Imágenes de páginas

Few points of character may be more safely relied on as an evidence of personal godliness than the desire to converse on religious subjects. It is truly mournful to think how very seldom matters of a spiritual nature find their way into our ordi

For this purpose they should read and explain | cometh down from above it will determine us to the bible to their children, and enable them to embrace every opportunity that may be presented, read and understand it for themselves. Other whether in public or private, of inviting the atbranches of knowledge may be useful and even tention of those with whom we associate to the necessary; but what shall these avail in the end things which belong to their peace. if the one thing needful has been neglected? The work of parental instruction requires much time and great labour; and it must be done not by substitutes, but by parents themselves, in a course of diligent and well directed personal efforts. It is truly said that 'a good man leaveth an inheri-nary conversation. The professing people of God tance to his children.' He may have nothing else to give, but if he has conferred on them the advantages of a religious education, followed up by fervent prayer, and illustrated and enforced by a consistent example, he leaves them an inheritance that is more valuable than any thing and every thing else. But 'children' represent the rising generation in general, and in this view the precept speaks to all without exception. Many parents care not for the spiritual interests of their families; in such cases it becomes the duty of every professing Christian to endeavour, as far as possible, to supply their lack of service. In no other way can we do so much good at so little expence as by extending the blessings of a religious education to the ignorant and neglected youth. But another mode of communication is by talking, or

meet together and converse about many things; they talk on the state of the weather, or the news of the day, or on questions of national policy, or the merits of public men, or the defects of private character, but have not a word to say respecting the truths of the bible, nor the concerns of their souls, nor the realities of an eternal world. How different is the course which the authority of inspiration has dictated on the subject! Thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.'

This practice has many advantages to recommend it. It is of comparatively easy observance. Those who cannot produce a regular and well connected discourse upon the truths of God, are yet able to talk about them in familiar conversation. No man feels himself at a loss for something to say Conversation. Thou shalt talk of them. To when he speaks of subjects that lie near to his talk is to convey our thoughts upon any subject heart, for 'out of the abundance of the heart the in a simple, homely, and familiar style of address, mouth speaketh.' Another recommendation is such as we are accustomed to employ in the com- the probability of usefulness. In this way valuamon intercourse of domestic and social life. With-ble lessons of truth may be communicated, and out being necessarily coarse or undignified it has seasonable warnings administered, and serious imthe recommendation of being universally under-pressions produced, no less extensively and no less stood, and of being calculated to attract and in-effectually than by more public and laborious interest the minds both of the learned and the ig- strumentality. "Cast thy bread upon the waters, norant. It is the style which God himself has adopted in the revelation of his will, for the scriptures which contain it are distinguished throughout by their extreme plainness and simplicity. What was the teaching of Christ but a series of conversations in which he talked familiarly with his disciples or with the Jewish people? Some talk on religious subjects evidently for no other purpose than to display their own attainments: but our design should be to instruct and edify others; and this requires that we should speak of them with the utmost simplicity, and at the same time with great fervour and frequency. To obtrude these subjects officiously on the attention of others, would invariably do harm instead of good. A word fitly spoken, how good is it! In this as in every department of duty 'wisdom is profitable to direct;' but if it is the wisdom that

for thou shalt gather it after many days.' But personal holiness is an essential qualification for religious usefulness. We must seek to have our own hearts impressed with the truths of the bible, and then the work of communicating them to others will be easy, pleasant, and successful.


"That from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,' 2 Tim. iii. 15.

We know very little with regard to the early history of Timothy. One most important circumstance has been recorded for our instruction.

His father was not a Jew, nor a proselyte to the | firmed than in the words of the apostle, who religion of the Jews, but a Greek, and conse- declares that they are able to make wise unto quently, if not hostile to the Jewish scriptures, salvation.' They do thisyet ignorant of them, and indifferent about them. Timothy had not been circumcised in his infancy; but his religious education had, notwithstanding, been carefully attended to by his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice, who were not only Jewish by birth, but, which is far better, decidedly pious women. Through the blessing of God upon their labours, young Timothy acquired an early and intimate knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures; and he was by this means prepared to follow the example of his excellent mother by embracing the gospel, and devoting himself to the service of Christ. During the whole of his subsequent life he continued to cherish a grateful sense of the benefit which he had derived from early parental instruction; and Paul, his spiritual father, took occasion to remind him, both as a ground of thankfulness to God, and a motive to perseverance in duty, that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.'

[ocr errors]

Other writings make men wise, but not 'wise unto salvation.' The wisdom that may be derived from them is valuable in a very high degree, and capable of being applied to many useful purposes, and worthy of being sought after with ardour and diligence; but it is the wisdom of this world, which has to do only with the things of the world, and which, with the world, will at death pass away and be forgotten. What can all the wisdom avail us which the facts of history supply, or which may be derived from a minute acquaintance with the maxims of philosophy, the mysteries of science, or the rules of art, so long as we remain destitute of that wisdom which the light of inspiration has revealed? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.'

The arrogant deist who denies the necessity of revelation, labours under a delusion scarcely more palpable and pernicious than the blinded votary of the Church of Rome, who asserts its insufficiency. We know that the scriptures need not the help of interpretations to clear up their obscurity; much less do they need the help of traditions to supply their deficiency. The end for which they were given, and their perfect efficacy to the accomplishment of that end, could not have been more clearly and conclusively af

By the discoveries which they afford. The first step towards the attainment of saving wisdom consists in the knowledge or conviction of sin. The scripture hath concluded all under sin, 'that every mouth may be stopped, and that all the world may become guilty before God.' But a conviction of sin without the hope of forgiveness could only lead to despair. The awakened sinner finds a refuge in the holy scriptures, which assure him of an acceptable atonement offered for the expiation of his guilt, of a perfect righteousness wrought out for the justification of his person, and an effectual influence provided for the sanctification of his nature. Here is a redemption alike honouring to the perfections of God, and suited to the circumstances of man, comprehending everything which we can possibly need, or reasonably desire, or profitably seek after, knowledge for our ignorance, pardon for our guilt, love for our enmity, purity for our corruption, strength for our weakness, hope for our fears, life for our death. The holy scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation by—

The influence which they exert. Our Lord said of them, what cannot be affirmed of any other writings, The words that I speak unto you they are spirit, they are life.' Paul had felt this influence in himself, and from experience he could declare, 'I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.' He had witnessed it in others, and he could appeal to thousands when he said, 'For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.'

But the holy scriptures can exert no influence unless they are believed. Articles of food may be wholesome and nutritious, but in order to impart strength to the body they must be received into it. Medicines may be calculated to effect a cure, yet the patient would inevitably perish if he should continue to resist their application. Our unbelief cannot affect the truth of the scriptures, but it will prevent their efficacy. The influence which they exert is not mechanical, but moral: it is the influence of doctrines and precepts, of promises and threatenings, addressed to the understanding and the judgment, the conscience and the heart. But these cannot operate unless they are felt; nor can they be felt until they are believed. Instead of being the savour of life unto life, which they are graciously intended and calculated to be, they become to all who reject

them the savour of death unto death. And as it | parents remember the word which says, 'Train forms the chief aggravation of their guilt now, up a child in the way he should go, and when so it will constitute the bitterest ingredient in he is old he will not depart from it.' The experitheir cup of suffering hereafter, that the holy ence of young Timothy serves to show how scriptures, which they have resisted, are able to much a pious mother or grandmother may do for make wise unto salvation, through faith which is the salvation of children. To all who have enin Christ Jesus.' joyed similar advantages, the apostle would say, 'Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. Those things, which ye have both learned and received, and heard and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.' If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.'

After all, the holy scriptures exert only an instrumental power. They are perfectly fitted to do their work, but being merely an instrument, they can do nothing effectually without the agent. Since all men are by nature inclined to reject the scriptures, and since, in point of fact, the great majority of those to whom they have been addressed do actually reject them, the question arises, How comes it to pass that any believe them? This effect results from the operation of a power distinct from the scriptures, and which makes use of them only as its instrument. To


you it is given,' says the apostle to the Philip-'And I will put enmity between thee and the

pians, to believe in his name.' And he speaks elsewhere not of the things which he wrought, but of the things which God wrought by him to make the Gentiles obedient in word and deed.' Without the agency of the Spirit, Paul would have planted, and Apollos watered in vain. Hence the Saviour prayed for his disciples, 'Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is But as the scriptures are nothing without the influences of the Spirit, so the Spirit does nothing without the instrumentality of the scriptures. Through them he begins his good work of grace in the soul, carries it forward, and brings it to perfection.

[ocr errors]

woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head,' Gen. iii. 15.

THE curse pronounced on the serpent consists of two parts, the one having a relation to its natural, the other to its representative character. An irrational animal cannot be the object of moral blame. The serpent was nothing more than the unconscious and involuntary instrument of corrupting Eve. Yet the serpent was made to share in the punishment of her disobedience. From being probably both harmless in disposition, and beautiful in form, it was degraded into an ugly and venomous reptile. Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field, upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.' In consequence, the serpent has ever since been an object of dread and detestation, and it continues to this day to be shunned or destroyed as a dan

[ocr errors]

We have an important duty to perform in regard to the holy scriptures. It is to cultivate the knowledge of them. Thou hast known the holy scriptures.' All the knowledge that is necessary may be acquired by our own efforts in the use of appointed means, by reading and hear-gerous enemy of the human race. ing, with diligence, meditation, and prayer. But But the curse of God, which extended even to be made 'wise unto salvation' implies that to the visible instrument of the temptation, we know the scriptures experimentally and prac- was chiefly directed against 'that old serpent, tically, and in such a way as to be sanctified by called the devil, and satan,' who was the invisible them. They can be savingly useful to us in so agent in the temptation. He tempted the wofar only as we mix faith with our knowledge of man by means of the serpent, and the divine them, by realizing their truth, and by having displeasure was accordingly conveyed to him recourse to them for principles to govern, rules through the serpent as his representative. Let to direct, motives to animate, and consolations tous view the curse in connection with its execusupport us under all the difficulties, and troubles, and temptations of our present militant condition.

An early acquaintance with the holy scriptures is peculiarly necessary. How highly favoured are they to whom it can be said, 'that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures!' Let


The design of the tempter was to put enmity between man and his Creator, and he succeeded in his diabolical purpose. In yielding to his solicitations, the woman accepted his offered friendship, and promised a willing obedience. Sin entered into the world, and death by sin. The

heart of man, which had till then overflowed with | of time an angel announced to the shepherds of love to God, became hardened with enmity against Bethlehem. Our first parents did not deserve, but him. But satan could not retain the conquest greatly needed the comfort of such a gracious which he had made. The victim whom he had assurance. It has proved effectual in confirming deceived and enslaved was instantly torn from the faith, and animating the hope of God's people his grasp. To punish his treachery, and at the throughout all succeeding generations. same time to defeat his purpose, God said to him, They have in every age been exposed to the 'I will put enmity between thee and the woman,' effects of satan's enmity. From this source have But the evils of the first transgression de- sprung, more or less directly, all the evils either scended to posterity. By the divine permission from within or from without by which they have satan enjoys, to a limited extent, the influence he at any time been afflicted. By him the assaults had acquired. He has had in every age a num- of temptation are directed, by him also the flames erous offspring, who acknowledge him as their of persecution are kindled. Calumny, reproach, Father, and prove their descent from him by their ridicule, blasphemy, with every form and degree of devotedness to him. They breathe his spirit, bow violence against the truth and its friends, have all to his authority, exhibit his likeness, and execute their origin in the enmity of the serpent. We his will. In particular, they all inherit that wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against enmity to God which actuates him; and are thus principalities and powers, against the rulers of distinguished from the seed of the woman, who the darkness of this world, against spiritual act under a different influence, and pursue an wickednesses in high places.' The agency of the entirely opposite course. It is therefore added, tempter, indeed, does not visibly appear, but 'I will put enmity between thy seed and her its reality is notwithstanding unquestionable. seed.' The seed of the woman is confessedly no The voice of inspiration has asserted it, the lanother than the promised Messiah, the eternal Son guage of uniform experience has demonstrated it, of God, and the Saviour of a perishing world. the page of universal history bears witness to it. He undertook to repair the ruins of our fall; and His names express his enmity as well as his acts. in particular he came to destroy the works of He is satan the adversary, Apollyon the destroyer, the devil.' But in the 'seed of the woman' are the devil an accuser; he is a liar, a deceiver, a comprehended all the members of Christ's spirit-murderer, a roaring lion, seeking whom he may ual body, whom he redeemed on earth, and represents in heaven, who resemble him in spirit and character, and fight under his banner against

the common enemy.


But the enmity which pursues the members of the church was directed chiefly against the person of its divine Head. He who had seduced To the tempter the intimation here made was Eve in the garden assaulted Christ in the wilderfraught with disappointment and alarm. It re-ness. The opposition he encountered, the persecuvealed a purpose which involved his defeat and degradation. He had gained a triumph, but it was to be neither universal nor perpetual. A remedy was provided for all the miseries which he had entailed on mankind. Even the woman who had fallen a victim to his treachery, was to commence in her own person, and to continue in her posterity a course of active and successful resistance to his authority. A far mightier than he was to arise who should control his dominion, and drive him from his throne, and cast him into 'everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'

But the same announcement which spoke the language of terror to the tempter conveyed a message of mercy to man. We read in it a clear and comprehensive revelation of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. We behold in it the first ray of the Sun of righteousness which dawned on our benighted world. We hear in it a publication of those glad tidings which in the fullness

tions he suffered, the snares that were laid for him, the insults that were heaped upon him, the resistance of avowed enemies, the treachery of pretended friends, were all the effects of satanic enmity. His death was emphatically the 'hour and the power of darkness.' The prince of this world seemed then to be triumphant. But 'the seed of the woman' conquered by submission. He suffered an injury in the heel; but in return inflicted on his adversary a mortal wound. 'It shall bruise thy head.'

This he has done effectually in his own person. "Through death he destroyed death, and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.' Having spoiled principalities and powers he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in his cross.' This he will do actually in the experience of his people. Believing in him they participate in the honours of his triumph, and shall reap the fruits of his victory. Relying on him they are strengthened to maintain the con

'To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcome, and am set down with my Father in his throne.'

flict in which he engaged, and to pursue the law. The Saviour has explained his own meancourse which he set them the example. He will ing. Having said, I delight to do thy will,' he bruise satan under their feet, and enable them immediately proceeds to express the same sentito say, 'in all these things we are more than ment in a different form, by adding, 'thy law is conquerors, through Him that loved us.' within my heart.' As the substitute of his people he was required to do all that the law enjoins, to abstain from all that the law prohibits, to render the full amount of submission and of service both in heart and conduct which the law demands, that he might become 'the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.' He had not only to pay their debt of obedience, but also to bear the penalty of their guilt. It was necessary that he should fulfil the precepts of the moral law; but it was no less necessary that he should realize the prefigurations of the ceremonial law, by submitting in our nature to the privations and pains of a laborious and sorrowful life, and to the suffering of a cruel, ignominious, and accursed death.


'Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God,' Psal. xl. 7, 8.


Yet in the near and certain prospect of all this sorrow and suffering he felt and expressed the most perfect acquiescence. There was on his part the absence of all disinclination to the will of God which he had to do. He moreover declared his cordial approbation of it. He did not merely submit to it as that which must be done; he heartily approved of it as that which ought to be done. He not only approved of it; he was delighted with it. He looked upon it with a high satisfaction, a sublime complacency, which disposed him to sacrifice and suffer everything that might

THE Psalmist did not say this of himself. The inspired author of the epistle to the Hebrews has applied the words not to David, but to David's Son and Lord. Spoken by any other person they would have been unintelligible or contradictory; proceeding from him they are clear, appropriate, and full of deeply interesting truth. It was in the time of man's extremity that the Redeemer undertook to work out his deliverNo other expedients could be of any avail. Sacrifice and offering had been resorted to; but they could not take away sin. God did not desire and could not accept of them as an adequate atonement for the guilt of man. In this awful emergency, when his case seemed to be hopeless, and his salvation impossible, then it was that He, who alone had power to save, ex-be required in the doing of it. He said, ‘Mine claimed with generous promptitude, Lo, I ears hast thou bored,' alluding to the ceremony come: in the volume of the book it is written of piercing the ear of a slave who refused to of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God.' leave the service of his master, and who reIn these words he expressed his adherence to quested that his ear might be perforated with an the terms of a previous agreement. It had been instrument in token of perpetual servitude. In from eternity' written' in the book of the divine like manner, the Redeemer devoted himself uncounsels; but that it might be manifest to the reservedly to the cause which he had espoused. church it was written in the volume' of the Old And to show how entirely he was engrossed by Testament scriptures. The Son of God dis- it, how fervently he was attached to it, and covered no wish to shrink from his undertaking, how firmly he was resolved to persevere in it, now that the time of its fulfilment had arrived. he could declare, 'I delight to do thy will, O On the contrary, he declared his willingness to my God.' act up to the very letter of his engagement, by doing and suffering according to all that had been written in the law, and by the prophets, and in the psalms concerning him. In the immediate prospect of entering on his work he gave utterance to the feelings of his heart in these memorable and most emphatic words, 'Lo, I come: I delight to do thy will, O my God.' He alludes to the work which he had to do, and expresses the state of mind with which he regarded it.

By the will of God we are to understand his

He said this not in ignorance, but with a clear and certain foreknowledge of all that the will of God had appointed for him both to do and suffer. He discerned every ingredient of bitterness that was to mingle in his cup of sorrow; the treachery of Judas who betrayed him; the cowardice of Peter who denied him; the inconstancy of his other disciples, who, with one exception, forsook him; the injustice of Pilate, who first commanded him to be scourged, and then condemned him to be crucified; he anticipated the full amount of

« AnteriorContinuar »