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exercise that very power to make those whom he came to save, endlessly miserable, is as dishonora ble an idea as can be entertained of Christ, and surely no idea can be more tormenting to mankind.
How widely different such an opinion is from the testimony of the angel to the shepherds. "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour,, which is Christ the Lord."
While the false doctrine which this and many other scriptures have been forced to support, have been urged with a zeal which becomes a better cause, to the sorrow, mourning, grief and despondency of thousands, the true doctrine taught by them is calculated to fill the rational mind with the most exalted ideas of the scheine of salvation, the peace of God, which surpasses all the enjoymenta of an earthly nature, those joys unspeakable which are full of glory, and that love and charity towards our fellow men, which are the bond of perfectness
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its sa vor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot o men." MAT. V. 13.
As will be shown in notes on another parable in this chapter, Christ represented the operation o the Holy Spirit by fire, under the similitude of salt So in this parable he speaks of his disciples as an swering the same purpose to the earth, by which we understand mankind at large, as the fire e divine salt did to them..
2d. He shows how unprofitable they would be in their holy calling, should they depart from the spirit of that fire by which he would baptize them, by the worthlessness of salt when it had lost its
3d. That instead of their having power over their adversaries, and wisdom to silence gainsayers; they would themselves be overcome by them, is meant by salt being cast out, and trodden under foot of men..
Agreeably with the above notes, we may consider, 1st. The important character of the true ministers of the gospel.
2d. Their hability to lose that influence among men which renders them profitable in the ministry, 3d. The disrespect with which a ministry is justly treated,, which is destitute of the savor of the word of salvation..
As it is the nature of salt to save, preserve, and season, so is the true and faithful ministry of the gospel efficacious to save men from sin, to preserve them in uncorruptible purity, and to bring them into that proper temperament of mind by which: they are acceptable sacrifices unto God through Jesus Christ.
The use of salt is seen in the directions given concerning sacrifices in Lev. ii. 13. "And every oblation of thy meat-offering thou shalt season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meatoffering with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." This salt is the divine power of the covenant of God to save from sin, and reconcile the sin
ner to God, as may be seen by Rom. xv. 16. "that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost." The Holy Ghost is therefore the salt of the everlasting covenant ordered and in all things sure.
2d. A departure from the simplicity of the gospel of God, disallowing the power of the salt of the covenant to sanctify and season the sacrifice, setting up creeds, modes and forms as necessary unto salvation, leading proselytes to depend on a righteousness of their own for acceptance with God, is undoubtedly meant by the ministers of the word losing their savor, and becoming good for nothing. Such has been the melancholy falling away of the christian ministry, and such, for a long time, has been the unprofitableness of their labors. There is no room for misjudging in this case, for the multitudes who have been proselyted by them, have discovered as much unholiness as the old Gentiles did before the gospel was preached by the apostles. This is witnessed by the cruel persecu tions at the head of which has ever been found a carnal ministry, imposing creeds and carnal ordinances on men, of their own invention. And the great want of charity and brotherly kindness among the different orders of the clergy of this country, too plainly shows their want of that salt of the covenant of God; while the ill will and injurious bigotry of professors in general too plainly discover that they imitate their leaders.
These observations are not designed to represent that there are no instances, even in all denomimations, of faithful evangelical ministers of the
word, but it is very evident that this class is by far the minority.
In departing from the power of the gospel cov enant, the christian clergy have acted the part which the prophet Ezekiel accuses the shepherds of Israel of acting. See xxxiv. 4. "The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them." With unreasonable, unscriptural, and cruel doctrines and ecclesiastical disciplines, have the sheep of Christ been driven from the fold, and scattered on barren mountains. Therefore, "thus saith the Lord God, behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hands, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them." No doubt the Jewish doctors supposed that by compassing sea and land to make a proselyte to their traditions, by which they made void the law, they obtained a sacrifice well pleasing to God, though they judged and condemned their neighbors without mercy. But they little thought while they were doing this, they were the children of hell, and that their proselyte would be still more so.
On their feast days could they rejoice and offer offerings to God in gratitude for their successes, but oh the reproof! See Amos v. 21, 22, 23, "I hate, I despise your feast days, and will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me
burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offer ings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols." How much like those Jewish doctors, christian doctors are doing and have done, and how similar to the rejection of those, the rejection of these has been and will be, is not very difficult to see. Societies are now formed, at the expense of which sea and land is compassed to proselyte men to those sentiments and customs which have kept the christian church in a perpetual strife and debate, persecution and blood, ever since they were invented.
But 3d. God will recompense this folly on those who practise it, for they now appear like salt which has lost its savor, which is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. The Lord will surely deliver his people from such shepherds, and make them who have dishonored him, to be lightly esteemed.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light un to all that are in the house.” MAT. v. 14, 15.
Ir must first be remembered that Christ himself is the true light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world, see St. John i. 9.; but when Christ had communicated the light of himself to his disciples, they, acting in that light, and walking by it, would be to others as Christ had