« הקודםהמשך »
Boyle ; it is impossible we can study it too much, or esteem it too highly.
It is, said the profound Locke, all pure, all sincere, nothing too much, nothing wanting. Therein are contained the words of eternal life. It has God for its author; salvation for its end; and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.
Young man, said the learned Doctor Johnson, in his last illness, to a gentleman who sat by his bedside; attend to the advice of one, who possessed some degree of fame in the world, and who will shortly appear before his Maker: Read the Bible every day of your life.'
These are but a few, out of many, great men, who have thus voluntarily, and induced by no worldly motive, left on record their belief in and veneration for the blessed Bible; men who were accustomed to prove all things, and to hold fast that which was good.
But, you ask, are there no exceptions to these testimonies ? No great men, who have refused to believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures ? It is true, there have been here and there one, in different ages, and different countries ; here and there a small shade to render the mass of light from the others the more luminous. But this rather confirms the testimonies of the others, that, after having provoked the sternest and bitterest scrutiny, the number of infidels and skeptics is comparatively so few.
But now do you ask, if the Bible be the only text-book to salvation, what then is to become of the Heathen? I reply, Leave them to God; he is wise ; he is merciful. Those without the law, will be judged by the law written in their hearts ; the law of conscience. But we are not to be their judges.
Neither does this lessen our duty. Means are to be used to teach all nations.
The Gospel is commanded to be preached to every creature.
We must do our part, and leave the event to Him, who judgeth righteous judgment. If what errors of ignorance God will wink at, we know not; this we do know, that now He commandeth all men every where to repent.
Having thus, as we confidently hope, established, beyond any reasonable doubt, the entire credibility of the Holy Scriptures, and the Christian Religion, as the only sure guide to the salvation of man; and consequently the futility of all other guides, and other religions, the great question of the text still returns, What must I do to be saved ? I answer in the words of Jesus Christ, “ Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.' Again we read, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Again, Whatever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have life.' Again, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.' And again, Whoso despiseth the word, shall be destroyed; but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded. And yet once again, “The holy scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.' Thus, you perceive, that the way to learn What you must do to be saved? is diligently and humbly to search the Scriptures. If you do this, you will soon find, that what they enjoin in order to salvation is simply to believe : Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'
But again, perhaps, will the question return, What is it to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ ? Here, I acknowledge, that the answer is less simple, though not less plain. We must believe that, by the fall of Adam, whom God placed as our representative, he and his posterity must have perished, if Jesus Christ had not offered himself to рау. the forfeit of our transgressions. “That Christ was made sin, that is, a sin-offering for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; that is, that through the righteousness he has fulfilled, and the atonement he has made, we might be accepted by God as righteous, and be not only pardoned,
but received into his favour.' This demands our utmost gratitude.
But to receive the benefits of this redemption, we must not only believe that Christ is the way, the Truth, and the Life ; but we must show our faith by our works. This belief especially supposes a deep remorse for former sins, for without repentance is no remission of sins; and a firm resolve to cease to do evil. Would you know the dangers of sin, again I say, search the Scriptures. They are full of warning: Would
behold the misery entailed upon mankind by malice, look at Cain ; by pride, look at Haman ; by covetousness, look at Ahab'; by profaneness and sensuality, united with the forebodings of a guilty conscience,' look at the shaking Belshazzar. Would you be deterred from the sin of envy, and the horror of an abandonment by your God, let your imaginations summon up Saul. Would
discountenance revenge, show to your heart Herodias writhing beneath the accusations of John, and thirsting for his blood.' Or would you recoil from the sin of apostacy from the faith, drag to the light of a murderous self-condemnation the traitorous Judas. If you are thus led to shudder at, and avoid these and similar vices, you will easily adopt and foster their opposite virtues ; you will learn to do well.
This learning to do well supposes not only a relinquishment of all sin; but includes also activity in obedience, with prayer, charity and love ; indeed all the fruits of the Spirit. But I cannot better define, and
the several christian virtues, than to apply unto ourselves the advice of Saint Paul to lhe Romans. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another ; not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints, given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you, bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Be not overcorne of evil, but overcome evil with good. This is the counsel of the great preacher Paul. In another place, he
says of sin, that we must not only touch not, taste not, handle not ; but that we must even abstain from all appearance of evil. And above all these things, that we must put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And what says another great preacher, the forerunner of the Messiah ? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. And again, What
the Lord from heaven himselt? Do unto others, as you would that others,' in like circumstances, should do unto you.' This is the golden rule, worthy to be worn, as the Jews wore their phylacteries, upon the forehead of every one. Finally, the sum of all is, 'Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.'
This you can all understand. I can tell you no plainer rule than this. An angel from heaven could tell you no plainer rule than this : Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. If we thus manifest our christian faith by our christian virtue, we shall give a practical answer to that great, that increasingly momentous question, What must I do to be saved ?
THE HOLY ANGELS.
SERMON X X X IX.
Gen. xxviii, 12. AND HE DREAMED, AND BEHOLD A LADDER SET UP ON THE EARTH, AND THE TOP OF IT REACHED TO HEAVEN: AND BEHOLD, THE ANGELS OF GOD ASCENDING AND DESCENDING ON IT.
If we believe the Bible, we must believe that there is somewhere — where we know not, nor is it material for us to know, else it had been revealed - but somewhere beyond the bounds of this visible sphere, a Heaven of Heavens, wherein the everlasting God and Christ reside, and where good spirits will go after death ; and that in this Heaven, are different orders of celestial beings, called Angels. As the nature of Angels is a subject not often introduced into the pulpit, yet altogether worthy of a rational curiosity, and full of the most sublime instruction, I propose to discuss, with reverence, in the following discourse, the Ranks, Attributes, and Employments of those Holy Beings, such as the patriarch Jacob saw in his vision, ascending and descending on the heavenly ladder.
I. The Ranks of the Angels. That there are in Heaven different orders of angels is sufficiently intimated by the variety of names given to them in Scripture. Beside the general appellation of Angel, or Messenger, derived from their peculiar office ; they are called Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Powers, and Authorities ; also Chief Princes, and Elohim, or gods. Sometimes, they are styled Living Ones ; sometimes, Cherubim, or Knowing Ones ; sometimes, Seraphim, or