« PoprzedniaDalej »
vation to every one that believeth.” be made partakers hereafter of the In other words, it is a dispensation blessed kingdom of heaven. In the in which the power of God is strik- mean time, through the influence of ingly manifested by the manner in the Holy Spirit, they are to be fitted wbich the salvation of man is effect, and prepared for that holy state, by ed. The object of the Gospel is the the renewal of their nature, by the recovery of man from the state of sanctification of their souls, by the guilt and misery into which he bad mortifying of the body of sin, by sunk by the fall, and bis restoration their growth in grace and in a conto the Divine favour and to eternal formity to the Divine image. happiness. The means by which Such is the brief outline of the this great change is effected are Gospel. To preach the Gospel is made known by the Gospel. Pro- to make it known to men in a full perly speaking, Christ, who, by his and perfect manner, and also to endeath, iakes away the guilt of man, force and apply the several branand the Holy Spirit
, wbo, by his ches of it to the conscience. From operation, sanctifies the heart, are this outline, then, we may form some the grand agents in acconiplishing judgment of the true method of this work. The Gospel only makes preaching the Gospel. A more disknown their agency, and is used tinct view of the subject, however, by them as an instrument of effeci. may be obtained by considering ing their great design. Tbey re- wbat it is not to preach the Gospel. quire, therefore, faith in the Gospel, Those do not preach the Gospel and they employ that faith as the who represent man in a different medium by which they operate in state from that which the Scripture changing the condition of man. And supposes. If ministers do not speak hence the Gospel is said to be the of him as fallen and corrupt, as nameans of salvation.
turally under the power of sin, and The Gospel evidently, supposes, therefore subject to the just displeaman to be in a state of sin and guilt, sure of a holy God; this is to give under the just displeasure of God, such a view of man as would render and liable to eternal condempation. the Gospel unnecessary. If allowIt supposes him further to be inca. ing the corrupt state of the human pable of extricating himself from race, they assert that there is power this state, by the exertion of any in man to restore himself by his powers which he possesses in him- own exertions, without referring him self; and it implies that there is no to the Divine power and grace, they other law or dispensation given by do not preach the Gospel; because God by which man could be saved; thus the sanctifying influences of every law of God being too pure the Holy Spirit are rendered useless, and holy to be sufficiently kept by If exalting the merit of any righthe weakness of man.
teous acts which man can perforin, In this state of the utter ruin of they suppose them capable of counman, we are informed by a revela.. terbalancing bis transgressions, and tion from God, that he has been rendering bim acceptable in the pleased, in compassion to his crea- sight of God, they do not proach thu tures, 10 appoint a Saviour for them. Gospel ; for thus they make the He has sent bis own Son to take cross of Christ of none effect. If upon bim our nature, and to make they represent Christ only as a patalonement for our sins. He has lern and example to mankind, and likewise sent his Holy Spirit from not as making atonement for sin by above to testify of this Saviour, and his blood; or as being only a man, to communicate the benefits of his instead of the Son of God come down salvation to the souls of men. from heaven to redeem us, they do Through this Saviour men are to be not preach the Gospel : for great is restored to the Divine favour, and to the mystery of godliness; that is, of
the Gospel ; " God was manifest in application of scriptural truth is the flesh.” If they fail in pointing not made to the conscience. out, that the great end of Christ's It seems hardly necessary to obcoming in the flesh was to purchase serve, that in order to all this, much to himself a holy people, who, being knowledge and wisdom are required. made partakers of a divine nature, The Gospel, indeed, is of itself plain and delivered from the corrup- and simple. It was meant to be so, tions of the world, should be zea- being expressly intended for the lous of good works, they do not poor and unlearned. In this, as in preach the Gospel; their preaching a!l the other works of God, a noble is at variance with the main design plainness and simplicity bespeak for woich that Gospel was given. the perfection of his skill. Christ In a word, if they do not represent and his apostles, by whom it was deman as in absolute need of a Saviour; livered, came not with excellency if they ascribe to him the power to of speech or worldly wisdom; they save himself; if they keep the great were the very models of plainness and only Saviour out of view, or in all their discourses. However substitute any thing wbatsoever in high the subjects of the Gospel may the place of his meritorious death, be, they are made so plain by the perfect righteousness and prevailing inspired writers, that he who runs intercession ; if they do not insist on may read. Besides which, the Holy the sanctifyinginfluences of the Holy Spirit has been promised to enlighten Spirit as indispensibly necessary to the mind. What is required, therethe great end of the Gospel, the re- fore, in order to understand the Go. newal of the soul in the divine spel, is only an humble and teachaimage; or if, allowing this to be the ble spirit, a diligent study of the end, they do not point out the ap- sacred oracles, and earnest prayer to pointed means of attaining it; they the Giver of all wisdom for his illudo not preach the Gospel; they mination. give false views of the state of man, But though the truth will be made and of the means of preparing him clear 10 those who use these means, for eternity.
and are thus duly prepared to receive In these several cases, the Gospel it, it must be acknowledged that there may be said not to be preached at is in men, in general, an unhappy all; because either some doctrine blindness of mind, a perversity of contrary to it is introduced, or some judgment, a corruption of heart, a essential part of it is omitted. But prevailing regard to worldly interest, besides this, the Gospel may be or an obstinate spirit of prejudice, preached imperfectly, and may thus which renders them indisposed to its
ail in a considerable degree to fulo reception. Hence it is that minifil the great ends which it was de- sters with the same documents in signed to accomplish. This is the their hands, with the words of our case when the several points already Lord and the writings of his apostles. stated as characterizing the Gospel before them, have differed so widely are not exhibited in the full and in the views they have given of reproper proportion; when a lucid ligion; while plain and illiterate. view of the whole is not presented; men have been perplexed, and have when a distorted representation is been at a loss to know what really given of it, one part being unduly was the Gospel of Christ. magnified, or its connection with the Some have dwelt almost exclusiverest not sufficiently marked; when ly on the evidences of Revelation; the outline is not filled up; when an important subject, doubtless, if the points more immediately re- it be considered as only introductory quired by the peculiar circumstances to a knowledge of the Gospel of a congregation are not insisted itself; while others have entireupon; or when a close and directly overlooked the external proofa of our faith. Some have dwelt detail of their application, requires chiefly on man's moral obligations, more than the study even of a whole sinking those doctrines which con- life. The sinfulness of our nature, stitate the foundation of all Chris- for example, a most important doctian practice, and especially keep-trine of Christianity, is readily seen ing ont of view that Saviour by and admitted. But what avails the wbose blood alone we are cleansed general acknowledgment of this from our sins. Others, sensible of truth? The effects of sin must this error, have gone into the oppo- be pointed out in all their various site extreme; they have perpetually forms. T'he numerous Justs of the dwelt on points of doctrine, wbile flesh which lurk disguised in the what related to Christian practice human heart must be stripped of has been either omitted or hur- their disguise and exposed to view. sied over in general terms and with. The love of ease and the love of out sufficient explanation. Another pleasure must be exhibited in all class-bas failed in not applying the their workings. Pride in its several truths they have delivered. They branches of self-conceit, vanity, osbave preached the grand doctrines tentation, and such like affections of Scripture indeed, but they have must be held up to view. The love preached them as matters of specu- of money, with its different indicalation, as if the bare and cold know- tions; the love of worldly honour, ledge of the truth could be effectual the desire of human applause, the to salvation. The warm and ani- operations of a secret spirit of impamated appeal to the feelings ; the tience, envy, resentment; all these close application to the conscience; must be fully explained, if we would the affectionate address as from a krow the true meaning of that corfather to his children, over whom rupt state from which it is the dehe was tenderly watching in Christ sign of the Gospel to set us free. Jesus:-these have been wanting; He, therefore, who is thus exposing and the preaching, though specula- sin, with the view of more clearly rively correct, has been untruitful. shewing the necessity of the Divine Orbers again have failed in particu- work of Christ on the soul, is preachJarizing, that is, in applying, the ing the Gospel as truly and effectually general truths of the Gospel to the as if he were proclaiming the glad particular cases of their hearers. It tidings of forgiveness in Christ is not the constant repetition of the Jesus. same form of sound words, however In like manner, he who explains excellent, which can be regarded as in detail the holy tempers and dispo- , a complete delivery of the truth. It sitions which characterize the “remust be elucidated : it must be newed” man; he who illustrates the branched out into particulars : it fruits of the Holy Spirit, (not negmust be explained and amplitied : lecting also, either in this or in the it must be brought to bear on the former instance, to give a clear and peculiar circumstances of the con- full view of the other great branches gregation, so that they may clearly of Christianity); may be truly said to understand and feel its force. In be preaching the Gospel. It is a this way only can a minister of the narrow and confined 'view of the Gospel be said rightly to divide the Gospel which would confine it exword of God, and to give to each his clusively to a particular doctrine, as portion in due season.
that of faith in Christ Jesus, without The grand and distinguishing doc. embracing all those other points trines of the Gospel are, as has been 'which were equally taught by observed, exceedingly plain and easy, Christ and his apostles. but at the same time they are most It appears to have been the praccomprehensive ; and fully to under- tice of our Lord and his apostles to stand all their bearings,and the whole direct their peculiar attention to the Christ. Ossery. No. 121,
prevailing faults of the people wbal. the bigh commission they had re ever. They were. These they at- ceived from Jesus Christ to feed his tacked in a forcible manner. Our
Our sheep, when they reproved sin, unLord saw that the Pharisees were masked hypocrisy, or rectified error, the chief opposers of real reli- as when they delivered at first the gion : He therefore constantly re- simple doctrine of Christ dying for proved them, and exposed their sinners, and exhorted men to be rebypocrisy. He perceived that false conciled to God. interpretations were put upon the But while a minister thus fully law: and be took occasion fully to elucidates every important branch explain its purity and the extent of of the Gospel, and thus guards aits requisitions. He observed tbe gainst imperfect representations of apostles to be worldly minded and it, Christ must ever be held up to view ambitious; he therefore frequently as the great Author of salvation, and inculcated heavenly mindedness, and the great Agent in it. He must be deadness to the world and the things made ibe spring of all obedience; of it.
the son of the system), whose influence The Epistles likewise (to say no- is to pervade every part of it. All thing at present of the preaching of things must refer to him as their John the Baptist) are directed against centre. This being kept uniformly prevalent errors or vices. And it is and steadily in view, the perfection this particularityintheF.pistles which of preaching is to deliver the whole renders them at once interesting and counsel of God, to omit no importinstructive. The Apostle's command ant part, and to dwell on each in to Timothy, and, through him, to proportion to its rank and importevery minister of the Gospel, is not ance,of which the Scriptures exhibit only 10 preach the word, but to re- to us a perfect scale. prove, rebuke, exhort, with all long What has been said may serve to suffering and doctrine; to watch in correct the error of those who would all things, and thus do the work of confine the preaching of the Gospel an evangelist, and make full proof to those docirines alone which relate of his ministry.
to the forgiveness of sins in Christ The Gospel was intended not only Jesus. This is indeed a most highto convert men, but also to build ly important part of the Gospel ; them up in the faith, the love, and but it is not ibe whole. In some the obedience of Christ. We find, congregations, it may be that the therefore, a difference in the strain state of the bearers may require that of the Apostles' preaching at diffe- these doctrines should be chiefly rent times and to different persons. dwelt upon. In others, however, When preaching to those who were the practical parts of religion may unacquainted with the truth as it is be more particularly necessary. To in Jesus, they declare unreservedly preach the Gospel wisely and faiththe grace of the Gospel. If any fully to each would require a strain of afterwards abused that grace to li preachingwhich might seem to supercentiousness, we hear an apostle ficial judges, to be almost contradictosharply reproving them, and telling ry. Such
was precisely the case with them, that faith without works is St. Paul and St. James. They both dead, and that a man could not be preached the Gospel with much wisjustified by faith if were alone; dom and ability. They were both that is to say, barren and unproduc- inspired by the very same Spirit; yet tive. Thus did the apostles accom- the one will seem to many to have modate their preaching to the cir- spoken inconsistently with the other. cumstances of their hearers, leaving A little reflection, bowever, on difan admirable pattern of the true ference of circumstances, would serve manner of preaching the Gospel. to reconcile every seeming contraAnd surely they as truly fulfilled diction.
. In conclusion, let it be remarked, fess their sins before God, are deeply that nothing new can be expected humbled on account of them, and in the preaching of the Gospel. If strive against them in the power of it be new, it is on that very account Jesus Christ. In like manner, the false. Yet many persons seem to knowledge of the grace of the Gobe anxious to find out something spel will benefit those only who, new which is to operate as a charm weary and heavy laden with the io effecting their salvation. That burden of their sins, listen to the only is the Gospel which the Scrip- invitations of Christ Jesus, make tures have revealed as such ; and their application to him in faith and there the truth will always be found prayer, and rely on him for salvation to be clear just in proportion to its with the heart unto righteousness. importance. One preacher may be No more will the knowledge of the trore happy than another in his ta. pure precepts of the Gospel benefit lents, his mode of expression, his aoy but those who are purifying themmanner. He may have more ingee selves even as He is pure, and who are nuity of illustration, and may be watching over their whole conduct more expert in handling particular that the
temper and dispositions of subjects; but the truth itself is old a Christian may be found in them to and well known. Nor is it only the honour of their blessed Master. folly to expect something new in The hour is fast approaching, as on the preaching of the Gospel : such the wings of a whirlwind, when an expectation often leads to faral empty speculations will not be alconsequences. Many, through life, lowed as a substitution for a living are thus seeking and never finding the faith and a holy practice. God truth. Some persons are led to fix grant that every one who reads this en particular expressions of Scrio- paper may be found in that day to wre, to the neglect of what is most have received the truth in the love important in doctrine; some to che- of it, and to have brought forth rish a fond regard to doctrines with- abundant fruit to the glory of our out attending to practice, and some Lord and Saviour ! to use eren religion itself for stilling the remonstrances of conscience. Hence also come divisions in the
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. Church. It has ever been the
policy of Satan rather to undermine Whiųe Christians of almost every the Church than to attack it openly, denomination profess to adopt the An open denial of any truth would same Scriptures as the rule both of be rejected; but the disproportionate faith and practice, they yet draw, exaltation of one part of the Gospel, or seem to draw, from the sacred to the depression of the rest, is not volume conclusions widely different. so soon perceived to be pregnant Many causes, doubtless, contribuie with danger. Let it be ever remem
to this effect; and none, perhaps, bered, that it is the practical applinore than that corruption of our cation of old and well known truths nature, wbich blinds the understanda to the conscience, which is chiefly ing and hardens the beart; which in wanted, and from which Satan one man exalts itself against the would divert the attention of man. humbling truths of the Gospel, and What will avail, as has been already in another reluses obedience to its said, the speculative belief of any self-denying precepts. Still we find religious truth, unless that truth be differences of opinion, which exist brought ioto effect? The knowledge between those who appear to believe of the sinfulness of our nature will with sincerity, and to study with benefit those only who trace it candour, the revealed will of God; through its windings, cherish the differences which are, I think, to be convictions of their conscience, con- traced in a considerable degree to