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der the new dispensation. Ac. But what are we to understand cordingly, as we learn from the by these keys? Anciently to the twentieth of John, when Jesus stewards of great families, and appeared in the midst of his dis. especially of the royal household, ciples after his resurrection, he keys were delivered as a token breathed on them and said, “Re- of their office, and of their ay. ceive
ye the Holy Ghost ;” add. thority, over the treasures, or ing at the same time, Whose. stores, under their care. With soever sins ye remit, they are the Jewish doctors also, it was a remitted unto them; and whose, standing custom, when anyagne soever sins ye retain, they are was admitted to the office of a retained." Then it was that Rabbin, or sacred instructor, to the apostles were installed, as deliver to him a key, as a sym, officers in the kingdom of bol of his power to open and heaven;" then, and not till then, explain the divine oracles. To
the keys of the kingdom one, or the other of these well delivered to them, to bind and known customs, and possibly to loose, to remit sins and to re. to both of them, our Lord had tain them; and then it was, allusion in the figurative expres. that our Lord's promise to Pe. sion now before us. As the ter, respecting the keys, was ful, apostles were made stewards of filled. But here, there is no dis. the mysteries of God, the keys tinction of Peter from the rest of the kingdom were committed of the apostles. To him, indeed, to them, in token of their stew. we see the keys given, according ardship, or, as they were admit, to promise ; but given to him, ted to the office of sacred instrucin common only with his breth, tors, or scribes of the kingdom
of heaven, they received the It is to be considered, more. keys, in token of their commis, over, that in the eighteenth of sion, to open and declare the Matthew, Christ speaks of this great things of the gospel. Or, power of binding and loosing, if we consider the keys with ref, which is properly the power of erence to doors, and suppose the keys, as being lodged not in them to denote the power to op. the apostles only, but also in the en and to shut the doors of the church. In the case of a tres. kingdom of heaven, or of the pass, or offence, he directs that church, it still amounts to much the matter be brought, in the the same thing. For bow are last resort, to the church; and the doors to be opened and shut? with immediate reference to the Is it not by a declaration and decisions of the church, says, in proper application of the doce the very language before used in trines and precepts of the gospel? refercuce to the apostles, “What. Indubitably in no way, other soever ye shall bind on earth, than this, had the apostles pow. shall be bound in heaven; and er to forgive sios, or to retain whatsoever ye shall loose on them. They had a commission earth, shall be loosed in heaven. to declare the great truths of the It was not therefore to Peter gospel, and in the name of their exclusively, that the keys of the Divine Master to give assurance, kingdom of heaven were given, that the sins of all, who obeyed
the gospel, should be forgiven, tained, and men were to be ad. and that the sins of all, who mitted to the kingdom of heaven, would not obey, should be re, or excluded from it; so to the tained. Whatsoever in this way church it was given, to judge of therefore, they bound on earth, those doctrines and precepts, was bound in heaven ; and what. and by them to decide on ques. soever they loosed on earth, was tions of heresy or offence, and lposed in heaven. That is, their to determine, who should be words were ratified and confirm. admitted to the privileges of ed bv Christ; and according to the the body, and who should be assurance given by them, those excluded from them. And what, who obeyed the gospel, were par. soever, in agreement with the doned, and those, who refused to gospel, a church thus biąds on pbey, were not. The case was earth, is bound in heaven ; and the same also, with respect to whatsoever is thus loosed og admission to the privileges of the earth, is loosed in heaven.* kingdom of heaven, and to ex- Such, it is conceived was, and clusion from them. The apos, such still is, the power of the tles, again, were commissioned to keys. It was primarily given promulgate the doctrines and to the apostles, and through precepts of the gospel, which them to the churches and minis. are the immutable laws of ters, by them established and or. Christ's kingdom; and to direct dained; and thence, it has been that those, who submitted to handed down to succeeding ages. these laws, should be received to It may deserve remark, however, the privileges of the church, and that as Peter was the first of the that those, who would not sub. apostles explicity to confess the mit, should be excluded. And great truth, on which the church is in this respect also, whatsoever built; and to him first the keys of they bound on earth, was bound the kingdom were promised; so on in heaven; and whatsoever they him first, after the resurrection, loosed on earth, was loosed in and ascension of the Savior and heaven.
the descent of the Holy Ghost, The keys, then, denoted noth. it devolved to use the power of ing more nor less, than the pow. the keys, in declaring the goser, vested in them, as stewards of pel to the Jews, and also in openthe mysteries of God, as scribes ing the door of faith to the gen. of the kingdom of heaven, to tiles: the former, on the day of promulgate and apply the laws Pentecost at Jerusalem, and the of the kingdom, or the doctrines latter, on a memorable occasion, and precepts of the gospel. at the house of Cornelius in CeBut, as before observed, a
But although, in this re. power similar to this, which was spect, he was first; yet he was given to the apostles, was also * The keys of the ancients were very Jodged in the church. As the different from ours, and used in a very
different manner As their doors, cabiapostles were authorized public.
nets, &c. were generally closed with ly to declare, explain, and.en. bands ; their keys served only in a cerforce the doctripes and precepts tain manner to fasten or loosen those
bands. of the gospel, according to which Hence the propriety of the
terms “to bind" and to loose," in resias were to be forgiven, or re- ference to keys.
only the first among equals : for and his work. Not small or the power of the keys, which he light, therefore, is the guilt of thus exercised, was afterwards those, who, through negligence exercised, in its full extent by or inattention, remain ignorant his fellow apostles ; and from of him ; or entertain only vague them was transmitted to others. or incorrect opinions respecting
Before we dismiss this subject, him. It is a declaration from a few obvious deductions claim his own lips. “ If ye believe to be considered.
not, that I am he, ye shall die in 1. It is important for all to your sins.” form right conceptions of Christ. 2. Not only does it behove It is much to be feared, that a all to have a true knowledge of very considerable part of those, Christ; it is also important, on who sit under the gospel, have yet all proper occasions to make a but exceedingly vague, inade- distinct and open confession of quate, or even erroneous ideas of him. This the disciples were reits glorious Author. If the quired to do, previously to their question be asked, “What think receiving the keys of the kingye of Christ ?" or Who say ye dom of heaven : this the Ethio. that he is ?” how many there pian eunuch was required to do are, who are unprepared to an. previously to his receiving the swer. Nay, are there not many, seal of baptism : and this, un. who deem the question an unim- questionably ought to be consid. portant one? many, who copsida ered as required of all, who are er it is of little consequence, admitted to the church, and es. what they think of Christ; pecially to the ministry. whether they regard him as a How forcibly does this plain mere creature, or as a being truth rebuke the practice, at the uniting in himself human nature the present day but too com. with the divine; or whether, or mon, of admitting to the church, not, they form any distinct con. and even to the ministry, with. ceptions of him ? But how cul. out any explicit confession of pable, and how dangerous a faith. 'How decisively does it state of mind is this. Christ is condemn the pretence, at present the foundation of the gospel : but too prevalent, that it is unand without just conceptions of reasonable to require of any a him our conceptions of the declaration of their sentiments gospel at large must be indis. respecting the great question of tinct, unsettled, inadequate, and the Savior's divinity. Did Je.
The questions, put sus require of his disciples an by Jesus to his disciples, “Who explicit declaration of what they do men say that I am ?” and thought of him, before he would " Who say ye that I am?” indi. commit to them the keys of his cate emphatically, that, in his kingdom? Did he pronounce view, it is an important duty, in the great truth, contained in a cumbent on all, religiously to just confession of him, in his ofimprove their means of knowl. ficial and divine character, to edge, and to have their minds be the foundation of his church? settled in right conceptions of And is no such confession to be him, his person, his character, now required, or even allowed ?
Shall men, without this, or any the fall in Paradise ; and on explicit confession of their faith which it will rest for ever. Yes; respecting Christ, be admitted upon the foundation of the New as his ministers, and have the Jerusalem, in its completed state, keys of his kingdom entrusted will be seen the names of the to them ? And shall churches be twelve apostles, to shew it to be built
up, without this founda. the same with that, on which Je. tion ?--How can this be? How
sus declared to them, he would is it possible, that such a flagrant build his church. “Why then departure from the declared will do the heathen rage, and the of Christ should have any coun. people imagine a vain thing ?" tenance in the christian world?- The kingdoms of this world shall And further; how is it possible be dashed in pieces ; the coun. that should professedly sels of the "wise” shall be car. preach the gospel for years, and ried headlong; the earth shall yet their hearers never know, be convulsed to its centre and what they think of Christ; who shall be “clean dissolved ;' but they say that he is; or whether Zion shall remain unshaken upthey hold him to be a mere crea. on her foundation; and even ture or a being clothed with all the gates of hell shall assault the attributes of Godhead ? Is her in vain ! this indeed, possible ? Alas! the 5. How important it is for deplorable absurdities of deprav. every church to look well to its ed human nature !
foundation. If any particular 3. How certain is the down. church be built on the true Rock, fal of the papal church. Resting and hold fast, and be faithful i professedly on Peter, but really it shall be as mount Zion itself, on an error, its foundation is no which cannot be moved. Christ better than the sand. Under the will be its support, and will tremendous shock, therefore of surely verify his promise, “What"the rains and floods,” the whole soever ye bind on earth, shall be unwieldy fabric is destined inevi. bound in heaven; and whatso. tably to fall, “and great, indeed, ever ye shall loose on earth, will be the fall of it.” Nor less shall be loosed in heaven." But certain is the eventual fall of ev. no sooner does a church remove ery church, not built on the true from this foundat on, than all is foundation of the apostles and gone. Christ is no longer its prophets, having Jesus Christ support; and whatever it may himself for the chief corner stone. bind or loose on earth, can have
4. How secure is the true no ratification or sanction of his. church of God, with all its vast FINALLY. This subject speaks interests and hopes. Its founda. toindividuals as well as to churchtion is a Rock ; a Rock, which es. The true Rock of the church, has stood unmoved the heaviest is the only sure foundation for shocks of time, and the fiercest an individual. He, who is real. assanlts of the foe. This foun. ly on this Rock, is “ blessed ;" dation, not only of the apostles, is safe and happy for eternity; but also of the prophets, is that but he who is not, has his feet on on which the church has rested, slippery places, and must slide uoder every dispensation since in due iime. Of the most solemn import, therefore, to every one, strongest claims to respect. It is the memorable warning of the is not meant, that an ecstacy of Savior : “Whosoever cometh to joy, experienced at the moment me, and heareth my sayings, and of dissolution, furnishes incon. doeth them, I will shew you to trovertible evidence of the truth whom he is like. He is like a and value of those sentiments, man, who built an house, and which have produced it; for the digged deep, and laid the foun. visions of imagination in a sick dation on a rock ; and when the man's brain may be gay and food arose, the stream beat ve. bright, while his reason is shaken hemently upon that house, and from its throne, and his stupified could not shake it; for it was conscience has upon it many a sin founded upon a rock. But he that unrepented of and unforsaken. heareth and doeth not, is like a What is contended for is this, man that, without a foundation, that when an intelligent and built an house upon the earth; thinking mani, who has been acagainst which the stream did beat customed to look into himself vehemently, and immediately it and to observe his own imperfec. fell; and the ruin of that house tions and sins, and whose was great.” SILVANUS. thoughts have expatiated on eter.
nity, can view the approach of death not only without terror or
any misgivings of mind, but with DEATH OF THOMAS PAINE. tranquil resignation and cheering
and triumphant hope ; when he An argument of great weight can depart from this life with the in favor of christianity, is deriv. full assurance of living again and ed from the consolations, which of living in a better world ; his it imparts at the hour of death. composure and joy under these Let all the other strong and in. circumstances, with a
correct vincible proofs of the truth of view of his own character, and Scripture be considered as in. with a full belief of the retribu. competent to establish the point, tions of eternity, brings the highfor which they are adduced ; est honor to the religious sys. still this argument will not fail to tem, upon which they are foundcarry conviction to every sobered. and reflecting mind. If there is a In the controversy between the state of existence, which succeeds friends and the enemies of the ihe present life; if there are gospel, the former can point to rewards and punishments to be many expiring mortals, and with adjudged in the future world ac. unanswerable argument can say, cording to the characters formed 66 See how a Christian can die!" in this ; and if the interests of Bụt wbere are the models of com. eternity are infinitely greater than posure and triumph among those, those of time; then it is very who were not Christians ? What evident, that a religion, or a sys. are the names of the unbelievers, tem of faith, which at the close who at the hour of death of life brings the most solid sup- have exhibited any enviable ele. port, and administers the most vation of soul? In the faded eye cheering hopes, must have the of what dying infidel has the