Imágenes de páginas

also, to whom the opposers of the orthodox doctrine of Christ's personal reign are pleased to trace what they call the absurdity of MiHenarianism, lived in the second century, and was instructed by Polycarp, one of the disciples of John. All which goes to prove, beyond a doubt, what indeed has never been denied, that this book came into immediate use in the churches; as might well be believed, both from the constancy of the blessing before us, and from the peremptory mandates given to John to send it to the churches. These things are certain. I will now advance a conviction of my own ; That the readiness, the promptness, to a fault, for meeting martyrdom, was due first of all to the glorious promises of the seven epistles, being addressed only to those who should overcome and be faithful to the death; and, next, to the most wonderful honour put upon the martyrs' blood in the xii th chapter, where no less a consequence is ascribed to their not loving their lives unto the death, than this, “ that thereby Michael and his angels were able to prevail in battle against the devil and his angels, and cast them headlong out of heaven.” Add to this the assurance given in the vith chapter, that ever as the martyr's blood was poured out before the altar, his soul clothed in white went in before the Lord, and was partaker of his joy. I have no doubt, therefore, that the repeated mention of “the time being near at hand,” had the effect of bringing forth that “noble army of martyrs,” who won for Christianity its seat and dignity upon the earth. True it is, that when the church began to be leavened with the mystery of iniquity, and to work into the hands of the Roman emperors, and the Papal adultery was consummating, it came to pass that this book, which presenteth the church as ever suffering from, and ever contrary to, Rome, began to fall out of the hands of the preachers, and ministers, and flock of Christ, into the hands of the scribes and the doctors, out of whose hands it hath hardly yet been delivered. And now they went so far as to cast doubts upon its genuineness and authenticity; and to beat down those glorious hopes of Christ's advent and kingdom on the earth, in the faith of which the first Christians bad won the crown of martyrdom. And as the light, and life, and liberty of these glorious hopes waned out with the hiding and sealing of that book from


which they flow, there came in the bondage, and oppression, and worldliness of the Papacy; until at length in the Reformation, this book was again unclasped by the preachers and opened to the people. You know well, who are children of the Church of Scotland, that there was no book out of which our reformers took the substance of their preaching against the Pope, more than out of this book : and you may depend upon it, my brethren, that if we are to be roused to make a stand and a demonstration against liberalism ; against blind indifference to Papists and Protestants, who in these times are put upon equal dignity and equal trust ; if we are to be delivered from union with the confederacy forming against Christ and his church ; it must be by again opening this most blessed book, of which it may be said now, as heretofore, “Blessed is he that readeth it, for the time is at hand.” I have undertaken to speak sincerely, without the fear of man, and with an open breast before God; and I tell you all, that one of the principal reasons

! which determined me to expound this book in this metropolis, where I received my education, and to which my knowledge is in some way due, was the support lately given here by so many distinguished, powerful, and reverend men, to opinions alike subversive of church and state, and their misguided zeal of liberality towards that false religion which our fathers abhorred. Now, having a love for these men, as well as a high value for the communications of this book, and, from the study of it, having seen the revolution wrought upon the minds of my people; and judging also from my own experience, who was convinced in my understanding, from reading it in faith, long before I was convinced in my heart, of the error of liberalism; I resolved to do the same office for this city which I had done for my own flock, and to bring before its thoughtful people the truth of God here declared ; to sow the seed of the truth, and endeavour to convince their hearts of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which this book gives to the church : being well assured, that, when I am gone away, God will pass it over unto other and abler hands, through whom this book may become the instrument of preserving us, as a church, and as a people, from those false principles and dreadful consequences, which are involved in the grand rebellion of these times, against the prophetic word of God, in favour of human wisdom, policy, prudence, and expediency.

3. The third particular concerning the transmission of this book is, that he sent his angel to signify it unto his servant John, and through him to the church on earth. Now, who, or of what kind and order, is this angel? We have already seen how it doth not blemish or impeach the Divinity of Christ, to say that by becoming man he brought himself into the condition of needing supplies of knowledge, as well as of consolation and strength, from the Father, which he received in answer to his faith by the continual ministry of the Holy Ghost; and with the Holy Ghost thus communicated from the Father, he, the person of the Son, ever contracting himself out of his Godhead, ever emptying himself out of that infinitude of being, wherein he thought it no robbery to be equal with God, did act with the weak implements of fallen manhood, a holy blameless life, a powerful triumphant life, making a shew of principalities and powers, and triumphing over them openly in his cross. Of this the Father's gift of the Holy Ghost to the body which he prepared, the Saviour received the fulness when he ascended up on high ; including the fulness of knowledge, as well as the fulness of power,


other kind of fulness which differenceth the condition of a weak, infirm, fallen (but not sinful) humanity, from the condition of that glorious and powerful, most dignified and beautiful humanity, in which he now sitteth at the Father's right hand, receiving the homage and confession of every creature of God;-which is all signified in that word, “ All power is given to me in heaven and on earth.” Those who ignorantly fear and idly talk, as if this did derogate from Christ's Divinity, must consent to learn the doctrine of the Trinity a little more perfectly; and a little more deeply to study the nature of a self-existent Being, if so be they will set themselves up to be teachers and masters in Israel : but if they will be content with the degree of learners, they may be taught by every opening of the

Holy Scriptures, that Christ did receive something from God on his ascension, which he had not before. And whether this something be much or little, it is equally contradictory to their notion of his Divinity that He as Christ cannot be added to in any respect. They

[ocr errors]


dare to'assert, that to say Christ received more knowledge

his ascension into glory, is to deny his omniscience and his Divinity (and yet he grew in wisdom] : well then I say if he received any additional power, it is to deny his omnipotence [and yet he says after his resurrection, “ All power is given to me in heaven and in earth;" and the Apostle says, “ he hath received the promise of the Spirit," or the promised Holy Ghost]: and if he received any more glory, why then he was not the all-sufficient one (and yet he prays to be glorified with that glory which he had with the Father before the world was]. And, to cut short this reproof of their unscriptural notions, it is written, Eph. i. 19—23, “ And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that ig named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come : and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” But if, not choosing to be taught, they will be teachers, then let them consider wherein lies the difference between a self-existent person, and one not self-existent, but created ; Where, but in this? that the created and dependent being hath a law according to which he must act out his being, whereas the other is a law unto himself; is the Parent of law, the Law-giver ; who is not bound to any limitation or extent of being, but hath power to contract himself to what form it pleaseth him to come into, and to hold him. self there how long he pleaseth, and for what ends his good pleasure moveth him thereto. Such power the selfexisting Son of God putteth forth, when he consenteth to be made man, and by act divine doth empty and exhaust himself unto the dimension of the embodied soul, which the Father appropriated to him ; and in so emptying himself and holding himself in limitation, I see the proof decisive of a Divine person. But being so emptied, is he not emptied ? Is it but a shew and sham of it? Is his knowledge, his power, his glory, his being, the same as ever ? Then where lieth the humiliation? It is not a reality, but only a fiction. And is he not God still ? Yea, he is God still; but God consenting, or having consented, for God's glory to be ever bounded and limited by man's conditions. And where standeth the Godhead now in its unrestricted freedom and unlimited infinitude? It standeth in the person of the Father ; ever blessed, ever worshipped: in whose worship the Son is worshipped, and the Holy Ghost likewise. And for what employeth the Father his infinite power, wisdom, and glory? To bring all things into subjection to his Son ; in this humbled form of manhood, to make him Head over all unto his church, to gather all things unto him, and in him to constitute them for ever blessed; and, conscious that their blessedness standeth only in him. Such an exaltation the Father gave him when he said, “ Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” The Son having done all to make the Father's name glorious by becoming the Christ, the Father straightway doth all to make the name of the Christ glorious over all creation. This is the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. I touch upon

it often because I love it, and would fain teach my adversaries something for the profit of their souls. And now when Christ had attained to the


of creation, and obtained that treasury of power whereby all creation was to be enriched, with which the Father himself was to go forth, not his own name to glorify, but the name of Christ, to whom do the supplies of the gift proceed forth ? in what streams do they flow ? Our text declareth in one particular instance, that when he had received of God that insight into his own future power

and glory which is contained in this book, he instantly despatched an angel to make it known by means of John unto his members upon the earth. The same delight in his church, the same headship over all for his church's sake, is set forth not by a particular instance, but by a general declaration, in that passage from the Ephesians which I have already quoted, but which I think it good to dwell upon a little more in this place, both to edify the believer, and to still the adversary. The Apostle exhorting the church to unity by various considerations doth lead them the way unto it, through the knowledge of all the various gifts and offices in the church being appointments

« AnteriorContinuar »