« AnteriorContinuar »
Beware, O Christians! of every thing that may sully your profession, or grieve the Spirit, and thereby breed in you a distrust of yoar personal interest in God's par. doning mercy and sanctifying grace: for it is “ by faith you stand ;” and in the same proportion that your faith fails, idols will regain their influence in your hearts. I shall therefore conclude with that affectionate exhor. tation of the apostle Jude, “ Ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Amen.
Preached at the opening of the General Assembly of the Church
of Scotland, 1772.
1 John ii. 8.
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that
He might destroy the works of the Devil.
AMONG the various motives to the love and practice of universal holiness with which this sacred epistle abounds, the one I have now read to you doth certainly
I merit peculiar attention; and must to every ingenuous miod appear not only most persuasive, but likewise most animating. For who that hath any thirst for true glory, would not aspire to the high dignity of becoming a
worker together” with the Son of God? Or can any man have reason to entertain the least doubt of victory and triumph, who is engaged in a cause which the great Lord of beaven and earth hath undertaken to support?
1. 1 propuse, therefore, in the first place, to offer a few remarks for establishing your faith of the important doctrine contained in my text.
2. Secondly, I shall give you some account of the principal means by which the Son of God hath hitherto conducted his salutary undertaking, and shall finally destroy the works of the devil.--And then direct you to the practical improvement of the subject.
I. First, then, that you may see the evidence by which the doctrine here asserted is confirmed and illus. trated, in the clearest and most satisfying light, I shall lay before you the several parts of it, in the same method
, and order of time in which the Spirit of God hath placed them in the sacred Scriptures.
If we look back to the Old Testament writings, we shall find this doctrine published in paradise immediately after the apostacy of our first parents, when Satan's usurped domination commenced. Then it was that God said unto the serpent, “ Because thou hast done this, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his beel.” This was an early intimation of a Saviour, who should defeat the malice of Satan, the grand adversary, and prevent the total ruin of mankind.
To prefigure the manner in which he was to achieve this great deliverance, it deserves our notice, that expi. atory sacrifices were very early appointed. Thus we read, that " Abel offered unto the Lord the firstlings of his flock;" and when we consider that it was not till af.
ter the deluge that the use of animal food was permitted to man, we can hardly doubt, that the “coats of skins," which God is said to have made for Adam and Eve, must have been the skins of animals offered in sacrifice by bis own direction and appointment. These were significant emblems, or types, of that great atonement which Christ was to make in due time by the sacrifice of him. self; in allusion to which, he is styled, in the New Testament writings, a Lamb, “the Lamb of God,"_" the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
But lest these typical representations of the promised seed should prove too thick and obscure a vail, it pleased God gradually to unfold the purposes of his grace, by raising up prophets at different periods of time; who, though they separately bare witness to this illustrious person, yet they perfectly agreed in the report they gave of him; representing him as an irresistible conqueror, 66 who should divide the spoil with the strong," as "the King whom God had set upon his holy bill of Zion,' as “the Lord strong in battle,” « and mighty to save;" who should proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound ;-wbo should finish transgression, and make an end of sins," or offerings for sin, “and make reconciliation for ini. quity, and bring in everlasting righteousness."
Accordingly, when the fulness of time was come, the Son of God made bis entrance into the world in the de. clared character of Saviour and Redeemer. A heavenly herald was employed to announce his appearance, and to appoint bim a name expressive of his office: “ Thou shalt call his name Jesus," said the angel to Joseph; “ för he shall save his people from their sins." A special messenger was raised up to prepare the way before him, to bid Satan defiance, and to call upon men to re
pent, because the kingdom of God'was at hand." This was John, who soon after had the honour to introduce Christ by baptism into the field of battle, and to point him out to the men of that age as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
And now let us review his personal conduct, and trace bim through the course of his public ministry, where we shall behold the most striking proofs of the Apostle's assertion, that for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. No sooner is he baptized, and consecrated to his office by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost, than he suffers himself to be “led by the Spirit into the wilderness," and continued there for the space of forty days 6 tempt. ed of the devil.” The circumstances of this combat, and the happy issue of it, are recorded by three evangelists, and are so generally known, that I need not stay to repeat them. This was the first signal defeat of the adversary: in the wilderness was the serpent's head broken as tempter, which on Calvary was afterwards bruised as tormentor.
Having thug vanquished the devil in single fight, our Lord forthwith invites men to fight under bis banner. He chooseth twelve apostles, whom he appoints to be the stated attendants upon his person, and the principal leaders of the army under him. With these be joins seventy of a subordinate rank, to whom he gives orders to attack the enemy, and to exercise the power of his word and spirit against him. In obedience to his command, and relying upon his aid, they resolutely go forth two by two, into every city and place whither he himself was to come; and after a rapid and most successful progress, like young soldiers flushed with their first prosperous adventure, they return again with joy, saying, “ Loril, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”
Upon this the hotter part of the war begins. The old serpent puts forth all his strength and cunning, raisetki up enemies from every quarter, works upon the pride, envy, and prejudices of the Jewish rulers and teachers, and by their agency carries on a most furious persecu- . tion against him. Yet still this great Captain of Salvation maintains his ground, and, amidst all the opposition that is made to him, lays the foundation of a kingdom, against which the gates of hell shall never be able to prevail; till at length, by seeming to yield, he gives the enemy the mortal blow, porsues him into his own dominions; and, by a mysterious wisdom, “ through death, he conquers him that had the power of death, that is the devil:" And having thus obtained a complete victory, he riseth from the grave in triumph, ascendetb up on high, leading captivity captive; where, seated on the right hand of the Father, he shall continue in the exercise of government as Mediator till all his enemies be made bis footstool.
Thus, you see, that the doctrine of my text doth not lean upon a single testimony, but is supported by many elear and express declarations of holy writ, and beautifully illustrated by the whole of our Saviour's conduct during the time of his abode on this earth. Let us then proceed,
II. In the second place, To consider more particularly some of the principal means by which the Son of God hath hitherto conducted his salutary undertaking, and shall finally destroy the works of the devil.
1st. He hath given us the most certain and enlarged discoveries of every thing that is necessary to be known, believed, or done by us, in order to our present improvement in holiness, and the perfection of our happiness in a future state.