תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

364

LECTURE X.

GOD'S DEALINGS WITH NATIONS ILLUSTRATED IN THE HIS

TORY OF HIS DEALINGS WITH THE JEWS.

BY THE REV. JAMES GIBSON, A. M.,

MINISTER OF KINGSTON PARISH, GLASGOW.

Who would not fear thee, O King of nations ? for to Thee doth it

appertain.-JEREMIAH X. 7. So far am I from adopting, what with many seems to be received as an undoubted maxim, though couched in different phrase, that religion has nothing to do with the affairs and government of nations, and that the church of Christ is utterly dissociated from all such concerns, that I believe the sentiment to be no less unreasonable than it is impious: and that it is no more a compliment to religion, to imagine it too spiritual and heavenly a thing to be mixed up with the affairs of nations, than is the sentiment of Epicurus honouring to the supreme God-that he is too exalted to concern Himself about the affairs of this earth.“ The instant," says the celebrated English dissenting minister Foster, in strong irony, “ The instant we begin to make the judicial application of its laws to the public conduct of the governing authorities, that instant we debase Christianity to politics; and a pious horror is testified at the profanation. Christianity is to be honoured somewhat after the same manner as the Lama of Thibet. It is to stay in its temple, to have the proprieties of homage duly preserved within its precincts, but to be exempted (in reverence of its sanctity!) from all cognizance of great public affairs, even in the points where they most involve its interests. But Christianity must have leave tò decline the

p. 349.

compliment. As to its sacred character, it can venture that, on the strength of its intrinsic quality, and of its own guardianship, while in a censorial capacity, it steps on what will be called political ground. It is not so demure a thing that it cannot, without violating its consecrated character, go into the exercise of this judicial office. And as to its right to do so, either it has a right to take cognizance now of the manner in which the spirit and measures of states and their regulations bear upon the most momentous interests, or it will have no right to be brought forward as the supreme law, for the final award upon those proceedings and those men.". And here I cannot help quoting, as the unsophisticated dictate of christianized reason, the saying of the Queen of Raiatea, one of the South Sea Islands, lately converted to Christianity, as related in Williams' Missionary Enterprises,

6 At this time (beginning of 1832) the parliament met; for since they have been brought under the influence of Christianity, the representative form of government has been adopted. On this occasion, and before the members proceeded to business, they sent a message to the queen to know upon what prin ciples they were to act. She returned a copy of the New Testament, saying, Let the principles con tained in that book be THE FOUNDATION OF ALL YOUR PROCEEDINGS.? May it not be said that this · Queen of the South shall rise up in judgment against many of the men of this generation, and shall condemn them?'”

But it is time to inquire, as my subject directs, what light God's dealings with the Jews throw on his dealings with nations generally.. The question opens a field no less vast than important. It involves the highest principles and the most extensive consequences. It would require greatly more time than I have been able to give, or than you could now spare, for its discussion. ; I shall only be able to give a few general principles, or outlines of the subject; and I must warn you that you are not to expect either exciting or entertaining details that may while away a

1

passing hour. Were this all, I should consider our time very uselessly, and worse than uselessly, spent. But if I obtain your patient attention, I do not despair of setting before you some deeply important and interesting truths.

As the foundation of all our subsequent remarks, it is necessary to determine whether, and how far, the Old Testament is a rule of faith and manners to usfor it is one of the fearful fruits of the disorganizing principles of the present day, that this is not only called into doubt, but openly denied.

One would imagine, from the very nature and perfections of God, “of whom and through whom and to whom are all things;" who seeth the end from the beginning, and is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and of whose throne justice and judgment rule, extend from the archangel to the insect, emare extend cation; whose knowledge, power, and bracing at one and the same moment, and under one and the same influence and energy, the vast universe; undistracted by multitude, unoverwhelmed by vastness, unremoved by distance in time and space, that the principles of his moral government in one age, or with one people, would be alike applicable to another age and to another people; that the thrones and dominions on earth would be bound to recognize and honour him equally with the principalities and powers in heavenly places and that, so far from there being any thing so exclusive or so peculiar ini the great religious and moral principles of the Jewish theocracy, whatever there might be in its outward types and forms, as to afford no lessons and to in. volve no principles applicable to other nations or other orders of being, on the contrary, the, whole universe is one vast theocracy-God being its origin, support, spring, and end. And therefore Sir Richard Blackmore, on the origin of civil power, nobly says, 6 That all the different kingdoms of the world are just so many parts or provinces of the Divine monarchy or empire, and bear the same relation to it, that the several cities, provinces, or counties, belongs ing to the dominions of any earthly prince, do to the whole." Indeed there is a most beautiful uniformity, harmony, and analogy, between all the works and ways and laws of God, that show them to proceed from the same great Being and teach the same great and glorious lessons and this thought you will find beautifully illustrated in two of the Lectures of our course on the Evidences last year, I mean those of Dr. Forbes and Dr. Paterson, which you would do well to read in this connexion. There is, throughout the universe, the grouping, so to speak, of the Great Spirit, that diversifies and yet condenses in one glorious picture of harmonious and noble colouring, the mighty system of nature, breathing forth the every where present and presiding God..

So far am I from believing that the Old Testament, and the dealings of God with the Jews, are neither a rule nor a pattern to us, in the various relations in which they are recorded, that, on the contrary, I believe they were expressly designed, selected, written, and recorded for that end--that therein we have a type of the providence of God, a model, or perhaps mould, cast by the hand of God himself, whose counterpart is found in the history of his dealings with the world; and all that is wanting is the spiritual eye to enable us to discern it. There is one God and Father of all, one Lord, one Spirit. , There are the same human beings, the same human nature, character, relations, objects, pursuits; the same moral Governor, the same Judge, the same laws, the same truth, the same responsibility, the same sanctions, the same retributions, the same rewards and punishments. We can see no manner of reason why it should not be so; except man's love of freedom from all control; except—to enable him to say, with a more quiet conscience, “Who is lord over us?” the impious spirit involved in the wretched saying, the offspring of hell, namely," the voice of the people is the voice of God;" the very principles and character developed in the second Psalm, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast their cords from us”- where we have an ex

act delineation of what is called “the spirit of the age,” the spirit of modern times; and moreover an intimation of its punishment and retributions at last“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then shall he speak to them in wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. He shall break them with a rod of iron. He shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”

But we are not left to inferential reasonings on this point. We have the express decision of the word of God itself; yea of the New Testament—All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, and for correction and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Here the affirmation extends to all the parts of Scripture without exception; and to “all good works," without any exception of any relations, capaeity, employment, or offices, in which a man of God requires direction. Again, “ What soever things were written afóretime, were written” (or aforetime written,) ex. pressly for that end," for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Now where were our learning if the things recorded speak no lessons—are now a dead letter to us--so that we sin against God and his Christ, and the heavenly and spiritual nature of his kingdom, if we dare to follow them? What preposterous contradiction—what a reflection on the Spirit of God, if the things that were duty yesterday, in the very same relations, and between the same classes and orders of being, are sin to-day!

Again, we read, 2 Cor. x. 11, “ But with many of them (of their fathers) God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty

« הקודםהמשך »