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“ of Christ their Lord: and send ye up (faith he) " thanksgiving to God and the Father by hiin, and not “ by the angels.” And then he makes mention of the canon of the synod of Laodicea; “ which (says he) in “ pursuance of this rule, and being desirous to cure “ that old disease, made it a law, that none should “ pray unto angels, nor forsake the Lord Jesus Christ.” It seems then that some relicks of that impious custom, of praying to angels, which Theodoret here calls that old disease, had continued from St. Paul's time, to the council of Laodicea ; which was the occasion of that severe canon then made about that matter : the very words whereof I will fet down, because they are remarkable, viz. “ That Christians ought not to forfake the church " of God, and go away from it, and to invocate an16 gels, and to make conventicles; all which are for“ bidden. If any therefore be found giving himself to " this secret idolatry, let him be anathema; because he s hath forsaken our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, " and is gone over to idolatry." What shall be said to them, who do not only fecretly, and in their private devotions, but in the publick assemblies of Christians, and in the most publick offices of their church, invocate angels, and pray to them? So that it was praying to angels, or making use of them as mediators and interceffors with God for us, which St. Paul here reproves so severely in the Colossians, as a defection from Christ and the Chriftian religion.
And indeed, considering how frequently the scripture fpeaks of Christ as our only way to God, and hy whom alone we have access to the throne of grace, we cannot doubt but that God hath constituted him our only mediator and interceffor, by whom we are to address all our requests to God. John xiv. 6. Jefus there faith unto
Thomas, I am the way, and the truth, and the life : 'no man cometh unto the Father but by me. I am the way, and the truth, and the life; that is, the true and living way to the Father; which the Apostle calls a new and living way, Heb. x. 19. 20. Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jefus, by a new and living way which he hath confecrated for us. No man cometh to the Father but by me; that is, we can have no access to
God by prayer, or by any other acts of religious wore Thip, but by him. So St. Paul tells us, Eph. ii. 18. For through him (speaking of Christ) we both have an accels by one Spirit' unto the Father. We both; that is, both Jews and Gentiles. Under the law, the Jews had access to God by their High Priest, who interceded with God, and offered up prayers in behalf of the people ; the Gentiles, they addressed themselves to God by innumcrable mediators, by angels, and the souls of their departed heroes, which were the Pagan saints : instead of all these, God hath appointed one mediator and intercessor in heaven for us, Jesus the Son of God; and by him all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
And we have no need of any other, as the Apostle to the Hebrews reasons, chap. vii. 24. 25. But this person, (speaking of Christ), because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood; Lambalov, a priesthood which doth not pass from one to another, as the the priesthood under the law did, when, upon the death of one High Priest, another succeeded in his place: but our High Driest under the gospel, since he abides for ever, is able to save to the uttermost all those that come to God by him, feeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. So that Jesus Christ is an all-sufficient mediator, and able to carry on and accomplish the work of our salvation from first to last. And as we do not find that God hath appointed any other; so we are sure, that there needs no other, since he is able to save to the uttern oft all those that come to God by him, and that he lives for ever to make intercession for them.
II. I proceed now, in the second place, to shew, that this doctrine or principle of one mediator between God and men, is most agreeable to one main end and design of the Christian religion, and of our Saviour's coming into the world; which was, to destroy idolatry out of the world; which St. John calls the works of the devil, i epilt, iii. 8. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy, iv 7. auor, that he might dissolve, or demolish, the works of the devil : by which St. John does more especially mean the idoiatrous worship of the Heathen, which confilted in the multitude of their gods, and
the bloody and barbarous rites and sacrifices whereby they worshipped them; and likewise in the multitude of their mediators between the gods and men, who were also esteemed by them an inferior sort of deities. Both these kinds of idolatry had strangely prevailed, and overrun the world before the appearance of our Lord and Saviour; who came on purpose to deliver mankind from the horrible superstition and savery of the worship of false gods, to pull down this kingdom of the devil, and to demolish that fabrick which he had been so long a rearing, and to beat him out of those strong holds, which he thought had been impregnable.
God indeed gave some check to these many ages before, and not long after their first appearance, by the Jewish religion ; which was on purpose introduced, and confirmed, and established by so many and such mighty miracles, to preserve and keep alive in the world the primitive tradition and belief of the one true God; and likewise to be, as it were, some shadow and rude draught of that more perfect dispensation of the Christian religion ; which, by one facrifice once offered, and by one mediator between God and men, was, to put an end to the infinit fuperftitions of the Heathen worship, and all the bloody and barbarous rites of it; and likewise to the idolatry they were guilty of, in the worship of their inferior deities, whom they looked upon as a middle sort of powers between the gods and men, and therefore addressed themselves to them, as inediators between the superior and heavenly gods, and men here on earth. This was plainly one of the great designs of the Christian religion; and therefore it concerns Christians to understand it, and to be very careful that they do not suffer themselves to be deluded by any specious pretences whatsoever, to bring these things back again into the Christian religion, for the ruin and extirpation whereof it was purposely designed and intended.
And this seems plainly to be the meaning of that caution wherewith St. John concludes his catholick or general epistle, namely, that Christians should be very careful that they were not carried back again into the Heathen idolatry, by the confident pretences of the Gnostick hereticks to higher degrees of knowledge and illumination than other Christians had ; that is, by their pretending to be the infallible church, and the only true and genu-ine Christians. For it is against this feat that this epistle is plainly designed, which St. John thus concludes, chap. v. from y 18. to the end : We know that whosoever is born of God, finneth not; (meaning that he doth not commit the fin unto death, which he had spoken of just before, viz. apostasy from Christianity to the Heathen idolatry, or that which was very like it): whosoever is born of God, doth not commit this lin; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not; (that is, he preferveth himself from the contagion of i. dolatry, into which the devil was so busy to seduce mankind). And we know that we are of God; (that is, do belong to the true God, and are worshippers of him); and the whole world lieth in wickedness; 62 TẬ mornpzm xeito, is in the power, or under the dominion of that wicked one ; (that is, the greatest part of mankind was sunk into idolatry, and the worship of the devil). And we know that - the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding
that we may know him that is true. We know; that is, we Christians are better taught by the Christian religion, to acknowledge and worship the only true God. And we are in him that is true, in or by his son Jefus Chrift; that is, we worship the only true God by his Son Jesus Christ. And then he concludes, Little children, keep yourselves from idols ; intimating hereby, that the worshipping of any other besides this only true God, and by any other mediator than Jesus Christ, is idolatry. :
There were indeed two very ancient and common notions, both amongst Jews and Gentiles, of the original whereof it is hard to give any certain account; only this is certain, that they did prevail very early, and did very generally possess mankind : and they were these. First, That God was not to be appeased towards sinners, merely upon their repentance, without the death and suffering of some other in their stead; and that God would accept of this vicarious punishment and suffering instead of the death of the sinner himself. And this seems to have given the original to the facrifices of living creatures, to appease the wrath of God towards sinners; which, in process of tinie, as the worship of false gods prevailed in
thc the world, did proceed to that degree of superstition and barbarous inhumanity, that, by the inftigation of the devil, men offered up the blood of their children, and fa. crificed their fons and daughters, to their idols and false gods. Secondly, Another common notion, which had likewise possessed mankind, was, That God was not to be immediately approached by linful men; but that their prayers were to be offered up to the Deity by certain mediators and interceffors, that were to procure for them the favour of the gods, and the gracious answer and acceptance of their prayers. And this was the original of that other sort of Heathen idolatry, which consisted in the worship of the demons and heroes; that is, of angels, and souls departed, viz. of such eminent persons as had been great benefactors to mankind, and, for their wors thy deeds upon earth, were canonized, and translated into the number of the inferior gods. By these, as the chief courtiers and favourites of heaven, they addressed their prayers and supplications to the superior gods.
Now, with these notions, which had generally posleffed mankind, how imperfect foever, God was pleased to comply so far, as in the frame of the Jewish religion, which was designed for a type of the more perfect institution of the Christian religion, and a preparation for it; I say, God was pleased to comply so far with these notions, as to appoint sacrifices to be slain and offered up. for the finner; and likewise an High Priest, that once ayear should enter into the holy of holies, with the blood of sacrifices that were offered up for the people, to make expiation for them; and, in virtue of that blood, should interceed for the people; as the Apostle to the Hebrews does declare at large. And when God sent his Son in the fulness of time, he was pleased likewise, in the difpenfation of the gospel, that perfect institution which was never
notions and apprehensions of mankind, as to provide for the supply of those two great wants, which they seemed. always to have laboured under, and concerning which they were at so great a loss, viz. an effectual expiatory sacrifice for fins upon earth, and a powerful mediator and intercessor with God in heaven: and both these by: the same person, Jesus Christ, who appeared in the end of