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not family religion either banished altogether, or conducted with such formality as to render it irksome and unprofitable? -Our Lord left it as his dying command that we should often partake of bread and wine in remembrance of his body broken and his blood shed for us--Yet is not his table either shamefully deserted, or else profaned by impenitent, unsanctified communicants?-And what construction must.we put on such conduct? Our Lord plainly tells us, that he considers them as his enemies, and that none of those who thus despise his invitations, shall ever taste of his supperd-] 3. Those who persecute his people
[Persecution is not carried now to the same extent that it has been in former ages-But has it ceased?-Experience proves that there is the same enmity in the hearts of men against the faithful servants of God as ever there was There are many at this day who are true descendants of Cain and Ishmael-And, as long as there shall be an unconverted man upon earth, it will be found, that they, who are born after the flesh, will persecute those who are born after the Spirit - If they do not kill the saints, they will “revile them, and separate them from their company, and say all manner of evil against them falsely for Christ's sake”-And are not such persons enemies to Christ? Yes; he considers himself as the real butt of their malice-Saul thought he was justly pynishing some wild fanatics when he dragged the Christians to prison and to death; but Jesus said to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutesť thou me? —And the prophet tells us that whosoever toucheth the Lord's people, toucheth the apple of his eyes-]
The extreme enormity of their conduct appears in this, II, That the hatred of Christ is, in fact, a hatred of the
Father also Christ is essentially “one with the Father;” and as “ whosoever had seen Christ, had seen the Father,” so, “ whosoever hateth Christ must of necessity hate the Father also”—But it is evident in other points of view that they hate the Father; for they hate
1. His authority
[God commands all men to believe in his Son, to “kiss him” with holy reverence, and to honour' him even as they honour the Father"-But the unequivocal language of those who comply not with his command is, “ We will not have this man to reign over us;” “ Who is the Lord that we
d Luke xiv. 18, 24. & Zech. ii. 8.
e Gal. iv. 29. f Acts is. 4. h Ps. ii, 12. John v. 23.
should obey him? we know not the Lord, neither will we obey his voice”- Whatever they may pretend, they are not deceived through unavoidable ignorance, or impelled by irresistible force to reject Christ; they do it from a rooted aversion to the Father himself, and evince by their conduct the truth of that declaration, “ The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”;-] 2. His image
[The word, the ordinances, and the people of God, all bear upon them the impression of God's holiness-And this is the very ground of that aversion which rises against them in the hearts of the ungodly—The gospel is disliked as requiring so much purity and self-denial—The worship of God could be easily tolerated, if an outward form would suffice; but the spirituality and devotion necessary to an acceptable performance of this duty, causes the carnal heart to revolt from it as irksome-If the saints too would countenance the world in its sinful practices, the offence of the cross would cease; but thcy "make their light to shine before men;" and on this account they, whose deeds are evil, hate, revile, and persecute them Now this clearly proves, that holiness itself is their aversion, and consequently that the image of God, which principally consists in holiness, is hateful to them— Will any say, It is hypocrisy that they hate, and not holiness? Wherefore then were Christ and his apostles so universally the objects of cruel persecution? Was there any guile in him? Was he not brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person?” and walked not his disciples in his steps? It is certain, not only that the image of God is hated by the enemies of Christ, but that every thing that bears his image is hated by them on that very account, and in proportion as it exhibits a resemblance of him-] 3. His very existence
1 [It is vain indeed to entertain the thought that God could be annihilated-But, if we could suppose for a moment that it were declared from heaven, “There is no God; would not the tidings excite a general sätisfaction?- Would not all the haters of Christ congratulate themselves that there was no God to call them to an account, none to punish them for their iniquities?-Would they not look forward to an unrestrained indulgence of their lusts with pleasure, instead of weeping for the loss of their best and dearest friend ?-Yes; as the enemies of Christ exulting in his crucifixion, so would all who hate him rejoice, if the Father also were utterly extinct
i Rom. viii. 8, 7.
-That this is no fanciful idea will appear from the declaration
1. How desperate is the wickedness of the human heart!
(Wherefore is it that men are so full of enmity against Christ and his Father? Is it for having given us his dear Son that they hate the Father; or do they hate Christ for laying down his life for us?-Many good things has he done; for which of them do we reject him?-0 let the haters of God blush and be confounded; let them abhor themselves for all their iniquities, and abominations] 2. What a dreadful place must hell be!
[Here the wickedness of men is restrained by the preventing grace of God-But in hell it will rage without control-How will all the miserable spirits then vent their malice! How will they gnaw their tongues and blaspheme their God? May we never know this by bitter experience] 3. How astonishing is the tender mercy of our God!
[One would suppose that God should feel nothing but indignation against such an ungrateful world-But behold! he “ waiteth to be gracious unto them;" he sends them offers of pardon; he even intreats and “ beseeches them to be reconciled to him"m_o let his goodness lead us to repentance-Let us cast away the weapons of our rebellion, and bow to the sceptre of his grace-So shall we yet be numbered among the friends of God, and be living monuments of his mercy to all eternity-]
k Ps. xiv. 1.
! Rev. xvi. 9.
m 2 Cor. y. 20.
CCCLXXXIX. THE DANGER OF NEGLECTING THE
1 Sam. ïi. 25. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him?
THE consideration of an earthly tribunal is of great use to restrain the wickedness of ungodly men. But as there are innumerable offences which can neither be proved by human testimony, nor defined by human laws, it is necessary that men should be reminded of another
tribunal, to which they shall be shortly'summoned, and before which they shall be called to a strict account. Long before the deluge this was a topic much enforced by the preachers of religion;e and Eli adverted to it, as well calculated to enforce his exhortations, and to dissuade his sons from their impieties. His sons were transgressors of no common stamp: they are justly reprobated as sons of Belial. Their father being advanced in years, the administration of the priestly office had devolved to them. This office they abused to the purposes
oppres. sion and debauchery. The interposition of their father became highly necessary: as God's vicegerent, he should have vindicated the honour of God, and the rights of his subjects. He should have interposed, not only with parental, but judicial authority. He should not only have manifested his detestation of their lewdness and rapacity, but should have punished them with degradation. He however, either from a timidity and supineness incident to age, or from a shameful partiality for his own children, forbore to inflict the punishment they deserved; and conrented himself with expostulations and reproofs. He said to them, “Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil doings by all this people. Nay, my sons: for it is no good report that I hear; ye make the Lord's people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him?" With less hardened criminals these words might have produced a good effect: for if it be awful to be summoned before an earthly judge, how much more so to be called into the presence of God, laden with iniquities, and destitute of
advocate or intercessor!
May our mids be impressed with reverence and godly fear, while we consider the import of this admonition, and deduce from it some suitable and important observations.
The words of the text do not at first sight appear to need much explanation: but we cannot well understand the antithesis, or see the force of the interrogation, without adverting particularly to the circumstances, which occasioned the reproof. The sense is not, That, if a man violate an human law, he shall be condemned by an earthly judge; and, that if he violate the divine law, he shall be condemned by God himself: this is far short of its real import.
a Jude 14, 15.
The sin which the sons of Eli had committed was of a peculiar nature. They, as priests, had a right to certain parts of all the sacrifices that were offered: but instead of being contented with the parts which God had allotted them, and of burning the fat according to the divine appointment, they sent their servants to strike their fleshhooks of three teeth into the pot or chaldron where the meat was seething, and to take whatsoever the flesh-hook might bring up. If they came before the flesh was put into the chaldron, they demanded it raw, together with all the fat that was upon it. If the people objected to such lawless proceedings, or reminded them that they must not forget to burn the fat, the servants were ordered to take away the meat immediately, and by force. To these enormities, the young men added others of a most malignant nature: they, who, from their office, should have been ministers of justice, and patterns of all sanctity, availed themselves of their situation to seduce the women, when they came to worship at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Thus they discouraged the people from even coming to the house of God, and caused them to “ abhor the offering of the Lord.”
Now it should be recollected that sacrifices were the instituted means of reconciliation with God: there was no other way in which any offence, whether ceremonial or moral, could be purged, but by the offering of the appointed sacrifice before the door of the tabernacle: without shedding of blood there was to be no remission."
It should be remembered further, tha. these sacrifices were typical of the great sacrifice which Christ was in due time to offer upon the cross. The whole Epistle to the Hebrews was written to establish and illustrate this point. “ The blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sin:” they had no efficacy at all, but as they typified him who was to “ appear in this last dispensation to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
b Jude 16.
e Ver. 22.