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from this pernicious teaching, the Bible-class is held, when objections that are candidly put are answered, and further light thrown upon what are to some dark mysteries. Thus, men who ordinarily waste the precious hours of the Sabbath in indolence and viciousness are brought under happier and nobler influences. On the week evening there are classes for secular instruction, and these seem to be prized. The ignorance of the denizens of these courts is appaling; ignorance produces apathy, and such apathy as you may see here is almost unconquerable. Yet a half-yearly competitive examination-think of it, competitive examinations in Whitecross Street !-has resulted somewhat favourably. Two young men living in a lodging-house obtained prizes ; a young woman, “ unable to write, scarcely able to read, and entirely ignorant of the Bible” a year before, can both read and write very well, and she can also “ read her title clear to mansions in the skies.” The great want of this district is helpers-efficient teachers who have a little more leisure than those already engaged, who are detained at their work until eight o'clock in the evening. It is, however, frequently found that those who have least leisure have most inclination to labour for Christ, whilst those whose opportunities are great, are less anxious to use them for the advantage of others.
We commend this mission to the denizens of Whitecross Street and its adjacent courts. Wisely directed, it may become a great power for good. Its leader is a man of considerable energy and force of character, and of a kind heart ; he labours in his own way, and that way is one of the best.
1 Day in Prison.
the reign of Charles II., many godly ministers were in prison, and
among them were Mr. Oliver Heywood and Mr. Whitaker. It is interesting to note how they spent their time. The place of confinement was York Castle, and, all things considered, they were more comfortable than could have been expected. The manner in which Mr. Heywood usually spent the day is described by himself. “ After our rising, we kneeled down, and I went to prayer with my wife. She in her closet, and I in the chamber, went to secret prayer alone. Then I read a chapter in the Greek Testament, while I took a pipe. Then a chapter in the Old Testament, with Poole's Annotations. Then wrote a little in my diary or elsewhere. At ten o'clock, I read a chapter, and went to prayer with my wife, as family prayer. Then wrote in some book or treatise I was composing til dinner. After dinner, Mr. Whitaker and I read in turn for an hour, in Fox's Acts and Monuments of Martyrs, Latin edition. Then went to my chamber ; if my wife were absent, I spent an hour in secret prayer, and God helped usually. After supper, we read in the Book of Martyrs, studied, went to prayer, and read in Baxter's Paraphrase on the New Testament.” Truly this was making the wilderness of imprisonment to rejoice and blossom as the rose. The devil did these saints a good turn when he locked
Delight; or, Morning Meditations upon One Hundred Choice Terts of Scripture." By MARITIUS BOHEMUS. It is dated 1654, is exceedingly rich, and to the best of our knowledge has never been re-printed. We purpose, if practicable, to give four or five Meditations each month for Sabbath reading, believing that they will be found instructive and suggestive.
1.-CHRIST'S POWER IN OUR WEAKNESS. " That the power of Christ may rest upon me.”—2 Cor. xii. 9. Eruoknvuon may be rendered thus—That the power of Christ may dwell in me, as a glorious king dwells in his glorious palace. Or may spread a tent over me, as a captain-general that goes forth to conquer spreads his tent in the field. Or may erect a tabernacle on me, wherein the power of Christ may lodge and rest. Or may make a stage of me, to act itself, and to show forth its actings to open, public view ; to become an admirable spectacle to the world,
as in a theatre. All these expressions are little enough to serve for the setting out of the emphasis of the Greek word ÉTlokuvúon. Christ's power makes choice of man's weakness on purpose to discover and display itself in the utmost extent of its own efficiency in our greatest imbecility. When we are most sensible of our own impotency, then we must infallibly look for his omnipotency. O gracious soul, wherefore dost thou complain and say, “My grace is weak, and I am the weakest, the poorest, the most worthless wretch that ever did live and breathe "? Christ's sufficiency will supply all thy deficiency; Christ's blood is valid enough to satisfy for thy sinful defects, and his power strong enough to rescue thee out of all thy infirmities. If thou art insufficient, Christ is all-sufficient. What! dost thou think that Christ is but a baby, able to do nothing for thee? Or what dost thou make of Christ? Dost thou make but a bungler of him in the business of salvation, that can save the strong and not the weak? Know this, that Christ's power is the power of God, and thy weakest weakness is not too weak to be strengthened by him. It is the proper and peculiar effect of his power to make up for our weaknesses. Eph. i. 18, 19. Did we but know “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his migl.ty power,” our weakness might rather raise our_faith with encouragement than cast it down with discouragements. When Christ rears up a tabernacle for himself, he takes not the tallest and strongest timber-sticks, but purposely chooseth the weakest reeds and rushes; and by his incomparable power he puts such strength into them that they shall bear the greatest stress, and outlast the highest cedars and firmnest oaks. O admirable Master-builder! God was more gloriously seen in the wilderness, " when the ark of God dwelt in curtains ” (which are but weak and subject to be worn with wind and weather), and when God " walked in a lent and in a tabernacle” (2 Sam. vii. 6), than
afterwards when the great Temple was built of huge stones and tall cedar-trees, when God's ways were less miraculous. Let us fetch an advantage from our weakness to rest more confidently upon the strength of Christ. Matt. xii. 20.
II.—THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS OF FAITH.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which koeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven ? (that is, to bring Christ down from above :) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart : that is, the word of faith, which we preach.”—Romans x. 5–8. We need not betake ourselves to a secret cabala, or mystical and allegorical conception, to find out the right interpretation of this place, and to make good the apostle's allegation in order to his scope. The apostle is clear and plain enough without it. He argueth only à minore ad majus,* alleging the place of Moses, verse 5, out of Leviticus xviii., which speaketh of the law, for and on behalf of the gospel or of the righteousness of faith. His argument runneth excellently thus, well agreeing to the apostle's purpose, if it be but well observed : “ If Moses could say thus and thus of the law and the righteousness thereof, which law is near to every man in his natural conscience; much more then may we say thus and thus of the gospel, or of the righteousness of faith, which comes as near to us, yea, nearer by the inward operation and inward application of the Spirit.” This is a most strong and invincible argument for our justification by faith in Christ, drawn out of Moses' own words. If the man that * doth the law” of Moses, should be justified by the perfect doing of it (which doing was yet impossible by reason of the distance and enmity betwixt man's heart and God's law, although the law be home-born, and bred in the conscience of men); then how much more shall that man be justified that takes hold of Christ's righteousness by faith, whereby God's wrath is appeased, the law of God is new printed in his heart, and also his heart is reconciled to the law of God, and made in love with it, so that there is a nearer affinity and closer propinquity betwixt the heart of a believer and the holy law of God, than ever there was or could be betwixt the heart of a legal law-keeper and the law of Moses ? Thus for the connection and quotation of this text, and how it suits with Paul's intention.
Let some things further be observed for the explaining of the sense of the words as they follow in the text: the place is not easily understood by most readers, and the want of understanding it keeps men from tasting that sweetness that is in it. Besides the former quotation out of Leviticus xviii. mentioned above, the apostle allegeth other words of Moses out of Deuteronomy xxx. 12, 13, 14, partly as a proof or argument, partly by way of sweet allusion and illustration, as if he should say, “ If Moses did speak so of the law, we may much more speak so of the gospel,” etc. Thus, Paul comparing the law and the gospel, doth still give the pre-eminence to the gospel above the law, because the gospel exceeds the law by far in these two things. First, The word of the law, although it be nigh thee, yet is nothing near so nigh thee as the word of the gospel or the righteousness of faith. Secondly, The word of the law is not so able to assure thee of thine eternal estate. Let us consider the last first and the first last, as they lie in order in the text.
* From the less to the greater.
I. The gospel doth afford us better assurances of eternal life than the law. “The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven ? (that is, to bring Christ down from above :) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” Faith assures us that Christ ascending hath made all things in heaven sure for us, and now to doubt of our right to heaven were to call Christ back again from thence, or to deny his ascension. Faith confirms us that Christ's death is our life, and now to doubt of eternal life were to nullify the death of Christ, or to undo all that Christ hath done or suffered for us. Plainly thus it is, that by the law we are at an infinite uncertainty about our eternal estate. True, the law saith, “Do this and live” (ver. 5), but we cannot tell when we have done enough; nay, the truth is, we can never have done enough to be certain thereby that we are well for ever. But by the gospel all our doubts, and scruples, and questions are buried in Christ. Naturally men think that they cannot be certain of their salvation, unless they should “ascend into heaven” to know the mind of God about it, whether they shall be saved or no; or unless they should " descend into the deep,” to know whether they must go to heil or no, just as if Christ had not died or ascended for our salvation. But failh makes heaven as sure to a believer as if he had been in heaven to search the records there, or as if he had been in hell to make inquiry there. For Christ tells him by his word, “I have suffered hell for thee, and I have prepared a place in heaven for thee.” A Christian needs not to be anxious, fearful, distractful, or distrustful; he needs not “ ascend into heaven, or descend into the deep” about this matter. By the eye of faith we may see our souls out of hell, and we may see our souls in heaven in the bosom of God, in the state of glory. By the law itself, no man can know assuredly whether his place be heaven or hell. As many as are under the law must needs be in perpetual perplexities, by reason of the irregularity of their hearts and the severity of the law, and the bitterness of the curse. But by faith salvation is put out of all question. Without controversy, the believing soul may be as confident of his salvation as if he had seen his name written in the book of life, and he need no more fear his damnation than the man that hath seen his debt crossed out of the book, and hath an acquittance in his bosom, needs to fear an arrest for the same debt. Some would account it a great happiness if they could send a messenger to heaven or to hell to know whither they shall go hereafter. The gospel saves us this labour. He that hath the gospel or the word of faith within his heart, prevailing in his soul, it will tell him sufficiently how things are with him in heaven, and what shall become of him hereafter to all eternity. Will you hear briefly what the gospel or the righteousness of faith speaks to all believers in general, and to every one of them in particular ? 'It speaks thus : Christ suffered the curse of God for thee, so that thou shalt not suffer it; Christ ascended to prepare heaven for thee, so that thou shalt be possessed of it. But unbelief contradicts all this, and so overthrows the passion and ascension of Christ. An unbeliever will be his own saviour, he will be ascending or descending for himself.
II. The gospel, or the righteousness of faith comes nearer to us, more closely to our hearts, than the word of the law. Verse 8 : “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.” I grant, there is a legal principle naturally in every man's heart, which is not lex scripta, sed nata,* and speaks home very closely. Rom. ii. 14–16. But yet the word of faith is more close yet, and goes deeper to the heart-root. 1. Because conscience cannot but close with it, yea, conscience may find a greater and better light in the gospel than is the dim and dark light of the law (2 Cor. iii. 8, 9; especially chapter iv. 6). 2. Because the Spirit accompanies the gospel, and gets within the man, into the very innermost parts of the belly. Prov. xx. 27 ; John vii. 28; 1 Cor. ii. 11, 12. 3. Because the word of faith in the gospel, when it entereth into us, it maketh our hearts one with itself; for by faith we become conformable to the word of faith. The law was near enough (being naturally engrafted into every man's heart), but yet there is a vast distance in our affections from the law; yea, an utter enmity against the law. We have the word of the law in our hearts, but it is not acceptable to our hearts, as the word of the gospel is when we believe it. We find and feel that there is no affinity, no concord or agreement, betwixt our hearts and the law. Now what advantage or what benefit is it for two to dwell in one room near together, and to lie in one bed, if they do nothing but fight and quarrel, and never enjoy true friendship and sweet love? Better for them they were asunder. See Amos iii. 3. Hence it comes to pass, that naturally men draw near to God with their lips : “God is near in their mouth, and far from their reins” (Jer. xii. 2.); as if they were great friends to God and religion, when indeed they are his utter enemies, and they bear no inward love to God. This is the case with all men that are merely legal and natural (it being most true, that so far forth as men are legal men, so far forth they are but natural men); they can hear what duties the law requireth, and what sins the law forbiddeth ; but they want power to do those duties in love, or to forsake those sins with detestation. But on the contrary, the righteousness of faith in the gospel being evangelically and rightly received, doth not only bring the word of God to our hearts, but unites our hearts to the word of God for ever. If we hear the law alone a hundred or a thousand times, we cannot love it; but when by faith we rely upon Christ in the promises of the gospel, thereby the holy law of God will be made pleasant to our hearts, that it shall be as near and dear to us as our own souls. We may fitly compare Moses in the law, and Christ in the gospel, to two several schoolmasters : Moses in the law is a rigid and severe master, who by threatening and whipping exacteth a hard task of his scholars, and will needs require it of them, whether they be able to do it or not. If they do it not, they must look for blows from his hard hands. By
* Not law written, but born.