« AnteriorContinuar »
themselves from a sinful course of life when it is too late. I need not be more specific. But let us take warning. Let us take heed that no sin get the mastery over us. If we have been overtaken in a fault; let us go to him who will pardon and restore us, Let us strive to enter in at the strait gate, ere it be closed upon us for ever.
Much more might be said in illustration of this view of the subject. We may not in any thing delay with impunity. Habits and pursuits, that are not in themselves sinful, may gradually place us in a less favourable situation for commencing the business of salvation—for attending to the concerns of the soul. If the heart is unguarded, it will soon be filled with what is evil. If we think to attend to the care of the soul at some future time, we evince a sad ignorance of the real nature of our condition. If we delay now, we can answer for nothing - a thousand things may throw such difficulties in our way, that though we seek to enter in, we shall not be able.
I have treated this important subject very imperfectly: I would entreat you to make it the subject of your private meditation. Think of the difficulties which increasing years, and multiplied cares, throw in the way of repentance and walking with God. But let nothing which I have said induce any to think that I limit the power of divine grace.
We are all among “ the called;" why should we deny ourselves the privilege of being among “ the chosen ?" In dependence on the Holy Spirit's assistance, which is freely promised to us, let us address ourselves to the Saviour for pardon of the guilt of sin, and deliverance from its power.
THE NECESSITY OF TRIBULATION.
Acts xiv. 22.
“ We must through much tribulation enter into the
kingdom of God.”
The clause of which these words form a part describes the nature of the preaching which the Apostles Paul and Barnabas addressed to their converts. After having advanced in their journey as far as Derbe, “ when they had preached the gospel in that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom
of God.” They did not attempt to deceive the persons
who had received their teaching—they did not talk of brighter days, or beguile them with hopes of a fairer morrow -No, they invited them to count the cost of their profession—they prepared them for a life of suffering. We scarcely need any other evidence of the Divine authority of their commission. This neglect of common prudence proves at once that they felt themselves to be in no need of the precautions of human policy. The finger of God was so visibly with them, that they were not required to avail themselves of the ordinary topics of persuasion. Many of the persons they addressed had actually seen them performing miracles, and had been forced to acknowledge them as messengers from heaven; yea, some of them, in the blindness of paganism, had regarded them as manifestations of their deities. They could therefore speak to them with authority, and venture without apprehension to prepare them for what was in store for them as Christians; and urge it as a motive for perseverance, and an inducement to
faith, “ that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of heaven. The fact deserves attention. We are apt to read it without being struck by it as we ought to be. If affords the strongest possible proof, not only of the candour and openness of these holy men, but of their confidence in the strength of their cause. The teachers who had hitherto in heathen cities founded sects, and exerted an influence on men's opinions, had always set to work by undertaking to shew the way to happiness: the Christian missionaries pursue a course diametrically opposite. They make no profession of teaching wisdom, or eloquence, or pleasure. They have no specious arguments, no arts of allurement. The doctrine they preach is to those who first hear, a stumbling-block or foolishness; and they promise their disciples, as their present lot, only tribulation. That under such circumstances churches were formed, and disciples multiplied, is, I say, sufficient proof that the first preaching of the Gospel was attested by the visible interference of Heaven.