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voluntary, when we possess the means of examining their evidence and foundation. I reserve, till another opportunity, an inquiry into the criteria of moral and religious truth.
The most objectionable of the notions to which I refer, is the assertion that the Deity has not preferred one mode of discipline to another, or it would have been more plainly revealed.
I have endeavoured to shew that a plan of Church Government was so plainly revealed, that it was uniformly acted upon for fifteen centuries. That plan is founded upon the one simple and general proposition, that the Church of God was to be composed of several societies, each of which should be united by this one rule—that no person should assume any spiritual office without the permission of those superiors to whom the power of ordaining, confirming, and regulating the Churches, had lawfully and regularly descended. Every Church might consist of many congregations, and was independent of its neighbours; episcopacy alone being the bond of union among all Christians. The collision of opinions which has taken place since the Reformation, has prevented the adherents of this form of Church Government from so uniformly maintaining this truth, as it was their duty to do. They shrank from the appearance of defending a position, with which their own interest was identified. The consequence has been, that episcopalians have been long considered merely as the principal sect among Christians—and Christianity itself, as a collection of disputable opinions, supported by a variety of sects. The members of the reformed Episcopal Churches ought to have remembered that they were required in defence of truth, to submit to reproach and insult in every form.
The coincidence does not appear to be merely accidental, that the Baptist should be put to death at the time when the twelve apostles were sent forth. The Old Dispensation had now done its work. The schoolmaster led the people to Christ, and the twelve went forth to bring them in to their divine lawgiver. The foundations of the Christian Church were laid, Christ and his apostles being the corner stones. He now continued his miracles and teaching; by correcting the opinions of the people on their Jewish traditions-healing
the Syrophænician, as the earnest of the future healing of the Gentiles, a doctrine never wholly lost sight of-feeding the four thousand, who had probably followed him in the anticipation that he would save them from the Roman yoke. When our Lord healed a blind man about this time, St. Peter first declared his conviction in more express and decided terms, that the prophet of Nazareth was the Messiah. Upon this confession our Lord declares his Church to be built; and predicts to St. Peter, that he should become its second founder, by first opening its gates to the Gentile world. He then astonishes the apostle by prophesying his approaching death; and confirms the faith of his wondering disciples, whose minds were confounded with the apparent inconsistency between his asserted dignity and his anticipated degradation, by that scene which visibly opened the union of the two worlds, the Transfiguration on the mount. While their minds were still impressed with the remembrance of his glory, he again predicted his sufferings-and submitted, as a man, who was bound by the political regulations of society, to the demand for tribute. The chapter concludes with the contention among the disciples for superiority. They could not, till the Holy Spirit had illumined their minds, understand the doctrine of a spiritual kingdom. They saw that Christ could have maintained an army without expence—they saw the people eager to follow him-and they imagined that the Roman yoke would be thrown off at an early opportunity.
The principal notes refer to some of the Jewish traditions -our Lord's applying to himself certain expressions, by which the Jews described their Messiah, and the nature of the Messiah, whom they expected. The address to St. Peter-the disputing of the apostles-and the transfiguration, are briefly considered as interesting subjects of inquiry to the theological student.
V. The fifth chapter embraces the next great division of our Lord's ministry, the period from the mission of the seventy to his own triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As the victim was led to the altar garlanded with flowers, and followed by the acclamations of the people; so was our great Sacrifice adorned for the altar of the cross. Few remarks are necessary on the contents of this Chapter. The deeper impression produced by the preaching of his apostles and of the seventy, and by his own wonderful example, miracles, and teaching, began to appear more plainly. The agitation of the public mind at Jerusalem—the public assertion of his pre-existence-his increased boldness, as his personal danger became greater-his more numerous cautions to his disciples -his assertion of his divinity, and the consequent resolution of the Jews to apprehend him-successively prove the wisdom of the plan upon which our Lord acted, of gradually convincing the people, and then submitting to his painful death. No sooner was the resolution taken to seize him, than his lamentations over Jerusalem begin—his parables assume a more prophetic character, descriptive of the reception of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews. At length he goes on to work his greatest miracle, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and with that, (which appears to have been publicly performed before many of the rulers, who were eager to apprehend him,) to discontinue the appeal to the Jews by this kind of evidence. If he had wrought miracles at Jerusalem, it would have appeared that he desired to excite the people to rebellion. The whole nation were now made acquainted with his pretensions, and with the evidence upon which they were supported. He entered therefore Jerusalem amidst the shouts of the people, in a manner so remarkable, that he evidently fulfilled a prophecy of Zachariah. I have enquired, in a note to this passage, from a review of the history of the Jews, from the
date of the prophecy to the destruction of the temple, whether the prediction can be applied to any ruler of Israel, under any dynasty of its own, or of its foreign sovereigns.
VI. The sixth Chapter relates the conduct of the holy Jesus from his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, till his submission to the Roman guard, to whom he was betrayed. I have generally avoided devotional remarks on the New Testament, because every commentator abounds with them; and because they obviously present themselves to the mind of every reader of this wonderful, and beautiful book. I have, however, sometimes deviated from my rule, and was more especially tempted to do so, when I contemplated the joyful entry of our atoning Saviour into his once “ holy city.” The cleansing of the temple, the miraculous withering of the fig tree, and the voice from heaven, when the Greeks of the dispersion asked to see him, were sufficient to attest his divine power ; but they were not miracles sufficiently splendid to attract universal notice, and to excite the jealousy of the Pharisees. As the time of his betrayal was come, he did not hesitate to reprove, with more boldness than he had hitherto shewn, all the sects among his countrymen. He commanded the Herodians to render to Cæsar the things that be Cæsar's, and to God the things that were God's. To the Sadducees he explained, from the books of Moses, the doctrine of the Resurrection. The inconsistency of the apparently austere, but, in reality, immoral Pharisee, is reprobated with unsparing and indignant severity. The prophetic parables, the prediction of the fall of Jerusalem, and the allusions to the great event of which it was typical—his institution of the Eucharist, to be received by us all till he shall again come to judge the living and the dead—his exhortations to his disciples, his promises of his Holy Spirit, his meekness, his gentleness, and his love, present the perfect portrait, which the simple pen of inspiration alone can adequately describe. The view, which I have submitted to the reader, of the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, appears to be justified by the various circumstances which prove our Lord to be the second Adam. Our faculties must be enlarged in another state of existence, before we can comprehend the mysteries of Revelation. “ One little part alone we dimly scan,” that our faith may be strengthened with an earnest of the future great discoveries of God and his government, which shall await us in eternity.
VII. From the apprehension of Christ to the crucifixion. The Lamb of God is sacrificed—the atonement is accepted -and man is pardoned ! All unite to reject our Lord. His disciples deserted him—the most zealous of their number denied him--the high-priest insulted him—the servants mocked him — the soldiers spat in his face, and ridiculed his pretensions—the Sanhedrim condemned him. Though his betrayer declared the innocence of his victimthough Pilate acquitted him—though his accusers agreed not together, yet the heads of opposing factions unite to destroy him. The power of Rome, the religious hatred of an apostate Church, the changeable populace, who perhaps imagined their clamours were the voice of God, all combined to fulfil the prophecies, and murder the willing Sacrifice, which was about to intercede for them all. Our Lord never forgot his divinity in the midst of these scenes. When he was dying as a man, he forgave sins as a God. He refused to deliver his assumed body from the cross, but he declared his power as Lord of the invisible world. I have fully expressed my opinion on this point in the twenty-fifth note to the present Chapter. I believe the death of Christ to be a mysterious atonement for the sins of man.
I have no hope of everlasting happiness, but from my faith in this mysterious atonement. I believe this doctrine to be the one peculiar, fundamental, and characteristic truth of Revelation. I humbly prostrate my reason to the God who has given Revelation to guide us, as the best proof of my most rational homage to the Deity : and I pray that the consolation which I derive from this faith in the atonement of our only Lord and Saviour, may never be shaken by the presumptuous