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JOHN xii. 48.
him : the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
The revelations of the Divine nature, which in different parts of the Sacred Writings are given to mankind,--calculated as they are to fill our hearts with wonder, and to elevate our conceptions of that great Being, who “ created the heaven and the earth,”—were not intended only to occupy our minds in fruitless contemplation of its excellences, but to admonish us of the duties which such a Being must require from his rational creatures, and to exhort us to be conformed to that perfection, which alone is infinitely blessed, and in our nearest resemblance to which, our own greatest happiness must also consist. Thus, if we be told that “ God is a Spirit,” we are instructed, as a consequence of this, that “ they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth :" if he be declared to us to be holy, we ourselves are therefore called upon to be “ holy in all manner of conversation ; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy." In the consideration of his omnipresence, we are taught how carefully we ought to walk, “as in the sight of him who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity :"-in short, wherever the attributes and properties of God are spoken of, they are constantly set forth to us as so many motives and arguments to a life of practical godliness.
Nor is it less apparent that such also is the gracious design of God our heavenly King, in those additional and fuller declarations of himself, which he has been pleased to make to us in the New Testament, and that they are all intended to cooperate in establishing “ the words of our Lord Jesus Christ," and in giving authority and confirmation “ to the doctrine which is according to godliness." It became necessary, if I may be allowed to say so, in the developement of the Christian scheme, that the threefold distinction of persons in the unity of the Divine Essence should be more clearly revealed; and that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, should be manifested in the separate offices of love, which they hold in the redemption of the world. “ The grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” But in vain to fallen man is this salvation offered, in vain this blessed hope is set before his eyes, unless the assistance of the Holy Spirit were promised to our earnest endeavours in fulfilling the conditions ; and the weakness and imperfections of our own righteousness were atoned for by the perfect obedience and sufficient sacrifice of the Son of God. “ The victory which overcometh the world,” which alone can place us above its evil affections and temptations, strengthen us in virtue and holiness, and lead us confidently on in the pursuit of our heavenly reward, this victory, “ even our faith," my brethren, must be built upon the firm assurance, that, by the Gospel, we are called to be partakers of the most glorious privileges,- privileges to which, through our own exertions and merits, we must ever have remained strangers ; but, in our humble and pious endeavours to lay hold of which, we have the encouraging cooperation of " the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost,”—of those three Divine Persons, into the confession and belief of whom, we are all of us required to be baptized. And, that the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity is thus practically connected with those fundamental articles of our religion, on the supposition of the falseness of which, “ then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain, ye are yet in your sins:"—that, I say, there is this intimate connexion between them, may be shown, among other arguments, from the conduct of those vain impugners of this sacred mystery, who, unable to reconcile their opinions on this subject with the belief of the other great and distinguishing doctrines of Christianity with impious consistency to themselves, have at once abolished from their creed all those tenets of hope, and joy, and consolation, on which the consciences of the faithful rest in devout and thankful adoration. They have stripped the Christian religion of all that can distinguish it as a dispensation of mercy; and, whilst they acknowledge, that a purer system of morals is inculcated upon, and will be exacted from, the followers of Jesus, they leave mankind to struggle against the same natural indisposition and unfitness to what is right, and unprovided with any new encouragements to virtue. In order to effect this, to what expedients have they not been driven? The authority of the Bible itself is depreciated; the inspiration of it in many parts is absolutely denied ;* and the general fallibility of its writers is openly and unblushingly asserted. By a method of interpretation, at once most uncritical and false, with the denial of the Divinity of Christ, the virtue of his sacrifice and atonement is at the same time disavowed: the disbelief in the Personality of the Holy Ghost has led, as a necessary consequence, to the rejection of the doctrines of spiritual regeneration and sanctification. The system of Christianity, as represented in the Socinian's creed, is Judaism without its ritual, -- destitute alike both of the “ shadow" and of the substance of those “good things,” which alone can “make the comers thereunto perfect.”
“ But ye have not so learned Christ.” Convinced, that the Divine nature is incomprehensible by the human mind, ye expect not to understand the Deity in his word, any more than in his works. In any revelation of himself, and of his dealings with mankind, you are prepared for somewhat that is mysterious ; persuaded, that on these subjects, the clearness of your conceptions is rather an evidence of error ; and that, like Moses, though God has taken away his hand
* Mr. Belsham's Review of Mr. Wilberforce's Treatise.
from before thine eyes, thou “ shalt see but his back parts; but that his face shall not be seen.” Under these impressions, and in the spirit of humble inquiry, ye "search" that holy volume, wherein “ye think ye have eternal life;" and, as you read with reverence, you receive with faith. 'Tis there you find, what your own perception of yourself serves only to confirm, the defection of man from his Creator : you learn the natural curse which followed it: you discover the gracious restoration which is offered. Here, then, are you brought “ to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ ;"_" the most holy Trinity is represented as cooperating to the salvation of believers."* “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That eternal Son, “ who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, was made in the likeness of men, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” that he might obtain remission of sins for “ all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.” “ And, leaving the earth himself, he sends down to us another Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, to abide with us for ever; to guide us into all truth ; to help our infirmities, and to bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." of Nor is this all. -“ If ye know these things, happy are ye, if you do,” according to your knowledge. Do what? Is not the grace of God sufficient for us :— whereto shall our own works profit us? The Apostle has answered these objections : “ Shall we continue in sin," says he, " that grace may abound? God forbid !" And, again, he urgeth this very argument to the Philippians,~" Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,”—and why?" for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” God cannot cooperate with evil. Though “ from him all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed;" yet, if we are not careful to second and to cherish, earnestly and unremittingly to cherish, his gracious designs for us ;- if our affections, our deliberations, and our actions, are not sincerely directed to him and to his goodness, we “ grieve the Holy Spirit of God," who, if we continue to resist him, will abandon his temple with us.
It is certain, that, “ without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” And, indeed, could we, nevertheless, enter the heavenly habitations ; yet, if we have taken no care to fit ourselves for the enjoyments of that place, where nothing impure shall dwell,- if we have not mortified our sinful nature, and habituated ourselves to the relish of those things, in which God and god-like beings delight, --we might as well expect the jaundiced eye to be captivated with the beauty of colours, or the vitiated palate to be pleased with the delicacies of taste, as that there should be " joy in heaven" for us. This world is a preparation for the next. The business of heaven is to be learned on earth. That business is, the proper employment of the faculties with which God has endowed us. But we are a fallen race. Such, however, is the mercy and love of our heavenly Father, that he is “ not willing that
any should perish,"—that we should be everlastingly banished from the happiness of which we were once made capable ; and, therefore, in compassion to our infirmities, he has condescended himself to be our teacher, our guide, and our helper. " The obedience which we thus perform by God's help, will be rewarded by his bounty, as if it were all our own."*_“ An inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, is reserved in heaven for us."
But, on the other hand, - and this is an awful consideration,-as the rewards and encouragements proposed in the Gospel exceed all that we can ask or think,-so, unless “ the goodness of God lead us to repentance," the punishment denounced is proportionably alarming: God will give us over to a reprobate mind, and we shall finally be “ cast, both body and soul, into hell, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” “ The goodness and love even of God himself, become to the incorrigible and obstinate,"—incorrigible and obstinate in disbelief as well as in impiety,-" only the foundation of fear and danger.f Every blessing he hath bestowed or offered ; the regeneration of baptism, the communion of the body and blood of Christ, the love of God, the gift of his dear Son, the mission of his Holy Spirit, and the everlasting habitations prepared in heaven, if we refuse to hear, now when they call us to amendment, hereafter will rise up against us and condemn us." I
My brethren, there is but one “ conclusion to the whole matter;" and I “ exhort you, that ye earnestly contend for" this faith, which, notwithstanding all the gainsaying of our adversaries, has been proved by unanswered, and, I will venture to add, by unanswerable arguments, to be “ the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." We see how full it is of comfort and encouragement : we know that it is peculiarly a doctrine according to godliness. There is a dangerous maxim in the world, -one which, although it has been long propounded, seems likely, through the false liberality of the present age, to be more readily and unreservedly accepted as a rule. It is to be found in the pages of one of our most popular poets,-if indeed the vulgar interpretation have not perverted his meaning,--and goes to the assertion, that “ modes of faith” are subjects only of inferior regard, unworthy the contentions of wise men, provided our external conduct, as it stands in relation to the world, be conformable to decency and the moral rules of right. What else is this, however, but to deny the connexion betwixt principle and practice, the influence of faith on action ;-to declare that God seeth as man seeth, and, that the good tree may bring forth evil fruit, and the corrupt tree good fruit !
The Church of England retains the Athanasian creed. She is accused of a breach of charity for so doing. It were sufficient to reply to this, that religion knows nothing of the accommodating maxim of worldly convenience," that the truth is not to be spoken at all times.” But we may deny the charge. We may assert, on the contrary, that charity itself compels us to hold out to the ignorant and unwary, a light, by which they may be enabled to discern the
path of truth :-to set before them a digest of Christian doctrine,* drawn from the Scriptures themselves, by which they may readily “ examine themselves, whether they be in the faith.” Let them not think this of little consequence! If the confession of the doctrine of the Trinity be so intimately connected, as I have endeavoured to show it to be, with all the other distinguishing Articles of our religion : if our faith in general have the relation, which we are told it has, with the due sanctity of our lives and conversation, let them not think it superfluous to make this examination frequently. I say, by the Holy Scriptures themselves, if they have full opportunity and ability to do so : if not, by this “ form of sound words,” which the Church has provided. “For, if we sin wilfully,"—if we fall away from the faith through want of care and circumspection " after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indig. nation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace ?" +-“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." .
ON THE EARLY FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
Κλήμηντος, του αληθούς κλήματος του αμπέλου Χριστού, δι' ου ημϊν και της διδασκαλίας Bórpus tepkáoas, ylellkos eủoebelas kal ownplas cotánačev. Clem. Mart. Mirac, ap. Sim. Metaph. §. 2.
We come now to the occasion and scope of St. Clement's first epistle, of which the genuineness has been sufficiently established. The errors and dissensions which had formerly divided the Church of Corinth, yielded, for a time, to the advice of St. Paul; but they seem rather to have been checked in their progress by the authority of the Apostle than radically and permanently subdued. His death was the signal for renewed divisions; and about thirty-six years from the date of his epistles, the Corinthians found it expedient to apply to the
* “ For albeit, conflict with Arians brought forth the occasion of writing that creed, which long after was made a part of the Church Liturgy,-yet cause sufficient there is why it should remain in use,--as a most divine' explication of the chiefest Articles of our Christian belief."-Hooker's Eccl. Pol. Book V. § 42. Read to the end of the