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to enter into them at the first; and, if the matter of them was lawful, equally sinful to break them after they had been made. Again, Christ reprobated their swearing by creatures, in their ordinary conversation. Their falle doctrine, on this head, seems to have been this, That they answered all the import of the third commandment, if they did not use any of God's · names in their ordinary conversation; although
they fware by his creatures: But the great teacher assured them, he would not bestow his glory on any creature, however glorious. The fcope of this testimony, as explained by Christ, seems to be, as if he had said, “Ye have heard that it has been said unto the fathers, by various inspired persons, in fundry places of the Old Testament, Ye shall not incur the dreadful guilt of perjury, neglecting to accomplish such promises as have been ratified by a folemn appeal to God: Thou shalt, on the other hand, perform these soleinn engagements in the most exact manner, and that unto Jehovah himself; for, as he is both the party to whom thou haft sworu and the object invoked when thou enteredst into the oath ; so he will exact the punctual accomplishment of it. But I folemnly declare unto you, that ye much narrow the meaning of the Law, if ye confine the whole import of this precept unto that species of due ty : Its demands are vastly wider, as it prohibits a great variety of things in which ye in. dulge yourselves; such as, swearing by crcatures in ordinary conversation, as well as the breach of those promises which are ratified by appeal unto inferior beings. Ye ought, by all means, to give up those criminal indulgences ; and not leave the performance of your vows undone."
6. That our Lord Jesus Christ, in the days of his flesh, took his disciples engaged, oftener. than once, unto such particular articles of doctrine, and parts of duty as were then opposed. The personal ministry of Christ belonged, indeed, to the Church of the circumcision; but it was a prelude likeways of his kingdom in the Gospel state ; or, as an interlude between the two difpenfations : Hence Chrilt did not enter upon the renovation of such covenants as bound unto an observance of the ritual syItem; for he came to finish that fyftem : Neither did he take them bound unto the institutions of the Gospel veconomy; for that was not yet forined. But there were various cioctrines which were the PRESENT TRUTH in that period ; such as, That Jefus of Nazareth is the true Messiah; and that he is the Son of the living God: There were also duties correfpondent into these truths; namely, acknowledving him to be the true Messiah, receiving his dorine, cleaving to his person, and owning his cause. Now, we will find, that Christ took his disciples cngaged unto the profession of the truths, and observance of these duties;
Fea, he required a renovation of these engagements, and they confirmed them with a folemn appeal unto his own omniscience. Hence, says a late writer of distinguished merit, « In the days of Christ's humiliation we have an example of it, (viz. of focial vowing). At a certain time, when many who professed steadfastness in their attachment to Christ's person and miniftrations had gone back,He put a question to the twelve," Will ye alfo go away?” Peter fpake the sentiments of the whole, in a PUBLIC VOW," Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life: And we believe and are fure, That thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” This declaration hath not only the essentials of a vow, but even the very forın of it. It is made not merely concerning Christ, but to liim; it contains a dedication of themselves to him for time and eternity, as the Lord of eternal life ; and it is attended with a folemn profession of their faith concerning the character of Christ, on whom they believed. In short, Peter said all that can be expressed in the most prolix form of words used in any solemn vow. We have another example of folenn vows from the tips of the same confessor, after Christ's resurrection. Peter had shamefully deserted, and wickedly denied his Lord. His divine master, in order to restore him to the other disciples, whom, no doubt, he had scandalized by his conduct; and to give the other Apostles affurance, that
his commission of apostleship was not forfeited; <drew him to a folemn public vow of his love to the master whom he had lately denied ; yea, to a confirming his vow by swearing, as he had, on that occasion, denied him with CURSES and OATHS. « Simeon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He faith unto him, Yea, Lord! thou knowest that I love thee," &c. Here is both a formal public vow, and a formal public appeal to the omniscience of Christ, with regard to his sincerity in his vow. It is true, though it be a public vow it is not social: But the reason is obvious. The other apostles were not associates with him in the act of denying his Lord : But, had they been in the same case with Peter, the same reason would have pleaded for extending the question to them all ; in order to their jointly professing their love to Christ, in a social as well as a public vow *."
* See Mr GRAHAM's Discourses on Covenanting.
2 Cor. viii. 5. Heb. iv. 14. and x. 23.
THE Gospel Church, constituted by Christ
1 immediately after his resurrection, was propagated by his inspired Apostles, according to the model he shewed them by his Spirit; and particular churches were formed according to that original pattern. The Church of Macedonia, was formed on that of Jerusalem, which last was the first particular church under the better economy. These societies, however, were not MOLES ABSQUE NERVIS; but firmly bound together by ligaments, flowing from the will of their original founder. To ascertain the truth in this matter, we may,1. Confider the Terms on which persons were