« הקודםהמשך »
M. I have told you, Sir; I have asked these two questions to obtain your answers, and you have given me precisely such answers as I calculated to receive from you, such answers as consist with reason, and I am obliged to you.
And now, Sir, I am coming to my third and last question. Pray what reason can you render why a God of infinite wisdom should not accomplish all his plans ? this is my last question.
G. Aye, now indeed, I begin to guess at the drift of your previous questions, I was going to say, I conceived them when first proposed, rather silly. But, let me think. What is your last question? “ What reason can I render, why a God of infinite wisdom should not accomplish all his plans ?” If I should say he has changed his mind, you would object to my answer; indeed it would be unsatisfactory to myself, for it would be in effect undeifying the Deity. No, that will never do, our God is immutable, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. Let me think, let me recollect.
M. Do, Sir, take time; deliberate at you leisure. I am willing to wait for your answer, and I am persuaded if it be satisfactory to yourself, it will be so to me. I advise you to recollect yourself, Sir; think seriously, you may by and by find, or think you have found a reason, why an Omnipotent God should not execute all his pleasure.
G. No, Sir, I despair of ever finding a reason why God should not accomplish his purposes, and I think I should be sorry if I could, for it may prove too much. It may prove that although the God of Abraham made rich promises to that Patriarch, he found unforeseen difficulties in the accomplishment; difficulties which he was unable to surmount; difficulties that appeared in process of time, unexpected difficulties. Or, that when he made that precious promise, which assured Abraham that in hiin, and in his seed all the nations, all the families of the earth should be blessed, he did not really and truly intend all that it seemed to contain.
M. Well, Sir, I have no more questions to ask you ; and if you please, I will now attend to yours.
G. I thank you, Sir, I wish I could recollect them; I had a great many to ask when I left home, but I declare I know not what is become of them. I may recollect them presently, if you will have patience, but in the present moment, I am strangely at a loss. In fact, Sir, I have answered myself. I remember, however, I heard some time since a person of high standing in the religious
world, observe on the giving of the law; and, he said, it was irrational to suppose that God would have given the law, if he had not expected it would have been obeyed. What do you think respecting this matter, Sir ?
M. I think if God expected the children of men would not be law breakers, he must have been greatly disappointed, for he has never found an individual, who in his own person was, strictly speaking, free from every sin. Thus, saith an Apostle, if any man say he hath no sin, he deceiveth himself, and the truth is not in him.
I therefore join issue with Paul of Tarsus, and conclude, that the law was given that the offence might abound, that it might be made manifest ; I had not known, says he, that lust was sin, except the commandment had said, thou shalt not covet.
The breadth and magnitude of the divine law, when correctly understood, will stop every mouth, and render all the world guilty before God.
But God's design was not a bad design, for he really did expect the law, the whole law would be perfectly kept, and that by human nature. Hence, when mere man lost the power, and was weak through the flesh, he sent his beloved Son, in the likeness of this sinful flesh, in the character of the second Adam, that he may rescue the lost nature, and rebuild the building, which, in consequence of the floods, the winds, and the rain, that assailed it, fell prostrate. But the scattered materials are not neglected. The proprietor gathered them together, and cementing them by a mysterious union, raised them on a more durable foundation ; so that every thing that tended to injure the first building, ineffectually assailed the second ; in vain did the rain descend, the winds blow, or the floods combine to beat upon this second building ; it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock, a secure basis, the Divine Nature.
So said Moses. He, Jehovah, is a rock, and his way is perfect. Yes, the building raised upon this foundation is, and will continue eternally secure. It is a finished building, so that it cannot now with truth be said, this man began to build, but was not able to finish. This building is now an habitation; the dwelling place of all generations; nor against this building shall the gates of hell ever prevail. Glory be to God.
I parted with this good gentleman a transported convert to the truth, as it is in Jesus. You will not therefore wonder at the expressed satisfaction with which I commenced this little narration.
May the peace of God abide with you.
I ARRIVED here two days since, and I commenced my labours in this city, by a discourse upon the 2d chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, 14th and 15th verses.
« For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same ; that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil ;
“ And deliver them who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
The congregation was large, and remarkably attentive; I will give you the division of my text, and as much of my sermon, as my memory, and the short time I am to abide here, with the many visits I am to make, will admit.
Thus I introduced my subject. Before I came out this morning, I was in company with a gentleman, who asked me,“ wherefore I came to this place to preach? For, says he, I cannot see that it will answer any good purpose. The people have heard of you as a very erroneous teacher; they are warned against your doctrines as pernicious, and, it is added, that you are a very dangerous man. The people therefore, who will attend your teaching, will assemble prejudging, and full of prejudice, and whatever you may say to such a people, will answer no good purpose.”
I answered, it was most true, and to me a melancholy fact, that the grand adversary had done all in his power to prejudice the minds of men against me, and my testimony. But, that I was fully convinced, this adversary of souls was not almighty; that my everlasting Father could in a single moment, at his own pleasure,
destroy this work of the prince of darkness; could instantly emani cipate the imprisoned spirit. I myself was heretofore bound and
fettered, the miserable slave of prejudice, and, at that period, I should have thought I did God service, in sending out of the world a man, who, as a faithful messenger of Jesus Christ, uniformly preached his gospel. And the same omnipotent arm which laid me prostrate at the feet of Jesus, could prostrate every refractory individual.
Besides, it was possible that some few persons, superior to the, despotism of prejudice, might hear with candour, might judge for themselves, and thus judging, joyfully acknowledge the unlimited goodness of our God.
On the whole, it appeared to me, that I should not perform my duty, if I did not make the experiment, and accordingly, favoured by the providence of my God, and bearing with me his sacred word, I this day stand before you, supplicating your serious attention to the sacred portion of scripture contained in this chapter.
First, We will consider the mode of expression, For as much then.
Secondly, What we are to understand by the children, For as much then as the children partake of,
Thirdly, Flesh and blood.
Fifthly, The reason, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Sixthly, The consequences of this destruction. The deliverance of them, who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
First, We are to consider the mode of expression, For as much then. An attention to the context will point out the propriety of this mode of expression.
“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.
« But one in a certain place testified, what is man that thou art mindful of him? or the, son of man that thou visitest him.
“ Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownest him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands :
“ Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him."
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
It was here, permit me, my friends, to observe, that I first saw the truth, as it is in Jesus In this divine passage it became manisest to my understanding, that the scriptures, when speaking of Jesus, are found true, consistently true, only in him of whom they testify : and a view of this portion of sacred writ, led me to see where every other divine testimony, was indisputably yea and amen to the glory of God.
The Apostle proceeds to say, “ for it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their Salvation perfect through sufferings.” And to explain how they are made perfect, through the sufferings of the Captain of their Salvation, the Apostle adds :
“ For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one : for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.
“Saying, I will deciare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praises unto thee.
“ And, again, I will put my trust in him. And, again, behold I and the children whom God hath given me."
Then follows the words of our text. « For as much then as tho children were partakers of flesh and blood, &c. &c."
The prophet Isaiah quoted by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, having considered Jesus Christ, and the children God hath given him in one view, adds, Forasmuch then.
But we are first to enquire who those children are, whom God hath given to Jesus Christ? and this brings us to the second particular in our text.
Secondly, What are we to understand by the children. The scriptures speak much of children, and sometimes the term intends no more than disciples, or scholars; thus the children of the prophets were the disciples of the prophets. It is in this sense that Paul addresseth Timothy as his son, and he denominates himself a father to those to whom he had preached the gospel, saying, “ye have not many fathers.” Thus in those days the teacher was considered as the father, and the taught as the child; and thus the master was the father, and the disciple the child. It was in this view that our Saviour informed the Jews they were of their father the Devil, for they did the works of their father, that is, as they were taught and directed by his spirit; they followed his teaching, as much as the sons of the prophets followed the teaching of their masters, or the disciples of Jesus the blessed precepts of their Lord. Hence they are characterized of the Devil, and children of the Devil ---Such were the sentiments of the Apostle. “Every one of you saith, I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas, I am of Christ:”every individual exultingly boasting his favourite master, into whose