Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER X.

ON THE FAITH AND DOCTRINES OF THE

REFORMED CHURCH.

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath

one that judgeth him. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him, in the last day. John xii. 48.

The religion of nature, is the law of God, speaking by the voice of reason. The religion of the gospel, is the law of God, speaking by the revelation of Jesus. Each of these laws might be deservedly called a great salvation, the former as the basis of all true religion, the latter as the consummation of all God's religious dispensations to mankind.

The world abounds with commentaries on the law of nature, and on the law of christianity ; but the misfortune is, that most men regard the study of these laws, rather as an exercise of the mind, in the way of curious speculation, than as an interesting pursuit, which concerns both their opinions, and their practice; which is just the same folly, as would be charged on those, who should spend their lives, in studying the municipal laws of their country, with a total unconcern about the observance of them, in their own per

sons.

Indeed the penal sanctions which attend the violation of these laws, would presently reclaim the student from this folly, and remind him of the end, to which his skill and knowledge in them, should be principally directed-and if, in the study of general morals, or of revealed religion, he neglect to refer his speculation to practice, it is only because their penalties are less instant, or less constraining ; and not that either the law of nature, or the law of the gospel, is without its proper

and suitable sanctions.

These sanctions, as to the law of nature, as little as they are sometimes considered, are easily pointed out. For who, that grossly offends against that law, but is punished with self-contempt, with an anxious dread of that

CHAPTER X.

ON THE FAITH AND DOCTRINES OF THE

REFORMED CHURCH.

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath

one that judgeth him. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him, in the last day. John xii. 48.

The religion of nature, is the law of God, speaking by the voice of reason. The religion of the gospel, is the law of God, speaking by the revelation of Jesus. Each of these laws might be deservedly called a great salvation, the former as the basis of all true religion, the latter as the consummation of all God's religious dispensations to mankind.

The world abounds with commentaries on the law of nature, and on the law of christianity ; but the misfortune is, that most men regard the study of these laws, rather as an exercise of the mind, in the way of curious

speculation, than as an interesting pursuit, which concerns both their opinions, and their practice; which is just the same folly, as would be charged on those, who should spend their lives, in studying the municipal laws of their country, with a total unconcern about the observance of them, in their own per

sons.

Indeed the penal sanctions which attend the violation of these laws, would presently reclaim the student from this folly, and remind him of the end, to which his skill and knowledge in them, should be principally directed--and if, in the study of general morals, or of revealed religion, he neglect to refer his speculation to practice, it is only because their penalties are less instant, or less constraining ; and not that either the law of nature, or the law of the gospel, is without its proper and suitable sanctions.

These sanctions, as to the law of nature, as little as they are sometimes considered, are easily pointed out. For who, that grossly offends against that law, but is punished with self-contempt, with an anxious dread of that hearers he powerfully reproved, and with a magnetic constancy, in which all the opposition of the world could not produce a momentary variation, he pointed out the way of life, with a force and evidence, wholly irresistible.

Another circumstance that distinguishes the mission of Jesus, is the authority with which his doctrines were delivered. The people themselves remarked this circumstance, and were astonished at it, “ for he taught them,” says the sacred historian, “ as one who had authority, and not as the scribes." Mark i. 22.

Interpreters differ in explaining what this authority was, but it consisted very clearly, in these three things :-1. He taught mankind, without any degree of doubt and hesitation, with the air of one who knew the truth of what he said, and was perfectly assured of what he spake. “Verily, verily, I say to thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.” 2. Ile taught his great lessons of morality and religion, not as derived from the information of others, or

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »