Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

like meaning; as they are applied in those words of the prophet: then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you : a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you *. This new heart and new spirit, as the work of God's grace, was always signified by every act of religious purification; according to that of the Psalmist, Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snowMake me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me t.

Water is used in another capacity to quench the thirst; in which sense it is put for the doctrine of God's word, refreshing and invigorating the soul, as the water of the spring gives new life and strength to the thirsty. As the spring breaks forth from the secret treasures of the earth, the doctrines of salvation proceed from a source which we cannot see. In this sort of language did our Saviour speak of the grace of his own divine doctrine to the woman of Samaria : if thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water f; that is, the doctrine of salvation which he preached to the world, and of which he used these remarkable words in the temple-He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; that is, the words of his mouth shall convey that doctrine which giveth life to the world : his preaching shall satisfy a multitude of souls, as the stream of a river is sufficient to the quenching of their thirst.

- * Ezekiel xxxvi. 25. + Psalm li. # There is a peculiar propriety in the scripture term of living water for the water of a running spring; because it brings with it a new life and spirit, which it has derived from the subterraneous chymistry of nature; and it is always found to contain a large quantity of air.

As the elements of the world, so the seasons of the year have their signification in scripture. The beauties of the spring and summer are selected by the prophet Isaiah, to describe the perfection and felicity of Messiah's kingdom at the appearance of the gospel: when righteousness should spring up among the barren Gentiles who had been fruitless and deserted as the earth when forsaken by the sun; The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose ; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing : the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon ; they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God*. The season of the harvest, which came in at the end of the Jewish year, is applied in a parable of our Saviour to the great ingathering of the world, when the wheat shall be reaped, the tares shall be separated for the fire, and the labourers employed in that great work shall be the ministring spirits of God, sent forth to gather his elect, and to finish his kingdom upon earth. The Harvest of our Lord, is the end of the world ; and as surely as the course of the year brings us about to that season, so surely will the dispensation of God, now on its progress, bring us to a sight of that other harvest: and it behoves us to consider well what part we are likely to bear on that occasion.

From the seasons let us turn our eyes to the animal creation; at the head of which is man, an epitome of all the other works of God.

The economy and disposition of the human body is used as a figure of that spiritual society, or corporate body, which we call the Church; and God is said to have disposed the offices of the one in con

[ocr errors]

formity to the order observable in the other. The head is Christ; the eyes appointed to see for the rest of the body, are the prophets and teachers, antiently called seers. The hands that minister are the charitable and merciful, who delight in supplying the wants of their fellow members. The feet are the inferior attendants, whose duty it is to know their place, and be subservient in their proper callings. Each hath his proper gifts and his proper station; and as there is no respect of persons with God, no man should pay any undue respect to himself; but all should unite with humility and piety in fulfilling the great purpose of God, who hath joined them together in one communion. As there is no division in the natural body, but all the limbs and members have care for one another, and one life animates them all; so it should be in the church, where there is one body and one spirit. In this form hath the apostle argued against the divisions and jealousies then prevailing in the church of Corinth * : and if his argument was considered as it merits, and in that spirit of fervent zeal and love with which it was written, there would be no such thing as schism in the church, or faction in the state.

The bodily senses of men are used to denote the faculties of the mind : for the soul has its senses; but as we cannot see their operations, it is necessary to speak of them in such terms as are taken from the visible powers of the body. He that does not understand the language of the scripture, is said to have no ears; he that does not see spiritual things, to have no eyes ; he that cannot make confession of his faith with his tongue, and has no delight in the praises of God, is dumb. In short, every unregenerate man, who is

• See 1 Cor. xii.

without the knowledge of God, and has nothing but what nature and his own vanity give him, is in the nature and condition of a beggar, poor and blind and naked* ; and he who is not yet alive in spirit, is even taken for dead and buried, and is called upon to arise from the dead, and awake unto righteousness.

The soul being invisible, its distempers are so; therefore the sacred language describes them by the distempers of the body. A nation or city, in a state of sin and impenitence, are represented to themselves as a body full of diseases and sores. In this style the spirit speaks by the prophet Isaiah of Judah and Jerusalem; the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, from the lowest of the people up to their princes and rulers, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores. In the same way, the works of the devil in stripping and abusing the nature of man by the fatal introduction of sin,are represented as wounds given by a thief, who meets him on the road, and leaves him naked and half dead upon the earth. This is the intention of that parable, which describes the

of a wounded traveller.

The support of man's spiritual life is like the support of his natural; and the sacrament of the Lord's supper, (which some of late have taken great pains to undervalue and misinterpret) is built upon this similitude.

Man is sent into the world to earn his bread by his labour, and some think he is sent for nothing else; but this is only a shadow of his proper errand, which is, to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling:

* Rev. ii. 17.

and for this work he has need of sustenauce, as much as for the daily labours of his life. Therefore God has provided a supply of a spiritual kind, signified outwardly by the figures of bread and wine, the commemorative sacrifice of the death of Christ, and the instituted means of conveying the benefits of it to the souls of men. Beasts killed in sacrifice were fed upon by the offerers; and Christ's death being a sacrifice, he is fed upon in faith by those who thus commemorate his death: and the consequence is the strengthening and refreshing of their souls : if not, this absurdity should follow from the parrallel, that eating the flesh of sacrifices was a mere ceremony which contributed nothing to the nourishment of the body. What can be more express than the doctrine of our Saviour himself upon this subject? My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed-He that eateth me, even he shall live by me ; that is, shall live with a new and divine life, as really as his body lives and is nourished by his daily bread. Unless these words do signify, that a real principle of life and strength is derived to us from the body of Christ, whereof we partake, there can be no certainty in language, and every doctrine of the scripture may be thrown into doubt and obscurity. Without faith, as it hath already been argued in the proper place, the language of the scripture never was nor ever will be admitted in its true sense; but with it, it is clear enough to every reader.

This first head of my subject is so copious, that I must conclude here, and defer what remains to the next Lecture.

VOL. III.

« AnteriorContinuar »