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vanquish those fears of wrath, which by representing God as an implacable enemy, drive us from his pre, sence, and render him an object of terror and aversion, rather than of desire and love.
This personal application of the blood of sprinkling is too commonly considered in the light of a privilege, rather than as a duty. And a privilege it surely is ; but such a privilege as we are strictly bound in duty to make use of: For this, saith the apostle John, is the command of God, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ; which certainly includes more than a general persuasion, however full and assured, that Jesus is a necessary and sufficient Saviour. It can mean no less, than that they to whom the command is given, should believe on the name of Christ for themselves, and put their trust in him, as one who is both willing and able to save them in particular.
But the question may be put, and it hath been put by many, How am I to know that this obliging command is addressed to me? It might suffice for an answer, to desire those who ask the question, to turn over to that part of Scripture where the words I have just now quoted are recorded, 1 John iii. 23. There it is written, 66 This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of bis Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave his commandment."
Now, nobody doubts, that the last of these precepts extends to him; and yet the same authority which enjoins mutual love, commands us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; and the Apostle you see, unites them both in one sentence. How comes it, then, that any should make a difference between the two, in point either of extent or obligation, or limit the one commandment aby more than the other.
Bat as this is a difficulty with which the truly serious only are apt to be distressed, I must not stop here, but beg them to consider, whether it would not be more reasonable to put the question in this form, How do I know, or rather, What ground can I find to suspect, that the commandment to believe on the Saviour, doth not extend to me? It is undeniable, that none of the human race are excepted by name; the invitation or call is addressed to men indefinitely: “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”—“ Unto you,
O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.” Say, then, my friends, under what fatal denomination can you find yourselves excluded from the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness? Surely not as sinners; for this denomination is common to all men, and “Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;" this was his very errand, " to seek and to save that which was lost." Neither can it be as great sinners; for Paul testifies, that Christ came to save the chief of sioners. “ His blood cleanseth from all sin ;" and many examples are recorded of the most infamous transgressors, who have been washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God. Much less then can it be as deeply-convinced and self-condemning sinners; for under this denomination you are expressly invited to have recourse to him: “Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The commission he received was to bind up the broken-hearted, to bring forth the prisoners out of the prison-house, and to comfort those that mourn. Are you wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked? Such precisely was the state of the Laodiceans, with this only difference, from wbence no discouraging inference can be drawn, that they knew it not, whereas you do: yet even to them were these gracious words addressed by our Lord bimself, (Rev. iii. 18.) “ I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; and to anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.” Nay, (which methinks should put an end to all further questioning upon this head) the epistle directed to them concludes with that unlimited offer of gospel-grace, which might justly be introduced with a note of admiration, “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sap with him, and he with me.” Beware then of setting bounds where God hath set none. If you feel your need of Christ as the only Saviour; if your eyes have been so far opened, as to see that he is worthy to be depended upon, and “mighty to save," let no objections drawn from your own unworthiness, which, under the covert and semblance of humility, bides the daring presumption of giving God the lie, keep you back from this great High-Priest, or prevent your application of his atoning blood, for sprinkling your hearts from an evil conscience, and introducing you into the holiest with filial boldness, by that new and living way which he hath consecrated for you, through the vail of his flesh.
What the Apostle subjoins, having our bodies washed with pure water, may allude to those purifications enjoined by the law, which served to remind the Jews of the unspotted holiness of the God of Israel, and of that reverence which oaght to possess their minds in all their approaches to his gracious presence; though I cannot help thinking, that these words were intended by the Apostle to introduce a new exhortation; and ought therefore to be transferred to the following verse: in which case, without any straining, they obviously apply to the ordinance of baptism, and are urged, with great proprie. ty, to enforce a steadfast, unwavering adherence to that faith which the converted Hebrews had professed with such solemnity, when, at their admission into the church of Christ, their bodies were washed with pure water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
But I shall not detain you any longer from the proper business of the day. Only let me call upon you, before I conclucle, to look up to this great High-Priest over the house of God, for that Holy Spirit, without whom neither sermons nor sacraments have any virtue or efficacy. It is he alone that can bestow upon us the qualifications here required. Let each of us then plead the promise of the Father, begging, that the Spirit of all grace may be given, " to take of the things of Christ's, and to shew them unto us;" that from just views of our High-Priest, and of the new and living way be bath consecrated for us by his blood, we may be enabled to draw near to God with true hearts, in the full assurance of faith ; and receive such tokens of his love wbile we sit at his table, as shall be an earnest and pledge to us, of that still more near and joyful approach to him in the heavenly sanctuary; where we shall no more see him in the glass of ordinances, but face to face; where we shall be thoroughly changed into his image, and enjoy him fully, without interruption, and without end. Amen.
ROMANS V. 10.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to
God by the death of his Son; much more being res conciled, we shall be saved by his life.
THE grounds of a Christian's faith and hope are not only sufficient to satisfy his own mind, but capable likewise of being described and vindicated, in such a manner as cannot fail to give full satisfaction to every sober, unprejudiced inquirer.
Genuine Christianity is far from declining any means of trial, whereby truth is distinguished from delusion or imposture: on the contrary, it courts the light; and the more severely it is tried, the brighter it shines: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, and purified seven times." The evi. dence by which our faith and hope are supported hath already stood the test of many generations; and the most violent attacks of its enemies, instead of shaking the foundation, have only served to show that it is laid by that same Almighty Hand wbich created and upholdeth these heavens and this earth. Nay, these heavens, and this earth, shall at length pass away; but one jot or one tittle, in these lively oracles of wisdom and truth, shall in no wise pass away till all be fulfilled.
The privileges of a Christian are pot a picture drawn by fancy, neither doth his comfort takes its rise from those inexplicable impressions to which the dreaming enthusiast is constrained to resort. The intelligent be