« FöregåendeFortsätt »
time to spare for them.” And yet year
And yet year after year, like successive sea waves, is bearing you, whether you
like it or not, to the judgment-seat of God. And, monstrous absurdity! terrible anomaly! you have never entertained the startling question, “What will be the end of me? Whither am I going? Is it to hell or to heaven: is it to joy unspeakable and full of glory, or is it to where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched ?” Indecision upon this subject is a crime, but thoughtlessness is absolute insanity.
To think of all subjects but the great one — to have one's mind made up upon all questions but the mightiest and most momentous of all!—I appeal to rational men for a verdict-judge ye. In truth the nature of this gospel, and the claims of Christ, are such that it is impossible that you can be neutral. If Christianity be not true, its pretensions are so great, its claims so magnificent, its assertions so dogmatic, that if not inspired truth, it is the most stupendous imposture that was ever palmed upon mankind. I respect the man - I deeply deplore the result, but I respect the man — who says, “I believe there is no God; I believe the Bible is a fable; I believe Christianity is a dream.” Make up your minds, examine, weigh, and if you come to that conclusion I will pity you for your terrible mistake, I will try to undeceive you, and pray for you that you may become wiser ;-yes, there is sense in this : but if you hear those momentous questions, and hear Sunday after Sunday those solemn and stirring subjects which angels cannot behold in apathy, and which men, the subjects of them, ought to be stirred to the depths of their souls by the very sound of,—I say, if you hear these subjects Sunday after Sunday, and remain, not undecided, but positively thoughtless, I have no language strong enough to deplore your criminality, or to express your insanity. Deliberate rejection of the Bible is a consistency-an awful consistency, yet a consistency still; but disregard of the claims of Christianity, is altogether unjustifiable in the sight of man, or in the presence of God.
Let me ask, therefore, Have you thought of Christ? Have you put this question to yourselves? Have you given as much time to the claims put forward for the gospel of Christ, as you have given to the investigation of an interesting problem, to the study of a leaf or the petals of a flower, to astronomy, to literature, to poetry, to politics? Have you given as much time to the study of the gospel, as you have given to the arrangement of a drawing-room, to the composition of a scrap-book, or other study proper in its place, that pleased, and interested, and instructed ? Have you determined to ascertain wbat this Book is, whence it came, how it can be explained, whether He who is its Alpha and its Omega be what the preacher says he is, or a deceiver of the people? If you have not, your responsibility is great indeed. The Atheist even will not be condemned for his atheism, but for not expending upon the study of the evidence of a God, and the claims of Christ, the time he has expended in far inferior and subordinate things. The thoughtless man, who concludes that Christianity is untrue, will not be condemned simply for rejecting the gospel, but for having exercised a care, an anxiety, and a caution about the things of this life, one tithe of which he never expended on the momentous things of God, the soul, eternity, and a judgment-seat. In these remarks there is the strongest reason.
It is not fanaticism it is common sense; it is not extravagance - it is the plainest deduction of every-day reason.
We have thus analyzed the word “think” in the sense of meditation, investigation, or discussion of the claims put forward by the gospel; but the word translated “think," is used in Scripture in the sense of esteem. “What do you think of Christ ?" or, how far do you esteem him as the greatest, the wisest, the best of beings~the only name given among men whereby you can be saved ? If you have right thoughts of Christ, those thoughts will embody themselves in ardent and enthusiastic esteem of him; if you believe that Jesus is what he assumes to be, that He has done what the Scripture declares, that he came from a height of glory to which imagination never soared, and descended to a depth of sorrow, of agony, and woe, , that human plumb-line never fathomed; if you believe that all this was for you--sinners, his enemies,-your thoughts, as such, will end in the warmest esteem, and that esteem will give colouring and direction to the whole current and character of your personal, and social, and eternal life. Do you esteem him, do you enthrone him in your hearts? When any question of conduct is put before you, do you discuss it in his light? When a line of duty is submitted to you, do you say, not, Will this please this great man? Will that conciliate that powerful party ? but, Is it consonant to the mind of Christ? Will it bear inspection in his light? Tested by his word, will it stand? And if
that you must answer in the negative, then remember, “He that loveth father or mother better than me, is not worthy of me;" but, on the other hand, “He that has given up houses and lands, and friends, and brethren, for my name's sake, shall have in this world a hundredfold, and in the world to come life everlasting.” Jesus asks not the compliments of the head, or the cold and freezing convictions of the reason; but the warm, the cordial, the affectionate feelings of the heart. It is the fashion to compliment Christianity; it is the few and far between, we fear, that live Christianity. It is weary with the compliments of the courteous; it demands the acceptance and hospitality of the earnest souls of all mankind : and they that esteem not Christ as the chiefest, the greatest, and the best, have not right thoughts of him; and these are not right because they have not carefully and prayerfully weighed the claims he puts forward, and the grounds upon which they should be based.
If you think aright of Christ, and esteem him as he deserves, you will, under the force and fervour of such deep convictions, be ready to subordinate some things, to sacrifice other things, and to hate more. If you think aright of Christ, and esteem Christ to be what he is, then there are some things you will subordinate. Can you lay all your attainments at the feet of Christ? Can you, if a gifted scholar, lay down all your learning at his feet, and ask to be taught like a little child the way to heaven? If you find in the gospel many things that cross your prejudices, some things that disturb your passions, can you say, nevertheless, “ Christ asks me to subordinate them all, and I can cheerfully; and
if not cheerfully, I can reluctantly do it—but still I can do it?" Can you subordinate prejudices that are old, to truths that are weighty — saving - precious ?. Can you give up the form of worship that you love best, in which Christ is not, for the sake of the form of worship that you love least, because Christ is there all and in all ? Can you prefer the exhibition of a pure gospel from a preacher who has no eloquence, to the exhibition of that which is no gospel, by a preacher whose lips have been touched almost with celestial fire? Can you give up all for Christ, and value a church, a ministry, an ecclesiastical government, a discipline, a ritual, not from its beauty, nor its antiquity, but for this, – that it sets before you Him whom to know is eternal life, and in whom alone you have remission and forgiveness of sins ?
But there are some things that you must sacrifice, as well as
some that you must subordinate. Some perhaps say, “Take this course and you will get a fortune.” If Christ says, “ Take the opposite, and you have only a cross and poverty to expect,” can you decide — unhesitatingly decide ? The meaning of Christianity is not a theological discussion for a Sunday, but a governing principle that is to go with you into every nook of the heart, into every cranny of your home, into every current and winding of private, social, and of public life. You are, if Christians, to look at all questions, and at all subjects, and at all problems, in the light of the gospel of Christ, and in that light alone. Can you, therefore, sacrifice profit for Christ's sake? Can you sacrifice pleasure for Christ's sake? Can you give up your dearest, and