Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

schism in the body; but that the members if religion be any thing, it is every thing; if should have the same care one for another." it be important at all, it is all important."

Lastly. ALL THE COMFORT AND ADVANTAGE And indeed if it be impartially considered, WE DERIVE FROM CREATURES SHOULD AWA- with regard to prosperity or adversity, life or KEN GRATITUDE TO GOD.-It is said, “he death, time or eternity, it will appear to be, thanked God." Doubtless the Apostle was in the eye of reason, as well as in the testisensible of his obligations to these brethren, mony of Scripture, "the one thing needful." and thanked them for their civility and ten- Hence it becomes necessary to know wherein derness in coming, unasked, so far to meet it consists—to examine its qualities and to him.—But says Paul-Who made these trace its effects. Christian friends? Who inclined them to ! A fuller representation of genuine religion favour me? Who rendered them the means was perhaps never given than we have in the of restoring my soul? “Of him, and through words before us. For you will observe that him, and to him, are all things: to whom be the inspired writer does not here speak of glory for ever. Amen.”

himself as an Apostle, but as a Christian, and “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every therefore, that what he describes as his own good gift and every perfect gift is from above, experience, will apply to all the subjects of and cometh down from the father of lights, divine grace. It leads us to consider-the with whom is no variableness, neither shadow TRUE CHARACTERS—the GRAND PRINCIPLEof turning.” He uses channels to convey and the ALLOWED CONFIDENCE of real religion. blessings to us, but all our springs are in him. I. Let us attentively observe the SEVERAL The heathen made gods of every thing that CHARACTERS here given us of true godliness, afforded them pleasure, and we are too prone and see whether we have any thing like to do the same. Instruments sometimes in them in ourselves. Says Paul, “I am crucitercept the praise that is going to be offered fied with Christ : nevertheless I live; yet not to God; and when this is the case, he often I, but Christ liveth in me." lays them aside or renders them useless—for It has then a character of MYSTERY, of the divine jealousy will not endure a rival. wonder, or (shall I say?) paradox. How

And here is the difference between a car- strange is it to see a bush burning with fire, nal and a spiritual mind. The man who and unconsumed !" How marvellous is it to possesses the former, lives without God in find that the poor only are rich, the sick only the world. Though he divine perfections | are well, and that a broken heart is the surround him, and a thousand voices continu-greatest blessing we can possess! How ally address him, he walks on, all careless surprising is it to hear persons saying, We and insensible. Whereas the Christian is are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; having disposed to acknowledge God in all his ways. nothing, and yet possessing all things: as The stream leads him to the fountain. The dying, and behold we live" —to hear a man gift reminds him of the giver: the instrument, say, “I'am crucitied,” though he has the use of the agent. He holds communion with God of all his limbs-crucified with Christ, though in common things. He is thankful for com- Christ had been crucified on Calvary long mon mercies. He sees and adores him in the before and to add, “nevertheless I live" springing of the earth, in the rain, and fruit- then with the same breath to check himself, ful showers, in the refreshments of sleep, and and deny this yet not I"_and to crown in the pleasures of friendship. He grieves the whole, “Christ liveth in me,” though he with Archbishop Leighton that a world so full was then in heaven! What unintelligible of his mercy should be so empty of his praise. jargon is all this to the carnal mind!" For He cries with David, “O that men would the natural man receiveth not the things of praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness wonderful works to the children of men! unto him: neither can he know them, because Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of they are spiritually discerned.” A Christian his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul !" is " a wonder unto many." How absurd, and Which of these characters do we resemble? ridiculous did all this once appear to us but

it is our mercy that the darkness is past and

the true light now shineth-that we begin to DISCOURSE X.

perceive beauty and harmony and worth,

where once nothing struck us but confusion THE CHRISTIAN INDEED! and discord and insignificance--that we can (BEFORE THE LORD'S SUPPER.)

say, with the man in the Gospel, “One thing I am crucified with Christ : nevertheless I ||

I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see. **

It has a character of MORTIFICATION. “I live ; yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me : and the life which I now live in the flesh I livel

aam crucified with Christ.” The grace of

ve God has to pull up, as well as sow; to destroy, by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me,

nc, as well as build. It has much to slay in us and gave himself for me. Gal. ii. 20.

—it has to slay our vain confidence, our self It has been said by an old divine, "That I righteous hopes, our pride, our depraved affections. It finds us alive to the world and natural and easy. Hence they drudge and to sin, and it leaves us dead to both. To die toil on, often exclaiming, What a weariness to any thing, in the language of Scripture, is it is to serve the Lord and drop one thing to have no more connexion with it, no more after another, till they give up the whole. attachment to it: “ how shall we that are But where there is spiritual life, there is an dead to sin, live any longer therein" - if we inward propensity to holiness, there is a sawere alive to it, we might be enticed-but vouring the things which be of God: there is what are allurements presented to a dead nothing of that ignoble and slavish devotion corpse? “ Knowing this, that our old man which springs from custom, or is impelled by is crucified with him, that the body of sin external motives only they find his service might be destroyed, that henceforth we should to be perfect freedom; his yoke easy, and his not serve sin: for he that is dead is freed from burden light; such a burden as a pair of sin." It has no more dominion over him; he wings to a bird; they would be awkward and loves it no longer.

| troublesome, and useless, if tied on, but, as But to crucify, is not only to destroy; it living parts of his body, they are graceful and signifies a peculiar kind of death-a violent, pleasing, and the instruments of flight tounnatural death: and sin never dies of its wards heaven. own accord, nor from weakness, nor from It has a character of HUMILITY.-" Yet not age; it must be put to death by force. It sig. | P"-This is the unvarying strain of the Aposnifies a painful death-think of a body fast- tle. “Not by fleshly wisdom, but by the ened to a tree, suspended in torture, nails grace of God, we have our conversation in driven through the hands and feet, (parts so the world. By the grace of God I am what susceptible of pain, by reason of the concur- I am: and his grace, which was bestowed rence of nerves and sinews)—who was ever upon me, was not in vain; but I laboured crucified without anguish? Whoever was a more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but Christian without difficulty, self-denial, sa- the grace of God which was with me. I have crifices, and groans, and tears? Though cru- | learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith cifixion was a sure death, it was a slow and to be content: I know both how to be abased, a lingering one. And our corruptions, though and I know how to abound; everywhere, and doomed to be destroyed, are not despatched in all things, I am instructed both to be full, at once. We shall have to mortify the deeds and to be hungry; both to abound, and to of the body as long as we are here; but sin is suffer need—I can do all things through nailed to the cross, and shall never gain an Christ, who strengtheneth me.” ascendency over us again; its death is in- | Compare with this language the sentiments evitable."

of the Pagan philosophers. Take one as a It has a character of LIFE_“nevertheless specimen of the rest. Cicero says, “We are I live." And life brings evidence along with justly applauded for virtue, and in virtue we it. “I compare," says the believer, “my pre rightly glory, which would not be the case sent with my former dispositions. I was once if we had virtue as the gift of God, and not dead to a certain class of objects; for they from ourselves. Did any person ever give could no more affect me than natural things thanks to God that he was a good man? No; can impress a dead body; but now, for the but we thank him that we are rich, that we very same reason, I know that I am alive are honourable, that we are in health and because they do impress me; they do interest safety." Now this argues not only the most me; they do excite in me hopes and fears; I dreadful pride, but the grossest ignorance, am susceptible of spiritual joys and sorrows. and it would be easy to prove that goodness I live, for I breathe prayer and praise; I live, is much less from ourselves than any thing for I feel the pulse of sacred passions; I live, else. The material creation has not such de for I have appetites, and do hunger and thirst grees of dependence upon God as the animal; after righteousness; I live, for I walk and I the animal world has not such degrees of dework; and though all my efforts betray weak-pendence upon God as the rational; and raness, they prove life-I live.” A real Chris- tional beings have not such degrees of detian is not a picture-a picture may accu-pendence upon God as pure and holy beings rately resemble an original, but it wants life: -beings reconciled from rebellion, renewed it has eyes, but it sees not; lips, but it speaks from depravity, and preserved, all weakness not. A Christian is not a figure: you may as they are, in the midst of temptation. Petake materials and make up the figure of a netrate heaven-there they cast their man, and give it the various parts of the hu- crowns at the feet" of their deliverer, and man body, and even make them move, by acknowledge that if they reign at all, it is by wires; but a Christian is not moved in reli- mere favour. This disposition must enter us gion by machinery, but life-nothing is forced before we can enter heaven. “ He that abasand artificial.

eth himself shall be exalted; but he that exWhy is religion so burdensome to many ?alteth himself shall be abased." Dependence The reason is, they have nothing in them to is the only proper condition of a creature, esrender these things like the functions of life, pecially of a fallen creature, and the Gospel is designed and adapted to produce self-anni-| faith be a hand, it is only by this we can lay hilation, that “no fesh should glory in his hold of him. presence, but that, according as it is written, He is the food of our souls, but it is by faith he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." that this food is converted into aliment: they

Finally, it has a CHRISTIAN character-are his own words : " he that eateth me, even but “ Christ liveth in me." This life is in- he shall live by me." Place all the motives deed formally in me: I am the subject of it, of Christianity around a man-if he does not but not the agent. It is not self-derived, nor believe them, they cannot touch him; this is self-maintained; but it comes from him, and the only medium by which they can operate. is so perfectly sustained by him, that it seems How can the threatenings of our Lord pro better to say—not “I live,” but “ Christ liveth | duce fear-How can the promises which he in me.”

has given excite hope-but by being beHe has a sovereign empire of grace, found lieved ? By this the various parts of the ed in his death, and he quickens whom he whole system are brought to bear upon the will. He is our life-not only as he procures conscience, and the practice. Therefore says it by redemption, but also as he produces it the Apostle, “the life that I now live in the by regeneration; and he liveth in us as the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, sun lives in the garden, by his influence who loved nie, and gave himself for me." calling forth fragrance and fruits; or as the III. This brings us to notice the confidence, soul lives in the body, actuating every limb, THE APPROPRIATION which this religion aland penetrating every particle with feel lows. Now what we mean to establish here ing.

|--is not that every real Christian can use II. Let us consider the GRAND INFLUENCING this language as boldly as the apostle Paul. PRINCIPLE of this religion—" It is the faith of Then we should make some “sad," some the Son of God." "If you ask," says the whom God has commanded us to make Christian,“ how it is that I live so different “merry:" there are degrees in grace; and from others, and so different from my former there is weak faith as well as strong faith. self, here is the secret. There is a faith which But I would intimate, first, that genuine has immediately and entirely to do with the religion always produces a concern for this Son of God: of this faith I have been made appropriation. It will not suffer a man to the happy partaker, and in proportion as I can rest in distant speculations and loose geneexercise this, I do well.' This brings me ralities, but will make him anxious to bring supplies from his boundless fulness. This things home to himself, and to know how places me in the strong hold. This invigor- they affect him. With regard to duty, he ates duty. This alleviates affliction. This will say, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to purifies the heart. This overcomes the world. do ?" When he hears of promises and priviThis does all. By faith I stand; by faith Ileges, he will ask, Am I interested in these ; walk; by faith I live-and the life that I may I claim them ?—“Say unto my soul, I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of am thy salvation." the Son of God.'”

I mean also to intimate, secondly, that a To explain this, it will be necessary to ob Christian may attain this confidence, and serve, that the communication of grace from draw this conclusion. Let him take God at Christ, to maintain the Divine life, depends his word, and from the general language of on union with him, and that of this union the Gospel, make out a particular inference. faith is the medium. Let me make this --He loved sinners, and gave himself for the plain. It is well known that the animal / ungodly. Let those who have no need of a spirits and nervous juices are derived from Saviour stand and debate; I need him; and the head to the body; but then it is only to I see he is come to save sinners, and I am that particular body which is united to it. one: to die for the ungodly, and this is my And the same may be said of the vine : the character. I see also that the Master calls vine conveys a prolific sap, but it is exclu- me, and invites me by name, or, which is sively to its own branches. It matters not much safer and better, by description: I am how near you place branches to the stock: oppressed with a load; and I am tired, strugif they are not in it, they may as well be a gling to get free; and he says, “Come unto thousand miles off; they cannot be enlivened me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, or fructified by it. “The branch cannot bear and I will give you rest." fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine: no To enable you to decide this business, let more can we except we abide in him, for me ask you-Have you not had a view of without him we can do nothing." Now he is your lost condition by nature, and so of your the head, and we are the members: he is the absolute need of Christ? Have you not disvine, we are the branches.

covered his grace and his glory, in living and And this union from which this influence dying for you, so as to feel your soul powerflows, is accomplished by faith only: "he fully drawn towards him? Under this attracdwells in our hearts by faith.If faith be an tion have you not been led to apply to him, eye, it is only by this we can see him. If | throwing yourself down at his feet, “Here

is a blind sinner-be thou my wisdom; al last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and guilty sinner-be thou my righteousness; all the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and polluted sinner-be thou my sanctification; we shall be changed.-1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. an enslaved, miserable sinner-be thou my HERE a scene opens upon us, in compariredemption." And do you not feel something son with which every thing else becomes good as the consequence of this? Is not your worthless, little, uninteresting. And let me mind so filled, so fixed, that you no longer tell you rove after the world? do you not melt in It is a transaction in which you will be, godly sorrow for sin ? are you not constrained not merely spectators, but parties concerned. by holy love to the Saviour to say, " Speak, | It is an event the most certain. Lord, for thy servant heareth;" and to live It is a solemnity that is continually drawnot unto yourselves, but to him that died for ing near. For while I speak, you die-and you and rose again ?" Where these things after death the judgment !" Does not this are wholly wanting, there is no real faith; subject therefore deserve, as well as demand, where they are found, a person can be guilty your most serious attention? of nothing like presumption, in saying, “he T he chapter before us regards the resurloved me, and gave himself for me."

rection. But those only can be raised who die Thirdly, we would intimate that nothing-what shall become of those, who at this can exceed the blessedness which results awful period shall be alive? “Behold, I from such an appropriation of the Saviour in show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, his love, and in his death. All evangelical but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in consolation is wrapped up in it. Could each the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: of you make it your own—How would eter- for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead nity be disarmed of its dread! With what shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be composure would you look forward to death! changed." How cheerfully would you bear your trials ! Here we may observe the union there is How pleasant would all your worship prove! among the followers of the Redeemer. ChrisWith what lively and suitable feelings would tians, however distinguished from each other, you approach this morning the table of the are inhabitants of one country, brethren of Lord, where a dying Jesus is not only pre-one family, members of one body. They are sented to your faith, but to your very sight, influenced by the same Spirit, and are tra“ evidently set forth, crucified, among you !" veling the same road. Diversity of circum

He loved me, and gave himself for me!" stances, peculiarity of religious discipline, reO my soul, think of these words. The Son moteness of situation, distance of time, do not of God, higher than the kings of the earth, affect the relation that unites them all togethe Lord of all, he has condescended to re. ther. The Apostle looks forward to the end member me in my low estate-He has loved of all things, and says, we who are alive, and me—and oh! how marvellous the expression remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not of this love-he gave nothing less than him- prevent them who are asleep.-"Then we, self-to be my teacher and example only? who are alive and remain, shall be caught up No, but to be my substitute, my ransom; to together with them in the clouds, to meet the bear my “sins in his own body on the tree." Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with And all this goodness regards unworthy, un- the Lord. We shall not all sleep, but we lovely me!

shall all be changed." Did he love me, and shall I not love him? Of the number of this universal Church, Has he given himself for me, “an offering some die, but the representation that is given and a sacrifice to God, for a sweetsmelling us of their death is very pleasing-"they savour"-and shall I be unwilling to give sleep." Death is often an alarming subject, myself to him, “a living sacrifice, holy and even to Christians; to reduce this dread, they acceptable, which is my reasonable service?" would do well to endeavour to view it under

And, O my soul, rejoice in him. What those images by which the Scripture has exmay I not expect from his hands what pressed it-a departure—a going home-a will he deny, who did not withhold him sleep. Man is called to labour. He goes

forth in the morning, toils, with some little intermission, all the day, and in the evening

retires, and lays himself down to sleep and DISCOURSE XL

“the sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much." And such is

every Christian. They have much to do; THE FINAL CHANGE.

and they must do it " while it is day: for the

night cometh wherein no man can work.” (EASTER.)

Death brings them repose: “ They rest from Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not their labours.” Sleep is a state from which

all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a you may be easily awakened. You look at moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the the babe in the cradle; he neither sees you,

self!

nor hears you; but you feel no uneasiness on | Enoch and Elias carried their bodies along this account; by-and-by the senses will be with them to heaven: but though they did not unlocked, and he will be taken up, smiling die, they passed through a change equivalent and refreshed. “Our friend Lazarus sleep-to death. The same change which will be eth," says the Saviour; “but I go that I may produced in the dead by the resurrection, awake him out of sleep." And he called, will be accomplished in the bodies of the liv. “Lazarus, come forth !" and, though he had ing by this transformation, and of this we been dead four days, he heard and came. have the clearest assurance: “So is the reFrom his throne in glory, Jesus, the resurrec-surrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption and the life, looks down upon the man- tion; it is raised in incorruption: it is sows sions of the dead, and at the appointed time in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown he will say to the heavenly hosts, Our friends in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown are sleeping in the dust-attend-I go to a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. awake them out of sleep: and lo! "all that As we have borne the image of the earthy, are in their graves hear his voice, and come we shall also bear the image of the hea. forth !"

venly." Thus far the laws of mortality prevail. Further, observe the ease and despatch Death " is the way of all the earth;" and of with which all this will be performed — " In all the righteous too: and this will continue a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." to be the case to the end—but then many What a view does this give us of the dominion will be found alive. The language of the and power of God! Think of the numbers Apostle is instructive. The present system that will be alive! Think of the inhabitants is unquestionably to be destroyed; but it will of one city of one country-of all the nanot wax old and perish through corruption. tions of the globe-all these metamorphosed All the productions of the earth will be as in one instant; immortal even in body, and fair as ever. The inhabitants of the earth capable of endless misery or happiness! And will not be gradually consumed till none are “why should it be thought a thing incredileft: the world will be full; and all the com- ble ?" Who said, “ let there be light; and mon concerns of life will be pursued with the there was light?" Who “spake, and it was same eagerness as before. And “as it was done; commanded, and it stood fast?" "Is in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the any thing too hard for the Lord ?" Let the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they work be—what it really is the greatest of drank, they married wives, they were given all miracles; we have an Agent more than in marriage, until the day that Noah entered equal to the execution of it: “He shall into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed change our vile body, that it may be fashionthem all.” Many of the Lord's people too ed like unto his glorious body, according to will be found alive; and perhaps they will be the working whereby he is able even to subdue much more numerous than at any former pe all things unto himself.” riod. Now in what manner will these be dis! Finally, observe the signal : “ At the last posed of? This is what the Apostle professes trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the to teach

dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we “Behold,” says he, “I show you a mys- shall be changed !" When the Lord came tery.” He means a secret: something un- down on Horeb to publish the Law, "the known before; unknown to the Corinthians, voice of the trumpet waxed exceeding loud." and it is likely unknown to himself. But, By the sound of the trumpet the approach of probably, while reflecting upon this subject, kings has been announced. Trumpets are and thinking what would be the destiny of used in war. Judges in our country enter those that should reach the end of time, he the place of assize preceded by the same was informed, by inspiration, that they should shrill sound. And those who have witnessed not die, but be transformed.

the procession well know what an awe it “We shall all be changed.” We are al- impresses, and what sentiments it excites. ways varying now. We never continue in All feel; even those who are not to be tried one stay: what vicissitudes do we experience catch a powerful sympathy. But think of in the lapse of a few years in our conditions, the condition of the poor prisoners, whose fase in our connexions, in our very frame! But hangs in suspense, and is now going to be dewhat a change is here—a change from time to cided !- What are their agitations, and foreeternity, from earth to heaven, from the com- bodings, when they hear the judge is enterpany of the wicked to the presence of the ing! But here is a trumpet whose clangoor blessed God; from ignorance to knowledge; will be heard for thousands of miles louder from painful infirmities to be presented than a million thunders—which will awaken faultless before the presence of his glory all the dead, and change all the living-cause with exceeding joy !" But the change prin- heaven and earth to flee away—and leave us cipally refers to the body : “ for flesh and all before the Judge of the universe! blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; And what says Peter in reference to all neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."| this?"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye

« AnteriorContinuar »