mistake. c Matt. vi. 19.
d 1 Tim. vi. 7, 8.
refused, if it be received with thanksgiving." But we must use it, “as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth away.
" We must lay up our treasures in heaven, so that where our treasure is, there may our heart be also.” Heathen moralists abound with observations on the futility and uncertain nature of all external possessions and corporal enjoyments. They could, however, present no certain prospect of future and eternal glory, either to abstract the mind from the objects of sense and appetite, or to animate it in the pursuit of those which are suitable to the dignity of our nature, and commensurate to its boundless desires. But, in the passage of which I am now treating, the apostle presents an incitement to duty, adequate to every exertion, and sufficient to compensate every sacrifice; “ that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” who, as he suffered for our sakes, also rose triumphant from the grave, and ascended into heaven, " is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,"d“ obtained all power in heaven and in earth," and is with his followers “ alway, even unto the end of the world."
Attention is also particularly directed to the two paramount objects of our Saviour's mission, instructions, sufferings, and glorification. “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The salvation of men is the definite end of the whole gospel-dispensation. This end could not be attained without the means both of their pardon and deliverance from all the consequences of moral corruption; and of their sanctification, or a capacity for the enjoyment of eternal felicity. In fact, the first of these is only the prelude to the other. For, although sin had been remitted, and ample provision made for obviating its direful effects on the whole intelligent and moral creation ; still, unless the faculty of enjoying eternal happiness had been superadded, human salvation could not have been insured. The moral renovation, then, of our degenerate, fallen, and guilty species, may be justly regarded as the point to which all the doctrines, precepts, and institutions of the gospel, in a word, the whole of its stupendous apparatus is directed. Nay, to the same end ultimately tended, as has been already shown, the preliminary constitutions of the Mosaical dispensation, which was only the embryo or germ of the gospel, to be afterwards expanded into the complete and perfect body of that blessed religion under which we have the happiness to live. If pagan philosophy assumed the designation of the purification or restoration
a 1 Tim. iv. 4. d Heb. xii. 2.
bi Cor. vii. 31. c Matt. vi. 20, 21. e Matt. xxviii. 18, 20.