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LECTURE II.

THE RELIGION AND FAITH OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD,

THE SAME (IN SUBSTANCE) UNDER BOTH TESTAMENTS.

The nature of man being the same now as from the beginning of the world, and the nature of God being unchangeable ; it must follow, that the great object of the dispensations of God to man must be the same in every age; though the form and manner after which that object is pursued may be different: so that what God spake in former times to the fathers by the prophets will be found the same in sense and effect with what he spoke in the last days by his Son; though he spoke in divers manners, as occasion might require at sundry times. This is a matter of the utmost consequence; and it is what I propose to show you in the present Lecture; namely, that it was the design of St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, to teach them that the religion of the people of God is, for substance and intention, the same under both Testaments.

This I shall prove from two general reasons, and afterwards from some particular ones,

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My first general reason is this ; That religion has the same name under the two dispensations of Moses and of Jesus Christ: it is called the Gospel : for the Apostle, speaking of those who were under the teaching of God in the wilderness, says, unto us was the Gospel preached as well as unto them ;* making the religion, delivered to us in the New Testament, but a repetition of what had always been delivered to the Church. The Gospel signifies a message from God for the salvation of man ; and as such was delivered at sundry times by Moses and the Prophets. If the word preached did not profit some, not being with mixed faith in them that heard it, this is no argument against the sense or sufficiency of the word itself ; it only shows us, that, in all ages of the world, some there have been, and will be, who, being carnally minded, and wholly attached to this world, are destitute of that principle, which the scripture calls by the name of faith; and which, as an universal test to the servants of God, is the same yesterday, to-day and for

ever.

What I here say leads me to my second general reason, to prove, That religion is the samé under both Testaments ; and this is, that it has the same general characteristic, or mark, by which it is to be distinguished. If we ask, what was the religion of the Jews, who received the law from Moses ? The answer is plain ; it was a religion which believed things past, and had faith in things to come, expecting the present favour of God from the observation of certain acts of religious worship, as seeing him that is invisible. This principle of faith has been the characteristic of the true religion from the beginning of the world. To Adam the generation of the world was an article of faith ; and the effects of the tree of life and the tree of knowledge were no objects of his sight. After the Fall, the expectation of a Saviour, the seed of the woman, who should bruise the head of the serpent, was another article of faith ; as was also the curse to be executed upon the earth, which the world in the days of Noah had neglected and forgotten. There never was a time when true religion did not believe something past, and expect something to come, and conform itself to ordinances, the effects of which were of a spiritual nature; and it is the trial of man in this life, whether he will observe such ordinances, and depend

* Heb. iv. 2.

Adam's dependence was upon the sacramental Tree of Eden. The Patriarchs and Jews depended on the rights of sacrifices and purifications, imposed on them till the times of reformation ; and we are taught, by the example of Abel, that a sacrifice was ac

upon them.

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cepted for the faith of him that offered it. Christians now depend on the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. With regard to the past, they believe that Christ suffered for their sins, and arose from the dead ; and with regard to the future, that he shall come again to judge the world. The religion of the people of God always was, and always will be, a scheme of faith and dependence : therefore it is an universal doctrine, common to all ages, which a Prophet delivered and an Apostle hath confirmed, that the just shall live by faith.* Let him be as just as he will, his life is not from his justice, but from his faith ; without which he hath nothing of that life which true religion gives ; and is dead in the sight of God. To the same effect, our Apostle, speaking of Enoch, that according to the testimony of the scripture, he pleased Godit draws an inference in favour of Enoch’s faith, because without faith it is impossible to please him. I This general prin

I ciple of faith, while it reconciles and unites the religion of both Testaments, serves to detect every false religion that has been or can be invented ; because in such there can be no faith properly so called ; in as much as it will either have false objects, or none at all.

* Chap. x. 38. + Gen. v. 22. and Eccles, xliv. 16. Chap. xi. 6.

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In the religion of the Gentiles, there was a sort of faith, but it was chiefly directed to objects fabulous and false. The Mythology (by which I mean the religious mysteries) of the Greeks gave them a traditionary account of the world's original ; of its destruction by the flood; of a future paradise (called Elysium) for the virtuous ; and a place of torment (called Tartarus) for the punishment of departed souls, after a formal trial and condemnation by the judges of the infernal regions : and they preserved the institution of sacrifice; thereby confessing their dependence on invisible powers for the expiation of sin. They also maintained the doctrine of man's natural blindness and impotence without the assistance and inspiration of their deities, for which they never failed to invoke them in their compositions and great undertakings. Modern times have been refining upon the reformation, till by degrees they have conceived and brought forth a sort of philosophical religion, distinct from every thing the world had seen before ; because it is a religion without faith. The scheme of our Deists, as they call themselves, has nothing in it of things past ; no fact or tradition to ground itself upon : it has no sacraments, nor services of any kind, to keep up an intercourse with heaven ; it expects no predicted' judgment, and has no particular view of any thing

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