Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

fact recorded in the Acts of the Apostles of the conversion of multitudes of the Jews to Christianity, is so notorious, that it cannot be necessary to do more in order to establish it, than to refer to one or two places in that, history;—We are assured in one place, Acts ii. 41. that "in one day about three thousand Jews were added to the Church;" and in another place, Acts xi. 17. "that fear fell on all the Jews at Ephesus," and in consequence hereof "the name of Jesus was magnified." In sliort, the whole both of sacred and profane history, shews that the whole number of converts from Judaism to Christianity continually increased, till those who through the influence of bad habits and violent passions, adhered to the old religion, and constituted the Jewish Church; having filled up the measure of their iniquity, Providence destroyed their civil and ecclesiastical constitution, and lest them nothing but the name and shadow as it were, of a people, in a set of detested and degenerated vagrants; while the converted Jews enjoyed every thing which was really valuable in the Jewish ceconomy, viz. all the spiritual blessings of Abraham, to whom they were the true and legitimate heirs.

To confirm this answer to the objections of infidels here noticed, let us consider the reasoning of the excellent St. Paul, viewed only in the light of an uninspired writer. In the conclusion of his second chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, this mailer of eloquence, and just reasoning, shews what ought to be considered as the definition of a Jew, viz. *' A follower of the faith of Abraham;" and he still further observes, that " he is not'a Jew which is one outwardly; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit and not in the Letter, whose praise is not of men but of God."—Again; when St. Paul applies himself, in the same epistle, to answer an objection grounded on a supposition that God had deserted his favourite people, he denies the supposition, and shews, that the name of Jews belongeth unto those who were converted to Christianity. "I say then," cries he, "hath God cast away his people? God forbid!" "At this present," continues he, "there is a remnant, according to the election of Grace :" that is, the name of the Jewish people as God's favourite people— as the heirs of Abraham and ot the Promises, is due to Christians converted from Judaism.

To conclude our answer to the objections of infidels, to the Christian account of the completion of the prophecy of

Malachi, Malachi Concerning the fefining of Judah and Jerusalem, supposed to be fulfilled by the influence of the Gospel on the hearts of Jews converted to Christianity, let us only read the picture of the manners of that nation, as it appears in the Evangelists, when a wretched casuistry had destroyed the morality of the Old Law, compared with the manners of those of that nation who: had become converts to the Faith of Christ, and we must of necessity acknowledge that the Fuller could not more effectually clean the foulest garments, or the Furnace refine Gold better than the maxims of Christ purified the sons of Judah.

Let us now consider what apposite reflections arise from the subject we have now been investigating with so much minuteness.

In the firjl place, we may remark, that the Evangelists frequently cite the prophecies of the Old Testament to the fense and not to the words, as in the present case Malachi speaks in the first person, and. declares—" I will fend my Messenger to prepare my way, &c." But the Evangelist delivers himself as though God the Father addressed God the Son, and promised to send his messenger to prepare the way before him. In fact the fense is the fame in both places. What the speaker in Malachi calls his way is God's way, or Christ's way, and, in fact, the Baptist was the foretunner of Christ, and no otherwise prepared the way before God than as Christ was such.

In the second place, how noble and explicit is the character here given of Christ—" The Messenger of the Covenant." God had described the former Covenant which he had made with his favourite people in Abraham, as a lajting or everlasting Covenant; and the Jews understood it so very literally in the strict fense of the words, that they had no idea of a second and better Covenant in Christ: and yet this second Covenant, of which Christ is the Messenger or Mediator, is most evidently shadowed out in the imperfection of the former, which was to be done away, as St. Paul admirably argues in his Epistle to the Hebrews. It is really amazing that this singular expression, " The Messenger of the Covenant," in Malachi, did not contribute more to open the eyes of the Jewish people to this great truth, than it appears to have done. If no second Covenant was to succeed to the former, to what purpose was the Messenger of the first to come and be usliered in with so solemn a prophecy as this in Malachi.

3G In

Vol, XIII. Churchm. Mag.for December 1807.

In the third place, although it is to be confessed, that the effect which Christianity has on the minds of men, is not such as might reasonably be expected from the genuine spirit of so excellent a religion, yet the alteration in the manners of men, is very considerable since the world became converted to Christianity; and very great indeed was the alteration for the better, which was produced in the first ages of this religion. The reformation in morals which this religion effected, and had a strong tendency still further to effect, was caused in several different ways, as, in the first place, by exploding false maxims of morals.—Secondly, by establishing just ones.—Thirdly, by giving new and much better motives, than had ever hitherto been known, to inforce obedience to its precepts.—And, lastly, by binding the performance of its several duties by better sanctions, than any other religion had ever before proposed.—In short, the comparison of a Fuller, who by his soap, and of a Refiner, who by his fire, restores garments to their original purity, and separates the gold from the dross, remarkably'well expresses the cleansing and purifying nature of the Gospel.

In the fourth place, the questions in verse the second,— "Who may abide the day of his coming?" and "Who shall Hand when he appeareth?" may in a primary and less-perfect fense, express the impossibility of any man's abiding the examination which the pure and holy Gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes; but ultimately and fully expresses the unpreparedness of the human race to abide any but a gracious trial of the eternal judge at his second Advent.

In the fifth place, all the Tribes of Israel, were to be refined by the Messenger of the Covenant, but the tribe of Levi only is expressed, as it was the duty of those who meddled with holy things to be refined in a peculiar manner. How applicable is ail this to Christianity! all the professors of which ought to become an holy priesthood.

In the last place, the offering in righteousness pleasant unto the Lord, which Malachi prophesies shall be made by th<\spiritual Judah and Jerusalem, in consequence of the refinement of the Messenger of the Covenant, is admirably described by St. Paul, in the twelfth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, in the following emphatic terms, viz. "the presenting our own bodies [in lieu of those of brute beastsj a living [instead of a dead] sacrifice, holy [and therefore] acceptable to the Lord; which is [and always was in the days

of

Y

of old, under the patriarchal dispensation, and all others] a reasonable service, as that of men."

From the view which we have here taken of the interesting prophecy contained in the text, it appears that some circumstances of the first part of it, (like many other prophecies relating to our blessed Lord and his ministry) have a primary and less-perfect reference to some other person than our Saviour, viz. in this cafe to St. John the Baptist, but ultimately, and in the most perfect and full fense, it points to Jesus Christ, in whom alone it can in this full fense be accomplished. The several particulars in which these different circumstances related to the Baptist have been minutely pointed out, and those also, wherein they relate to our Saviour Christ. The objections which Infidels have at different times raised against the fulfilment of this remarkable prophecy, have been candidly pointed out, and as plainly, and it is to be hoped as satisfactorily answered. The observations which we have drawn from the investigation of the prophecy now before us, are such as naturally arise from thence, and will be very useful to us in illustrating this remarkable passage of the sacred writings, and will tend considerably to explain it to us. It only therefore remains, that we, who are entered into a better Covenant with God, by that Messenger whom he hath sent upon earth, "The Man Christ Jesus," than the Jews who were nevertheless called "the peculiar people of God," and "the favorites of God," should effectually avail ourselves of the gracious terms upon which it-holds forth to us "everlasting life:"—that we should endeavour, by and with the assistance of the good Spirit of God aiding our infirmities, to live holy, good, and pious lives, whilst we continue upon earth, that we may in God's good time, when it is his good pleasure to remove us hence, receive a crown of glory, of honour, and of bliss, in the regions of immortality, for ever and ever; Amen.

'1

I

ON THE WORD PARACLETOS.

To The Editor Of The Orthodox Churchman

Magazine. Sir,

YOUR correspondent Mr. Ludlam, in his essay on the word nAPAKAHTOs as used by St. John in his Gospel and first Epistle, has endeavoured to persuade us, that whether we consider the common acceptation of the word in prophane authors, or the offices of the Son and Holy Spirit as described in the scriptures, we shall not find any ground for that sense of the word, which is adopted by our translation of the Gospel of St. John. He observes that this word and its corresponding term in all languages, means a person called in to afford help to such as are in need of ajjijlanct— that as the word to ajjijl is plainly taken from the proximity of situation, the nearness ot place (adsisto) which is necessary to those, who are to afford the help wanted, it should seem; the person called in, is rather more than likely to be a mighi>our—that this word as applied by St. John to the Redeemer, is properly and literally tranflated, not a comforter, but an stsl-vocate, an assistant, a helper:—that the first followers of our Lord, would think that the other Paraclete promised them, would make good to them the benefits, which they expected from his presence, or benefits jfontTar to those which they received from him—that our Lord's whole endeavour appears to have been to apply and illustrate the predictions of their prophets—that he afforded his countrymen all possible assistance to remove their ignorance and their prejudices relative to the conversion of the Gentiles—that as our Saviour laboured to overcome the prejudices of the Jews with regard to the conversion of the Gentiles, so the Holy Ghost bestowed miraculous information upon the Apostles—that the HolyGhost that other Paraclefe performed thejame Office, and exaclly in ihe fame Way—that he afforded his assistance, &c.—that in both cafes, the assistance was equally necessary, manifest and important, &c. &c.

Permit me, Sir, to offer your correspondent a few remarks on these points.

Our

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »