« PreviousContinue »
worship of God, the preaching of his word and the administration of his ordinances in the church, that the knowledge of the scriptures is from age to age preserved. If the church were to cease, and the public institutions of religion to be discontinued in any place, the scriptures, in that place, would fall into general oblivion. As we wish their continu. ance, we must honour all divine institutions by a faithful attendance. This is the advice of an in. spired apostle, “ Hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering; consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; rot forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the man-ner of some is.”
And, above all things, we must shew our belief of, and reverence for the scriptures, by that holy, and blameless life, which they require.
“ Who is a wise man, and endued with knowl. edge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom." A conversation becoming the gospel is the best testimony in its favour.
Are you solicitous for the advancement of religion in the world ? Would you rejoice to set your children more serious, your neighbours more virtuous, the youth in general more attentive to their spiritual concerns, the church more respectable for the number of its members, and the purity of their manbers? Do you wish you had a better prospect for the rising generation and succeeding posterity ? And do you enquire, what can be done? The apostle has given an answer. Only let your conversation be, as it becometh the gospel of Christ.”
Walk within your houses in a perfect way ; thus you will recommend religion to your families. Be just, peaceable, grave and sober in your deportment among your neighbours ; thus you will shew that religion is arniable in itself and profitable to men.
Attend in a regular mannter on the institutions of God's house ; thus you will invite the attendance of many, for they will be convinced, that God is among you of a truth. Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God; thus you will contribute to the growth and purity of the church, of which you are members.
The means are plain and obvious; the success is hopeful with respect to others; with respect to yourselves it is sure and infallible.
Be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; so your labour will not be Sa vain in the Lord.,
We use great plainness of speech ; and not as Moses, who pula
dail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look lo the end of that which is abolished.
THE apostle 'speaks not of the writings of Moses in general, much less of all the ancient scriptures; for in many parts of them, as great plain. ness of speech is used, as in the New Testament. Moses was an easy, familiar author. His history is written with an engaging simplicity; and his moral precepts are expressed with perspicuity and precision. The reference is only to that part of the Mosaic law, which typified the Saviour. Here only hung the vail ; and here only lies the comparison in the text.
The appearance of the Son of God in human flesh—his sufferings for the sins of men-his resurrection from the dead, and the admission of Gentiles, as well as Jews, to a participation in the benefits of his mediation, were prefigured by various
ceremonies, as well as foretold in prophecy. Of these things such a knowledge, as was necessary to faith, hope and repentance, was attainable under the Mosaic dispensation ; but a more distinct knowledge may be acquired under the gospel, An event in existence will be clearer than in prediction. An object in open view will be better understood, than it would be by description.
It is no reproach on the Mosaic writings, that the way of salvation could not be so perfectly learnt from them, as it may from the gospel; for this difference necessarily arises from the different cir. cumstances of the time.
The Jews, indeed, formed very unworthy con. ceptions of the gospel dispensation. But their misapprehensions were principally owing, not to the obscurity of the Mosaic, or prophetic writings, but to the blindness and prejudice of their own minds. So the apostle observes, in the words fol. lowing the text. 16 The children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished; but their minds were blinded : For unto this day remains the same vail untaken away, in the reading of the Old Testament; which vạil is done away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless, when it, Isreal, shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.”
The apostle here declares, that the gospel is communicated with great plainness, in distinction from a figurative mystical manner of communication.
My design is to illustrate this point, and then tu correct some misapprehensions, which many have entertained concerning it.
The gospel is a revelation from God. The great design of it is to bring salvation to fallen men, by teaching them the attainableness of it, the way in
which it was procured, and the terms on which it will be granted. For the same reason, that God would give us a revelation, he most certainly would give us one which may be understood. A greater affront can scarcely be offered to the wisdom and goodness of God, than to suppose the gospel is written with such designed obscurity and mysti. cism, in the things which immediately concern our duty and salvation, that it needs another revelation to explain it. The apostle, in our text and elsewhere, most expressly declares the contrary: .“ We all," says he," with open face, behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord.”. Divine things are so plainly laid before us in the gospel-revelation, that we may see them there, as a man sees his own face in a glass. “We have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty-not walking in craftinessnot handling the word of God deceitfully; but, by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” It was his earnest desire and prayer, " that God would open to him a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, that he might make it manifest, as he ought to speak."-And it was his gratitude and joy, that as “ the word of God had been made manifest by the preaching committed to him ;" so, “ the savor of the knowledge of God was manifested in every place, by the preaching of the apostles.' A clear and perspicuous manner of communicating divine truths he esteemed to be of such indispensible necessity, that he made it a distinct subject of discourse in his first epistle to the Corinthians. He there inculcates on the public teachers in the church, that, as they were speaking to men, they were “not in the spirit to speak mysteries ; but to utter with the tongue things easy to be understood,"—to speak in a manner adapted to the understanding of the hearers for their edification and comfort"