« ПретходнаНастави »
come, and the Lord is now fulfilling his promise in returning her captivity, and rendering her the joy of the whole earth.. Her doctrine is as much despised by those who stand in the spirit and religion of the old Pharisees, as it was by those Pharisees when her Son preached it in the flesh. However, we have God's promise, and we may safely trust in it, that she shall be established in righteousness, and that she shall be far from oppression. That no weapon that is formed against her shall
prosper: and every tongue that shall rise against her in judgment, she shall condemn.
PARABLE XV. "Another parable spake he unto them, The kiągdom of heaven
is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."
MAT. xiii. 33. By this parable we learn, Ist. The divine efficacy of the gospel on the creature who stands in need of its salvation, by the power of leaven operating in meal.
2d. We are taught that all momentous truth and sublime doctrinal idea of the real nature of man, which absolutely stands in relation to Christ, or his gospel, as meal does to leaven; for, it may be observed, that leaven could have no possible operation in meal, did not the meal, in its own nature, possess a quality that naturally adhered to the leaven.
3d. The final effects of divine grace in the ministry of reconciliation, in which we look for univer, sal submission to Christ in his glorious and ever
blessed kingdom, is communicated in that it is said, " until the whole was leavened.”
ILLUSTRATION. As leaven has a power to assimulate meal with itself, so as to form but one mass and to constitute a unity of all its parts, it is a remarkably happy representation of the power of divine light, truth and love, in their operation in saving mankind from sin, and bringing them into reconciliation with God. To effect this reconciliation is the great object of the gospel ministry, as may be seen in St. Paul's 2d Epistle to the Corinthians, where he shows the general process of bringing from the system of the flesh into that of the spirit, the doing away of old things, and of having all things new in conformity to God. See verse 14, &c. “For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh: Yea, though we have known Christ aster the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature : old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation : to wit, that God was in Christ reconcil. ing the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them."
The opinion of our doctors, that the very nature of man is so depraved that there is nothing morally
good in it, and that it is totally averse to the mature of God, is doubtless erroneous. St. Paul says, Rom. y. 8.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Again he speaks of the GREAT LOVE wherewith God loved us, even when we
were DEAD IN SINS.
Here let us inquire, what it was that God loved ? He surely could not love that which is totally contrary to his nature; yet he loved us while we were yet sinners. It is believed and taught, that man by sin has lost the image of God in which he was created, but this opinion does not well agree with the teaching of Christ, where he represents the sinner by a lost sheep, a lost piece of silver, and by a son who went away from his father and foolishly spent his interest. In those parables, the sinner is represented as remaining the same in nature and substance, but changed as to circumstance and disposition. If the prodigal had lost the image which he had when he went from his father, by what did the father know him, while he was yet a great way off? Again, if the sinner have nothing good in him, what does he sin against ? Where there is no law, there is no transgression. The apostle says the Gentiles having not the (written). law, are a law unto themselves : which shew the works of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.
The scriptures generally consider mankind to stand in the relation of children to God, though the children are represented as alienated from the Life of God, through the ignorance there is in
them. Now if it be ignorance which is the cause of our alienation, it is evident that it is our ignorance which has produced all in us which is contrary to our heavenly Father. This being the case, it is easy to see what will be the consequence of the fulfilment of the scripture which saith, “ All shall know me from the least unto the greatest.” This knowledge will do away every thing in us which is contrary to holiness, and mould or assimulate us into the likeness of truth. Jesus says to the Jews, if you knew the truth, the truth should make you free; and again he says, in his prayer to his Father, this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. If the common doctrine were true, the reverse of those scriptures would be true; for if the nature of man be opposed to the nature of God, then the more we know of God, the more we should feel an aversion to him. Again, it is an invariable law of nature, as far as we can examine, that those things and circumstances which agree with the nature of any creature, are best calculated to make that creature happy. The bird being constituted congenial to the air, cannot subsist in the water, but is as happy in the air as the fish is in his native element. So of the fish, he being suited to the element of water, is as happy there as the bird is in the element to which he is suited. Would it then be a blessing to the bird to convert his nature into that of a fish? or would it be a blessing to the fish to be converted into a bird ? It is plain that it would add nothing to either of their happiness. To change the nature of a creature, is therefore not a blessing ; but to help any creature out of a circumstance which is contrary
to its nature into one more agreeable, is a blessing. The deliverance which we obtain by the gospel of Christ, is therefore represented as having such an effect. St. Peter speaks to his brethren of God's calling them out of Darkness into his MARVELLOUS LIGHT. Why was this a blessing? Because darkness is not so pleasant nor so agreeable as light is. But the objector must have the liberty to suggest that men choose darkness rather than light, and it is true that they do, and there are two reasons for it; the first is, they put darkness for light, and the second is, their deeds are evil. The prophet Isaiah speaks of Christ as being given “ for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.” As it is not so agreeable to our nature to be blind, and in darkness, as it is to see and have the light, so such metaphors are chosen to represent the salvation of man from his sin which is so contrary and tormenting to his natures
As a prison house is disagreeable to men, and our very natures shudder at the thoughts of confinement, so it is proper to represent a state of sin by such a similitude. And as freedom from imprisonment, is an object of the highest possible concern with one who is confined, so it is proper to represent the blessings of the gospel, which saves us from the bondage of sin, by such an emblem. But what propriety would there be in such representations, if the sinner were in a situation perfectly agreeable to his nature, as is the bird when on its wings in the air.
The universal submission, suggested in the notes, to Christ in his glorious and ever blessed kingdom,