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lusts of other things,” the good seed ultimately becomes unfruitful. Brethren, we must guard against the “ love of money, which is the root of all evil ;” against the criminal indulgence of appetite and sense ; against the pride of birth or station, and the vanity of dress, or personal adornments ; against the eager, grasping spirit with which worldly business is being now conducted, and the all-absorbing attention it seems to demand ; against corroding anxiety, if worldly hopes are blighted, and desponding doubt of “all things working together for good to them that love God," if we have to suffer adversity; or the pure fire of divine love will be damped, or, perhaps, become extinguished, in our bosom. And is it not equally necessary, that we should keep guard and watch around the altar of the church, lest the fire burning there should be put out ? As the Spirit of God is the “ Spirit of truth,” all heresy and false doctrine must be kept out of the church. The truth, as it is in Jesus, must be preserved pure, inviolate, entire. And that truth must be proclaimed constantly, faithfully, earnestly; otherwise substances incongenial with the Spirit's flame will be introduced, and the altar-fire be liable to extinction. As the Spirit of God is the Spirit of love, everything that would promote “contention and strife," and produce “schisms" in the body of Christ, must be carefully avoided, or fearlessly put away. As the Spirit of God is eminently the “Spirit of grace and of supplications,” the utmost vigilance and jealousy must be exercised, lest anything irreverent or impure should be admitted into the services of the church. All the officers of the church should be “ vessels unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work.” “Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever.” “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” All the ordinances of the church should be conducted with “reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.” The church's psalmody should be sacred in the strictest sense of the term. Prayer should be offered up with solemn earnestness and fervour, but with deep humility and awe. “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him.” The word of God should be preached with “gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned,” and in a “spirit of tender affection and burning zeal,” that the faithful Minister of Christ, “by manifestation of the truth, may commend himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” Thus, all things being done “ decently and in order," and the members of the church standing “fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel," “ the fire shall ever be burning upon the altar ; it shall never go out.”
1. This charge is given to Ministers especially.
In the Jewish tabernacle, the High Priest himself was the chief conservator of the sacred fire. And in the Christian church, no doubt, our “merciful and faithful High Priest,” who is “passed into the heavens,” is the Preserver, as well as the “Author and Finisher, of our faith.” He is “the Head of the body, the church,"
e church should the vessels of the use, O Lord, for
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and “in all things” pertaining to the church's interests He has “the pre-eminence.” But, as in the Jewish sanctuary, necessarily, the subordinate Priests were appointed to share in this important service, so is this graciously permitted in the Christian church. We "feed the flock," and "rule,” and “watch, as they that must give account," that “when the chief Shepherd shall appear," we may "receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." And therefore it is our especial duty to guard the sacred fire upon the church's altar. If it decline and become dull and feeble, where we are, through our supineness and neglect, our guilt is great. If it go out through our unfaithfulness, we are fearfully guilty before God, and our punishment, either in this world or in that which is to come, will be proportionably severe. O, if the very Heathen punished with the utmost severity, punished with death, the hapless vestal that suffered the sacred fire of the temple to become extinct, what may we expect, who permit the fire upon our altar to go out? We must ever feel our own absolute need of this sacred fire for any and for every good word and work. We must ever cherish in our own bosom the pure, vestal flame of holiest love; the glowing fire of hallowed zeal for Christ and for His church. In our ministrations, we must ever reflect the pure light of the Spirit's truth, and radiate the vivifying heat of the Spirit's fiery baptism. We who are His Ministers ought to be “flames of fire,” and should quicken those around us into life by our activity and energy, should kindle them into sacred ardour by our divine enthusiasm.
2. But the charge applies to all Christian believers.
Under the Jewish economy, the tribe of Levi only were permitted to do anything relating to the sanctuary. The singers in the templeservice were all Levites. Even the door-keepers and the sweepers of the floor were Levites. But if we are Christ's, we each belong to “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” He hath made all that are washed in his own blood “Kings and Priests” unto God. Every Christian must therefore cry,
“Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
To work, and speak, and think, for thee;
And still stir up thy gift in me."
If the fire is to be ever burning on the altars of our churches, it must never go out on our domestic altars, it must be ever burning on the altar of our hearts. Day by day, we must each be influenced by holy love ; day by day, distinguished for active zeal ; day by day, must our services be rendered acceptable to God by earnest prayer and by fervent praise. Thus shall we ever glorify God in our body and spirit, which are His.
“ To Him shall all our thoughts arise,
Ceaseless, accepted sacrifice." “What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor. vi. 19.) “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Then “the fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” Amen and Amen.
GENERAL VIEW OF THE MESSIANIC PROPHECIES OF THE
(TRANSLATED FROM CLAUDE's “ TRAITÉ DE JESUS CHRIST.”)
(For the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) (Mons. Claude, in his Traité de Jesus Christ, remarks in his First Book, on “ the Principle, according to which Christ came into the world.” We have already given one of the chapters into which this first part of the treatise is divided. The Second Book considers “the Dispositions, or Preparations, which preceded the coming of Christ into the world.” The chapters of this Book, twenty-four in number, are occupied with the “ Oracles," or Predictions and Types of the Old Testament Dispensation respecting the promised Messiah. One chapter is given as introductory to those which follow, in which the various prophecies are separately considered. It is this introductory chapter that is now furnished. Perhaps, on a future occasion, another chapter or two may be translated, illustrating the manner in which the author applies those principles of interpretation which he so ably states in the introductory chapter. Claude deserves to be better known in this country. Little is known of him beyond his “Essay on the Composition of a Sermon,” and his “ Defence of the Reformation.” His writings on positive divinity place him in the very first class of Calvinist theologians. He has perhaps been-we will not say eclipsed, butoutshone by Saurin. Less brilliant and rhetorical than this celebrated pulpit orator, he was even more solid than he. He appears always to have aimed at producing effect by the earnest employment of the argumentative power of truth. Correct, and even elegant, in his diction, he seems as though he was so earnest in his endeavours to state the truth clearly, and to establish it firmly, that he had no time to pause in his way for the purpose of collecting and using attractive ornaments.—Trans.]
The oracles, or predictions which we find in the Old Testament respecting the Messiah, are of several kinds. For there are those which refer to the Messiah directly, and without the intervention of any medium ; while there are others which refer to him more indirectly, other persons or things coming between. Thus, the oracle of Moses, " The Lord will raise up unto you a Prophet, like unto me,” is one of the first order. And that of the second Psalm, “Why do the Heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The Kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take çounsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed,” is one of the second kind. This second class, again, which we have termed mediate, may be divided into two parts: for there are some predictions which in such manner agree to that which serves them for matter and form, that the sense of the words is perfectly fulfilled in reference to it, while at the same time they are accomplished in a more noble manner in the Messiah ; while there are others whose entire and perfect sense cannot at all be applied to the creature or type, but is fully verified in Jesus Christ alone. Take for example the words of David in the sixty-ninth Psalm, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children ;” these are verified entirely in the person of David himself, while yet they apply likewise to Jesus Christ, and are in him fulfilled in a more complete and a higher sense. But in a subsequent verse, where we read, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink," we find language that has its literal accomplishment only in the person of Jesus Christ.
We may also divide these oracles according to the matter which they contain: for some relate to the very person of the Messiah, while others mark his first advent and its circumstances, and others again point out its results. Of those which relate to his person, some refer to his quality as the divine Son, and his eternal generation ; others, his human nature; some describe his abasement, some his exaltation ; others refer to his mediatorial offices; to his prophetic, or to his priestly, or to his regal, character. Of those which mark the circumstances of his advent in the flesh, some speak of the time of his manifestation, others designate its place. Some refer to the mother of whom he should be born, some to the city in which he should be brought up. There are some which stop at his forerunner, others predict certain of his actions, or describe the death by which he should die, or speak of his resurrection, or other circumstances of a similar kind. Of those which more particularly point out the results of his coming, there are those which formally refer to the reconciliation of man to God by it, and to the benedictions of his mercy and grace. Some are employed to predict the calling of the Gentiles, while others mark the rejection of the Jews, and others again the particular punishment and ruin of Judas, and of those who persecuted Christ unto the death.
We may remark in general, that in proportion as we approach the period of the Messiah's appearance, the oracles become more distinct and more circumstantial; we have them also in a much greater number. For as when the time draws nigh for the coming of a Prince, and the establishment of his dominion in a state, his servants and messengers come in greater number and with more magnificence; so was it with the prophecies, those forerunners and heralds of Christ. They become more numerous, more illustrious, as the time of his coming more nearly approached.
The reasons of the divine wisdom in this dispensation of prophetic oracles, it is not difficult to comprehend. 1. The dignity and glory of the Messiah are thus elevated, that none should suppose that some merely ordinary person was pointed out : and in effect, it was most just that so great and admirable an advent, the advent of the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, of Him who was to renew the face of all things, should be marked and preceded by these precursive signs ; for it is almost the constant character of great occurrences to be thus signalized. 2. God has determined by this to nourish and support the faith and hope of his church, before the time of this advent. For seeing that all the chosen of God, from the very foundation of the world to the actual coming of Christ, were to be saved by
VOL. IV.-FOURTH SERIES.
his satisfaction and merit, so that thus the church has been in all ages essentially Christian, it was necessary that God should give some knowledge of Christ from the commencement, and that he should preserve and augment this knowledge as the course of ages advanced. The ancient church had the same relation to the first coming of Christ, and to the times of the Gospel, that we have to his second coming, and to the times of future glory: as then it is necessary, for the support of our hope, and the sustenance of our faith and piety, that we should have some knowledge of the blessings which are reserved in heaven for us, and that we should know assuredly that Jesus Christ should return to bestow them on us; so was it necessary for the faith and piety of the ancients that they should be assured of the first coming of the Messiah, and that they should know to some extent the greatness of the blessings of which that coming would be the means. Therefore St. Paul says, that “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off ;” so that they “ were perşuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” So also Christ said of Abraham, “ Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.” And again, to his disciples, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see. For I tell you, that many Prophets and Kings have desired to see those things that ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” 3. God has thus willed to lay down the firmest foundations for our faith, in causing these early and preceding ages to render their testimony to his Son. For one of the most important proofs of the Christian religion, and which marks as strongly as any other, that God alone is its author, is the evident relation subsisting between the Old and the New Testament. To this St. Paul refers in writing to the Corinthians, “ All these things are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” And also in addressing the Romans, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were forewritten for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” And, 4. These same oracles, which have contributed to the conversion of so many, and which sustain the faith and the piety of the saints, have served, and do still serve, as one reason of the condemnation of the wicked and the unbelieving. For these oracles render them inexcusable before God; and for that reason Christ said to the Jews, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me : for he wrote of me."
As these predictions are very numerous, and differ much one from the other, it is difficult to lay down exact rules for the right explanation and understanding of them. In general we may say, 1. We must be careful to ascertain whether there is not to be found in the terms of the oracle a something that cannot possibly be applied in any manner to any other than the Messiah ; for, in this case, we must dwell on these terms, and put them in their clearest light, that the true character of this particular oracle may be plainly known. 2. When we find an oracle, among those that we have called mediate, we must see whether there is not in its terms something too lively, too impressive, too magnificent, to terminate in any creature, and to be solely related to it; for this is of frequent occurrence. In such a case, these notes of power and grandeur must be especially remarked, that the full reference of the oracle itself may be perceived. 3. We must examine with care the matter which precedes, and that which