Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

and burial, of the patriarcis; of the intercourse of man with God and with his angels? Could they know these things, and know nothing of another world! Is such an opinion worthy of a man of learning, which is scarcely worthy of a child? We allow it to be true as a fact, that the Jews preferred the carnal part of their law, and neglected the spiritual : but it is much to be lamented that any Christians should follow them in their mistake, and lay the fault upon the Bible, as if the books of Moses were wholly secular. But as this has been done, it was wise in the Church of England to provide against this error in her seventh article; where we are rightly taught, that in the Old Testament and New everlasting life is offered to mankind by Jesus Christ; and that they are not to be heard, which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises.

It seems indeed true, that the promises of God, so far as they are added to the law of works, are transitory, and do relate to this world only. The promises of the law are given to tivo covenants ; so it has promises and better promises *; promises temporal, and promises spiritual. And are not Christians at this day upon the same terms? have they not a promise of this world, and of that which is to come? I look upon the cases of the Jew and the Christian as perfectly similar; and that as temporal blessings were given to the due observance of the law of Moses, so the promise of this world is given to the keeping of God's commandments, while faith only can entitle us to the promise of the world to come.

A good argument for the divine original of the law of Moses may be founded upon its temporal promises. For who but God, the Proprietor of the World, and the Disposer of all Events, could fulfil those promises ? Human lawgivers have added punishments and penalties, for those are in their power; but they never added promises, which were out of their power. Who was it that could bring armies of aliens to vex and

* Heb. viii. 6. See Eph. ii. 12.

punish the sins of Israel; and who could turn them to flight, but the same God, who could blow with his wind, and carry an army of locusts into the Red Sea ? Therefore a law promising and threatening such things as are above man, could come only from God, who was able to fulfil bis promises. And unless the nation, who were so many ages under the law, had found them true, they would have had no reason to remain any longer under it. The argument is very plain, and can never be answered.

When we reflect on the case of the Jews, and the principle on which they fell away, it must occur to our minds (because we see too much of it before our eyes) that Christians fall away after the same example. They are born under the promises of the Gospel; but they aim at nothing more than the keeping up of a moral character, because common honesty is absolutely requi.ite to those who would obtain and enjoy the blessings of this life. But when will you find such people at their Bibles? When - will you find them at their prayers? When will you find them at any good work for the love of Christ, and the prospect of an heavenly kingdom? If all these were selected out of a country called Christian (profiigates and atheists I take not into the account), and we were to add to them the multitude of those who justify themselves, and expect to be saved by their own works as the Jews did, there would be left a remnant, but only a remnant, of those

who keep the faith, and follow the steps, and look for the reward of their father Abraham.

That we may understand these things better every day, may God of his mércy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To whom, &c.

[ocr errors][merged small]

BY FAITH THE VALLS OF JERICHO FELL DOWN,

AFTER THEY WERE COMPASSED ABOUT SEVEN

DAYS. BY FAITH THE HARLOT RAHAB PERISHED NOT

WITH THEM THAT BELIEVED NOT, WHEN SHE HAD RECEIVED THE SPIES WITH PEACE. HEB. xi. 30, 31.

[ocr errors]

It is the doctrine of the Gospel, that salvation is from faith, and destruction from unbelief. In this Scripture the Apostle sets before us a striking example of both, in the fall of the city of Jericho, and the deliverance of Rahab the harlot. Faith is the evidence of things not seen : which

to be understood, that faith proves to the mind of a believer what cannot be proved by other evidence: viz. that the promise of God shall be brought to pass, while as yet there is neither sign, nor appearance, nor any reason to expect it, other than the word which has foretold it. Thus, in the case before us, the walls of Jericho were to be overthrown, and the people within the city were to be destroyed. In order to this, priests were commanded to blow with trumpets, and the walls

your sins

were to be encompassed seven days. It certainly did not appear how this harmless ceremony could tend to destroy a besieged city; no city had ever been de stroyed by means of such a cause ; but the people, believing it would be made the cause, complied with the ceremony, and the effect followed.

You are not in the situation of the Jews in the land of Canaan-but their case is nevertheless your own. You are tried; that is, your faith is tried, after the same manner as theirs was-you are taught to expect things, of which the producing cause is no cause, til! God shall make it so; no more than the sound of a trumpet can shatter the wall of a city. You are commanded to be washed with water, that you may be born of the spirit ; and that

may

be forgiven ; you are to receive power from above, by the laying on of the hands of man; but what relation is there between water and the spirit of God? What relation between the hands of man, and the powerful grace of God? Who sees all this? No man. But faith believes what it does not see; and this is the great trial by which God is pleased to prove his servants. The man of the world, who with an opinion of his own wisdom, hạş po faith in God, can never abide this test; but in order to maintain his own ground, he ridicules the whole plan of Christianity, or persecutes the preachers of it: he has no other weapons of controversial warfare. Such an one is not of the number of those that encompass the city, but of those who are shut up within it, and are consequently devoted to destruction. The men of Jericho, when they saw from the wall how the priests and the people were occupied, and how fruitlessly they were em, ployed, must have judged the whole to be no better than an unmeaning pageantry, dictated by folly and madness: they could see no relation between the ap

« AnteriorContinuar »