« ZurückWeiter »
But if men, who were distinguished for their intellectual abilities, and whose time was devoted to the attainment of knowledge and of truth, were so ignorant of the first and fundamental principles of religion, what must have been the situation of the common people ? Even in those refined and learned ages, did Isaiah's prophecy receive its full accomplishment. “ Behold darkness shall cover the earth, 66 and gross darkness the people.” But he adds, “ The Lord shall arise upon them, 66 and his glory shall be seen upon
them; and “ the Gentiles shall come to thy
light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."
This more comfortable part of the prophecy has been fully accomplished in Jesus Christ. What the wisdom and power of man were totally unable to perform, the Great Author and Finisher of our faith hath accomplished by his gospel, which he commanded his apostles to preach to every creature. At this time of universal ignorance and corruption, the Son of righteousness arose, and dispelled that darkness which for four thousand years had covered the Pagan world; and the idols of the nations were moved at
He taught even the benighted Heathens how they ought to serve God with fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.
By his discourses, and by his example, he explained, extended, and perfected the law, and filled Zion with judgment and righteousness. Those doctrines, which in the Old Testament writings were darkly revealed, and imperfectly understood, are clearly brought to light in the gospel. Every thing necessary, either to faith or practice, is unfolded, with such perspicuity, that he who runs may read. The blessings that the Israelites enjoyed were only shadows of good things to come; but when the Sun of righteousness arose upon
the earth, the shadows fled before the radiance of his light. He came to give knowledge of salvation to his people, - “ to give light to them that sat in dark“ ness and in the shadow of death, and to
guide their feet into the way of peace.” He was given for a light to lighten “ the Gentiles, and to be the glory of his people Israel.”
Now was the prediction of the prophet fulfilled : “ They shall “ all know me from the least to the great
s6 est of them ; for they shall be all taught 66 of God.”
Indeed a Christian, though placed in a humble station, though denied the benefit of a liberal education, yet if learned in the Scriptures alone, knows more of God and of 'the great truths of religion, than the most enlightened Heathen could ever at
“ No man hath seen God at any “ time; the only begotten, who was in 6 the bosom of the Father, he hath reveal66 ed him.” This is the great Prophet whom God was to raise up, like unto Moses, and to whom we are commanded to hearken. He came to proclaim the divine mercy,—to reveal the counsels of the Everlasting, and clearly to point out the path that leads to perfection and happiness for ever. He hath brought the message
peace and reconciliation to a guilty world; and the doctrines which he hath delivered are heavenly and spiritual, every way calculated for enlightening the understanding and purifying the heart, and therefore are to be received by us with faith and love, reverence and thanksgiving. How acceptable must they indeed be to those who, conscious of guilt
and of their inability to regain the divine favour, ardently desire the forgiveness of their sins, and peace with an offended God ? He hath commanded and authorised his servants to declare in his name, that God is in Christ“ reconciling a guil“ ty world unto himself, not imputing “ unto men their trespasses ;” and that 66 whosoever believeth in him shall not
perish, but shall have everlasting life;" nay, that he is the Author of complete and everlasting salvation to all who believe in his name and obey his word.
How perfect, O sinner, must that salvation be which he hath published, when it contains thy own deliverance from a state of deplorable darkness, wretchedness and guilt, from the condemnation and dominion of sin, from death and the grave, and from the power of thy spiritual foes ? It is a salvation which restores thee to the forfeited favour of God, which renews the divine image in thy soul, which bestows on thee the privileges of a child of heaven, and raises thee to the hope and to the possession of life everlasting. Such is the value and perfection of that salvation which Jesus came
heaven, to hear and to receive Christ as your Prophet, Priest, and King, yet his authority is not less powerful than at any former period. His command, delivered in his word, is as binding on your consciences at this day, as it was upon those of the chosen disciples to whom it was immediately addressed: it is as obligatory, as if, with your own eyes, you saw his glorious Majesty shining through the cloud on the mount of transfiguration : it enforces your obedience as implicitly, as if, with your ears, you now heard the voice of the Almighty Father calling upon you aloud, to hear and obey his well-beloved Son.
Although you are deprived of Christ's bodily presence, yet the eye of faith can carry you back to the glorious display of his Divinity on the Holy Mount, and forward into the highest heavens, and there behold a once crucified Saviour, now enthroned in glorious majesty, at God's right hand, where he still acts as Head of his Church, and where he shall continue to reign, till all his enemies are made his footstool.
Although you cannot hear his hea