Imágenes de páginas

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




inent to the Greeks, to whom they were foolishness. And it is a striking proof of the position already argued that the apostolic commission was not the original authority to baptize, that we find no mention made of baptism at all by Luke in his form of the commission. This can be explained only on the supposition that the authority had previously been granted, and hence it was not deemed necessary to repeat the grant here. The only point that it has in common with the other forms of the commission is, the extension of the grant to all nations that had hitherto been limited to the Jewish nation. There are several points of great importance presented in this form of the commission.

I. The Holy Scripture is the only unerring and final rule of faith and practice. .

This is the great question of the day in which we live. Infidelity on one hand assails the suffi. ciency of scripture, and presents human reason in one form as its supplement. Popery on the other hand assails it, and presents human reason in another form for the same purpose. Both agree in rejecting the scripture as a final and sufficient rule, and in presenting human reason to correct it. They differ in the precise form in which we are to look for that reason: Infidelity contending for the cultivated reason of the present, Popery for the traditional reason of the past.

Against all these impugners we have the direct and thrice uttered recognition of Christ. He appeals to the fact that when he was with them, he told them "that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning” him ; he “opened their understandings that they might understand the scriptures," "and said unto them, Thus it is written, &c,” giving by these three distinct recognitions of the binding authority of scripture, the strongest proof of his views on this point. He makes no distinction as to portions of higher or lower authority, but places the entire scripture on the commanding elevation of a supreme and divinely inspired rule of faith and practice, and one whose sufficiency was such as to need no supplementing authority or interpreter Nor is his recognition limited to the portions of scripture then written. The unwritten parts are equally endorsed in the words, “ye are witnesses of these things.” v. 48. Here they were appointed to be the authorized witnesses of his gospel, and of course had assured to them the same reliable accuracy in delivering their testimony that he alleged in regard to the Old Testament witnesses, which was equivalent to a promise of inspiration. Hence we have here the great doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture as a rule of faith and practice, that the church of God rests on the Bible, as its

basis, and that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for our instruction in what is needful to salvation.

II. The great central doctrine of Revelation is a suffering and atoning Messiah.

When Jesus comes to explain what is written concerning him in the scripture, we find that it is, "thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." v. 46. This was the great doctrine which to the Jews was a stumbling block, and to the Greeks, foolishness; and yet a doctrine taught in all the history, the revelation, and the types of the past, from Abel to John the Baptist.

The law spake of a suffering and atoning Messiah. Sacrifice would have been else an unmeaning cruelty. Every lamb, from that of Abel to Abraham, and the paschal lamb of Egypt, and the sacrificial pomp of Sinai, down to the last victim in the little upper chamber, pointed forward to the Lamb of God who was to take away the sin of the world. All the washings, and sprinklings, and vestments, and ritual of the law, found their meaning only in Christ, and can be fully interpreted only at the cross.

The prophets spake of him from Enoch to Malachi: Isaiah, sounding bis gospel in terms of such unequalled grandeur; Jeremiah, uttering it in tears; Ezekiel, gazing, rapt in astonishment on the Son of Man ; Daniel, counting the very weeks until Messiah was to be cut off; Zechariah, proclaiming the lowly king; and Malachi, the refiner and purifier of silver, who should soon come to his temple. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

The psalms, including all the devotional portions of the scripture, are also full of rich strains of tenderness and pathos, that find their key note only in the song of Moses and the Lamb.

The burden of all those utterances of revelation was that Christ must suffer and rise from the dead, in other words, must make an atonement by suffering. This is the great cardinal doctrine of the Christian system, a doctrine which every age has seen attacked, and yet to which every age has been compelled at last to return, as the living, throbbing heart of the gospel. As the sense of sin grows faint in an individual or an age, the need of atonement is less deeply felt, and a mere symbolical, or figurative atonement is adopted instead of a real, vicarious substitution. But when the sense of sin grows deeper, and its intrinsic ill-desert is more clearly perceived, then this great doctrine of revelation begins to glow as if with light from heaven, that it behoved Christ both to suffer, and to rise again from the dead; since his suffering was needed as an atonement, and his resurrection as an authentication of this great transaction, from the hand of God himself. It is most marvellous

« AnteriorContinuar »