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than that for which Hymeneus and Philetus were denounced by the Apostle, may there not be more guilt incurred by this now, than when the Revelation of God less fully unfolded his designs ? If it was such a sin to limit to the “many of the saints,” who came out of their graves after their Lord arose, those predictions which God has given of the resurrection of all his saints, must it not detract more from his truth to deny altogether the premillennial resurrection, and the promised reign of his faithful people? But when the veracity of God seems almost to be questioned; when many of his promises are doubted, denied, and disputed; let us take encouragement, and stablish our hearts, with the benign assurance, that nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure; having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his ; and, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Let us guard against yielding ourselves entirely to the guidance of even the greatest divines, as there is reason to fear they often teach for doctrines the commandments
“If a man therefore purge himself from these," adds the Apostle-if he reject the fables of false teachers, relying on the absolute certainty of God's truth, and bearing witness to His faithfulness-_" he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work.” What an argument for holiness! what encouragement to the performance of duty! what inducement to perseverance, and ardent zeal in proclaiming the (alas !) unwelcome promise of the coming of our gracious Lord! May the prospect of the glory, which shall then be revealed, also stimulate to increased exertion in making known the salvation of God through the cross of Christ! This it is which has laid the foundation of all the glory that shall follow. Without this, never would a soul have been saved, to be re-united to the body when it shall enjoy a glorious resurrection. The voluntary and vicarious sufferings of Jesus were requisite for the redemption of his people; and his covenant engagements with the Father procured all the Divine predictions of a pre-millennial resurrection. He has, by his obedience, sufferings, and death, fulfilled the necessary stipulations ; his acceptance by the Father was attested in his own resurrection from the dead, with that of many of his saints ; and still “ the foundation of God standeth sure, that in due time “the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee." The certainty of this the errors of men will never destroy ; the reality of the event the unfaithfulness even of the elect themselves will never impair.
J. A. BEGG.
Paisley, Jan. 4, 1830.
ON THE RELATION WHICH THE BIBLE BEARS TO THE
OTHER INSTITUTIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
God has given three great gifts to man,-an inspired book; an order of living men to teach, preach, and exercise discipline; and sacramental visible signs and seals of grace, two in number, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. _lst, the Bible ; 2dly, the Ministry ; 3dly, the Sacraments. These three gifts are distinct in kind, and convey distinct graces. They are distinct, and separable from one another. For the Bible is honoured by many who slight the public worship of God, and refuse to submit themselves to the discipline of the church. Again, the Bible, and public worship, and church communion, are attended to by many who never allow themselves to take the sacrament of the Supper, and by many others also who neglect both Baptism and the Lord's supper. And, lastly, many people may be found who honour the sacraments, having their children duly baptized, and attending the church two or three times in the year, just for the sake of the sacrament of the Supper, who slight both public worship and the Bible.
These three are also instrumental for conveying distinct graces : for God, having given us nothing superfíuous, requires due attention to all three; and it is plain, that, whichever of the three is unobserved, the benefit intended by that is lost,- lost exactly in the proportion in which it is undervalued. The person, for instance, who thinks that he can derive all sufficient good by studying the Bible in his own house, and who therefore absents himself from attending the church and receiving the communion, will lose whatever benefit those particular institutions were intended to convey. Whatever benefit is gained by acts of public worship, teaching, and discipline, such a person formally relinquishes, with all that truth which is proper for, and can only be imparted to, hunan-kind by and through our corporate and social capacities. And so of the Lord's Supper: whatever especial grace-say, of nutriment, of strength, of joy in the inheritance—was intended to come by and be the peculiar end of that ordinance, this person also as completely relinquishes.
It is of no use to reply to this, that a person cannot properly study the Bible at home and come into such conditions, inasmuch as the Bible enjoins public worship and church ordinances; and that no man can study the Bible and obey it without. For people think they can, and all around us those may be found who attempt it. Many people can see parts of truth who cannot see the whole, nor the connection of those parts with the whole: it is enough for my argument to point to the fact of hundreds and thousands of our fellow-creatures who do see the wisdom and propriety of studying and believing the holy Scriptures, and who do not see the duty of constantly attending to public worship, obeying the ministry, and receiving the sacraments. That such people do not in reality believe in nor honour the Bible as they ought, is the very thing that I want to make evident; for the whole end of these remarks is to shew that a partial attention to duty is no attention at all. The misfortune is, that men are constantly tempted to put a part of duty for the whole; and to deceive themselves into the belief that they are attending to the whole, when they are not. The man, for instance, who reads his Bible but attends not the public instruction of the church, will find some other sense for all those passages in which others consider the duty of so attending to be enjoined or inferred. Did not time and space forbid, means of evading the force of such passages, or explaining them away by false interpretations, could easily be enumerated, and which would be considered perfectly satisfactory to anyone who should be previously disinclined to the duty to free him from which such false interpretations are resorted to.
Now these three great gifts of God, the Book, the Ministry, the Sacraments, would not be less distinct from one another if it could be proved that the two latter had their source and sanction from the former, and grew out of it, like two great branches from a stem. It is perfectly well conceivable, that a parent, leaving written instructions to his children, might, in the course of such instructions, direct them to set apart some of their number who should give up their time to the particular study of his words, knowing the importance of them, the depths of meaning in them, and their great extent and variety, and also command the rest duly to assemble themselves and be instructed. He might also in his writings, as a means essential to his children's apprehending their whole force, institute the celebration of certain visible symbols, at certain returning seasons; assuring them that a constant obedience to him in these observances would also further open their minds to the comprehension of his (necessarily, from the nature of the subject) deep and mysterious body of instructions, “ in which were things hard to be understood, which they that were unlearned and unstable would wrest to their own destruction.”
Even in such a case these two modes of instruction-an ordained ministry, and the celebration of visible symbols--though they derived their force and origin from the writing that enjoined them, would still, if individual study of that writing were equally enjoined, be sufficiently distinct from such writing to admít ofthe error which we are condemning, namely, the undue VOL. II.-NO, II.
neglect of two out of three. But in the case of the Christian religion we totally deny the correctness of such a mode of viewing the public ministry and the sacraments. Instead of the Book's originating the clergy and the sacraments, it might much more consistently be argued that they originated it. What was the order of God's procedure in introducing the Christian religion to mankind? Did he pen a volume, as once he inscribed ten commandments, and send it down among men attested by the thunders and lightnings of a Sinai; first rousing by signs and wonders his creatures' observation and reverence of his gift, and then leaving them to gather out of it, at their leisure, all his will, both as it respects church institutions and moral duties? No. He sent his Son-a man, a person clothed in human flesh and blood, and who for thirty-three years lived and preached among men : that Son chose out twelve men, and afterwards seventy others, bidding them go and explain his truth to mankind : and he said unto them, “Lo, I am with you” (not your books)“ unto the end of the world."
As these men were not to live to the end of the world, what did he do in contemplation of their mortality? Did he say, “ Leave a book behind you which shall be your substitute ?” We have no evidence from the New Testament itself that he intended a Book (to accompany the Old) at all, much less that he intended such a book to be the substitute for his ministers; but we have collateral evidence from the New Testament that he intended a living order of men, to teach and be obeyed in his church to the end ; for it is written, “The things which thou hast heard of me, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” It is also written, Obey them that have the rule over you, for they watch for your souls,” &c. And we have the most complete and satisfactory direct evidence that the Apostles left, at the heads of all the different churches, living men to succeed them in all the ordinary offices of church rulers and teachers ; successors to all those parts of the apostolical office which the church would need till Christ should come again; for we can trace them up, man by inan.
Now these men (whom Christ sent forth) in process of time, and as the cases of particular churches or individuals required, wrote books; and those books, because written by those whom Christ had ordained and appointed, ought to be devoutly received and believed by us: but they were not collected into one canon, and every where received, until many years after the death of the Apostles, after the Gospel had been preached abroad, and after the Christian church, with all its institutions, had come into form and consistency. And when they were so collected, and called the New Testament, by whose
authority (under God) were just these books selected, and all the others-such as the Epistles of Barnabas and Clement and others of the evangelists and companions of St. Paul-rejected ? By whose superintendence were they arranged ; and by whose instrumentality and testimony were they received in the church, and believed to be the word of God ? Surely it was through those men whom God had ordained and appointed.
Thus the church, or living body of preaching men, were not only before the Bible, and, under God, in due time constructing the Bible; not only would there have been no Bible had there been no ordained ministry (though there would have been a ministry had there been no Bible); but even to this day, unless God's ministers go first and introduce the Bible, and continually bear personal testimony of its truth, and sustain its importance by preaching from it, the book itself will not answer the purpose for which it was given. And why is this? because the Bible is of secondary value ? No; but because, however wise we may think ourselves, we cannot do without all that God has instituted; and the Christian ministry and the sacraments are as substantial parts of his institutions as the written volume. If he appoints three modes of receiving grace, we cannot prosper by attending only to one or two of them; and if he requires a greater degree of respect and attention to any of those three than we are disposed to give, we shall suffer just in proportion to the respect which we withhold.
Now it is a proof that our Christian brethren, the Dissenters, undervalue the ministry and the sacraments, that whenever their attention is called to them they denounce it as savouring of Popery, and drown the monitor's voice with reiteration of the importance of the Sacred Scriptures. In doing which they are often betrayed into very unwarrantable assertions concerning the Bible itself; as if that, and not Christ, were the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. But as Hezekiah (2 Kings xviii. 4) broke the brazen serpent, although devised and set up by God himself, as soon as the children of Israel began to make a wrong use of it; so let us fear, that, if we make a wrong use of that blessed book, he will take it away from us also. Why should the defenders of the authority of God's ordained ministers and his holy church and sacraments be so uncharitably charged with adopting Popish errors ? Cannot a man honour the Bible as much as they, because he also honours the other two great and distinct gifts of God? The only true way to honour any one gift is, to give the due and intended reverence to all. If a man do not believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God, and if he do not search it daily to know the truth and will of God, he is in dangerous error. This we assert earnestly and seriously: what can an objector require more? We do