Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 5.djvu/17

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Wc have now before us, I. The X&w Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ; so this second part of the holy Bible is entitled: The nfro Covenant; so it might as well be rendered ; the word signifies both. But when it is (as here) spoken of as Christ's act and deed, it is most properly rendered a Testament, for he is the Testator, iuid it becomes of force by his death ; (Heb. 6. 16, .) nor is there, as in covenants, a previous treaty between the parties, but what is granted, though an estate upon condition, is owing to the will, the free-will, the good- will, of the Testator. Tliusall the grace contained in this book is owing to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour ; and unless we consent to him as our Lord, we cannot expect any benefit by him as our Saviour. This is called a JVHu Testament, to distinguish it from that which was given by Moses, and was now imtiquated ; and to signify that it should be always new, and should never wax old, iuid grow out of date. These books contain, not only a full discovery of that grace which has a/i/ieared to alt men, hrinffinir sah'ation, hut aXegal instrument by which it is conveyed to, and settled upon, all believers. How carefully do we preserve, and with what attention and pleasure do we read, the last will and testament of a friend, who has therein left us a fair estate, and, with it, high expres- sions of his love to us ! How precious then should this Testament of our blessed Saviour be to us, which secures to us all his unsearchal)le riches ? It is his Testament ; for though, as is usual, it was written by others, (we have nothing upon record that was of Christ's own writing,) yet he dictated it ; and the night Ijefore he died, in th? institution of his supper, he signed, sealed, and published it, in the presence of twelve witnesses. For, though these books were not written for some years after, for the benefit of Jiosterity, in /icrfietuam rei memoriam, as a Jxerfietual memorial, yet the New Testament of our Lord csus was settled, confirmed, and declared, from the time of his death, as a nuncupative will, with which these records exactly agree. The things which St. Luke wrote, were things which were most surely beliex'ed, and therefore well known, before he wixjte them ; but when they were written, the oral tradition was superseded and set aside, and these writings were the repository of that New Testament. This is intimated by the title which is prefixed to many Greek Copies, Tiic xaijiic Ai«S-ii»»c " hirnirn — The whole of the A'em Testament, or All the things of it. In it is declared the whole counsel of God concerning our salvation. Acts 20. 27. As the law of the Lord is perfect, so is the gospel of Christ, and nothing is to be added to it. We have it all, and are to look for no more. n. We have before us The Four Gosfiels. Gos/iel &^fies good ?iews, ov glad tidings ; and this history of Christ's coming into the world to save sinners, is, without doubt, the best news that ever came from heaven to earth; the angel gave it this title, (Luke 2. 10.) Euifyyii^t,fixi Cfx'iv — / bring you good tidings ; I bring the gos/iel to you. And the prophet foretold it, Isa. 52. 7. — 61. 1. It is there foretold, that m the days of the Messiah good tidings should be preached. Gos/iel is an old Saxon word ; it is God's s/iell or word ; and God is so called because he is good, Deus optimus — God most excellent, and therefore it may be a good spell, or word. If we take spell in its more proper signification for a charm (carmen, ) and take that in a good sense, for what is moving and affectmg, which is apt lenire dolorem — to calm the spirits, or to raise them in admiration or love, as that which is ei-y amiable we call char- ming, it is applicable to the gospel ; for in it the charmer charmeth wisely, though to deaf adders, Ps. 58. 4, 5. Nor (one would think) can any charms be so powerful as those of the beauty and love of our Redeemer. The whole New Testament is the gospel. St. Paul calls it his gospel, because he was one of the preachers of it. Oh that we may each of us make it ours by our cordial acceptance of it, and subjection to it ! But the four books which contain the history of the Redeemer, we commonly call The Four Gospels, and the inspired penmen of them F.z'angelists, or Gospel-writers ; not, however, veiy properly, because that title belongs to a particular orcJer of ministers, that were assistants to the apostles; (Eph. 4. 11.) He gave some apostles and some e^myigelists. It was recjuisite that the doctrine of Christ should be interwoven with, and founded upon, the narrative of his birth, life, mii-a- cles, death, and resuiTection ; for then it appears in its clearest and strongest light. As in nature, so in grace, the most happv discovc,ries are those which take rise from the certain representations of mat- ters of fact Natural nistory is the best philosophv ; and so is the sacred histon', both of the Old and New Testament, the most proper and grateful vehicle of sacred truth. These four gospels were early and constantly received by the primitive church, and read in christian assemblies, as appears by the writings of Justin Martyr and Irenxus, who lived little more than a hundred vears after the ascension f Christ ; they declared that neither more nor fewer than four were received by the church. A Har-