Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

SERMON XII.

THE SUPERIOR EVIDENCE AND INFLUENCE OF

CHRISTIANITY.

1 John iv. 4.

Greater is he, that is in you, than he, that is in the world. THAT appearance, which is recorded in the se

cond book of Kings, chap. vi. 8, &c. was very proper to embolden the timid servant of Elisha. The king of Syria was at war with the king of Israel. The wise counsel of the prophet was more advantageous to his prince than that of his general was. The Syrian thought, if he could render himself master of such an extraordinary man, he could easily subdue the rest of the Israelites. In order to insure success, he surrounded Dothan, the dwelling-place of the prophet, with his troops in the night. The prophet's servant was going out early the next morning with his master, when, on seeing the numerous Syrian forces, he trembled, and exclaimed, Alas! my master, how shall we do? Fear not, replied Elisha, they that be with us, are more than they, that be with them. To this he added, addressing himself to God in prayer, Lord, open his eyes, that he may see ! The prayer was

! heard. The servant of Elisha presently saw the sufficient ground of his master's confidence; he dis

21

VOL. 11.

scorerėd'a cclestial multitude of horses, and chaa riots of fire, which God had sent to defend his servant from the king of Syria.

How often, my brethren, have you trembled at the sight of that multitude of enemies, which is let loose against you? When you have seen your

i selves called to woreslle, as St. Paul speaks, not only against flesh and blood, but against principalitiis, against powers, against spiritual aickedness in high places ; against the sophisms of erPor, against the tyrants of the church, and, which is still more formidable, against the depravity of your own hearts: how often in these cases have you exclajined, Alas ! how shull we do? Who is sufficient for these things? 2 Cor. ii. 16.' Who then can be sared ? Matt. xix. 25.

But take courage, christian wrestlers! they that be with you, are more than they, thut are against you. O Lord ! open their eyes, that they may see! May they see the great cloud of witnesses. Heb. xii. 1. who fought in the same field, to which they are called, and there obtained a victory! May they see the blessed angels who encamp round about them, to protect their persons, and to defeat their foes ! May they see the powerful aid of that spirit, which thou hast giren them ! May they see Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith, Psal. sxxiv. 7. 1 Jolin iii. 24. and Heb. xii. 2. who animates them from heaven, and thie eternal rewards, which thou art preparing to crown their perseverance ! and may a happy experience teach them that truth, on which we are going to fix their attention, Greater is he, that is in them, Than he, that is in the world. Amen.

Two preliminary remarks will elucidate our subject:

t. Although the proposition in my text is gene

This pro

ral, and regards all christians, yet St. John wrote: it with a particular view to those persons, to whom he addressed the epistle, from which we have taken it. In order to ascertain this, reflect on the times of the apostles, and remark the accomplishment of that prophecy, which Jesus Christ had some time before delivered. He bad foretold, that there would arise in Judea fals: Christs, and false pronhets, who would shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that (if it were possible,) they would deceive the very elect, Matt. xxiv. 24. phecy was to be accomplished immediately before he destruction of Jerusalem ; and to that period carned men assign the publication of this epistle. St. John calls the time, in which he wrote, the last time, chap. ii. 13. that is to say, in the Jewish style, he time in which the metropolis of Judea was to je destroyed : and adds the sign, by which chrisans might know, thal it was the lasi lim; as ye rave heard that Antichrist shall come, even nox ire there many Antichrists; whereby ye knotu hat it is the last time. Remark those words, as e have heard : The apostle meant, by them, to remind his readers of the prophecy of Jesus Christ.

I do dot pretend now to inquire what seducers Jesus Christ particularly intended in this prophecy. simon the sorcerer may be placed in the class of False Christs. There is a very remarkable passage

. o this purpose in the tenth verse of the eighth chapter of Acts. It is there said, that this impos

or had so bercitched the people of Samaria, that all, from the least to the greatest, said, This man is the great power of God. What means this phrase, the great power of God ? It is the title, which the ancient Jews gave the Messiah. Philo, treating of the divine essence, established the mystery of the Trinity, as clearly as a Jew could estal)

[ocr errors]

lish it, who had no other guide than the old testament.

He speaks first of God; then of what he calls the logos, the word, (the same term is translated word in the first chapter of the gospel of St. John,) and he calls this word the great power of God, and distinguisheth him from a third person, whom he denominates the second power. Moreo- . ver, Origen says, Simon the sorcerer took the title of Son of God, a title, which the Jews had appropriated to the Messiah.

As there were false Christs in the time of St. John, so there were false prophets, that is, false teachers. These St. John hath characterised in the chapters, which precede my text; and the portraits drawn by the apostle are so exactly like those, which the primitive fathers of the church have exhibited of Ebion and Cerinthus, that it is easy to know them. A particular investigation of this subject would di. vert our attention too far from our principal design ; and it shall suffice at present to observe, that these impostors caused great mischiefs in the church. Simon, the sorcerer, indeed, at first renounced his imposture : but be soon adopted it again. Justin Martyr informs us, that, in his time, there remained some disciples of that wretch, who called him the first intelligence of the divinity, that is the word ; and who named Helen, the associate of Simon in his imposture, the second intelligence of the divinity, by which title they intended to describe the holy Ghost. Only they, who are novices in the history of primitive christianity, can be ignorant of the ravages, which Ebion and Cerinthus made in the church.

But Jesus Christ bad foretold, and all ages have verified the prediction, that the gates of hell should not prevail against the church, Matt. xvi. 18. The most specious sophisms of Ebion and Cerinthus,

« PoprzedniaDalej »