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considered obedience to the powers that be, as an essential part of his duty to God: he looked upon earthly governors as ministers ordained of God; and inculcated obedience to them as a duty, “not merely for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” As then ye have been followers of his faith and practice while living, so be ye imitators of him now that he is withdrawn from you: “be ye followers of him, as he was of Christ.” And be careful, “ not to be carried about with divers and strange doctrines,” either in religion or politics : but “hold fast that ye have received, that no man take your crown.” If there be any here, who have never yet been “ partakers of the like precious faith with him," O that I might this day prevail with them to “ become obedient to the faith!” My dear brethren, you will assuredly find, that the only means of holiness in life, or of peace in death, or of glory in eternity, is, the knowledge of Christ: “there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved” from sin and misery in this world, or from everlasting destruction in the world to come; no other name, I say, but the name of Jesus Christ. I must therefore entreat you now to reflect on those things, which hitherto ye have heard without effect; and I pray God, that the seed, which has lain buried in the earth, may spring up speedily, and bring forth fruit an hundred-fold.
I add now in the last place, “ Consider the end of your departed minister's conversation." You have heard how peaceful and resigned he was in the prospect of death, and what an assured and glorious hope of immortality he enjoyed. “Mark the perfect man,” says David, “ and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace :" this you have seen verified in him. But carry your thoughts a little further: follow him within the vail : behold him united to that blessed assembly of saints and angels : see him freed from the bondage of corruption, arrayed in the unspotted robe of his Redeemer's righteousness, crowned with a royal diadem, seated on a throne of glory, tuning his golden harp, and with a voice as
CAUTION AGAINST FALSE DOCTRINES.
2345.] CAUTION AGAINST false Doctrines.
517 loud and as melodious as any saint in heaven, singing, “Salvation to God and to the Lamb." Is there so much as one of you that can think of this, and not exclaim, “ Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his !” Let the thought of these things, my brethren, encourage you to persevere: the conflict cannot be very long; but how glorious the triumph! Consider this, I beseech you; that you “may fight the good fight of faith, and quit yourselves like men.” Go on, “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus ;” and doubt not, but that you shall find the grace of Christ as sufficient for you as it has been for him; and that what Christ has been to others in former ages, he will be to you, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
MMCCCXLV. CAUTION AGAINST FALSE DOCTRINES. Heb. xiii. 9. Be not carried about with divers and strange
doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.
TRUTH lieth not on the surface, but must be sought after with diligence. This is true in every science; but most of all true in religion. In all other sciences, intellectual powers only are required : in religion, there must be integrity of heart, and a sincere desire to do, as well as to know, the will of God. To other knowledge there is no obstruction from within : if only there be a sufficiency of information and of capacity to comprehend it, truth will make its way into the mind of those who seek it. But to the progress of religious truth there are many obstacles in the heart of man; many prejudices, many passions, many interests present a barrier to obstruct its entrance into the soul : and these must be in a great measure removed, before the light of truth can break through the clouds which intercept its rays. Yet in one respect is religious truth of easier attainment than any other : for to the acquisition
of it great intellectual powers are not necessary : nor is general erudition necessary. All that is wanting is, a humble, teachable spirit, that will seek instruction from God, and receive with child-like simplicity all that God has spoken in his word. Such an one, provided he seek with diligence, and with a determination of heart to fulfil the will of God as far as he can learn it, will assuredly be guided into all truth. But that very simplicity of mind which is necessary to the attainment of truth, subjects a person, if he be not much upon his guard, to be imposed upon by those, who,“ by good works and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple.” Against such teachers St. Paul felt it necessary to caution his converts frequently a; since, though agents only of the prince of darkness, they put on the appearance of angels of light". Against such he here cautions the Hebrew Christians, entreating them to bear in mind what they had been taught by those who had been over them in the Lord, and not to suffer themselves to be turned aside from the truth which they had received.
In the words here addressed to them, we see, I. A caution given
There were, even in the apostolic age, “many vain-talkers and deceivers, and especially amongst the circumcision, who by their subtle disputations subverted whole houses,” and “ caused the way of truth to be evil spoken of 4.” In this day likewise there are not wanting teachers of a similar description, who bring forward some favourite notions of their own, “ in order to draw away disciples after theme.” Against these we must at all times be on our guard, lest at any time we be “ carried away,"
1. By legal doctrines
[It was against these more particularly that the Apostle here cautioned the Hebrews. The great scope of his epistle
a Rom. xvi. 17, 18.
6 2 Cor. xi. 13–15.
c Tit. i. 10, 11.
was to shew, that the rites and ceremonies, on which the Jews laid so great a stress, were abrogated, and superseded by a better dispensation. And the strange doctrines hinted at in the text are put in immediate connexion with "meats, (such as were enjoined or prohibited under the Mosaic dispensation) which had not profited those who had been occupied therein." To such an extent were the ceremonies of the law insisted on by some, that they affirmed that no one could be saved without a strict observance of them". Thus they perverted the Gospel of Christ, by uniting with the blood of Christ another ground of dependence for our justification before God.
And though Judaism is not now insisted on as it then was, there is the same disposition in men to combine something of their own with faith in Christ, as a joint ground of their hope. Men are still as averse as ever to a free salvation that is all of grace. They would have it to be in some measure “ of works;" not aware, that it must be wholly either of works, or of grace h: they do not see that the very instant any works of ours are admitted as meriting salvation, either in whole or in part, salvation is no more of grace, and man has to all eternity a ground of boasting before Godi.
Be on your guard then that you be not carried away by such legal statements as too commonly prevail even in the present enlightened age: for it is not necessary to go to Papists in order to hear such doctrines: they are still heard amongst us, notwithstanding this error formed the chief ground of our separation from the Church of Rome, and of our protesting against their fatal heresies. But know, that, if you add any thing to the work of Christ as a joint ground of your hope, you make void the Gospel of Christ, and must inevitably and eternally perish k.] 2. By Antinomian doctrines
[To these also there is a reference in the preceding context. Many converts, and especially from amongst the Gentiles, had but very imperfect views of that holiness which the Gospel enjoins. The great degree of criminality which attaches to fornication and adultery, was, through the influence of opinions imbibed in their Gentile state, but indistinctly seen: and hence, for the purpose of rectifying their views, the Apostle shews them, that, though marriage was honourable in all, having been ordained by God himself, that species of intercourse, which they were disposed to justify, was most dishonourable, and most offensive in the sight of God, “ who
would judge both whoremongers and adulterers" with the utmost severity? Many indeed would plead for such indulgences; as we see in the Ephesian Church: but St. Paul, warning the Ephesian converts, says, “ Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience m."
Thus at this time also there are not wanting persons who teach, that the law is not a rule of life to believers; and that Christ's righteousness being perfect, they have a sanctification in him, and need not seek to have any sanctification in their own souls. From a professed zeal for the honour of Christ, they would set aside all need of personal holiness, and bring men to their heavenly inheritance without putting them to the trouble of seeking a meetness for it.
But this is an awful delusion. It is very specious indeed, because it pretends to exalt the honour of Christ : but, in reality, it greatly dishonours him, inasmuch as it makes him, not a friend of sinners, but of sin; which, if unmortified and unsubdued, would incapacitate the sinner for the enjoyment of heaven, even if he were admitted there”.
But be on your guard against this doctrine also, a doctrine foreign to the whole tenour of Scripture, from the beginning to the end ; a doctrine most injurious to God's honour, directly repugnant to the great end for which Christ came into the world; (which was “to save his people from their sins";") and utterly subversive of the whole work of the Spirit in the souls of menP. Whatever stress we may lay on the work of Christ, (and we cannot possibly rely too much or too simply upon it for our justification before God, it is an unalterable truth, that “ without holiness, (real, personal, universal holiness,) no man shall see the Lord 9,"] 3. By erroneous doctrines of whatever kind
[It were endless to attempt to enumerate all the heresies which have arisen, and are yet found, in the Christian Church. Some are entirely subversive of Christianity itself, being nothing less than “ a denial of the Lord who bought us." Others are founded upon some truth which is carried to excess, and held to the exclusion of other truths which are equally important in their place. Of this kind are the tenets of those who fiercely contend for human systems, whether Calvinistic or Arminian, taking only partial views of divine truth, and wresting every passage of Scripture which seems to