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" that hath not the Son of God hath not life." This is the centre of revelation, in which all the lines meet from every part of its ample circumference. The everlasting mercy of God in purposing the salvation of sinful men; his infinite wisdom, forming the grand design of glorifying his justice and holiness, even in pardoning and blessing those who deserved the most tremendous punishment; his unfathomable love, in giving his only-begotten Son to be the Saviour of the world; the “great mystery of godliness, God manifest in “ the flesh,” Emmanuel purchasing the church with his own blood; the love of Christ in his obedience unto the death of the cross for us; his glorious resurrection, ascension, and mediatorial exaltation ;-these constitute the central and most essential part of the message of God to us. “This,” says he, by a voice from heaven, “ This is
be“ loved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye « him.”
Revelation also announces to us our real situation in this world, as criminals condemned to die: “Dust ye are, and to dust ye shall return.” This sentence will certainly and shortly be executed upon every one of us; but we are also liable to a more awful condemnation in another world, from which deliverance may now be obtained.
We are therefore respited from day to day: or rather we
• 1 John v, 11, 12.
are put to death by a lingering execution; as every pain, disease, or natural decay, is an anticipation of the separating stroke. But we are placed under a dispensation of mercy, and it is the grand concern of our fleeting days to seek the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls, before the opportunity be for ever gone. The
message therefore warns all men to flee from the wrath to come, commands them to repent and believe in Christ, and exhorts them without delay to forsake and break loose from every object, which keeps them from “fleeing for refuge to lay hold on the " hope set before them” in the gospel.
The sacred scriptures give us likewise most important information concerning the holy Spirit; as the Author of divine life, and the Giver of wisdom, strength, holiness, and consolation; as engaged to give efficacy to the word of salvation by his regenerating influences; and as promised to all those who pray for the inestimable benefit. “If “ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts “unto your children, how much more shall
your “heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that so ask him!.”
The same divine message prescribes also the means by which we may apply for these blessings, and render our Benefactor the tribute of thankful adoration. It directs us to diligent and persevering investigation of the scriptures; and to continual earnestness in prayer: it reveals to us our God upon a throne of grace, to which we are invited to approach through a merciful and faithful High Priest; suggests pleas to be used in our supplications; and sets before us exceedingly great and precious promises, to direct our desires and animate our hopes: and it appoints other ordinances, in which we may wait on the Lord, and renew our strength, that we may run with patience the race set before us. We are also informed in the same manner, that there is an innumerable company of holy angels, who worship before the throne of God, and are nevertheless “all sent forth “to ininister unto the heirs of salvation;" and on the other hand, that there are fallen angels, numerous, powerful, subtle, malicious, and indefatigable, who watch every opportunity of doing us mischief, and especially of deceiving, defiling, and ruining our souls; from whose devices we can have no security but in the protection and guidance of him, who “ was manifested to destroy the works “ of the devil.” Finally, the message of God shows us the
i Luke xi, 13.
peculiar character, motives, and conflicts of those who are truly religious; and distinguishes them from all other persons: and it gives directions, instructions, examples, cautions, and encouragement sufficient to render us wise unto salvation, and thoroughly furnished unto every good work. This view of the subject is indeed too compendious to give us an adequate idea of it; but it must suffice for our present purpose.
We proceed therefore
II. To illustrate the import of the declaration, “ It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your
“ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy “God in vain ;" that is, to confirm a false or doubtful assertion, or in a trifling concern.
This may throw light upon the subject before us. The message contained in the scriptures does not relate to things false or doubtful. There are indeed religious impostors, deluded enthusiasts, and priestly usurpations; but all religion is not enthusiasm or priestcraft: General declamations to this effect only prove that men are unable or unwilling to distinguish betwixt the genuine and the counterfeit; which evinces, that either their understandings or their hearts are very faulty.—The apostle Peter, just before bis martyrdom, endeavouring that the disciples might be able after his decease to have the things he had taught them always in remembrance, added, "For we have not followed cun
ningly-devised fables, when we made known to you
the power and coming of the Lord Jesus, " but were eye witnesses of his majesty: for he re“ ceived from God the Father honour, and glory, " when there came such a voice to him from the
“excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in “ whom I am well pleased. And this voice which
came from heaven we heard, when we were with “ him on the holy mount.” But aware that the belief of this event depended entirely on his testimony,
with that of James and John, he subjoined “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, “whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as to a
light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, " and the day star arise in your hearts'.”
It may indeed be argued very forcibly, that the publick miracles, recorded in scripture, could never have obtained credit among contemporaries, had they not been actually performed; and that no future generation of Israelites or Christians could possibly have been persuaded, that their forefathers had always believed them, had the report been afterwards invented and propagated. Would it, for instance, by any method be practicable, to bring the inhabitants of this nation to believe that a hundred years ago the Prince of Orange, at the revolution, marched an army through the German ocean, and that this had always been known and credited ?
The argument therefore from miracles openly performed, or publickly attested, before those possessed of power, and engaged by interest, reputation, and inclination to disprove them, is very