« PreviousContinue »
[The Reverend WILLIAM ROMAINE, the author of the following
Sermons, was born at Hartpool, in Durham, in 1714, whence he removed to Christ church, where he took his degrees in arts. On entering into orders he became a frequent preacher before the University, till he embraced the Calvinistic scheme. He then removed to London, and in 1749 became lecturer in St. Dunstan's in the west, where these discourses were delivered. He was also for some time morning preacher at St. George's, Hanover-square, and for a short period Gresham professor of astronomy, which situation he resigned. In 1764 he was chosen rector of St. Anne's, Blackfriars, where, and at St. Dunstan's, he continued to preach to large congregations almost till he died, which happened in 1795. His
rks have been printed in eight volumes, and have already gone through several editions. He was also editor of Calasio's Concordance to the Hebrew Bible, 4 vols. folio. The most popular of his writings, however, are his Walic of Faith, the Triumph of Faith, and the following Sermons on the Law and the Gospel. His character will be best estimated by consulting these; and we shall close this brief notice of the author, and of these Sermons, in his own words, in the pious prayer with which he concludes every sincere Christian will cordially join: “In the following discourses I have endeavoured,” says he; “ to distinguish and precisely to settle the difference between the law and the gospel ; and in this I have studied to follow scripture closely. This has been my guide, and I have constantly desired his teaching who inspired it. And I now pray him to shine into the heart of every one who reads them. May he always accompany their perusal with his divine grace and blessing; and if they be made useful to the church of Christ, may his be all the glory.”]
Necessity of Divine Teaching.
" It is written in the Prophets, and they shall be all taught of God."**
John, vi. 45. THIS is a sweet promise, full of comfort to the
children of God. So soon as he has given them a desire to be taught, the Lord has spoken it by the mouth of the holy prophets, that they may come to him to receive instructions. He, the all-wise God, will be their teacher. He will open the eyes of their understandings clearly to discern spiritual things, and will make them wise unto salvation. In the book of psalms we find frequent prayers for this divine teaching, and among the high and honourable titles of God this is used to describe his goodness to the children of men—“He that teacheth man knowledge :" and not man considered merely as ignorant, but also as guilty. “Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinners in the way,” (Psal. xxv. 8,) which shows the wonderful condescension of our divine teacher. He vouchsafes to be the instructor of sinners, in order to bring them out of darkness into light, and out of misery into happiness : “for blessed is the man,” says the psalmist, “ whom thou teachest out of thy law.” He is blessed, because he is taught of God, and taught by him out of the law to know
his guilt and misery; and taught also to know the remedy provided for both. Blessed surely is he whom God thus teaches: and yet how few among us seek this blessedness ? Even among those who profess their belief of it, its importance is not sufficiently valued. The privilege is great, inestimably great, but they are too apt to neglect it; while others proudly fancy they can teach themselves; or they think it no honour to be taught of God: they disbelieve the reality, or they neglect the importance of divine teaching. Some of these reasons prevail with the generality of nominal Christians, and hinder them from being convinced of the truth of what is written in the prophets, “and they shall be all taught of God.” But he that teacheth man knowledge, can, and glory be to his rich grace, he does, convince him of the necessity of being taught of God. He does enlighten the darkest, he does humble the proudest mind, and bring it earnestly to pray for instruction“ Lord, what I know not, that teach thou me.” May this be the prayer of all your hearts, while I am ex
plaining the nature of the promise in the text; and • may God fulfil it to you at this time, that you may be convinced
First, of the necessity of being taught of God.
Secondly, of the manner in which God teaches his people.
Thirdly, of the proper disposition of mind which he gives them, in order to their receiving and profiting from divine teaching.
First, divine teaching consists in opening the eyes of the understanding to perceive spiritual and divine objects, and to see their value and importance, in disposing the will to choose them, and the heart to love them. The divine teacher is the Holy Spirit. He prepares the mind to receive his instruction, and then fills it with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. The necessity of his doing this is founded in the present state and circumstances of fallen men: for through sin all the fa
culties of the soul were impaired, and the understanding, which is the eye of the soul, was left in the same condition as the bodily eyes would be if they had no light. Hence the psalmist declares that there is none who understandeth the things of God, and he represents God as looking down from heaven to see if there were any who did understand and seek after God; but he found hone, no, not one. They all had their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart. The prophets give us the same character, and speak of men as if they were all blind, and describe the Messiah to be the sun of righteousness, the light who was to arise to lighten the Gentiles, and was to be the glory of his people Israel. Thus Jehovah says of his beloved Sol, “ I the Lord will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes.”—Isaiah, xlii. 7. And again; “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth."-Isa. xlix.6. How did our Lord fulfil these prophecies? He did not, while he was upon the carth, open the bodily eyes of any blind persons among the Gentiles, but he has fulfilled them, and glory be to his name he is daily fulfilling them in the Gentile world, by opening the blind eyes of our understandings to see and to discern the things of God. In this sense the psalmist, speaking both of Jews and Gentiles, says, (cxlvi. 8) “the Lord openeth the eyes of the blind," that is, the Lord Christ: for we read, (Isa. xxxv. 4, 5) “say unto them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not, your God will come and save you, therr the eyes of the blind shall be opened :” “ for in that day (Isa. xxix. 18) shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness." All these scriptures had their happy accomplishment when God, who was to come and save us, spake with his own mouth, and said, “I am come a light unto the world, that whosoever be
lieveth on me should not abide in darkness.”—John, xii. 46.
From these authorities it is certain that fallen man is in darkness, and cannot see the things of God. The eyes of his understanding are in the same condition as his bodily eyes would be without light. He cannot see any spiritual objects; and how then can he come to the knowledge of them, unless he be taught them of God? By what other way or means can he discern them ? Has he any powers or faculties of his own which can help to enlighten him? No, he has none: for since the eyes of his understanding are in darkness, all his endeavours to enlighten them, without divine teaching, will be like those of a blind man, who only makes his blindness more manifest the more he labours and strives to give an account of those objects which he never saw nor felt.
But cannot the arts and sciences enlighten his blind eyes? No. They cannot help him to discover one single spiritual idea. The arts and sciences treat of the objects of sense: to these they are confined, and cannoi get beyond the bounds of nature : for it is a certain truth, and indeed it is at present a received opinion, that all our ideas come from sense. We are not able to form an idea of any thing, unless it fall under the observation of some of our senses. one of the senses be destroyed, the man is not able to form an idea of any object peculiar to that sense. A man born deaf has no idea of sounds,. nor a blind man of colours. Since, then, the arts and sciences treat entirely of the objects of sense, how can they give us any ideas of those things which are not objects of sense; for was it ever known that the stream rose higher than the fountain head ?
From hence it appears, that if the understanding be ever so greatly refined and enlarged with the knowledge of arts and sciences, yet it stands in as much need of divine teaching as the most ignorant peasant does; because the things of God are not discoverable by the arts and sciences. Let matter of fact speak