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The Jewish church had a union, but it was not a spiritual, living, perfect union. It was a union like that of the different bones of one of those bodies in Ezekiel's vision before the breath came into it. It was a physical and dead union. There was no warm and uniform pulsation. There was no living sympathy. But Christians are so united as to form one complete spiritual whole. And by this unseen and close contact of Christian spirit with Christian spirit, a purer spiritual atmosphere is preserved, and a higher state of spiritual perfection is induced. Here then is another reason why we should cling to Christianity.
Moses, as the servant of God, and Mediator of the old covenant, was of great consequence in the Levitical economy. By his laws and maxims everything was directed and tried; and to bim the whole Hebrew people came for both their civil and religious ordinances; but Christians come to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant: he not only stands immediately between God and man, but reconciles and connects both. From him we receive the Divine law, by his maxims our conversation is to be ruled, and he gives, both the light and life by which we walk: these things Moses could not do; and for such spirituality and excellence, the old covenant made no provision: it was therefore a high privilege to be able to say, 'Ye are come to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant."1
“ The blood of sprinkling" under the old dispensation was also inefficacious. There was nothing in it to atone for human guilt. It made no reconciliation with God. But we are come to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” The blood of Abel cried only for vengeance upon the head of him by whose hand it was shed. This speaks nothing but mercy.
“ Jesus' blood, through earth and skies,
Mercy, free, boundless mercy, cries!" Through it we have redemption from our sins, and a title to the joys of everlasting life. There is a worth and efficacy in it infinitely above the rivers that were shed on Jewish altars, and for this we should cling to it perpetually.
He who declared the law was a man, and spake from earth. Moses was a member of the human race as one of us. however, escaped who refused to hear him. The Gospel was Dr. Clarke in loc.
2 See Lecture XXI., page 241.
declared by one greater than Moses—the Lord from heaven. It was God himself, manifest in the flesh, that declared unto the world the great truths of Christianity. And if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.
And when the law was delivered the earth alone was shaken. The prophetic use of the term earth usually denoted the temporal authority—the civil polity. When the law was given, the whole political government of the Jews was shaken, and absorbed by the ecclesiastical constitution. Gradually, however, after the coronation of Saul, a sort of district civil polity was brought into force. But at the introduction of the new dispensation, according to the prophecy of Haggai, both the heavens and the earth were shaken and removed; both the civil and ecclesiastical institutions of the Jews were taken away. It was established with still more awful signs than those which accompanied the delivery of the law. And if there was anything in the manner in which the old dispensation was brought into force to preserve from apostasy, certainly the mighty revolutions in the church and in the state which accompanied the proclamation of the Gospel should have some influence to keep us steadfast in the observance of its ordinances.
Finally, the old dispensation was intended merely as a temporary and introductory concern. Prophecies, uttered in the time of its greatest glory, plainly told this. Even in the one quoted in the text, the apostle says, “this word, yet once more, (i. e., this allusion to some fearful and unprecedented commotion,) signifieth the removing of these things that are shaken.” They were only intended to last till the desire of nations should come, and then were to pass away. The introduction of the Gospel was to shake and remove everything that could be shaken, or that was not permanent, and whatever it did not shake remains settled and eternal. We then receive in the new covenant a kingdom which cannot be moved. This is that kingdom which shall stand forever. It shall stand forever in its spiritual form in the hearts of believers, and when Christ shall come again, it shall assume a visible form, and the saints shall reign with him forever and ever.
I have now given you a brief view of the various allusions of this brilliant passage. And if you have exercised yourselves to understand what has been presented, you have certainly beheld
strong reasons for faithful perseverance in the Christian course. Why, indeed, with such facts before him, should any man ever think of renouncing Christianity? If Judaism sinks so low in comparison with it—that wonderful economy which was once the object of universal admiration—what else can compete with it? Will Mahomedanism? Who would be so foolish as to give up the cross for the crescent—the Bible for the Koran? the Christian ministry for the bloody sword—or the holy and spiritual heaven for a sensual paradise? Will Paganism? Heaven forbid that any should ever think of again immersing the world in that dark stream of abomination and wo. Will Infidelity? Is its cold and melancholy moonlight to be preferred to the warm and enlivening illuminations of the sun of righteousness? Will the world? “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Nay, is there anything in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, which can fill the place of the Gospel of Christ? Nothing. Your own hearts respond, Nothing. How strong is our encouragement, then, to hold fast the grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear? It was said under the old dispensation, that God was “a consuming fire” to the disobedient and the faithless. Be careful, then, lest that come upon you which was spoken by the prophets. If he that despised Moses law died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy who shall deny the faith in opposition to the additional light and motives of the Gospel of Jesus ? Brethren, “hold fast the beginning of your confidence steadfast unto the end." All our interests are safe in the hands of Jesus; and in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
Heb. 13, i.-iii. Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers :
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remeinber them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
We now enter upon the closing chapter of our epistle. And like the concluding chapters of nearly all Paul's writings, it is made up almost entirely of exhortations to the performance of various Christian duties. Three distinct things are presented for our consideration in the text: 1st. Brotherly love; 2nd. Hospitality; 3d. Christian sympathy. I will proceed, then, to make such remarks upon each of these particulars as I may think important and edifying
“Let brotherly love continue.”
Man was originally created to love. Love was designed to be the master affection of his soul—his motive and rule of action. It is presented in the Scriptures as the sum and fulfilment of the entire law of God. It is the excellence of all things-the perfection of all beings—the glory of all unsmitten worlds. All beings rise or sink in the scale of excellence and happiness in exact proportion to their love.
Love varies in its phases and degrees as it is directed to different objects. The sinner is not loved as the saint, nor the creature as God.
Love, when directed toward the Deity, to be right must
We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind. When directed toward men generally, without reference to character, it is called charity-that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow-men, and to do them good. But when it is directed to Christians—members of the household of faith, it partakes more of the nature of a domestic feeling. It is an affection distinct from, and in general more tenacious and tender than ordinary friendship.
It gives rise to a more special benevolence, and one distinguished from the common beneficence which we owe to all men. Brotherly love is an affection which is not to be accounted for on the ordinary principles of affection and friendship among men.
Genuine Christians may be loved by us, and still that love be something entirely different from that brotherly love which is the subject of exhortation in the text. We may love them because they are our children, our parents, or our companions in life, and their Christian character be left utterly out of the account. We may also love them because of some moral virtues which are so useful and attractive in themselves as to be the natural objects of partiality, and still not have the brotherly affection spoken of in the text. And we may even love them on account of certain qualities for which they are indebted to their religion, and yet this attachment fall far short of brotherly love. “If (says an eminent divine and eloquent preacher) we find ourselves overpowered, as it were, and captivated by the display of Christian virtue, we are not hence entitled immediately to draw a favorable conclusion respecting our state, without looking deeper, and inquiring how we stand affected towards the principle whence these virtues emanated." It is the ground on which our attachment to Christians is based which is to determine the fact of our being possessed of brotherly love or not. Brotherly love is the love of the brethren, as brethren—the love of Christians, for the sake of their Christianity. There is something in real Christians which distinguishes them from all other classes of men."
1. They sustain a peculiar relation to the Deity. He is their covenant God and Father through Jesus Christ.” They are a peculiar treasure to him above all the nations of the earth. They are his possession, his inheritance, his people, for he hath purchased them by his blood. He says to them, “I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and my daughters." They have received the Spirit of Adoption whereby they cry Abba, Father. There is a peculiar nearness and communion between God and his people.
2. Christians have also a peculiar attachment to God, and zeal for his glory. Having been redeemed by his Son, and adopted into his family as children and heirs, they look upon him as “the chief among ten thousand, and the one altogether lovely.” They | Hall's Works, vol. 3, p. 182.