Obrazy na stronie

tures will indeed manifest themselves to be the Word of Jehovah. He will see this from their majesty and purity, their light and power to convince, convert, and build up in faith and holiness. He will perceive this in the union and harmony of their various parts, though written in different countries and ages, and by numerous writers placed in different situations. He will discover that they keep in view one grand object, namely, the Divine glory; and that this is done in the precepts of the divine law, in the work of the Holy Spirit, and in all the effects produced on the hearts and lives of men, by the belief of the truth.

In referring to the Scriptures for information on the important subjects of religious inquiry, we shall not find a systematic arrangement of the doctrines which are to be received, and the duties to be performed. These are to be found intermingled with the historical, biographical, and didactic parts of Scripture, and with the prophetic, evangelic, and apostolịc writings. And it is of great moment, that the inquirer should always remember, in his meditations upon the Divine Word, that on every point necessary to a sinner's salvation, the information is full and conclusive, so that no one who truly desires a knowledge of divine truth, can fail in obtaining it, if he seeks it in a proper spirit, and in the way of God's appointment.

. The inquiry is important, because it refers to God and to his will.

To every mind capable of reflecting on the subjects of religion, it must appear of supreme importance, to possess correct views of the Divine character and will. Without these, there can be no love, no reverence, no obedience, and no happiness. Worship or service paid to an unknown God, can never, though sincere, be acceptable to him who has so fully revealed his perfections in his word ; and done so, that men might know him and be saved. The Saviour himself has said, “ This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” The revelation which God has given of himself is complete. He is made known as possessed of every attribute, which can command the reverence, and excite the best affections of every holy being. If these effects are not produced upon men, it is because they are in an alienated state of mind; because they are unholy. He is represented as the Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and Governor of all his creatures, and therefore as justly claiming obedience and love. He is described as infinitely holy, just, and true, and as a God of love, seeking the present and everlasting happiness of his sinful creatures. It appears to be the chief design of revelation, to unfold all the perfections of Deity, by the gradual, and at length the complete development of the Divine compassion, in the redemption of guilty men. Το make us intimately acquainted with attributes which we never could have known but through the wondrous scheme of salvation ; to convince us, that while Jehovah pardoned and justified the sinner, it was not because he thought little of sin, but because Jesus died, and rose again, and lives for evermore. It is, then, in the face of Jesus Christ that God's perfections are known, understood, and adored.

It is, however, to be deeply regretted, that too many are satisfied without that knowledge of God, which is conveyed to us through the incarnation, atonement, and ever enduring intercession of his beloved Son. They conclude, that it is enough to acknowledge his power, wisdom, and benevolence. They indeed profess to admire the descriptions given of his character in the sacred volume; they speak of the poetical and sublime language of the prophets with approbation, and readily admit the purity of the preceptive parts of revelation ; but farther than that they are unwilling to go. Keep to general descriptions, and they will agree with you; but enter into detail, and give the knowledge of-the-divine perfections à practical direction, and they refuse to proceed. Thus they profess to acknowledge the universal government of the Supreme Being, but they refuse to submit to his authority. They admit that his laws are righteous, but they will not become his obedient subjects: and when he is described as a holy God, and of purer eyes than to be hold iniquity, they are repelled, instead of being attracted by his purity. Tell them of his justice and his truth, and declare in the language of the Bible, that “the soul that sinneth shall die" that his threatenings, as well as his promises, will all be executed ; and immediately, harsh and rebellious thoughts are excited in their minds. Describe to them the divine mercy, as illustriously shown in the gift of God's Son, and tell them how they may par

[ocr errors]

ticipate in its inestimable blessings, but they will not accept of it, in the only way it is appointed to be bestowed.

All their knowledge has no purifying effect on their hearts, and no practical influence on their conduct; and cannot therefore be that knowledge which the Saviour speaks of, as inseparably connected with eternal life. How necessary is it therefore, that we should seek to possess a right-saving knowledge of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ.

Correct views of God's 'majesty and purity will awe the mind ; his truth, justice, and power, will leads to the exercise of faith in his Son: the proofs he has given of his mercy and love, will melt the heart: hisi omnipresence and omnipotence will show the vanity and wickedness of attempting to conceal апу thing from him, and the necessity of possessing heart religion. In concluding this part of the subject, it may be

. said, that the view which the Gospel of Christ gives of the character of Jehovah, is the only one that will be found influential, both as it regards love to the divine perfections, and joy and peace in contemplating them. It is through faith in Christ that the sinner may draw near to God, guilty though he be, without the fear of being destroyed by the sword of justice. He can, through him, behold the holiness and truth of God, without being filled with despair, or overwhelmed with confusion at the recollection of his own unworthiness. In the death of Christ, and in the blessings which flow to the guilty through his sacrifice, the sinner will discover the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

union of the divine perfections, and see plainly that God deserves his love and obedience. These will be readily given, for to know God as he is revealed in his word, is the greatest security for the observance of all his commandments.

Again, the inquiry is important, because it refers to man and his lost condition.

" Man know thyself,” though a sentence written by a heathen, is applicable in the present case. The sacred volume gives all the information that is necessary, to convince us that man has sinned. The Bible was written, not to gratify an idle curiosity, or to encourage men in unprofitable speculations, but to describe facts in the simplest and shortest manner. Hence, the creation of man, and his fall from his original holiness and happiness, by disobeying God, are described in a few words. But the same events are again and again spoken of in other parts of the sacred Scripture ; not only are the fatal consequences of the fall fully and plainly described; but the whole of divine revelation, and the entire scheme of redemption, would appear to be utterly unintelligible on any other supposition, than that men are now naturally ignorant of God with hearts alienated from him in love with sin, and unable by any efforts of their own, to change their hearts or save their souls. The following passages, out of many which might be mentioned, will serve to show what the representations of Scripture amount to Rom. ii. 23. Psal. li. 8. Rom. vii. 8. Jer. xvii. 9. Rom. viii. 8: Ephes. ii. 1. Rom. in. 10. &c.

If it be true then, that man is a sinner against

« PoprzedniaDalej »