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To meet them again, and find yourself and them, forever removed from the fear of evil, either natural or moral-forever secure the divine friend, ship-forever happy and glorious in the enjoyment of God," the former things being all passed away, and all tears forever wiped from your eyes !" There to recount with those blessed spirits, the travels and trials of this life, and look back, perhaps, on many hairbreadth escapes from eternal death! There, to dwell on the wonders of divine love and mercy exercised towards you, and often in things which you once thought to be against you! Who would not willingly suffer many deaths to enjoy these things ?
Such considerations are animating in duty, and supporting in times of trial. If realized, we shall adopt the language of the suffering apoftle“ None of these things move me, neither do I count my life dear to myself, that I may
my course with joy"_and share such blessed society—such inconceivable felicity and glory in my Father's house above, in wbich are many manfions !
The Danger of Deviating from Divine Insti
COLOSSIANS ii. 8.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain
deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. ST. PAUL was the apostle of the Gentiles. The care of the churches gathered among them devolved particularly on him. At the writing of this epiftle he had no personal acquaintance with the church to which it is addressed.* Epaphras, a bishop of the Colossians, then his fellow prisoner at Rome, had made him acquainted with their ftate, and the danger they were in from false teach. ers, who, during the absence of their minister, labored to turn them from the fimplicity of the golpel; and this letter was written, through divine influence, to guard them against those deceivers, and persuade them to abide in Chrift.
* Verse 1.
To this end he counselled them to keep to the divine directions, carefully avoiding every altera, tion, or addition, which might be urged upon them by uninspired men, though they might come with a fhew of wisdom and humility, and profeffion of regard to the honor of God and happiness of man.
MANY of the most successful attacks on God's earthly kingdom have been made in this way. O. pen rebellion against God, is found chiefly on those who have no faith in him; who are therefore devoid of his fear. Others are tempted mostly to other fins, and induced to make indirect opposition to the divine government, from thein, the tempter hides the truth, and leads them into error, and thus causes them to pull down the cause which they aim to build up, and fight against God with a view to serve him.
So much of God appears in his works, that comparatively few can be made to doubt his exist. ence, or his providential government. Hence few are prevailed with to renounce his fear and rise directly against him; but many are deceived, and consequently engaged to act with his enemies.
Here a common source of fedu&tion hath been suggesting improvements on divine institutionsthat this and that, which God hath not ordered, would help his cause and promote his interest. Sometimes the improvements are attempted under pretence of divine order, and urged with his authority ; but this veil is not always spread over endeavors to change his institutes. They are often
urged as means adapted to help his cause, without pretence to divine order requiring the use of them. Much, it is alledged, is left to human discretion. This taken for granted, the rest is easy. It is only to say these measures are wise and good, calculat. ed to help on the cause of God, and whoever denies it, is considered as fighting against God.
Thus men are led away from the divine intitu. tions to those of human invention. Human wisdom is exalted above divine; and all with a view to glorify God!
Thus was the tempter laboring, through the in. ftrumentality of his agents, to seduce the Coloffians, when this epistle was written, and it is chiefly intended to counteract their influence, and pre. . vent that church from being moved away from the hope of the gospel, which they had received.
In discussing the subject, We shall first, glance at the measures used by those deceivers then consider the success which hath attended this mode of fighting against God, and seducing mankind, adding a few observations on the influence of tradition and the rudiments and customs of the world.
The Colossian seducers appear to have been of two kinds-- Jewish and Gentile. The former feem not to have differed from those at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, and those in Judea. They were Jewish Christians, who were so attached to the Mo. faic ritual, that they wished to continue it, and graft Chriftianity upon it, rendering the religion of Christ only an appendage to that of Moses. They infifted that the ceremonial law remained in force--infifted especially on the observance of circumcifion; and probably on the traditions so highly valued by the Pharisees. But the apostle assured this Gentile Church, that they were complete" in Christ," and needed nothing of this kind to recommend them to God, or to secure his fa. vor that “ Christ had blotted out the hand writing of ordinances, and taken it away, nailing it to his cross”-that the ceremonial law, being only " a shadow of good things to come," was fulfilled in Christ, and no longer obligatory; and warned them to stand fast in their Christian liberty, and fuffer no man to judge them respecting such things, or impose fuch burdens upon them. .
The Gentile seducers were converts from Pa. ganism, and no less eager to introduce the tenets and rites of their fuperftition. One of the errors, which, from the particular' mention made of it, they seem to have urged, was the worshipping of angels. “ Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."*
Mankind seem, at a pretty early period, generally to have given into the idea of so valt a distance between God and man, that man is unwor. thy to come into his presence, and can approach him acceptably only through a mediator. But just views of a mediator were never communicated to the scattered branches of our race, or soon loft
* Verle 18.