« AnteriorContinuar »
bring with it great joy and future recompense. If one righteous had been found, Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared. Therefore, the repentance of one sinner may save many. If therefore, you would adorn the gospel of your Saviour in all things, see that your lives agree with your conversation, "redeeming the time, because the days are evil." "If thou seek the Lord he will be found of thee ; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever." Keep the whole law, and thou shalt live, was the promise of God to all men; but very few can be found who abide by it, for we are all very far gone from original righteousness, and deserve to be excluded from the presence of the King. But God has redeemed us by the sacrifice of his Son, and rendered us heirs of his kingdom, provided we serve him truly all the days of our life. This is the condition. Adam deviated from the law of God, and lost admittance by one act, and was excluded from paradise for ever. "Take care that you do not faint in well-doing. Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." We have now every opportunity, every privilege for embracing the offer of eternal life ; and we have also, it is to be lamented, too many unholy and unprofitable pleasures to lead us into the path of error in this world, and to condemnation in the next. The world may love us as it will its own; and yet we may be abomination in the sight of God. To feel and confess this is distasteful to human nature. Our Lord has wisely exhorted us to "watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation." "The spirit is truly ready, but the flesh is weak," too weak to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, and to have an honest conversation, which God will glorify in the day of visitation. It may suit us best to put off, like Felix, that which should be done today; but the more we live to and for Christ, and devote our time to his service, the more acceptable we shall be, when we are called to give up an account of our stewardship. "And what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, hut to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
Then " examine yourselves, prove your own selves," see whether you have turned wilfully and stubbornly to your own way—the way of your own hearts—the way that your corrupt appetites and passions have led you. Sinners, have their beloved sin which does most easily beset them ;—their own evil way which they are particularly fond of, and may disguise all from mortal ken; but " the Lord seeth the heart." There are many things which men see no harm in, and therefore do not shun them; what more (perhaps in some cases wilfully) forgotten than that the intense desire for and pursuit after riches, will be punished most certainly hereafter. And what more common than this thirst for mammon? We may console ourselves by vainly thinking that they will do us no injury here ; and as for the future, that is far distant; but assuredly they will: we may think light of them now, but we shall care for them hereafter. At present, we only see the bud on the tree, but we shall in a few years hence see those buds in fruit. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1, 13—15.) There are many who are sensible of the advantages they possess, and who are convinced that "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Of such I would ask, are you humbling yourselves before God? Are you mortifying the old man, and renewing the spirit of your mind by a true and lively repentance, and with hearty undivided faith in the Lord Jesus? Are you praying earnestly to "be filled with joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost?" Are you diligently striving to put into practice the directions of your Saviour, ceasing to do evil, learning to do well? Are you cultivating those virtuous graces which shone so brightly and perfectly in our blessed Lord, having him constantly before you, following him on earth, that you may live for ever with him in glory? Oh, let not the name of Jeus be to y ou like the Allah of the Mohammedans, a talisman or an amulet to be worn on the arm, as an external badge merely and symbol of your profession; let not the name of Christian be a reproach to you for your want of carrying out its requirements! It is a sublime appellation, render yourselves worthy of it. It is a glorious distinction for the redeemed of the Lamb, and who shall one day sing for ever before the heavenly choir, "Hosannah in the highest! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever!"
And lastly. To the impenitent, the unrenewed, and the wavering, I would say, reihain no longer as ye are. Aim at excellence. Strive to be perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. "Be ye holy, for God is holy." You are commanded to perfect holiness, to go on unto perfection. Oh, forsake sin ; rest not upon a slight repentance, or fancy erroneously that if you attend the courts of the Lord's house every Sunday, or every time you are invited to attend, kneeling upon your knees, and praying with your lips, whilst your hearts are far from him, that you have performed the task expected of you, and that no more is necessary. If this were indeed all, religion would be an easy thing, put on and taken off like a garment. We should have no need of self-denial. Therefore, make it your business, yea, your pleasure and delight, not only to vindicate the honor of your profession, and "put to silence the ignorance of the foolish," but to "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven!" Love and cultivate honesty and truth, that by the intrinsic weight of your good principles, and rectitude of your conduct, others may be induced to follow your example and be led to exclaim, "see now these christians love one another!" see what temptations they resist, how zealous is their faith, and how earnestly they follow the Divine Pattern in all things. Lo! these have come out of great tribulation, and washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, for they are worthy!
"So spake the seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmov'd,
Unshaken, unsedue'd, unterrified,
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;
Nor number, nor example, with him wrought
To Bwerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single. From amidst them forth he pass'd,
Long way through hostile scorn whicl^he sustain'd
Superior, nor of violence fear'd aught;
And, with retorted scorn, his back he turn'd
On those proud towers to swift destruction doom'd."
THE CHRISTIANS ^WORTHINESS.
'* But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, lilce the wind, have taken us away."
Isaiah lxiv. 6th verse.
How much the christian has to deplore his own unworthiness. his forgetfulness of God, and the imperfectness of even his best services to Him, which when weighed in the balance, would doubtless, be found wanting! Yet, alas! how little does he strive to amend this; how seldom does he exert himself with real christian zeal and perseverance : on the contrary, like Felix, he trembles and delays his repentance to a more "convenient season." The bustle of the world gently lulls him on in his carnal security, and when illness or death overtakes him, he is aroused from his sinful lethargy, and prays for. divine help that so he may "put off," as Saint Paul writes, "concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds; putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." But what if he has not sufficient time granted for this? what if he is called away without a moment's warning for preparation ? as so many are walking in the land of the living in the morning, and in the evening are found withered; and the place that knew them, knows them no more? What, I say, if he is found in his uncleanness, and all his assumed piety and righteousness but " as filthy rags:" oh, how much will he regret that his iniquities, like the wind, took him away from the service of his Lord! And this is not an uncommon case—this is not overdrawn; but unfortunately, too common; and though for a little while we are alarmed, and promise