« PoprzedniaDalej »
God by faith in his beloved Son. Some believed not: Why? Because they were exactly such men as the foreknowledge of. the Holy Ghost had described by the mouth of Isaiah. Their heart was waxed gross, and their ears were dull of hearing, and their eyes they had closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and be converted, and God should heal them. Their heart, fixed upon ceremonial ordinances and worldly pursuits, was averse to spiritual religion, humility, and holiness. Their ear gave no attention to doctrines which contradicted their prepossessions, and proclaimed the iniquity of the self-righteous. Their eyes, they wilfully shut against that light from above, by which ignorance was detected, and guilt exposed. Therefore it was that Moses and the prophets testified before them, and produced not conviction. Therefore it was, that hearing they heard, and did not understand; and seeing they saw, and did not perceive. Therefore it was that they withstood the evidence of the Gospel. Therefore it was, that they would not be converted and healed. Therefore it was, that they would not accept the salvation of God.
How stands the case with respect to Christians ? To them universally is the Revelation of Jesus Christ addressed. To them Moses and the prophets, and all the inspired writers of the New Testament, deliver their testimony concerning the Redeemer of mankind. To them the Sabbath, as well as many an intervening day, , opens
the houses of God, that, with humble fupplication and sincere thanksgiving, they may hear the words of eternal life. To them, the ministers of religion cease not to direct appropriate instruction; cease not to unfold the whole counsel of God; to unveil the radical corruption of human nat ture; to make manifest the power, the deceitfulness, and the consequences of sin; to display the grand doctrines of redemption and sanctification ; to explain and enforce the precepts, admonitions, and exhortations of Holy Writ; to animate the righteous by the examples of saints of ancient days; to alarm the guilty by the fate of former rebels against the Most High; to strengthen the feeble, to confirm the wavering, to convince the gainsayer, to comfort the afflicted, to instil caution into the rash, humility into the presumptuous. The ministers of religion, those at least who
cordially enlarge their views to the extent of their duty, to the unequivocal import of the vows which are upon them, cease not to labour from house to house; and privately to impress on each individual, as prudence and opportunity may allow, the injunction, the warning, or the encouragement of which he more especially stands in need. Thus, to all throughout the Christian world is the Gospel of salvation sent. How is it received ?
As it was among the Jews at Rome: Some believe the things which are spoken; and some believe them not. If there be
difference between the two cases, it is this. Among the Jewish nation, collectively considered, there was, on the one hand, more open unbelief; and, on the other, more fincerity in Christian profession, than exists at present. They who did not believe that Jesus Christ came from God, feeling no worldly motive to induce them to difsemble their unbelief, avowed it, and acted upon it. They who were convinced of the truth of the Gospel, and embraced the Christian faith, having no worldly motive to lead them to profess a religion which was every where spoken against and persecuted, usually became Christians under the
influence of decided piety. But in these days, when to be a declared unbeliever, is commonly regarded as disgraceful; there are to be found within the pale of the Chriftian church many persons who have no stedfast belief in the Gospel. And as in these more mild and enlightened countries, no danger hangs over the head of any man in consequence of his being outwardly a disciple of Christ; there is seen among professed Christians a far greater proportion of the careless and the lukewarm than was to be discerned by the Apostles among their converts. Now let it be always and stedfastly remembered, that the Scriptures universally represent as unbelievers not only those whose blindness and impiety treat the Christian revelation as a falsehood, as a cunningly devised fable, as an invention of men : but those also who hold the truth in unrighteousness; those who believe abstractedly, but not practically; those who believe, and do not obey; those who believe with the understanding, but believe not with the heart unto justification*. A dead faith is no faith. It has no claim through Christ to the rewards of faith. It may become even more sinful and dan* Rom. i. 18.-X. 10.
unbelief. To sin against knowledge may be, under possible circumstances, more flagitious than to offend through wilful ignorance. Not to believe in Christ may sometimes be owing chiefly to guilty unconcern. To believe that he came from God, and despise his commandments, muft be, in the language of the Psalmist, the great offence, must be presumptuous hin. Why are the Gentiles pronounced to have been Atheists, without God in the world*? Because though they knew God, they glorified him not as God. He may be the worst of Atheists, who acknowledges that there is a God, and will not obey him. He who outwardly confesses Christ, and practically denies Him, may be the worst of unbelievers,
Consider the characteristic features of the two classes, into which the multitudes to whom the Gospel is now preached are divided. Some believe the things which are spoken, and some believe them not.
1. Advert primarily to those who believe. When
your eyes upon the mass of professed Christians, you observe among them a set of men manifestly separated and
• Eph. ii. 12. ADEO: 89 TW xoops.