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II. He had to finish the work of a faithful evangelist; that is had to show the apostles what he required of them in the faithful distribution of his message to a ruined world. We have a beautiful example of the manner in which this work was to be done in the history of the adulteress of Sichar, where he spent several days to promote a blessed work of God, and thus blew the trumpet of the gospel.
III. He had to finish the character of faithfulness as a professor of Godliness, thus evincing himself a true disciple of his own school.
IV. He had to exhibit to the full his character as an amiable, benevolent and good man. Thus he would prepare his family of disciples to so exhibit the character of their master, as to prepare them to say in their prayers "for me to live is Christ."
V. He had to finish the doing of the will of God, had yet to die on the Cross for the sins of a miserable world, and exhibit in his character a faithful high-priest. For this death, he was about to prepare. The associates of his sufferings were making themselves ready. And the Lord Jesus Christ would be careful not to show any reluctance to enter upon this work. Hence there would remain nothing in his case, but to give up the ghost and resign life and say "it is finished." And he went to his death in the vigor of manhood and sprightliness of youth, and bore his own cross up the hill on which he was crucified. This was in fulfillment of the very track that the prophets had pointed out for him, so that he might be said to die in the very centre of the world he came to redeem. And another thing, he died in that spot where it could the most easily be communicated to the rest of the world, not only the history of his suffering, but the grand design of his death. Thus, by merely uttering the story of his exit, they would the most effectually convince the world of the truth of this story, and use the most effectual means to bring them to exercise faith in his merits, and in his blood, and in his redemption.
Thus as from a central point, there goes forth the redemption of a world and the history of that redemption, and the only means that God will use in redeeming to his Son that miserable world for which the Savior laid down his life, and thus when he said “look unto me and be ye saved all ye ends of the and there is none else," the world would not would only have to glance an eye through a few generations.
earth, for I am God
have far to look, it
1. We learn from this subject the grand secret of being ready to die. This consists in having our work all done ready for that hour.
2. The subject leads us to reflect that many men of the world, that have adopted a similar sentiment, would seem to have been inspired in their adoption of this sentiment. It was said of Lord Nelson, in all his appointments in the navy in the British government, that his concluding remark, was fifteen minutes before the time, that thus they might save to each other and to him that precious time on which a nation's prosperity might depend. And this by the by, forms one of the best traits of Christian character and is as important in the Church of God, as it was in the British navy.
ROMANS XII. 12.
THE appropriateness and obligation of the duty of prayer, and the reasons why it should be instant, or earnest and incessant.
I. The appropriateness will appear when we consider that religion qualifies the Christian to pray.
1. By giving him a deep knowledge of his heart.
2. By giving him correct views of God.
3. By impressing him with the endured and impending miseries of ungodly men. This pre-eminently enables him to spread their whole case before God, and to plead with him in their behalf.
4. By correcting his motives of action, and thus preparing him to pray acceptably.
5. By rendering him familiar with the promises. He has prepared him to lay his own case and the case of others before a prayer-hearing God.
6. By habituating him to the duty, and rendering it pleasant. 7. By filling his soul with the love of benevolence.
II. The obligation arises from
1. The command of God.
2. The interest that the Christian has in the Divine glory.
3. He grows faster when he prays, and that in proportion to the fervidness of his prayers.
4. He has the best evidence of his own piety.
5. He gives the best evidence to others.
III. Reasons why the Christian should be instant, or earnest and incessant.
1. It is only instant prayer that can be evidence of strong Christian affections.
2. Each of the three cases that invite him to prayer are urgent cases. His own sanctification. It is of more importance to the believer that himself be saved than any body else. And he sees the importance to his brethren in Christ of their salvation, as nobody else can see it. He also sees the importance of the salvation of sinners. "Hence knowing the terrors of the law, he persuades men."
3. God has given special promise to incessant, urgent, instant prayer. Hence the cases spoken of in the Scripture.
4. The little time he has to pray and labor for God and his kingdom, and therefore "he must do whatsoever his hands find to do with his might, knowing that there is no wisdom nor device in the grave whither we haste."
5. The rest and reward in heaven.
6. Instant prayer is the best means of his own growth in grace, and comfort, and hope of blessedness, here and hereafter.
MATTHEW, V. 5.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
IT has been often said all the promises are appropriated. To the poor in spirit God has promised the kingdom of heaven.
What, meekness and not war gain territory? Meekness is a quietness, mildness and gentleness. It is that spirit of non-resistance enjoined on his disciples by our Lord, when he said, "If any man smite thee on the one cheek turn to him the other also." Some things may seem like it but are not it. That indecision which has no opinion when those are present who will oppose it, is not meekness but cowardice.
We are directed to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints. We are to be rooted and grounded in the truth. That cowardice which does not defend the truth is not meekness. It is yielding the honor of God because we fear man more than God, because their frown effects more than the threatenings of God.
That tameness which arises from want of talent is not meekness. This differs nothing from what may be found in animals, but meekness is a gospel grace. It implies that the natural temper has been subdued by the power of God so that the Christian spirit operates in the midst of coarse and unhandsome treatment. Paul was not meek by nature but became so by grace. Still his natural temper sometimes broke out-as when the high priest commanded him to be smitten. Meekness implies a sanctified heart. Hence the promise is made to believers that they shall inherit the earth. God will give these good things to those who exhibit the temper that he justifies.
By the earth we are to understand not merely his terrestial territory but all the good things of the life that now is. Hence the the text implies that this world was made for the church of Christ and belongs in the divine estimation to the people of the Saints of the most high God.
I. It was built for the Church. It is said of the Lord Jesus Christ, that "by him were all things created that are in heaven and earth, visible or invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things are created by him and for him." And it is said of the people of God, "All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas or the world, or life or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.
II. The government is committed to a mediator in behalf of the Church. God purposes to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God who created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God. It was predicted of the child that he should be born, "That the government should be upon his shoulders, his name should be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." We read of a moment when Christ shall deliv
er up the mediatorial kingdom to the Father; that is, he shall no longer govern the world as mediator, having gathered out of it his people and taken them all to heaven with him. Under his government it will be true that though the wicked heap up silver as the dust and prepare raiment as the clay, he may prepare it but the just shall put it on and the innocent shall divide the silver.
3. The people of God alone truly enjoy the good things of this life, and they only have the permission of God to use them: they only are blessed of God in their basket and in their store.
They ask and receive the Divine blessing with their meat and drink. They only receive thankfully the Divine bounties, and submit willingly when God afflicts them. To them only is the promise, "all things shall work together for good to them that love God." Hence they only can be cheerful and happy in the possession of the things of time and sense. God requires that the talents he puts into our hands we occupy until he come. He demands the fruit of the vineyard. Every blessing is handed us on the implied condition that we are truly thankful, and use the blessing well. And none do this but the people of God. Hence none have God's leave to use, because none can have his leave to abuse the bounties of his providence. If men come not with a grateful heart to the table which the Lord, in his providence, spreads for them, I know not in what text they have leave to partake.
4. The promise of the text will be specially fulfilled when the Church shall be spread over the world, and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. That day, we know, is coming. Then the text will receive its literal accomplishment, and the whole soil be held by those who fear and know the Lord. It is promised the Savior, that "the Father will give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession. A promise, perhaps, of no good to them; for it is added, "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, and shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Still a promise exactly to the point I would illustrate, that the whole of this word's territory will one day belong to the Church of Christ.
1. The subject illustrates that Divine maxim, "He that will save his life shall lose it." Meekness gives up its right, and God gives it back. In the case reported in the history of Solomon, the true mother gives up her part of the child, rather than have it divided. 2. How anti-evangelical is a spirit of war and of contention