Billeder på siden

himself being immutable, the moral Law, which is but the expression of his eternal will, must needs be immutable also. This Law therefore is adopted into the Christian dispensation; and it still serves the very same purposes, that ever it did. It is still an obligatory rule of conduct for all God's servants: and it still, whenever they transgress, teaches them to look for pardon and justification, not to itself, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin and by the Law all the world is become guilty before God; but to the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, that so he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.'

The ceremonial Law then is abrogated, simply because the shadow has given place to the substance: but the moral Law still subsists in full force, and is a constituent part of the Christian dispensation no less than it was of the two former dispensations.

[ocr errors]

(2.) Yet, though the ceremonial Law is abrogated, certain ordinances, with a slight alteration, have been retained.

Thus the sabbath, which was instituted under Patriarchism, and which was recognized under Judaism, is adopted into Christianity by the appellation of the Lord's own day; the holy season of rest being transferred from the last to the first day of the week, in perpetual memory of the resurrection of him who is Lord of the sabbath.

Rom. iii. 19, 20, 24, 25, 26.

Thus the sacrament of baptism occupies the place of the Levitical sacrament of circumcision: its outward form being evidently borrowed from the ablutions under the Law, while its inward and spiritual grace is the very same as that of the Hebrew


Thus again the sacrament of the Lord's supper has succeeded to the sacrament of the passover: the external form indeed being changed, but the internal purport being still the same; for in each the body and blood of Christ are symbolically set forth before the eyes of the faithful.

And thus, as the twelve apostles jointly reflected the Aaronical pontificate; so the seventy disciples were plainly enough chosen in reference to the seventy elders of Israel.' These were the rudiments of the Christian priesthood; which a man can no more lawfully arrogate to himself, than a younger brother under the Patriarchal dispensation, or a laic under the Levitical, could rightly assume the Patriarchal or the Levitical priesthood. The very same reason holds in each case. How shall they preach, except they be SENT? And who can have authority to send, unless God immediately, or certain of his previously appointed messengers deputatively? But an immediate commission from God no man can pretend to, except he can display such a seal of his commission, as those have invariably displayed who have really received

Luke x. 1, 17. Exod. xxiv. 1, 9. Num, xi. 16, 24, 25. 2 Rom. x. 15.

[ocr errors]

a commission of this sort: I mean the seal either of miracles or of prophecy. Without this seal, a wide door would plainly be opened to every wrongheaded fanatic, who by the mere conceit of enthusiasm should imagine himself to be specially sent of the Lord. In the ordinary course of God's dispensations, to that inward moving of the Holy Spirit, which a good man deeply interested in the eternal welfare of his fellow-creatures may soberly trust and hope that he experiences, must be added an outward mission and an official consecration by those, who have public authority given unto them in the congregation to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard: for God is not a God of disorder, but of peace; and it must never be forgotten by the humble and discreet Christian, or rather a humble and discreet Christian never will forget, that personal holiness does indeed qualify a man for the priesthood, but that of itself it can never confer any lawful sacerdotal authority. Nor let this be esteemed the mere overstrained conceit of what has been termed high-church theology. If some have urged the authority of the Christian priesthood beyond all rational and scriptural bounds, we are not on that account to annihilate its authority altogether. The very idea of an angel or messenger of Jehovah, as a priest is indifferently styled both under the Levitical and the Christian dispensation, implies that he is sent of Jehovah."

3 Art. xxiii.

2 Malach. ii. 7. iii. 1. Rev. i. 20.

But not a single example can be brought from Scripture of the authority of any person being recognized: who was not either preternaturally sent, in which case he vouched the truth of his mission by prophecy or miracles; or who was not regularly sent forth into the vineyard by the authority of those, who had been constituted spiritual rulers in the Church. An irregular effort might be tolerated or winked at both under the Law and under the Gospel; but I find no instance of its being sanctioned. Even Christ, in his human capacity, glorified not himself to be made a high-priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Well therefore, and most conclusively, does the apostle argue from the greater to the less, that no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God. For, if even Christ set such an example of obedient humility, much more ought his disciples to shrink from obtruding themselves into the sacred office of the priesthood.

[ocr errors][merged small]



As the promised Redeemer is the grand theme of all the three dispensations, and as the benefits to be derived from his corporeal manifestation form the subject on which the faith of God's people has been exercised in every age: so it seems to have been a part of the divine plan, that that faith should be strengthened under the two first dispensations by certain visible descents of the Saviour, previous to his permanent appearance in the flesh under the consummating dispensation. Thus the whole scheme, in its several parts, was made to exhibit that harmonious concinnity, which may best serve to establish the strict unity of its design.

The opinion, that the Angel or Messenger of Jehovah, so frequently mentioned in the Hebrew Scripture, was a corporeal manifestation of the predicted Messiah, has long, and with much reason, prevailed in the Christian Church. By Jus

« ForrigeFortsæt »