Слике страница

was to be traced entirely to positive institution. The ordinances of Christianity, on the contrary, fare in general such as naturally arise out of the constitution and situation of mankind, and their relations and duties to their Creator and each other; and that part of our religion which is ritual, is in the highest degree simple, being confined to two ceremonies,—the meaning of which is apparent, and the observance of which is easy,-Baptism and the Lord's Supper ;-the only institutions of a ritual nature, which Jesus Christ has enjoined on his followers.

These ordinances are obviously of a positive nature, and derive their obligation, not from any intrinsic propriety, but entirely from the authority of him who appointed them. On the supposition of the truth of the Gospel, it necessarily follows, that all who hear it ought to believe it, and that all who believe it ought to profess it: but the obligation of believers to make this profession, by being washed with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is to be resolved into a positive appointment of Heaven. On the same supposition, that we should gratefully recollect the love of the Son of God in dying for our salvation, is the dictate of reason and of conscience; but that we should testify this grateful recollection by eating bread and drinking wine, as instituted emblems of his body and blood, we could never have found out, had he not expressly said, "This do in remembrance of me."

The attentive observer must, however, have remarked, that even these positive ordinances these ritual institutions-bear the general character of simplicity and spirituality, which marks the whole of the New Testament economy. Baptism and the Lord's Supper, though ceremonies, are by no means either unmeaning or obscure ceremonies. They are emblematical representations of the peculiar and most important principles of

our holy faith. The Author of our religion, who "knows our frame, for he hath made us," has, in kind condescension to our weakness, embodied, as it were, the abstract principles of his institution in these ordinances, and thus made use of our senses, the more deeply to impress our minds with the invisible realities of religious truth. In both of these ordinances, we are taught the doctrines of man's guilt and depravity, and of salvation through the atonement and grace of Jesus Christ. The baptism of water is a symbol of internal purification; and who but the polluted require to be cleansed? The Lord's supper is a commemorative representation of a propitiatory sacrifice; and who but the guilty stand in need of expiation and forgiveness? This ordinance proclaims the necessity and efficacy of the Redeemer's sacrifice,-that, the power and sufficiency of the Redeemer's grace. Both are calculated to suggest the most important truths to the mind, as well as to excite the most devotional affections in the heart; and thus, though positive observances, and ritual institutions, they are "spiritual sacrifices," "reasonable services."

No employment can be more appropriate to our present circumstances, in the immediate prospect of observing the Lord's Supper, than an enquiry into the meaning of the holy service we have in view; and nowhere are we likely to find more satisfactory information on this subject, than in the words of Jesus himelf, when he instituted this holy ordinance. "This bread," said he, "is my body which is given for you:-this cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

The force of our Lord's words may, I apprehend, be expressed in the following proposition. "The religious ceremony which we term the Lord's Supper, is an emblematical representation of this truth,-that the

incarnate Son of God, by his sufferings and death, made atonement for the sins of his people." It teaches us, that the Son of God had a body and blood,—or in other words, that he was incarnate: it teaches us, that this body was broken, and this blood shed, or in other words, that he suffered and died and it teaches us, that this body was given for his people, and this blood shed for them, or in other words, that he offered himself as an expiatory sacrifice in their room. The illustration of this general remark, which thus naturally divides itself into three parts, shall occupy the remaining part of the discourse.

I. In the Lord's supper, we have an emblematical representation of our Saviour's incarnation. The bread and the wine are symbols of his holy humanity. "This bread is my body,-this cup is the New Testament in my blood ;"—or, as it is expressed in another of the gospel histories, "this is my blood of the New Testament."

Nothing is of greater importance to the formation of just conceptions of the system of human redemption, than correct notions of the pre-existent glories of Him who came in the name of the Lord to save us. He whose death is represented in the Lord's supper, did not begin to exist when he was born of the Virgin. "His goings forth have been of old, from everlasting.” "He was in the beginning with God, he was God." His name is "the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and the living one *." He is "God over all, blessed

Rev. i. 11, 17, 18.-Nowhere, perhaps, has the division of the New Testament into verses produced a more unhappy effect on the translation, than in the passage here referred to. Instead of rendering-εγω ειμι ὁ πρωτος και ὁ ἔσχατος και ὁ ζων, και εγενομην vixos x. T. 2. "I am the first and the last, and the living oneand I was dead," &c. aur translators, following the Stephanic divi

for ever." "By him were created all things that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things subsist."

This illustrious person, to obtain our salvation, became "the man Christ Jesus." "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth." "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also took part of the same." The doctrine of scripture on this confessedly mysterious, but obviously most important subject, seems reducible to the following proposition, the various parts of which I shall endeavour briefly to illustrate," That the only-begotten Son of God assumed a human nature, consisting of a material body and a rational soul, free from moral guilt and defilement, yet subject to the innocent infirmities of humanity in its present state, into a personal union with his divine nature, so as that while the natures are for ever distinct and unmingled, they are inseparably and eternally united in his person, as the Mediator between God and man.”

The Son of God, when he came into our world to procure our redemption, did not, as some ancient heretics taught, merely assume a human form, as he had repeatedly done under the ancient dispensations. He took to himself a material body, formed of the same substance as the bodies of other men. "When he

sion of the verses, which is of no authority, have rendered it, "I am the first and the last, I am he that liveth;" thus omitting the second xx altogether, and inserting the very needless supplement " I am." The division of the Bible into chapters and verses, is a great convenience for reference; but this is not a solitary instance, in which an undue regard to this division has led to an obscure or even incorrect translation.

cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me." In this body, he was "born of a woman,". and like the bodies of other men, it was nourished by food, and increased in size. He "was made of the seed of David according to the flesh." In "his own body he bare our sins on the tree;" and by the shedding of his own blood did he make expiation for the transgressions of his people. "Handle me and see,"

said he to his disciples, who were in doubt of the reality of his resurrection, "handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."

But our Lord assumed not merely a human body, but a human nature, consisting both of matter and mind, body and soul. The divine nature was not the immediate animating principle of the body of Jesus. In this case, he had not been our kinsman, our brother, the man Christ Jesus. We are told "Jesus increased in wisdom," as well as "in stature;" but as the second person of the Trinity, who is the all-wise God, can acquire no new information, it follows of course, that our Saviour possessed a human understanding, limited in its capacities, and susceptible of improvement. The divine nature is incapable of suffering; but the "soul" of Jesus " was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." The will of the divine Father and Son is necessarily one; but Jesus possessed a will different from, though completely subject to, the will of his Father: "Not my will, but thine be done."

Indeed, had not the Son of God assumed a whole human nature, he must have been incapable of death, which consists in the dissolution of the union between the material and spiritual parts of the human frame. The death of Jesus was, in every essential point, like the death of other men. "Father," said he, "into

« ПретходнаНастави »