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To this end he counfelled them to keep to the divine directions, carefully avoiding every alteration, 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 moft fuccessful 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 moftly to other fins, and induced to make indirect oppofition to the divine government, from them, the tempter hides the truth, and leads them into error, and thus caufes them to pull down the cause which they aim to build up, and fight against God with a view to ferve him.
So much of God appears in his works, that comparatively few can be made to doubt his exiftence, or his providential government. Hence few are prevailed with to renounce his fear and rife directly against him; but many are deceived, and confequently engaged to act with his enemies.
HERE a common fource of feduction hath been suggesting improvements on divine institutionsthat this and that, which God hath not ordered, would help his caufe 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 fpread over endeavors to change his infitutes. They are often
urged as means adapted to help his caufe, without pretence to divine order requiring the ufe of them. Much, it is alledged, is left to human difcretion. This taken for granted, the reft is eafy. It is only to say these measures are wife and good, calculated 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 inftitu. tions to those of human invention. Human wifdom 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 feduce the Coloffians, when this epiftle was written, and it is chiefly intended to counteract their influence, and prevent that church from being moved away from the hope of the gospel, which they had received.
IN difcuffing the subject, We shall first, glance at the meafures ufed by thofe deceivers-then confider the fuccefs which hath attended this mode of fighting against God, and feducing mankind, adding a few obfervations on the influence of tradition and the rudiments and cuftoms of the world.
THE Coloffian feducers appear to have been of two kinds-Jewish and Gentile. The former feem not to have differed from thofe at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, and those in Judea. They were Jewish Chriftians, who were fo attached to the Mofaic ritual, that they wished to continue it, and graft Chriftianity upon it, rendering the religion of Chrift only an appendage to that of Moses. They infifted that the ceremonial law remained in
force-infifted especially on the obfervance of circumcifion; and probably on the traditions fo highly valued by the Pharifees. But the apoftle affured this Gentile Church, that they were complete "in Chrift," and needed nothing of this kind to recommend them to God, or to fecure his favor-that " Chrift had blotted out the hand writ ing of ordinances, and taken it away, nailing it to his cross"-that the ceremonial law, being only "a fhadow of good things to come," was fulfilled in Christ, and no longer obligatory; and warned them to ftand fast in their Chriftian liberty, and fuffer no man to judge them refpecting such things, or impofe fuch burdens upon them.
THE Gentile feducers were converts from Paganism, 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 thofe things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."*
MANKIND feem, at a pretty early period, generally to have given into the idea of so vast a diftance between God and man, that man is unworthy to come into his prefence, and can approach him acceptably only through a mediator. juft views of a mediator were never communicated to the scattered branches of our race, or foon loft
* Verse 18.
from among them. Moft of the heathens offered religious homage to departed heroes; or to those who had been revered while inhabitants of earth. To them were their prayers addreffed, that they might bear them to the God of nature, and by their influence render him propitious.
HERE was the appearance of humility-So fenfible of their unworthinefs that they dared not approach God in their own names, or prefent their own petitions-others who had ceased to fin, and been admitted to the divine presence, muft intercede for them. But this was "a voluntary humility"—not ordered of God-a mere matter of human invention.
A MEDIATOR is indeed neceffary for man fince the fall; but man is not left to choose his mediatOne every way fuitable is provided, through whom we may have access to God. "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Chrift Jefus."
THE apoftle further obferves, that those who di. rected them to worship angels, arrogated a knowledge of matters not revealed. God hath given no intimation of fuch use to be made of angels, but ordered man to approach him in the name of Christ. Those who go to God in other ways, or depending on other interceffors, are faid "not to hold the head."* "The head of every man is Chrift.t Such people will lofe their reward. "Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels"—
* Verse 19.
+1 Corinthians xi. 2.
The rewards of grace are promised to obedience; but not to "wilful worship, or voluntary humility." The utmoft these can hope is forgiveness.
WHEN Paul affured the Coloffians that they were "complete in Chrift," he had reference to the errors of all the deceivers who were laboring to feduce them. Gentile philofophy is as useless to the Chriftian, as Jewish rites. Chrift hath the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him. We have only to rely on divine mercy, through faith in him, and we shall not be ashamed,
SUCH we conceive to be the fum of the inftructions and warnings here given to the Coloffians. They were only to keep to the divine directions, and feek falvation agreeably thereto, regardless of the traditions of men and rudiments of the world.
ALL error is deviation from divine rule. To this men are tempted with a view to honor God. This is a fruitful fource of error. And when error is once generated, it is often diffused and perpetuated by tradition, custom, and the rudiments of
We proceed to confider the fuccefs which hath attended this mode of fighting against God—that is, fuggefting improvements on divine inftitutions and ap pointments.
THE first attempt to feduce our race feems to have been of this kind. "The woman being deceived was in the tranfgreffion." Made upright, fhe could not have been perfuaded to difobey God, unless she was led to believe that fhe might, fome how, honor God in consequence of that disobedi