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cepts of morality, contained in the Gospel; that even here, great allowance is to be made to particular situations in life, and the general frailty of human nature; and that they may safely dispense with the use of positive ordinances, as things which, in their estimation, are of far less importance. But where is the authority for such a dispensation? The Gospel has granted no such liberty for our Saviour expressly declaresWhosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so-shall not only allow himself to transgress, but also maintain the lawfulness of dispensing with universal obedience-that man shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven shall not be acknowledged as a true member of my church;-but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. v. 19.).
It is, from hence, fully evident that our Lord gives no authority or countenance to that doctrine which systematically dispenses with obedience, even in the smallest matters. And, as his apostles taught the Gospel as they had received it, we hear St. Paul declaring to the church, that the
enforcement of obedience upon the genuine principle of evangelical faith, was one great end of the apostolical mission:-By whom, says he, we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name. (Rom. i. 5.)
And again, still addressing the church at Rome, he says-God be thanked that ye, were the servants of sin ; but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine whereunto ye were delivered. (Rom. vi. 17.) Where we must observe, he does not give thanks because they had been sinners; but because they had renounced the service of sin, and become sincerely obedient to the laws of Christ.
And, that the characters of obedient and disobedient professors might be duly discriminated from each other, he says again -I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them for they that are such, serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly-their own carnal conceits—and, by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple: for your obedience is
come abroad unto all men. (Rom. xvi. 17, &c.)
By this passage we are taught, that, in a sincere course of obedience to the laws of Christ, there is no occasion of offence or division; that offences and divisions are gross instances of disobedience to those laws; and that those men who, by their crafty and imposing speeches, introduce such disorders, are not the real servants of the Lord, and are therefore to be avoided.
In another place the apostle sets forth to the church of Corinth, the labours of his spiritual warfare, in casting down imaginations, or vain and conceited reasonings, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God-against the purity of revealed truth-and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in readiness to revenge all disobedience to restrain it by authoritative discipline when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor. x. 5, 6.)
By this we see that the principle of disobedience exists in the imaginations and vain thoughts of presuming men. These human devices are to be cast down, that the
obedience of the church may be simple and sincere may be held as of equal necessity with the profession of a sound faith. And the reason is plain: for Christ is become the author of eternal salvation to them that obey him (Heb. v. 9.) and to them only.
And, as obedience in general is a duty of indispensable obligation to the disciples of Christ; so, in particular, a due submission to the authorised ministers of the Gospel, and, therefore, to the subject of their ministry, is necessary for preserving the unity of the church and the obligation of this submission is enforced by our Lord himself.
When he sent forth his twelve apostles to proclaim the approach of the kingdom of heaven, and to heal the sick, he thus denounces the judgment of those who should reject their ministry:-Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city. (Matt. x. 14, 15,),12
Again, in the same chapter he declaresHe that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he
that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. And again, in another place-He that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. (Luke, x. 16.)
Such is the sanction of that law by which a due submission to the authorised ministers of Christ is enjoined. And the apostles acknowledge the compliance of the church with this religious duty. Thus St. Paul testifies of the Galatians-My temptation, which was in the flesh, ye despised not nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. (Gal. iv. 14.) And again, he peremptorily declares to the church of the Thessalonians-He, therefore, that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit. (1 Thess. iv. 8.):
As obedience and respect, in the office of their ministry, are thus claimed by the apostles, according to the ordinance of God, and in virtue of the sacred commission which they bear; so we find the same duty is also binding in behalf of those duly appointed ministers who supplied their place,