« PoprzedniaDalej »
Friend. Shall we who feel that we are sinners, leave this Friend and turn to the adversary of sinners, to the accuser of the brethren? The Friend with whom we are at length brought acquainted, is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; with him is no variableness nor shadow of changing. He was the sinner's Friend, before the sinner knew it; indeed, before the sinner knew himself. He was the Friend of the helpless sinner, before the world was, and that, not in word only, but in deed and in truth; and, as a proof of his love, he gave them grace in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world was laid; and from that period, this Creator, this Redeemer, this Preserver, this Friend, has been giving them, both in providence and in grace, unceasing proofs of his neverfailing affection. Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend. But this divine Friend, by whom we are called, and who hath made himself manifest unto us, has proved his love so strong, and that for his enemies, as to die for them while they were yet sinners! Shall we leave this Friend, and attach ourselves to treachery and to fraud? Never, never; forbid it thou never-failing Friend; forbid it thou who hast graciously said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, that they When shall not drown thee; when thou passest through the fire, I will be with thee, that the flame shall not kindle upon thee.
Morcover, we have reasons, and very substantial reasons, for not leaving our Saviour and turning to any other. This divine Saviour has what no one ever had, what no one ever can have, everlasting life. Thou hast the words of eternal life. Could we find another God, or any being possessing his name, and were that being not an impostor, he would say, upon our application to him, "You are defeating your own purpose, you are missing your object, you are departing from the only-wise God the Saviour, in whom is life, and who is the light of the world, and you are turning to another, who, however benevolent in purpose, cannot save. I now, therefore, tell you, as there is no God beside the Saviour, and as there is no eternal life out of him, you would do well to hold fast the profession you seem to be quitting. I counsel you to return to your strong hold, to him in whom your life is hid; and I beseech you to rest in the assurance, that when Christ, who is your life, shall appear, you also shall appear with him in glory."
Again, Should we apply to Moses for life eternal, true to the dispensation which was committed to him, he would say, “Why come to me for life? I am but a servant; I have no abiding place in the house; I forfeited my own life, nor could gain admittance into the promised land. I could not bestow support even to the natural life. The Jews, indeed, imagined that it was I who gave them manna; but they grossly erred. It was their everlasting Father who gave them that bread, as the figure of himself, who is the true bread of God, that cometh down from heaven, giving unto the world eternal life. This, it was beyond my power to do." But, should we add, We demand of you what we shall do to be saved? He would naturally reply, "I have already told you; if you would enter into life, keep the commandments." But how must we keep them? "You must keep them with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength; and you must continue thus to do, or be written accursed: for should you, in some unguarded moment, turn from your obedience, your former righteousness should not be remembered." But, upon this principle, if your testimony be literally true, we have gained nothing. "My testimony is, I assure you, literally true; the Jews, indeed, thought I did not mean what I said, and, therefore, undertook to give my words a construction, which never entered into my head or heart! Yet I declare to you, my words were always a picture of my thoughts." Well, then, we can expect nothing but death from you. "It is granted; the law which came by me, was truly the ministration of condemnation and of death; and by the deeds of this law, no flesh living can be justified, nay, its administration communicates the knowledge of sin." Why then was it given? "My law, like every thing else, was made for him, of whom I spake unto the Jews, when I said, A prophet shall the LORD your God raise up unto you; like unto me, him shall ye hear." But how was this prophet like unto you? Is it not said of him, that he came not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved? And is not his ministration said to be a ministration of life, while yours is described as the ministration of death? "He was like me in many respects; or rather I was, in many respects, made a likeness or figure of him."
"I was a leader of the suffering Israelites, leading them out of bondage, God made choice of me to bring them out; so was the prophet, of whom I spake, made a Leader and a Captain of
salvation, to bring the children of men out of spiritual slavery and bondage, into liberty and rest. But you will do well to recollect the transaction which took place upon the mount of transfiguration, in the presence of Elijah and myself. Three of the disciples of the prophet, of whom I was a type, were desirous of building tabernacles for us, as well as for their Master, thus aiming to revive and perpetuate what God himself had buried. How solemn, how immediate, and how unequivocal was the reply; you, no doubt, recollect it; surely, it ought never to be forgotten; it was from Jehovah himself. Peter had said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said-When, lo! even while he thus spake, there came a cloud and overshadowed them, and they feared as they entered the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: HEAR HIM. Will you not yield obedience to this gracious command? Will you not listen to his teaching, who says, Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest? My burden was very heavy, so heavy, that none of the fathers were able to bear it, but his burden is light. My yoke was very galling, but the yoke of the Redeemer is very easy; and the longer it is worn, the less oppressive it becomes. The ways of the Redeemer, are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. Return then to your true rest, for it is more glorious than my unyielding ministration. In one word, I cannot give you life; I am but a servant; I could not, if I would, make you free; but Christ Jesus is the Son, and if the Son make you free, you will be free indeed. Behold, he hath already delivered you from the curse of the law, and that, by submitting to it himself, by condescending to be made a curse for you. Go then, and do as I do, fall before his throne with humble gratitude, acknowledge your infinite obligations to him who was made under the law, of which I was the promulgator, that he may redeem you, and every other sinner adverted to in that law from its curse; and it is, therefore, that in him is life, and this life is the life of the world."
Again, to whom should we go? Shall we go to John the Baptist? John had, John has his disciples, as has Moses. What would this faithful servant of our gracious Master say unto us, were we to go from our common Redeemer, unto him? Would
he not say, "Why comest thou to me?" And should you reply, the Saviour himself did this, seeking baptism from thee, would he not say, "To my great astonishment he did, and I ventured to ask a reason for this humiliation, well knowing that I needed it of him who was in every respect my superior, the latchet of whose shoes I was not worthy to loose; but I submitted, when he answered, Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness-In other words, as I was under the law, and was sent to baptize with water unto repentance, not to break but to fulfil the law, and thus by fulfilling, to become the end of it, whatsoever the law enjoined either preceptive or penal, either in its ceremonial or substantial character, he the Redeemer of men condescending to be made under it, was bound to fulfil.
"But, as Emmanuel included in himself the fulness of the human nature, being the second Adam, with strict propriety he said, Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Thus, our common Saviour meekly replied, by rendering a reason why I should submit to his direction, which knowing him as I did, both in his divine and mediatorial character, I ought to have followed without a question. Yet, ever gracious, ever merciful, he acted in his accustomed manner, showing me unmerited favour. But, you will recollect, I informed the multitude who flocked to my baptism, that I must decrease, that I directed their attention to him as the Saviour of the world, and that I called upon them to behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. I gave those whom I baptized no reason to think they had any life or any true light in me, I told them I was not the master, I was no more than the harbinger of the true light, even with respect to my baptism; I said it was water, and unto repentance, but this could take away no more than the outward defilement of the flesh. I observed to my disciples that my superior should baptize with very different materials, that he should baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire, you would do well to remember that I said I should decrease, and he should increase. As the increase of the sun's light seemeth to extinguish as it appears, the borrowed rays of the moon, so as the knowledge of the substance progressed, the figure would be less regarded.
"Washing with water, therefore, has become a beggarly element, it can do nothing more than put away the filth of the flesh.
It cannot furnish the answer of a good conscience, this can only be obtained by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But we being in him, as his fulness, crucified with him, and in this baptism of his sufferings, buried with him in his death, we rise with him in his resurrection, in which resurrection we are presented without spot and blameless, having the answer of a good conscience toward God.
"But those who issued from the water, in which I baptized them, were still sinners before God. The water was not powerful to bestow either upon the baptized, or the baptizer; the answer of a good conscience either before or toward God; in one word, be assured, that in me as a baptizer, you have no life." Why then did our great Master say unto his disciples, Go ye into all the world, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? "With great propriety did our Saviour give this command. Yet he did not say, Go teach all nations, baptizing them in Jordan, or in any other water. He did not distinguish my baptism; but he said, baptize all nations in my name, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that all the families of the earth may be as much in him, whether in the character Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, as all the members of the body of the individual baptized in the water, were in that water baptized. Agreeably to this testimony, you have heard the great Master say, I in them, and thou in me, that we may be made perfect in one; such too, was the gospel preached by Jehovah, unto Abraham our father, when he proclaimed and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
But is not believing mentioned as preceding baptism? "Not by St. Matthew; and thus runs the testimony as recorded by St. Mark, xvi. 16, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. The belief of the gospel which precedes baptism, in like manner as the gospel preceded the accomplishment of what it foretold, when it was preached to Abraham, seems designed as the means of saving the mind or conscience, from the misery to which it is subjected, consequent upon unbelief. It should be observed, that the gospel, that is, the glad tidings of their restoration, was preached to every creature before they believed; it was preached for the purpose of rendering them believers, while the emancipation of