« PreviousContinue »
worn orders of various degrees, and have presumed themselves to be the legitimate successors of the Apostles, have forgotten, what should have been the climax of the proof,—the practical part of the demonstration. It seems not to have occurred to them, that, if they were indeed the successors of the Apostles, apostolic duties became immediately and imperatively binding upon them; the duties of giving up all for Christ, and carrying his gospel to the ends of the earth. Those who did profess to tread in the steps of the Apostles mistook both the object which they had in view, and the means by which they sought its accomplishment. They went, not so much to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ to the heathen, as to extend the boundaries, and increase the influence and revenues, of a secular church. Instead of carrying with them the incorruptible seed of the word of God, to sow, and to water, they tried to transplant the full-grown ritual of the Roman church. The result was what might have beei, expected. Instead of an abundant harvest, from the germinating seed at length rewarding the labour of the patient husbandman, and furnishing the store for the perpetuation and extension of the same living power and ripening fruits ;—the tree, originally a parasite itself, bore no fruit, and soon withered and died. Protestant churches, in their struggle for emancipation from antichristian oppression, almost overlooked the condition of the heathen; and in resting to enjoy the peace which they had with difficulty obtained, lost
much of their purity and vigour. They are but beginning to awaken to a sense of their responsibility, and to a conviction of the fact, that their own vitality can be sustained only as they are obedient to their Master's command, in spreading his gospel through the world.
It argues nothing against the perfection of the sun, that there are many individuals in the world who unhappily are blind, and incapable of receiving its light; -that there are many more who are foolish, who close their eyes in unnatural slumbers, while its radiance is pouring around them, awake when its glories are departing, trim their artificial lights, display the tinsel of their borrowed plumage, and revel through the night, until the sun again arises, rational men go forth to their labours, and creatures, not gifted with reason, lay them down in their dens;—that, there are many extensive and fertile tracts in the world which it illumines, where there is no intelligent eye to enjoy and improve its cheering and vivifying beams. The sun itself is unaffected by these circumstances of earthly restriction and human imperfection. Wherever there has been an open eye to receive its light, from the first day of its creation down to the present hour, it has poured it freely and copiously around. If the human race, in its successive generations, had been multiplied in their numbers a hundred-fold, it could equally, and without individual diminution, have illumined the whole. Its fountain of radiance is still unexhausted, undiminished,
undiminishable. We possess its light as clearly and regularly as did our fathers, and so will our posterity, in their remotest generations. It is the most perfect of God's material works of which we have any knowledge; the most glorious in its appearance, unchanging in its substance, diffusive in its influence, powerful and beneficial in its operation. And yet, in the sun, there is found only created and communicated perfection; in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, there is the perfection which is inherent and divine. In the fulness of its meritorious efficacy, there is all which the church or the world can want; a fulness which, in all its generations, to whatever period they may be extended, and to whatever numbers they may be multiplied, can never be exhausted or diminished. Its glory, diffusive like that of the sun, but infinitely more rich in the value of the influence which it imparts, will at length shine before all nations, will attract every eye, and cheer every dwelling of mankind. Christ, as an atoning sacrifice, has been lifted up upon the cross, and the declaration must be fulfilled, that all men shall be drawn unto him. God, with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day, is not slack concerning his promise, which he made to Abraham, as
count slackness. It has been written with his finger; it lives before him in his word ; it is pleaded with him by his people ; it forms the basis and warrant of their exertions; the steady and unfailing motive to their perseverance; the assurance of
their ultimate success; the ground of their anticipated triumph over selfishness, suspicion, reproach, slander, and opposition, that in the seed of Abraham (which is Christ) all the families of the earth shall be blessed. To his one perfect sacrifice for sin, the eye of every guilty descendant of Adam must at length be directed; on its efficacy every heart be taught exclusively to rest; for the pardon and full salvation which it freely imparts, every tongue be tuned to melody and joy.
CHRIST THE ALL-SUFFICIENT PRIEST-THE PREVALENCY
OF HIS INTERCESSION.
"And they truly were many Priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death; but this, (that is, Christ, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for
Now, as the sacrifice of Christ was prefigured daily in the Jewish temple, by the offering of the lamb; so the intercession of Christ was prefigured with the same frequency by the associated rite, the presentation by the priest of the smoking censer on the altar of incense : “And thou shalt put it” (the altar of incense) “ before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony; before the mercy-seat, that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it; and when Aaron
* Heb. vii. 23-25.