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back the face of his throne, summons mankind before him, calls for his thunders, and the ministers of his wrath, ununcovers the mouth of the bottomless pit; and, while justice is in its full areer of punishment, he throws over his people the shield of his favor, and canopies them with almighty grace.
Well can he afford to disclose the utmost terrors of that day, for he feels that he is able to save unto the uttermost; he knows that even now he can pluck from the mind the sting of conscious guilt, and replace it with a peace passing all understanding, thus enabling his disciples to long and look for his appearing; and he knows that then, while all the guilty shall wail because of him, his people, upheld by his grace, shall rise superior to dismay, and shall only recognize in the pomp and grandeur of the scene, the celebration of their own triumph, and occasions for their joy. The saved and the lost will then meet together for the last time in contrast before his throne. And, as it will be the last time the righteous will be able to triumph on so large a scale before the intermediate eyes of the wicked; and, as the scene will be enacted partly to make that triumph complete, we may be assured that every thing present will tend to crown their glory with perfection. Sin will have reached maturity in the wicked, and prepared them for hell; holiness will have attained maturity in the righteous, and prepared them for heaven ; and when the purity and beauty, the joy and glory on the right hand, shall be seen in immediate contrast with the awful array on the left, all will acknowledge that the salvation of his people, as there displayed, is a worthy result of all his stupenduous plans, and abundantly exceeds all the lofty things he has spoken concerning them. In that one scene shall be combined, the consummation of all the plans of time, the rehearsal of all the glories of eternity. Oh, who can revere'him too profoundly, love him too ardently, or rely on him too confidently.
SPIRITUALITY OF OUR LORD'S TEACHING.
· The words that I speak unto you are spirit, and are lise.'
1. The doctrine of the spirituality of the divine nature, lies at the foundation of all true religion. Accordingly, to assert and
preserve it was one of the avowed designs of the Jewish economy.
But the frequency with which it became necessary for God to republish and defend the doctrine, showed how unknown and uncongenial it is to the unenlightened mind of man, and how difficult to maintain it in combination with an economy of carnal ordinances. It is true, indeed, that for some time prior to the advent of Christ, the Jews had not so entirely lost it as to relapse into the worship of idols; yet, short of this, their views of God were at perfect variance with the belief of his spiritual nature. Divesting him of all the properties peculiar to that nature, the popular creed pourtrayed him as circumscribed in his essence, and local in his residence, with a jurisdiction which dispensed with the inward homage of the heart, and which only took cognizance of outward acts.
But if, in the prevailing belief of the Jews, the Deity was only almost, in that of the heathen world, he was altogether such a one as themselves. They had gradually disqualified themselves for all virtue, and prepared, themselves for the commission of every vice, by debasing him to a level with themselves, and ascribing to him the attributes of a corporeal being.
God--the invisible, the al
mighty, the omnipresent, the omniscient Spirit—was not in all their thoughts. What an awful vacuity! He was excluded from his own world; lost to his intelligent creatures; while his place was occupied with the fictions of human fancy, and beings of material form.
God is a Spirit;' such is the simple announcement by which Jesus dispersed the legions of idolatrous error, and restored God to the world. This was the fundamental principle of his theology. In harmony with its importance, he taught it in every stage of his ministry, and in all varieties of form. The God he proclaimed is all-knowing and every where present, and to whom all things are possible; a being whom no man hath seen nor can see, and who requires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth; whose new evangelical kingdom on earth is to be seated in the human soul, having spiritual laws enforced by spiritual sanctions, and administered by the agency of bis Holy Spirit. By thus attesting the spirituality of the divine nature, and making it a fundamental doctrine of his gospel, our Lord lifted the mind of man from earth to heaven; provided against all our tendencies to materialise and debase religion; furnished a motive for every virtue; kindled in his church a central, all-pervading light: and animated all piety with a living soul,
II. Agreeably to the spirituality of the Supreme Being, and the relation in which we stand to him as his spiritual offspring, in exercising the prerogative of lawgiver, he had legislated for the soul. Human laws, for reasons the most obvious, can only take cognizance of outward acts. But even the positive rites of the Jewish code however carnal in their nature, and temporary in their obligation, were specifially designed and constructed for the soul; while of the moral law, the soul was the proper sphere,
the peculiar province of jurisdiction; it claims authority over actions only as they are the motions and expressions of the in-dwelling soul. It is, in effect, the voice of God speaking to the soul, and for it; giving utterance and energy to the enlightened and original dictates of the man within. But in entire oblivion or open defiance, of its spiritual nature, the Jews had made it of none effect by their tradition. Having dethroned and dismissed it from within,they limited its jurisdiction to the outward life, guarding every avenue by which it might return and resume its seat by a trivial ceremony, or a precarious tradition. And not only so, they bought themselves off at pleasure, from even an outward observance of the moral law, purchased a dispensation to transgress it, at the easy price of a little additional punctiliousness in the ritual worship. Thus discredited and disowned, its authority was merely nominal; and the only rank it was permitted to take was below the emptiest superstition.
But Jesus came to its rescue; restored to it the spirit and office which, in their hands, it had lost. The tables of the law prostrate and defaced, and overlaid with the long accumulated dust and rubbish of rabbinical lore, he drew forth and again set up: and retracing their characters afresh as with the finger of infinite purity, he re-published them with an authority and effect wbich the fires of Sinai re-kindled could not have increased. As expounded and enforced by his lips, especially in his sermon on the mount, they not only retrieved their original honors, but acquired a more perfectly reasoned and undeniable title to rule and reign in the heart. He claimed for the operation of the divine law, a scope and space as free and unbounded as the divine essence. He showed that, like the elemantal fire, it is not only present where it is grossly visible, but that it is all-pervading; that, with a lidless and un-slumbering eye, its gaze is fixed on all the thoughts and ways of the world; that it beholds nothing of an indifferent nature in the whole scene; but that noting, discriminating, and weighing all things, it every where and in every thing discovers the elements of good or evil, approving or condemning whatever transpires. Opening the dark and secret chambers of the heart, he showed it there searching for sin; having for its torch the sword of avenging justice, with which it flashed on the face of conscience as it passed, and detected sins which had not yet dared to come forth in action. He showed it there, discovering and arraigning evil in its first rudiments ; rage, in its spark; licentiousness, in its first glance; and murder ambushed in an unbreathed and unsuspected thought; sin in its seed, eoncealing the coming transgression, enclosing the future hell.
So multiplied were the sub-divisions, and so minute the gradations of duty, devised by the Jews, that the ob igations of holiness were well nigh forgotten, in endless disputes about the comparative importance and precedence of its several branches. Morality, as a practice, was in danger of being sentenced to wait, till morality, as a science, should be complete; till they should succeed in the hopeless task of determining the merits, and adjusting the claims of its respective parts, so as to give it the scholastic air of a system. Resolving their endless distinctions of duty into two classes, our Lord not only declared which is the first and great command, he showed them that the principle of all obedience, and the substance of all law, are essentially the same; that love is the fulfilling of the law. He taught that “all the law and the prophets,' all the duties enjoined from the foundation of the world are resolvable into this as their life and essence: and that consequently, wherever this principle exists, though the subjects of it may be ignorant that such duties have been formerly enjoined, it would