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CATION OF SCRIPTURE LANGUAGE.
se things ; in which are some things hard to "HE RIGET Iderstood, which they that are unlearned and
ble wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, ED MET heir own destruction.—2 Pet. ii. 15, 16.
must not be dissembled that there are many SHOP or lifficulties in the Christian Scriptures; whilst,
e same time, more, I believe, and greater, justly be imputed to certain maxims of intera ation, which have obtained authority without on, and are received without inquiry. One of e, as I apprehend, is the expecting to find, in present circumstances of Christianity, a meanfor, or something answering to, every appella
and expression which occurs in Scripture; * GREAT ZE in other words, the applying to the personal
dition of Christians at this day, those titles, rases, propositions, and arguments, which beig solely to the situation of Christianity at its st institution. I am aware of an objection which weighs much
th many serious tempers, namely, that to supPALDSE any part of Scripture to be inapplicable to
, is to suppose a part of Scripture to be useless; hich seems to detract from the perfection we atibute to these oracles of our salvation. To this can only answer, that it would have been one of he strangest things in the world, if the writings of the New Testament had not like all other books, been composed for the apprehension, and consequently adapted to the circumstances, of the persons they were addressed to; and that it would have been cqually strange, if the great, and in many respects the inevitable alterations, whics
have taken place in those circumstances, did not vary the application of Scripture language.
I design, in the following discourse, to propose some examples of this pariation, from which you vill judge, as I proceed, of the truth and importance of our general observation.
First; At the time the Scriptures were written, none were baptized but converts, and none vere converted but from conviction ; and convie. tion produced, for the most part, a corresponding reformation of life and manners. Hence baptism vas only another name for conversion, and con. version was supposed to be sincere: in this sense was our Saviour's promise, “ He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved ;"'* and in the same his command to St. Paul, Arise, and be bapti. zed, and wash away thy sins.”+ This was that baptism," for the remission of sins, to which St. Pe ter invited the Jews upon the day of Pentecost; that “ washing of regeneration, Panl writes to Titus," he saved us."
Nov, tains in mat Christian churches, at present, where when we came to speak of the baptism which obno consum is supposed, or possible, it is mani. lest, share these expressions be applied at all, ther applied with extreme qualification
The community of Christians were
tal of men connected amongst them. - Strictest union, and divided from the world by a real difference of principle
they gener pecu ploy ty fr as th Ger Isra suci becc to c son the and the the
"' by which,
fror exp eith ing
ed app pr
and what was more observable, by peculiarities of worship and behav, considered collectively, and
art from the rest of manous dispensation, as well as by a superior purity of life is view, and in opposition to they were denominated in
| Acts xxii. 16. & Titus iij. 5.
Scripture by titles of great seeming dignity and import; they were “elect,” “called," saints;"* they were “in Christ;”+ they were “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.”+ That is, these terms were employed to distinguish the professors of Christiani. ty from the rest of mankind, in the same manner as the names of Greek and Barbarian, Jew and Gentile; distinguished the people of Greece and Israel from other nations. The application of such phrases to the whole body of Christians is become now obscure ; partly because it is not easy to conceive of Christians as a body at all, by rea. son of the extent of their name and numbers, and the little visible union that subsists among them; and partly because the heathen world with whom they were compared, and to which comparison sse phrases relate, is now ceased, or is removed
our observation. Supposing, therefore, these ssions to have a perpetual meaning, and forgetting the original use of them, or findt, at this time, in a great measure exhaust
insignificant, we resort to a sense and an tion of them, easier, it may be, to our comsion, but extremely foreign from the de
their authors, namely, to distinguish inils amongst us, the professors of Christianm one another : agreeably to which idea Ist flattering of these names, the “elect,” di," "saints,” have, by bold and unlearned een appropriated to themselves and their arty with a presumption and conceit injuri.
the reputation of our religion amongst that are without,” and extremely disgusto the sober part of its professors; whereas, ch titles were intended in a sense common Christian converts, is well argued from maces in which they occur, in which places ży plainly substitute the terms convert or
† Rom. viii, 2.
Rom. viii. 33. i. 6 7.
# 1 Pet. il, 9.
in the language of the apos they whom he did foreknow, ist before the foundation of the world;' he did predestinate ;''they were sí chos
welect according to the foreknowled th the Father.''H This doctrine has nothing
another community into their place, compor. whilst it was carrying on, an object of great rnitude in the attention of the inspired writers
understood and obser ved it. "This event, ch engaged so much the thoughts of the aposis now only read of, and hardly that the rey and the importance of it are little known or anded to Losing sight, therefore, of the prooccasion of these expressions, yet willing, after fashion, to adapt them to ourselves, and find.
nothing else in our circumstances that suited • zes saith them, we have learnt a: length to apply them
the final destiny of individuals at the day of o nabigment; and, upon this foundation, has been
bieted a doctrine, which lays the axe at once to preden se root of all religion, that of an absolute appoint. ja ant to salvation or perdition independent of our
ves or any thing we can do; and, what is extratu pocte dinary, those very arguments and expressions - A webom. chap. ix. x. xi.), which the apostle employ
danses to vindicate the impartial mercies of God, wsite minst the narrow and excluding claims of Jewish ainsi gazrajudice, have been interpreted to establish a
e pensation the most arbitrary and partial that Luld be devised. ***Fourthly; The conversion of a grown person i wstawie om heathenism to Christianity, which is the case
me conversion commonly intended in the epistles, -,dent. as a change of which we have now no just con
maption : it was a new name, a new language, a ?* w society; a new faith, a new hope; a new obknow,' ct of worship, a new rule of life; a history was ere "clksclosed full of discovery and surprise; a prosworld ect of futurity was unfolded, beyond imagination Knowleavful and august; the same description applies, as sithin a great part, though not entirely, to the conwi niliyersion of a Jew. This, accompanied as it was with u 2017 he pardon of every former sin, (Rom. iii. 25.),
was such an era in a man's life, so remarkable a period in his recollection, such a revolution of Every thing that was most important to him, as might well admit of those strong figures and sig