« AnteriorContinuar »
whole heart.” Ver. 10. “ With my whole heart have I sought thee.” Ver. 34. “ Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law, yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart." Ver. 69. “ The proud have forged a lie against me, but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.” Jer. xxiv. 7. “ And I will give them an heart to know me—for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." Joel ii. 12, 13. “ Turn ye even unto me with all your heart-and rend your heart, and not your garments.” And we have the like phrases in innumerable other places. And I suppose that not so much as one place can be produced, wherein there is the least evidence or appearance of their being used to signify any thing but a gracious sincerity. And indeed it must be a very improper use of language, to speak of those as performing acts of religion with all their hearts, whose heart the Scriptures abundantly represent as under the reigning power of sin and unbelief-and as those that do not give God their hearts, but give them to other things—as those who go about to serve two masters, and who draw near to God with their lips, but have at the same time their hearts far from him, running more after other things; and who have not a single eye, nor single heart. The word believe, in the New Testament, answers to the word trust in the Old ; and therefore the phrase used by Philip, of believing with all the heart, is parallel to that in Prov. iii. " Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.” And believing with the heart is a phrase used in the New Testament, to signify saving faith. Rom. x. 9, 10. • If thou shalt believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” The same is signified by obeying the form of doctrine from the heart, Rom. vi. 17, 18. “ But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you ; being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Here it is manifest, that saving faith is intended by obeying the form of doctrine from the heart. And the same is signified as if it had been said, “ ye have believed with the heart” the form of doctrine. But Philip uses a yet stronger expression ; he does not only say, if thou believest with the heart, or from the heart, but with all thine heart. Besides, for any to suppose, that those same persons which the scriptures represent in some places as under the power
of an evil heart of unbelief-as double-minded with regard to their faith, (James i. 6, 7, 8,) who, though they believe for awhile, have their hearts like a rock, in which faith has no root, (Luke viii.)--and yet that this same sort of persons are in other scriptures spoken of as believing with all their heart; I say, for any to suppose this, would be to make the voice of God's word not very harmonious and consonant to itself. And one thing more I would observe on this head ; there is good reason to suppose that Philip, while he sat in the chariot with the eunuch, and (as we are told) preached unto him Jesus, had showed to him the way of salvation-had opened to him the way of getting an interest in Christ, or obtaining salvation by him, viz. believing in him, agreeable to Christ's own direction, Mark xvi. 15, 16, and agreeable to what we find to be the manner of the first preachers of the gospel. And therefore, when after this discourse he puts it to the eunuch, whether he believed with all his heart; it is natural to suppose, that he meant whether he found his heart acquiescing in the gospel-way of salvation, or whether he sincerely exercised that belief in Christ which he had been inculcating; and it would be natural for the eunuch so to understand him.
Here, if it be objected, that the eunuch's answer and the profession he hereupon made, (wherein he speaks nothing of his heart, but barely says,) I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, shows that he understood no more by the inquiry, than whether he gave his assent to that doctrine : to this I answer ; we must take this confession of the eunuch together with Philip's words, to which they were a reply, and expound the one by the other. Nor is there any reason but to understand it in the same sense in which we find the words of the like confession elsewhere in the New Testament, and as the words of such a confession were wont to be used in those days; as particularly the words of Peter's confession, Matt. xvi. 16. “ And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Which was a profession of saving faith, as appears by what Christ says upon it. And we read, 1 Cor. xii. 3. “ No man can say, that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." Not but that a man might make a profession in these words without the Holy Ghost, but he could not do it heartily, or WITH ALL HIS HEART. So 1 John iv. 15. " Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God :" i. e. Whoever makes this Christian confession (this profession which all Christians were wont to make) cordially, or with his whole heart, God dwells in him, &c. But it was thus that the eunuch was put upon making this confession.
The Epistles of the Apostles to the Churches, prove what has
It is apparent by the epistles of the apostles to the primitive Christian churches, their manner of addressing and treating them throughout all those epistles, and what they say to them and of them, that all those churches were constituted of members so qualified as has been represented, having such a visibility of godliness as has been insisted upon. Those who were reputed to be real saints, were taken into the church under a notion of their being truly pious persons, made that profession, and had this hope of themselves ; and that natural and graceless men were not admitted designedly, but unawares, and beside the aim of the primitive churches and ministers; and that such as remained in good standing, and free from an offensive behaviour, continued to have the reputation and esteem of real saints, with the apostles, and one with another.
There were numbers indeed in these churches, who after their admission fell into an offensive behaviour ; of some of whom the apostles in their epistles speak doubtfully; others that had behaved themselves very scandalously, they speak of in language that seems to suppose them to be wicked men.--The apostle Paul, in his epistles to the Corinthians, oftentimes speaks of some among them that had embraced heretical opinions, and had behaved themselves in a very disorderly and schismatical manner, whom he represents as exposed to censure, and to whom he threatens excommunication. On occasion of so many offences of this kind appearing among them that for awhile had been thought well of, he puts them all upon examining themselves, whether they were indeed in the faith, and whether Christ was truly in them, as they and others had supposed, 2 Cor. xiii. -And the same apostle speaks of great numbers among the Galatians, who had made a high profession, and were such as he had thought well of when they were first admitted into the church, but since had given him cause to doubt of their state, by giving heed to seducers, that denied the great gospel-doctrine of justification by faith alone : Yet notwithstanding, the apostle speaks of them in such language as shows surprise and disappointment, and implies that he had looked upon them as true Christians, and hoped that his labours among them had had a saving effect upon them. Gal. i. 6. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel.” Chap. iv. 11. “ I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” And verse 20, “ I desire to be present with you now, and change my voice ; for I stand in doubt of you.” As much as to say, “ I have heretofore addressed you with the voice of love and charity, as supposing you the dear children of God ; but now I begin to think of speaking to you in other language.” In the same chapter, to show them what little reason he had to expect that they would come to this, he puts them in mind of the great profession they had made, and the extraordinary appearances there had formerly been in them of fervent piety.Ver. 15. " Where is the blessedness you spake of ? For I bear you record, that if it had been possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them unto me." The apostle James, in his epistle, speaks of scandalous persons among the twelve tribes that were scattered abroad ; some that were men of unbridled tongues ; some that seem to have been a kind of Antinomians in their principles, and of a very bitter and violent spirit, that reproached, condemned, and cursed their brethren, and raised wars and fightings among professing Christians, and were also very unclean in their practice, adulterers and adulteresses, chap. iv. 4. And in the fifth chapter of his epistle, he seems to speak to the unbelieving Jews, who persecuted the Christians, ver. 6.
- And the apostles also often speak of some who had once been admitted into the church, crept in unawares, but who apostatized from Christianity, and finally proved notoriously wicked men.-But otherwise, and as to such members of the visible church as continued in the same good standing and visibility of Christianity, wherein they were admitted, it is evident by the epistles of the apostles, they were all in the eye of a Christian judgment truly pious or gracious persons. And here I desire the following things may be particularly observed.
The apostles continually, in their epistles, speak to them and of them, as supposing and judging them to be gracious persons. Thus the apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chap. i. 7, speaks of the members of that church as beloved of God. In chap. vi. 17, 18, &c. he “ thanks God, that they had obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which had been delivered them, were made free from sin, and become the servants of righteousness," &c. The apostle in giving thanks to God for this, must not only have a kind of negative charity for them, as not knowing but that they were gracious persons, and so charitably hoping (as we say) that it was so; but he seems to have formed a positive judgment that they were such. His thanksgiving must at least be founded on rational probability; since it would be but a mocking of God to give him thanks for bestowing a mercy, which at the same time he did not see reason posia
tively to believe was bestowed. In chap. vii. 4–6, the apostle speaks of them as those that once were in the flesh, and were under the law, but now delivered from the law, and dead to it. 'In chap. viii
. 15, and following verses, he tells them, they had received the spirit of adoption, and speaks of them as having the witness of the Spirit that they were the children of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. And the whole of his discourse, to the end of the chapter, implies, that he esteemed them truly gracious persons. In chap. ix. 23, 24, he speaks of the Christian Romans, together with all other Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, as vessels of mercy. In chap. xiv. 6, 7, 8, speaking of the difference that then was among . professing Christians, in point of regard to the ceremonial institutions of the law, he speaks of both parties as acting from a gracious principle, and as those that lived to the Lord, and should die unto the Lord ; " He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord, &c. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man [i. e. none of us] dieth to himself
. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord, or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: Whether we live therefore or dic, we are the Lord's." In chap. xv. 14, he says, “ I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye are full of goodness.” His being thus persuaded implies a positive judgment of charity..
And the same apostle in his first epistle to the Corinthians, directs it “ to the church at Corinth, that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of the Lord Jesus ;" i. e. to all visible Christians through the world, or all the members of Christ's visible church every where. And continuing his speech, chap. i. 8, he speaks of them as those " that God would confirm to the end, that they may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ :" plainly speaking of them all as persons, in Christian esteem, savingly converted. In the next verse, he speaks of the faithfulness of God as engaged thus to preserve them to salvation, having called them to the fellowship of his Son. And in the 30th verse, he speaks of them as having a saving interest in Christ; “ Of him are ye in Christ Jesus ; who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." In chap. iii. 21-23, he says to the members of the church of Corinth, “ All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, and ye are Christ's.” In chap. iv. 15, he tells them, he had begotten them through the gospel. In chap. vi. 1-3, he speaks of them as “those who shall judge the world, and shall judge angels." And in verse 11, he says to them, “ Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God.” And in chap. xv. 49 VOL. IV.