« FöregåendeFortsätt »
love him, because he first loved us. I am such language may be insufferable affectasought of them that asked not for me; I am tion; and is sometimes used by persons who found of them that sought me not: I said, give ample evidence of their not believing it. Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was When show is a substitute for reality, it is called by my name."
generally excessive. Many fish for praise The progress is equally from the same with the bait of humility; and say things source. He who quickens us, when dead in against themselves in hopes that you will trespasses and sins, renews us day by day; contradict them—but be sure never to gratify and enables us to hold on our way, and wax them. It is otherwise with a real Christian: stronger and stronger. Which of you, what he speaks according to his real views and ever be his attainments, would ever reach the feelings. He does not, however, mean that end of his faith, the salvation of his soul, he has been the greatest profligate : but he were he to discontinue the supply of his own knows that sin is to be estimated by its guilt, Spirit? But he does not. We live in the not by its grossness; and he knows more of Spirit and walk in the Spirit. His grace is himself than he can know of others. He can sufficient for us; and in this grace we are only see the actions of others, and not the commanded to be strong. As this laid the greater part even of them, but he can look foundation, so it will raise the superstructure; into his own heart. He knows not but the and he shall bring forth the top-stone there- sins of others will admit of extenuation; and of, with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace, he ought to be willing, as far as possible, to unto it!
excuse; but he knows against what light, and And on his head were many crowns. The advantages, his own transgressions have been expression refers to the universality of his committed, empire : for he is King of kings, and Lord of But, even without this justification of his lords. But it will be also exemplified in the language, Paul may well refer to himself as praises of all the redeemed from the earth. a very signal display of the riches of the SaFor if those, who are called under the preach. viour's grace. To see the exceeding abuning of the word, are said to be the joy and dance of it, observe crown of the ministers, who are only the in- What he once was. He tells Timothy that struinents of their conversion; how much he was a persecutor, a blasphemer, and inmore will they be so to him, who is the Au- jurious. The first time he appears in the thor! O what a multitude of praises will sacred history is in connexion with the muradorn his head-since every believer ascribes der of Stephen ; when, it is said, the witnessto him the undivided glory of his own salva- es laid down their clothes at a young man's tion; when he shall come to be glorified in feet, whose name was Saul. He, probably, his saints, and to be admired in all them that reproved their slackness, and said, “Strip, believe! and from every tongue he will hear and stone him-I'll take care of your raithe exclamation—“Unto him that loved us, ment.” How did this circumstance pain his and washed us from our sins in his own blood, mind, in review; and how feelingly does he and hath made us kings and priests unto God mention it : “ When the blood of the martyr and his Father; to him be glory and domi- Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and nion for ever and ever. Amen."
consenting unto his death, and kept the raiBut, though all are saved by this grace, | ment of them that slew him!" In this cause some individuals seem to be, in a peculiar he continued: “ Many of the saints did I shut manner, the trophies of it: and were it ne- up in prison, having received authority from cessary, we could make, even from the re- the chief priests; and when they were put cords of Scripture, a marvellous selection of to death, I gave my voice against them. And instances. We could mention Manasseh ; I punished them oft in every synagogue, and the dying thief; the murderers of the Son of compelled them to blaspheme : and being exGod; the Corinthian converts: but it is need-ceedingly mad against them, I persecuted less to go beyond our subject. We are re-them even unto strange cities.” And could minded,
he have dismissed their souls to hell as easily II. THAT THIS GRACE IS EMINENTLY DIS- as he deprived them of property, liberty, and PLAYED IN THE CONVERSION OF Paul; “And life, he would have done it gladly. So unthe grace of our Lord," says he, “was exceed- paralleled was his ferocity, that he seemed ing abundant." Never did his heart pity a beyond the possibility of reclaim. They who more undeserving wretch; or his hand un- knew the extent of the Saviour's grace seemdertake a more desperate case.
ed unanimously to despair of him; and when Perhaps you say, this made the Apostle so he assayed to join himself to them, they were humble. It did. But humility is not igno- afraid of him, and drew back, like sheep from rance and folly. Christians are often ridi-the wolf. culed for speaking of themselves in depreci- Again. Observe how he was engaged at ating terms; especially when they call them- the very time of his conversion. Perhaps he selves the vilest of the vile, or the chief of has repented, and reformed : perhaps he is sinners. It is admitted and lamented that begging forgiveness; and is thus preparing himself for the Divine regards. Some have lice. He thus resembled the blind man rebeen called under the preaching of the Word, covered, in the Gospel : “ immediately he rewhen they were far from expecting it. They ceived his sight, and followed Jesus in the have been apprehended under a minister, way." whose doctrine they came to insult, and whose And First. Divine grace produces faith. person they came to injure. The word has Faith is the belief of the Gospel; a firm and reached the heart, and turned the stone to lively persuasion of the truth of the record flesh: they have thrown down the weapons that God has given of his Son, accompanied of their rebellion; and weeping over them, with acquiescence, dependence, and applicaacknowledged the presence of all-conquering tion. It will lead me to have recourse to grace. — Paul was now in a journey of iniqui- him for all I want. It will induce me to ty: he was engaged in open defiance of the make use of him for every purpose he is reSon of God, crucitying him afresh, and put- vealed to accomplish: to enter him as my ting him to an open shame, at the very mo- refuge, to build on him as my foundation, to ment, when the Lord took knowledge of him! follow him as my guide; to regard him as
Observe, also, The manner of his call. He my prophet, to teach me; my high priest, to is not saved in an ordinary way; but his con put away my sin, by the sacrifice of himself; version is illustrated with marvellous and my king, to rule me; my shepherd, to feed. miraculous circumstances. Jesus personally This representation will hardly satisfy those comes down from heaven for the purpose. whose minds are speculative; but it is ScripBut how ? Flashing the lightning and roll-tural. The sacred writers describe faith, ra. ing the thunder? No. He comes down low ther than define it. They hold it forth, not enough to be visible-but no terror clothes in the nakedness of abstraction, but in attrihis brow. He approaches near enough to be butes and actings, by which it is more subject heard-he speaks-in wrath surely?—“O to apprehension. It is, in their language, thou child of the devil I have found thee, O looking to Christ; coming to him; commitmine enemy." No.-Nothing but the ten- ting the soul into his hands against that day. der expostulation, “Saul, Saul, why perse- Secondly, Divine grace will equally procutest thou me? For three-and-thirty years duce love. To whom? To the Saviour himI lived in thy nation-I went about doing self; his name, his word, bis day, bis ser. good-I opened the eyes of the blind—to pa- vice, his ways. To whom? To all his per rents I gave back their children from the ple; as branches of the same household of grave-I healed all manner of sickness and faith ; as parts of the same body, having com diseases among the people. I am Jesus munion with each other; so that, if one bemwhom thou persecutest-the Saviour-of ber suffers, all the members suffer; and if one others--and of THEE!"
member be honoured, all the members rejoice. Trace, finally, what followed. He trembles --To whom? All mankind, so as to desire their and is astonished; but this is not all. His welfare, and to do them good as opportunity heart is changed. He had fallen to the ground offers-determining the exercise of this affeo
-but he now kneels. Behold, he prayeth! tion by their necessities; instructing them if and to the very Being he had so often blas. ignorant; reproving them if vicious; feeding phemed_“Lord, what wilt thou have me to and clothing them if destitute; always re do!" He consecrates his life to his service. membering that we are to love, not in word The lion is turned into a lamb; and a little and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. child leads it. The persecutor is an apostle. “ Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth He is straightway in the synagogue, and his brother have need, and shutteth up his preaches the faith that once he destroyed. bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth Consider the journeys he took ; the sufferings the love of God in him ?" he endured; the sermons he delivered ; the | Thirdly. Divine grace will produce both epistles he wrote; the churches he planted these in the same subjects. In five other and watered: see him, at the close of a life places, as well as in the passage before us, the most laborious and unexampled, the wil we find faith and love in Christ Jesus conling martyr-"I am now ready to be offered, nected together. This must be more than and the time of my departure is at hand." sufficient to show, that the combination is not Contemplate all this, and see, whether the accidental. In fact, there cannot be a more grace of our Lord was not exceeding abun- natural, or a more noble union. dant:" and also if we are not anthorized, Faith, according to the Apostle's order of
III. To observe, that THIS GRACE IS AL- statement, goes before love: for faith preWAYS PRODUCTIVE OF SUITABLE INFLUENCES cedes every thing in religion: it is an original AND EFFECTS. “In faith and love," says the principle; it is the spring from which flow apostle, “ which are in Christ Jesus.” Many all the streams of pious temper and practice: effects followed; but nothing appeared more it is the root, from which grow all the fruits certainly and powerfully than these: faith of Christian obedience and affection. C'sing in opposition to his former unbelief; and love another metaphor, it is considered a founda
in opposition to his former hatred and ma- tion; and we are required to “ build up our. selves on our most holy faith;" and Paul ad-, the humble hear thereof, and be glad. Let monishes Timothy to affirm alway, that they the fearful hear thereof, and be encouraged. “ who have believed” in God, be careful to They need strong consolation, who are feemaintain " good works."
ing for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set But love follows after faith. We are told before them. Let them see, in example as that “faith worketh by love." And how well as in doctrine, that with the Lord there should it be otherwise? Is it possible for me is mercy, and that with him there is plento believe the compassions of the Saviour, teous redemption. and to realize as my own the blessings of his Secondly. The subject comforts the desdeath, and not feel my heart affected ? and pairing. It gives the wine of the Gospel to my gratitude constraining me to embrace them that are ready to perish ; without diluhim, and my fellow-christians, and my fellow- ting the strength of it away, by requiring creatures, for his sake?
conditions to be performed, or qualifications to By the latter of these, therefore, you are to be possessed, to authorize us to trust in his evince the reality and genuineness of the Name. It cries, Behold the Redeemer! How former. “Show me," says the apostle James, mighty to save-and how willing! Neither to a man who imagined he had one of these, the number nor the heinousness of your sins while he was a stranger to the other—"Show exclude you from hope, if they do not keep me thy faith without thy works, and I will you from him; and why should they keep you show thee my faith by my works. What from him ? doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say Ah! says Paul, his grace was exceeding he hath faith, and have not works? can faith abundant to me-ward : and it was designed, save him? If a brother or sister be naked, not to be a wonder, but an ensample : * For and destitute of daily food, and one of you this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warm- Jesus Christ might show forth all longed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them suffering, for a pattern to them which should not those things which are needful to the hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if Sinner! Look at this pattern, and despair it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” It if you can. Rather say, Am I unworthy? is admitted that faith justifies the soul, but So was he. My case is aggravated, and is works justify fa.ih; and what God has joined difficult? So was his. Yet he obtained saltogether, let no man put asunder. Faith vation? So may –and so I must—if his cannot be divine unless it operates in a way word be true.-"Him that cometh unto mel of holy and benevolent affection: “ Beloved, will in no wise cast out." let us love one another: for love is of God; Thirdly. The subject attacks the presumpand every one that loveth is born of God, and tuous-not those who venture to come to him knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth as they are: this would contradict our fornot God; for God is love. If a man say, I mer article, as well as the whole language of love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: the Gospel: but those who think they have for he that loveth not his brother whom he come to him, while they are yet in their sins. hath seen, how can he love God whom he If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. hath not seen ? And this commandment We must judge of the cause by the consehave we from him, That he who loveth Godquences. love his brother also."
We have sometimes been surprised to hear O God! we can never be completely bless-persons speak of their being converted so many ed, till we love thee supremely, and our years ago, and under the ministry of some neighbour as ourselves. Put this precious good man whom they have named. What law into our minds, and write it in our hearts: they were before their conversion we cannot “ for he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, say; it is undeniable what they are sinceand God in him!”
vain and worldly ; proud and envious; coveThe subject, in the first place, admonishes tous and selfish; quarrelsome and revengeful: Christians. It calls upon you, like Paul, to if carried to their grave to-morrow, no widow review the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. nor orphan would shed a tear for them ; Remember where you were, and what you neither would the cause of God or of man were, when he said unto you-Live. Look sustain the least loss. What could they have unto the rock wlience ye are hewn, and to been before their conversion who are all this the hole of the pit whence ye are digged since ? If such is their regenerate state, what This will prove the destruction of pride and was their natural ? ingratitude. It will ask you, Who made thee Be not deceived. To the law and to the to differ from another? And lead you to ask, testimony. Observe the nature of converWhat shall I render unto the Lord for all his sion as it is described in the Scripture: and benefits towards me ?-It requires you, also, remember, that Divine grace is not changed like Paul, to acknowledge as well as review by time or place. It is not only free, but this grace. Review it for your own sakes: powerful. It never leaves you as it finds acknowledge it for the sake of others. Let you; it never finds you in love with holiness, and it never leaves you in love with sin; iti Let us examine what Nature teaches us never finds you with your conversation in hea-concerning death; and then go to the Scrip ven, and it never leaves you cleaving to the ture for additional information. dust. It turns you from darkness unto light; Suppose then there had been no revelation and from the power of Satan unto God. It from God-what does Nature teach us concauses you to pass from bondage into liberty, cerning death? It sees plainly enough that and from death unto life. And though the it is a cessation of our being. The lungs do operation may be gradual, and produce not longer heave: the pulse ceases to beat; the every thing at once, yet, even in its begin- blood pauses and congeals; the eye closes; ning, it decides the state, and gives a bias to the tongue is silent; and the hand forgets her the whole character.
cunning. We are laid in the grave, where Whatever peculiar circumstances may dis- worms feed upon us, and over the spot friend. tinguish one conversion from another, the es- ship inscribes; sence and the effects are the same; and you cannot possess the grace of God in truth, if
“How loved, how valued once, avails thee not;
To whom related, or by whom brgot : you are strangers to faith and love that are in A heap of dust alone remains of thee; Christ Jesus.
"Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be."
So says Nature.
It also teaches us the universality of death.
tion of our senses. It is heard and seen that THE DEATH OF DEATH.
all die: the rich as well as the poor ; kings
as well as subjects; and philosophers as well Our Saviour Jesus Christ hath abolished death. I as fools. It is known that a century sweeps 2 Tim. i. 10.
the globe, and dispossesses of their inhabitants “To them that believe he is precious.” But every cottage, and mansion, and palace, and how precious the sacred writer does not de- temple. It has never been otherwise. One termine. And, my brethren, is it too much to generation passeth away, and another cometh. say, he could not? He is more precious So says Nature. than light is to the eye, or melody to the ear, Nature teaches us that death is unavoidor food to the taste, or wisdom to the mind, able. After the lapse of so many ages, and or friendship to the heart. All words and the disposition there is in man to shun it, if images are too poor to hold forth the estima- he could,—" for all that a man hath will be tion in which the believer holds the Saviour give for his life,”—we may easily and fairly of sinners.
infer, that every expedient has been tried ; But there is one thing we may remark con- and that there can be no discharge in this cerning it—The attachment is not only su- war; that this enemy can neither be bribed preme, but reasonable. He is altogether off, nor beaten off. It is obvious too that the worthy of it; and the wonder is, not that we human frame is weak, and not capable even admire and love him so much, but that we of prolonged duration. Its powers, however love and admire him no more. We have had they have been spared or cherished, soon erbenefactors, and we have heard of benefac-hibit in all proofs of declension: “the days tors; but they are all nothing compared with of our years are threescore years and ten; him.-One thing alone ought to render him and if by reason of strength they be fourinfinitely dear to us-It is, our deliverance score years, yet is their strength labour and from the king of terrors. For, O proclaim it sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. to the ends of the earth, and let all the dy- The keepers of the house tremble, and the ing sons of men hear it-He has abolished strong men bow themselves, and the grinders death!
cease because they are few, and those that Let us consider the enemy and the victory: look out of the windows are darkened; and
I. THE EVIL IN QUESTION-DEATH. II. The the doors shall be shut in the streets, when DESTRUCTION OF IT—HE HATH ABOLISHED the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall DEATH.
rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the I. THE EVIL IN QUESTION-It is DEATH. daughters of music shall be brought low; also We should suppose that this subject was then they shall be afraid of that which is high, very familiar to the thoughts of men, were and fears shall be in the way, and the almond we to judge from the inportance and fre- tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall quency of the event. But, alas! nothing is be a burden, and desire shall fail : because 80 little thought of-So true are the words man goeth to his long home, and the mournof Eliphaz; “They are destroyed from morn- ers go about the streets."-So says Nature. ing to evening: they perish for ever, without Nature sees also that death is irreparable. any regarding it." The subject is irksome It cannot produce a single specimen of posand awful; and the whole study of the mul- thumous life. In vain we linger by the corpse titude is to banish and keep it from their the countenance will no more beam upon minds.
us. In vain we go to the grave it will not
deaf to our cries, deliver up its trust; and the or angels; it is the transmission of it to heaexpectation of the revival of our dearest con- ven or hell. Luke tells us of the death of a nexions will be deemed absurdity and mad- rich man, who was clothed gorgeously, and ness. “There is hope of a tree, if it be cut fared sumptuously every day; and also of a down, that it will sprout again, and that the beggar, full of sores, at his gate. In any tender branch thereof will not cease. Though other book nothing more would have been the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the said, or could have been said, than the fact stock thereof die in the ground; yet through itself: unless the mean burial of the one, and the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth the splendid funeral of the other. But the boughs like a plant. But man dieth and Scripture draws back the vail; and we see wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, the beggar lodged in Abraham's bosom, while and where is he? As the waters fail from the rich man lifts up his eyes in hell, and the sea, and the flood decayeth and dryeth up: calls for a drop of water to cool his tongue. 80 man lieth down, and riseth not: till the Thirdly. Its true cause. The Scripture heavens be no more, they shall not awake, shows us that man was not created mortal; nor be raised out of their sleep." All have and that mortality is not the necessary conjourneyed this way; but from the bourn no sequence of our original constitution; but is traveller has returned.So says Nature. the penal effect of transgression: “In the
We may also learn from it that death is day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely uncertain in its circumstances; and that no die. By one man sin entered into the world, man knows the place, the time, the manner, and death by sin, and so death hath passed in which he shall expire.—So far Nature upon all men, because all have sinned. In goes; but not a step farther. So much it tells Adam all die." us; but it can tell us no more. Here the Fourthly. The true remedy. What! Is Scripture takes up the subject, and furnishes there a remedy for death? «What man is all the additional aid we need.
| he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall If it be objected, that the generality of the he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave ? heathen have had some other views of death No man can redeem his brother, nor give to than those which we have conceded, and had God a ransom for him; (for the redemption of even notions of an existence beyond the grave their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for -let it be observed, that the world always ever;) that he should still live for ever, and had a revelation from God; and that when not see corruption." And is there then a mankind dispersed from the family of Noah, cure for death? What is it? Where can it they carried the discoveries along with them: be found ?-Who was the Mercy promised to but as they were left to tradition, they be the fathers? Who is called the “Consolacame more and more obscure; yet they yield-tion of Israel?” Who is our hope? Who ed hints which led to reflections that other said, “I am the resurrection and the life: he wise would have never occurred. And if wise that believeth in me, though he were dead, men, especially from these remains of an ori- yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth, and ginal revelation, were led into some specula- believeth in me, shall never die ?" Who said tions bordering upon truth, it should be re to his hearers, “If a man keep my sayings membered, that in a case like this, as Paley he shall never see death ? He hath abolished observes, nothing more is known than is death."-But let us, . proved; opinion is not knowledge, nor con- II. Consider this DESTRUCTION—For does jecture principle. We, therefore, need not not death continue his ravages? Does he not hesitate to say that, separate from revelation, fall upon the people of God themselves? nothing either would or could have been Where then is the proof of this abolition ? known concerning death-but that it ends Or how is it to be understood ? our being-and is universal in its prevalence It is undeniable that Christians themselves -unavoidable by any means in our power are subject to the stroke of death as well as irreparable in its effects and uncertain as to others. God might have translated them all the time and mode of its approach.
to heaven, as he did Enoch and Elias. But it But how much more does the Scripture does not comport with his wisdom: and it is teach? Here we learn,
easy to see that it would have made the difFirst. Its true nature. To the eye of sense ference between the righteous and the wicked death appears annibilation; but to the eye of too visible; it would not have accorded with faith it is dissolution. Faith knows that there a mixed state of obscurity and trial, where is a spirit in man; and that when the dust “all things come alike to all, and no man returns to the dust, whence it was, the spirit knoweth love or hatred by all that is before returns to God who gave it.
him.” If translation had been the substitute Secondly. Its true consequences. Very for dissolution, there would have been no dylittle of death falls under the observation of ing in faith ; which is one of the noblest exthe senses; the most awful and interesting ercises and triumphs of divine grace. part is beyond their reach. It is the state of I am unwilling to forego any exemplificache soul; it is the apprehension of it by devils tion of the subject: and, as Bishop Horne