Imatges de pÓgina
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makes "God manifest in the flesh" to be the " great mystery of godliness" (1 Tim. iii. 16); and above all other subjects, yea and for all other subjects, to be studied with the utmost attention and delight; for "this is life eternal, to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent" (John xvii. 1): and "no one can know the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him" (Matt. xi. 27). For "all things are delivered to him of the Father:" all that the Father hath are his; wherefore the Holy Ghost cannot reveal God to any one but by revealing Christ. That is not knowledge of the Lord our God which is not learned from the perusal of Jesus Christ, who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," and without whom no man can come to the Father, either to know him or to be known of him. In Christ God is knowable; out of Christ there is no God, either known or knowable. The creation is but scattered leaves of this book, blown into confusion, dispersed about, and rendered almost illegible by Satan, and sin, and death; the written Word of God is but the description of his person: the persons and events that went before in Holy Scripture are but the types with which his name is spelt and his wonderful character deciphered. We all have received of his fulness, and are but his forerunners or true disciples. "The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus," who is "the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the Ending," "which was, and is, and is to come,' "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" in one word, "the fulness of Godhead in a body."

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All, therefore, which is called natural religion, so far as it is religion at all, is merely the discerning and using of those lights which glimmer every where throughout creation during this night of sin and death, for a prophecy of Him that was to come, a witness to Him after he is come, and a prophecy of Him coming again. And so far forth this is the true evidence of Christianity, which standeth not in miracles or church history merely, but in nature, in the visible creation, and, above all, in the constitution of the human soul, the laws and properties of reason. That natural religion which pretendeth to declare something concerning God directly and immediately, without reference to Christ, in whom all things consist; and still more,

which pretendeth to derive conclusions from reason and nature adverse to the doctrine of the true God, embodied in and derived from Christ, whether by the Word or the Holy Ghost, is falsehood and a lie, is Antichrist and Atheism, is the contradiction of reason and the misinterpretation of the natural world; which being all made by Christ and upholden by him, can testify of no God but that God whose fulness dwelleth in Christ from everlasting, and by incarnation was manifested in time. Before it had been imaged and bodieth forth in Adam, who for this highest end was created, but, forsaking his original goodness, fell away into his present confusion and intermixture of good and evil; it wanted to be bodied forth again in another person: and that person is Christ, who, the instant he was born, was contemplated and celebrated by the heavenly host as God's glory in the highest regions of heaven; His peace upon the earth, His approbation or good-pleasure in men; that is the completeness of his glory, his grace, and his good-pleasure or seemliness. The Babe of Bethlehem is God; all other creatures and persons are but semblances of God; the operation of His mind, the word of His mouth, the action of His body, are the completeness of the intelligible God. All other things and persons have but a consanguinity, conformity, and connexion with this his creature-being, in whom they see their own head, and discover their own dignity and use. The end of all knowledge, whether of man or of the visible world, is to discover Christ in all things. Mankind is but the womb of his conception, nature his cradle and his swaddling-band; and as the conceptive womb tells of the birth of the child, and all preparations are but the welcome of it into the world, so human nature, and the created world, did all prognosticate the Christ that was to come into the world, to be the world's Redeemer.

Such being the true doctrine concerning natural religion and natural knowledge, (for knowledge is but the handmaiden of religion, and if not ministering to her, is rebelling against God, and serving the devil,) how much more is it the true doctrine concerning revealed religion. Theology, or Divinity, hath no other aim than to make known to the reason of man, the one living and true God; who is no where seen, but in the face of Jesus Christ.

If the word of God itself be only the Spirit taking of the fulness of Christ, and shewing it in all possible forms and varieties to the mind and heart of man; what else ought the system of theology to be, than an endeavour of the church to give the same subject, the only subject, even Christ, such a form and representation as may be profitable to every day and generation of men. If they pretend to teach any thing besides Christ, they pretend to teach what is beside and beyond the comprehension of man for in Christ all that can be comprehended of God is summed up. If they think that any thing is taught of God, without teaching Christ, or any thing apprehended of God, otherwise than by apprehending it in Christ, they err grievously, subverting the foundation of truth, and building up a fabric of speculation which hath no reality; of falsehood, which hath no being. For example, the words election, effectual calling, redemption, justification, sanctification, adoption, &c. have no religious meaning, nor power of truth in them, till they are referred to Christ, and understood as revealing certain features of his character, certain parts of his fulness, which is the fulness and character of God. They are mere verbiage, idle, and unmeaning words, worthless, and worse than worthless terms, until they have been expounded in the person of Christ, and seen alive in him, and felt as revealing something of the living and true God. And they will profit no man's soul, in the way of morality and religion, until they have been so re-collected into the person of Christ, and seen in living vital action in his glorious work. Religion is the commerce and intercourse of an intelligent creature, with an intelligible God, of an accountable creature, with a holy, governing, and judging God; it is the transaction of a person with a person, not of a person with words, nor yet with things, but with God, who gives himself forth in word first of all, that afterwards that word may become flesh, living flesh; so that in learning words we have learned nothing, unless we make them flesh, living flesh. The Scripture is all alive with personality: systems of theology are altogether, or almost emptied of it. Let it not be so, O my tongue, O my pen, with any thing which you utter or indite.

II. THE GOOD SHEPHERD'S CHARGES.

He who had taken to himself so wondrous a name, wherein is concentrated the fulness both of the moral and the natural world, doth next proceed to the work of coun selling, rebuking, and exhorting his servant the angel of the Laodicean church, with whose works he was altogether and thoroughly acquainted. And first, he states in few words, the evil condition of him and his church ; "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot ;"-then he threatens the punishment proper to such an offence; "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth;"-then he presents the cause of this miserable state of the church; "Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (ver. 17); --fourthly, the counsel; "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (ver. 18);--fifthly, the discipline; "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten : be zealous therefore, and repent" (ver. 19); and, lastly, the abiding of his love; "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (ver. 20). The merest glance at these, the six heads of this charge, will at once reveal, that the temptation of this bishop and his flock arose from worldliness; from "riches and the increase of goods." Fulness of bread had fattened his heart: like Jeshurun, he was waxed fat, and kicked against the Lord: like the rich man in the parable, he had said to his soul, Soul, take thine ease;" he looked round about him, upon his fulness, and said, "I have need of nothing." His light was quenched, or all but quenched, by the damp and heavy atmosphere which exhaled from the earth. It shone very dim, and was near to be utterly extinguished. This is a new temptation among the seven, and precisely that which the church now underlieth. It prevaileth mostly in what is called the religious world; a name wonderfully descriptive of the

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truth, and includeth all those who are called the orthodox Dissenters, together with as many of the established churches as cleave to the Evangelical party. It is the spirit gradually arising to the ascendant, gaining fast upon the Reformation principles, which are fast breaking down, and disappearing, and successfully opposed only by the despised few, who, in all quarters of the church, are standing for the name of Jesus, and living upon the hope of his appearing. The two seeds of the Philadelphian and the Laodicean church are, as it were, struggling together in Rebekah's womb the one is the child of promise, the other the child born after the flesh; the one is looking for the inheritance to come, the other making the best of the inheritance which is present. Seeing then, according to our scheme of succession, and looking also to appearances, this Laodicean charge hath chiefly to do with that sin which doth most easily beset us in this day, in the arms of which, most part of the reputable pastors in this land are lying asleep, indulging themselves with the dreams of security and wellbeing, it is the more necessary that we be faithful and plain-spoken in opening this part of our subject; on our guard both from the temptation to extenuate, because it may hit our friends, and to set down aught in malice, with the view of hitting our enemies. And we are the more stirred up to be very simple and sincere, because we know how many of the people of God are drawn into the snare, and suffering great loss themselves from the atmosphere of worldliness and self-sufficiency wherein they dwell. I pray thee, O God, for whose glory I undertook this work, that thou wouldst enable me to be very clear-sighted and charitably minded in opening this last of the charges of our great and good Bishop. And now, taking up the whole subject, according to the order of the six heads laid down above, we have first to treat of

1. The Ground of Complaint.

Which is expressed in these words: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; so then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." The exact force of this figurative mode of speech, is contained in the exhortation, "Be zealous therefore, and repent." The thing of which they are called to repent, is want of zeal; for which I be

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