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living witnesses of the truth of God, and of the divine authority of that book which they profess to have been inspired by him. They may be even said to be witnesses also of the truth of Christianity, which is founded on the Jewish Scriptures, and is altogether the completion of them. What therefore God said to them in the days of old, may with yet augmented force be applied to them at this time, “ Ye are my witnesses, that I am God."] 2. What warnings they are to us
[Who that sees the present state of the Jews, and compares it with the predictions concerning them, must not acknowledge that God abhorreth iniquity, and will surely punish it even in his most highly favoured people? Methinks the sight of a Jew should produce this reflection in every mind. The Jews, because they were descended from the loins of Abraham, and had been distinguished by God above all the nations upon earth, imagined themselves to be safe: but when they had filled up the measure of their iniquities in the murder of their Messiah, the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost. Let not Christians therefore imagine that the name and profession of Christianity will screen them from the wrath of God. The sentence of exclusion from the heavenly Canaan is gone forth against all who reject the Lord Jesus Christ; and it will assuredly be executed upon them in due time: for “how shall they escape, if they neglect so great salvation?" Our inquiry must be, not, Am I instructed in some particular tenets, or observant of some particular forms? but, Am I “circumcised in heart, so as to love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart, and with all my soul?” This is the point to be ascertained; for "if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, he will be anathema maran-atha:" he will be accursed; and God himself will for ever inflict the curse upon him.)
3. What encouragement we have to seek their welfare
[Notwithstanding God has given so many promises respecting them, the Christian world for many hundreds of years have scarcely thought them worthy of the smallest attention. Christians have been anxious for the welfare of heathens, and have sent missionaries into every quarter of the world to instruct them: but for the Jews they have felt no interest whatever: they have left them to perish without so much as an attempt for their conversion. But what base ingratitude is this! To whom are we ourselves indebted for all our privileges, but to Jews? Who wrote, and preserved with such
& Isai. xlü. 12.
wonderful care, the Scriptures of the Old Testament? or who wrote the New Testament, but Jews? Who died to redeem our souls from death and hell? a Jew. Who at this moment makes intercession for us at the right hand of God? a Jew. Who
manages every thing in heaven and earth for our good, and is a fountain of all spiritual good to our souls? a Jew. Of whom were the whole primitive Church composed for the first six or seven years? Jews. Who went forth with their lives in their hands, to convert the Gentiles; and to whom are we indebted for all the light that we enjoy? they were Jews. Have we then no debt of gratitude to them? And have we not reason to blush when we reflect on the manner in which we have requited them? Blessed be God! there are at last some stirred up to seek their welfareh. Let us unite with heart and hand, to help forward the blessed work. From what we see of their blindness and obduracy, we are apt to despond: but “the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save:” he can as easily engraft them in again upon their own stock, as he could engraft us upon it: and he has therefore engrafted us upon it, that we might exert ourselves in their favour, and be instrumental in restoring them to the blessings they have lost'. Let us at least do what we can, and leave the issue of our labours unto God.] h Preached in 1810.
i Rom. xi. 30, 31.
THE WAY OF SALVATION PLAIN AND EASY. Deut. xxx. 11-14. This commandment which I command
thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
IT is a very prevalent idea in the world, that all people shall be saved by the law under which they live; so that Jews, Turks, and heathens of every description, have as good a prospect of salvation, as those who enjoy the light of the Gospel. But there has been only one way of salvation from the fall of Adam to the present moment. How far God may be pleased to extend mercy for Christ's sake to some
who have not had an opportunity of hearing the
What it was may be seen by consulting,
[It was not the moral law that was given on Mount Sinai, but “the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeba.” The law given on Mount Sinai, of which Horeb was a part, was strictly a covenant of works: but that which was given in the land of Moab, was a covenant of grace. That on Mount Sinai made no provision for the smallest transgression : it simply said, Do this, ' and live: but that in the land of Moab was accompanied with the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices both on the altar and on the people"; and intimated, that through the blood of the great Sacrifice their iniquities, if truly repented of, might be forgiven. And this distinction is very carefully noticed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where St. Paul, mentioning some particulars not related by Moses, declares, that, by the covenant thus ratified, remission of sins was provided for, and might be obtained by all who sought it in the appointed way.] 2. An inspired exposition of the passage
[St. Paul is expressly contrasting the nature of the two covenants: the Law, he tells us, required perfect obedience, and said, “ He that doeth these things shall live in them d.” But the Gospel, that is, “ the righteousness which is of faith, speaketh on this wise;" and then he quotes the words before us, and explains them as referring to the Gospel. Some have thought that he quoted these words only in a way of accommodation; but it is plain that he understood them as strictly applicable to his point. Speaking of the righteousness which is of faith, he says, “ But what saith ito?” He then, quoting Our Lord says,
a Deut. xxix. 1. b Exod. xxiv. 3—8. c Rom. x. 5–10. d Lev. xviii. 5. and Deut. xxvii. 26.
e Some would rather substitute the word he. But our translation is right.
See Beza in loc.
St. John says,
the very words of Moses, answers, “ The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart;" and then he adds, “ This is the word of faith which we preach." If then the Apostle was inspired by the Holy Ghost, the matter is clear; and the Gospel was the commandment of which Moses spake. And it is worthy of observation, that Christ and his Apostles speak of it under
similar terms. is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent:" by which he means, that it is the work which God requires of us'. St. Paul calls the Gospel, “ the law of faith.” “ This is his commandment,
believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christh.” And “ obeying the Gospel” is the common term used for believing in Christ.]
3. The particular characters by which it is distinguished,
[Moses speaks of it as plainly revealed, and as easily understood. Now this representation accords with that dispensation of the Gospel which was given to the Jews: they had no necessity for any one to ascend up to heaven, or to go over the sea, to bring them information about the way of life; for God had already revealed it to them from heaven: he had shewn them by the moral law that they were all in a state of guilt and condemnation; and he had shewn them by the ceremonial law that they were to be saved by means of a sacrifice, which should in due time be offered. And though that revelation was comparatively obscure, yet any Jew with pious dispositions might understand it sufficiently to obtain salvation by it.
But these characters in the fullest sense agree with the Gospel as it is made known to us. We are not left to inquire whether there is a Saviour or not? whether Christ has come down from above? or whether he has been raised up again from the dead? We know that he has come into the world ; that he has “ died for our sins, and has risen again for our justification :" we know that he has done every thing that is necessary for our reconciliation with God, and will do every thing that can be necessary for the carrying on and perfecting the salvation of our souls. There is no uncertainty about any point that is of importance to us to know. Nor indeed is there any difficulty in understanding what he has revealed. All that is required, is, a simple, humble, teachable spirit; and to such an one, however ignorant he be in other respects, every part of the Gospel is clear. The humble Christian “ has within himself the witness" of all the fundamental truths of the Gospel. What doubt can he have that he is a guilty and condemned creature; or that he needs an atonement for his sins, and a better righteousness than his own for his justification before God? What doubt can he have that he needs the influences of the Holy Spirit to renew him after the divine image, and to render him meet for heaven? “ If the Gospel be hid from any, it is because the god of this world has blinded their eyes:" it is not the intricacy or obscurity of the Gospel that makes it unintelligible to them, but the simplicity and brightness of it: “ they love darkness rather than light;" and complain of the Gospel, when the fault is only in themselves. As revealed to us, the Gospel is not obscure; but, as revealed in us, it is bright as the meridian sun.]
f John vi. 28, 29. & Rom. iii. 27. h 1 John iii. 23. i Rom. x. 15. and xvi. 26. 2 Thess. i. 8. 1 Pet. iv. 17.
Such then “is the commandment which God commands us this day." We proceed to consider, II. What is the obedience which it requires
It demands from us,
[Without this all the knowledge of men or angels would be of little use. On this our salvation altogether depends. Moses says, " The word is in thy heart:” and St. Paul's exposition of it is, “If thou shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Thus a mere rational assent to divine truth is particularly excluded from the office of saving; and salvation is annexed to that faith only which calls forth all the affections of the soul, “a faith which worketh by love." As “a commandment," it is to have all the force of a law within us, “casting down imaginations with every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God," and "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” It is not sufficient that we acknowledge the death and resurrection of Christ as parts of our creed; we must see and feel the necessity of them in order to the deliverance of our souls from death and hell; and we must also glory in them, as the infinitely wise, gracious, and allsufficient means of our redemption. We must have such a view of these truths, as makes us to “ account all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of them.” This was insisted on as necessary to the admission of converts into the Christian Church. And it is the experience of all who truly belong to Christ!.]
2. An outward confession of them with the mouth
[It is curious to observe what minute attention the Apostle
k Phil. iii. 8.
1 Rom. vi. 17. See the Greek.