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HOLINESS OF LIFE.
“ Waar reward shall I give to the Lord for his mighty marvellous loving. kindness to this earthly body? These eyes, if they be admitted into heaven, will look upon the holiness of the Lamb—will see the brightness of his glorymarvel at the majesty of his Deity—and almost be blinded in the excessive glories of the heavenly host. Shall I, then, fix these eyes upon the vain and unholy objects of the earth? And shall I fill them with intemperance, cruelty, lust, and so unfit them for the contemplation of the spiritual splendour of God's unblemished purity? These ears—they are hereafter to listen to the harps of the angels, to hear the unceasing songs of gratitude of the redeemed; shall I turn them away, then, from this their holiest and most honourable occupation, and bid them drink in with greedy readiness the tempting accents of the charmer who would charm me from the ways of righteousness? Or shall I let them unhallow my soul by being open to the deceitfulness of that philosophy which would take away my heart, and destroy its delicacy by listening to the voice of wit, and jesting, and licentious thoughts ? Shall I take the members which are predestined to the holy office of serving before God's unblemished throne, and make them the members of a harlot, the instruments of uncleanness, and the slaves of vice and licentiousness ? Shall this tongue which is hereafter to cry out with all the saints, .Glory and blessing, honour and praise, be for ever and ever to the Lamb that sitteth on the throne,' shall I degrade my tongue by lying, by deceit, by licentious conversation? Shall I corrupt the tongue which is to praise God, into impurity, and blasphemy, and slander, and riotous mirth? Shall that which is intended for a blessing in heaven, be made on earth the instrument of cursing? Shall these hands which are to be liftec up to God in his holy place, be taught the ways of wickedness, of theft, and murder, and cruelty, and revenge, on earth? Shall these organs of life, which are to eat and drink in the presence of the Lord, be corrupted with gluttony and drunkenness? Shall any one part of that body which shall hereafter converse with angels, which hath been honoured with the indwelling of the Divinity which now rules in heaven-shall that body be converted into a temple of God's worst enemy, and of man's worst enemy, and the worst enemy of all that is happy and good—the prince of darkness, the author of misery, and of all that is miserable, and vile, and guilty, and to be despised ? God forbid. The body is to be the Lord's; and as the body is to be the Lord's let it glorify the Lord. Let me be doing while I can, and as long as I can. Fasting is hard; yet, if meat offend my God, I will eat no meat as long as I live. If he require chastity, I will give it. If he ask temperance, I will check my appetites; if purity, why I will even close my eyes lest they should look on the cause of temptation. In all things, since God has given us such glorious hope, I will endeavour to sanctify myself, through grace, for the great end of my calling, the entire devotedness both of my body and soul, that both my body and soul may be fitted to stand up in his holy presence, being justified, washed, and glorified by the blood of my Saviour, Jesus Christ. —Rev. C Benson, A.M.
REV. W. JAY,
u That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit tie
promises."-HEBREWS, vi. 12,
There are a great variety of books in the world. Some of them are blameable enough, tending only to produce infidelity, profligacy, and wretchedness in the world. Some are of a character to do neither good nor evil; unless indeed by the harm they occasion in consuming the time in writing and reading them. Some are addressed to our fancy and feelings, and afford entertainment: some treat of the arts and sciences, adding to the dignity of our race, and ministering to the improvement and comfort of human life.
But here is the Book of books; no work can be compared with this. This book is written by the finger of God, and God himself has “ magnified his word above all his name. Here we have all truth without error ; and all good without evil. Here we have a standard of faith and a rule of worship; the foundation of our hopes and the charter of our everlasting privileges; the map of the region of the city of life? It addresses every passion of our bosom, and every principle of our nature. Here we have histories to charm our attention, doctrines to enlighten our understanding, commands to regulate our conduct, motives to awaken us, threatenings to alarm, promises to encourage, and, to approach our subject, examples to excite. And is there a person here this morning but has felt the truth of the common adage, that “ Example is above precept?" The principal of these examples is indeed the example of the Lord of life and glory; he who is “the image of the invisible God, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." But, in subordination to this, the Scriptures abound with other examples, also variously useful. We have the example of the servants as well as of the Master, of the disciples as well as of the Lord: and hence, says the Apostle, in the passage before us, “ Be not slothful, but followers of them, who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises."
We must keep five things in view this morning: we must first endeavour to ascertain OUR MODELS. Whom are we to follow? Them “who through faith and patience inherit the promises." But who are they? The Apostle generally refers to the patriarchs, and he particularly alludes to Abraham with Isaac and Jacob, the beirs with bim of the same promise, for “they looked for the city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God." “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare
plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." With these men, my brethren, we have an intimate conn
onnexion, remotely as they lived from us as to time and place : “ They that are of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Now we, then, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed, and was immediately knighted on the field, and surnamed by the name of Israel ; and such honour have all the saints; he never said of the seed of Jacob, “ Seek ye mc in vain.” “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and be glorified Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation."
You are told that when the beggar died he was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom: and our Lord said, upon the conversion of the centurion, “ Many shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God;" all forming one family, all living together in our heavenly Father's house, where there are many mansions.
“ The saints on earth, and all the dead,
but one communion make,
And of his grace partake." Passing over successive generations, dessing by princes, and heroes, and statesmen, and scholars, the Apostle goes back to the very early ages of the new world, and points us to a small company of rustics and shepherds, distinguished only by their communion with God, and their obedience to him. Yes, but this is every thing in the view of the Supreme Being, and it should be so in our estimation too; and we hope the days are coming when men will be judged, not by their adventitiousness, but by their real worth, by their intellectual; moral, and religious character, when, in our eyes, vile persons, however rich, shall be condemned, and we shall honour them that fear the Lord, however poor. For the righteous are the excellent of the earth; they are more excellent than their neighbours: it is for them that kingdoms are preserved or delivered from judgment-it is for them God confers and continues blessings—it is for them that the earth itself is in being. They are called, observe, “ repairers of the breach, restorers of places to dwell in," and though they were destitute, tormented, and afflicted, the world was not worthy of them. Hence, though Moses when he came to years had the choice of being called Pharaoh's son-in-law, the son of Pharaoh's daughter, yet “ chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt : for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward." Hence David, though a musician, a poet, a hero, a lawgiver, a king, a prophet, yet prayed, " Lord remember me with the favour thou bearest to thy people." What am I saying! Why even Balaam exclaimed, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." These men lived also under a dispensation very interior to our own; while we are the children of the day, they hardly had the dawn; and yet such was their improvement of their means and privileges, that they are deemed, you see, by inspiration, worthy to be held forth as an example to us unto whom the ends of the world are come. We cannot judge of men solely by their situation and external advantages. I have known plants of righteousness fixed in a very unfavourable soil, yet bringing forth more of the fruits of righteousness, than some who were planted in the house of the Lord, and flourished in the courts of our God. I believe some of the Jews who attended the temple in the splendid days of Solomon were not to be compared with Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, though they were only captives in a strange land. Many of those who live under the Gospel economy, never reach, I am persuaded, the spirituality, the devotion, the benevolence and zeal of some of those who lived under the law, and not under grace. The mother who implored the Saviour on the behalf of her daughter, and the centurion who implored the Lord on the behalf of his son, these were not Israelites; and yet with regard to each of them our Saviour said, “ I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” So some have become scholars who were never at school, while others, as Cowper says,
“ Schools have dismissed and colleges untaught."
Thus the first shall be last, and the last first. You will observe, also that these men had their faults and their infirmities, and are never represented in the Scriptures as perfect. But then you see, from the language of the Apostle, their imperfections are not to render us insensible to their excellences ; the evil in them is not to hinder us from following the good that was in them. He has a low, base, envious mind, who is always seeking to discover defects, and who loves to develope and display them. When we find an excellent character, we should admire it as a whole, and never try to take it to pieces. You may be assured that that man has no genius himself who cannot read a work of genius with relish, because he can discover an erratum or a deficiency. Turn to the Scriptural account of those worthies; ihere you will find that God's most eminent servants all had their imperfections, and that they were imperfect in those things that constituted, comparatively, their completeness. But how does God deal with them? Abraham's faith once failed him, and induced him to use prevarication : but yet God has called him “ the father of the faithful.” Moses spake unadvisedly with his lips; yet he is called “the meekest man upon earth.” Job cursed the day of his birth; yet, said God, “ Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” Sara laughed, and denied the accusation, and only uttered one good word on a certain occasion; and this the Holy Spirit has recorded to her honour ; “Even as Sara obeyed Abrabam, calling him lord, whose daughters ye are as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement." You have been reading the address of our Saviour to the seven churches in Asia; have you never remarked. how in each case he seems to labour to find something to eulogize, before he is constrained to condemn? May the same mind be in us which was also in him.
Having ascertained our models, we must, in the second place, consider THEIR PRESENT CONDITION, which is the enjoyment of the inheritance. They “ inherit the promises." God from the beginning has dealt with his people in a way of promise. . He could, you know, have accomplished all the purposes of his mercy and grace in their behalf without having previously announced them. But then, do you not perceive, that they could not have known them; they could not have believed in them; they could not have hoped for them, and pleaded them in prayer ; they could not have made them their song in the house of their pilgrimage.
Many advantages are derived from the promises ; some even in time. Indeed, some of these promises regard the life that now is; but many inore of them regard that which is to come. Few of the promises of God, indeed, are ever completely accomplished in this world : they draw us, therefore, forward and upward. We are saved in hope ; we rejoice in hope ; heaven will fill up every void ; heaven will perfect every thing that concerns us. Heaven will perfect the intellectual life. “ Here we see through a glass darkly; then we shall see face to face : now we know in part; then we shall know even as we are known." Heaven will perfect the spiritual life. We now " groan, being burthened ; " " when we would do good, evil is present with us;" and sin is with us and with all we do: we shall then be presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. Heaven will perfect the social life. Here we dwell in Mesech, and have our tents in Kedar: there we shall join the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven: the spirits of just men made perfect, an innumerable company of angels, Jesus the Mediator, and God the Judge of all. Heaven will perfect the corporeal faculties. What limbs, what senses, what imaginations, shall we have there! Everlasting eyes, everlasting ears, everlasting hands; our youth eternally renewed like the eagle's! What a state must heaven bę, if we take but this one view of it, that it brings us into the possession of all the promises ! “ All the exceeding great and precious promises !" “ To die is gain," says the apostle; and no wonder, if we are to gain all that God has spoken of, and if all that the Scriptures have told us is to be then realized. We talk of Gill as an expositor, and Doddridge as an expositor, and Henry as an expositor O heaven will be the best expositor ; heaven will explain it all, and lead us into all truth.
Now you will observe, also, that this inheritance is a present possession. They “ inherit," not they “shall inherit.” They inherit now the promises. Their bodies have returned to the dust and seen corruption, even before the days of Moses. But what did God say from the bush? “ I am," says he not “I was,” not “I will be,” but “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” “Now," says our Saviour, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living ;" for all live unto him. Can there be a clearer intimation of a separate state, however perplexing it may be to conceive of that state while we are here? Does not the Scripture perpetually imply or express it? How otherwise could we understand the words of our Saviour to the poor thief, “ Verily, verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise ?" This could not be the case as to his body which hung an hour longer, and was then tumbled into Golgotha, the place of skulls ; but there was a spirit in him, and this was immediately glorified on its departure from the body. “Absent from the body and present with the Lord," says the apostle. Does not this intimate an immediate transition ? And does not the apostle say “I long to depart and be with Christ, which is far better," to depart from hence, to depart from the body and