« EdellinenJatka »
devotion at home; the like idolatry to which is at this day practised both by the Greek and Roman church towards the images of Christ and the saints.
Paul having staid two years at Ephesus, we may be assured that he had succeeded in bringing over many to the knowledge and worship of the one living and true God, and a holy and virtuous life in obedience to the Gospel; otherwise he would never have remained so long in one place. As the service, however, was now become difficult on account of the late tumults, and other disorders creeping in among the members of the church or congregation, we see the ground of
of the cautions which he gives to this excellent young man.
In the beginning, having reminded him of the reason which occasioned the apostle's entreaty that he should stay behind him at Ephesus; viz. that he might discountenance and put a stop to the Jewish and heathen mixtures with which some were already adulterating the Gospel, which tended to subvert the truth concerning God and; Christ, and to make void their obligations to a holy life ; and having rebuked some of them for pretending
to such a superior knowledge in the law, beyond our apostle himself as it should seem, whilst they were most ignorant of it, and did not keep at a sufficient distance from the sinful wicked practices which it condemned; he launches forth into the praises of “the glorious Gospel of the blessed God,” as he styles it, which carried still further this divine purpose of making men good and holy and happy: and he expresses great thankfulness that he had been called out to be the teacher of so heavenly a doctrine, even after he had opposed it, and persecuted those who professed it : for which he deeply condemns himself. After which he proceeds in the words be
“ This is a certain truth, and worthy of all acceptation:” q.d. “It is not merely with a view to my own case, though I have so much reason for it, that I extol this excellent and divine dispensation of God by Jesus Christ; but because it can never be enough prized and esteemed by all the world.”
It will be happy, if I may be able so to open and exhibit to you this most certain truth, so full of comfort to frail and fallible mortals, that we may all be the more excited to value it, and to embrace the good terms
proposed to us by this appointed Saviour of the world.
We are then led first to inquire how it was that Christ came to save sinners ; i. e. had a divine commission: for that
will find to be the Scriptural meaning of coming, or coming into the world, when applied to our Lord.
When we consider that none in this our frail state of humanity are entirely free from sin; and how obnoxious also the greater part of mankind are to their Maker by their many offences and wilful violation of his laws, and the wickedness and misery they cause and bring upon others :
We cannot but entertain a fear and apprehension of the just displeasure of the almighty Governor of the world : that he will not be indifferent to such behaviour, nor let such pernicious examples and disturbers of the happiness of his fair creation go unpunished.
And though, from our natural feebleness and frailty, and the strength and violence of the temptations to which men are sometimes exposed, they might indulge some hope that
when they forsook their evil ways and returned to their duty they might be restored to the divine favour,--there would nevertheless remain a suspicion that they might still be called to account in another state for their past transgressions, especially where they had done irreparable mischief to others.
Under these circumstances the comfort and blessing of a divine revelation
in making us acquainted with the merciful kindness of him that made us, that he is always ready to receive his truly penitent creatures to his favour, and will not remember their transgressions against them. But you
will observe, that this pardoning mercy
of God is not a discovery peculiar to the Gospel. It was equally made known to the old world before Christ. “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die;" (speaketh almighty God by his prophet Ezekiel xxxiii. 14.) “ if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right
none of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him : he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live." 'And Isaiah says (lv. 7) “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and
let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him ; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon.”
Since then it here plainly appears that Christ neither procured nor first revealed the divine forgiveness to repenting sinners, for that the people of Israel were fully apprized of it before he came among them and spoke to them; we are still to inquire, in what way it is that he saves sinners : what is that great blessing which the whole sinful race of men have by him, of which the Scriptures, especially of the New Testament, are every where so full.
Now this we shall easily come at the knowledgeofby considering that, thoughthe almighty Being had always from the first assured his creatures of his kind dispositions to pardon their sins upon their forsaking them, and had given intimations from time to time that they should not be suffered to perish for ever in the grave to which all were consigned; yet the way in which this was to be accomplished, and the entire discovery of it, was reserved to be made known by our Saviour Jesus Christ, who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. “Search the Scriptures;” (says he to the