Imatges de pÓgina
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that very mediator who died for their offences, and rose again for their justification?

Again, the scheme of the gospel is universal reconciliation. See Eph. i, 9, 10: Having made known. unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.' Phil. ii, 9, 10, 11: 'Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' Col. i, 19, 20: 'For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell; and (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself: by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.' It seems that if St. Paul had known what kind of testimony would be necessary, in this day, to silence the arguments of antichrist, he could not have furnished any that would have been more to the purpose. Who will undertake to show the propriety of supposing that those who are gathered together in Christ, who bow the knee of adoration in the name of Jesus, and confess him Lord to the glory of God the Father; who are reconciled to God, through the peace made by the blood of the cross, will suffer endless exclusion from this reconciler of all things? Where is the propriety of making use of parables, which were spoken, and applied to events which took place in the first century of the Christian era, to prove the endless punishment of those for whom Christ died?

As it has been shown, in the most ample manner, that our Saviour applied these parables to represent the favorable reception with which some would be blessed in the kingdom of his grace, on the one hand, and the rejection of that part of Israel who rejected him, on the other, it may be proper to show that it is contrary to the scheme of the gospel, so to explain those parables as to prevent the return of those rejected or blinded Jews. In the discourse which Jesus delivered to the Pharisees, in which he forwarned them of those judgments to which he applied the parables, there are the following things worthy of notice, which apply to the present subject:

1. The character in which Jesus represented those Pharisees.

2. The punishment which he pronounced on them.

3. The spirit and disposition which he manifested on the occasion; and,

4. His prophecy of their finally obtaining favor.

1. See Matt. xxiii, 13: But wo unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites? for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering, to go in.' He goes on still calling them hypocrites, fools and blind guides, who paid tithes of mint, of anise and cummin, but omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. He likens them unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. He calls them serpents, and a generation of vipers; and many other representations he makes of their wickedness.

2. He pronounced on them the damnation of hell

See verses 32, 33: Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?'

3. We learn the spirit and disposition which Jesus manifested towards those serpents, and this generation of vipers, by the language of the 37th verse: '0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!' The natural sense of the above language is that of tenderness and love, of regard and pity, of compassion and mercy. Luke xix, 41, 42, shows very plainly that the above sense is correct: ' And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.' To suppose that the Son of God had no love, mercy, or pity for those who rejected and persecuted him, is to deny the manifest sense of these scriptures, and many more besides. Here then the inquirer may wish to ask, If the Son of God loved those whom he called a generation of vipers, why did he not discover to them the knowledge of his gospel, and grant them repentance unto life? To this question, the answer is ready. It would have proved the scriptures of the prophets false, which they proved true by condemning Christ. See Acts xiii, 27: For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.'

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4. The blessed Saviour, when he pronounced those judgments on that devoted people, gave a prophetic

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token of their finally obtaining a divine knowledge of him. See Matt. xxiii, 39: For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' It may be well to ask, who were to see Jesus and say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord? Answer, Those who killed the prophets and stoned them who were sent unto them. Those whom Jesus called serpents, and a generation of vipers. Those on whom he pronounced the damnation of hell. Those scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus calls hypocrites, and compares to whited sepulchres. In a word, they are the same to whom he said, ' Publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you.' The ground on which it is conceived to be safe to build our hope of the salvation of those scribes and Pharisees, is, that one Mediator between God and man, manifested a love for them, and in his love and in his pity he died for them, and rose for their justification; and that is the proper ground on which alone we can hope for the salvation of any of our sinful race. That these deadly enemies of Jesus, who were finally his murderers, were the objects of that love which is stronger than death, is evident from the prayer of the dying Jesus on the cross: Father forgive them for they know not what they do.' If the suffering Son of God could look through the blood of the everlasting covenant, and send a prayer from the blood stained cross to the indulgent ear of his Father, who always hears him, to forgive his murderers, it must be a dishonoring infidelity to suppose that such a prayer will not be answered. The humble believer in Jesus will put more confidence in this prayer, than in all the fine spun metaphysical divinity of which our learned doc

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tors can boast, and with which they blind the eyes of the simple.

Notice has already been taken of St. Paul's argument, wherein he shows that those Jews who were broken off through unbelief, from their own olive-tree, should be grafted in again, and that the receiving of them shall be life from the dead. It seems not a little favorable to our subject, that St. Paul should speak of the same thing which Jesus did in promise. Jesus says, 'Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' St. Paul says, Rom. xi, 26, ' And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.'

Now

As St Paul used the circumstance of God's displeasure towards the children of Israel for the iniquities of which they were guilty, as a warning to the Christians of his day, we ought to be equally wise in using similar circumstances to like advantage. See 1 Cor. x, 5, 6: 'But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. these things were our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.' Verse 11: 'Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.' This is making use of the judgments of God against sin, in one age of the world, as a warning against similar sins, in another. So ought we to do; and in this way, we may, with much propriety, accommodate the three parables in the 25th of Matthew, to the Christian church in general, to particular denominations, or to individuals,

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