« AnteriorContinuar »
Secondly : We grow in faith. The performance of our duty to God, by studying the Bible and giving ourselves to prayer, either in the great congregation, or in the fellowship of saints, or in private devotion, necessarily promotes our spiritual safety ;-for it brings heavenly illumination and gracious influence to our minds in a degree which greatly strengthens our faith in the wisdom, equity, and kindness of our heavenly Father. The light and comfort we obtain encourage us to believe, with a firmer faith than before, that God is doing all things well ; and that when the broader revelation and fuller joy of eternity burst upon us, we shall understand and magnify His wonderful government of human affairs. Two things especially nurture our faith. (1) A conviction of our own ignorance and insufficiency. “So foolish was I and ignorant,” &c. (2) A consciousness that God is near to us and sustains us. “Nevertheless I am continually with thee,” &c. Hence, “we endure as seeing him who is invisible," and become “strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Our confidence in the Lord increases until it no longer trembles like a feeble sapling, but is steadfast as a vigorous oak. Instead of cherishing envy, showing discontent, and muttering complaints, at the arrangements of Providence, we regard them with quiet complacency; believing that, though as yet we do not fully see it, they are perfectly equitable, and working together for the good of mankind.
Thirdly : We rejoice in hope. The end is not yet. Nor will it appear in the present life. Our time on the earth is only the commencement of our being. Eternity is before
In eternity every man will be rewarded or punished, according to his works. After death, the inequalities that now exist will cease, and the circumstances of individuals will be adjusted to the character they sustain. Hence, the language of Abraham to Dives ; “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime,” &c. In the path of duty this is clearly seen by us, as we look and move towards a future state. While engaged in public worship, or religious communion, or secret prayer, the darkness that overhangs earthly things clears away ;-for we see the wicked no longer in prosperity, but suffering the torments of hell ; and the righteous no longer in adversity, but enjoying the pleasures of heaven. We cry out, therefore, with joyous hope, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” The knowledge that “there remains a rest,” &c. ; and that "our light affliction," &c., reconciles us to the unequal allotments of earth. A view of the destinies of men in a future state rectifies our errors respecting the government of God. Looked at in the light of eternity, "the ungodly who prosper in the world” are like individuals whose bright and pleasant morning changes into a dark and woful day; while the righteous, who suffer here, are like persons whose gloomy and troublous morning issues in a brilliant and delightsome day. The splendor that glitters around the bad deepens into everlasting darkness and misery; but the gloom that rests on the good brightens into everlasting glory and happiness. Knowing these things, we put away envious thoughts and complaining words, thankfully looking for, and joyfully hastening unto, the glories and joys of immortality.
Brother, What shall it profit?” &c. Then subordinate temporal things to spiritual things. Riches take wings and fly away; but virtue abideth for ever. Thou canst not serve God for nought. “Verily, there is a reward for the right
“ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Cultivate personal piety and set thy affections on things above; so wilt thou enjoy peace of mind on earth, and when the grandeur of the wicked departs like a gorgeous cloud, thou wilt inherit unfading honor and satisfying bliss in heaven.
P. J. WRIGHT.
SUBJECT :-Paul's View of the Christian's actual Life.
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”—Acts xx. 24.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Third.
No man was ever more violently opposed to Christianity than Saul the Pharisee. Never was the strength of a disciple's attachment more severely tested than that of Paul the Apostle. The past of his Christian experience was made up of “hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, fastings, watchings, stripes, and imprisonments," &c. And of the future one thing only he knew. “The Holy Ghost witnesseth that in every city bonds and afflictions await me. Jesus did verily show him “How great things he must suffer for his name's sake.” How did the sight affect his conduot? Hear him ye cowards, who are diverted from your purpose to serve Christ by the sneer of a companion, or the fear of a little difficulty or sacrifice. “ None of these things move me.” Here is true heroism worthy the imitation of young men; here is a picture of Christian life all may study to profit. Notice :
I. THE TRUE CHARACTER OF THE CHRISTIAN'S LIFE. course—the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus.
First: My course. This expression suggests, (1) That the Christian does not start into being by a fortuitous concurrence of atoms.
This is equally true of the natural and the spiritual birth. The age, the country, and the ancestry, not less than the faculties and powers of the individual, are all under the control of, and subject to, the will of Omnipotent, Omniscient, Infinite, Love. “ Thou hast fashioned me," &c. There is no less truth than poetry in the words:
“ If of parents I came who honor'd thy name,
'Twas thy wisdom appointed it so.”
So the agency, instrumentality, and means, of spiritual birth, are the appointment of Infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. (2) That the Christian's life is no trifle.
Life has its prescribed relations, and these have their appropriate duties to be discharged according to established rules.
(3) That this life, — this “course," is peculiarly adapted to individual capacities, circumstances, and responsibilities“My course."
Secondly : That the Christian's life is a ministry received of the Lord Jesus. “He died for all that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again.” The babes who do not live go to heaven at once ; those who live should serve Him first on earth. “ Ye serve the Lord Christ,” is true of every Christian. “None of us,”—whether in the pulpit or in the pew, in the Sabbath school or in the mission field, possessing one talent or ten talents,—"none of us liveth to himself.” Some vainly imagine that paid officials only have received this ministry. Nothing can be more erroneous. They may have received a ministry from the crown or the college, very different from the ministry received of the Lord Jesus ;-and they and we may confound things that differ.
II. THE ESSENTIAL WORK OF THE CHRISTIAN'S LIFE IS TESTIFY THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD." There are two methods of bearing testimony :
First : By word, oral or written. No man on earth is without evidence that he is debtor to God's grace. Let him frankly confess it. Let Christians especially proclaim the fact that the gospel of the grace of God is the only sovereign remedy for a world's woes. Many speak and write as if their life's work consisted in testifying of a human creed. This may be done, and no testimony borne to the gospel of the grace of God.
Secondly : By deed this completes the other. For Christians, professing that by the grace of God they are what they are, to prove selfish and unforgiving, is no very convincing testimony on behalf of the gospel of grace. And whatever other service we perform, if this be neglected or spoiled, the business of life is neglected or unfinished, and no marvel if the course be not finished with joy.
SHOULD BE TO FINISH HIS COURSE WITH JOY.
III. THAT THE CONSTANT AIM OF EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN
“ Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might,” &c. The following thoughts are suggested :
1. Many who appear to enter their Christian course with joy very soon become morose and gloomy, and continue so to the end. Is it because other than the ministry received of the Lord Jesus engrosses their attention?
2. Some who begin their own course joyously enough seem afterwards to fall altogether out of love with it. They would, if to be believed, rather finish anybody's course than their own.
Only give them the talents of such a one, the wealth of this man, the time of that, and they will live to some p pose.
3. Some get along in such a strange way that they spoil every service they attempt, and do not finish a part, much less the whole course—the whole ministry. 4. And not a few take an opposite course.
No marvel that the sun of so many professors seems to set under a cloud. If more would imitate Paul's life their end would be like his. “I have fought the good fight, finished my course, kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness."