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来源: 南方日报网络版     时间: 2020-01-28 15:45:42
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 But we must not leave the matter there, for it is not enough for us to be deeply convinced p. 31that the doctrine of the Mass is opposed to the whole truth of God, for such a conviction, though it may keep us clear of Rome, will not, if it be all, bring us to God. What we want is not merely a conviction of the truth, but a personal appropriation of it in our own hearts. It is a blessed thing to know that a perfect sacrifice has been offered, and that no further sacrifice is either necessary or possible; but that knowledge, blessed as it is, may leave the heart dissatisfied, and the conscience ill at ease. When that is the case, we cannot be surprised at persons restlessly feeling after anything that promises peace; and I believe there is no state of mind in which persons are so liable to be led away by Rome, as when the conscience is awakened, but the heart not at rest in Christ the Saviour. It is when we can look to that cross of Christ, assured that the atonement there made was sufficient even for us, and when we can rest in the conviction that, because the atonement was sufficient, we, even we, are free; and when we learn to rest, not on feelings, not on sacraments, not on our doings of any kind whatever, but simply on the great, grand, glorious fact, that a full propitiation has been made even for the chief of sinners, so that we, though the chief p. 32of sinners, are no longer under the guilt of sin; then it is that we discover the strength of the rock under our feet, and, resting on it, we need no other stay. It is enough, for Christ hath died, and through Him God is reconciled. Blessed! oh, blessed that Christian believer, who can thus rest in a perfect Saviour; and be kept in perfect peace through the Saviour’s perfect work! 

 

For the decision of this point, let us compare the 18th and 19th verses. In v. 18 we read,—“God hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” But in v. 19 there is a slight variation; but one of great importance in the exposition of the passage; for we there find—“Hath committed to us the word of reconciliation.” The word of reconciliation, therefore, is the substance of the ministry: the grand work is to make known the perfect reconciliation wrought out for us in Christ Jesus, to act on the example set us by St. Paul himself, when he burst out in the grand appeal which follows, and said,—“Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ. As though God did beseech you by us, we pray p. 63you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled unto God.”But this ministry of the word of reconciliation will vary according to circumstances.Again: it is not the office of the minister to forgive sins. If our Lord, in His words of John xx. 23, had really connected such a power with the ministry of reconciliation, it is most extraordinary that in all the many portions of the New Testament which relate to the ministry there is no allusion to it. There are three whole Epistles directed exclusively to the chief pastors of the Church, besides several addresses to presbyters both in the Acts and Epistles; and is it not a most remarkable fact, that there is not a single allusion in any one of these passages or epistles to the forgiveness of sins, as forming a portion of the ministry of reconciliation? There are full directions respecting preaching, praying, reproving, instructing, and behaviour to all the different classes of the flock, but of forgiveness of sin by the minister, not one word can you find anywhere; and yet forgiveness itself is the great subject of the p. 58whole New Testament. But it is always traced at once, without any intermediate mediation, to the Lord Himself. It is always ascribed to His blood, His redemption, and His grace, and is never once connected in any way with any power of forgiveness bestowed by a priest. I am not now dwelling on any one particular passage, but rather on the omission of the whole subject from the word of God; and I cannot but think that that omission is a proof, beyond contradiction, that the Apostles, writing by inspiration, did not understand our Lord as teaching in these words that the forgiveness of sin by a priest formed any part of the ministry of reconciliation.

We studied last Sunday the one perfect and final sacrifice made for the sins of the whole world, when our Lord Jesus Christ completed our propitiation on the cross. We found that that sacrifice differed from those of the ceremonial law, in the great fact that it was once and for ever; that it was so perfect, so complete, so fully sufficient to satisfy the whole claim of the law, that when it was once offered there was no place left for repetition, perpetuation, or addition. The veil of the temple was then rent from the top to the bottom, and there was no space left for any further rending. The Lord himself said, “It is finished;” so the whole was done, and done for ever.There are many points of deep instruction in this passage, but we have not time to dwell on them. Here is the foundation of the whole message, viz. a double imputation—the imputation of sin to the Lord Jesus, and the imputation of righteousness to all that are in Him. p. 67There is the tender earnestness of entreaty, which does not merely lay the message before the sinner and leave it there, but with a compassionate urgency in the Lord’s name beseeches and entreats. And there is the most remarkable fact, that these words are not addressed to the heathen, or to those who had never heard of Christ; but to a Church of professing believers, all baptized into the name of Jesus: so that we are brought to the conclusion, that amongst the baptized Christians in the Church of Corinth there were those to whom it was still needful to make the appeal—“We beseech you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” Does not that fact teach us, that amongst ourselves the same message may be equally necessary, and that, although we are all baptized, and all professing Christians, there are yet those amongst us who must be brought back to the great elementary question of their reconciliation to God; for they are not yet reconciled, and not yet accepted through His grace? To all such persons, then, must we speak as St. Paul did; and if any present are not yet reconciled, not yet forgiven, not yet justified before God, look, we beseech you, at the cross of Christ; look at His substitution of p. 68Himself for sinners; look at the hope of full forgiveness set before you through His blood; and listen, I implore you, to the words spoken by His own authority,—“As though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”But we must not leave the matter there, for it is not enough for us to be deeply convinced p. 31that the doctrine of the Mass is opposed to the whole truth of God, for such a conviction, though it may keep us clear of Rome, will not, if it be all, bring us to God. What we want is not merely a conviction of the truth, but a personal appropriation of it in our own hearts. It is a blessed thing to know that a perfect sacrifice has been offered, and that no further sacrifice is either necessary or possible; but that knowledge, blessed as it is, may leave the heart dissatisfied, and the conscience ill at ease. When that is the case, we cannot be surprised at persons restlessly feeling after anything that promises peace; and I believe there is no state of mind in which persons are so liable to be led away by Rome, as when the conscience is awakened, but the heart not at rest in Christ the Saviour. It is when we can look to that cross of Christ, assured that the atonement there made was sufficient even for us, and when we can rest in the conviction that, because the atonement was sufficient, we, even we, are free; and when we learn to rest, not on feelings, not on sacraments, not on our doings of any kind whatever, but simply on the great, grand, glorious fact, that a full propitiation has been made even for the chief of sinners, so that we, though the chief p. 32of sinners, are no longer under the guilt of sin; then it is that we discover the strength of the rock under our feet, and, resting on it, we need no other stay. It is enough, for Christ hath died, and through Him God is reconciled. Blessed! oh, blessed that Christian believer, who can thus rest in a perfect Saviour; and be kept in perfect peace through the Saviour’s perfect work!They could never, therefore, satisfy the conscience; as you read, Heb; x. 1, 2:—“For the law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged shall have had no more conscience of sins.”THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.


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