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power which inscribed the law on his heart, and will, some way or other, secure the honour of it; by a sensible diminution of his health, fortune, or reputation, by the decline of his faculties and understanding, by the distresses entailed upon his posterity, by his disgust of this life, and a trembling apprehension of what may befall him in a future ?
By these penalties is the law of nature enforced ; and they are such, as must convince a thinking man, that his true interest lies in the observance of that law-at the same time, it must be owned, that this law is strict and severe, -it punishes with rigour, and rewards sparingly. Disobedience is certain, often intense misery, while the most punctual compliance with it, secures but a moderate enjoyment of this life, and only a glimmering hope of happiness in another.
Yet this is the law, which many, it seems, had rather live and die under, than accept the benefit of a far better. For,
It pleased God, in compassion to his creature man, not to leave him
under this law, but, by a special revelation of his will, to lead him, by wholesome discipline, to the religion of his Son, whose errand into the world was the most important, which ever entered into the conception of rational beings, or which was ever proposed in the providence of God.
Of this vast and sublime purpose, the preaching of the gospel was a primary, and indispensable part. For this office our Lord was preeminently and divinely qualified. The duty, and spiritual necessities of man, he thoroughly understood, and together with these, the sins and ignorance of those to whom he was sent, their opposition to his precepts, their hatred of truth, and their reluctance to embrace those blessings, which in justice they had no reason to expect, and no means, in nature, to procure. The same perfect acquaintance he also possessed, with the design and import of the preceding revelation, its types, prophecies, and commands, the false glosses made on its contents, by the Jewish elders, and the miserable prejudices imbibed by those, whom they taught. These errors he detected and exposed, the sins of his hearers he powerfully reproved, and with a magnetic constancy, in which all the opposition of the world could not produce a momentary variation, he pointed out the way of life, with a force and evidence, wholly irresistible.
Another circumstance that distinguishes the mission of Jesus, is the authority with which his doctrines were delivered. The people themselves remarked this circumstance, and were astonished at it, “ for he taught them,” says the sacred historian, “ one who had authority, and not as the scribes." Mark i. 22.
Interpreters differ in explaining what this authority was, but it consisted very clearly, in these three things :- 1. He taught mankind, without any degree of doubt and hesitation, with the air of one who knew the truth of what he said, and was perfectly assured of what he spake. “ Verily, verily, I say to thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.” 2. He taught his great lessons of morality and religion, not as derived from the information of others, or
from the dictates of his own reason, but as immediately conveyed to him, from the source of light and truth—from God himself. “Whatsoever I speak, even as the Father said to me, so I speak.” 3. He delivered his doctrine, on many occasions, as the proper author of it, as one who had a right to propose the terms of salvation, in his own
I say unto you, is the formulary, with which he prefaces his momentous instructions)—“ He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day-Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Nay, he goes so far as to assert, expressly, “ that he hath life in himself, even as the Father hath life in himself,” and though he says at the same time, that he had this privilege given to him by the Father, and though he declares else where, “that as the Father had taught him, so he spake,” yet there is no contradiction in these affirmations, for he tells us plainly, “ All things that the Father hath, are mine, and I and the Father are one.” These three circumstances constitute the proper authority of Christ's doctrine. It was the authority of one, who spake from
conviction, who spake by the special appointment of God the Father, who even spake by the virtue of his own essential right, from himself, and in his own name.
St. James, in the 4th chapter of his Epistle, informs us, that in the church of God " there is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy,”—that is, Christ. Christ, therefore, being the only lawgiver in his church, the gospel, which contains his laws, must necessarily be the rule of faith, practice, and worship, to all, to whom it is made known. Whenever a rule of this nature is enjoined upon any man, the great question, naturally asked by him, is, by what authority am I required to conform to this rule? In matters of conscience, even an illiterate man knows, that no being except God, has any right to prescribe to him rules of obedience-when God prescribes to him, the prescription is a law; when man prescribes to him, it is only advice; but between law and advice, the difference, in this case, is infinite.
To believe a revelation which is clearly