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our God.

Moreover, according to the measure which we attain of the stature of Christ, will be the recompence of our reward: every grace we exercise, whether active or passive, will be noted in the book of God's remembrance, and " be found to our praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ 8 ;' the one as well as the other, though but weak and defective in itself, is “working out for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory."] APPLICATION

1. Let us trace, every one of us, the dealings of God with us

[A more instructive history we could not read, than that of the Lord's dealings with us from our earliest infancy to the present moment. If it were recorded with the minuteness and fidelity that the history of the Jews has been, we should see, that as face answers to face in a glass, so does our experience to theirs. We are apt to wonder at their wickedness; but we should cease to wonder at them, if we were thoroughly acquainted with ourselves. Our wonder would rather be at the patience and forbearance, the mercy and the kindness, of

Earnestly then would we recommend to every one to apply to himself the injunction in our text, “ Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness:” and we may rest assured that such habits of reflection will bring their own reward along with themh.]

2. Let our experience of his past kindness lead us to confide in him in future

[The way in which the Israelites were led was circuitous and dreary: yet we are told that God " led them by the right

It may be that our way also has been such as has excited many murmurs, and great discouragement: but, if we have considered it to any good purpose, we shall acknowledge it to have been on the whole more profitable for us, than any that we should have chosen for ourselves. Perhaps we shall see cause to bless our God for some of our heaviest trials, more than for

any

of those things which administered to our pleasure. Convinced then by our past experience, we should be willing to leave matters to the disposal of our God; and to submit to any trials, which he sends for the promotion of our eternal welfare. Our only solicitude should be to make a due improvement of his dispensations: and if only we may be humbled, instructed, sanctified, and exalted by them, we should cordially and continually say, “Let him do what seemeth him good.”] 6 1 Pet. i. 7.

h Ps. coli. 43.

way."

CXCVIII.

AGAINST SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SELF-CONCEIT.

Deut. ix. 4—6. Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the

Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand, therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people.

MAN is a dependent creature: he has nothing of his own: he can do nothing: he can control no event whatever; he is altogether in the hands of God, who supports him in life, and accomplishes both in him and by him his own sovereign will and pleasure. Yet he affects wisdom, though “he is born like a wild ass's colt ;” and strength, though he is “ crushed before the moth:” nay, so extraordinary is his blindness, that he arrogates righteousness to himself, though he is so corrupt, that he has “not so much as one imagination of the thoughts of his heart which is not evil continually.” If there ever were a people that might be expected to be free from self-complacent thoughts, it must be the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt; for no people ever had such opportunities of discovering the evil of their hearts as they had. No persons ever received such signal mercies, as they; nor ever betrayed such perverseness of mind, as they. Yet did Moses judge it necessary to caution even them, not to ascribe to any merits of their own the interpositions of God in their behalf, but to trace them to their proper source—the determination of God to display in and by them his own glorious perfections.

The words which I have read to you, will furnish me with a fit occasion to shew,

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I. How prone we are to self-complacent thoughts

There are many things which men would not utter with their lips, which yet they will “ speak in their hearts.” “ The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” But no rational man would be such a fool as to say it with his lips. So, one can scarcely conceive any man absurd enough to impute in express terms to himself, his successes, either in temporal or spiritual matters: yet, " in the spirit of our minds," we are prone to do it in reference to both. 1. In reference to temporal matters

[In the event of our succeeding in trade, in husbandry, in war, how apt are we to ascribe to ourselves what really has proceeded from God alone. We may have shewn wisdom in our use of means : but who has rendered those mea

means effectual? Can the merchant command the seas, or the husbandman the clouds, or the warrior the events of war? Yet we take the glory to ourselves, as if we had reaped nothing but the fruits, the necessary fruits, of our own superior skill. Now what should we have thought of the disciples, if, when they had “ toiled all the night in fishing, and had taken nothing,” and afterwards, in obedience to their Lord's directions, had “launched out into the deep again, and taken at one draught so many fishes that both their ships began to sink”—what, I say, should we have thought of them, if they had ascribed this success to their own wisdom and skilla ? Yet this is the very thing which we do, in reference to our successes in any matter ;

we sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense unto our own drag b.”] 2. In reference to spiritual matters

[In relation to things of a spiritual nature, we should suppose that no man would think of indulging this propensity; because in the natural man there is not so much as one good desire. But, strange as it may seem, we are more tenacious of our supposed self-sufficiency in reference to these things than to any others. There is not any one who does not hope to conciliate the divine favour by something that he shall do; and that does not imagine himself capable of doing it by his own inherent strength, whensoever he shall be pleased to undertake the work. To self-righteousness, in particular, men cleave with an obstinacy that nothing but Omnipotence can overcome. This was the real cause of the rejection of the Jews, that they would persist in labouring to establish a righteousness of their own by the works of the Law, when they should have embraced

a Luke v. 4—7. and again John xxi. 3—6. b Hab. i. 16.

the righteousness which is of God by faith. And this is the principle which we have to combat in all our ministrations, and which is the very last that yields to the Gospel of Christ. Men think to get to heaven by their own righteousness; and hope, like the Israelites in Canaan, to make the very mercy of God himself a pedestal for their own fame. “ Stiff-necked” as Israel were, they would arrogate to themselves this glory: and vile as we are, we fondly cherish this vain conceit. To renounce wholly our own righteousness, and to submit cordially to the righteousness of Christ, is the last sacrifice we can be brought to make, and the crown and glory of converting grace.]

That I may, as God shall enable me, beat down all self-complacent conceits, I will proceed to shew, II. How erroneous they are

To the self-righteous Israelites, Moses said, “ Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Now here Moses has informed us what it is that God consults in all his dispensations, even the glory of his own perfections : 1. Of his justice and holiness

(God determined to shew his indignation against sin: and therefore, when the iniquity of the Canaanites was full, and they were ripe for vengeance, he drove them forth from their land, and utterly destroyed them. The Israelites he used merely as his instruments, whom he had raised up to fulfil his will: and in them he made known his power to execute what his justice had decreed.

Look now at the redemption which he has vouchsafed to us, and you shall find it altogether ordained to display the very same perfections of the Deity. Look at the atonement made for sin : go to Calvary, and behold the Lamb of God expiating, by his own blood, the guilt of a ruined world! There read the holiness of God, in his hatred of sin, and his justice in punishing it. Or go to the Gospel, which proclaims this deliverance; and declares, that none shall ever be saved who do not plead this atonement as their only hope; and none shall ever perish who truly and unfeignedly rely upon it. Go, follow the selfcomplacent Pharisee to the regions of misery, or the believing penitent to the realms of bliss, and you shall see in both an equal display of these very perfections : in the one, the punishment of sin in his own person; in the other, the reward of righteousness, wrought out for him by our Lord Jesus Christ.] 2. Of his faithfulness and truth

c Rom. ix. 31, 32.

[To Abraham, God had promised the possession of the land of Canaan; yet not to Abraham personally, but in his descendants. The fulfilment of this promise was delayed four hundred and thirty years : but it was not forgotten. When the time for its accomplishment was fully come, it was fulfilled; and in fulfilling it, God shewed himself faithful to his promises. And if any one of us should ever arrive at the heavenly Canaan, it will be in consequence of the covenant made with Christ; wherein the Father stipulated, that “if his Son would make his soul an offering for sin, he should see a seed who should prolong their days, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his handsa." Whence is it that any one of us is led to Christ? Whence is it that we are carried in safety through this dreary wilderness, and brought at last to the possession of the heavenly land ? Was it for our righteousness that we were chosen ? No: “God loved us simply because he would love use." Was it for our righteousness that we were preserved ? No: we were a stiff-necked people" from first to last. Was it for our righteousness that we were crowned with ultimate success? No: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he will have saved us,” “ according to the good pleasure of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his own grace 8."

It is worthy of observation, that no less than three times in the short space of our text does God declare that his people were not thus favoured on account of their own righteousness : and amongst all the hosts of heaven there will not be found so much as one, who does not ascribe his salvation altogether to God and to the Lamb; that is, to the electing love of the Father, and to the redeeming love of Christ.]

In order still more forcibly to counteract selfrighteous thoughts, I proceed yet further to shew, III. The importance of utterly discarding them from

our own minds— Observe the energy with which this hateful propensity is assailed: “Understand, therefore,” says Moses, “ that the Lord giveth thee not this good

d Isai. liii. 10.

e Deut. vii. 7, 8.

{ Tit. iii. 4. & Eph. i. 4–6.

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