« AnteriorContinuar »
have no reason to expect, but they cannot be said to hope for such things. Hope implies expectation, and expectation implies belief in their attainability. Evangelical faith recognises the means of attaining these blessings ; which are the mediation of Christ, and the influences of God, through Providence, and His Holy word. Millions have realized the blessed things which were once unseen” to them. III. THAT THOSE INVISIBLE THINGS, WHICH ARE DESIRABLE AND ATTAINABLE, FAITH MAKES POWERFUL IN THE PRESENT LIFE. “It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;" ¿.e. Faith is the realization of things hoped for, and the demonstration of things not seen. We have here two thoughts:—First: The power of these invisible things as they appear to the intellect when believed. They stand before the believing intellect as demonstrative realities. No doubt arises concerning them. This spiritual universe spreads out as clearly to the eye of the believing intellect, as glowing nature on a summer's day to the bodily vision. Secondly: The power of these invisible things as they appear to the heart when believed. They are the “substance” of the heart's hope. What the intellect sees so clearly, the heart feels. The heart organizes, so to speak, the intellectual convictions into forms of life ; majestic, and soul-transporting. The heart gives flesh and blood and breath to the skeletons of the brain. Magnificent examples of its power, in this way, you have in this chapter.
SUBJECT :--Abel ; or Man's Religion.
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts : and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”Heb. xi. 4.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Seventy-sixth.
This passage takes us back to the remotest period in the history of man—to the morning of the world and the infancy of our race.
The antiquity of the fact which it
records, can in no degree detract from its importance. Time, beneath whose influence the pyramids moulder into dust, and the flinty rocks decay, does not, and cannot, destroy a fact, nor strip a truth of one portion of its essential importance. The reason why the Bible has survived so many ages,--ages which have engulphed the finest products of human genius, and the most durable monuments raised to perpetuate a name, is simply this, it is a record of truths,truths pertaining to man, in every age and in every clime. In the verse which we have read, for instance, there are three facts in relation to man just as precious to us, the men of this age, as to the men of any preceding time, and will be as precious to the last generation as they are to us.
I. THAT THE RELIGION OF MAN HAS TO DO WITH SACRIFICE. “Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice.” I say the religion of man, because it may be that the religion of other beings has nothing whatever to do with sacrifices. I suppose that the angelic spirits of whom we read so much in the Bible go directly to their Maker. Nothing interposes between them and the object of their devotion. Nor do they require any mediation, any sacrifice, or priest. They retain their primitive purity—there is no stain on their conscience-no cloud on their intellect. They can look directly on the Father of lights, and He on them as pure emanations of Himself. It was probably so with our first parents previous to their fall. Their fellowship with their Maker was not carried on through sacrifice, but at once. The world was their temple ; they saw the Shekinah everywhere, and perhaps on every stone and tree gleamed the “Urim and Thummim." But after the fall sacrifice became necessary as is here implied. I think that the fact here stated that God accepted Abel on account of his sacrifice, is a satisfactory proof that sacrifices are of Divine institution. From remotest ages sacrifices have prevailed, and prevailed everywhere. Scarcely has there ever been found a tribe of men who had not both the idea and the practice.
How is its universality to be accounted for? If you say by tradition, you cannot stop until you go back to Noah or to Abel; and in both cases you have satisfactory evidence that they were institutions of God. Or, if you say that the idea is instinctive in man's mind, I would still say that you virtually grant the point, for an instinctive idea is a divine implantation.
II. THAT THE RELIGION OF MAN IS VALUABLE ONLY AS IT IS BASED ON EVANGELICAL FAITH. “By faith.” What made Abel's sacrifice acceptable? It must have been either because of the thing offered or the mode of offering. Was it the former ? It is true that there was a difference in the sacrifice. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground as an offering, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. As far as the offerings themselves are concerned, one seems to be as good as the other; and as far, also, as they were related to the offerers, each brought what he himself had reared. Cain brought not a living creature, for he was tiller of the ground, and Abel was the keeper of a flock. Each brought what was his own, and this seems to have been proper. And in their relation to God, too, they seem equal. The fruit of the ground was as acceptable to Him as the fruit of the cattle. Under the Jewish law He actually enjoined both. We cannot, therefore, discern the difference in the sacrifice itself. The one sacrifice, in every respect, seems to have been as good as the other. Both had offered from their own property; and each of such offerings God in subsequent time, required and accepted. If then the difference is not to be discovered in the offerings; it must be in the offerers, in the different states of mind they possessed. And this accords at once with our reason and the passage itself—Abel had faith—faith in God-faith in his moral relations-faith, too, perhaps, in the necessity of mediation ; and Cain had not this. The virtue was not in the sacrifice, but in the sentiments ; not in the materials presented, but in the minds of the presenters.
III. THAT THE RELIGION OF MAN HAS EVER BEEN OF IMMENSE WORTH. “Whatever is not of faith is sin.” Paul speaks of this faith as doing three things. First : Giving divine acceptableness to existence. God had respect to Abel we are told. (Gen.) Faith gave acceptableness to Abel, and nothing else could. A man may make the greatest sacrifices; he may devote his property, his time, labor, health, life, all, yet without faith his attempts at worship are only insults to Omniscience. Without faith it is impossible to plense God. Faith generates the spirit of reverence, gratitude, and worship. Secondly: As giving moral righteousness to existence. “By which he obtained witness that he was righteous.” But in what does righteousness consist? In being right in our external relations, right in relation to God, to His government, to the universe, and in being right in the spirit of our minds. The human heart is corrupt; it is deceitful, and desperately wicked. This must be rectified, &c. But how did God testify of the acceptableness of his gifts” ? Perhaps by fireGen. xv. 17 ; Lev. ix. 24 ; Judges vi. 21 ; 1 Kings, xviii. 38. Thirdly: As giving an honorable and lasting significance to existence. “He yet speaketh,”-in the margin“ is yet spoken of.” These different translations express a different idea ;the one the undying influence of his life, and the other his immortal fame; both ideas are true and vitally connected, and therefore we canvass not the merits of their respective translations. We assert an undoubted historical fact, which includes both ideas, when we say that his faith gave a lasting and an honorable significance to his life. His voice comes down to us through sixty centuries, and it says that the great God will accept the worship of sinners, if offered in evangelical faith, and that He will honor and bless such worshippers with the testimony of His approval. True faith, or moral goodness, alone gives a lasting and honorable significance to life. The men who live in history and are honored by posterity, are only the men of genuine moral worth.
SUBJECT :- Mediatorial Influences Mirrored in Showers.
“As showers that water the earth.”—Psa. lxxii. 6.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sebenty-sebenth. The influences of gospel truths in relation to humanity, are in other places of scripture, as well as here, compared to the rain of heaven. (Isa. lv. 10.) I. BOTH DESCEND FROM THEIR CREATOR. Whence come the showers ? “ He waterėth the earth from his chambers,” &c. No one else can send them. Gospel influences, the influence of redemptive truth, and love, are of God. No man could originate them.. " Eye hath not seen,” &c. II. BOTH DESCEND WITH APPARENT IRREGULARITY. First : In relation to place. On some spots showers descend more copiously than on others, and some places they scarcely ever visit. So of gospel influences. They are abundant in England, there are other lands on which they have never fallen. Secondly: In relation to quantity. On the same
scenes showers descend more copiously at some times than on others. So with gospel influences. They sometimes come very powerfully upon the heart. III. BOTH ARE INTENDED FOR BENEFICENT PURPOSES. Three objects are aimed at by both :—The production of Life—Beauty, Fruit. “ As the rain cometh down from heaven to water the earth that it may give,” &c. IV. BOTH ARE OFTEN ALLOWED TO RUN TO WASTE. The man that never tills his ground will not secure the full benefits of the showers. Nay, the rain will only nourish the weeds, thorns, and thistles, that ruin his land. So with gospel influences. Unless man work, all will run to waste. V. BOTH ALWAYS PROVE INJURIOUS WHERE USEFUL. Showers either mollify or harden, vitalize or deaden, consolidate or rot, invigorate or weaken. So will gospel influences. They either nourish in the heart the hemlock of depravity, or the vine of holiness and truth. They ever prove either “the savour of life unto life, or the savour of death unto death."
THEY ARE NOT