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ROMANS xüi. 11.
It is high time to awake out of sleep : for now is
our salvation nearer than when we believed.
The sleep from which the Apostle here would rouse us, is the sleep of the soul; that is, of sin and wickedness; which, in Scripture, are called sleep, or darkness. And though, perhaps, he more particularly alludes to the circumstances of the time, and to the individuals whom he addresses, yet his words have evidently a more general reference: and in this latter respect, therefore, I propose to consider them.
Now we know that he that BELIEVETH shall be SAVED. How comes it, then, that the Apostle says our salvation is NEARER ? Do we not believe now,
* Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, was born 1470, and burnt at Oxford, 1554.
as did the prophets and patriarclrs of old ? How, therefore, is our salvation nearer ? Know, then, in reference to the present subject, that there are two distinct periods : the first, from the beginning of the world to the coming of Christ; the other, since his advent. All they, therefore, who were before his coming, believed only that he should come; but we believe that he is come: and consequently our salvation may be said to be nearer, or more certain. Even the Jews still believe that hé shall come. But their faith is a deceitful faith ; since it is contrary to God's word : for we are not to expect that Christ will come again and suffer. No-He will come again, it is true: but it will be to judge the quick and the dead.
The advent of our blessed Lord was long revealed before his coming in the flesh. God, speaking of the woman's seed, said to the serpent, It shall bruise thy head. And thus was the Gospel, or glad tidings, preached in Paradise : for the serpent had deceived our first parents, and deprived them of that felicity to which, at their creation, they were destined. As many, therefore, as believed these words, and put their hope in the seed of the woman, were saved: as Seth, Enoch, and many others. This Gospel was also thus revealed to Abraham ; In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Hence, then, it appears that, without Christ, we are under the curse of God; and again, by Christ, we have the benediction of God. It
was made known, also, unto David and all the holy prophets. They all spake of this Gospel, and taught the people to expect their Saviour. It must be confessed, however, that their sayings and prophecies were somewhat dark and obscure. But when, at length, he came, and dwelt among us, and showed us the way to heaven ; when he taught us this blessed Gospel with his own mouth, and perfected it when he suffered for us ; this, surely, was a clearer revelation than any that the prophets had. Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see, says Christ to his disciples; for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. And wherefore were they called blessed ? because they saw him ? If the blessedness consisted in the outward seeing, then Adam and Eve and all the prophets were not blessed. If the blessedness consisted in mere bodily sight, then his very enemies, Annas, and Caiaphas, and Pilate, and all that consented unto his death, were blessed!
Thus, then, that our salvation is NEARER, must be understood in respect to the difference of time : for Christ, unquestionably, is more clearly revealed to those on whom the ends of the world are come, than when he was only promised. But with regard to the blessedness which we have by Christ, it was alike at all times : for to Adam, who believed the first promise which God made unto him, it was