« AnteriorContinuar »
First : A determination to go to his father. “I will arise and go,” &c. I will stay in my present condition no longer; the remains of my unwasted energy shall be expended in one concentrated effort, and that shall be to take me to my father. I will try nothing else ; I will go to no one else, I will go at once and directly to my father. He is still my father, nearest of all beings to me ;-to him I will go.
Secondly: A determination to confess to his father. “I will say unto him,"--not that I have been unfortunate, not that I have been the victim of temptation, the creature of impulses over which I had no control; I will offer no apology, for I have nothing to palliate my offence. “I will say unto him" --say it because I feel it-" I have sinned against Heaven,” &c. Such a sincere confession as this implies (1) A consciousness that he had been perfectly free in his conduct, and (2) A consciousness of the utter moral wrongness of his conduct.
Thirdly: A determination to humbly serve his father. “ Make me as one of thine hired servants.” I dare not hope for restoration as a son, make me as a servant, let me be employed by thee, and thus have an opportunity of showing the depth and genuineness of my repentance.
SUBJECT :-Good Triumphing over Evil.
“Where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound.”— Romans v. 20.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-second.
Sin and grace are little words, but expressive of stupendous realities—the laws of all souls, the fountains of all history. Each word is used scripturally in two different senses. The word “sin” sometimes is used to designate an act—"sin is the transgression of the law ;” and sometimes it designates a principleof action. Thus we read of “a law of sin”-a disposition of the mind to take a wrong direction. In this sense it is often used to designate evil in general as a real force in the world. In the widest sense it always implies four things : law; opportunity of knowing law; capacity to obey or transgress law; and an actual deviation from law. The last idea, namely, that of principle is, I conceive, the idea to be attached to it here. The word “grace” has also two meanings—the religion of Christ in the heart as the life of heavenly love ; and the system of Christ in the world, as a system of divine mercy. I attach the latter idea to it here. The words therefore designate two great forces in our history.
In this chapter there are several things stated about these forces :
First : That they are actually in our world. Sin is in the world. This is a dark fact everywhere seen. Sin is a force here turning men in the wrong direction. Grace is here too, as a corrective and restoring force. The truth of the fact stated by Paul, no candid man, whatever his creed, can deny. Human actions here result from two opposite principles. You cannot trace all history to sin, nor can you trace all to grace. In both, you find a solution of all its phenomena.
Here then is a fact-it is a fact that sin is in this world -sin is not in heaven. It is a fact that grace is in this world-grace is not in hell.
Secondly: These two forces came into our world through the agency of man. Sin came by Adam; grace by Jesus Christ, the “second Adam.” There was a time when sin was not ; no cloud on the sun, no discordant note in the music, no stain on the pure garments of the soul. All was holy. There was a time when there was no grace—the world needed none.
Thirdly: That these two forces exercise an immense influence upon the race. (1) The sin of Adam made “ many sinners,” the grace of Christ made “many righteous.” Paul does not say how. Men have speculated about the mode. Some have said by imputation, some by physical transmission, and some by moral imitation. We are not going into this controversy. We know that one man can make others sinners ; and the certainty therefore is that the first sinner must have influenced
all. And we know that the grace of Christ has made many righteous ;-many recorded in history, many within the range of our knowledge. (2) The sin of Adam brought condemnation upon the race ; the grace of Christ has brought justification to many. (3) The sin of Adam leads to deaththe grace of Christ to “eternal life.” (4) The influence of grace far transcends that of sin. “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.”
I. IT WILL SUPERABOUND IN RELATION TO THE INDIVIDUAL MAN. Take the case of one of the most corrupt sons of Adam - he may be a Manasseh, or a Saul; and if grace take possession of his mind, you may say grace will “much more abound” there. First : The influence of grace there will be of a higher kind. Life-giving. Anything can destroy. Justifying. One sin condemns. Secondly: The influence of grace there will be of a mightier kind. Sin can never attain a mastery over every part of human nature. It can never carry with it the conscience. The conscience is ever, and will be ever, against it. But grace carries with it conscience. Take Paul as an illustration.
II. IT WILL
IN RELATION TO THE AGGREIt must be confessed that up to the present moment sin has had the sway. But consider that it is highly probable that the generations of those that have appeared on earth, will be far out-numbered by those that are yet to come.
The following things suggest this :-First: The gradual method of God's procedure-- Creation, Civilization, Redemption, are all gradual. Secondly : The state of past generations
. Thirdly: The representations of scripture. Fourthly : The omnipotency that is on the side of grace.
III. IT WILL SUPERABOUND THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE of God. First: It will spread new and brighter views of God's character through the universe. Secondly: Enhance the moral force that binds to holiness in the universe.
Brothers, be cheered ; grace shall abound much more. It shall“ much more abound” in the individual. It shall lift him from the abysses into which sin had sunk him to eminences and joys superior to any that he had forfeited through the fall; it shall place his nature in closest union with the Godhead. It shall“ much more abound” overthe wide race. Though sin hath abounded hitherto, grace will one day win the victory; it shall reach the throne and grasp the sceptre, and reign over unnumbered generations of its kingdom there shall be no end.
It shall “much more abound” through the vast universe. Sin threatened to darken the Divine character, weaken the force of moral government, and introduce anarchy into God's holy empire ; but grace shall bring out the Divine glory with a new and brighter effulgence. As noontide buries in its flood of light the smoking lamp, or as the advancing tides whelm the putrid bubbles on the shore, so grace shall cover and conquer sin.
SUBJECT :—The Martyrdom of Stephen : the Dark and Bright
Side of Piety.
“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God ; and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him ; and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”--Acts vii. 54-59.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-third.
ONE can scarcely read this deeply interesting narrative without being struck with three very extraordinary things :
First: The professed patrons of religion engaged in banishing it from the world. The persons engaged in the martyrdom of Stephen were, “ The chief council of the nation,” &c. What gives a peculiar enormity to this crime is, that it was done in the name of religion. Secondly : The most eminent future apostle of Christianity an accessory to the martyrdom of one of its most eminent disciples. Perhaps Saul was one of the agents of the Jewish council ; for the witnesses who, according to custom, had to cast the first stone,“ laid their garments at his feet.” We read of him afterwards. “ And Saul yet breathing out threatenings," &c. (Acts viii. 1.) This teaches (1) How the conscience may be perverted. Saul was a “ Pharisee of the Pharisees.” He thought he service. An action is not essentially right because the author believes it to be so. (2) How concealed the spirituality of the law may be from the most diligent student. Paul knew the letter of the law, but he had not as yet learnt the alphabet of its spirit. “The letter killeth," &c. (3) How sovereign and almighty is the grace of God. Christ selected this Saul to become His great apostle to the world.
" He is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham," &c. Thirdly: The most useful man of his time is allowed to be stoned out of the world as a blasphemer ! This is very
extraordinary. Why should it be?
Stephen appears before us in two very opposite lightsas a victim and as a victor. Though he was crushed, yet he conquered. We may look at this portion of his history as exhibiting "the dark and bright side of piety."
We observe :
I. THE DARK SIDE OF PIETY. You here have Stephen in a most lamentable position. The nation opposed to him, and he dying under a shower of stones. The world has ever hated vital Christianity. She lives under its frowns and curses, and sometimes is subject to the utmost indignity, and even fatal violence. “ The world hateth you," &c. There were two causes which led to this result.
First: He had