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THE DIGNITIES OF THE HEAVENLY INHERITANCE.
It is the saying of the wise man, “ As vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.” This is true of the sorrow of the world; it is still more true of “the sorrow that worketh repentance." The mind of man becomes, in a certain sense, the more sorrowful, and outward circumstances take the hue of the spirit's mood. If the heart be troubled, we draw in the breath of commotion, and respire the elements of sorrow. If the spirit of heaviness be in the bosom, it presses down the body with gloom. When the mind is overspread with grief, the more it is encompassed by mirth, the more it is beclouded and uneasy.
To a soul in this condition, home has no comfort, the sky is but a congregation of sparks, and the morning is but a funeral dirge; and it is easily seen how unlovely every thing appears to a heart that cannot rest. If sorrow has covered our spirits, or marred our peace-if it has destroyed our hopes, or blasted our prospects-nature has henceforward no joy for us: the rose withers, the violet loses its perfume, the floating song excites to tears, and the spangled robe whitens to a shroud.
But when earthly pleasures fail, religious pleasure begins: when the joy of the world expires, the joy of salvation triumphs ; when the confidence of time crumbles to dust, the hope of the Gospel raises its majestic pillars above its ruins, and beams with celestial light, being written over with everlasting love. Spiritual hope and spiritual joy, are hope and joy in all places and at all times—in prosperity the crown, in adversity the balm—in prosperity the delight, in adversity the shelter from the storm. In all cases the Gospel can impart joy and satisfaction to the mind, and can take the sting out of every suffering. Hence we see the propriety and the wisdom of the Apostle's placing before them such a phrase as this, when addressing “ the strangers,” scattered as they were, forlorn as they were, and outcast as they were "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
In immediate position these words connect themselves with the words “lively hope" in the former verse ; and they certainly indicate the object of that hopeman inheritance that admits of no touch of death, a hope which lives for
But in the legitimate connexion the words are connected with “ begotten again.” And here is a sentiment most honourable and most ennobling. The Apostle says we are born again—not to a life of suffering or sorrow-not to a life of hazard or meanness~no, nor even to a life of holy obedience, and humble faith, and inspiring expectation; but “to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." This is the very element of the new creature; this is the undoubted right, and his sure destination. As children we are by nature born into this world to be heirs of it as soon as circumstanoos allow. We are born as new creatures into the church in order to have its offers ours. As children of men, we say, we become heirs of this earth, its scenes, and resources, and objects, and pursuits. It was formed and garnisker! for our dwelling; and so far as we do not betray ourselves—if we do nct betray our reason and sense, and sacrifice our virtue, and become the servants of iniquity unto iniquity, the treasures of this earth pour themselves at our feet, its beauties assemble themselves before our eyes, and its honours invest our condition. In like manner we are born into the Christian church as children of God, by an equal right and a superior title, by the gracious appointment and sovereign will of the Most High-the appointment and the will being confirmed and sustained by the oblation and sacrifice of his only begotten and beloved Son. As children of God, therefore, we are heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ in the inheritance of God-an inheritance which is o incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
Do we believe this, my Christian friends? Do we realize this view of the case ? Are we satisfied that we stand in this relationship to the Most High? Are you, my hearers, the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty? If so, then in virtue of your birth-right, in virtue of your relationship, you are heirs of that inheritance which is given us : and that inheritance demands our joy.
But it may happen-as it does with respect to many on earth of high estate who commence their existence as heirs of wide dominion and majestic sway, who are, notwithstanding, in their nonage, without any idea of their privileges, and without any appreciation of their rank, and without any conduct worthy of their distinction, that by and bye, as they grow up they take in by degrees the sense of their relationship, and the height of their elevation, and the range of their sway, and gradually become instinct with the inspiration of their high estate, and assume an important bearing worthy of their condition. Even so, my fellow Christians, you may continue, for some time in a state of inferiority, in a state of pupilage, in a state of minority, and have very little sense of your real distinction, and very slender appreciation of your high rank. But sure y it should be yours to grow in the knowledge of this honour, and to walk in some measure worthy of the high vocation wherewith you are called. It should be yours to have your minds enlightened to a full apprehension of your condition, knowing the hope of your calling, and the riches of the glory of your inheritance which is reserved in the heavens for you; whence you should be .ooking for the Son of God, for the Saviour, “who shall change your vile bodies that they may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself."
Rev. G. LEGCE.
THE SAVIOUR THE GREAT “I AM.'
REV. T. MORTIMER, B.D.
ST. MARK'S CHURCH, PENTONVILLE, MARCH 20, 1836.
"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the
children of Israel, I am hath sent me unto you.”—Exodus, iii. 14. “ Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I ain"
John, viii. 58.
It is not a little remarkable, that these two passages, which mutually explain and confirm each other, should both have been brought before us by the church in her service this day. I am not disposed to regard such a coincidence as being accidental; it might have been accidental if it had occurred in the second lesson for the day, instead of the Gospel for the day; as you are well aware that the order of the second lesson follows the day of the month, and that the order of the Gospel follows the Sunday. They came therefore together, not, I apprehend, by accident. I conceive that our pious Reformers, in making this selection, designed that these two passages should come together, the one in the first lesson for the morning service, and the other in the Gospel appointed for the day.
“What, then," it may be you ask, “is the design of the preacher in taking two texts instead of one ?" Because, brethren, these two texts must stand or fall together; these two texts must explain each other's meaning. The Saviour of the world claims to be the great “ I am.” If his claim be disallowed, then we have no Saviour, and if we have no Saviour we have no salvation; and if there be no salvation for us there is something else for us--the blackness of darkness for ever; expulsion from the presence and the glory of God, and a state of utter, irretrievable, interminable woe: and then, if such be the case, they also that have fallen asleep in Christ have perished, for they fell asleep resting upon him as their hope, their confidence, their dependance, and their trust.
now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
But to-day we come to place every one in his own order; and in doing this we claim for our divine Lord that he be exalted “far above all principalities and powers, and might, and every name that is named, not only in this world but in the world to come, whether they be thrones, or dominious, or principalities and powers." “All things were made by him and for him, (mark that!) and by him all things consist.” All things were created by his creating power ; all things are sustained by his providential care; and man, lost and ruined man, has been redeemed to God by his blood
There is something, then, very interesting, affecting, and instructive, in be. holding the Son of God, not merely in the New Testament, but under the Old. We find him continually speaking unto Moses. We find him subsequently speaking to other distinguished saints. And who was it that thus spake? I answer, it was the second person in the sacred Trinity; a person to whom all homage was rendered, and by whom all homage was claimed. Very early was this seen. Turn to the book of Joshua, the fifth chapter, the thirteenth and following verses : “ And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand : and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" Joshua had the true heart of a soldier; he was afraid of no man; he was now commander of the forces; he was placed over the hosts of the Lord, and knew the dignity and responsibility and duty of the state in which he was. He therefore, conscious that he was led by God in the way in which he was going, boldly advanced towards this mysterious stranger, and asks him who he is : “ And he said, Nay; but as captain of the hosts of the Lord am I now come.” Now the soldier knows his place as a worshipper : now the leader and commander of the hosts of the Lord falls into the dust: “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, what saith my lord unto his servant ? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so." And then, according to our division, the chapter closes most inappropriately; for the next chapter, the sixth, contains an account of what this mysterious stranger, who came thus as the commander of the Lord's host, commanded Joshua. If you begin at the thirteenth verse of the fifth chapter, and read on, without making that pause, you will still more clearly understand who this person is : for he is called “the Lord.” “ And the Lord"—that is Jehovah, “said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.” “I have done this
What, then, is the first thing that we have to notice from the words of my text? I answer, that the “ I AM" of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New. Equal to the Father as touching his Godhead, though inferior to the Father as touching his manhood. God gives his name to Moses as the "I Am.". wit merely as the self-existent God,
" Who sits on no precarious throne ;
Nor borrows leave to be;" Not merely, I say, the self-existent God, but the “1 am," and "all my people know me. T'here is my name ; bring it to meet your wants, and your wants shall be all supplied before that name. We shall have occasion, before we have done, to advert more at large to this encouraging and comforting view of the subject. The prous Bishop Beveridge, I speak with reverence, plays upon this beautiful nama in his “ Church Music and Heavenly Bells.” He brings before us the wants ana necessities of the church in travelling through the wilderness. “ Are they weakness? 'I am' strength. Are they sinners ? • I am grace. All that they need he is able to supply out of the riches of his fulness; out of the riches of his fulness in glory; out of the riches of his fulness in glory by Christ Jesus."
But, mark, the second point that I would notice is this, that the Christ of the New Testament is the “I Am” of the Old. O it were a great mistake; but a mistake into which vast numbers fall, to suppose, that the Lord Jesus, the second person in the sacred essence took no interest in the concerns of his church in our lower world, until he was born as a babe in Bethlehem. It is his priority of existence, combined with his priority of essence, that leads us Christians to see that he ever cared for his church. He was the Shepherd that watched over Israel in all its wanderings; he was the Leader and Commander of the people. By his direction the troops of the Lord marched, and at his direction they halted. Mysteriously he was with them, as in the case of Joshua, in the appearance of a man; at other times without any direct appearance, speaking audibly to Moses, and directing him in the way that he
Perhaps, however, some of you may be ready to say, “What reason have you, Sir, for supposing, that this mysterious person, who appeared to Joshua by the plains of Jericho, to whom he offered divine honours—and which divine honours," I beg you to notice, “ were by that mysterious stranger received what leads you to imagine, Sir, that this was rather God the Son than God the Father ?" My reason is this : our Lord Christ hath told us; and he' of course must be an authority in such matters, “ No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared "--or revealed—“ him." O then, how interesting is it to trace the travels of the children of Israel, and to find the Saviour in the church that was in the wilderness-mark, in the church that was in the wilderness—to see him leading the people on; bearing with them: sometimes called the great “ Angel of the covenant;" at other times called “the Messenger of God;" at other times the “Leader of the Lord's host," as in the case noticed before Jericho. Now in all these cases the second person in the adorable Trinity, our divine Lord, is to be regarded, honoured, and worshipped. And yet is it not an awful thing, is it not a monstrous thing, is it not a dreadful thing to say, that when this adorable Lord actually—(not merely apparently, not merely took upon himself the appearance of a man, which he did when he appeared to Joshua before Jericho), but fifteen hundred years after, when he actually took flesh and came into the world—for “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father;" (what words are they!) There is royal dignity and style with a witness ; and cursed be the witness that shall attempt to declare, that he is not the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of the Father: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha." But I say, what a dreadful thing it is, that when he came, instead of his character being recognized and his claim allowed, his character was unknown and his claim was disallowed.
And mark, the order of the Jewish law for a blasphemer was, that he should be stoned to death: and the Jews in their ignorance and madness, not believing the royal character of our Saviour, when that Saviour laid a claim, such as no mere man could do without the grossest absurdity, as well as the vilest impiety and blackest blasphemy, when that Saviour laid claim to this—that he existed before Abraham, which patriarch Abraham had been dead and in his grave for many hundred years before-when the Galilean peasant, the man who was