Imágenes de páginas

others with the appearance, for a time, of eminent righteousness; but in the just judgment of God, they are often left to discover even in this world their real character. They become like the chaff which the wind driveth away. They are clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth; without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever *""Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure; and we have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." Amidst all the risings of inward corruption; amidst all the temptations and afflictions which abound in the world around us; in the view of those solemn scenes that are connected with death, judgment, and eternity, we may remain in a state of tranquillity, and joyfully say, "The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock: and let the God of my salvation be exalted +." How animating and transporting is such a situation! well may they who are placed in it say with the psalmist, "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heaven."

As additional encouragement, the foundation of God is said to have this seal, "The Lord knoweth them that are his; and let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." The seal is the double inscription here mentioned. It is called a seal, because it is supposed to be engraven upon the foundation, like the engraving of a seal. A foundationstone, with an inscription engraven on it, is both a congruous and an obvious figure, and is by no means unknown in Scripture. Thus, "And the wall of the city had twelve founda tions; and in them (that is, engraven in them) the names of the twelve Apostles and of the Lamb §." But the inscription on the foundation of God may be called a seal, not merely because the figure alludes to the manner in which a seal is engraven, but chiefly because the inscription itself actually answers the purposes of a scal. A seal is used to ratify a deed, and to secure property. It is a pledge to the person to whom the impression of it is given, and a mark by which all may perceive to whom, the thing that is sealed belongs. Thus we see men affixing their scal to any deed which they execute by way of covenant, or charter; and affixing their seal, or (which is the same thing) their mark upon their goods, their cattle, and their slaves, that these things may, at all times, and in every place, be known to be theirs; and may never be lost, or confounded with the property of others. The seal which is

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

engraven on the foundation of God, is used for the same important purposes; and is admirably adapted completely to answer them. The engraving of it upon the foundation, is a proof, that the foundation itself belongeth to God-that he hath laid it, and that he warrants its stability. But the seal refers not to the foundation alone. All who are built upon the foundation are moulded upon the seal, and receive its impression; and this impression is to them a pledge that God owns them as belonging to his foundation, and that he will never suffer them to be separated from it, or to be confounded with the rest of the children of men. These truths are expressly taught in Scripture. Of the foundation it is said, "Him hath God the Father sealed *." Of those who are built upon this foundation, it is said, "Now he which stablished us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God: who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. Again, In whom also having believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise, which is the carnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory ".

Such are the purposes to which this seal is applied. Its fitness for answering these purposes, appears from the inscriptions of which it consists. "The first is, The Lord knoweth them that are his :" or, as some render it," the Lord will make known them that are his." According to this rendering, the Apostle is thought to allude to where the Septuagint has the very words here used by the apostle; and where Moses, speaking to Korah and his company, says, "the Lord will shew who are his." In like manner, the second," And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity," is thought to be an allusion to the command which Moses gave to the Israelites, "Depart from the tents of these wicked men §." The opposition of the heretical teachers to the apostles, was as real a rebellion against God, as the opposition of Korah and his company to Moses. The apostle accordingly announces, that a visible distinction should be made between the opposite parties and punishment inflicted on the guilty, in the one case as well as in the other; and he warns the faithful, that it was as necessary to their safety that they should depart from the heretical teachers, as it was to the safety of the Israelites that they should depart from the tents of Korah and his company.

That this view of the passage is agreeable to the Apostle's. doctrine on the subject, is evident frein other parts of his writings. "There must also be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among, you.' Again, after describing false teachers, similar to those whoin he

* John vi. 27,

+ 2 Cor.i. 22, 23.
See Macknight on the place.

Eph. i. 137

[ocr errors]

had already named to Timothy, he says "from such turn away *"

But whether we attend to the particular allusion in these inscriptions, or consider merely their general import, their fitness for sealing the true servants of God must appear. By the former, the certainty of their salvation is confirmed; for none can be lost whom the Lord knoweth, and will make known to be his. By the latter, they are taught how they must give diligence to make their calling and election "sure; for without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." The former relates to the purpose of God: the latter, to the way in which that purpose is. effected. The former is a general security granted to a certain body of men: the latter is a particular evidence, which discovers and ascertains the individuals who belong to that body. The two taken together shew the beautiful connexion between the cause and the effect; between the hidden love of God from eternity, and the consequent display of it in the subjects of his grace. They express, in a concise manner, that glorious chain of connexion which the Apostle speaks of with such rapture, "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

* Ch. iii. 5.




Is any serious person (a minister in particular) justifiable in associating with those whose conduct he knows is, on many accounts, extremely reprehensible?

THE above query is of great importance, as it respects not only the conduct of ministers and hearers, but also the discipline of the church of Christ.

As worldly-minded men prefer associating with those whose dispositions are most congenial with their own,- so do heavenly-minded men prefer the company of those whose lives and conversation evince their love to God and man. Hence it may be inferred, that as the tree is known by its fruit, so may a disciple of Christ be generally known by his companions. It may not, however, be improper to remark, that there is a striking difference between voluntary familiarity, and a ne

[ocr errors]


cessary and prudent civility; and that it is not possible for a in business (were he ever so serious) altogether to avoid intercourse with men of the world, so long as he has a business to attend and, further, That there is also a great difference between premeditated and accidental transgressions, especially -in professors.-The late pious commentator, Mr. Henry, says, "It is one thing to overtake a fault by contrivance, -deliberation, and full resolution in sin; and another thing to be overtaken in a fault by the surprize of temptation." In which latter case, the Apostle Paul, in the same chapter, commands those who are spiritual, to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; but in the former case, he recommends excommunication, as the most probable mean of reclaiming such deliberate and resolute sinners. Having thus premised, I shall now briefly detail such particulars respecting ministers, hearers, and the church, as will, I trust, be agreeable to all who can say with the Psalmist, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"

"The office of a minister is so dignified, and of such moment, that he should in all things be a pattern of good works; in doctrine shewing incorruptness, gravity, and sincerity: and when he speaks, he shonld speak agreeably to the oracles of God, and not seek to please men; nor should he be deceived with vain words, lest offence should be given, and the ministry thereby blamed .

"Hearers and ministers are alike exhorted to put on the whole armour of God, that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil; to have no fellowship with the unfruitful workers of darkness, but rather reprove them*: not to be entirely indifferent whether men think well or ill of them; but to take care not to set too high a value on the opinions of men, lest they should be deceived with a lying tongue,and a flattering mouth, which worketh rnin.

"The church is a religious assembly, selected and called out of the world by the doctrine of the Gospel, to worship the true God in Christ, according to his word; and the respective members of the church, are called Brothers or Brethren. If any man called a brother, professing Christianity, be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such a one, the brethren are commanded not to keep company, nor to eat; but to put him away from them. Again: "As members of the church, bound by the laws and rules of Christianity, they who are of the above description, are not only liable to the judgment of God, but also to the censures of their fellow

[blocks in formation]

members; and every Christian is bound to judge them unfit for communion and familiar converse: that they are to be punished by having this mark of disgrace put upon them, that they may be ashamed, and, if possible, thereby reclaimed and the more, because the sins of such much more dishonour God, than the sins of the openly wicked and profane. Hence the church is obliged to clear herself from all confederacy with them, or connivance at them; and to bear testimony against their wicked practices, by casting them out of their fellowship, and avoiding their conversation." HENRY.

To conclude, If any member of the church of Christ, whether minister or hearer, have been familiar with deceivers, railers, extortioners, &c. after reading this plain and scriptural reply, continue to associate, as usual, with such characters (how great soever their profession) it will not be uncharitable to infer, that he either considers the Word of God of no importance, or that he is inconsistent in his profession; consequently unworthy the company of any professor, whose conduct bears testimony of a becoming and religious life. Scarborough.

J. H.


To the Editor.

Dear Sir,

"Constant Reader," in your last

In answer to a query proposed by a Magazine, respecting the "conduct which a Christian ought to pur, sue when called in the path of duty into a mixed company, where, . immediately after partaking of the bounties of Providence, it is di rectly followed by an immodest or improper toast,”—I would beg leave to offer the following remarks.

[blocks in formation]

FIRST, The Christian should be decidedly of opinion, that he is called in a "path of duty," and not of choice, when he associates with a company of this description. I am well aware that religious characters, in the course of their lawful avocations, are so connected with men of opposite sentiments, as to be under a kind of necessity of being present in their public assemblies; yet, when this is unavoidably the case, the Christian will aim to dignify the character he sustains, by a consistency of conduct, in testifying, either directly or indirectly, against every thing that is subversive of its pure and salutary tendency.

But the question returns. What should be the line of conduct respecting the case in point? 1low is he to manifest

« AnteriorContinuar »