Images de page
PDF
ePub

within us, nothing done by us, which will justify a spirit of pride. The more clearly we see our own unworthiness, the more highly we shall admire God's goodness. The deeper sense we have of our own ignorance, the more we shall confide in his wisdom— the more sensibly we realize our impotence and dependence, the more readily we shall submit to his sovereignty.

The proper effect of God's mercies, is to melt us into a godly sorrow for our sins. Not for our sakes does he grant them, but that we may be a ashamed and confounded for all our ways. His goodness will lead an ingenious mind to repentance. The humble penitent takes serious notice of the ways of God, and sees mercy in those dispensations, of which he once complained. He examines himself, and discovers iniquity in those works of his own, in which once he gloried. He was formerly alive without the law; but when the commandment comes, sin revives, and he dies. When the law enters, the offence abounds. He sees that his remedy is not in himself-he repairs to the mercy of God. He remembers, and is confounded, and never opens his mouth any more because of his shame, when God is pacified toward him for all that he has done. Let us consider and know ourselves, and contemplate the ways of God's providence and grace, and we shall admire his wisdom and love, and shall condemn our own folly and ingratitude. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us; but unto thy name be glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.

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

God works, not for our Sakes only, but for his Name's Sake.

[ocr errors]

EZEKIEL xxxvi. 32.

Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you;

THE deliverance of the Jews from their

captivity in Babylon is the work of God here referred to. This was attended with such circumstances, as proved it to be eminently his work. When the captivity of Sion was turned, then said they among the heathen, "The Lord hath done great things for them." Under such a sudden and surprising change of condition, there was danger, that, being lifted up with pride, they would vainly imagine, their own virtue had entitled them to so great a favour, and God had too high a regard for them to punish them any more. This caution is therefore repeatedly given them, Not for your sakes do I this, be it known unto you, but for my holy name's sake, which ye had profaned among the heathBe ashamed and confounded for all your ways.

en.

These words, as they respect the case of the Jews, import two things: First that God delivered them, not for their own worthiness, but in mere goodness and mercy. And, secondly, that he restored them, not with a primary view to their national benefit and importance, but rather in order to the general good of mankind, and that his great name might be more extensively known.

II. The same may, with equal truth, be said of every favour which God grants, either to particular persons-to communities-or to the human race.

1. The benefits which God bestows upon us personally, are the fruits of his benevolence, not of our desert; and intended not merely for our advantage, but for the glory of his name, by rendering us more useful in our sphere.

The apostle says, "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself; for whether we live, we live to the Lord; and whether we die, we die to the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." As we are not made merely for ourselves, so we ought not to live solely to our own ends. We are the servants of him who made us at first, and who preserves us still : And by his will, not by our own humour, are our lives to be governed. We then do his will the best, and advance his glory the most, when we direct our abilities and opportunities to the promotion of virtue and happiness among his rational creatures.

No man dieth to himself. God orders the time, manner and circumstances of each man's death, to serve the great and benevolent purposes of his providence. The good man's death brings him indeed to that happiness, which is the reward of his virtuous life. In this sense, as he lived, so he dies, to himself. But his death, at the same time, answers other more general ends. It may impress on survivors those serious sentiments, which he

taught and inculcated in the course of his life. And in the other world where he enjoys the fruits of his piety and goodness, he may still, in ways unknown to us, do much to advance the felicity of moral beings-may perhaps do more than he ever did, or could do, here below. As he lived to the Lord, so he dies to the Lord.

"Ye are not your own," says the Apostle," for ye are bought with a price: Wherefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."" The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live to themselves, but to him who died for them, and rose again.

If we are wholly God's property, then such is every thing that we possess. Ifour life and death are not for our sakes only, but for his name's sake, then all his particular gifts are to be regarded in the same light, and improved to nobler purposes than our own immediate interest.

[ocr errors]

Thus we are to regard all the gifts of Nature. As God hath made different orders of intelligences, so in each order there is a gradation; and all to promote the general happiness. The singular genius of a Newton was given, not merely that he might amuse and gratify himself in stating the tides, measuring the distances of planets, and tracing the paths of comets; but that he might explore the vast fields of science, and collect treasures for the general benefit of mankind.

Who is a wise man, says St. James, and endued with knowledge? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom-And the wisdom, which is from above, is full of mercy and good fruits.

You have nothing, but what you received; and if you received it, Why should you glory, as if it

were your own? Consider it as bestowed not merely for your benefit but for the benefit of others; and use it accordingly. To whom much is given, of him much is required. Every man is bound to be useful according to his ability; and the greater the ability given, the greater the usefulness demanded. Thus also we are to view the gifts of Providence. And thus we all view the gifts which others pos

sess.

When men are exalted to an eminent station, we at once see, that not for their sakes God has done this, but for his name's sake. The civil ruler is promoted, not that he may live at ease, wallow in luxury, acquire boundless wealth, and pride himself in honour; but that he may do good to mankind. As the minister of God for their good, he is to attend continually on this very thing. A teacher in the church is to watch for souls-to take heed to the flock over which he is made an overseer-to feed them whom Christ has purchased with his blood. He is Christ's servant for their sakes, and must seek not theirs, but them—not his own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

But, Are rulers and ministers the only men who are bound to act on disinterested principles ? May every body else be selfish? No: The same obligation which lies on them, extends to all. have a larger portion of worldly goods than those If you around you, remember you received it from God. If you acquired it by your industry, it is his providence, that succeeded you. It is he who giveth power to get riches. And not for your sake hath he done this; but for his name's sake, that you might imitate his goodness in works of beneficence to mankind. 66 Charge them, who are rich in this world," says Paul to Timothy, high minded, neither trust in uncertain riches; but "that they be not in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to

[ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »