Imágenes de páginas

the cross, or that death were adapted, if we may so speak, to an event previously indifferent. Now the lifting up of Christ on the cross was not an isolated fact. It was the great event so long predicted in the prophets, and foreshadowed in the law. Christ himself continually referred, during his life, to this termination of his ministry: and his followers, after his death, preached what was a stumbling-block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek,' as the foundation of all their hopes. When so vast a fabric harmonizes, in this manner, with a single event, we can scarcely avoid the conclusion, that the correspondence was designed from the beginning: that the connection between the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness, and the lifting up of the Son of man upon the cross, was preconcerted, and therefore typical.

But whatever opinion may be formed respecting the typical character of the brasen serpent, indicated in the words of Christ, the practical doctrine, which those words convey, is of the highest interest to all.

There are few doctrines which have been more opposed, than that which attaches such pre-eminent importance to belief in Christ. Endless are the cavils and discussions to which it has given rise. But surely it is not for man to supply the secret connection, which the Almighty counsels have established, between an act performed, and the benefit received. No Israelite, burning with the wound of the fiery serpent, would have stayed to make the enquiry, “how can these things be?” before he looked up to the sign of salvation erected by God's command, that by looking he might live. The act of looking, might originally have been an indifferent act. But God commanded it to be performed; and it then became a duty.

Zech. xii. 10. Psalm xxii. 16, 17. * Exod. xii. 46. See Lect. XIV, XV, XVI.

1 Cor. i. 23.

So it is in spiritual things. God has thought fit, in his unerring wisdom, to make faith in his Son the indispensable means of salvation, to all those to whom the doctrine is propounded. The benefits freely proposed are incomparably greater than any which this world can offer : the pardon of sin ; release from eternal death ; the gift of everlasting life. What should be said of that man, who, instead of searching the revealed will of God to know, with certainty, whether these things be so, and receiving with thanksgiving such inestimable benefits, will continue to harden himself in sin, and refuse his assent, because he cannot precisely comprehend the mode, in which the relief is conferred? Yet this is the conduct of thousands.

If, then, the Son of man were lifted up, " that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life;" if by grace we are saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves, since it is the gift of God: 8 it is most important, that we all consider whether we have this faith or not. Now to say, we believe, is most easy and most common.

We are all Christians in name. And God alone can read the heart, and know how fervent and how effectual is the belief of any man. But there is one criterion by which all may, in some degree, judge of the insincerity of faith. No faith is sincere, which does not produce the fruits of a holy, pure, religious, charitable life.

“A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things.” h Actions, therefore, and actions only, shew to other men the truth and sincerity of religious principles. And if any man affect to possess a saving faith, while he indulges in the known practice of unrepented sin, the reply to his pretensions is made in the words of Saint James: “ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works ? can faith save him?" “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have

Ephes. ii. 8.

h Matt. xii. 35.

[ocr errors]

works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” i

To those who thus sincerely, although imperfectly, endeavour to follow the precepts of our holy religion, the doctrine of the atonement is full of comfort. They feel, like the Israelites, the mortal bite of sin. They feel their moral strength fail.

They know how widely the poison is spread : that the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. Still will they raise the eye

of faith to Him who was lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent the wilderness, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. They will contemplate the wonderful love of God thus shewed to his creatures. They will receive “the ministry of reconciliation: to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them :”

“ for he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

i James ii. 14, 17, 18.

2 Cor. v. 19, 21.

[blocks in formation]

As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's

belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

In the same manner in which Christ prophetically indicated the circumstances of his death, by a reference to the erection of the brasen serpent in the wilderness, he predicted the wonderful fact of his resurrection, by a corresponding allusion to the miraculous deliverance of the prophet Jonah. This prophecy affords indisputable proof of the Divine mission of Jesus : while the mode, in which it is delivered, appears to point out the remarkable coincidence between the history of Jonah, and the circumstances attending the resurrection of Christ, as the result of design.

On more than one occasion, the Jews, unsatisfied and unconvinced by the numerous

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »