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found tlic grace of God, in the way which he had ordained. (Actsxvii. 11, 12.)
It. is probable, indeed, that in some of those who had " received the word with all readiness of mind," "faith came" (as the same Apostle speaks) "by hearing," and was only confirmed by reading the Scriptures: but it was observed above, that under the general term of searching the Scriptures, both hearing, reading, and meditating, arc contained.
8. And that this is a means whereby God not only gives, hut also confirms and increases, true wisdom, we learn from the words of St. Paul to Timothy: "From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. iii. 15.) The same truth (namely, that this is the great means God has ordained for conveying his manifold grace to man) is delivered, in the fullest manner that can be conceived, in the words which immediately follow: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;" consequently, all Scripture is infallibly true; "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; " to the end "that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (Ver. 1G, \~.)
9. It should be observed, that this is spoken primarily and directly of the Scriptures which Timothy had known from a child; which must have been those of the Old Testament, for the New was not then wrote. How far then was St. Paul (though he was "not a whit behind the very chief of the Apostles," nor, therefore, I presume, behind any man now upon earth) from making light of the Old Testament! Behold this, lest ye one day "wonder and perish," ye who make so small account of one half of the Oracles of God! Yea, and that half of which the Holy Ghost expressly declares, that it is "profitable," as a means ordained of God, for this very thing, "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;" to the end " the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
10. Nor is this profitable only for the men of God, for those who walk already in the light of his countenance ; but also for those who are yet in darkness, seeking him whom they know not. Thus St. Peter, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy:" literally, " and we have the prophetic word more sure;" Kai ixV''' /3t-£*"Tfgov rov xppnTixov Xoyn; confirmed by our being "eye-witnesses of his Majesty," nnd "hearing the voice which came from the excellent glory ;" unto which [prophetic word; so he styles the Holy Scriptures] "ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the" day dawn, and the Day-star arise in your hearts." (2 Pet. i. 19.) Let all, therefore, who desire that day to dawn upon their hearts, wait for it in searching the Scriptures. •
11. Thirdly, All who desire an increase of the grace of God are to wait for it in partaking of the Lord's Supper: for this also is a direction himself hath given. "The same night in which he was betrayed, he took bread, and brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body;" that is, the sacred sign of my body : "This do, in remembrance of me." "Likewise, he took the cup, saying, This cup is the New Testament," or Covenant, in my blood; the sacred sign of that covenant; "this do ye, in remembrance of me." "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death till he come :" (1 Cor. xi. 23, &c.:) ye openly exhibit the same, by these visible signs, before God, and angels, and men; ye manifest your solemn remembrance of his death, till he cometh in the clouds of heaven.
Only let a man first examine himself, whether he understand the nature and design of this holy institution, and whether he really desire to be himself made conformable to the death of Christ; and so, nothing doubting, " let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." (Ver. 28.)
Here, then, the direction first given by our Lord, is expressly repeated by the Apostle. Let him eat; let him drink ; (eaSieru, tiysru, both in the imperative mood ;) words not implying a bare permission only, but a clear, explicit command; a command to all those who either already are filled with peace and joy in believing, or can truly say, "The remembrance of our sins is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable."
12. And that this is also an ordinary, stated means of receiving the grace of God, is evident from those words of the Apostle, which occur in the preceding chapter. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [or communication] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. x. 16.) Is not the eating of that bread, and the drinking of that cup, the outward, visible means, whereby God conveys into our souls all that spiritual grace, that righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, which were purchased by the body of Christ once broken, and the blood of Christ once shed for us? Let all, therefore, who truly desire the grace of God, eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
IV. 1. But, as plainly as God hath pointed out the way wherein he will be inquired after, innumerable arc the Objections which men, wise in their own eyes, have from time to time raised against it. ft may be needful to consider a few of these; not because they arc of weight in themselves, but because they have so often been used, especially of late years, to turn the lame out of the way; yea, to trouble and subvert those who did run well, till Satan appeared as an angel of light.
The first and chief of these is, 4 You cannot use these means (as you call them) without trusting in them.' I pray, where is this written? I expect you should show me plain Scripture for your assertion: otherwise I dare not receive it; because I am not convinced that you are wiser than God.
If it really had been as you assert, it is certain Christ must have known it. And if he had known it, he would surely have warned us; he would have revealed it long ago. Therefore, because he has not, because there is no tittle of this in the whole revelation of Jesus Christ, I am as fully assured your assertion is false, as that this revelation is of God.
'However, leave them oil'for a short time, to see whether you trusted in them or no.' So I am to disobey God, in order to know whether 1 trust in obeying him! And do you avow this advice':1 Do you deliberately teach to "do evil, that good may come?" O tremble at the sentence of God against such teachers! Their " damnatiiu is just."
'Nay, if you are troubled when you leave them off, it is [ lain you trusted in them.' By no means. If I am t roubled when I wilfully disobey God, it is plain his Spirit is still striving with me; but if I am not troubled at wilful sin, it is plain 1 am given up to a reprobate mind.
Hut what do you mean by' Trusting in them?' Looking for the blessing of God therein? Believing, that if I wait in this way, I shall attain what otherwise 1 should not? So I do. And so 1 will, God being my helper, even to my life's end. My the grace of God I will thus trust in them, till the day of my death; (hat is, I will believe, that whatever God hath promised, he is faithful also to perform. And seeing he hath promised to bless me in this way, 1 trust it shall be according to his word. •>
2. It has been, secondly, objected, 'This is seeking salvation by works.' Do you know the meaning of the expression you use? What is seeking salvation by works? hi the writings of St. Paul, it means, either seeking to be saved by observing the ritual works of the Mosaic law; or expecting salvation for the sake of our own works, by the merit of our own righteousness. But how is either of these implied in my waiting in the way God has ordained, and expecting that he will meet me there, because he has promised so to do?
I do expect that he will fulfil his word, that he will meet and bless me in this way. Yet not for the sake of any works which I have done, nor for the merit of my righteousness; but merely through the merits, and sufferings, and love of his Son, iu whom he is always well pleased.
3. It has been vehemently objected, thirdly, 'That Christ is the only means of grace.' I answer, this is mere playing upon words. Explain your term, and the objection vanishes away. When we say, Prayer is a means of grace, we understand, a channel through which the grace of God is conveyed. When you say, Christ is the means of grace, you understand, the sole price and purchaser of it; or, that "no maucometh unto the Father, but through him." And who denies it? But this is utterly wide of the question.
4. 'But does not the Scripture (it has been objected, fourthly) direct us to wait for salvation? Does not David say, *« My soul waiteth upon God, for of him eometh my salvation?" And does not Isaiah teach us the same thing, saying, "O Lord, we have waited for thee ?"' All this cannot be denied. Seeing it is the gift of God, we are undoubtedly to wait on him for salvation. But how shall we wait? If God himself has appointed a way, can you find a better way of waiting for him? But that he hath appointed a way, hath been shown at large, and also what that way is. The very words of the Prophet which you cite, put this out of all question. For the whole sentence runs thus: "In the way of thy "judgments," or ordinances," O Lord, have we waited for thee." (Isaiah xxvi. 8.) And in the very same way did David wait, as his own words abundantly testify: "I have waited for thy saving health, O Lord, and have kept thy law. Teach me, O
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Lord, the wav of thy statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end."
5. 'Yea,' say some, ' but God has appointed another way, »' Stand still, and sec the salvation of God."'
Let us examine the Scriptures to which you refer. The first of them, with the context, runs thus:
"And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes; ami they were sore afraid. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not; stand still, and sec the salvation of the Lord. And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward. But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea." (Exod.xiv. 10, &c.)
This was the salvation of God, which they stood still to sec, by marching forward with all their might!
The other passage, wherein this expression occurs, stands thus : "There came some that told Jchoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee, from beyond the sea. And Jchoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord : even out of all the cities they came to seek the Lord. And Jchoshaphat stood in the congregation, in the house of the Lord.—Then upon Jahaziel came the Spirit of the Lord. And he said, Be not dismayed by reason of this great multitude. To-morrow go ye down against them: ye shall not need to fight in this battle. Set yourselves: stand ye still, and sec the salvation of the Lord. And they rose early in the morning and went forth. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Moab, Amnion, and Mount Seir;—ami every one helped to destroy another." (2 Chron. xx. 2, &c.)
Such was the salvation which the children of Judah saw. But how does all this prove, that we ought not to wait for the grace of God in the means which he hath ordained?
6. I shall mention but one objection more, which, indeed, docs not properly belong to this head: nevertheless, because it has been so frequently urged, I may not wholly pass it by.
'Does not St. Paul say, " If ye be dead with Christ, why are yc subject to ordinances?" (Col. ii. 20.) Therefore a Christian, one that is dead with Christ, need not use the ordin « any more.'