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in its fullest sense, not only to his personal followers, but to all believers in after-times. The Apostles, and the Christians in general of the apostolic age, had undoubtedly a much more ample and perfect knowledge of evangelical truth, than the greatest of their predecessors. Christians in these latter times have the full benefit of the light communicated to them, together with that additional light which the verification of their predictions, and the collective force of their testimony have supplied. The comparative advantages of either, as contrasted with those of their predecessors, may therefore be deemed essentially the same.

This view of the subject will also lead us to a right interpretation of another remarkable declaration of our Blessed Lord; in which, after representing John the Baptist to be “ more than a Prophet,” and that “

among “ them that are born of women there had not “ risen a greater than John,” he adds, “not

withstanding, he that is least in the king“ dom of heaven is greater than heh.” As the immediate precursor of his Lord, John had evidently an office and mission greatly superior to any of the Prophets of the Old Testament: and it is equally evident from his discourses, as well as from the testimony

h Matt. xi. 11.

of our Saviour, that he had more enlarged and distinct views of the nature of the Christian dispensation, than any of his predecessors. But of “ the kingdom of heaven” (the establishment of our Lord's spiritual kingdom upon earth) he could speak only as being then " at hand,” not as actually formed and completed. Even up to the period of his death, he saw it but in its incipient state; in advancement towards completion, but not yet extended or consolidated by the events which were necessarily to take place before old

things could pass away, and all things be

come newi.” In this respect, therefore, the least among those who were to be called to the sacred office of the ministry, after that kingdom was established; (after the evangelical covenant had been sealed and ratified by the death of the Redeemer, and attested by the glorious events which followed it ;) would be invested with more enlarged powers, and more thoroughly instructed in the great mystery of man's redemption, than even the Baptist himself. Nor does this apply only to the preachers of the Christian dispensation, but even to the lowliest of its hearers. The least among the members of Christ's spiritual body, who are now duly instructed in the essential truths of the Gospel, may attain to a more full and distinct knowledge of its design, and more convincing proof of its Divine truth, than the most enlightened of those holy men whom God raised up, in antecedent dispensations, gradually to unfold his gracious purpose. For, may not the lowliest disciple of Christ in the present day, know that his Saviour lived and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, for the salvation of men; that he wrought miracles and fulfilled prophecies; that he spake as never man “ spake;" that “ his word was with power,” such power as his adversaries were never able to resist; that he “ went about doing good;" that by these and numberless other circumstances it was proved that he was indeed the Son of God, and that whosoever believeth in Him, and heareth his sayings and doeth them, “ shall not perish, but have everlasting life ?" And does not this short compendium of Scripture-doctrine contain, not only the substance of every thing which the Law and the Prophets had revealed, but doctrines which to them were never so completely unfolded ; and also facts, in confirmation of them, unknown under the dispensation of the Law and the Prophets, and even to the favoured messenger of our Lord himself.

i 2 Cor. v. 17.

But, vast as this accession of evidence to the truth of Christianity appears to be, in comparison with that of preceding dispensations of revealed religion, it will serve still more to heighten our sense of its value and importance, if we view it in contrast with the slender portion of light, or rather the state of darkness, which once overspread the Gentile world.

It can hardly be necessary to enter into a detail of the acknowledged wants and exigencies of the wisest among the heathen sages, respecting the subjects most interesting to the mind of man, and most necessary to guide him to truth or happiness. It is sufficient to observe, that it was not so much from defective reasoning on these subjects, (for when has the world seen greater masters in the art of reasoning, than some among them who devoted themselves to these researches ?) nor from indifference to the truths concerning them, (for who have shewn greater diligence and anxiety to penetrate through the obscurity which surrounded them ?) but it was, generally, from the want of any certain information respecting those facts, and those fundamental principles of religion, which revelation only has made known, that the heathen philosophers failed in their inquiries after truth. The eyes of their

mind were open to see wisdom, and their ears to hear its communications; but the light of nature shone too dimly to irradiate their understandings, and the voice of nature was too feeble or inarticulate to convey to them distinct perceptions. Complaints to this effect not unfrequently occur in the writings of these illustrious and virtuous men; complaints, indeed, sometimes intermingled with a display of intellectual pride ill-befitting the condition they deplore, yet such as cannot but awaken sympathy and respect, when accompanied, as occasionally they are found to be, with expressions of great solicitude for further instruction from the Source of light and perfection. Of such men it might well be said, that“ they desired to see the things which “ we see, and did not see them, and to hear “ the things which we hear, and did not hear “ them.” Nor can we doubt that many among them would have gladly welcomed “ the day

spring from on high which hath visited us, “ to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Like the blind man restored to sight, who, when our Lord said to him, “ Dost thou be

lieve on the Son of God,” eagerly replied, “ Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on 5 himk ?” —we cannot doubt that many a

k John ix. 35, 36.


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