Imatges de pÓgina
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SERMON I.

1

HEBREWS XIII. 8.

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day,

and for ever.

NOTHING has done more harm to the cause

of Christianity, or furnished stronger materials of objection to the opposer of its faith and doctrines, than representing it as of late original; as a scheme of religion entirely new, and never revealed to mankind till about four thousand

years

after the creation. Hence it has happened, that amidst the variety of religious systems, each claiming a divine original, the infidel has classed the christian with other impostures of the day; or allowing; the rational and practical influence of

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religion in general, as derived from God's universal law of nature, has disdained to confine it within the ceremonies, or to make it favour the pretensions, of this or that particular church or nation. And hence also, many, who profess and call themselves christians, from neglecting to investigate the evidence of the covenant which was from everlasting, and only ratified at the advent of that Saviour, who from the very fall of man stood forthhis intercessor, impeach the unity of God's all-merciful design, darken the prospect of universal redemption, abridge the promised benefits of the Gospel, and shut on preceding ages those gates of mercy, which they yet consider as open to themselves.

By those, however, who diligently search the scriptures, and thence deduce their belief, a very different doctrine will be maintained. Holding fast by one, unbroken chain of evidence, they mark and acknowledge the antiquity of the faith in the common Redeemer of all mankind. By extending his atonement to ages that are past, they exalt the dignity, they enlarge the efficacy, of the great Propitiation for

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Our sins. By contending for a retrospect to the doctrines and sanctions of christianity, they consequently maintain, that the light of life has dispelled that ignorance which must otherwise have enveloped the world, for more than twothirds of the time of its existence;—they unite the promise with the performance, the prophecy with the completion, the anticipation with the event;—they behold the elders (though not in possession of the promises which were yet afar off) preferring the reproach of Christ to every temporal enjoyment; they see them contemplating the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow ;-they do not barely affirm that God bore testimony to his proposed res demption, but that through his Holy Spirit that testimony was received; that he gave faith (without which it is impossible to please God) to justify; and hope to console, his chosen servants, till the appointed inanifestation of the great Author and Finisher of that faith should be made to the subjects of his universal redemption.

In this do all the prophets agree; and throughout the whole of this epistle, a continued succession of witnesses, with an in

spired collection of authentic testimonies from the scriptures of the Old Testament, concur in asserting an uniformity of belief in the nature, and of hope in the coming, of a promised Deliverer. Under the warrant, therefore, of such authority, we may surely consider the defenders of opposite opinions as the propounders of strange doctrines ; of doctrines, that would separate the branch of righteousness from its parent stock, and disjoin the evangelical blessings from every former act of God's interfering providence for the happiness of his people.

The sum and substance of the Apostle's reasoning upon the proposition before us is, that the faith which he exhorts the Hebrew believers to keep whole and undefiled, has been one and the same in all ages of the church; that it was no variable thing, either in itself, or in its effects, but immutable, as the Divine Mediator, whose religion it is. Remember them, says St. Paul, which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow--considering the end of their conversation~Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever: That is, the one redeeming

Saviour, of whom, the promise, the perform ance, and the perpetual administration of the Holy Spirit, conspire to testify in due proportion to the past, the present, and the ages that are to come. For on the Patriarch, the true Israelite, and the faithful Christian, one light has invariably shone, though with different lustre; and the God of mercy and love bade sinful man look forward to his covenanted restoration, from the promise in the garden of Eden, 'to the confirmation of every assurance, when the hour of his judgment is come.

Our endeavours will be to establish this important truth, and the course of our enquiry will necessarily carry us through a wide field of discussion. We trust, however, in the extensive survey to discover the path of life; and should we from our christian eminence look down upon the subsisting traces of the Patriarchal and the Jewish churches, all pursuing the same road, all leading to the same end;should

we, in the wildest digressions of heathen mythology, be able to measure back the wandering footsteps of idolatry to the very point of departure from the true faith; and to pick out,

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