صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

ritual like his temporal blessings, when, and where, and how he pleases. But it is the rule of his justice, it is the declaration of his mercy, that he judges his accountable creatures according to what they have, and not according to what they have not; and that therefore, in every nation destitute of Gospel light, they that fear God and work righteousness according to the knowledge and ability which they have received, will be accepted by that just and merciful Being who is no respecter of persons. Through the merits of that great sacrifice which was offered for the sins of the whole world, the intercession of him who tasted death for every man, the sincere and honest services of those who never heard of the Saviour's name will be rewarded with degrees of felicity suited to their attainments, in that house in which are many mansions, in that firmament where one star differeth from another star in glory.

But how inestimable the privileges which we enjoy, as members of the Christian Zion, in that glorious light of God's revelation by his Son Jesus Christ, which dispels the gloom and quiets the fears of erring reason, and guiding 'us here to superior virtue, conducts us to more exalted felicity in the kingdom of heaven! What fervours of devout, humble, and holy gratitude should be offered to the Sovereign Lord of the universe, who hath fixed among us the habitation of his holiness, the church, which his presence animates, which his word enlightens, which his ministry and ordinances quicken and purify, which the Spirit of truth and of grace sanctifies and consoles! But,

"Who shall ascend into this hill of the Lord? or who shall rise up in his holy place?"

. Who can be considered as faithful members of the church on earth, worthy to be admitted to the richer and immortal glories that crown the church triumphant ?

"He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; and that hath not lift up his mind unto vanity, nor sworn to deceive his neighbour. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him; even of them that seekethy face, O Jacob."

2. The qualifications of devout members of the church-the necessity of vital universal holiness to qualify his people for the enjoyment of the blessings of his favour, and the everlasting glories of his presence, are expressed in these verses, and is another truth set forth in this psalm.

Holiness, which, seated in the heart, and purifying and animating all its faculties and affections, controls and regulates the whole conduct, is an essential qualification of the members of Christ's church; it is that cardinal point towards which all its institutions and ordinances tend. That the church may be holy, the Redeemer cleanses it by his purifying blood; that the church may be holy, he illuminates it by his divine word; that the church may be holy, he sanctifies it by his renovating Spirit. To quicken its members from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, its divine Head imposes on them, in the initiatory sacrament of baptism, the most awful and affecting vows-binding them to the subjugation of all the passions of corrupt nature, to the acquisition of all the virtues of the new man in Christ Jesus; and he again imposes

[ocr errors]

on them these holy vows, in the apostolic ordinance of the laying on of hands. To excite and nourish its members in holiness, he subjects them to the instructions and the worship of the sanctuary, where their souls are humbled under a sense of sin, urged to the entire renunciation of its unhallowed dominion, and raised, in vigorous faith, love, and devotion, to the contemplation and supreme pursuit of all the virtues that assimilate them to the holy Being whose glory is unvailed before them, and at whose throne they are prostrate, and to the practice of whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely and of good report. To quicken in its members that immortal seed which will spring up and bring forth the fruits of piety and virtue, he, the divine Restorer of the soul, waters it by his lifegiving blood, and strengthens and supports it by his spiritual and invigorating body; demanding and accepting the presentation of the whole man a living sacrifice to him-requiring and receiving the solemn pledge to abound in all those good works which he hath prepared his faithful members to walk in.

To remain then in error when these sacred lights are shed around us; to cleave to the world, and its sensual passions, and its sensual enjoyments, when the most solemn obligations, the most powerful aids, the most persuasive motives call on us to renounce them; to remain in subjection to sin, in thraldom to the great adversary of God and holiness, when the powerful grace of the Redeemer hath begotten us to the means of the most exalted virtue, to celestial and immortal hopes,-is to display the most perverse folly, and the most criminal

[ocr errors]

insensibility and presumption, and to incur the most aggravated guilt. Unholy members of the church, they who name a divine and holy Master, and do not depart from iniquity, but give themselves up to the suggestions and sway of their corrupt passions, are guilty of renouncing the most solemn obligations, and of rejecting the most exalted privileges and hopes. They who, regenerated in baptism, admitted into a state of salvation marked with the blood of Christ, set apart by the seal of his Spirit, adopted as God's children, yet fail to acquire the renewing of the Holy Ghost, the renewing of the mind, shining forth in all holy affections, in all virtuous acts, are guilty of trampling under foot the blood of the Son of God; they are guilty of doing despite to his Spirit; they are guilty of casting from them the glories of their heavenly birthright. "Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy," is the language which may be addressed with more awful and impressive force to Christians, now the "elect of God, than it was to the Israelites, God's chosen of old. Blessed with a purer and more spiritual dispensation, in which all those divine truths and promises which the types and shadows of the law faintly set forth, shine forth in the most splendid lustre; beholding in that precious blood which flowed from the divine victim on the cross, the most tremendous display of divine wrath, and the most splendid, and affecting, and endearing discovery of divine mercy; possessing, in the almighty energies of the Holy Ghost dwelling in them, the abundant, unfailing means of spiritual life, the celestial armour with which to defend and to conquer; and looking to heaven, their home, the great recompense of reward,-Christians are

urged to holiness and virtue by the most solemn Vows, the most powerful aids, the most impressive and persuasive motives. For that heavenly kingdom, where they are to be for ever kings and priests of God-for that church triumphant, where God, the Judge of all, and Jesus, the Mediator of the covenant, unvail their full glory, where the host of angels and glorified spirits unceasingly present their hallowed adorations,-holiness is an indispensable qualification. Into this holy place of the Most High nothing can enter that is unholy and unclean.

"Who then shall ascend into that hill of the Lord? or who shall rise up in that holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; and that hath not lift up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn to deceive his neighbour." He who is pure in the thoughts of his understanding, in the resolutions of his will, in the purposes, and wishes, and exercises of his affections, and in the acts of his life-he whose "heart" is thus the seat of purity, and whose "hands" never defile themselves with iniquity-he who hath not "lift up his soul" to those "vain" and deceitful enjoyments which too often occupy the place of God in the heart, as the idol of its affections; but who, under a habitual reverence of the Lord whom he serves, cherishes the sentiments and strictly observes the rules of piety and justice.

This is that happy man who shall "receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." This is the man who, having, under the guidance and grace of God his Saviour, preserved his heart pure and his conduct upright, shall finally participate in the everlasting

« السابقةمتابعة »