Imatges de pÓgina


the mercy-seat, the Urim and Thummin by which his mind was known, and all the miraculous interpositions of his power, there could be no occasion for such memorials to bring to mind the sanctions of the law, no need of material pledges of his threats and promises. “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringes of the border, a ribband of blue; and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do

“ How unnecessary! Could they forget the awful sentence that had just been executed upon the transgressor of the law? How ostentatious! Better write the law upon their hearts than upon their garments.” Some reasoners would have said so; just as they say now, that it is better to be religious in heart than to make great profession of it, by separation from the world, observance of ordinances, and attendance upon sacraments. God thought otherwise. He knew the heart of man-he knew that the time would come, as it did come to the Jews, when the divine ordinances would be perverted and made the substitute for spiritual worshipwhen they would make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of their garments, while they made the law of none effect through their traditions. And he knew the time would

come, as it is come to us, when the pride of man's intellect would revolt against all forms and institutions of religion, and make a boast of the spirituality of the gospel, while breaking its plain commandments in neglecting what has been ordained. But God yields no more to man's pride than to his sensuality: they are equally offensive to him, and equally in opposition to his will. To our weakness only he has bent himself; to our ignorance he has adapted the lessons of his wisdom, and to our imbecility the workings of his power. He does not require of us now the pure worship of heaven, but the humble tuitiveness of ignorance and simplicity: as little children “ desire ye the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.He has brought down his high, and pure, and spiritual religion to the condition of an earth-born, earth-bound creature, preparing, but ill prepared as yet, for a sublimer worship. To help our infirmity, and restrain our licence, he has most graciously appointed, and through all time required, external aids and manifestations of devotion, outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace.

First, the Sabbath; remembrancer once of the finishing of creation's work; remembrancer now of the finishing of redemption's harder work: sweet emblem heretofore of the believer's rest in Christ; sweet foretaste now of our eternal rest: the Sabbath has been instituted from

the beginning, unchanged as the gracious purpose that ordained it; the blessing of man's innocence, the solace of his fall, the pledge, and symbol, and means of his recovery. “I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they may know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” One seventh day the sentence of labor was recalled, the expulsion from Eden was as it were rescinded, that man might return and hold sweet communion with his God; remember what he had been, and be re-assured of what he will be. But even this institution, so gracious in the design, so delightful in the enjoyment, so beneficial in its effects; this dew of heaven on the arid earth, this breath of immortality in a dying world; even this finds no acceptance with fallen humanity. Wisdom disputes it, vice hates it, and independence treads it under foot. Religion can do very well without it; and spirituality does not so suffer under the deadening influence of week-day occupation, as to welcome the refreshment of the Sabbath service!

Preaching through an appointed ministry, is another institution that has existed from the beginning, at least of the economy of redemption. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of judgment and of grace to come. Noah, the second sole progenitor of the human race. was a preacher of righteousness to his generation; and throughout the Jewish dispensation,


there were men of God set apart and separated,
to be the oral instructors of his people. “ Thou
hast appointed prophets to preach of thee.”
Nehemiah vi, 7. “The Lord has anointed me
to preach good tidings,” said Isaiah. “Preach
to it the preaching that I did thee," said the
Lord to Jonah: an office distinct then, it would
appear, from the officiating priesthood of the
temple, and always existing, though peculiarly
characteristic of the gospel dispensation.
the New Testament, preaching is so specifically
ordained to be the standing means of conver-
sion, is so universally commanded throughout
all times and places, and so manifestly blessed
by the accompanying spirit of God, that it is
only another proof of the rebelliousness of man's
heart, when any can be found to undervalue it:
to say that it does not signify what we hear, or
whether we hear at all: or whether the willing
hearers be supplied with zealous and enlight-
ened preachers, or the appointed preachers be
duly sanctified and fitted for their office; as if
the conduct of the public services and adminis-
tration of religious rites were all that is essen-
tial in the office of a minister. I am sure the
Scripture gives no sanction to such an opinion.
To preach and to baptize is the united com-
mission, and there is no intimation given that
one is of less importance than the other.
“ How shall they believe on him of whom they
have not heard, and how shall they hear with-


out a preacher?” As the neglect of the Sabbath has always marked the growth of immorality and irreligion in the world, so indifference to preaching has ever attended the decline of spirituality in the church: and however any man's fancied experience may exalt itself against his Maker's provision for him, I believe the healthful condition of every individual soul is materially affected by the “word preached,as a medium through which God has chosen to communicate with man;-sufficient without it as would be the influence of the Holy Spirit and the written word, had God been pleased to make them so.

A visible external church, in which his name should be professed, his appointed ordinances duly administered, and such order and discipline maintained, as should be suitable to the times and circumstances, was no doubt a very early institution of divine wisdom, for mutual assistance in a spiritual course, and the benefit of each other's gifts and graces. It has been supposed that such a communion is intimated by the casting out of the first open transgressor from the society of God's people. Genesis iv. And more plainly, when in the time of Enos it is said, “then began men to call upon the Lord,” perhaps “to call themselves by the name of its Lord;" a professing church openly united for the service of God; a separation rendered necessary by the increasing numbers

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