« FöregåendeFortsätt »
oppose the affections of man. But whatever God ordains as a guide of life, or a rule of duty, is invested with his own purity, and by that purity it is opposed to the corruptions of human nature; and its demands are inconsistent with the wishes, and repugnant to the desires, of the unrenewed and carnal mind. As, therefore, the gospel of Jesus Christ, being a more perfect dispensation than the law of Moses, claims our reverence as the pure and spiritual message of a holy God, so also may we find, that the spirit of its moral precepts, the demand of vnbroken affection and allegiance to its almighty Author, are more at variance with the natural corruption of the heart, and generally make less impression upon the mind, than the minor distinctions of sects or parties, the asceticism of the enthusiast, the shibboleth of the visionary. The reproof which Jeremiah was commissioned to bear to the people of Judah, is not inapplicable to thousands in these our days. The zeal and earnestness, with which many persons amongst us adopt the views, and defend the principles, and observe the commands of self-appointed and visionary teachers, formsindeed a painful contrast, with the apathy and indifference exhibited towards the ordinances of God himself, towards the promises and privileges of our common Christianity, or towards the sober and consistent institutions of our own apostolical church. Well might a prophet of God stand up amongst ourselves, and utter the language of complaint against us, “ The words of those who lead you astray after lying vanities are performed; but my ordinances are neglected, saith the Lord; my word, in its simplicity, is abandoned, my holiness, in its purity, is despised.”
It will be said, and it must be granted to be true, that Christianity looks beyond the outward form, to the inward devotion and feelings of the soul. External ordinances may, and too often do, leave the heart untouched ; they become matters of routine and habit; they afford not always a satisfactory estimate of the inward feelings, nor are they an accurate measure of the true piety of the worshipper. Alas, for the weakness of human naturel Alas, for the deceitfulness of the heart that can thus poison even the wells of salvation! But though the formalist may appear among the worshippers of God; though the hypocrite may kneel even at the table of the Lord; though this attendance can be no evidence of the existence of piety, where in fact it does not exist ; it would still be the extreme of folly to say that outward ordinances are therefore useless; or that the communication of spiritual blessings, which is indeed closed to the false professor, may not be open, in all its rich abundance, to the humble and faithful Christian. It is to be feared, that little indeed of the
spirit of true religion animates the heart of him, who habitually neglects the ordinances of Christ. Few and simple as they are, their simplicity does not render them less worthy of observance : their fewness is no argument, that the neglect of them will be a venial or slight transgression. The as. sembling of ourselves together, the practice of social and private prayer, the reading and meditation of the word of God, the sacraments of Christ's own ordinance, recommended as they are by the example and the authority of our Saviour and his apostles, are at least entitled to as much obedience and regard, as any human institution, however pure, or however venerable. But when they are propounded to us as the means of grace, as the sustenance of our souls in the Christian life, as our preparation for a heavenly inheritance, where is the high feeling of gratitude for undeserved mercies; where is the eager desire after blessings that can never fade, if we neglect these our inestimable privileges, and sell our birthright of heaven for the vanities of human folly ?
Lay then your hands upon your hearts, my brethren, and each solemnly ask yourselves, “ Are we liable to this reproach ?” Ask, whether the state of society around you gives evidence of that zeal and earnestness in the things of God, which ought to be the distinguishing marks of Christian community. Ask, whether
the neglect of the Lord's-day, argues a spirit of true religious feeling among the people of this land. Ask, whether the habit of leaving religious considerations out of the maxims of social intercourse, or the principles of public legislation, argues much for the influence of these considerations upon the heart Ask, whether the thousands who turn aside from that sacred table, and the very small proportion of our congregations who appear to partake the feast of Christ's abundant love, afford an argument, that the warmth of Christian feeling does indeed animate those who profess the faith of Christ. And when, as you surely must be, you are compelled to blush for those around you, ask of your own hearts separately, how much of this iniquity may be attributed to your own individual conduct; how much of guilt attaches to your own souls, for your participation in disobedience to the laws, and neglect of the ordinances of God.
May God give us grace, to take heed betimes to the warnings and the promises of his word ! May he grant us the aid of his Spirit, that, in keeping his commandinents, we may please him both in will and deed, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BUILDING ON THE TRUE FOUNDATION.
1 Cor. iii. 11-13.
Other foundation can no man lay than that is
laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble ; every man's work shall be made manifest : for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
It was the remark of our blessed Saviour, that “ he came not to send peace on earth, but rather divisions." Yet this was not the purpose of his coming, so much as the consequence of that coming, in the effect of his doctrines upon the perverse and rebellious hearts of men.
It never could have been contemplated as a result of the gospel of peace, that by reason of his reception of the truth, a man's foes should be they of his