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posed of facts; unless, indeed, the same facts had been communicated in predictions. In the historical form in which they now appear, they are much more easily and strongly realized, more readily believed, more capable of being substantiated by evidence, and more powerfully felt, than if they had been only predicted. The Epistles are also, in a great proportion of instances, written on subjects of real business, and for that reason are more easily proved to be genuine, are far more interesting and far more instructive than would other wise have been possible. Their different dates continue the indubitable history of the church through a considerable period, and furnish us with a number of very important facts which we could not otherwise obtain. Their direction to churches in different countries presents to us, also, with the extension and state of the church in different parts of the world at that time. The business concerning which they were written, occasions a display of the difficulties, doubts, errors, temptations, controversies, and backslidings—the faith, comforts, hopes, repentance, brotherly love, piety, and general excellence of the Christians to whom they were addressed. These are the peculiarly interesting circumstances of all other Christians. The instructions, therefore, the exhortations, commands, reproofs, encouragements, and consolations addressed to these churches, are to all other Christians, as to them, the very best means of reformation, improvement, and comfort.
The examples of the Apostles, which in a Gospel completed by Christ could not bave been recorded, are among the most edifying as well as most interesting parts of the sacred canon.
The variety of form and manner now introduced into the New Testament, is attended with peculiar advantages. It renders the Scriptures far more pleasing. A greater number of persons will read them. All who read them will read them oftener, and will more deeply feel their contents. It renders them far more instructive. In consequence of the various application of the doctrines and precepts to so many different concerns of mankind, clearer views are given of their extent and comprehensiveness. By a comparison also of the different passages thus written with each other, as they are thus written with a various reference and application, new truths are obviously as well as certainly inferred from them, almost without any limitation of their number. The iruths also which are thus inferred are always important, and frequently of very great importance. By this variety of manner, application, and inference, the Scriptures are always new, improving, and delightful, and exhibit incontrovertible evidence of divine wisdom in the manner in which God has directed them to be written, as well as in the wonderful and glorious things which they contain.
I have now finished this interesting head of my Discourse, and shall proceed to the consideration of the two remaining ones, which, respecting subjects generally understood, will demand our attention but a few moments.
The Third subject proposed was the Things which the Apostles preached.
On this I observe,
1. The apostles have written the whole New Testament, both the things which were said and done by Christ, and the things which were said and done by themselves.
2. They have either originally communicated, or materially explained, many doctrines and precepts which were either omitted or partially communicated by Christ.
Among these I select the following :
The connection which runs through the whole system of Redemption ; the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations ; their mutual dependence ; the absolute dependence of all on Christ; and the sameness of the manner and principles of salvation in all; the extent of the curse, and the unhappy efficacy of the apostasy of our first parents ; the parallelism between the first and second Adam, and between the ruin and recovery of mankind; the imperfection of the Sinaitic covenant; the superior glory and blessings of the covenant of grace; the priesthood of Christ, formed after the order of Melchisedek ; his government of the world for the benefit of the church ; his intercession in behalf of his followers before the throne of God; the preaching of the Gospel to Abraham and to the Israelites; justification by the grace of God through faith in the righteousness of Christ, founded on that righteousness as its meritorions cause ; the sameness of Abraham's justification with that of all other saints, both before and after the coming of Christ; the sameness of the religion of the Old and New Testament; the extension of the mediation of Christ, not only to the Jews but to all mankind; the nature of evangelical faith ; the nature of evangelical love; the progressive sanctification of Christians by the Holy Ghost; the difficulties of the Christian warfare, and the struggle between sin and holiness in the sanctified mind; the nature and circumstances of the resurrection ; the process of the final judgment; the conflagration of the earth and visible heavens; the worship rendered to Christ in the heavenly world ; and his peculiar agency in administering to his followers the happiness of a glorious immortality. These, together with a train of important prophecies concerning the affairs of the church throughout every age of the Christian dispensation, the apostles have added to the other contents of the Scriptures, or more perfectly explained them to mankind.
IV. The consequences of their preaching.
1. The apostles and their converts were furiously persecuted soon after they had begun to preach the Gospel, particularly by the Jews, and not long after by the Gentiles also. This subject is too well known to need a discussion from
It is extensively recorded in the New Testament, and largely insisted on in ecclesiastical history.
2. The apostles preached the Gospel with wonderful suc
Beside the many thousand converts whom they made among the Jews, they spread the Gospel from Hindoostan to Gaul, and planted churches throughout a great part of the Roman empire, in Persia, Hindoostan, and several other countries. The number of their disciples in these extensive regions was immensely great, and this vast wilderness was made. to blossom as the garden of God.
Exclusively of the residence of Christ in the world, nothing has ever taken place among mankind so wonderful and glorious as this event; nothing more unlike the ordinary progress of things, nothing more declarative of the presence and agency of God, nothing more evincive of the reality of Revelation. Whether we consider the religion to which mankind were converted, the difficulty of producing a real reformation in the human heart, the original character of the converts, the bigotry of the Jews, the ignorance and wickedVOL. II.
ness of the Gentiles, the vastness, uniformity, and enduring nature of the change, or the seeming insignificance of the instruments by which it was brought, fishermen, publicans, and tent-makers, few, feeble, friendless, despised, persecated, and, in many instances, put to a violent death, we are astonished and lost. A thorough discussion of the importance of this fact, the success of the Gospel, might easily and usefully fill a volume, but cannot be pursued at the present time. It has been a theme of exultation and joy to all succeeding ages of the church, and, as we have the best reason to conclude, of peculiar wonder and transport in the world above.
The evidence which it furnishes to the divine origin of the Gospel is immoveable, and has accordingly been always insisted on by Christians with superiority and triumph. Infidels have laboured to diminish and obscure it with extreme earnestness and assiduity, but they have laboured in vain. Gibbon, particularly, with much art, a malignant hostility to the Christian cause, and the most strenuous exertion of his talents, has struggled hard to account for this event by assigning it to other causes than the true one. The real effect of his labours has, however, been to leave the evidence of the inspiration of the apostles more clear, more convincing, and more unexceptionable, than it was before.
THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST.
ORIGIN, OFFICE, AND CHARACTER OF
PROOFS OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST.
THE LORD HATH SWORN, AND WILL NOT REPENT: THOU ART A PRIEST FOR EVER, AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISÉDEK.
PSALM CX. 4.
In a series of Discourses, I have considered the prophetical character of Christ. I shall now proceed, according to the plan originally proposed for the investigation of his office as Mediator between God and man, to consider his priesthood.
In order to a proper examination of this subject, it will bo useful to examine summarily,
I. The origin,
IV. Enquire in what manner the office and character of a priest may be said to belong to Christ?
I. The office of a priest undoubtedly had its origin in the first ages of the world. The earliest mention made of this
. subject in form, is found in Genesis xiv. 18, · And Mel.. chisedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine ; and he was the priest of the most High God.' The office was,