« AnteriorContinuar »
which was done repeatedly by Paul, and by many others as we learn from James v. 14, 15.
These seals were necessary to authenticate the apostolic office, and hence continued as long as the office itself. When neither the office nor the seals were required by the state of the church, they both ceased, and miraculous powers were gradually withdrawn. Christianity is now itself the great standing miracle of the world, and its mighty works are not physical and bodily, but moral and spiritual. It still casts out demons, and has taken a John Newton, a Col. Gardiner, or a savage Africaner, and transformed them into pure, gentle, and loving saints. There are thousands on earth, as well as in heaven, who need nothing more than their own experience to prove that the gospel still retains its ancient power of casting demons out of the soul. It still enables the christian to speak with new tongues, putting a new song into his mouth, and enabling the lips that once were all dumb, to utter the language of Zion. There are still serpents that it enables one to take up harmlessly, the hissing brood of malice, envy, and calumny, which soon drop from the hand of innocence, leaving it unhurt. It still shields from the deadly cup of temptation and neutralizes its poisonous power, so that, if led into temptation, it at least delivers'from evil. It still heals sickness, not of the body it is
true, but of the soul, and whispers sweet hopes of the land where no one says, "I am sick." Hence its triumphs, if not so palpable to the senses as these literal miracles, are still authenticating seals of its divine warrant, for nothing could accomplish such works as these, unless it came from God.
III. The Consequences of accepting or rejecting the proffer contained in this commission.
These consequences are embodied in two of the most momentous words ever uttered by human lips, salvation and damnation. The meaning of these awful words it will require an eternity of experience to unfold. They involve all that is most joyous in heaven, and all that is most fearful in hell, for ever! When the great apostle had caught but a single glimpse of what is included in salvation, he came back saying that it was not only unlawful to utter the things that he saw, but impossible, for they were unutterable. And if the splendors of the heavenly city are thus unutterable, how much more the terrors of the dark region below! The very dimness and vagueness of the terms employed to describe its torments, are more terrible than the minutest description of details, for it tells us that they baffle description, and are unutterable.
That this should be hinged on simple faith or its absence seems strange, until we remember that man 'is lost already, a doomed rebel, a serpent-bitten wanderer in the desert, a shipwrecked mariner drowning in the sea. Pardon is offered to the rebel, healing to the dying wanderer, an ark of safety to the perishing voyager. To believe and accept is to be saved; to refuse or neglect is to allow the avenger of blood to come, the poison to to do its fatal work, and the drowning one to perish in the waters, for "how can we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" 19*
THE TENTH APPEARANCE—APOSTOLIC COMMISSION IN LUKE.
Differences between Luke and the other evangelists—.The Qreek gospel. I. The Holy Scripture the only final and unerring rule of faith and practice. Popery and infidelity—Jesus endorsing the scripture. II. The central doctrine of revelation, an atoning and offering Messiah. The law, prophets, and psalms—The cross of Christ the centre of all human history. III. A divine power needful to enable man to comprehend the gospel of Christ. "Opening the understanding"—The new light. IV. The salvation of the gospel for all, however remote their habitation, or great their guilt. 'All nations"—" Beginning at Jerusalem"—Bunyan's Jerusalem sinner.
"Thy glory o'er creation shines;
But in thy sacred word,
My bleeding, dying Lord."
"And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things." Luke xxiv. 44—47.
In discussing the apostolic commission as it is given by the first two evangelists, we have seen how exactly the form of it was determined by the purpose of each gospel. The evangelist Matthew, writing for the Hebrews, gives that portion of our Lord's instructions during that last memorable night and morning, which was most needful for the Hebrews, as we learn from the prominence given to them in the epistle to the Hebrews. Mark, writing for the Roman world, presents the doctrines required by the Latin mind, as we gather from the stress laid on these doctrines in the epistle to the Romans. But Luke addressed a yet different audience, the third representative people of the ancient world, the great Grecian race, that was scattered so widely over the earth, and played so important a part in history. They were polished with intellectual culture, and had a vast literature of their own, and a language so widely diffused that it was the best possible vehicle for a revelation that was designed for the whole world. Hence Luke adopts a more strict historical method, and bases his gospel more on existing records, and gives prominence to the scriptures. Whilst Matthew made prominent the divinity of Christ, his mediatorial kingdom, and the Trinity; and Mark, the doctrine of justification by faith; Luke presents the authority of the holy scripture, the doctrine of an atoning Messiah, and the need of divine illumination to understand the scriptures. These were the doctrines needful to be made prom