Images de page

Moreover, if the doctrines of the apostles were not divine, then what was it that made them hold so fast by these devices, and strive to bring the children of men under their influence? Was it the desire of gain? No; for they themselves willingly forsook all that they possessed, and never endeavoured to obtain riches. Was it the hope of obtaining honours? Such hope it was impossible that they could entertain; for their Master predicted to them, that in place of honours they should meet with sufferings and deaths, and sent them out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Some, however, will perhaps say, that they were deceiv ed through their own ignorance and simplicity. But there are no marks of ignorance to be observed in their sublime and divine writings. Again, if this was a device, it was not that of one man only, but of many, through many ages; or rather from the very foundation of the world, many had agreed to propagate the same device. Sooner, indeed, might all that is impossible have come to pass, than that this could have taken place. Hence every one ought to receive, without hesitation, the Holy Scripture as the authentic word of God. We have been the more particular on this point, because the arguments advanced prove, at the same time, the genuineness of Christian piety.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Of the substantial contents of the Holy


Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is the whole strength and substance of the Holy Scriptures, who was appointed before the beginning of time for our glory, believed on from the foundation of the world, announced by the prophets, and prefigured by sacrifices and ceremonies.

1. There are different things contained in the Holy Scriptures, as the commandments of the law, rules of morality, prophecies, accounts of different revelations which God made of himself to man, miracles, and promises; together with many accounts of the transactions of men, However, all these tend to nothing else but to the revelation of the eternal counsels of God, concerning the salvation of mankind through our Saviour Jesus Christ, Thus, for instance, the law, by bringing us to the knowledge of our guilt before God, leads us to seek for a Deliverer; the prophecies proclaim his approach; the sacrifices point him out; the different revelations which God made of himself, either prepare us to receive the faith of Christ, or illustrate more clearly the acts of our Saviour. And all the promises of God, in assuring us of the mercy of

our heavenly Father, rest on Jesus Christ, as our Mediator with God. The Holy Scriptures are filled with proofs of these truths. We shall advance a few: John i. 45, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write." 2 Cor. i. 20, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen;" that is, all the gracious promises of God have their foundation in him.

2. All the divine purposes are from eternity, amongst which the incarnation of the Son of God, and the cleansing us from our sins by his death, are the most exalted. 1 Cor. ii. 7, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory." On this account also, in the book of Revelation, the Saviour is styled, "the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world."

3. The foundation of the gospel faith, was laid at the very beginning of the world.

To the first man, Adam, God proclaimed his gracious will, and not only to him, but to all the children of men, in the following truly evangélical words:" And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," Gen. iii. 15. The meaning of


these words is this: The serpent is the devil, the seed of the serpent the wicked, and such as persecute the truth. The seed of the woman is Christ, Gal. iv. 4. The seed of Christ are the righteous and virtuous. Christ bruises the head

of the serpent when he destroys sin, and the wicked at last shall be bruised: but the serpent bruised the heel of Christ, in putting him to death according to the flesh, by his servants the wicked, and when he persecutes those that believe in him, though he cannot prevent their salvation.

These important glad tidings, as was requisite, were heartily received by our first father. And thus we see the foundation of faith at the very beginning of the world. His pious posterity followed this example, as Paul witnesses, -Heb. xi. 2. "For by it (faith) the ancients obtained a good report." Afterwards, this same faith was promised, and not only once, but repeatedly, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, in the following words: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Hence, the apostle Paul to the Romans, chap. iv. calleth Abraham not only a believer, and justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, but the father of all believers; that is, that all Christians, desiring to be justified before God, ought to take Abraham for an example. And thus every one will clearly

see, that the faith of Jesus Christ was founded at the very beginning of the world.

4. The blessings of the gospel predicted by the prophets.

That the truths of the gospel might be more evident, and less doubtful, God was graciously pleased to make known through the prophets, in various ways, for many ages before, what should come to pass. All of them, with one spirit, in the most sublime expressions, predicted the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The number of these prophecies is so great, that, in place of quoting any in particular, I shall only mark the texts of a few of them: Gen. xlix. 10; Psalm lxxii.; Isaiah ii, and xi. and liii. and Ix.; Jer. xxiii. 6. and xxxi. 31-34; Ezek. xxxiv. 23; Dan. ix. 24. to the end of the chapter; Hos. ii. 18; Amos ix. 11; Mic. v. 2; Hab. iii. 2; Zacch. ii. 10. and xiv. 8; Mal. iii. 1.

[ocr errors]

5. The reasons why sacrifices were abolished. The Heathen slew many different kinds of animals, and presented them as offerings to their gods; and some nations even sacrificed their own children as burnt-offerings. These acts of sacrificing amongst Heathens appear to have had their origin in this, that in their own consciences they found themselves guilty before God, and under his just wrath, which they thought to ap

« PrécédentContinuer »