Images de page

preached! Thousands of blood-thirsty murderers were transformed into the most lovely and loving of the human race &. And, wherever it is received, its tendency is the same. It renews all after the same image; brings all into the same family; unites all in the same interests; and forms all into one mystical body: how then can it fail of producing harmony and love? This knowledge shall at a future period be universally diffused"; and these effects shall as universally result from it".]

Let us LEARN from this subject

1. The nature of true conversion

[Conversion does not consist in embracing any tenets, however scriptural, or important. The knowledge of Christ is indeed, as has been before observed, the means of converting us; but conversion itself consists in a thorough change in all our tempers, dispositions and conduct, and in a renewal of our souls after the divine image. The lion must become a lamb : we must "become as little children, if ever we would enter into the kingdom of heaven P."]

2. The excellency of the gospel

[In vain is the moral fitness of things insisted on; yea, in vain are the terrors of hell displayed, for the conversion of men nothing but the knowledge of Christ crucified can ever operate on the soul of man, so as to produce in it a radical and universal change. But, where Christ is known aright, there the whole man will assume a new character: and in proportion as his glory is seen by us, we shall be transformed into his image. Let not the Gospel then be despised as fanatical, or be defamed as licentious; but let it be revered and embraced with our whole hearts.]

3. The blessedness of those who know the Lord

[It is to be lamented that the knowledge of Christ does not produce in these days the full effects that were visible in the apostles. But the fault is in us, and not in the gospel. Nevertheless there are many, who, even in this age of vice and infidelity, are monuments of the power and grace of Christ; and who, from having been as despiteful towards each other as Jews and Gentiles, are living in the sweetest communion with each other, and with their God. Happy they, whose views are thus rectified, whose passions are thus subdued, and whose

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

whose lives are thus regulated by the gospel of Christ! They have indeed a paradise below; and shall soon enjoy uninterrupted harmony in heaven '.]

r 1 John i. 3.

and iv. 16, 17.


Ps. lxxii. 16. There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shal! flourish like grass of the earth.

IN many parts of scripture the typical sense is more manifest than the literal-It is so in the Psalm before us-This Psalm is a description of the reign of Solomon, who was the first of the "kings" that was also a "king's son"-The extent, duration, and happiness of his government are predicted by David his father-But a greater than Solomon is here There can be no doubt but that the glory of the Messiah's kingdom is here describedThe extent of that is unbounded, and the blessedness of it is eternal-The words of the text, according to their literal meaning, declare the fruitfulness of the land, and the increase of population in the days of Solomon-But they typically represent the spread of the gospel under the Christian dispensation, and the multitudes of converts that shall become the subjects of Messiah's kingdomThey naturally lead us to consider

I. The representation here given of the preached gospel The gospel is compared to seed cast upon the earth

[This is a frequent comparison in the scriptures; nor can any other be more just-The seed is that from which the whole harvest springs-Weeds will grow of themselves, but corn requires culture; nor can any harvest be expected but in consequence of a patient and laborious attention to the duties of husbandry-Thus it is also with the gospel-That is the seed from which alone any fruit will arise to God-Men will bring forth all manner of evil fruits without any instruction or advice -But never will they abound in fruits of righteousness unless the seed of divine truth be first sown in their hearts-]

The place whereon this seed is cast is like "the tops of mountains "

[blocks in formation]

[Vallies are fruitful; but mountains, and especially the mountain-tops, are barren-They rarely have any soil; nor, if they had, would they be proper situations for the sowing of corn- -Were any corn to spring up upon them, the storms and tempests would destroy it long before it could arrive at maturity-Such is the world at large, and the heart of every individual in it, barren in itself, and exposed to storms of passion and floods of temptation-And most discouraging is the prospect of that labourer who goes forth to sow his corn on such a soil—


Moreover the mountain-tops were the places where the idols of the heathen deities were worshipped Thus were they the seat of all superstition and idolatry-What a view does this give us of the place where the gospel seed is sown!—Yet, alas! it is but too just a representation both of the world, and of the heart of man-Superstition and idolatry abound in every place and every heart-What seed then can be expected ever to flourish in so foul a soil?-]

Nor is there more than a mere sown there

"handful" of corn

[If the seed were multiplied in proportion to the badness of the soil, there might still be some little hope of an harvest -But of what use is a mere handful of corn when cast on a surface of such vast extent ?-What hope could there be that the whole world should be evangelized by twelve poor fishermen?-Even at this time, how wide the field, and how few the labourers-Myriads of our fellow-creatures never so much as hear the name of Christ; and of those who do, there are, alas! too many who never have the whole counsel of God declared unto them-]

But notwithstanding these discouragements we shall not despair of the success of the gospel, if we consider II. The blessing which God has promised to it

The prophecy before us declares that the increase of this seed shall be

1. Strong

[The woods of "Lebanon" were proverbially grandWaving their lofty heads, they seemed to defy the storms and tempests-Such was to be the fruit that should spring from the gospel seed-Weak as corn is to withstand a storm, that which was to grow upon the mountain-tops should be firm as the deep

In reference to this custom, the prophet Isaiah, foretelling the triumph of the gospel over all false religions, says, "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains.”

deep-rooted cedars-And has not the event justified the prediction?-The powers of earth and hell combined against the infant church, but were not able to crush it-Neither imprisonment nor death could intimidate the disciples of JesusEven the weaker sex were enabled to endure the most cruel tortures, and to glory in their tribulations for Jesus' sake-In every successive age the same holy fortitude has characterized the followers of the Lamb-If any through the fear of man have forsaken the church, they have only proved thereby that they never truly belonged to it; " they went out from us because they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us "-Every true believer has been faithful unto death-]

2. Numerous

[What more numerous than the piles of grass ?-Yet such, it was foretold, should be the converts to Christianity-And how was this verified in the apostolic age!-Thousands were converted by one single sermon--In a few years the followers of Christ filled, not Judea alone, but also the whole Roman empire-At the reformation too the seed that had long lain under the earth, sprang up and yielded a glorious harvestBut the promised period is yet future, though, we hope, it is hastening on apace-In the latter day "the people of God shall be as the stars of heaven for multitude"" A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation ""_ Yea, "a nation shall be born in a day"-And "All the ends of the earth shall remember themselves and turn unto the Lord "There still indeed may be seasons when, as in former ages, they shall be mown down by their persecutors; but they shall spring up again like the grass; and the very blood of the martyrs shall be the seed of the church-" The knowledge of the Lord shall surely cover the earth as the waters cover the sea"—]

This subject may well excite in us

1. Thankfulness for what is past

[What a mercy is it, that, when only an handful of corn is sown on the earth, some grains of it should fall on this barren spot!—and what a signal mercy if it have sprung up in our hearts!And have we not reason to hope that this is indeed the case?—If we cannot boast of multitudes like the piles of grass, are there not sufficient to shew the virtue of the gospel seed, and the blessing of God upon the sowing of it? Have not some attained an height and stability, and maintained their stedfastness against the united assaults of


1 John ii. 19.

d Ps. xxii. 27.

Isai. lx. 22. • Hab. ii. 14.


the world, the flesh, and the devil ?-Let us then rejoice and be thankful to God for such distinguished blessings-And let us still shew ourselves to have been " planted in the house of the Lord by flourishing in the courts of our God"-]

2. Hope respecting the future

[The promise of God is sure, and shall be fulfilled in its season-We cannot but grieve when we see the barrenness of the field, and fewness of faithful labourers-But there is nothing impossible with God-He can send forth labourers into his harvest, and give the most abundant success to the seed sown-Yea, he can overrule the most adverse circumstances for the manifestation of his own glory-Let us wait upon him then in prayer, and cry from our inmost souls, "Thy kingdom come"-Let us beg, "That the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified" throughout the world-And let us look forward in certain expectation, that the "grain of mustard-seed shall become a great tree" and that in due time "All shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest "-}·

h 22

f 2 Thess. iii. 1.

& Matt. xiii. 32.

h Jer. xxxi. 34.



Dan. ii. 44. In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left_to_other people, but it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

THE various revolutions of kingdoms, how casual and contingent soever they may appear, are all foreordained in the inscrutable counsels of the Deity, and made subservient to the accomplishment of his eternal purpose-Indeed they seem to be marked in scripture solely in reference to the church of God; as though the rise and fall of empires were scarcely worth a mention, except as they accelerate or retard the progress of true religion-In the time of the Babylonish captivity God gave to Nebuchadnezzar a very remarkable dream, and interpreted it to him by the prophet Daniel-There appeared to him an image, whose head was of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron and clay; on the


« PrécédentContinuer »