« AnteriorContinuar »
who hath reconciled to Himself by Jesus Christ.29 He looks upon God as his Father and his Friend, and seeks to walk so as to please Him, and therein to abound more and more. And the change which then takes place is permanent. Being made free from sin, and become a servant to God, he has his fruit unto, or in holiness, and the end everlasting life. He is introduced into a state of holiness, in which he brings forth fruit unto God, the fruit of the Spirit, which is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth, the peaceable fruit of righteousness, which is by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Any outward change which may proceed from other causes cannot be depended on. Unless there be a change of heart effected by the power of Divine grace, the change in the conduct will be likely to last only for a season, or so long only as the object proposed by it is to be attained. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is stronger than the strong man armed, as Satan is called, who keepeth his palace in the heart of man. Human might cannot overcome the power of the enemy of souls. This is too great to be effectually resisted by an arm of flesh; and therefore if Satan seem to depart for a season, it is merely in order that he may renew his attack with increased violence, and with a certainty of success.
29 2 Cor. v. 17, 18. 30 Rom. vi. 22. 31 Eph. v. 9.
32 Phil. i. 11.
us then pray that the strength of Christ may be made perfect in our weakness, that we may be enabled to resist the devil, strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might,35 and may be more than conquerors through Him that loved us.36
The Evangelist informs us of the effect produced by our Saviour's parables on the mind of one of those who heard Him. It came to pass as He spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked. She thought it must have been a high honour, and a great source of comfort and happiness, to have been the mother of One who had power over evil spirits; and who could so ably defend Himself against the calumnies of His enemies. It was indeed a great honour that was conferred upon the Virgin Mary, to be the mother of Christ; and so the angel Gabriel declared, that she was highlyfavoured, and blessed among women.
This was, however, merely a matter of personal distinction. Our Saviour therefore told the woman who had thus expressed her admiration of Him, how she and all others might be more happy, and more blessed, than they could be made by having any outward distinction conferred upon them. He said, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the
33 Cor. xii. 9. 34 James iv. 7. 35 Eph. vi. 10.
36 Rom. viii. 37.
word of God, and keep it. Here He also pointed out the means whereby the enemies of our souls may be effectually overcome. The first of which is, by hearing the word of God. The Apostle says to the Romans, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
word of God is the word of life and salvation. They who refuse to hear it, are living in open disobedience to God; they are forsaking their own mercies, and cannot therefore expect to receive His blessing. Yet there are many persons, even in this Christian land, who seldom or ever enter the house of God to hear His holy word. Such exclude themselves from the blessing pronounced by our Saviour in the text. But there are some who attend the house of God now and then, as they feel themselves disposed; and stay away from public ordinances without concern, whenever they are tempted to do so. These persons can have derived no benefit from the word of God, or they would value the privilege of hearing it. We ought to hear it with grateful hearts to the God of all grace, for giving it to us for our instruction, our admonition, our consolation, and our salvation. But many hear it without any good effect whatever being produced by their attendance on the means of grace. St. James calls those who are hearers
37 Romans x. 17.
381 Corinthians xiv. 3.
only, and not doers of the word, persons who are deceiving their ownselves.39 Let us beware of abusing our privileges, and turning them to our condemnation.
In consequence of so many persons being satisfied with merely hearing the word of God, as if that were all that was necessary in order to obtain the blessings which it was designed to convey; our Saviour intimates that this of itself is by no means sufficient, and therefore He limits the blessing to them who keep it. So likewise after having described, in His parable of the sower, those who heard the word to little purpose; the careless; the enthusiastic, and temporary; and the worldly-minded hearers; He mentions lastly, those who having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience. If we would keep the word of God, we must hear it with attention, in order to understand it. We must hear it with faith, so as to believe it. We must hear it with prayer, looking up for the blessing of God to rest upon it, to apply it to our hearts, and to make it the means of our salvation. The Psalmist speaks of the benefit of keeping the word of God, when he says, Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." And again, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my
39 James i. 22.
40 Luke viii. 15.
41 Psalm cxix. 11.
path. Through Thy precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way. Let it be our humble and earnest prayer that the Spirit of God would be pleased to write His holy word upon our hearts, that we may keep it by the Holy Ghost that dwelleth in us; and thus it may be profitable to us for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that we may be thoroughly furnished by it unto all good works.4
They that hear the word of God, and keep it, are pronounced by our Saviour to be blessed. They are more blessed than those who enjoy the highest earthly distinctions; which will all fade away, and perish in the using. They are blessed in life, in death, and in eternity. In life they are blessed with the enjoyment of the favour of God, so that they maintain sweet intercourse, communion and fellowship with Him day by day. In death also they are blessed. For blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." They sleep in Jesus, and shall awake after His likeness, and be satisfied with it. And in eternity they shall be blessed indeed. They shall be admitted to the beatific vision of God in glory, to see His face and sing His praises for evermore. May this blessedness be our portion. And, in order that we may enjoy it hereafter, may we now hear the word of God, and keep it.
42 Psalm cxix. 105, 104. 43 2 Tim. i. 14, iii. 16, 17. 44 Rev. xiv. 13.