Imágenes de páginas

on the External Evidences of our Religion, were not defi-^ cient in the illustration of this position,* we shall now refer simply to the declarations of the Scriptures, that they are the testimony of God. Thus saith the Apostle John, 'This is the record that God hath given of his Son.' 'All Scripture,' saith St. Paul, 'is given by inspiration of God.' . Holy men of old,' saith St. Peter, ' spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' The blessed Redeemer himself bore an ample attestation to the Divine character of Scripture when he said, ' The Scripture cannot be broken.' 'One jot nor one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.' 'If,' saith he to the Jews,' ye believe not the writings of Moses, how can ye believe my words.' And again, to shew the sufficiency of this mode for all the purposes of religious faith,' If they hear not Moses and the Prophets,' saith he, 'neither would they believe though one rose from the dead.' So manifest is it that the mode of written revelation from the time of Moses to the coming of Christ, and since the age of the Apostles to our own day, has been preferred in the wisdom of the Deity as the best form in which to embody and preserve the Divine testimony.

But besides the decisive proof derived from the Bible in favor of the plan of revelation, we have the additional argument of long and ample experience. For millions have believed and do now believe on the testimony of God in its present form, and a change in the mode would be an experiment, the result of which, we, at all events, have no possible means of anticipating, and on which, if we had the power to make an alteration, it would be madness to venture. True, all men do not believe the Scriptures; and if all men did believe them, the Scriptures would be falsified by the

* See t Christianity Vindicated,' &c. particularly the fourth discourse.

very fact, because they expressly declare that unbelief shall abound: and if the worldly wise, and the rich, and the great, are often found in the ranks of opposition, let us learn from this also to respect the Divine authority of that Book, which declares that'not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called,' yea, that 'it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.'

2. Since, therefore, the testimony of God, as delivered to us in the Scriptures, is most justly entitled to that high assent of the understanding and of the heart, which is properly called religious faith, we proceed to consider the first great truth which is presented to us as the object of this faith, in the Creed. 'I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.' And here we may observe the name, God; the relation, Father; the attribute, Almighty; and the manifestation of this attribute in the creation of heaven and earth.

The name God, signifies the good Being, and is applicable in a subordinate sense to other beings, as where the Deity is called God of golds. 'Worship him all ye gods,' saith theJPsalmist. 'I said ye are gods,' saith he elsewhere; and our Saviour, commenting on the passage, declares that the Spirit called them gods to whom the word of God came. So St. Paul saith, ' though there be that are called gods, as there be gods many and lords many, yet to us there is but one God and one Lord.' From all which, it may sufficiently appear, that the name God has been given to others in a subordinate sense, but to the Deity by way of eminence, as the one living and true God. So saith Isaiah, 'Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord. Is there any God beside me, saith the Lord, yea, I know not any.'

In this one only living and true God, the Christian says, 'I believe,' first, in opposition to the atheist, who denies the being of God altogether, (' the fool saith in his heart there is no God,') and secondly, in opposition to the Idolater, who believes in many gods, the false offspring of ignorance and gross superstition. But here we may observe, that great stress has been laid on the form of expression by some of the ancient Fathers, especially St. Augustine, as it is not said, I believe God, but ' I believe in God,' from which word, in, it is with much beauty and propriety contended, that the Christian believer not only means to declare his simple faith, but his love, his trust, his confidence, and his devotion ; as if he would say, I believe, and assent to the testimony of God with my understanding and my heart, but this my faith is not only of God, but in God, since my intellect and my affections are exercised in him, and in him I feel that I live, and move, and have my being.

3. From the name God, we next pass on to the relation, 'God the Father.' This title belongs to the Deity in a cer-. tain figurative sense, by the act of creation, as when he is said to be the Father of all, by the Apostle. So he is called, for the same reason, the Father of Spirits, and the Father •of lights, and the angels are called his sons, as where it is said that ' the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.' Again, he is the Father of all believers through the regeneration of his Spirit, for ' whoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ,' saith St. John, ' is born of God,' and 'of his own will,' saith St. James,' begat he us, with the word of truth.' In a still more strict sense, however, God is the Father of the Christian by adoption; 'Behold what manner of love,' saith the Apostle, 'the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.' Through this love 'He predestinated us,' saith St. Paul,' unto the adoption of children,' and therefore sends the Spirit of Adoption into our hearts, ' whereby we cry Abba Father.' , ,

But it does not seem to be in any of these senses that the Creed has here inserted the title of Father, so much as in the peculiar and proper relation of God, as the Father of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ. For the other reasons in support of the paternal relation which God bears to us, might be applied with true consistency to all the Persons in the adorable Trinity ; whereas it is the manifest design of the Creed to assign to each the appropriate office distinguishing him, and therefore it is thought to be more especially in reference to the Son, that the name Father is here applied to the First Person.

Inasmuch, however, as the full examination of this subject belongs more properly to the discussion of the Trinity, which we commence in our next discourse, we proceed, in order, to the attribute, Almighty. 'I believe in God the Father Almighty.'

This term is simple in its meaning, but so extensive in its application, that the mind of man is lost in astonishment when he attempts to trace the operations of the past, and the prospects of the future, all springing out of this Omnipotence of God. We shall confine ourselves, however, to the great manifestation of it mentioned in the Creed, viz., the making the heavens and the earth.

The heavens and the earth are a complex expression, signifying all things visible and invisible. First, as to the heavens, we find a current application of the word to the lower heaven, by which is meant the atmosphere, as where the Scriptures speak of the fowls of heaven, the rain from heaven, and so on. Next we read of the second heaven5 or the vast expanse of the firmament,—the region of the stars,—as where the Psalmist saith,'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work;' and again, 'Let there be lights,' saith Moses, 'in the firmament of heaven;' in which places, the word is plainly used to mean the immense space in which the suns and planets perform their allotted revolutions. Lastly we read of the third heaven or the heaven of heavens, by which we may understand the immediate residence of God and the angelic host. It was into this that St. Paul was caught up in the spirit, when he heard unspeakable words, which it was not lawful for man to utter; and here were the visions of St. John, when he saw the throne of God, and the innumerable company which 'rest not day nor night, crying, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, who wast, who art, and who art to come.'

All these, together with our lower world and every tiling therein, were framed by the Omnipotence of the Father Almighty—created from nothing. And when we reflect on the best exertion of human talent, even where all the materials are already provided for us, and how little, notwithstanding, any man is able to . produce; yea, when we remember, that to make but a single grain of dust from nothing, surpasses all the capacities of mankind together; what an inconceivable and awful extent of power must that be, which has created us and all things,—millions on millions of suns and stars, each a world in itself, with all their countless multitudes of inhabitants,—millions on millions of pure spirits, Cherubim and Seraphim, to be the messengers of his will and the worshippers of his glory. What must be the magnitude of that power, which not only created but upholds the mighty universe, and which, from Eternity that never saw beginning, to Eternity that can never see an end, is present every where, active every

« AnteriorContinuar »