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associations that objects derive their value and power to affect us.
Articles which are in themselves worthless, but which are the pledges of affection and friendship, and which are connected in the mind with interesting incidents, may be productive of the deepest emotion of which the soul is susceptible. It is thus with the memorials of your Redeemer's sufferings. To those who, in this institution, look steadfastly into heaven, who connect the past with the present,= Gethsemane and Calvary, with the scene which is presented at the right hand of God, the sacramental signs cease to be beggarly elements. Viewing, symbolically, what is seen immediately and constantly by the spirits of the just; you will, in some degree, and in as far as your imperfect state admits, be sharers in their felicity. A ray from the glory of the celestial temple will be communicated to your inward vision, and some faint echo of the halleluiahs of the worshippers before the throne will reach your ears.
THE PERPETUITY OF THE GOSPEL.
BY TAE Rev. WILLIAM BARR, HAMILTON.
1 Pet. i. 25.
• The Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word
which, by the Gospel, is preached unto you."
The first part of this text forms the conclusion of a passage quoted from the prophecies of Isaiah, in which the abiding character of the divine word is contrasted with the brevity of human life. “All flesh,” says the Prophet, " is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord enduręth for ever.” The latter clause of the verse, again, is merely the Apostle's explanation of what the Prophet means by the expression--the word of the Lord : “ And this," says he, “is the word which, by the Gospel, is preached unto you.” The doctrine, therefore, which the words before us plainly and specifically assert, is, the perpetuity of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God; and to illustrate this topic, and draw from it some of that improvement with which it is fraught, is what I propose to do in the
I sequel of the present discourse.
The perpetuity of the Gospel, it may be premised, is unquestionably a subject of very high interest, and one worthy at all times, but especially at the present moment, of our most serious consideration. Nor is it more interesting than it is fertile-expansive as a field of thought, and susceptible of varied illustration. It branches naturally forth, when studiously examined, into a variety of ramifications, each of which is marked by no small share of importance; and would, if fairly thought out in all its bearings, afford legitimate materials for very lengthened discourse. It is not, however, intended to protract the present exercise to an undue degree, by taking up every minute particular which the subject would warrant: I propose only to seize upon the more prominent points wbich it includes—to elucidate these with as much clearness as circumstances may admit—and, by doing so, to confirm your confidence in the stability of the Christian religion—to induce you to accept of the imperishable riches which it proffers—or, if you have already accepted them, to enlarge your views of their value and excellence.
I. I remark, then, in the first place, that the Gospel, styled by the Prophet “ the word of the Lord,” abideth for ever in its original form, or inasmuch as its essential features are unchangeable on the part of its Author.
The Gospel, like all the other works of the Almighty, is characterized by perfection. It is an economy of grace, complete in all its parts, and unencumbered by any thing unnecessary-exempt alike from defect and superfluity. It is, in short, -just such an economy as the necessities of the human race demanded, and still demand.
That it is so, may be justly inferred from its being the production of God-planned by his infinite wisdom, and effected by his infinite power. The same thing, too, would appear obvious from a review of its several parts, and would become more evident in proportion as these parts were minutely examined. Thousands, it is true, may peruse the Gospel as recorded in the Bible, and see little of its beauty, its adaptation, its completeness, its high finish. This, indeed,
is quite possible, and too frequently, alas ! exemplified. But let an awakened and intelligent sinner approach the Volume of Inspiration, and, with an unprejudiced mind, survey the scheme of mercy it unfolds ; let him either examine it as a whole, or break it down into its constituent elements, and examine each apart; whichever way he views it, he will find it to be a scheme replete with advantage to him-pregnant with the means of happiness for time and for eternity. He will perceive that it furnishes him with every thing he needs : with wisdom to dispel his ignorance with a fund of substitutionary worth to meet the demands of his guilt—with a sanctifying power adequate to counteract and overcome his native depravity ; in one word, with the means of a restoration commensurate, and more than commensurate, with the moral ruin he has sustained. And while he thus finds in it whatever he stands in need of, he will discover nothing which he does not require—nothing which is superfluous.
Now, the Gospel being thus, unlike the schemes of men, a perfect system-complete, yet having nothing redundant, it can, of course, be susceptible of no improvement, and conse,
, quently can stand in need of no alteration. There is nothing, therefore, in the method of salvation itself, as developed in the Scriptures, which can lead its all-wise Author either to change or to abolish it; it is every way honourable to His goodness, His wisdom, His power, as well as efficient to the purpose for which it is designed ; and may, equally with glory to Himself, and advantage to our fallen race, mitted to abide for ever.
But though the Gospel be thus a perfect economy of mercy; though no possible alteration could make it either more glorious or more efficient than it is and has been from the beginning, yet it is supposable that its continuance might be endangered by the caprice, the parsimonious benevolence, or the limited power of Him who gave it birth, and on whose will it depends. This, we say, is supposable ; but it is so
only apart from a remembrance of the character and circumstances of its Divine Author. Were it of human origin, or did it depend upon human legislation, then the folly, the selfishness, the imbecility of man might materially affect it; it would, in this case, be maintained in its original form, or re-modelled, or entirely abolished, just as a time-serving expediency might dictate. For thus it is, as the history of the past, and the observation of the present inform us, with the best sublunary institutions. Originating in the suggestions of human polity, and retaining existence by no surer tenure than the fickle determinations of erring human judgment, the will, it may be, of some absolute sovereign, or the edict of some legislative assembly, they are, to a great extent, the creatures of circumstances ; they stand continually exposed to the influence of the thousand conflicting incidents which are ever arising out of the evolutions of society, and are in danger of being either gradually modified to suit the prevailing sentiments of the times, or shattered to pieces by some sudden and violent concussion of the social system. Their existence is thus precarious in the bighest degree. It is otherwise, however, with the Gospel. Its origin is
, divine ; its author is God. It is the word, not of man, nor of any created being—it is the word of the Lord; and the permanence, the perpetuity of its being, is guaranteed by the absolute infinitude of Him from whom it proceeds. Like Himself, it is, till it has served the purpose for which it is designed, necessarily immutable. The unity of His purpose, the unceasing character of His love, the irresistibility of His power, in short, all the perfections of His nature combine to stamp it with immortality, and to preclude the possibility of it sustaining any change. The words of men may indeed be altered, or totally retracted; but the word of the true and faithful God, the proclamation of mercy made by Him to our race, is stable as the foundations of the universe, immoveable as the pillars of His own eternal throne ; sooner