« السابقةمتابعة »
distinguished literary attainment, and these connected with all the graces of oratory, may be rendered subservient to the nobler pursuits of the Christian minister. Laid at the foot of the cross, and consecrated to the Son of God, they give facilities which cannot fail to assist his labours in preaching "Christ Jesus the Lord." But these are not the standard by which you should estimate the worth of his ministry. This is to be valued and chosen only for its constant and faithful exhibition of a crucified Saviour. That ministry which is thus distinguished, demands our veneration, though it may want many of the inferior attractions of human science and human eloquence. It will possess that which is infinitely superior, the eloquence of a heart warmed with the love of Christ, and animated with a holy zeal for the salvation of the souls of men. But where these are wanting, though the preacher speak with the tongues of men and of angels, he becomes as sounding, brass, or a tinkling cymbal." Judge then, brethren, of our ministry,―— not so much by our exterior qualifications or defects, as by our undeviating desire, and our constant aim, to preach to you Christ,— "warning every man, and teaching every man, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
2. As it is the imperative duty of those who preach, to preach Christ Jesus the Lord, we infer it is equally the duty of those who hear, to receive Him. Without this, the most eminent ministry, as to you, will be in vain. It will be what the manna from heaven was to him who refused to gather and to eat it. It is the river of the water of life flowing by, while you, though ready to perish, refuse to drink that you may live. We preach to you Him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. Have you received Him? What was the condemnation of Israel? "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." To them only does this privilege belong. How important then is the question,"Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" It is the command of God, and therefore your duty. It is essential to your salvation, and therefore involves in it your eternal interest; it is the design of the ministry, and therefore requires your immediate attention. Faith cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of God: but, saith the apostle, the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. They heard of Christ, but they did not receive him. He was to them a rejected Saviour. "Take heed, therefore, brethren, lest there be found in any of you the same evil heart of unbelief." By all that is momentous
in eternity, by all that is desirable in salvation,-by all that is imperative in the most sacred obligations,,—as we preach, so we beseech you to receive, "Christ Jesus the Lord."
3. Are you willing to receive Him? We infer from our subject, He is willing to receive you. "He waiteth to be gracious." His gospel is the gospel of invitation; his promise is the promise of mercy, his ministry is the ministry of reconciliation: and every thing combines to dissipate your fears, and to encourage your hope. He is willing to receive you, though guilty, depraved, polluted, and unworthy; willing to perform the part of a Saviour; willing to pardon, to sanctify; to cover you with the robe of his righteousness, and to adorn you with the garments of salvation. "Come unto me,
ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; for him that cometh, I will in no wise cast out."
4. Have you received Him? Remember your obligations, and seek to glorify him. This he requires of you. He makes obedience to his will the test of your love to himself: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." And how is he honoured by your discipleship, but by your apparent conformity to his image? You have received him as your priest; glorify him by implicit reliance on his atonement you have received him as your prophet; glorify him by following his instructions: you have received him as your king; glorify him by submitting to his authority. In a word, "As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.”
Lastly. We infer from this subject, the certain perdition of all who reject Christ. To preach Him, as we have already seen, is to publish the grand remedy of Infinite Wisdom for the salvation of sinners. One of two things, then, must be evident, either there must be some other method by which men can obtain eternal life, or the rejection of this must be followed by eternal death. But what is the fact? Is there any other name given under heaven, or among men, whereby we must be saved? Is there any other sacrifice for sin which can satisfy the claims of inflexible justice? Is there any other righteousness, save that which is found in His perfect obedience, which can magnify the Divine law and make it honourable? there any, but this one Mediator, between God and man, the man Christ Jesus? Is there any other way in which God can be just, and the justifier of the ungodly? If there be not, "How shall we escape if we neglect this great salvation?" What must be the doom of the man who rejects Christ Jesus the Lord; who disdains to trust in His atoning sacrifice; who scoffs at the idea of His imputed righteousness; who denies Him the right of sovereign dominion; and who dares, in the rebellion of his heart, to say unto
Him, "Depart! for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways?" In answer to these inquiries, we make but one appeal. What saith the Scripture? "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for of wrath and fiery indignation, ready to devour the adversary: for he that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
THE HARDENING NATURE AND AWFUL CONSEQUENCES OF
BY JOHN THORNTON.
EXOD. viii. 15.-But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.
THE deliverance of the Israelites from the tyranny and taskmasters of Egypt, furnishes one of the most interesting pieces of history that ever was written. The inspired writers who lived afterwards, particularly the royal Psalmist and the prophets, often refer to it. The period of time, of which an account is given in the Book of Exodus, includes about one hundred and forty years. The events here recorded are of the most momentous and extraordinary kind. We no sooner enter on the perusal of this portion of Scripture, than we behold a train of the most astonishing miracles. The awful voice of God is heard, and the mighty hand of God is seen. If any one then should ask, What end can this history answer to us? nothing were more easy than to reply, It has many strong claims upon our attention : the human mind was formed, and is fitted to contemplate those facts and truths which are calculated to raise its faculties above the trivial and passing events of the moment. "To be ignorant,” said an ancient sage, "of what happened before we were born, is to be always a child." Hence, the propensity to review the past, and anticipate the future, however it may require to be regulated, cannot be suppressed. Of what use is the Pentateuch to us? It illustrates the character and condition of fallen man; it opens an instructive page in the great book of Providence; and it sets before us, in a clear and full display, the power and truth, the justice and mercy, of Jehovah. And besides this general reason, the words of the
THE HARDENING NATURE AND CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.
apostle supply an appropriate answer to the preceding question : "Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we, through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope." How often did our Lord refer the Jews to Moses, whom they professed to revere, for testimonies concerning the Messiah, and the work he was to accomplish! how often did both our Lord and his apostles, draw materials from his writings, to establish and recommend the general principles of religion, which are alike important in every age! All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.
"When Pharaoh saw there was respite, he hardened his heart, and harkened not unto them." Upon these words I shall make some general observations.—
I. I observe, that when God issues out his terrible threatenings against sinners, he is wont to suspend or stay the full execution of his sentence, and give them many an interval for repentance.
A criminal shut up in the condemned cell, is said to be respited; when, by a royal grant, or an order from the king, his punishment is put off from the day appointed. Such a reprieve, as every one knows, may be followed by a free pardon, or it may not: the matter is supposed to hang in suspense, or awful uncertainty, and to depend greatly on the state of the criminal's mind. This practice in the administration of human laws, may serve the purpose of explaining and illustrating the dispensations of providence, or the dealings of God with men. The eternal Jehovah points to the common usages of society, that truth may be rendered more familiar to the mind, and more forcible in its application to the heart. Thus our Lord in his admirable Sermon on the Mount, speaks,— Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing," Matt. v. 25, 26. God has given us his laws to shew us the evil of sin; and to those laws he has attached the most solemn and weighty sanctions. His threatenings are not vain words, whatever careless men may say or think of them. In proof of this, it is proper here to notice, that God generally sends judgments after judgments, which come with darker aspect and heavier burden, as the sinner goes farther and farther on in his iniquities yet between one judgment and another, an interval is allowed for serious reflection,—a new manifestation of mercy is made. Oh! the