Images de page
PDF
ePub

world in its affections and lusts, this an age in which there is great without su loving it as to show that danger of being righteous overthe love of the Father is not in us. much. Christians are more apt to How far a Christian may go in run into the opposite extreme : to conformity to the world, is a ques- accommodate the principles of retion about which few are disposed ligion to their own corruptions; to to give their own minds a precise encourage themselves in a criminal answer; because the Bible, which laxity of conduct, by convenient alone can direct them on this point, interpretations of Scripture ; somewould probably declare against times, indeed, under pretence of some of what they would call their enjoying that liberty wberewith innocent amusements and just gains. Christ hath made them free. Too

It is certain, that no Christian is often is the attempt made to reconforbidden to use lawful means to cile, what the Spirit of God has depromote his worldly prosperity and clared to be impracticable, the comfort. He may even devote the service of the prince of this world, greater part of his time to this with His service who is a jealous purpose; for the Scriptures, far God, and who saith to the man from containing any thing to check who would please him, “ My son, Jaudable industry, and the use of give me thine heart.” ineans whereby a man may render Abstinence from gross offences himself respectable and happy as is by no means rare or difficult; and to outward circumstances, expressly infidels may, as far as respects the command bim to provide for his outward appearance, bear as fair own, and those of his own house.” a character as the professing disNow, this implies considerable in- ciples of Christ. If those who tercourse with the world; so much, call themselves bis followers, who at least, as to prove the absurdity profess to be spiritually minded of their notions who would have pursue the world with as much men wholly to seclude theinselves avidity as others, and become so from it; or who, taking most un- immersed in worldly business that warrantable liberties with Scrip- God is but little in their thoughts ; ture, would intermit all exertion though they may be perfectly boto procure food and raiment, be. nourable in their dealings, and in cause they are told to trust to Him every respect merit the common who feedeth the ravens when they appellation of good men, what are cry, who clotheth the lilies of the they more than others ? Do not field, and will, to the better bless- even the publicans the same? Do ings he gives his people, add all not the Gentiles thus seek after all these things, because he knoweth these things ? they have need of them. Exhorta- It too often happens that the tions against loving the world cares of the world, and the deceitful. were not intended to produce a ness of riches, choke the word, and neglect of worldly business, but to render many unfruitful.

But thou, prevent the world from occupying O man of God, flee these things, the place of God in the heart; and and follow after righteousness, to teach us the absolute necessity faith, patience. of making even our worldly occu- Again : “ The innocent pleasures pations subordinate and subser- of life" is a phrase which we hear vient to the great ends of our on all bands ; but there are few being—the glorifying of God on terms, in such common use, which earth, and the enjoyment of him people are so unwilling or unable in heaven.

to define. When used by ChrisBut men are now not much dis- tians, however, it is obvious that posed to go to excess in obeying it should have a very different acthe precepts of the Gospel ; nor is ceptation from that in which it is understood by the men of the nities of those whose whole life is world, in whose mouths it may a vain show. These are the ties generally be considered as signify which bind men to the world, and ing something not so contrary to thus destroy that happy tone of all decency and good principles as inind which the Christian somethe ordinary course of their con- times attains by much prayer and duct. What are thus called inno- self-denial : they give to the tempter cent amusements may indeed, per- a more commanding position, rehaps, be so in themselves ; but the kindle new hopes of victory in the manner in which they are abused, powers of darkness, and revive those the preference which is frequently lusts of the flesh, which had been given them over the most -iinportant in a degree vanquished. Let us duties, the errors and fatal conse- not tbus encourage the enemies of quences to which they have some- our souls, nor check the heaventimes served as the first step, have ward progress of our spirits for generally rendered them suspected the sake of such poor momentary in the eyes of the most serious part gratifications. of mankind.

Let us, then, take heed to our There should certainly, in this ways, and regulate our conduct respect, be a distinction between according to the standard by which the cbildren of God and the world our actions will finally be tried in lying in wickedness; and perhaps that day when God shall bring one way in which Christians ought every work into judgment, with to confess their Saviour, in these every secret thing, whether it be days, before men, is by abstaining good or whether it be evil. from some indulgences which,

P.Z. though no direct criminality may attach to them abstractedly con

FAMILY SERMONS.—No. XCVII. sidered, yet, trom circumstances, prove hostile to consistency of 1 Tim. i. 15. This is a faithful character, and tend therefore to saying, and worthy of all acbring reproach upon religion. Let

ceptation, that Christ Jesus came the world revile and hate us, if

into the world to save sinners. they please, for this separation. Among the instances of the effi. they hated Him whom we serve cacy of Divine grace, recorded in before they bated us; as in bis Scripture, there is none more decase too, they will hate us without cisive than that of St. Paul. With

the ardour of youth he had assoThe boundary of what is inno- ciated some of the worst of human cent is often so indistinct, and may passions; and, notwithstanding his so easily be passed when we ap- zeal for God, he was a blaspheproach it, that it is better to keep mer, and a persecutor, and injufrom its verge.

It is better to be rious," a man of violence and blood. thought rigid and over scrupulous, If we follow him in his Christian than that others should be encou- course, we find the lion converted raged in sin by our example, and into a lamb. He was bold indeed; that, on account of our conduct, but his was the courage not of perthe Sacred Name which we bear secution, but of suffering. He now should be blasphemed. It surely went from city to city, not to drag does not become him for whom the followers of Jesus to prison and Christ died, who should always to death, but to preach the very bave before his eyes the value of Nanie be had blasphemed, and the time, the important purposes for Gospel he had so fiercely laboured which he was sent into being, and, to destroy. He was himself astoabove all, the realities of eternity, nished at the change ; and in the to be inmersed in the feeting va- overAowing of his gratitude to the

a cause.

Saviour who had called him from tabernacle of flesh. I notice this darkness to light, and from the merely to show that the inspired power of Satan to God, he can writers do indirectly, as well as die scarcely find words to express the rectly, bear witness to the exalted feelings of his heart. While writing nature of the person of Christ. It under these impressions to Timothy, is not in this case the dignity of and declaring the exceeding abun

office or of character, but of person; dance of the grace of our Lord, as and this we cannot deny without displayed in his own person, he doing violence to the plain forms breaks out into a more general of common language. strain, and is led to magnify the 2. The end for which Christ aplove and mercy of God in the offer peared was “ to save sinners.” — of salvation to all men : “ This is Those who are contented with the a faithful saying, and worthy of all plain meaning of the word of God, acceptation, that Corist Jesus came will feel no doubt upon this point. into the world to save sinners.” He came not merely to vindicate

In this passage we are led to the honour of bis Fatber's law; or consider the mission of Christ, and to do away the peculiarities of the its claim to our attention.

Jewish system, as little suited to 1. The mission of Christ includes mankind in general; or to set betwo particulars; his appearance in fore us an example of obedience the world, and the end for which and virtue : he had still nobler he appeared.

ends : he came " to save sinners," 1. The expression is remark- It was for us men, and for our salable~ Christ Jesus came into the vation, that he left the glories of world.” We read, in other parts of his throne, and visited the earth in Scripture, that.“ he was born of a great humility. It was to redeem woman, made under the law ;”- us from sin and all its dreadful con“ the Word was made flesh, and sequences, and to raise us to the dwelt among us ;"_" he took not blessedness of heaven, that he beupon him the nature of angels, but came man, and lived, and laboured, the seed of Abraham ;” with many and died. other phrases of a like kind. Now And here an important question in all these phrases there is some- arises : In wbat way does the misthing very peculiar. We do not sion of Christ avail to our salva say of Moses, or St. Paul, or St. tion? That he came to deliver us Jobn, or of any mortal, however from the wrath of God, and from high his rank or attainments, how- the awful punishment denounced ever boly bis character or dignified against sin, is readily admitted. bis commission, that he came into But who are the persons to be the world, was made of a woman,

saved ? Do the blessings of salvawas made flesh, &c. We cannot tion extend to all who have sinned, but feel that this mode of speech or only to a part of mankind ? implies something extraordinary in What saith the Scripture ? “ Bethe person to whom it is applied. lieve in the Lord Jesus Christ, and It is proper only as applied to a thou shalt be saved :" superior being, and not to a mere loved the world, that he gave

bis Jesus Christ came into the only begotten Son, that whosoever world, not as his proper place of believeth in him might not perish, residence, but as the inhabitant of but have everlasting life.” The another country: He took our na- promise, then, is made to those that ture, not as belonging to himself, believe, and it is made to them but as foreign to his own. This alone : “ He that believeth, and is was in bim an act of humiliation, baptized, shall be saved; but he that of condescension. He veiled the believeth not, shall be damned.” majesty of a higher nature in this We see, then, how inexpressibly

66 God so

man.

now

important it is that we should be- Jesus, according to the scriptural lieve in the Lord Jesus Christ.- meaning of that expression, "walk But here again there is danger of not after the flesh, but after the mistake. What is meant by thus Spirit:" their whole conduct must believing? If it means nothing be consistent with the principles more than an adınission of the they profess : their fruit is unto truth of the general statements of holiness, and the end is everlasting Scripture-a belief that the Son of life. God had actually come into the It deserves remark, that the world to save us from the curse of Apostle derives pleasure from the the law-such a faith would be con- universal manifestation of the love sistent with any mode of life, how- of Christ. He had been speaking ever wicked: it would be a principle of hiinself; but his large and liwithout power or efficiency; it beral mind, while stating his own could not cleanse the heart from obligations to Divine mercy, resin, or produce those views and joices that Jesus Christ came into affections which distinguish the the world, not for his sake alone, disciples of Christ, and fit them but to save sinners wherever they for beaven. He who believes to are to be found. No barriers were the salvation of biş soul, feels that to be raised between the be needs a Saviour: he perceives Gentile and the Jew: the partition that he has sioned against a holy wall was broken down. If all had God, from whose wrath he can sinned and come short of the glory bave no refuge but in the merits of of God, the voice of mercy was bis Redeemer : he discovers and now to be extended to all; and all welcomes in Jesus Christ the phy. who would bear and obey that sician of his wounded spirit : he voice, should live. The commission listens with gladness to the invita- of our Lord to his Apostles retions and promises of his word : he quired that they should go into all relies with entire confidence on his the world, and preach the Gospel mercy and grace. In looking to to every creature. I proceed, then, the cross of Christ, he bebolds not to consider, merely the atonement which was II. The claim it has upon our made for the sins of the world, but attention. " It is a faithful saying, the Victim which was offered for and worthy of all acceptation.”. himself “On him bas my iniquity

1. “ It is a faithful saying” been laid, and by his stripes must that is, a true saying; a fact restI be healed.” Such is the language ing on evidence which cannot be of faith ; it brings us to the Foun- denied, and wbich meets us in tain which has been opened for sin every page of the Gospel. We and uncleanness; and appropriates, find it in the doctrines which were to the soul all the benefits which taught, in the mighty works which Christ bath purchased by his blood. were done, and in the testimony Faith is not, therefore, a specula- which was given, in the name and tive notion, but an active and by the authority of God; and if we powerful principle, which, by the examine the records of the Old grace of God, gives a new impulse Testament, we have the evidence to our hearts, and a new character of patriarchs and prophets; for, to our lives. Faith of this descrip- even in the remotest ages, they tion must of necessity produce looked forward to Christ and spoke fruits meet for repentance, and a, of him. “It is a faithful saying,” life formed on the precepts of the as many bave witnessed w bó bave Gospel. A barren faith is the passed from the bondage of sin to faith of devils : it has none of the the freedom of the Gospel, the characters of the faith that justifies Spirit itseli bearing witness witla the sinner. Those who believe in their spirits that they are the sons

1

of God and heirs of eternal life. How much more forcible is the Many are even now able to rejoice argument when we look upon a in the persuasion that the Re- world lying in wickedness ; when deemer, in whom they have reposed we reflect that we ourselves, in comtheir hope, is able to save to the mon with the wbole human race, uttermost all who come unto God are by nature and practice sinners, by bim; and that God, for his sake, and, as such, exposed to the wrath is still faithful and just to forgive of God-under a sentence of everus our sins and cleanse us from all lasting destruction froin bis preunrighteousness. And if we could sence, and of banishnient to that open the gates of the invisible state in which the worm dieth not, world, and hold converse with those and the fire is not quenched! How who dwell in the paradise above, important, then, is the intelligence what countless multitudes would of redemption ; of a Saviour who bear testimony to this faithful say. bas interposed between the Maing!

But there is no need that jesty of Jehovah and his offending heaven should be emptied of its creatures, who has bimself paid the hosts to establish the veracity of forfeit and penalty of guilt, and the word of God : if we believe made reconciliation for our sins ! not Moses and the prophets, Who, that believes in the immorneither should we be persuaded tality of the soul, can be indifferent though one rose from the dead. to its eternal state? Who, that

2. It is a saying “worthy of all considers how fearful a thing it is acceptation ;” or, as we have it in to fall into the hands of the living the version used in the Liturgy, God, would reject the offer of sals of all men to be received.” On vation, and declare himself unwill. wbat ground, then, is it to be re- ing to accept of everlasting life ? ceived ? It is worthy to be received " It is a faithful saying, and worthy both on account of its authority of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus and importance. It rests on the came into the world to save sindeclaration of God. end for wbicb the Son of God took 1. Let us, then, receive this inupon him the likeness of man, has telligence without delay or hesitabeen revealed to us by Him who tion.—What man, who is in peril of is the source of all wisdom, and his life, would put off the means of knowledge, and truth. And can preserving it to a future day, if we doubt bis veracity, or be in- they were now in bis power? attentive to his word ? And if this And is it safer to trifle with be indeed a faithful saying, it eternal than with temporal pain ? makes known the most wonderful Would any rational being, who is and important fact which ever oc- awake to his real condition, and curred in the history of mankind. who has beard of a Saviour, defer, For what does it promise ? Ex- to some season of leisure, attention emption from some present evil, to this momentous concern ? How and the attainment of some future can time be employed to any purgood ? It is a deliverance from pose more valuable than this? every evil, and gives the prospect of * Seek ye first the kingdom of greater blessings than the tongue God and his righteousness." Let can utter or the heart conceive. If all worldly objects be considered a nation were placed on the verge as subordinate to the things whicke of ruin, and some wise counsellor accompany salvation. should propose a method by which 2. Let us also receive this mesit might escape danger, and rise to sage with gratitude.-.It is wonderan unexampled height of prosperity ful how prone we are to ingratitude and greatness, would not his ad

with respect to God. Many, who vice be worthy of acceptance ? would on no account be wanting in

The great

ners.

"

« PrécédentContinuer »