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which either might bring to you. These beings, I acknowledge, would probably deeply effect and terrify you. Still, the message, which they would bring, and the Gop, by whom they were sent, would alone be the objects, supremely and finally interesting to you. This message you now have, sent by the same GoD, from whom they must both derive their commission. He has directed, that it shall be weekly delivered to you by your fellow men; men, not risen from the grave, but sharing the same life, and the same infirmities, with yourselves. Still, it is no less a message from him, no less clothed with his authority, no less interesting to your eternal welfare. Your Minister is obliged to deliver it exactly as he has received it, "whether you will hear, or whether you will forbear." You by the same authority are obliged to embrace and obey it; and can refuse, or neglect, it only at your peril. The terrible anathema, pronounced against him, or against an Angel, should either preach any other Gospel, will be pronounced against you, if you do not welcome it in your hearts, and fulfil its precepts in your lives.
There is a day approaching, in which you, and all other congregations, and their Ministers, will meet together before "the Judge of the quick and the dead!" How solemn, how affecting, must be this interview! How transcendantly important will then appear the connection, which, in this world, has existed between Ministers and their people! Every Minister is here constituted by Christ the shepherd of his flock, " to watch for their souls, as one that must give an account;" to feed them with the bread of life; and to conduct them through this wilderness to the regions of everlasting rest! They are committed to him by the same Divine Person; that, under his pastoral care and guidance, they may direct their path to the kingdom above! How important will it then appear, that these divine purposes should have been accomplished? No emotions will be more intense, than those, which this last, solemn meeting will produce. The day, the scene, the Judge, the assembly, the trial, the sentence, together with its affecting grounds, and amazing consequences, will lend it a force and distinction immensely great and awful! What
emotions must move the heart of that Minister, who, surrounded by his own flock, is compelled to declare to the Judge of all the earth, that he has preached another Gospel, than that which was preached by Paul; that he has neglected, withheld, and falsified, the Truth of God; that he has substituted, in its place, his own dogmas, speculations, and wishes; that he has deceived, misguided, and turned away from heaven, the feet of his flock; that he himself, assuming the office of guiding them to eternal life, has, with a faithless, unfeeling heart, and a treacherous hand, led them down to the chambers of death! With what emotions must his flock hear this terrible rehearsal; and see themselves conducted to perdition by the very man, who ought to have gone before them to endless life!
On the contrary, with what views will the mind expand, with what transport will the heart throb, of that Minister, who, on this tremendous occasion, can look back, with the serene sunshine of the soul, upon a life, faithfully devoted to the service of GOD, and a Ministry, employed in proclaiming the Gospel of his Son to mankind? How must he glow, and exult, while with humble confidence he approaches the throne of Judgment, in the midst of his beloved Charge, and joyfully pronounces, "Behold here am I, and the Children whom thou hast given me?" With what unspeakable delight will he read in their eyes, their gratitude, their affection, and their triumph! What a blessing will it then seem to them, to have been committed to his care? United to an assembly, so beloved on earth, he will regard the glory of immortal life as peculiarly endeared, and heaven itself as adorned with additional beauty, and more intense joy! Instead of trembling in expectation of the terrible anathema in the text, he, and they, will only draw near, to be pronounced "good and faithful servants;" declared to have "well done;" and commanded to" enter into the joy of their Lord." The gates of life will spontaneously unfold, to receive them; and the angelic host will welcome their arrival with peculiar gratulation.
If a minister, and his people, wish for such a close of their accepted time; he must faithfully preach; and they must cordially embrace, the Gospel, preached by Paul.
THE DIGNITY AND EXCELLENCE OF THE GOSPEL,
A SERMON PREACHED APRIL 8, 1812, AT THE ORDINATION OF
REV. NATHANIEL W. TAYLOR.
I. PETER i, 12.
-Which things angels desire to look into.
THE things, of which St. Peter speaks in this passage, are explained by him in the context. They are styled, The salvation of the soul; the reward of faith; the things testified by the Spirit of Christ concerning his sufferings, and the glory that should follow them; and the things, which had been reported, or announced, to the Christians of lesser Asia, by those who had preached the Gospel to them, with the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven; that is, by those whose preaching had been accompanied by the inspiration, and miracles, of the Holy Ghost; in other words, by Paul and his immediate companions; the preachers, who principally carried the news of salvation into that country. To him, who is willing to bestow even the slightest attention upon this various phraseology, it will be evident, that these things can be no other than the sum, and substance, of the Gospel.
Into these things angels are here said to desire to look. The Cherubim in the tabernacle, whose wings overshadowed the mercy-seat, were formed in a bending posture; with their faces looking down on this divine symbol, as if earnestly desirous to pry into the wonders, which it represented. In the text, "angels," it is said, ayyao, (not si ayyɛoi, the angels,) "desire to look into these things,” εις ά επιθυμούσιν αγγελοι παραχνψαι: “ into which things angels earnestly desire to stoop;" in other words, "into which VOL. II.
things angels earnestly desire to pry, with the most attentive investigation."
By angels, here, is denoted the whole Host of heaven, involving all its orders, and dignities: the relish for the object of inquiry being the same to all, and the spirit of investigation the same.
If these exalted beings are thus desirous to search into the Gospel, and the system of religion which it contains; it is because the precepts, and doctrines, which it unfolds, and the facts, which it declares, merit their inquisition. The intellect, and the circumstances, of angels are such, as to prevent them from error. Their minds are indeed finite; and their knowledge must, therefore, have its boundaries. Still they admit nothing but truth; and, so far as their capacity enables them to understand any subject, they see it as it is. They have no bias, no prejudice, no inordinate desires. The love, which is enjoined in the Gospel upon men; which is declared to be the fulfilling of the law; and which reigns in their minds with an absolute and undivided dominion; rejoices in the truth; and prompts them to embrace it always, and alone, wherever it may be found.
At the same time, these exalted beings are possessed, also, of the most noble and refined taste. Their relish is as regularly conformed to truth, as their intellect. Nothing little can engross their attention: nothing debased can give them pleasure. All the objects, which they relish, are of course important, and valuable. When, therefore, we are informed, that the Gospel is an object of their earnest investigation; we are also informed, that it is an object of supreme value, and importance.
It is to be remembered, that, when the text was written, these celestial beings had been employed in studying the subjects, contained in the Gospel, more than four thousand years. From the time, when it was first published in the sentence, denounced on the serpent who deceived our first parents, to the day, in which his head was bruised by the Redeemer of mankind in the completion of the work, which he came to accomplish, they had watched the progress of this divine system of dispensations with the most minute, and critical, examination. During this long
period also, they had been voluntarily, and actively, employed, as ministering spirits, in carrying the designs, which it involved, into execution. In this manner they acquired a knowledge of the Gospel, which was in many respects experimental; and understood it far more perfectly, than even they could have done in the exercise of mere speculation. Besides, they had dwelt, during this period at least, in the highest heavens. Heaven, the place both of their birth, and their residence, is not only the native region of truth, but also the scene of the most sublime and glorious dispensations in the universe. In that world all the wonders of Providence are consummated, In that world the perfections of God are manifested in their supreme beauty, splendour, and greatness. Every thing which it contains is refined; every thing is noble; every thing is for ever improving. But, after all their acquaintance with the glories of heaven, angels earnestly desired to look into the things, which are contained in the Gospel.
The wonder, excited by this fact, will be lessened, if we remember, that "GOD created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent, that now unto principalities, and powers, in heavenly places, might be known, δια της εκκλησίας, by means of the Church, ἡ πολυHoixiños copia 088, the immensely various wisdom of GOD." Such apposite, and advantageous, means of exhibiting the divine wisdom to principalities, and powers, in heavenly places, were involved in this system of dispensations to the Church, that the Most High deemed it a sufficient reason for the creation of all things. With this consideration in view, we cannot think it strange, that the system of the Gospel should command the researches of angels; since God has thus clearly indicated, that they will here find displays of his manifold wisdom, which will enlighten their understanding, and exalt their views, after all their acquaintance with the dispensations of heaven. Our wonder will probably cease, if we further remember, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the great Agent in the system of the Gospel; and that his character, actions, and sufferings, are the principal subjects of its doctrines, precepts, narratives, and institutions. "By him," saith St. Paul,