Imatges de pÓgina
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Not to enter into any minute examination and detail of prophecies and circumstances, which is better adapted to the patient inquiries of the closet, than the popular instruction of the pulpit, every one could then understand the dark and mysterious prediction, that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head;" every one must have been struck with the very affecting and dramatic exhibition of Abraham's faith and obedience, when making all the necessary preparations, and shewing his readiness to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, as the apparent symbol of God's giving up Christ to suffer on the cross, and ratifying the terms of the new covenant with his blood. Then, also, the ultimate object of the victim that was to be sacrificed without spot, or blemish, the solemnities of the great day of expiation and atonement, the sprinkling of blood, without which, as the apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, observes, there was no remission of sins, and above all, the offering of the paschal Lamb, became obvious and apparent to the most superficial observer. Hence, the holy Baptist, with reference to the Saviour's mediatorial office and character, exclaimed, you may remember, when he saw Jesus coming towards him, "Behold, the Lamb

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of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" This was at the very commencement of his divine ministry; and, after his death, the holy apostles, and particularly St. Paul in his Epistles, which were addressed for the most part to Jewish converts, or to Jewish sceptics assembled in the synagogues, that were established in the cities of Asia-Minor, constantly. referred to the terms, laws, and ceremonies of the Mosaic ritual; arguing, with irresistible force, that Christ was the great antitype of all ;

that he was the true Messiah, and promised. Mediator of the New Covenant ;-that the usual sacrifices and oblations were, from that time, to cease; and that all, and more than all, the benefits that could be expected from fulfilling the ordinances of Jewish worship, which St. Paul calls "the works of the law," were to be obtained by faith in his blood.

I mention this, as deserving the most serious consideration, because it will afford a satisfactory clue to the right understanding of the holy Scriptures, and may guard you against the pre-: valence of many fanatical errors, and ignorant misapprehensions of duty. Unless we attend to the former practices and opinions of the Jew, his bigoted attachment to the works of the law,

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-his prejudices, perverseness, and opposition. to the evidence of divine truth;-and unless we call to our recollection his peculiar notions of expiation and atonement, his exclusive pretensions to the divine favor, as a descendant of Abraham, and as one of God's chosen, or elect people;-unless we reflect, also, on the appointed means, by which he hoped to procure remission of sins;-many expressions in the New Testament, particularly in the Epistles, will appear mysterious, or unintelligible, and will seem to have but little connexion with the doctrines and duties of the holy Gospel.

The fact is, that most of the writings of St. Paul, being of a controversial nature, have a perpetual reference to the peculiar sentiments, character, and situation of the persons to whom they were addressed. Such language, therefore, as was perfectly applicable to the rigid Pharisee, the narrow-minded Sadducee, the Judaizing Christian, the Ebionite, the Gnostic, and the unconverted heathen, will often bear no strict reference to us; because, having been born in a Christian country, and that nearly at the distance of two thousand years, we have necessarily adopted other principles, and are placed in circumstances that are widely different. With

the early believers, it is evident, that Faith was equivalent to Conversion; and the remission of past sins was graciously promised to the new disciple, on the condition of repentance, and future obedience, because he was admitted into a new covenant; and because, with far more powerful sanctions, he received additional motives to perform his duty. As to election, it never means more than this, unless when applied to the former privileges of the Jews as a nation, as the descendants of Abraham, and as God's chosen people.

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St. Paul, identifying himself with his country"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law;" by which we may understand not only the sentence of condemnation passed on the transgression of our first parents, and the unqualified punishment, which the law denounces against the sinful and disobedient; but also the extreme rigor of many of its penal statutes, and the burthensome load of its numerous rites and ceremonies. With the ritual of this law, however, we have nothing to do, though many of its terms may be said, even now, to encumber some of the doctrines of the holy Gospel, and to obscure those subjects, which they once illustrated, or explained.

It is our duty to consider the mediation, the atonement, and the death of Christ, in a broad and general sense, as the appointed means, by which the Almighty is pleased to accept our imperfect services, and to promise remission of sins. Accordingly, all the prayers and petitions in our excellent Liturgy are, with propriety, offered up at the throne of Grace, in the name, and through the mediation, of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Jew found it impossible to comply strictly with every precept of his divine Legislator; the heathen could not always live agreeably to the light of nature;-and the frail disciple of Jesus, after all his endeavours, must fall far short of that perfect holiness, and purity, which his blessed Lord exhibited, and which the holy Gospel prescribes. All, therefore, have need of the mercies of God; and we, as Christians, know the appointed means, by which those mercies are to be obtained. But let us carefully guard against any misapprehensions on this awful, and interesting subject. Some may imagine that, by faith in Christ, aided by the fervor of a heated imagination, they are called to such a state of grace and security, adoption and justification, as to render it impossible to fail of

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