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power.' Such is the Speaker who demands our attention. In connection with these views of his character let us advert to
that indignation which was due to their apostacy? To these questions an answer will be found in the devouring plagues which desolated the camp of Israel, and successively carried off thousands and tens of thousands from among the people. One recorded fact speaks volumes on this subject. Of six hundred thousand persons who came forth with Moses out of Egypt, not more than two in
mised land. The whole, with these two exceptions, perished in the wilderness, as a memorial to every future generation of the solemn truth, that they escape not who refused him that spake on earth.
The subject of his address. He comes to us with a message from God. He speaks the word of truth; it is the word of him who is 'the truth.' All other speakers are fallible, and, therefore, what they say ought not to be taken on trust, but should be received with caution, and ex-dividuals were permitted to enter into the proamined with care. But the Speaker here is 'the faithful and true Witness.' There may be much in what he says to us that we do not and cannot fully comprehend; but there is nothing in it that we may not with safety and confidence believe. It is both a faithful saying and worthy of all 'He that despised Moses' law died without acceptation. The communication which he ad- mercy.' Punishment inevitably followed transdresses to us is not only true, but in the highest gression. No concealment could be practised. degree important. He declares to us the word of The offender, like Achan, might attempt to elude salvation. He tells us of our low and lost estate the stroke of justice, but, like Achan, he was as sinners, lying under a sentence of condemna- sure to be detected. No lenity was to be extion, exposed to wrath, and ready to perish. He pected. Moses had no discretionary power to declares to us that 'God so loved the world, that remit, or even mitigate the penalty. The law he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever was, in all cases, plain, explicit, peremptory, and believeth in him should not perish, but have ever-inexorable. Every transgression received its just lasting life.' He assures us that with God recompence of reward. From these facts the inference is too important to be overlooked, and too awful to be disregarded. We read it in the word of inspiration: If he that despised Moses' law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace!'
there is mercy, and plenteous redemption;' a redemption exactly suitable, perfectly complete, infinitely precious, and altogether free. He speaks to us, in short, all that is necessary to be known, and nothing but what it supremely concerns us to know, for the salvation of our souls.
To refuse such a speaker, addressing us on such a subject, is to commit the most unaccountable folly, and to incur the most aggravated guilt; the guilt of base ingratitude, of daring impiety, of ruinous presumption: 'It is to dispute the sovereignty of God, to arraign his wisdom, to set his power at defiance, to deny his truth, despise his grace, and rush on the thick bosses of his buckler.' 'What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?' for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.' This question appeals to the facts of Old Testament history, and embodies an
Argument that can neither be misunderstood nor evaded. It bids us take warning from the experience of the people of Israel. They 'refused him that spake on earth.' On various occasions they rebelled against Moses, and what was the consequence? Did Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, escape the punishment of their rebellion? Did Nadab and Abihu escape the vengeance which their impiety had provoked? Did the congregation of Israel who refused Moses, desiring to be led back again into Egypt, did they escape the effects of
It is our privilege to live under a dispensation of grace. Christ, speaking to us from heaven in his word and ordinances, proclaims the message of reconciliation, and addresses the offer of forgiveness to the very chief of sinners. But there is no salvation in any other; and even he can save those only who believe and obey him. To all who reject him 'there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but the fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversary.' The sin of turning away from him must, therefore, place the sinner beyond the reach of mercy, and expose him to the accumulated penalties of a violated law, and a rejected gospel, which admit neither of the possibility of an escape, nor the prospect of a deliverance. But to as many as receive him, to them he gives power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Let us, therefore, fear lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest any of us should seem to come short of it.
was a prophet far superior to Moses. As a prophet he infinitely surpasses Moses in the dignity of his person, in the extent of his power, in the excellencies of his character, in the value of his ministrations, in the permanency of his office, in the number and force of his claims. If therefore the people of Israel were required under the most awful penalties to obey the word of Moses, how much more is it incumbent on us to yield obedience to the voice of Christ? Unto him shall ye hearken.' These words de
The sinner's duty. It includes the exercise of considerate attention. This is the first step to conversion. A most important point has been gained when the mind of the sinner is awakened to serious concern about salvation, so as to make it the subject of earnest and prayerful inquiry. The gospel demands, and will bear the most minute and scrutinizing investigation. It speaks to the understanding and the judgment, as well as to the conscience and the heart, and says, "Whoso hath ears to hear, let him hear.' It is the sinner's duty to hearken by
Believing the word of Christ; for this,' says he, 'is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent.' And the faith which he requires is not a mere act of the understanding, but a principle of the heart, consisting in the exercise of a simple and affectionate confidence, working by love, and enforcing obedience. They that know his name put their trust in him, and whilst they believe all his doctrines to be true, they esteem his precepts concerning all things to be right. To hearken expresses
"Seeing that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven,' Heb. xii. 25.
WE have here an admonition, and an argument, both of which, by alarming our fears, combine to enforce a most important duty. But in order to understand the meaning of the admonition, and feel the force of the argument, it is necessary that we should be made acquainted with the character of the Speaker, and also with the subject of his address.
The character of the Speaker possesses the highest claim to our attention. He is invested with supreme authority over us, and has an unquestionable right to dictate to us in all matters both of faith and practice. It is his sovereign prerogative to deal with us, and with every thing that belongs to us, and every thing that concerns us, according to his sovereign pleasure. Besides he is a Being of perfect veracity. His word may be implicitly depended on, for he is not a man that he should lie When he speaks, it is with the voice of truth and wisdom. Nothing, therefore, which proceeds from him can be either erroneous and hurtful, o even trifling and unprofitable. For he unite infallible wisdom with infinite love. He has the best interests of those whom he speaks to deeply at heart. His design is to make them happy; and he points out a way that will ensure their hap piness both in time and for eternity. And h can give full effect to every word he utters, by power to which all things are possible. H speaks, and it is done; he commands, and i stands fast. In him all the promises of God an yea and amen; for he is both faithful and able t perform. But his holiness constitutes the chie To us the word of his salvation has been sent. glory of his character. In him is no sin. H It is his voice that speaks to us in every part of cannot look upon sin. And there is no sin s it, and we are called on by every consideration heinous and so offensive in his sight as the sin of interest and duty to hearken to it with a refusing him that speaketh from heaven; teachable, obedient, and prayerful attention, is a sin which he has expressed whether it addresses us in the language of doc- to punish with everlas trine or precept, of promise or threatening, of presence of the
Submission to the authority of Christ: the submission of the will to the guidance of his word, of the heart to the influence of his love, and of the life to the demands of his law, and of the circumstances to the disposal of his providence. He demands an affectionate and unreserved submission; and he is entitled to it both as a testimony of respect to his authority, and an expression of gratitude for his redeeming grace. All who live by him, he disposes to live to him and for him. His love to them is evinced by their devotedness to him. They daily kneel at his footstool, and inquire, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'
Having received the Lord Jesus, so walk in and is therefore called the Mediator of it, having
'Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in. Behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts,' Mal. iii. 1.
undertaken to execute its conditions by the obedience of his life, and the sacrifice of his death for the redemption of those whom the Father had given him. But he is also the Messenger' or 'Angel' of this covenant, having received a commission from the Father to make known its
provisions unto men, and to dispense them to his church and people throughout all ages to the end of time.
From the beginning of the world the coming of Messiah had been foretold and expected. Patriarchs saw it afar off, and were glad. The Two illustrious persons are here distinctly alluded whole system of Jewish worship and government to, each of them called by the name of messenger, evidently pointed to it. To keep alive the exbearing a very intimate relation to one another, pectation of it, holy men of God, speaking with yet widely different in the rank and character, the voice of inspiration, prophetically alluded to both personal and official, which respectively be-it. And Malachi, the last of these, made it the long to them. We know upon divine authority that the first part of this prophecy received its accomplishment in the person of John the Baptist. Our Lord made this announcement to the Jews, when he spake of John, saying, 'For this is he of whom it is written, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.'
But a greater than John the Baptist is here; one whom John acknowledged to be incomparably his superior, and to whom he did not consider himself worthy to perform the meanest office. 'He it is, who coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.' It was customary for kings and conquerors to be preceded on their march by persons who acted either as heralds to proclaim their approach, or as pioneers to remove obstacles out of their way. In like manner, the advent of Messiah was to be announced beforehand by 'the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'
The names here applied to him by the prophet, expressive at once of his supreme dignity, and of his gracious character, show him to be pre-eminently worthy of such honour. He is 'the Lord,' the universal ruler, to whom all power belongs, on whom all beings depend, from whom all blessings proceed, and to whom all homage is due. Like the forerunner who came to announce his approach, he sustains the character of a 'messenger,' but in a far higher and more important sense; for he is the Messenger of the covenant.' The scriptures make mention of many covenants, but this is a better covenant, established on better promises, a covenant of peace, an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.' Jesus Christ is himself a party to this covenant,
subject of a plain and most explicit prediction which expresses the certainty of the event, and confirms it by a twofold repetition. Probably there were then, as there are now, unbelievers, who scoffingly asked, where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were.' To silence the cavils of the profane, and alarm the fears of the secure, and establish the confidence of the doubting, and animate the hopes of the pious-the inspired prophet declared that the Lord, the Messenger of the covenant' would assuredly come, and that not only soon, but suddenly to his temple.'
In predicting the advent of Messiah, the prophets sometimes speak of him in his human nature as the son of David, and tell us that he would come and sit on the throne of David his father, and exercise dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth. The highest place which a man can occupy is a throne, but the lowest place which God can accept is a temple. Accordingly, when the prophets connect the advent of Christ with hi divine dignity as David's Lord, they declar that he would come not to his throne, but to hi temple, as the only fit and appropriate place for his reception. The temple was erected for hi honour, and dedicated to his service. He had said of it, This is my rest for ever; here will dwell for I have desired it.' The visible symbo of his presence had indeed been long withdraw from it. The Jews who were bound to protec its sanctity had allowed it to be prostituted t the vilest of purposes. But the Lord had no finally deserted it; and the time was now ap proaching when he would return to it, and expo the profane intruders who had degraded it int
a house of merchandise, and a den of thieves; they love, and long for, and haste unto; for as and when, by making it the scene of his per-Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, sonal ministrations, he would cause the glory of the second temple to exceed that of the first. The event of Messiah's appearance was not only expected by the people of Israel, but desired and longed for. They understood not his true character, and grossly misapprehended the design of his coming. Predictions and promises, which held forth to them the prospect of a spiritual redemption, were so misinterpreted by them as to engender the hope of a temporal deliverance. A few there were among them, who, like Anna and Simeon, escaped the delusion which proved fatal to the great body of their countrymen, and with an enlightened and well-founded confidence 'waited for the Consolation of Israel.' But all of them looked forward to his appearance as an object of ardent and delightful anticipation; and therefore to all of them the prophet could truly say, 'The Lord whom ye seek shall come, even the Messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in.'
so unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.' 'Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.'
'No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,' John i. 18.
GOD is to be seen in his works; for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.' The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy-work. The earth is full of his riches. He may be seen in This intimation, which assured them of the the operations of his providence; for what is speedy fulfilment of their hopes, loudly called providence but God manifesting his perfections them to the work of preparation. The design in the preservation and government of the creawas to awaken serious concern, to enforce self-tures he has made? Above all he may be seen examination, to excite repentance, to induce in his word, which reveals to us his being and atbumility, watchfulness, and prayer. The pros- tributes, his purposes and will. Every man, pect of Christ's coming had in it much that was therefore, who looks with attention and underfitted to console and animate, but it had in it standing into the world of nature, or the arrangemuch also that calculated to rouse and alarm ment of providence, or the record of scripture. them. For he was to be to them as a refiner may be said to have seen God. and purifier of silver; having his fan in his hand In the early ages of the world God was pleased that he might thoroughly purge his floor, and to discover himself in a visible manner to his sergather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff vants and people. He appeared to Adam imhe would burn with unquenchable fire.' Know-mediately after the fall, and to Noah after the ing the terrors of the Lord, the prophet warned them of their danger, and anticipated the Baptist's message, Repent, for the kingdom of beaven is at hand.'
flood. He was seen by Moses and Manoah, by Samuel and David, by Elijah and Daniel. The people of Israel saw him in the cloud of glory which hung occasionally over the tabernacle, and which All that is here predicted of the first coming rested permanently on the mercy-seat. But he of Christ, may with truth be affirmed of his was seen only in his attributes and actings. His second advent. His second coming, like his essence is spiritual, and, therefore, invisible. In first, will be personal and visible; for he 'shall this sense no man hath seen God at any time, nor me in the clouds of heaven, with his own and can see him. And how little was seen of God his Father's glory, and every eye shall see him.' amidst the shadows of the Old Testament revelaIt will be sudden and unexpected; for the day tion. Even Moses, unto whom 'the Lord spake of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, and face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend,' at such an hour as ye think not the Son of man desired a fuller manifestation of the divine charcometh. It will be full of terror to his enemies; acter, and prayed, 'Shew me thy glory.' But the fr he will try every man's work, and render privilege which was denied to him has been contato every man according to his work, indigna-ferred on us: for 'God who commanded the light ton and wrath, tribulation and anguish to every to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our wal of man that doeth evil.' But to his own hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the eople it will be the day of redemption which glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.'