« AnteriorContinuar »
before the people, evidently setting him forth as crucified among them; and that is the best sermon which is most full of Christ, not of rhetorical art. I know that a holy dialect well becometh Christ's ministers; they should not be rude and careless in language or method; but surely the excellency of a sermon lies not in that, but in the plainest exhibition and liveliest application of Jesus Christ.
5. Let all that mind the honor of religion, or the peace and comfort of their own souls, wholly apply themselves to the study of Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Wherefore spend we ourselves upon other studies, when all excellency, sweetness, and desirableness is centred in this one? Jesus Christ is fairer than the children of men, the chiefest among ten thousands, "as the appletree among the trees of the wood." Cant. 2:3. Those things which singly most delight the souls of men, are all found conjoined in Christ. Oh what a blessed Christ is this! whom to know is eternal life. From the knowledge of Jesus Christ do bud forth all the fruits of comfort, and that for all seasons and conditions. Hence he is represented by "the tree of life, which bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Rev. 22:2. In him souls have all necessaries for food and medicine; and all varieties of fruits,-twelve manner of fruits; a distinct sweetness in each and every attribute, promise, ordinance. In him are these fruits at all times, fruits every month; winter fruits as well as summer fruits. Oh then study Christ, study to know him more extensively. There are many excellent things in Christ, which the most eagle-eyed believer has not yet seen: ah! it is a pity that any thing of Christ should lie hid from his people. Study to know Christ more intensely, to get the experimental taste and lively power of his knowledge upon your heart and affections: this is
the knowledge that carries all the sweetness and comfort in it. Christian, I dare appeal to thy experience, whether the enjoyment of Jesus Christ, in ordinances and duties, has not a higher and sweeter relish than any created enjoyment thou didst ever taste in this world? Oh then separate, devote, and wholly give thyself, thy time, thy strength to this most sweet, transcendent study.
6. Let me close the whole with a double caution: one to ourselves, who by our calling and profession are the ministers of Christ; another to those that sit under the doctrine of Christ daily.
As to ministers: if this doctrine be the most excellent, necessary, fundamental, profound, noble, and comfortable doctrine, let us then take heed lest, while we study to be exact in other things, we be found ignorant in this. Ye know it is ignominious, by the common suffrage of the civilized world, for any man to be unacquainted with his own calling, or not attend to the proper business of it: it is our calling, as the Bridegroom's friends, to woo and win souls to Christ, to set him forth to the people as crucified among them, Gal. 3:1; to present him in all his attractive excellencies, that all hearts may be ravished with his beauty, and charmed into his arms by love: we must also be able to defend the truths of Christ against undermining heretics, to instil his knowledge into the ignorant, to answer the cases and scruples of poor doubting christians. How many intricate knots have we to untie! What pains, what skill is requisite for such as are employed about our work! And shall we spend our precious time in frivolous controversies, philosophical niceties, dry and barren scholastic notions? Shall we study every thing but Christ? revolve all volumes but the sacred one? What is observed even of Bellarmine, that he turned with loathing from school divinity, because it wanted the sweet savor of piety, may be a reproof to many among us, who are often too
much in love with worse employment than what he was said to loathe: Oh let the knowledge of Christ dwell in us richly.
Let us see that our knowledge of Christ is not a powerless, barren, ineffectual knowledge. Oh, that, in its passage from our understanding to our lips, it might powerfully melt, sweeten, and relish our hearts! Remember, brethren, a holy calling never saved any man, without a holy heart; if our tongues only be sanctified, our whole man must be condemned. Oh let the keepers of the vineyard look to, and keep their own vineyard! we have a heaven to win or lose, as well as others.
Let us take heed that we withhold not our knowledge of Christ in unrighteousness from the people. Oh that our lips may disperse knowledge and feed many. Remember, I beseech you, the relations wherein you stand, and the obligations resulting thence: remember the great Shepherd gave himself for, and gave you to the flock. Your time, your gifts, are not yours, but God's Remember the pinching wants of souls who are perish ing for want of Christ! Did Christ not think it too much to sweat blood, yea, to die for them? and shalı we think it much to watch, study, preach, pray, and do what we can for their salvation? Oh let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ.
As to the people that sit under the doctrine of Christ daily, and have the light of his knowledge shining round about them take heed ye do not reject and despise this light. This may be done by neglecting the means of knowledge. Surely, if you thus reject knowledge, God will reject you. Hos. 4: 6. It is a despising of the richest gift that ever Christ gave to the church; and however it be a contempt and slight that begins low, and seems only to vent itself upon foibles, such as the artificial tones and gestures of speakers, yet, believe it, it is a daring sin, that flies higher than you are aware:
"He that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth Him that sent me." Luke, 10: 16. You despise the knowledge of Christ when you despise the directions and loving constraints of that knowledge; when you refuse to be guided by your knowledge. Your light and your lusts contest and struggle within you; oh it is sad when your lusts master your light! You sin not as the heathen sin, who know not God; but when you sin, you wound your own consciences and offer violence to your own convictions. And what sad work will this make in your souls! How soon will it lay your consciences waste!
Take heed also that you rest not satisfied with that knowledge of Christ you have attained, but go on to perfection. It is the pride and ignorance of many professors, when they have got a few raw and indigested notions, to swell with self-conceit of their excellent attainments. And it is the sin, even of the best of saints, when they see how deep the knowledge of Christ lies, and what pains they must take to dig for it, to throw by the shovel of duty, and cry, Dig we cannot. your work, christians, to your work. Let not your candle go out devote yourselves to this study; cherish the blessed communications of light and grace from on high; and count all things but dross in comparison with that excellency which is in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
CHRIST IN HIS ESSENTIAL AND PRIMEVAL GLORY.
"Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." -Prov. 8:30.
These words are a part of that excellent commendation of Wisdom, by which in this book Solomon intends two things: first, grace or holiness; "Wisdom is the principal thing," Prov. 4: 7; secondly, Jesus Christ the fountain of that grace: and, as the former is renowned for its excellency, Job, 28: 14, 15, so is the latter, in this context, wherein the Spirit of God describes the most blessed state of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of the Father, from those eternal delights he had with his Father before his assumption of our nature: Then was I by him, as one brought up with him and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." That eternity was wholly swallowed up in unspeakable delights and pleasures. The Father and Son delighted one in another (from which delights the Spirit is not here excluded) without communicating their joy to any other; for no creature then existed, save in the mind of God. Verse 30.
"Then was I by him, as one brought up with him :" in his very bosom. "The only-begotten Son" was the bosom of the Father," John, 1: 18; an expression of the greatest dearness and intimacy, as if he had said, wrapt up in the very soul of his Father-embosomed in God.
"I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." These delights of the Father and the Son one in the other, knew not a moment's interruption or diminu