Page images

ritual wealth and bright crowns of glory; and yet, like those to whom the beloved disciple wrote, been stran. gers to this glorious but humiliating truth ; for the doc. trine of grace is humiliating; and the more extensive we see this grace, the more will it exalt Christ, and pre. serve us from pharisaism. Does this truth humble us ? Humility is a Christian grace; and the deeper our humi. lity, the more do we grow in grace, and, as in the present case, in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour; and, in the language of our text, we may more firmly, exten. sively, and minutely, “ believe on the name of the Son of God.”

This effect, we think, is alluded to

Verse 14. And this is the confidence we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.

We think we have known the doctrine of Christian perfection stated to be an entire acquiescence in the will of God. We know no better definition. He who knows any thing of the wisdom of God, must be perfectly assured, that he knows our wants infinitely bet. ter than we do ourselves ; and he must be a stranger to the love of God, who does not know that he is more willing to give, than we are to ask. Is it not then egre. gious folly in us to ask what he sees is not good for us ? We ourselves do not desire evil, but good ; and when we thus ask in submission, we do most distinctly ex. press our own desire.

« We know that he heareth And this very naturally leads us to the truth of the closing,

Verse 15. And if we know that he hear us what.

[ocr errors]


soever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

How have we what we desired of him? By anticipa. tion; for; knowing that he will give it, if it is good for us, we are contented, our petition is granted ; but if he sees that it is not good for us, we do not wish it, and then our petition is equally granted; and this felicity, arises solely from our being able to say, with light in the understanding, and love in the heart, “Thy will be done."

God hath given to us eternal life ; and this life is in his Son. May he grant us an abiding sense of this truth, and may its fruits appear in our life and conversation.




To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not accordinging to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah viii. 20.)

THE Scriptures of God have been represented as a casket of jewels of inestimable value, and though each is above all price, yet we sometimes think a particular one is more brilliant than others; and so it appears to us is the one to which we now ask your attention; for what does the whole book of Revelation contain more than the law and the testimony of God?

David appears to have included the whole Mosaic economy, as the law of God, when he speaks of the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, and says of him, that his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Ps. i. 1, 2.) And this with strict propriety; for it was the same authority which commanded sacrifices and ceremonies that gave the decalogue, or ten commandments; and that the law and the doctrine of God were considered then as synonymous we find by the 19th psalm, where we read, (ver. 7,) the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; but in the margin we read, the doctrine

of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. When in process of time the children of Israel had corrupted their ways before God, he was pleased to mark his strong displeasure against all external professions of religion, when the lives of the professors gave evidence, that it was external show only. This he has done in the most forcible manner, by the prophet Isaiah, comparing them to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, reproving the multitude of their sacrifices, forbidding them to bring any more vain oblations ; that his soul hated their ap. pointed feasts and new moons ; that they were a trou. ble to him ; that he was weary to bear them; that he would not hear their prayer, for their hands were full of blood ; and requiring of them to learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fa. therless, plead for the widow. (Is. i. 10–17.) How terrible a picture is this of moral depravity, and all under a splendid exterior of religion. Our danger in reading this reproof is, that we may possibly suppose that the God of Israel was rescinding his own rites and cere. monies appointed by himself. By no means; he was simply reproving the abuse of them; they remained, afterward, and he required the proper use of them. And here let us remark, that on no occasion does the abuse of any thing require of us that we should lay aside the proper use thereof, and, especially, a command of God.

When our Lord appeared on earth, we think that the Jews made a distinction between the moral and the ceremonial parts of the law, and that our Lord recog. nises this, when he receives with approbation the re. mark of the scribe ; that to love God and man was

more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mark xii. 32, 33.)

The ceremonial institutions of Moses not being obli. gatory on Christians, our view of the subject must therefore be strictly moral; and it is happy for us that our Lord hath given us the purest and most perfect view of the subject. Being asked by a certain scribe, which is the first commandment of all ? Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord : and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment; and the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark xii. 28–31.)

Jews, Christians, and Mahometans, all agree in the unity of God, that there is one supreme, self-existent, Creator of all things. And when we thus acknowledge his existence, we must be constrained to acknowledge his right to give law to his creature ; and in whatever way he is pleased to communicate it to us, whether by the small still voice of conscience, or by the clearer testimony of revelation, it is still his right to command, and our duty to obey.

The first part of this first or most important com. mandment, is to love God; but is this the mere dictate of authority, or has it a fitness in itself to recommend it to us? While we bow to the authority, we bless God for the evidence he hath given us of the fitness of the com. mand, in the knowledge of his divine nature. Can we see his power in his works and not bow before it ; or

« PreviousContinue »