Obrazy na stronie

former part of this chapter. Here we have a prophecy of the abolishing of the ceremonial law, which was a wall of separation, that kept two sorts of persons (viz. eunuchs and Gentiles) out from the ordinances of the church or congregation of the Lord (for the words congregation and church are the same, the place of whose meeting was in God's house within God's walls, ver. 5. and on God's holy mountain, ver. 7. That in the ceremonial law which especially kept out the Gentiles, was the law of circumcision; and the law that the eunuch shall not enter

1 into the congregation or church of the Lord, we have in Deut. xxiii, 1. Now here it is foretold, that in the days when “God's salvation shall be come, and his righteousness revealed," by the coming of the Messiah, this wall of separation should be broken down, this ceremonial law removed out of the way, (but still taking care to note, that the law of the Sabbath shall be continued, as not being one of those ceremonial observances which shall be abolished ;) and then it is declared, what is the great qualification which should be looked at in those blessed days, when these external ceremonial qualifications of circumcision and soundness of body should no more be insisted on, viz. piety of heart and practice, “joining themselves to the Lord, loving the name of the Lord, to be his servants, choosing the things that please him," &c. Ver. 3, &c. “Neither let the son of the stranger that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people; neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree; for thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant, even unto them will I give in my house, and within my walls, a place, and a name better than of sons and of daughters ; I will give unto them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant: Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer ; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar: For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord God which gathered the outcasts of Israel, saith, Yet will I gather others to him besides those that are gathered unto him."

SECT. 1.

The representations which Christ makes of his visible church,

from time to time, in his discourses and parables, make the thing manifest which I have laid down.

This is required by the representation which Christ makes in the latter end of Matthew vii. of the final issue of things with respect to the different sorts of members of his visible church. Those that only say, Lord, Lord, and those who do the will of his Father which is in heaven; those who build their house upon a rock, and those who build upon the sand. They are all (of both kinds) evidently such as have pretended to an high honour and regard to Christ, have claimed an interest in him, and accordingly hoped to be finally acknowledged and received as his. Those visible Christians who are not true Christians cry, Lord, Lord; that is, are forward to profess respect, and claim relation to him, and will be greatly disappointed hereafter in not being owned by him. They shall then come and cry, Lord, Lord. This compellation, Lord, is commonly given to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, as signifying the special relation which Christ stood in to his disciples, rather than his universal dominion. They shall then come and earnestly claim relation, as it is represented of Israel of old, in the day of their distress, and God's awful judgments upon them, Hos. viii. 2. “ Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.” To know does not here intend speculative knowledge, but knowing as one knows his own, with a peculiar respect and interest. These false disciples shall not only claim interest in Christ, but shall plead and bring arguments to confirm their claim; "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works?" It is evidently the language of those that are dreadfully disappointed. Then (says Christ) I will profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me ye that work iniquity : q.d.“ Though they profess a relation to me, I will profess none to them; though they plead that they know me, and have an interest in me, I will declare to them that I never owned them as any of mine ; and will bid them depart from me as those that I will never own, nor have any thing to do with in such a relation as they claim." Thus all the hopes they had lived in, of being hereafter received and owned by Christ as in the number of his friends and favourites, are dashed in pieces. This is further illustrated by what follows, in the comparison of the wise man who built his

house on a rock; representing those professed disciples who build their hope of an interest in him on a sure foundation whose house shall stand in the trying day, and the foolish man who built his house on the sand; representing those professed disciples or hearers of his word, who build their opinion and hope of an interest in him on a false foundation, whose house in the great time of trial shall have a dreadful fall, their vain hope shall issue in dismal disappointment and confusion.

On the whole, it is manifest that all visible Christians or saints, all Christs's professing disciples or hearers that profess him to be their Lord, according to the Scripture notion of professing Christ, are such as profess a "saving interest in him and relation to him, and live in the hope of being hereafter owned as those that are so interested and related.”—By those that hear Christ's sayings, in this place, are not meant merely auditors of the word preached; for there are many such who make no pretence to an interest in Christ, and have no such hope or opinion built on any foundation at all; but those who profess to hearken, believe, and yield submission to the word of Christ. This is confirmed by the manner in which the matter is expressed in Luke vi. “Whosoever cometh to me and heareth my sayings, and doth them, I will shew you to whom he is like :" ; e. Whosoever visibly comes to me, and is one of my professed disciples, &c.

This matter is confirmed by that parallel representation that Christ gives us in Luke xiii. 25—29, of his final disposal of the two different sorts of persons that are in the kingdom or church of God; viz. those who shall be allowed in his church or kingdom when it comes to its state of glory, and those who though they have visibly been in it, shall be thrust out of it. It is represented of the latter, that they shall then come and claim relation and interest, and cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us;" and “Christ shall answer and say, I know you not whence ye are." As much as to say, “ Why do you claim relation and acquaintance with me? You are strangers to me, I do not own you." " Then (it is said) they shall begin to say, We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” As much as to say, “ This is a strange thing, that thou dost not own us! We are exceedingly surprised, that thou shouldest account us as strangers that have no part in thee, when we have eaten and drank in thy presence,” &c. And when he shall finally insist upon it, that he does not own them, and will have nothing to do with them as his, " then there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ;" then they shall be filled with dismal disappointment, confusion and despair, when they shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, with whom they expected to dwell for ever there, and they themselves thrust


out. By this it is evident, that those visible members of the kingdom of God, that hereafter shall be cast out of it, are such as look upon themselves now interested in Christ and the eternal blessings of his kingdom, and make that profession.

The same is manifest by the parable of the ten virgins, Matt. xxv. In the first verse it is said, The kingdom of heaven (i. e. the church of Christ) is likened unto ten virgins. The two sorts of virgins evidently represent the two sorts of members of the visible church of Christ ; the wise, those who are true Christians; and the foolish, those who are apparent, but not true Christians. The foolish virgins were to all appearance the children of the bride-chamber, such as had accepted of the invitation to the wedding, which represents the invitations of the gospel, wherein the bridegroom and bride say, Come. They herein had testified the same respect to the bridegroom and bride that the wise had. The parable naturally leads us to suppose, that they were to appearance every way of the same society with the wise, pretended to be the same sort of persons, in like manner interested in the bridegroom, and that they were received by the wise under such a notion. They made a profession of the very same kind of honour and regard to the bridegroom, in going forth to meet him with their lamps, as bis friends to show him respect, and had the same hopes of enjoying the privileges and entertainments of the wedding: there was a difference with respect to oil in their vessels, but their was no difference with respect to their lamps. One thing intended by their lamps, as I suppose is agreed by all, is their profession. This is the same in both; and in both it is a profession of grace, as a lamp (from its known end and use) is a manifestation or show of oil. Another thing signified by the blaze of their lamps seems to be the light of hope. Their lamps signify in general the appearance of grace or godliness, including both the appearance of it to the view or judgment of others, and also to their own view, and the judgment they entertain of themselves. Their lamps shone, not only in the eyes of others, but also in their own eyes.

This is confirmed, because on hearing the midnight-cry, they find their lamps are gone out ; which seems most naturally to represent, that however hypocrites may maintain their hopes while they live, and while their Judge is at a distance, yet when they come to be alarmed by the sound of the last trumpet, their hopes will immediately expire and vanish away, and very often fail them in the sensible approaches of death. Where is the hope of the hypocrite, when God takes away his soul ? But till the midnight-cry the foolish virgins seem to entertain the same hopes with the wise. When they first went forth with the wise virgins, their lamps shone in their own eyes, and in the eyes of

[ocr errors]

others, in like manner, with the lamps of the wise virgins.So
that by this parable it also appears, that all visible members of
the Christian church, or kingdom of heaven, are those that
fess to be gracious persons, as looking on themselves, and at
least pretending to be such.

And that true piety is what persons ought to look at in
themselves as the qualification that is proper in coming into
the visible church of Christ, and taking the privileges of its
members, I think, is evident also from the parable of the mar-
riage, which the king made for his son, Matt. xxii. particularly
the 11th and 12th verses. “ And when the king came in to
see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wed-
ding-garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou
in hither, not having on a wedding-garment ? And he was
speechless."- Mr. Stoddard says, (Appeal, page 4, 5,) " Here
is a representation of the day of judgment; and such persons
as come for salvation without a wedding-garment shall be
rejected in that day. So that here being nothing said about
the Lord's supper, all arguing from this Scripture falls to the
ground." Upon which I take leave to observe, that the king's
coming in to see the guests, means Christ's visiting his pro-
fessing church at the day of judgment, I make no doubt ;
but, that the guests coming into the king's house means persons
coming for salvation at the day of judgment, I am not con
vinced. If it may properly be represented, that any reprobates
will come for salvation at the day of judgment, they will not
do so before the king appears; but Christ will appear first, and
then they will come and cry to him for salvation. Whereas,
in this parable, the guests are represented as gathered together
in the king's house before the king appears, and the king as
coming in and finding them there ; where they had entered
while the day of grace lasted, while the door was kept open,
and invitations given forth ; and not like those who come for
salvation at the day of judgment, Luke xiii. 25, who come
" after the door is shut, and stand without, knocking at the
door.” I think it is apparent beyond all contradiction, that
by the guests coming into the king's house at the invitation of
the servants, is intended Jews and Gentiles coming into the
Christian church, at the preaching of Christ's apostles and
others, making profession of godliness, and expecting to par-
take of the eternal marriage-supper. I showed before, that
what is called the house of God in the New Testament, is his
church. In this parable, the king first sends forth his servants
to call them that were bidden, and they would not come ; and
they having repeatedly rejected the invitation, and evil entreat-
ed ihe servants, the king sent forth his armies and burnt up their
city; representing the Jews being first invited, and rejecting the


« PoprzedniaDalej »