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such discipline as is necessary to prevent the gates of hell from prevailing against it.
When we consider the degeneracy of the times, and the corruption of all orders of people; the insolence of offenders, and the weakness of authority ; it should not make us fretful and disobedient ; it should only dispose us to pray for that blessed day, when the Church of Christ shall be restored to its purity against the corruptions, and to its authority against the encroachments, of the world ; when he, who drove the buyers and sellers out of his temple, shall again purge his Church of those that disgrace and defile it ; when they who have despised and oppressed it, as if it had been made for them to trample upon, shall themselves lick the dust with their teeth broken.
I have taken much pains to explain the matter of this Epistle to the Hebrews, because it connects the Old and New Testament, and gives light to both. It rectifies many mistakes of superficial Christians, who suppose that Christianity was a new thing when it was preached by the Apostles, because Christ was then newly come in the flesh ; whereas it was only the perfection of that doctrine, and that Church which had subsisted from the beginning of the world. Hence also we learn the
infinite importance of the sacraments and institutions of the Church, of which many Christians in these days have a poor low understanding. The confusion which followed upon the Reformation brought many to a deplorable state of ignorance ; out of which they cannot be recovered, but by following that admonition of the Prophet ;-Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.*
Jer. vi, 16.
THE MORAL OF THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES, AS STATED
IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS.
This Epistle doth not only shew us the harmony of the Old and New Testament, and explain the great doctrine of faith with all the depth of divine learning; but gives us the best precepts, and the weightiest reasons, for a godly and Christian life ; which all who study this part of the scripture should lay up in their hearts; that they may be doers of the word, and not hearers only. These precepts and reasons I shall therefore collect and enforce to your consideration, as they occur to us in the course of the Epistle.
The Apostle, having described the dignity of the Son of God, thus argues ; that if he was so great, how important must that way of salvation be, which he preached to the world ? How necessary must it be for us to attend to it? aud how dreadful will the consequences be if we do not? If the law of Moses, published by inferior ministers, was so strictly enforced, and every offence against the honour of it so severely punished; how shall we escape if we neglect the great salvation pub
lished by Jesus Christ ? This is the purport of his reasoning ; and now let us consider the weight of it. If God descends from heaven to teach, there must be some great reason for his coming, which will render those exceedingly guilty who do not hear him. Therefore it must be our duty to listen to his words, and study his doctrine, that we may understand it, and receive the benefit of it for the salvation of our souls. We may put this off as a matter of no consequence, and escape for the present. The man who tells us of these things out of a pulpit; has no power to punish us; but nevertheless God will not be neglected : he who vindicated his law, shall vindicate his Gospel; and then what will become of us ? what shall we say for ourselves in that dreadful day, when the reasonings and reserves of every heart shall be exposed and confuted ? If the question is demanded of us, how it came to pass, that we were so ignorant of the Gospel, and so inattentive to its instruction ; shall we answer, that we were too busy ? What greater business can any man find in this vain world, than to provide for the saving of his soul ? If his business could bring the whole world into his possession, what good would that do him? The man that had the whole world for his own, would probably be the greatest fool in it; and care or pleasure
would soon destroy him. Yet they who can get but a very small part of the world, and must soon lose even that, make their business an excuse, and have no time to bestow upon their everlasting interest.
The importance of the salvation spoken of in the text is farther shown, by the manner in which it was recommended to the world. It was attested by signs and wonders and divers miracles, and gifts' of the Holy Ghost ; all intended to raise the attention of mankind, and convince them that they must be lost if they neglected to hear what was so powerfully recommended. Add to all this, the amiable, as well as the excellent, character of its great Preacher ; whose life was spent in teaching ; whose only business in the world was to save those, many of whom are too busy to hear him. He condescended to the ignorance of the poor ; was compassionate to sinners; argued patiently with the perverse and obstipate ; and accommodated himself to the wants wf all. At last he tasted death for every man; for you that hear, and for me that speak; and by his exaltation after his sufferings hath showed us the encouragement we have, and the reward we shall receive, if we follow his example.' Nothing but hardness of heart can hinder us from partaking of the benefits of our heavenly calling; as it hindered the