Obrazy na stronie

of her members before the Christian era. And she was not so governed, in any of her branches, till long after the apostolic age. To make all the male members, or all these in conjunction with females, rulers, is subversive of the fundamental principles of good government, and proper subordination. And the pastors never governed the church as her exclusive rulers. That the government of the church is committed, by her great Head, to ministers and a select number of men called ruling elders, I shall argue from analogy, from the government of the Jewish church, and from the New Testament scriptures. (To be continued.)


(Continued from page 125.)

The reference to the satisfaction of Christ, both by Jehovah in dispensing forgiveness of sin, and by the penitent in asking it, does not belong exclusively to the Christian dispensation. It has been connected with every economy of divine grace established for the benefit of this sinful world. The principle has been brought into full view, since the advent of our blessed Redeemer; but it may be discovered in its operation, amid the shadows that obscured the condition of the church, before he cane, as the Sun of Righteousness, to chase away the darkness that still limited the vision of his people.

The way of salvation has certainly been but one and the same from the beginning of the world. It would be absurd to suppose that believers under the present dispensation are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, but that the pious under preceding economies were redeemed by a less, costly sacrifice: for if one less costly than the death of the Son of God, could have sufficed for the salvation of those who lived before his advent, it would doubtless have been sufficient for our salvation; and consequently his humiliation and sufferings might have been dispensed with, and the world would never have beheld that amazing spectacle—the exhibition of which was commenced in the stable at Bethlehem, and finished on Mount Calvary. “For,” says Paul, “if there had been a law given that could have given life, verily, righteousness should have been by the law.” Gal. iii. 21. And again, “If righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead IN v AIN.” ii. 21. In that memorable passage adduced in our former paper, this apostle tells us, that “God hath set forth” his Son to be “a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins, that are past;” that is, the sins of those who had lived


and died before the manifestation of Christ to the world by his
incarnation and death. And in language still plainer he teaches
us the same truth, in his epistle, to the Hebrews: “For this
cause he is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of
death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under
the first testament, they which are called might receive the pro-
mise of the eternal inheritance.” Heb. ix. 15.
It follows then that, as the death of the great mediator be-
tween heaven and earth was intended for the benefit of those
who lived before, as well as of those who have lived since the
occurrence of that astonishing event, and was designed as the
propitiation for all the sins that ever have been, or ever will be,
forgiven to sinful men, God in dispensing pardon has, in all
ages, had respect to the all-sufficient price, by which it was
purchased by his Son, for all who believe in him. This lamb
of God, “without spot and blemish,” by whose “precious blood
sinners are redeemed, was foreordained,” Peter tells us, “be-
fore the foundation of the world.” 1 Pet. i. 19, 20. In the book
of revelation he is called “ the Lamb slain from the foundation
of the world.” Chap. xiii. 8.
Nor is it to be doubted, that the pious in former ages had a
reference to this mode of salvation in the worship of Almighty
God. In respect to light shed on this subject, there is indeed
a great difference between them and us. They had the shadow,
but we have the substance of divine things. But as from a
well painted picture we can form some conception of the objects
represented; so the pious of former ages were enabled, by the
shadows and types by which heavenly things were exhibited
to them, to form some, though, in comparison with ours, ob-
scure conceptions of them. Their imperfect knowledge made
them pant for clearer views. “Many prophets and righteous
men,” said Jesus to his disciples, “have desired to see those
things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those
things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Mat. xiii. 17.
“Of which salvation,” says Peter, “the prophets have inquired
and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should
come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time, the
Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testi-
fied before hand the sufferings of CHRIST, and the glory that
should follow.” Pet. i. 10, 11. “Your father Abraham,” said
Jesus to the Jews, “rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and
was glad.” John viii. 56.
From these passages, as well as from many promises and pre-
dictions concerning the Messiah, that might be quoted, it is
manifest, that pious men, before his advent, had some know-
ledge of Christ, and of the design of his coming. Indeed the
first promise of the seed of the woman, who was to bruise the

[ocr errors]

serpent's head, graciously given to our first parents, shed some rays of light on this mysterious and glorious subject. And that they were taught to have respect to him in their worship, is plain enough to satisfy any humble and inquiring mind. The Jews had their high priest. On the great day of the atonement, (after having offered the appointed sacrifices,) he carried the blood into the most holy place, and there sprinkled it several times, and burnt incense; while the people were praying in the court of the temple. What was the meaning of all this: That it had a meaning, and that it was typical of the work of Jesus Christ, is certain; for an inspired writer has, in the 9th chapter of his epistle to the Hebrews, explained it as referring to him. It is true the Jews were unable to understand the meaning of this typical transaction, as perfectly as we do; but still they might have easily learnt from it this general truth, that they needed a mediator to intervene between God and them, to render their worship acceptable to infinite purity. The same truth they were taught, by the numerous sacrifices that were offered, from day to day, on the altar at Jerusalem. It was “not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.” Heb. x. 4. Multitudes, indeed, it is not to be doubted, did rely on their sacrifices as sufficient to make a real atonement for their sins. But this fact no more proves that the pious and enlightened among the Jews placed such a reliance on them. than the reliance which multitudes, under the clear light of the gospel, place on their good deeds, proves that pious and enlightened Christians expect to be justified by the merit of their own works. The continual repetition of the same sacrifices was designed to represent their insufficiency. Heb. x. 1–3. And still more plainly were the Jews taught this important truth, and to look to the grand sacrifice typified by them; as appears from the quotation made by the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, on this subject, out of the 40th Psalm : “Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifices and offerings thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure : then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.” Heb. x. 5–7. To the sacrifice to be made by their Messiah, the pious under former economies looked, whenever they offered their sacrifices and their accompanying worship; and expected to be accepted of God, for the sake of that future provision which the Saviour was to make for their salvation, when he should come into the world. It was the faith of Abel, looking through the type to the antitype, that secured divine approbation to him: while the frowns of the Almighty lowered on the unbelief of his brother: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent

sacrifice than Cain; by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead, yet speaketh.” Heb. xi. 4. Why did the Jews in their prayers, from every part of the land, and every country in which they might reside, look toward the temple, but because the temple contained the ark and the propitiatory types of Christ. By this practice the pious were taught to have continual respect in their worship to that grand sacrifice that was in due time to be offered for sin. We have detained our readers too long on the first query of D1scIPULus; we proceed to reply to the second. It is thus expressed: “Whether that passage of holy writ, contained in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, from the 23d to the 35th verse inclusive, is opposed to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints; seeing that the king, after having pardoned his servant, revoked that forgiveness, on account of his subsequent evil conduct. I am aware that the entire passage is a comment on the text, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us,’ and may be said to have no reference to the other doctrine; but it is hoped that an explanation will be given which may be satisfactory and useful.” In explaining types and parables, a judicious commentator will consider their design, and not attempt to draw resemblances from every accompanying circumstance. A neglect of this rule would lead to a wild and visionary interpretation. There are points in which the resemblance between the type and the antitype will not hold. On the annual day of expiation among the Jews, two goats were used; the one sacrificed, and the other sent away into the wilderness, denominated the scape-goat. Levit.xvi. The first represented Christ suffering and dying for our sins; the second represented him rising from the dead for our justification, and thus bearing them completely away. But it would be absurd to conclude, from the circumstances of two goats being used, that we have two Saviours. In no other way could the two parts of the Redeemer's work have been better exhibited. All the types were imperfect in shadowing forth his ' excellence. -The serpent lifted up in the wilderness, for the relief of the Israelites stung by the fiery serpents, was a type of Christ. But in one circumstance, it is manifest, the resemblance does not hold. Those who looked to the serpent were completely healed of their disease; but sinners who look to the great antitype have the cure only begun; which is to be carried on to perfection, by a continually repeated application to the same sovereign remedy. Similar discrepancies might be pointed out in relation to other types. The same rule is to be applied in explaining parables. Every

circumstance is not significant. Some are employed as the mere dress of the picture. In examining a painting, we look, not at the dress, but at the countenance, to discover the likeness of the original. The dress is often the result of mere fancy. So in examining a parable, to discover the truth exhibited by it, we must look at its great design, and not imagine that every particular in it has its corresponding truth. In the parable recorded in Luke xvi., an unjust steward, when his Lord demanded an account of his stewardship, and had resolved to deprive him of his office, is represented as providing for himself in a most iniquitous manner, by alienating his master's goods in favour of his debtors; and yet our blessed Saviour commends him as acting wisely. Now, in interpreting this parable, it would be absurd to extend the Redeemer's commendation beyond his manifest design; for he does not commend the injustice of this man in defrauding his master, and recommend an imitation of such iniquitous conduct; but only commends the wisdom with which this man acted, on his own base principles, to secure his own selfish end; and exhorts his disciples to act with as much wisdom, on upright principles, to promote their best and highest Interests. So, in another parable, recorded in Luke, xviiith chapter, an unjust judge is represented as yielding to the importunate applications of a poor widow, and redressing her wrongs, not to satisfy the claims of justice, but merely to get rid of her importunity, and to avoid being wearied by her repeated entreaties. Yet on this parable is grounded this declaration of our Lord : “Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” Now, it is manifest there are several points, in this parable, in which no resemblance can be found. God is not an unjust judge. God is never wearied by the believing applications o'. people; nor does he ever grant their request to get rid of their importunity, or to avoid any trouble. The simple design of the parable is to exhibit the efficacy of importunity, and to show, that, as it can prevail with an unjust mortal, so it can prevail with a holy God. These previous remarks have prepared the way for removing the difficulty of Discipulus, in regard to the parable to which he refers. It can be done, it is believed, in few words. What was the design of this parable 2 It was intended to teach the necessity of our forgiving our offending fellow creatures in order to our obtaining forgiveness from God. The substance of the parable is this: a certain king, after forgiving an immense debt to one of his servants, who was unable to pay it, revoked the grant, in consequence of the cruelty of this servant to a fel

« PoprzedniaDalej »