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nances of the church, that sinners are of God's providence, especially with brought nigh unto God, but by the blood the secrets of redemption, those hidden of Christ: and the precepts, and revela- springs of love and holiness which were tion and promises and aids of the gospel in action before the foundation of the -all were in evidence of the efficacy world; but there are some of the divine which we derive from the shedding of councils into which even the angels de that precious blood. On this superstruc- sire to look, and this probably is one of ture stands the whole spiritual temple. them. It is the source of humility, the object of The expiatory sacrifice of Christ, and faith, the principle of sanctification, the his divine nature which alone made that key to all the treasures of God's mercy. expiation so infinitely meritorious, are On this ground then, as believers in the not the only mysterious features of God's gospel, we take our stand ; if we recede dealings with mankind. The moral state one hair's breadth from this we relinquish of man is a mystery throughout, a mysthat which holds the whole system to tery respecting which reason must be gether. If Christ died not for our sins content with the light which revelation according to the Scriptures—if his death casts upon it; and even with that light it was not a full, perfect, and sufficient can only be viewed “as through a glass sacrifice and oblation for the sins of the darkly." For what can be more myste. world, then is our preaching vain, and rious than the origin of sin and evil in the your faith is also vain; but if it was, we world? A question on which all the have that assurance which alone can powers of human reason have been exsatisfy the desires and appease the anxie- erted without success, which no man preties of a conscious sinner; we have an tends to consider as clear and easy of advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, comprehension; and if the origin of sin and he is the propitiation for our sins. and evil be mysterious, what reason have

Well, it may be said, we admit that we to conclude that its remedy should the words of Scripture seem to favour not be mysterious ? your supposition, but we cannot believe My brethren, if you believe the Scripit, it surpasses the grasp of our reason; tures, and apply to them the ordinary we cannot understand it; “it is a hard rules of interpretation, nay, if you do not saying, who can bear it?" What right torture and disfigure them for the express have you to expect that nothing should purpose of getting rid of the mystery, be proposed in holy Scripture for your (and even then you cannot blot it out belief, but that which you can thoroughly from the blessed gospel,) you cannot fail comprehend ? Undoubtedly you can to perceive the word “ atonement," writcomprehend the fact that Jesus Christ ten therein in characters of light. Condid die for our sins, although you may be sult then your own conscience; go down wholly ignorant of the mode in which his into the chambers of imagery, unravel the propitiation was effectual, and of the rea- secrets of your heart, see what they are, sons which moved the supreme arbiter of and what they ought to be, and what of the universe to accept that wonderful themselves they never can be, and you mode of reconciliation. The Scripture will wish the doctrine to be true. Emnot only proposes to us the doctrine of brace it cordially, and with prayer for the the divine Redeemer, but it proposes it increase of your faith, and you will soon expressly as a mystery—a great mystery; feel the force of the exclamation, “Oh thus primarily excluding it, as to its wretched man that I am, who shall de. mode, from the legitimate province of liver me from this body of sin and reason, and classing it among the things death ?" Once convinced of your own which are to be believed, simply and ex- sinfulness and insufficiency, you will clusively, because God has revealed them readily admit that it is indeed “a saying to us. No doubt it would gratify the worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ pride, and satiate the curiosity of man, to came into the world to save sinners." be made acquainted with all the reasons But then is it not an awful as well as

an acceptable saying? That our great Still less can we conceive it possible intercessor and surety hath put away sin, that any person could really believe the is indeed a joyful announcement ; that he vital doctrine of the atonement who neghath done so by the sacrifice of himself, lects the ordinance appointed by the is a subject of endless wonder and grati- Great Atoner for the express purpose of tude; that expiation could not otherwise keeping alive the remembrance of that be made, is a truth above all others cal- crowning act. 6 Do this in remembrance culated to exhibit the exceeding sinful- of me”-not merely your master, your ness of sin,-its hatefulness in the sight friend, your instructer, but of me your of God. Let each man apply that truth Saviour. Let this remind you not merely to his own case, and say—It was for me of my sojourn upon earth, of my teaching, that Jesus died upon the cross; it was for of my miracles; but of my death, my me that he endured the contradiction of body broken, and my blood shed upon sinners; it was my sin bowed down his the cross for the remission of your sins ; holy head with sorrow in Gethsemane and not yours only, but the sins of the planted upon his brow the crown of thorns whole world. Is it too strong a condem-pierced his hands and his feet; nay, nation to say, that the neglect of the those very sins which, day by day, and Lord's Supper is a practical denial of the hour by hour, I am committing, and by atonement ? Blessed Jesus, Saviour of which, as far as in me lies, I render those the world! can we behold thee stretched sufferings and that death of none, effect. upon the cross, enduring shame and Can any contemplation be more awful agony for our sins, shedding forth that than this? Can we imagine a more precious blood with which thou hast res powerful discouragement to sin? And if deemed us on the cross, upheld under all it be less effectual to us than it ought to thy sufferings by the desire of saving us be, it is because we are not sufficiently miserable sinners from eternal death-can alive to the twofold sense in which Jesus we contemplate this spectacle, and yet Christ died for our sins. He died to re- contemn and refuse the consecrated symdeem us not only from the penalty of sin, bols of that body so broken, that blood but from its power, by opening a way for which was so shed for our sins ? Oh the Holy Spirit into the soul of man, and send thy Holy Spirit to pour into our purchase glory to God, by the renewal of souls those gracious influences, by which sinners to holiness. 66 Christ," says St. alone we can realize to ourselves the Paul, “ hath redeemed us from the curse blessed fruits of thy cross and passion, of the law, being made a curse for us." strengthening our faith, subduing our in. But the same apostle tells us that, “ He ordinate affections, and animating our gave himself for our sins, that he might hopes with clearer and clearer prospects deliver us from this present evil world.” of that glory, in which we shall stand But then a deep, heartfelt, abiding sense, around the throne, and join in the trinot merely an historical belief, but a cor- umphant hymn which shall then be raised dial and joyful acquiescence in the truth, by all the redeemed of the earth—“ Worthat Christ has redeemed us from the thy is the Lamb that was slain to receive curse of the law, also delivers us from its power, and honour, and riches, and wispower; for it cannot be that such a con- dom, and strength, and glory.”—“ Blessviction should take place in the soul, with-ing and honour and glory, be to Him that out prayer, and meditation, and drawing sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for its affections and desires towards God. lever and ever."

Vol. I.-40

2 D

SERMON XXXIV.

THE MADNESS AND FOLLY OF RELIGION.

DELIVERED

TO MEDICAL STUDENTS,

BY THE REV. T. BINNEY.

The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad.—Hosea ir. 7.

I SHALL not detain you by any minute, among them, and be permitted to deceiv criticism on the exact and literal applica- them to their destruction—that these pro tion of this language ; suffice it to say, phets should be fools and fanatics, though that it is capable of two senses, accord- the infatuated multitude should confide ing as you regard it as the cause, or as the in their counsels—and that they, however effect, of the days” of “visitation" and venerated and obeyed for their spiritual of “recompense,” mentioned in the pre- pretensions, should only resemble the oraceding clause of the verse. If you take cles and soothsayers of the heathen, of it to describe the cause of that visitation whom it is said by Isaiah, that God “turnor judgment which was coming on the eth their wise men backward, changeth land, it will then mean that the prophets their knowledge into folly, and maketh and spiritual men, or men.inspired by the their diviners mad." Spirit, and commissioned to address the This last sense is perhaps the more people with the authority of God—that probable of the two; but, as the thing they had actually been accounted fools described in the first actually occurred and madmen—that they had been ridi- among the Hebrews, whether intended in culed and scorned as “ vain babblers" this passage or not, it is in allusion to that their messages had been treated with that that we shall be guided in our obcontempt, and themselves with indignity servations this morning. The prophet is —and that, therefore, Jehovah, who had a fool, the spiritual man is mad.” Such thus been despised and insulted in the was both the feeling and the phraseology persons of his own prophets, had deter- indulged in by many of the Jews, in relamined to punish the offenders by bring- tion to the very men of whom they had ing upon them some terrible visitation. every evidence that they came from God. If you take it, in the second sense, as It sometimes meant the utter rejection of describing the effect of this visitation, it their message, and was intended to ex. will then mean that those who had long press an absolute disbelief of the matter been disobedient to the divine voice, as of their testimony-and it sometimes addressed to them by the commissioned meant a disapprobation of their zeal, and servants and in the “true sayings" of was intended only to censure the warmth God, should at length be given up, as an and earnestness of manner with which appropriate punishment, to the influence they enforced what was admitted to be of strong delusion, that they might be true. The phrase was also sometimes lieve a lie that men, pretending to be employed to stigmatize the penitent and prophets, and falsely laying claim to in the spiritual among the people, who, in tarcourse with the Spirit, should arise I obedience to conscience and to truth,

abandoned their follies and returned to man, the absurdity of his office, and the God-according to the representation of mental weakness of his own character, one of the prophets, “ He that departeth let us notice what he is, and what he aime from evil is accounted mad."

to accomplish. Now, something similar to all this The Christian prophet is the public. takes place among ourselves. Human expositor of a book whose claim to bu nature is the same now in this country considered a divine revelation has been that it was in the land of Judea three admitted, after prolonged research, by the thousand years ago. Its dislike of God master-spirits of every age-men who and of his servants is the same. Its pride have been distinguished by splendid geand affectation of superiority is the same. nius varied capacity-pure and elevated It still has a high conceit of its capaci- intellect-profound and diversified acquities and powers, and it expresses that sitions; a book whose pretensions are conceit by despising, as unworthy its re- supported by several distinct processes gard, the discoveries of revelation, or by of argument, each, separately and alone. ridiculing the weakness of the men who amounting to moral proof; the whole. either enforce them with earnestness or when combined, approaching to somewho follow them with fidelity. “The thing like positive demonstration. This preacher is a fool, and his disciple is book is the most singularly constructed mad." This is its language; and this of any in the world : it consists of a num proud and petulant conclusion—this judg- ber of small tracts, about sixty-six, the ment pronounced without examination composition of above thirty individuals, and without thought, settles the matter, persons of all classes, from kings to pea it should seem, for the passing moment, sants—of various education—of every raises the mirth of the young, the vola- kind and measure of intellectual abilitytile, and the vain-affords them the ra- and who lived scattered over a period of tional and dignified satisfaction of laugh- far more than a thousand years : and yet ing at the weakness of the man who has this book, thus composed, is always concourage to be virtuous—and preserves sistent with itself—it has a beginning, a them in the enjoyment of the very lauda- middle, and an end; it is evidently a ble liberty of making themselves as con- whole ; it is the realization of the idea of temptible and as wicked as they please ! one mind, executed by a number of others,

Let us proceed, then, to examine the who, like the labourers and masons under sanity and the wisdom of conduct like this direction of an architect, could have had by examining the madness and the folly no conception of the completed appearwith which it wars. The Christian ance of the edifice upon which they were preacher is a fool, and the Christian dis- employed, but who laid stone upon stone ciple is mad.” The man who “ walks in blind obedience, until the whole stood in the Spirit," and the man who “con- forth in its sublimity and perfection. verts him from the error of his way,” are This book contains in it the best account considered alike to be imbecile or insane. of the origin of the universe, and the best Such, it is not to be denied, is the real interpretation of the present appearances sentiment both of the infidel, who rejects of the earth and man.

It teaches the the truth of Christianity altogether, and of sublimest theology; it reveals a God, the worldly and irreligious among its spiritual in his essence-perfect in all professed recipients, who deride the ha- natural and moral attributes--the creator bits and the principles of the pious. Let and governor of the world; it prescribes us examine it.

a worship suitable to his high and holy The prophet is a fool.The Hebrew character, and directly tending to improve term, “ prophet," signifies, in Christian and to elevate that of his worshippers. phraseology, a preacher—one who ex- This book accounts for, and all along pounds the Scriptures, and promulgates proceeds upon, the fact of the apostasy the gospel: and in this sense we use it and sinfulness of man-a fact illustrated here. To judge, then, of the folly of thel by all history, confessed and lamented by

moralists of all ages, and corroborated by principles of which it is the duty of the personal observation and personal con- Christian prophet to illustrate and ensciousness. It proposes a plan of mercy, force. Let us next observe how he does and reveals means of restoration, pre- this. It is his business to imbibe a porcisely adapted to this condition of our tion of that exalted spirit which pervades nature; which meets at once the fears every page of this extraordinary recordand apprehensions prompted by guilt, to come forth, from time to time, and adand the weakness and corruption flowing dress himself to his fellows in the accents from depravity. This book sets before of love and with the eloquence of the the view of its disciples the highest pos- heart; he is to exhibit the great princisible standard of excellence; it places ples of religious and moral truth, with the principles of morals on the firmest simplicity, seriousness, and affection; he basis; it enforces them by the highest is to take man as he finds him—an unsanctions; it carries them to the farthest happy and guilty intelligence—made up extent; and encourages obedience by the of contradictory impulses—with a permost affecting and powerful motives. In ception of right, and a bias to wrongthe principal personage whose life it con- “ sowing the wind, and reaping the whirltains, it exhibits a perfect model of all wind;" he is to reveal to him a system that is dignifying and beautiful in charac- which precisely meets the necessities of ter; and, in the history of every other his nature, and he is to carry it out, when individual, nothing is recorded but what professed to be received, into all the most has a tendency either to stimulate to obe- exalted forms of personal character and dience, or to deter from transgression. social virtue. He is to inform the ignoFinally-for time would fail me to enu- rant, rouse the sluggish, animate the demerate all the distinguishing peculiari- sponding, encourage the active, and comties of the volume in question—this book fort the distressed; he is to warn the reveals a future world in such a manner impenitent, rebuke the inconsistent, teras carries with it the stamp of divinity, rify the vicious, expose the hypocritical, both by what it says and by what it does and denounce the ungodly; he is to do not say :-it descends to no minute and all this—and more than this—in a way curious descriptions; the speakers and wonderfully adapted to the nature of man, writers seem to exercise the most singu- and to the actual and unavoidable condi. lar control over the fancy and imagina- tion of the great mass of the species :tion, when touching upon topics the most men are to be congregated together, and tempting to men pretending to familiarity there, while in a manner passive, without with the invisible and the future; there any severe demand upon their faculties, is a soberness, a calmness, and a grandeur they are to be made familiar with the about their discoveries of the worlds that sublimest conceptions to be interested are not seen, just fitted to affect us with and impressed by the living voice to be solemn delight and salutary terror; there urged to aspire after the glory and happiis nothing to provoke or to satisfy imper- ness of another world, while they are tinent curiosity, or to degrade the subject taught all that it becomes them to be in by the ridiculous and the mean; there is relation to the present. This simple and every thing, however, to render the repre- peculiar mode, by which the Christian sentation what it is intended to be, and prophet is to make his truths tell upon the which falls in with the evident design of condition and the character of society, is the whole communication—namely, an at once suited to man as man, whose nainstrument for promoting the greatest im- ture is made to be affected by such an provement of which our nature is capa- instrument; and it is suited to the nuble, and the highest happiness for which merous children of labour and of toil, it was made.

who must depend upon strong impresSuch is a description-and, permit me sions from without for vivid and extento remind you, a very, very imperfect sive conceptions of religious truth and description of that wonderful book, the religious duty.

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