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this word in the Hebrew language, to eternity they are an accursed thing, which can have no fellowship or communion with God.
6. It also implies, that so far as these who love not Christ, discover their true character by outward apostacy from, or direct opposition to, Him or his cause, instead of being cherished in the bosom of the church, they ought to be looked upon by her as execrable and detestable, as the word anathema literally signifies. It is a long time since Balaam said, How shall I curse whom God hath blessed? The church may with great propriety invert the question, and ask, How shall I bless, with my most solemn privileges, such as God evidently curses? There is nothing that can be more ruining to the church than to retain in her bosom, and neither censure nor exclude, the known and avowed enemies of Christ, and his precious doctrines. We have the spirit and temper of Paul on this head, expressed in the most forcible manner, to the Galatians, chap. i. 8, 9, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed." There he expresses his great zeal for the gospel, and the danger which the Galatians incurred by listening to, and indulging among them, the inveterate enemies of the cross of our Lord Jesus, and justification by his imputed righteousness. Such enemies ought to be excluded from her communion with a view to the salvation of the soul in the day of the
Lord. Zion ought to aim at keeping all Christ's ordinances pure and entire, and should "not give the children's bread to dogs." But all means ought to be used with them to acquaint them with their true situation, the loss they sustain by not being in communion, and their great danger if they were admitted in their present condition.
III. We proceed to point out the grounds of this imprecation, or show that it is most reasonable, that "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, he be Anathema, Maran-atha." Upon this it is as impossible to say enough, as it is unnecessary at present to say much. The following sentences may suffice.
1. Christ deserves the highest love from all to whom he is offered in the gospel. The most opposite extremes are united in his person. He is the most high God in human nature, and possessed of infinite excellence. The majesty of his divinity, which might overawe the sinner, is made amiable and accessible in the man Christ Jesus. He undertook to be our surety, and stood in our room from all eternity. In the fulness of time, "as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham," and with this view, "that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest, in things pertaining to God, to make recon
ciliation for the sins of the people." If these things do not in the highest manner deserve the love of every gospel hearer, men and angels can never conceive what will. Therefore, where love thus deserved is wickedly refused, most justly is the person accursed.
2. While Christ infinitely deserves the love of gospel hearers, he does much to procure it, and gain the heart to himself. He sets before them what he did from eternity, when he said, "Lo, I come ;" and what he did in time, when "he was set forth a propitiation in his blood." The benefit of his merit, and all his blessings are not only offered to them, but pressed upon them. He points out the folly and unprofitable nature of their conduct in relying on any other object for salvation, and says, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." He sets life and death before them. He freely offers life, and complains when they will not come to him that they may have it. In doing all these things he is at great pains, rising up early, and sending his servants. With a feeling heart he says, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes;" and if they still refuse, he laments over their loss, saying, as in Luke xiii. 34, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is
left unto you desolate!" If after such means, pains, and unwearied entreaty, gospel hearers continue not to love, but hate Christ, it is most reasonable that they be Anathema.
3. Law and gospel agree that he who loves not our Lord Jesus Christ be accursed. The law says, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." It denounces punishment against every sin; and the great sin of enmity to Christ will not escape, as it is a breach of the first and great commandment.
The gospel exhibits salvation to the worst of sinners; but, if the only remedy is neglected, there remains nothing "but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation."
It is the very essence of the gospel to exhibit Christ as the remedy, as the apostle says, Gal. iii. 13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Thus the curse must either fall on the sinner or the surety. The merciful declaration of Christ is, "that he came to bear their sins in his body on the tree, and make his soul a sin-offering in their stead," and bestow his righteousness upon them. Refusing to consent to such gracious proposals, the sinner must continue under the curse: and many stripes are added for the aggravated guilt of rejecting the Saviour. To all their former sins they add the crucifying of Christ afresh; and so are filled with their own ways. In a very different, and higher sense than the apostle's, may Christ, with infinite propriety say, I not only could wish myself accursed, but actually was so for
my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. And all who reject Christ may justly be addressed in these words, "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish!"-It remains now to make some application.
1. This subject points out in the strongest light the stupidity, blindness, and degeneracy of human nature. There can be no greater proof of our depravation, than to be indifferent about, and enemies to, such a lovely Saviour. We are enough ready to esteem what appears beautiful, lovely, and excellent, except in spiritual things; where, instead of valuing, we have the greatest aversion and enmity to every thing truly worthy. Our affections cleave to the dust, and spiritual objects are neglected. Christ himself is esteemed as a root out of a dry ground, without form or comeliness, and we see no beauty in him why he should be desired. We spend our labour for that which doth not profit, and the sure mercies of David are disregarded, though sweet, nourishing, and precious as wine and milk. The means of grace are a weariness, and we long for the Sabbath being ended, that, without the appearance of restraint, we may sell and buy, and transact our worldly business. Things insignificant, and even wicked, are engaged in with heart satisfaction; while the Lord's word, which testifies of eternal life and brings it near, is neither relished nor improved. How is human nature sunk! How dreadful is sin, which blinds our minds, and makes us call good evil, and evil good! The crown is fallen from our head: wo unto us that we have sinned!"