Imágenes de páginas


in God's ancient People.

[Ess. XII.

The description given in the epistle to the Hebrews, of the practical operation of that blessed principle, by which Abel offered a "better sacrifice" than Cain-by which Enoch walked with God--by which Noah built an ark for the saving of his house-by which Abraham journeyed into a strange land, and offered up his only son upon the altar-by which Moses refused to become the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt by which the valiant of the Lord's people, in various ages of the Jewish church, subdued kingdoms wrought righteousness, obtained promises, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens-is, in the highest degree, animating and instructive, and may, perhaps, be considered as forming one of the most striking passages of the whole volume of inspiration. These ancient servants of God relied, with the full assurance of filial confidence, on their almighty Governor, believed and obeyed his word, and pressed forward, with holy ardour, towards "the city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." And, although the glories of the dispensation of the Gospel were indicated to them with that obscurity which necessarily attaches to types and prophecies before they are fulfilled, yet did they embrace the precious promise of a Saviour, were persuaded of its truth, and rejoiced in the prospect of its future accomplishment: Heb. xi, 13, 39. "Your father Abraham," said Jesus Christ to the Jews, "rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad :" John viii, 56.

After reciting the memorable instances of a living faith in God, thus afforded by the history of their ancestors, the apostle proposes these instances as examples to the Christian Hebrews of his own day. "Wherefore," says he, "seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay

Ess. XII.]

Extent of Faith


aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run, with patience, the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith," &c.: xii, 1, 2. Christians are called upon to bring the same principle of faith into action, and while it is their duty to exercise it with equal fervency, they must also allow it to operate, in a wider extent. Their spiritual vision must embrace a more exact order, and a more comprehensive scope. If we would be the consistent followers of those saints of ancient days, who, through faith and patience, (brought into exercise under a less enlightened dispensation) are now inheriting the promises, it is plain that we must believe the whole of these truths which God has imparted to us in the Gospel of his Son. The glimmerings of light enjoyed by the prophets of old, who "inquired and searched diligently respecting the salvation to come," have given way to a fuller and clearer day. The sun of righteousness has now arisen above the horizon of the world, with unclouded brightness.

In marking the extent of religious belief, which may reasonably be required of every Christian who is possessed of an adequate acquaintance with the Sacred Volume, it is needless for us now to enter at large into many particulars. I may venture, however, briefly to remark, that the immortality of the soul,the resurrection of the dead,-the approach of a day of final and universal retribution,-the eternity of a future state of suffering or rejoicing,-the personality, power, and deceitfulness, of the great adversary,-the divinity, miraculous incarnation, meritorious sufferings, atoning death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession, of the Messiah,-the righteousness of Christ imparted as well as imputed, and the divinity and regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit,-are points of clear scriptural authority, respecting many of which the an

[ocr errors]


Required in Christians.

[Ess. XII. cient Israelitish church were by no means fully enlightened, but which may all be considered as clearly included in the more comprehensive belief of the disciple of Jesus.

But, it is not merely the subjects of belief which are more extensively developed under the Gospel dispensation. In one respect the same observation applies to its object. In the mighty scheme of redemption, brought to light by the Gospel, the Supreme Being, on whom alone is fixed all true religious faith, has been pleased to unfold himself to the view of the believer, in the mysterious union and distinction of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: and hence it follows, according to the voice of reason and Scripture united, that, of that faith unto which the convert to Christianity is baptized, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are (as we have already found occasion to remark) the equal and inseparable objects: see Matt. xxviii, 19, and Essay VII. The enlightened Christian draws near in reverent confidence of soul to the Father, as to the origin and fountain of all his sure mercies-to the Son as to the Mediator through whom those mercies flow-and to the Holy Spirit as to the omnipresent Agent, by whom the mercies of the Father, and the mediation of the Son, are completed and applied. Thus, in unison with his brethren who have obtained the like precious faith with himself, he participates in "the grace of the LORD JESUS CHRIST," and in "the love of God," and in "the communion of the HOLY GHOST:" 2 Cor. xiii, 14.

While this threefold distinction is plainly scriptural, and worthy, therefore, of being ever steadily maintained and asserted, it is more especially to our present purpose to observe, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them :" 2 Cor. v, 19. It is in Christ that the

Ess. XII.] Jesus Christ the Object of our Faith.


Supreme Being manifests himself to his creatures; it is in Christ that he provides for their salvation; it is in Christ that he restores to his favour a lost and fallen world; it is in Christ that "all the fulness of the godhead dwelleth bodily," Col. ii, 9; and hence it follows, that under the light of the Gospel dispensation, except a man believe in the Son, his belief in the Father is nugatory and unavailing. Whatever may be the empty profession-whatever the false and dangerous assurance of the mere deist, if Christianity is true, (and I am addressing those only who admit its truth,) it is evident that such a one, in rejecting the Son, rejects the Father also, and is, therefore, left in the condition of those who "åre strangers from the covenants of promise"-who have "no hope," and are "WITHOUT GOD in the world:" Eph. ii, 12. This consequence, clear and reasonable as it is in itself, is stated in strong terms by an inspired writer: "Who is a liar," says the apostle John, "but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? he is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father :" 1 John ii, 22, 23; comp. iv, 15; John xiv, 7, 9, 10.

In a former Essay I have adverted to that very remarkable feature of the New Testament, that the Lord Jesus Christ is frequently described in it as a final object of saving faith; and since, in other parts of Scripture, the doctrine is plainly advanced, that our reliance for salvation can rightly be placed only upon God, and that all dependence on the creature in order to this end is sinful and fraught with danger, I have, from these premises, deduced what I conceive to be a fair and necessary conclusion, that Jesus Christ is not a mere creature, however exalted, but one in the divine nature with the Father, and, therefore, truly God. Without entering into the further consideration of this

488 Jesus Christ the Object of our Faith. [Ess. XII. particular view of the subject (which has now been again alluded to only for the sake of clearness and consistency,) it seems indispensable to the order of the present discussion, that we should once more direct our attention to some of those numerous passages of the New Testament, which prove that the faith by which the believer in Christianity is saved, is directed personally to Jesus Christ as its object-that it is faith in the Son of God, the Saviour and Redeemer of men. When the trembling jailer at Philippi addressed to Paul and Silas his earnest inquiry-" Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"—the answer given to him was direct and explicit, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved:" Acts xvi, 30, 31. "But as many as received him," says the apostle John," to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" John i, 12. "To him give all the prophets witness," says another apos→ tle, "that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins :" Acts x, 43. These, and similar apostolic declarations, are in precise accordance with the doctrine so often preached by the Lord Jesus himself,-God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life :" John iii, 16. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life :" vi, 47. "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die :" xi, 25, 26.

Thus it appears, that although the saving efficacy of a living faith by no means depends on the extent of the information imparted to the believer, and may even be experienced by persons who are acquainted only with natural religion, yet, with us, to whom the Gospel is revealed, the faith which alone introduces

« AnteriorContinuar »