时间：<2020-06-02 01:15:45 作者：6k都市小说8nZ 浏览量：9777
I. On the authority of the ministry this text is perfectly clear; for the Apostle traces it to no human source when he says, “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” The ministry, therefore, is a gift from God, and not a plan of human contrivance. It is not an arrangement adopted p. 49by the great Christian society as a means for its own improvement, but it is an institution by the authority of the Founder of that society, God Himself. Both the office and the men are gifts from God. In this passage he speaks of the office, and says, “God hath given us the ministry of reconciliation;” and in v. 19, “hath committed to us the word of reconciliation.” The men, therefore, received their office from their God. Just so he said to Archippus (Col. iv. 17), “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” But perhaps the most striking passage on this subject is St. Paul’s address to the elders of the Church of Ephesus, in Acts, xx. 28; for he there teaches not merely that the ministry in general was given to these elders, but that they had been made by the Holy Ghost overseers of that particular people amongst whom they were called to labour. “Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood.” Now, bear in mind that these persons were not apostles, nor persons holding any extraordinary office, as some did in those early days, but ordinary p. 50clergymen; some, probably, ordained by St. Paul himself, and some by Timothy, appointed to labour together amongst the rapidly increasing church in the large heathen town; and mark well the fact, that the Apostle does not say, “To which I appointed you,” or “to which Timothy appointed you,” but he regards the appointment as from God Himself, and says, “Whereof the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.”
What, then, is the relationship between our sacrifice and His? and how are they connected? There can be no doubt on this subject if we turn to the text, where we read, “I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” It is, therefore, the deep sense of unmerited mercy that is to p. 43call out the willing sacrifice from a saved and thankful people. This is just how it stands in our Communion Service. We first come with the confession of sin; we then partake of the sacred feast; and seek, by God’s grace, to realise in living faith the body broken and the blood shed for our sins; after which, but not before, we “offer and present to Him ourselves, our souls and our bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Him.” Our sacrifice, therefore, is the result of our deep sense of unmerited mercy shown in His perfect sacrifice on the cross. It is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is the willing offering of those who have found mercy, and are most deeply and humbly thankful for it.What, then, is the relationship between our sacrifice and His? and how are they connected? There can be no doubt on this subject if we turn to the text, where we read, “I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” It is, therefore, the deep sense of unmerited mercy that is to p. 43call out the willing sacrifice from a saved and thankful people. This is just how it stands in our Communion Service. We first come with the confession of sin; we then partake of the sacred feast; and seek, by God’s grace, to realise in living faith the body broken and the blood shed for our sins; after which, but not before, we “offer and present to Him ourselves, our souls and our bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Him.” Our sacrifice, therefore, is the result of our deep sense of unmerited mercy shown in His perfect sacrifice on the cross. It is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is the willing offering of those who have found mercy, and are most deeply and humbly thankful for it.The one point brought out in these eighteen verses is, that in the case of the Jewish sacrifices there was unceasing repetition; and in the case of our blessed Lord, His one offering was once and for ever.
But I do not deny that the text is one of considerable difficulty. The first great difficulty is to ascertain to whom the words were spoken. From Luke, xxiv. 33, we find that the persons present were “the eleven, and them that were with them;” and there is nothing in the record to decide whether the words were addressed to the eleven Apostles separately, or to the whole company—including, of course, laymen and women. My own belief is, that they were addressed to the eleven separately, and conveyed a special judicial power to these inspired men. That they possessed such a power p. 59is clear from history; for when Peter retained the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, God ratified his decision by their death; and when St. Paul passed sentence on the incestuous person at Corinth, he clearly claimed a supernatural power of judgment when he said (1 Cor. v. 3-5), “For I verily, as absent in body but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” So when he remitted the same sentence he clearly claimed special right to do so; as he said, “If I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it, in the person of Christ.” But if this were the case, and if the power was given to the Apostles as a part of their apostolic office, it follows that with the Apostles it must have ceased for ever. Accordingly, in our Lord’s words there is not the smallest hint at transmission; and as for the idea that the Apostles could transmit it to the Bishops, and the Bishops to the Presbyters, it is altogether without foundation p. 60in the word of God. In fact, the case of the Corinthians proves clearly that it was not so transmitted. There cannot be a doubt, that when the epistle was written there were Presbyters in the Church of Corinth; and it is clear that Titus had just been there on a special mission, for he it was who brought to St. Paul the tidings of the repentance of the Corinthians (2 Cor. vii. 6, 7, and xii. 17, 18). But yet none of these persons appear to have had a transmitted power. It was necessary to refer the case to St. Paul himself. He retained and he remitted; and he did both “in the person of Christ.”
It follows, therefore, that the subject of the ministry is one respecting which it is of great importance that our views should be scriptural. And yet, for obvious reasons, it is one seldom preached upon. The great object of the servant of the Lord is to throw Self out of sight; and it is so hard to disconnect the office from the office p. 48bearer, that too little is often said about the office from the fear that too much attention should be drawn to the man. It will be well, therefore, for us to take the subject of the ministry for our careful study this morning. And may God enable me so to speak, and you so to hear, that we may all receive God’s word in faith, and may, together, be compacted as a holy people in the Lord!4. Nay more, it is contrary to the words of our Lord. The words, as given by St. Matthew (xxvi. 26-28) were: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Of the bread, therefore, p. 14He said, “This is my body;” and of the wine, “This is my blood.” The bread did not represent the body and blood together, but the body only, and the wine the blood; or, if the doctrine of transubstantiation were taught, the passage would teach that the bread was changed into the body, and the wine into the blood. But the teaching of Rome defies all such distinctions, though thus plainly laid down by no less an authority than our Lord Himself, and fearlessly hurls her anathemas against all who do not believe that the bread, and the bread alone, is changed into body, blood, soul, and divinity, and becomes, to use their own expression, “a whole Christ,” to be exalted, carried in processions, and adored as a living God. The words themselves, taken literally, are dead against such a doctrine. I am not surprised, therefore, when I read our 28th Article, which says: “Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture.” But I am surprised that Christian people in the Church of England should sit so light as some seem to do to a heresy of so fearful a character, and that men p. 15should be so indifferent to truth as even to speak of the possibility of peace with Rome.
One thing is perfectly clear. It is not done by the offering of any fresh sacrifice. This was the chief duty of the Jewish priests, but it forms no part of that of the Christian minister. From one end of the New Testament to the p. 56other you can find no allusion to any such thing as a Christian sacrifice for sin. The one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was once and for ever, final, complete, and sufficient for all the sins of the whole world. The work of sacrifice is finished, as we are taught in the words, “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself;” and if there can be no sacrifice, it is perfectly plain that there can be no sacrificing priest. Nor can the idea be gathered from the Prayer-book any more than it can from the New Testament. There is not an allusion there, either to a sacrifice or a sacrificing priest, except where it says, in Art. xxxi., “The sacrifices of masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.” There is no Christian sacrifice recognised by the Church of England but the thankful dedication of heart and life on the part of those who have been saved by the sacrifice of the Lord. But this sacrifice requires no priest to offer it. It may rise at any moment, and from any place, from the depths of any thankful heart. Thus, according to our Communion Service, all offer p. 57it together, and the whole congregation having together met around their Father’s table, and together tasted the joys of their Father’s love, together bring their sacrifice, and say, “Here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.”p. 281. That the sacramental bread is changed into the Lord Jesus Christ, the Living Saviour, God and man.
I. The contrast.
“Nothing in my hand I bring:The reconciliation of God to the sinner has been wrought out for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the great work of God incarnate, and He wrought it alone, in His great sacrifice of propitiation. Of this part of the work, therefore, the Apostle says,—“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.”
Nor, again, is this sacrifice the means whereby the great sacrifice is applied to the soul. This p. 41is a more common idea than the other, and one prevailing among many who are thoroughly opposed to Popery. It is in harmony with human nature to suppose that we must make our sacrifice in order to gain a share of the blessings of His. Thus people will sometimes give up, first one thing, and then another, hoping by these sacrifices to find peace through the blood of atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have no idea of being saved through anything but the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ; but they consider that they must make their sacrifice in order to secure the application of his work to themselves. This is the principle of almost all self-imposed mortifications. People hope through them to be partakers of reconciliation through the great atonement. Yet none of these things satisfy the soul. I have myself known persons who have resolutely made the effort, but utterly failed. They have become anxious about their soul, and set to work to reach the cross of Christ by personal self-denial. They have given up their different pursuits one by one; but at length they have found that nothing has done them any good. They have been just as far from the peace of reconciliation as they p. 42were the day they began. None of these sacrifices had helped them in the least. No, and none could help them. Nothing could help them but a free justification through faith, and faith alone; and that, thank God! at last they have found sufficient. And so will every other guilty sinner who throws himself in utter helplessness, to be freely forgiven, and freely saved, by the great grace of God in Christ Jesus. Let none suppose, then, that any sacrifice which we can render can ever make us partakers of the great salvation once purchased by the one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. This salvation is given on altogether different terms. It is given as a free gift to those who can produce nothing; a gift bestowed in unfettered mercy on those who can only say, in the language of the hymn:—
3. Even if these words were taken literally, they would not teach the doctrine of Rome.The one point brought out in these eighteen verses is, that in the case of the Jewish sacrifices there was unceasing repetition; and in the case of our blessed Lord, His one offering was once and for ever.
“Nothing in my hand I bring: