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and the Gospela; nor into any consideration of the Law, as typical of the Gospel ; neither will regard be had to any earlier, less definite, and more obscure dispensations of the Almighty towards men, previous to the delivery of the Mosaic covenant. These are topics that have been frequently and ably illustrated by ingenious and learned writers ; and they do not strictly concern our present purpose.
present Lecture will be confined to its own peculiar object; viz. “ an examination of the manner “ of appeal made to mankind, under the two “ great and explicit, and specially recorded dig
pensations, which make up the chief sum " of the Oracles of God."
What then is it, which we think may be discovered in this manner, calculated to dispose our understanding and affections favourably towards the divine authority of holy Scripture?
We assume that the Bible is what it professes to be the statute-book of an everlasting kingdom; and that both of the two very different parts into which it is divided proceed, and have always been understood to proceed, from the same common Author. Now this being so, a very little consideration may persuade us to accept the statement of our seventh Article ; that “ the Old Testament is not contrary to the “ New; but that both in the Old and New “ Testament everlasting life is offered to man“ kind through one only Mediator.”
a I mean, comparisons of essential glory: such (e. g.) as might arise from contrasting their respective efficacy, as methods of obtaining the divine favour; or the measure of promise vouchsafed to each; or the character and persons of their respective Promulgators.
For we cannot suppose the Divine Mind to have set forth two several schemes of moral government, dissimilar from the very foundation. The substance of the divine counsels must be indestructible. The appointment, for a season, of institutions, adapted to the state and necessities of man; and their abrogation in the fulness of time, when they had fulfilled a purpose intended; this is consistent with every notion we can form of perfect wisdom. But the fundamental will of the Almighty we cannot suppose subject to change; neither can any voice that has once proceeded out of the mouth of God, for the general moral guidance of his creatures, ever sink into a dead letter b; so sink, I mean, as to lose all force of obligation upon subjects on whose conscience an eternal law is written, (as it
is called, “ of nature ;") with which such moral Matt. xxiv. word of revelation is in harmony; Heaven and
earth shall pass away, but the word which God
Compare with this, and with the whole scope of the Lecture, the first chapter of St. Peter's first Epistle ; particularly towards the end of the chapter. Compare also what is said in Lecture V. concerning our Lord's parables.
hath spoken shall not pass away. Admitting the latter Testament therefore to be true, and embracing it as such ; it appears hardly optional to do otherwise than admit, as a truth involved in this, that the substance of the elder dispensation must in effect be one and the same with that of the later. Wherein then do the two differ; and wherein do they agree?
An illustration may be borrowed on this point from comparing our Saviour's declaration, that he gave to his disciples a new commandment, John xiii. with St. John's language in the seventh and eighth verses of the second chapter of his first Epistle. It was a new commandment; but how? Not new in letter or in effect, but in extent and sanction; new in revealed motives; for it was founded, now, upon better promises ; new Heb. viii. 6. in respect of the example set for its fulfilment, and the encouragement offered to the keeping of it; new also, (or comparatively become so,) by reason of the practical degradation and disuse into which it had fallen. But in purpose and effect it was “old;" in respect of its inherent tendency to bring man into present ease and See Note comfort, (and as we now know-of a future and ii. 7, 8.
Secker, in c John xiii. 34. A new commandment I give unto you, that
Bible. ye love one another.
1 John ii. 7, 8. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning, &c.
glorious enjoyment also, it was the same which was from the beginning.
So is it, we think, with the great realities of the plan of salvation.
From the first utterance of the gracious proCf. Pascal's mise concerning the seed of the woman, RedempThoughts.
tion has been one uniform and abiding scheme, under whatever varieties of circumstance. The
chief corner stone of the temple of believers has Heb. xiii. 8. been one and immoveable-Jesus Christ, the
same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. The
real sacrifice and atonement for sin has been the Rev. xiii. 8. same from the beginning the Lamb slain
from the foundation of the world. That all ac
ceptable obedience must have been under every Cf. Heber's form of dispensation a work of divine grace, is Bampton
a proposition which cannot be denied, without involving virtually some portion of Pelagian heresy, as to the power of man's unassisted strength. Consequently, there must in effect always have been an operation of one and the same Divine Spirit, under both covenants. Lastly, the real end and crown of faithful obedience must have been always the same; I
mean, the resurrection unto life eternal, and an invisible future state of immortal glory d.
d On this last great point, the resurrection unto life eternal, I cannot forbear referring, as to an example peculiarly illustrative of the whole position of this Lecturé, to that memorable argument of our Saviour ; (Matt. xxii. 32, &c.) As
These realities, then, of the great plan of salvation have always been the same.
We add, that this great counsel of divine love has been not only uniform and one in its own substance, but that it has been uniformly working its way through the same substantial state of outward things; I mean, through the same furtherances, (in kind,) and the same impediments. It has had to operate upon the same moral constitution of human nature; to travel onward through the same order of natural providences. God has not altered (as far as is apparent to us) any of the courses of the mere physical world by the death, or since the death
touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living : because this passage seems to contain a sort of argument, exactly fitted at once to prove the real existence of the doctrine at the time referred to, and at the same time to account for its obscurity. To us, with the Scriptures of the New Testament in our hands, and with an assured knowledge of the great truth of everlasting life derived abundantly from later sources, it is an easy thing to fill up the blanks of this defective form of argument. To the Jews, however, it could not but be involved in much obscurity; and, indeed, even now it is a sort of passage that is by no means plainly its own interpreter. I think it is rather one which we ourselves should probably pass by, as proclaiming merely a solemn appellation of the Deity, and not look to as the vehicle of so chief a doctrine, had it not been repdered so prominent to a Christian's eye, by our Lord's above-mentioned application of it.