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The scriptures are indeed more especially a message from God to us concerning the person and salvation of Christ. “ This is the record that “ God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is “ in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, “ and he that hath not the Son of God hath not “ life.”! This is the centre of revelation, in which all the lines meet from every part of its ample circumference. The everlasting mercy of God in purposing the salvation of sinful men; his infinite wisdom, forming the grand design of glorifying his justice and holiness, even in pardoning and blessing those who deserved the most tremendous punishment: his unfathomable love, in giving his onlybegotten Son to be the Saviour of the world: the

great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the

flesh,” Emmanuel purchasing the church with his own blood; the love of Christ in his obedience unto the death of the cross for us; his glorious resurrection, ascension, and mediatorial exaltation : these constitute the central and most essential part of the message of God to us. “This,” says he, by a voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in “whom I am well pleased : hear ye

him." Revelation also announces to us our real situation in this world, as criminals condemned to die : “ Dust ye are, and to dust ye shall return.” This sentence will certainly and shortly be executed upon every one of us; but we are also liable to a more awful condemnation in another world, from which deliverance may now be obtained. We are therefore respited from day to day: or rather we are put to death by a lingering execution ; as every pain, disease, or natural decay, is an anticipation of the separating stroke. But we are placed under a dispensation of mercy, and it is the grand concern of our fleeting days to seek the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls, before the opportunity be for ever gone. The message therefore warns all men to flee from the wrath to come, commands them to repent and believe in Christ, and exhorts them without delay to forsake and break loose from every object, which keeps them from “fleeing for refuge to lay hold on the hope “ set before them ” in the gospel.

1 John v. 11, 12.

The sacred scriptures give us likewise most important information concerning the Holy Spirit, as the author of divine life, and the giver of wisdom, strength, holiness, and consolation ; as engaged to give efficacy to the word of salvation by his regenerating influences; and as promised to all those who pray for the inestimable benefit. “ If ye, be

ing evil, know how to give good gifts unto your “ children, how much more shall your heavenly Fa“ther give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.”l

The same divine message prescribes also the means by which we may apply for these blessings, and render our Benefactor the tribute of thankful adoration. It directs us to diligent and persevering investigation of the scriptures ; and to continual earnestness in prayer : it reveals to us our God upon a throne of grace, to which we are invited to approach through a merciful and faithful High Priest; suggests pleas to be used in our sup

· Luke xi. 13.


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plications; and sets before us "exceeding great and precious promises,” to direct our desires and animate our hopes : and it appoints other ordinances, in which we may wait on the Lord, and “

our strength,” that we may “ run with patience “the race set before us." We are also informed in the same manner, that there is an innumerable company of holy angels, who worship before the throne of God, and are nevertheless "all sent forth

to minister unto the heirs of salvation :" and, on the other hand, that there are fallen angels, numerous, powerful, subtle, malicious, and indefatigable, who watch every opportunity of doing us mischief, and especially of deceiving, defiling, and ruining our souls; from whose deyices we can haye no security but in the protection and guidance of him, who was “ manifested to destroy the works of “ the devil.”

Finally, the message of God shews us the peculiar character, motives, and conflicts of those who are truly religious; and distinguishes them from all other persons : and it gives directions, instructions, examples, cautions, and encouragement, sufficient to render us wise unto salvation, and thoroughly furnished unto every good work. This view of the subject is indeed too compendious to give us an adequate idea of it; but it must suffice for our present purpose. We proceed therefore,

II. To illustrate the import of the declaration, “ It is not a vain thing for you, because it is your « life.”

“ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy “ God in vain ;" that is, to confirm a false, or doubtful assertion, or in a trifling concern. This


may throw light on the subject before us. The message contained in the scriptures does not relate to things false or doubtful. There are indeed religious impostors, deluded enthusiasts, and priestly usurpations; but all religion is not enthusiasm or priestcraft. General declamations to this effect only prove that men are unable or unwilling to distinguish betwixt the genuine and the counterfeit ; which evinces, that either their understandings or their hearts are very faulty.-The apostle Peter, just before his martyrdom, endeavouring that the disciples might be able after his decease to have the things he had taught them “always in remem“ brance," added, “For we have not followed cun

ningly-devised fables, when we made known to you the

power and coming of the Lord Jesus, “ but were eye witnesses of his majesty : for he re“ ceived from God the Father honour and glory, or when there came such a voice to him from the “excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom “ I am well pleased. And this voice which came

from heaven we heard, when we were with him “ in the holy mount.” But, aware that the belief of this event depended entirely on his testimony, with that of James and John, he subjoined, “We “ have also a more sure word of prophecy; where“ unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light

shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and “ the day star arise in your hearts.”ı

It may indeed be argued very forcibly, that the public miracles, recorded in scripture, could never have obtained credit among contemporaries, had they not been actually performed; and that no future generation of Israelites or Christians could possibly have been persuaded, that their forefathers had always believed them, had the report been afterwards invented and propagated. Would it, for instance, by any method be practicable to bring the inhabitants of this nation to believe, that a hundred years ago the Prince of Orange, at the revolution, marched an army through the German ocean, and that this had always been known and credited ?

2 Peter i. 16-19.

The argument therefore from miracles openly performed, or publicly attested, before those

possessed of power, and engaged by interest, reputation, and inclination to disprove them, is very conclusive: and perhaps no past event was ever so fully authenticated as the resurection of Christ, on which the whole fabric of revelation in some respects depends. Yet to us the word of prophecy may be said to be still “ more sure:” for a system of predictions of remote events, which no finite mind could possibly foresee, is interwoven with every part of the scriptures, and reaches from the first promise of the seed of the woman to the close of the sacred canon. These have been exactly fulfilling through successive ages, in respect of the Jews and the surrounding nations ; the coming of the Messiah, and every circumstance of that grand event; with the subsequent concerns of the church and of the world to this present day. This forms such a demonstration that the Bible is indeed the word of God, that, the more carefully it is examined with a serious and impartial mind, the fuller conviction it must produce. It is indeed a kind of

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