Imágenes de páginas

The Acts of Paul and Thecla, Thomas, &c. These we read, though ranked among the apocry- that we may not be esteemed ignophal Scriptures by the primitive rant, and by reason of those who Christians (by whom several things imagine they know something extherein related were credited) were traordinary, if they know the in part the forgery of an Asiatic things contained in these books. Presbyter, at the close of the first To the same purpose says Ambrose; or at the begioning of the second having mentioned several of the century, who confessed that he had apocryphal books, he adds, We committed the fraud out of love read these, that they may not be to Paul, and was degraded from read (by others); we read them, his office ; and have subsequently that we may not seem ignorant; we been interpolated.

read them, not that we may receive 3. When any book is cited, or them, but reject them, and may seems to be appealed to, by any know what those things are of Christian writer, which is not ex- which they (heretics) make such pressly and in so many words re- boasting. jected by him, there are other suf- 5. Sometimes perhaps these books ficient arguments to prove that he may be cited by the fathers, be. did not esteem it to be canonical. cause the persons against whom For instance, though Origen in they were writing received them, one or two places takes a passage being willing to dispute with them out of the Gospel according to the upon principles oui of their own Hebrews, yet in another place he books. rejects it, under the name of the 6. It may perhaps be true, that Gospel of the Twelve Apostles, as one or two writers have cited a few a book of the heretics, and de passages out of these books, beclares that the church received only cause the fact they cited was not FOUR GOSPELS. Further, though to be found in any other. St. Jobn several of these apocryphal books tells us (xxi. 25), that our Lord are mentioned by Clement of Alex, did many other things, besides andria, as well as by Origen, yet those which he had recorded; the Clement never does it as attributo which, says be, if they should be ing any authority to them, and written every one, I sometimes he notices them with world itself could not contain the expressions of disapprobation. In books which should be written. like manner, though Eusebius men. Some accounts of these actions țions some of them, he says that and discourses of Christ were uitihey were of little or no value, and questionably preserved, and handthat they were never received by ed down to the second century, or the sounder part of Christians. farther by tradition; which, though Albanasius, without naming any of inserted afterwards into the books them, passes a severe censure upon of the heretics, may be easily supthem in general; and Jerome speaks posed to have been cited by some of them with dislike and censure. 1 later writers, though at the same

4. Sometimes the fathers made time they esteemed the books which use of the apocryphal books to contained them uninspired, and shew their learning, or that the not of the canon. . This was the heretics might not charge thein case with respect to Jerome's citing with partiality and ignorance, as the Hebrew Gospel, which he cerbeing acquainted only with their tainly looked upon as spurious and own books. Remarkable to this apocryphal. purpose are those words of Origen:

(To be continued.) The church receives only four Gospels; the heretics have many, such as that of the Egyptians,

suppose the

PAMILY SERMONS.—No. CLVII. with hands, wbich is eternal in the 2 Cor. v. 1.-For we know, that illustrate these two descriptions,

beavens. We shall endeavour to if our earthly house of this taber and then, in the third place, point nacle be dissolved, we have a out on wbat grounds the Apostle building of God, a house not rested that certaipty of which he made with hands, eternal in the speaks in the text. heavens.

First, We have in the words beIn the preceding chapter St. Paul fore us an affecting representation had been giving an affecting ac- of our present frail and mortal count of the afflictions which had condition. The body is called a befallen himself and his brethren "house" or "tabernacle:" it is the for the sake of tbe Gospel. Never, dwelling-place of the soul, and is theless, he adds, we faint pot; furnished with various organs and for though our outward man perish, senses for its accommodation. But our inward man is renewed day by it is at best but an " earthly” house, day; for our light affliction, which and shall soon be " dissolved." is but for a moment, worketh out Our origin was humble: " the. for us an exceeding and eterna! Lord God formed man out of the weight of glory." As tbough he had dust of the ground :" in this respect said, True our sufferings are great; we stand on a level with the beasts so great indeed that, if we had no that perish ; our bodies are only hope beyond this life, we should erected as a temporary dwelling, be of all men the most miserable : and, when the purpose for which but we are not disheartened; for they were formed is accomplished,

we look not at the things which they will mix again with their naare seen, but at the things which tive dust, till the morving of the are not seen; for the things which resurrection, when they shall be reare seen are temporal, but the united to the soul, and remain for things which are not seen are eter: ever either in heaven or in hell. nal.'

The trial will soon be over, The Apostle's description of our but not so the glory that is to fol; mortal frame as an earthly house, low : death that ends the one, will shews us, by a lively image, how be but the gate of admission to the trail we are. We cannot long enother. Suppose, then, the worst; dure the shock of accidents, or the suppose that these pains and perils wasting hand of time; we are inewbich we endure for the cause of vitably hastening to dust : in vain Christ, should end in death itself; do we lavish much care, and toil, suppose, ibat in addition to ibe and expense on this outward tenelingering torture of a life of sorrow, ment: in vain do the young boast and vicissitude, and reproach, we of their youth, or the strong of sliould be called 10 sustain even their strength, or the vigorous of the pains of martyrdom, still is their health. These bodies which our faith unshaķen, still is our hope are now their pride must soon deundaunted, still is our rejoicing un- cay, and turn to loathsome defors subdued : “ for we kpow that, if mity. All earthly distinctions and our eartbly house of this tabernacle possessions are likewise fast hasting were dissolved, we have a build away: the world is full of change : ing of God, a house not made with uncertainty is inscribed on all hands, eternal in the heavens."

eartbly things eveu while we enIn these words, the Apostle pre- joy them, and death is rapidly sents us, first, with an affecting approaching to put an end to our representation of our present frail short-lived possession. and mortal condition; which be The text further speaks of this contrasts, secondly, with that build- earthly house as being but a "laing of God, that house not made bernaele;" that is, a tent pitched for

a season, or for occasional shelter, those blessed abodes of which but not intended to abide for ages. our Lord said, “ In my Father's Thus our bodies are but slightly house are many mansions : I go to compacted: they are subject to prepare a place for you.” “ While paiu and sickness, and from our very at home in the body we are absent infancy are silently hastening to de. from the Lord;" " but,” continues cay. The image in the text is also the Apostle, “ we desire to be calculated to impress on our minds absent from the body, and to be that we are strangers upon earth; preseot with the Lord." Here we for a tabernacle denotes a state of have no certain dwelling place; but pilgrimage, and such is our condi- there we trust to enter a city that tion in the present world: we have hath immoveable foundations, and no abiding city; we are exposed to to be fixed as pillars in the temple the inconveniencies and dangers of of God, to go no more out. a waste and howling wilderness, This beavenly building is further and as Christians we profess to be described by the Apostle as eterlooking forward to a better, even nal: it is not exposed to the vio

heavenly, country. We pitch our lence of storms or accidents, but is tent here only as soldiers on their situated in a pure and peaceful march: earth is not our rest ; it is region, far beyond the reach of an enemy's land; and we need ever whatever can molest or endanger to live in it with watchfulness and its blissful inhabitants. It is an prayer, as faithful servants of Jesus inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, Christ; taking unto us the wbole and that fadeth not away; purarmour of God, and fighting the mased by the inestimable price of good fight of faith, that we may the blood of Jesus Christ, who, by tay hold of eternal life.

his meritorious obedience unto Secondly, We are to contrast the death, hath opened the gate of frail and mortal condition whch heaven to all believers. has been described with that build- building “ of God;" his hands ing of God, that house not made formed it, and his glory enlighters with hands, which is eterna in the it; it is the land in which he heavens.

resides in his unveiled presence ; The Apostle, in the words, where he hath fixed the throne may refer to that glorius and in- of his glory; where “ the tabercorruptible body wia which the nacle of God is with men, and saints shall be clothat at the resur- he will dwell with them; and rection of the just, and the bear- they shall be his people, and he ing of the text word seem daturally will be with them and be their to lead us to crclude, that he had God; and God shall wipe away in view the catrast between the all tears from their eyes; and there vile bodies mich we now inhabit, shall be no more death, neither and those elestial bodies which sorrow nor crying, for the former shall be fasioned like unto Christ's things are passed away.” glorious rody, according to the Thirdly, We are to inquire inmighty orking whereby he is able to the grounds on which the Apostle to subde all things to himself. Or rested the certainty of which be he my intend to refer geverally speaks in the text. He says, " We to the heavenly state, which is often know." His was po vain suggestion cald in Scripture a house, à of the inagination, but a settled mision, a city, in distinction to conclusion of his mind and under

perishing tabernacles which we standing. We may consider him w inbabit. When these feeble either as expressing generally his lodies sball be dissolved, the soul assured belief in a future state of of the believer shall be housed in happiness to the faithful in Christ a brighter clime: it shall inhabit Jesus, or as referring in a particu

It is a

lar manner to his own hopes and “We believe,” he says, " knowing those of individual Christians. that He which raised up the Lord

1. We may understand the Apo- Jesus shall raise up us also by Je. stle, as expressing generally an as- sus." Or, as he remarks elsewhere ; surance that there is a state of "Now is Christ risen from the happiness in reserve for true be- dead, and become the first fruits of lievers. He might indulge a hope them that slept;"_“If we believe to this effect, from a consideration that Jesus died and rose again, of the afflictions which he had even so them who sleep in Jesus will been describing in the last chapter. God bring with him." Thus, what For he might reasonably argue, reason rendered credible, the resur. that the moral Governor of all rection of Jesus Christ has verified ; things would make a distinction in addition to which, we have the between the righteous and the frequent promises of God in his wicked; between those who serve word to the same effect; so that him and those who rebel against the Apostle had the strongest poshim; and since this is not always sible ground for expressing his firm done in the present world, he belief in the fundamental doctrine might justly conclude that there of the resurrection of the dead. would be a future state of rewards 2. But he seems also, in the and punishments. He might also words under consideration, to exfurtlier gather some hope of such press a strong persuasion not only a state from that desire after im, of the resurrection generally, but mortality which is common to all of his own interest and that of the men, and which he proceeds 19 faithful to whom he was writing, describe, in the verses that follow in the happiness of a future life. the text, as operating with such His confidence rested on the propeculiar strength upon sincere bises of God, united to a humble Christians. “We know," he says, hoe that he had a scriptural war" that we have a building of God;" rantto apply to them his own case, « for in this tabernacle we groan and that of his fellow-converts. And earnestly, desiring to be clothed how is uch a hope to be attained ? upon with our house which is from Doubtles, by examining ourselves heaven." And he adds; “ He that whether or character is such as is hath wrought us to this self-same pourtrayed the descriptionswhich thing is God," who would not have accompany Ipse promises. Thus, put such a desire into our minds, Blessed, are the pure in heart

; and have prepared us for its ac- for they,", and bey only, “ shall complishment, if he had intended see God.” to frustrate our hopes.

" The exceeding great ad precious proearnest expectation of the creature mises, that by then

we might be waiteth for the manifestation of partakers of divinenature, hav,

The whole ing escaped the pollutins that are the sons of God. creation travaileth in pain together in the world through lia" Again; until now; and not they only, but

Having these promise let us," ourselves also, who bave the first both in devout gratitude f them, fruits of the Spirit; even we our. and as the test of our intest in selves groan within ourselves, them, “cleanse ourselves in all waiting for the adoption, even the filthiness of the flesh and Krit, redemption, of the body.” perfecting holiness in the fea of

But besides these natural argu, The Lord.” The more we ments for the resurrection, at wbich in the fruits of righteousness, il the Apostle may seem indirectly to more justly way we cherish a scrip glance, he brings forward a scriptural confidence of our own final tural and convincing proof from happiness. If our characters are the resurrection of Jesus Christ. not such as become the Gospel of

Gy hath given us


Christ, instead of presumptuously such frequent deadness to God, taking to ourselves the assurance in such indolence in duty, such inthe text, let us rather lay to heartward temptations, such attachment the exhortation of the Apostle, to to self and the world, as often to “ fear, lest a promise being left us awaken painful fears in his mind, of entering into rest, we should lest after all he should prove a come short of it.” Tbe sure and cast-away. How suspicious then certain hope of a resurrection to must be the self-confidence of those eternal life which the Scriptures who take up their assurance of teach, and which our church ex- final salvation lightly and hastily; presses so strongly in the Burial and who build their hopes on their Service, will not profit us, unless supposed conversion, while they we are ourselves heirs of everlaste are destitute of that best evidence ing blessedness. We must examine of its reality, a humble and longthen the ground of our hopes : we continued course of prayer and must beware of self-deception : we inward scrutiny, and devout obemust inquire, whether our souls dience to the commands of God! are prepared for the enjoyments Our Heavenly Parent is indeed of the future world; whether we willing to receive his prodigal child have already begun to maintain the very moment he returns; but spiritual communion with God; to judge of our own sincerity in whether we love his word and his returning, requires a longer expeworship; whether we conform to rience of our hearts. The work the mind that was in Christ Jesus; of repentance must be deep and and whether we are living in a spi- continued ; our faith must be put rit of affection to our fellow-Chris- to the test; and our conversion tians, and of justice and benevo- must shew itself in an habitual lence to all mankind.

temper of soul, devoted to the love The confidence expressed by the and the service of God. The only Apostle, is not to be viewed as of safe evidence of our interest in the sudden growth; or to be expected blessedness which has been deby means of any miraculous reve. scribed is, that qualification for lation, or fanciful impression on the admission into the glorious premind. No; it must be the product sence of God which arises from of much prayer, and vigilance, an assimilation to his character ; and self-examination. We must that holiness without which no man not suppose, the moment we feel shall see the Lord. We must have some hopeful symptom of repent- renounced all known sin; we must ance and turning to God, that the be growing in grace and in the work is at once completed; we knowledge of our Lord and Saviour must bring forth fruiis meet for Jesus Christ, and be bringing forth repentance; we must be fully the fruits of a Christian life, before proved; we must give much dili- we can scripturally adopt the pergence to make our calling and sonal confidence which the Apostle election sure, before we may ven- seems to express in the text. The ture on strong espressions of con- right way to maintain the hope of fidence : and even then, our con- the Christian is to exemplify the fidence must be not in ourselves, Christian's temper. While we renot in our supposed attainments, main careless in our frame of mind, bat in our Saviour alone, and in any hope which we may profess is his willingness to receive and par- but a delusion; we are building don all who repeut 'and turn to not on a rock but on the sand, him, however evil may have been Even should some show of religion their past characters. The most mix itself with our vain confidence, advanced Christian will still feel the case is not at all altered for the so much remaining imperfection, better; for the religion that ren

CHRIST. OBSERV, No. 241. с

« AnteriorContinuar »