« PoprzedniaDalej »
watch to take advantage."* It was also to pollute the sanctuary of strength, take away the daily sacrifice, and place the abomination that maketh desolatet in its room. This, which is called the abomination of desolationt by our Lord, signifies the introduction of idolatry into the holy city of Jerusalem by the Roman armies.
Heathen nations, then, were even zealous for their own worship, although they served false gods. Their ministers of religion, “though not a distinct order from the other citizens, were chosen from among the most honourable men in the state.'S They took cognizance of the setters forth of strange gods,ll and they would have enumerated amongst their own gods the God of the Christians, but that the Christians were compelled to declare them to be false gods, and to preach to them the Unknown God, whom they ignorantly worshipped. I
Hence the persecution of the Christians, notwithstanding the privilege of a Roman citizen proved a temporary protection to St. Paul. The policy of the Romans “ was to grant the privileges of citizenship even to those who were under foreign dominion, in order the more surely to detach them from their own rulers, and afterwards to enslave them.” These privileges of citizens in the Colonies were inferior to the privileges of those who had the freedom of the city of Rome itself, and the right of suffrage. The privilege belonging to St. Paul therefore was no more than the jus Coloniæ, or the right of the Colonist, which was the lowest class of citizenship. It amounted not even to an exemption from being put in irons as other prisoners were. It extended, however, to a freedom from examination by scourging before conviction of a crime, and also to a right of appealing from
* Hales. + Daniel xi. 31. Matthew xxiv. 15. § Vide Adam's Rom. Ant. || Acts xvii. 18. (Acts xvii. 23.
the Centurion, who had power of life and death in other cases, to the Procurator, and even from his judgment to that of Cæsar. This is apparent, both from the fact of St. Paul's having been loosed from his bands, and from the fear betrayed by the Chief Captain, not because he had put the apostle in chains, but because he had commanded him as a Roman citizen to be bound for scourging uncondemned.*
The apostle's privilege then, which merely exempted him from this intolerable outrage upon his person, mean though this liberty of Roman citizenship might be, was not too mean to be pleaded by the Apostle in the exercise of his ministry. It served the purpose also of accomplishing the word of the Lord, which had declared of Paul, that he was a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ before kings, t and of proving the Roman nation to be subservient to the ends of Divine Providence.
2. Let me then, as I proposed, in the second place, turn your attention from this too highly estimated Roman freedom, to our own privileges as citizens of no mean city in the scale of nations.
We have seen how the kingdom of Israel was exalted, and how it fell. Your privileges as citizens, my Christian brethren, are founded upon the same basis, which is the word of God. The people of Israel, therefore, were not the only persons to whom the holy worship of the temple, or the times set apart for holy rest, or the celebration of God's ordinances were precious. The law was only a schoolmaster to bring us to the knowledge of the Spiritual things of the Gospel of Christ. The sanctuary of God in the wilderness and in Israel, and afterwards the temple with the ark therein deposited, as a house of prayer for all people, were only types of the Church of Christ, in
* Acts xxii. 25. See Note C. + Acts ix. 15.
which Christians hear the Word of God, receive the Sacraments of Christ, and offer their prayers and praises, supplications and thanksgivings, and wherein their worship is accepted.
Saint Paul, quoting the 68th Psalm, shows the carrying up of the Ark for the establishment of a pure and holy worship at Jerusalem, to have been a type of the more spiritual worship of the heart and soul required by the Gospel in the Christian church. He applies this Psalm, as a prophecy of Christ's ascension to the throne of His glory where He assumed the power committed unto Him, to the pouring out of His spiritual gifts, according to His promise, for the establishment of Christian worship in the church of which He is the Head and the Foundation. For, saith the Apostle, to the Ephesians, to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ, wherefore, as said the prophet, when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.* The Apostle then describes the gifts and the purposes for which they were conferred. He says, He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be pastors and teachers. For their own sakes? No. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.t
The exaltation of Christ to the throne of His great glory, was therefore manifested in the distribution of the spiritual gifts, which were necessary to qualify His ministers for the work He had given them to do. St. Paul explains this work to be the edifying or building up the Church of Christ into one body, that all may come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the
* Eph. iv. 7, 8. + Idem, 11, 12.
stature of the fulness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ : from whom, the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love. * But in further proof that the one and same object designed both under the Old and New Testament was the union of the people in one pure and holy Form of Worship: Jerusalem, saith the prophet, is builded as a city that is compact together, whither the tribes go up; the tribes of the Lord unto the testimony of Israel to give thanks unto the Name of the Lord.t And of her people he saith, Behold how good and pleasant a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity. I There is one body, saith the Apostle, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.ş
This is an inspired Apostle's application of an inspired prophet's ancient prediction, to the establishment of one pure and holy Form of Worship in the Christian Church.
If then our Lord is graciously pleased to commune with His Christian people in this Church, in order to establish them in the faith and practice of holiness by prayer and the public preaching of His Word, is it not that all may know, from the least to the greatest, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He hath sent ; and * Eph. iv. 13-16. + Psalm cxxii. 3, 4. Psalm cxxxiii, 1.
$ Eph. iv. 46.
that worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth we may all keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace ? *
This, my Christian brethren, is the foundation of the liberty with which Christ hath made us free. As of old, when it pleased the Lord to plant His Church in Zion, He forced the heathen idolaters to make room for the Ark of His Covenant; so, when He caused the Church of England to be established at the Reformation, He first removed from power, the Romanists, who had corrupted Truth with superstitious inventions, in order that His Word might have free course, and His worship might be pure. It would be as vain to deny that the Reformation of the Church of England was the work of Divine Providence, as to deny that all power is of God. It is as vain to deny that its promoters were influenced by religious principles, as that it was carried into effect by the power providentially vested in the Crown.
The arbitrary power of the Crown exercised in that day has been since diminished, but without diminishing the supremacy of the Sovereign or the citizen's obligation of a subject. Its limitation, however, is not the effect of chance, but of mutual agreement; neither is the compact “ tacit, implied, or vague: it is explicit, patent, and precise. It is summarily expressed in the Coronation Oath ; it is drawn out at length and in detail in the great Charter, and the corroborating Statutes, in the Petition of Right, in the Habeas Corpus Act, in the Bill of Rights, and in the Act of Settlement."
The British Constitution, the noblest production of human effort, has indeed effectually secured the Monarch's performance of his contract ..." by two peculiar provisions of a deep and subtle policy—the one, in formthe other in the principles of government, which in their
* Eph. iv. 3.