Page images
PDF
EPUB

formity to the order observable in the other. The head is Christ; the eyes appointed to see for the rest of the body, are the prophets and teachers, antiently called seers. The hands that minister are the charitable and merciful, who delight in supplying the wants of their fellow members. The feet are the inferior attendants, whose duty it is to know their place, and be subservient in their proper callings. Each hath his proper gifts and his proper station; and as there is no respect of persons with God, no man should pay any undue respect to himself; but all should unite with humility and piety in fulfilling the great purpose of God, who hath joined them together in one communion. As there is no division in the natural body, but all the limbs and members have care for one another, and one life animates them all; so it should be in the church, where there is one body and one spirit. In this form hath the apostle argued against the divisions and jealousies then prevailing in the church of Corinth *: and if his argument was considered as it merits, and in that spirit of fervent zeal and love with which it was written, there would be no such thing as schism in the church, or faction in the state.

The bodily senses of men are used to denote the faculties of the mind : for the soul has its senses; but as we cannot see their operations, it is necessary to speak of them in such terms as are taken from the visible powers of the body. He that does not understand the language of the scripture, is said to have no cars ; he that does not see spiritual things, to have no eyes; he that cannot make confession of his faith with his tongue, and has no delight in the praises of God, is dumb. In short, every unregenerate man, who is

* See 1 Cor. xii.

without the knowledge of God, and has nothing but what nature and his own vanity give him, is in the nature and condition of a beggar, poor and blind and naked * ; and he who is not yet alive in spirit, is even taken for dead and buried, and is called upon to arise from the dead, and awake unto righteousness.

The soul being invisible, its distempers are so; therefore the sacred language describes them by the distempers of the body. A nation or city, in a state of sin and impenitence, are represented to themselves as a body full of diseases and sores. In this style the spirit speaks by the prophet Isaiah of Judah and Jerusalem; the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, from the lowest of the people up to their princes and rulers, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores. In the same way, the works of the devil in stripping and abusing the nature of man by' the fatal introduction of sin, are represented as wounds given by a thief, who meets him on the road, and · leaves him naked and half-dead upon the earth. This is the intention of that parable, which describes the fall and salvation of man, as the relieving and curing of a wounded traveller.

The support of man's spiritual life is like the support of his natural; and the sacrament of the Lord's supper, (which some of late have taken great pains to undervalue and misinterpret) is built upon this similitude.

Man is sent into the world to earn his bread by his labour, and some think he is sent for nothing else; but this is only a shadow of his proper errand, which is, to work out his own sàlvation with fear and trembling:

* Rev. iii. 17.

and for this work he has need of sustenance, as much as for the daily labours of his life. Therefore God has provided a supply of a spiritual kind, signified outwardly by the figures of bread and wine, the commemorative sacrifice of the death of Christ, and the instituted means of conveying the benefits of it to the souls of men. Beasts killed in sacrifice were fed

upon by the offerers; and Christ's death being a sacrifice, he is fed upon in faith by those who thus commemorate his death: and the consequence is the strengthéning and refreshing of their souls: if not, this absurdity should follow from the parallel, that eating the flesh of sacrifices was a meer ceremony which contributed nothing to the nourishment of the body. What can be more express than the doctrine of our Saviour himself upon this subject? My flesh is meat indeed, and my

blood is drink indeed-He that eateth me, even he shall live by me; that is, shall live with a new and divine life, as really as his body lives and is nourished by his daily bread. Unless these words do signify, that a real principle of life and strength is derived to us from the body of Christ, whereof we partake, there can be no certainty in language, and every doctrine of the scripture may be thrown into doubt and obscurity. Without faith, as it hath already been argued in the proper place, the language of the scripture never was nor ever will be admitted in its true sense; but with it, it is clear enough to every reader.

This first head of my subject is so copious, that I must conclude here, and defer what remains to the next Lecture.

[blocks in formation]

LECTURE III. ·

ON THE FIGURES OF THE SCRIPTURE WHICH ARE

TAKEN FROM NATURE.

(A CONTINUATION OF THE FORMER.)

The former Lecture would not allow me room to explain the figures which the scripture hath borrowed from the natural world and the objects of common life; though I determined to select such of them only as might be thought most important and instructive: and even now, the subject is so copious, that I must leave many which I should be glad to treat of.

From the consideration of the heavens, the elements and the seasons, we descended to man, whose bodily life is a pattern and shadow of his spiritual life, and is applied to illustrate it in many instances.

From his natural, we must now go forward to his . social, civil, or political life, as a citizen, subject, and member of society; together with his worldly condition, relations, offices, and occupations.

The spiritual state, or kingdom of heaven, is represented to us under the emblem of an earthly kingdom, in which God is the supreme governor and judge, ruling all his creatures with infinite power

, and according to the laws of justice, goodness,

and mercy.

The church is a spiritual kingdom under Christ its head; and its ministers are ambassadors, comnissioned to treat with the world, and propose terms of reconciliation from God, with whom they are by nature at enmity. St. Paul, having occasion to speak of his commission under Jesus Christ, saith, for whom I am an ambassador in bonds. This was a strange case; and he mentions it as such; because the persons of ambassadors were accounted sacred, , and it was against the law of nations to do

any

vio lence to them: but the world, while it keeps good faith with itself, keeps none with God. Our blessed Saviour, as Pilate truly entitled him upon the Cross,

, was the King of the Jews, though not after the form and authority of worldly kingdoms; and as such had a claim to the allegiance of his subjects. Their rebellious treatment of him and his ambassadors is represented in the parable of the marriage of the king's son*; whose invitation they rejected, and abused his servants. In consequence of this his armies were sent out, to do execution upon them as murtherers, and burn up their city: all of which was fulfilled upon the apostate Jews, and their city Jeru. salem: and having rejected him, they are to this day withoạt a king, without laws, without a country.

There is another parable of the same kind, which admits of a more general application, and comes home to ourselves. Christ ascending into heaven, there to receive all power, and return invested with it to the general judgment, is signified under the person of a nobleman who went into a fur country, to receive for himself a kingdom and to return-But his citizens huted him, and sent a message after him, saying, we will not have this man to reign over ust. Thus insolently and * Matth. xxii.

+ Luke xix. 12.

« PreviousContinue »