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“ Eph. i. 10. That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth, even in him.-The meaning of the whole seems to be, that whereas the order and harmony of God's principal workmanship, intellectual creatures, angels and men, have been disturbed and broken by the entrance of sin into the world, all mankind, and many of the angels apostatized from him,. God would, in his appointed time, give Christ, the heir of all things, the honour of being the repairer of the breach, by gathering together again the disjointed members of the creation in and under Christ as their head.”
"1 Tim. ii. 6. He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.—The word here translated ransom signifies the laying down one's life to save another's; he paid a ransom worthy to obtain the salvation of all men.”
“ Heb. ii. 9. That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.-To render sin remissable to all men, and them salvable; God punishing man's sins in him, laying on him the iniquities of us all; and so God became propitious to all.”
“ We may as well expeet all the clocks in the town to strike at once, as that all good people will be of the same mind; it is not so much our differences, as our imprudent way of managing them, that produces the mischief."
Mr. Philip Henry.
“ They have rebelled against me.” Isa. i. 2. These words are a weighty sentence: the manner in which they are introduced calls for our serious attention. Jehovah, by the mouth of his servant the prophet, proclaims, “ Hear, O heavens, and give ear, earth; for the Lord haih spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." The first verse informs us, that the text relates to the vision, which the prophet saw, concerning Judah and Jerusalem; and truly they were a rebellious people before the Lord, as is plain from the history of the nation of the Jews.
But it is my design to take up the subject in a more extensive point of view; and consider rebellion, not only as it relates to Israel, but attend to the subject at large. I shall therefore take notice,
I. Against whom this rebellion is.
And while I am employing my thoughts on this awful subject, eternal spirit, by thy blessed influence, suitably impress my mind.
The person, against whom this rebellion is, I purpose first to consider. “ They have rebelled against Me," saith the Lord. Jehovah is the rightful sovereign of the universe. To him the intire right of sovereignty belongs, and in him all the perfections of sovereignty centre. He is infinitely perfect: there in no imperfection in him. His law, or rule of his government, is in perfect unison with his nature ; it is holy just, and good. All its commands are perfectly wise and good; they are not like the coinmands of many wicked monarchs, which are better broken than kept, in which case a rebellion inay be justifiable; but the law of Jehovah is grounded on eternal principles of equity and truth.
This law is binding on all rational creatures which God has created. This is perfectly reasonable, because all had their being from him; " in him we live, and move, and have our being." And was it not for his upholding care we should return again to earth. It is impossible that there should be a creature without law 10 God: the worst absurdities would follow.” A creature, under no obligations to God, could not be a creature of God: yea, such a creature would be a God itself. As every rational creature is under law to God, it follows, that a perfect obedience to the law of God is the proper duty of every creature. All the powers of the soul and body ought to be consecrated to Jehovah : the whole service of All creaturesis his due.
I proceed, secondly, to consider the nature of this rebellion. It is a rejection of the sovereignty of Jehovah; the language of it is, “we will not have him to reign over us." It is to oppose his government, to cast off his law, and instead of loving the Lord God, with all the powers of soul and body, it is to hate him, and place the affections on other things. Hence wicked men are emphasically said to be, “ Haters of God." Instead of yielding that obedience to him which his righteous law demands, it is to reject his service, and, in fact, to declare for independance: or, what is worse, to oppose him, and trample underfoot his authority.'
Suppose a king, whose laws were just and good, and who had a just right to the throne, should have subjects who cast off all allegiance to him, and seek to dethrone and destroy him : such subjects we should consider were intirely out of their proper place. So in the case now onder consideration, the creature leaves his proper place where he ought to be, and where God placed him, and casts off all allegiance to · Jehovah; yea, does all in his power to dethrone him.'
Thus the angels kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation; they broke the bond of union in which they stood, and instead of serving, honouring, and worshipping God their maker, they despised his authority, cast aside his law, and rebelled against him,
Man also trod in the same steps; the Almighty created him holy and happy; told him what he might, and what he might not do. He, instead
VOL, IV. :. We re. .. I rit, ' . '.
of living in a full belief of what God had said, and an intire obedience thereto, broke through the prohibitions of Jehovah, and was governed, not by the righteous law of God, but by his own will and desires, in contradiction to the will of God. And is it not a fact that we are all by nature treading in the same steps? Do we not see men in general, yes, all nen, rejecting the authority, and living in defiance of heaven, « our tongues are our own (say they) who shall be lord over us." It is a vain thing to serve the Lord; for the proud are happy, and they that tempt God are delivered. Such was the language of the sinners of old; such is the language and conduct of sinners Dow: it may be truly said of them,
They live estranged afa: from God,
Here we behold the creatures perfectly out of their proper place; instead of living in obedience to that divine law which is immutably binding on them, they are rejecting it.. Instead of doing that which is consistent with the nature of Jehovah, they do that which is contrary to his very nature. Instead of answering the end for which they were created, nainely, to glorify God, and enjoy him, the creature, in a state of rebellion, is thwarting the very end of his creation.
I proceed, thirdly, to consider the consequences or effects of this rebellion against Jehovah. These are awful and great! This was the cause of angels being cast out of heaven, and from the height of glory, plunged into the depth of misery. Awful change indeed!!! Rebellion was the cause of man's being driven out of Paradise. . .
Man by sin lost the inestimable privilege of communion with God; he was no longer an object for the divine complacency, por in a capacity to hold cominunion with his inaker.
Love, that bond of union, was erased from his lieart, and instead of delighting in God and in those which please hiin, he feels an aversion to that which is good, and an inclination to that whici is sinful.
Knowledge, (a part of the image of God, in which man was created) is in a great measure destroyed : and inan, considered as a fallen creature, has no just views of God, nor of himself; “ But the understanding is darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts."
Righteousness and holiness are lost by rebellion, and instead of those · heavenly endowments of the image of God, inan has the image of Satan.
The memory, which, in a sate of sinless perfection, was a faithful record, is now become treacherous, by which means we are prone, very prone, to be forgetful hearers of the word.
The soul, instead of being the residence of peace and joy, is often filled with distress. Sin, in a great measure, is its own formentor.'" There is Ho peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked." Death, judgment, eternity, are subjects which at tiines aların the most rebellious.
The body, instead of being perfect, healthful, and vigorous, is often the subject of deforinity, 'disease, and weakness. Instead of being iininortal, it is a dying perishable worm.
If we take a view of the world at large, we behold warring elements, brutes destroying each other, man destroys 'man“ From whence coine wars and fightings? come they not hence, even of your lusts ?**
But let us take one more step forward, and just mention the awful destruction that awaits the rebels that refuse to lay down the arms of their rebellion. “ 'They shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire, and brimstone, which is the second death." Yes, the whole terraqueous globe will be turned into a lake of fire. “ The heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire, unto the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.". Awful, state! Dreadful beyond conception!!! All these things are the fruits and consequences of rebellion against Jehovah. ..
IMPROVEMENT. Here is matter for lamentation. How is the gold become dim! the fine gold changed? How are the creatures, which God created holy and happy, become sinful and miserable! How necessary is it that we should be well acquainted with our state as rebels against God: for want of an experiinental acquaintance with this, we have many swearing professors, unclean professors, stout-hearted and proud professors, vain talkers, &c. &c. But let a man be brought to view rebellion against God in its proper light, and it will be his heart's desire and prayer to be made free from sin. Let us seek to have proper views of sin : let us pray for the spirit of truth to convince us of our rebellion, and cause us to feel true contrition of soul for it before God; let us seek for deliverance, both from the guilt and power of sin, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and make an end of sin. Yes, Jesus our Lord will put an end to rebellion, and cause every knee to, bow to him, and confess him to be the Lord, and willingly and joyfully to serve him. On this most delightful subject I purpose next to discourse.'
IN a former letter I suggested, that whether the Scriptures teach the * doctrine of endless punishinent, or not, they certainly appear to do sở. Whether this suggestion was unfounded, the evidence in my last
letter must determine. You attempt however to discredit it by alledging · the few instances in which the terms ever, everlasting, &c. as connected with future punishinent, are used in the Scriptures. .
• Everlasting, as connected with the future punishment of men," you say, “ is used only five times in the Old and New Testament; and yet this same word is used in the Scriptures at least ninety times, very generally indeed in relation to things that either have ended, or must end."-You proceed, “ as to the word eternal, which is of the same meaning, it is used in the text and margin upwards of forty times in the whole bible, out of which there are only two which can be supposed to relate to future punishment*." You should have proceeded a little farther, Sir, and have told us how often the terms ever, for ever, and for ever and ever are applied to this subject, as the distinction between them and the words everlasting and eternal is chiefly English, and as you have allowed that it is froin the use of the one as well as the other that I suppose the Scriptures must, “appear" to teach the doctrine of endless punishment. As a candid reasoner, you should also have forborne to mention Jude, 6. with a view to diminish the number of testimonies; as it is not to the endless punishment of men only that you object. By, these means, your number would at least have extended to eleven, instead of seven.
But passing this, I shall offer a few observations on your reasoning, --First, If the term everlasting be applied to future punishment five or six times out of ninety, in which it is used in the Scriptures, this may be as large a proportion as the subject requires. It is applied in the Scriptures to more than twenty different subjects; so that to be applied five or six times to one, is full as frequent a use of it as ought to be expected.
Secondly, If the application of the term everlasting to future punishment only five or six timnes discredit the very appearance of its being endless, the same or nearly the same may be said of the existence of God, to which it is applied not much more frequently. You might go over a great part of the sacred writings on this subject as you do on the other, telling us that not only many of the Old Testament writers make