« السابقةمتابعة »
and soul, and strength. He alone shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, who, in this spirit, doeth good unto all men; and who, being for this cause despised and rejected of men, being hated, reproached, and persecuted, rejoices, and is “exceeding glad," knowing in whom he hath believed ; and being assured these light, momentary afflictions, will “ work out for him an eternal weight of glory.”
2. How truly wise is this man! He knows himself ;-an everlasting spirit, which came forth from God, and was sent down into a house of clay, not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him. He knows the world ;—the place in which he is to pass a few days or years, not as an inhabitant, but as a stranger and sojourner, in his way to the everlasting habitations; and accordingly he uses the world as not abusing it, and as knowing the fashion of it passes away.
He knows God;-his Father and his friend, the parent of all good, the centre of the spirits of all flesh, the sole happiness of all intelligent beings. He sees, clearer than the light of the noon day sun, that this is the end of man, to glorify him who made him for himself, and to love and enjoy him for ever. And with equal clearness he sees the means to that end, to the enjoyment of God in glory; even now to know, to love, to imitate God, and to believe in Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.
3. He is a wise man, even in God's account; for " he buildeth his house upon a rock;" upon the rock of ages, the everlasting rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. Fitly is he so called; for he changeth not: he is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” To him both the man of God of old, and the apostle citing his words, bear witness, “ Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish ; but thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail,” Heb. i, 10–12. Wise, therefore, is the man that buildeth on him; who layeth him for his only foundation; who builds only upon his blood and righteousness, upon what he hath done and suffered for us. On this corner stone he fixes his faith, and rests the whole weight of his soul upon it. He is taught of God to say, “ Lord, I have sinned; I deserve the nethermost hell; but I am justified freely by thy_grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; and the life I now live, I live by faith in him, who loved me and gave himself for me :-the life I now live; namely, a divine, heavenly life; a life which is hid with Christ in God. I now live even in the flesh, a life of love; of pure love buth to God and man; a life of holiness and happiness; praising God, and doing all things to his glory.”
4. Yet, let not such a one think that he shall not see war any more ; that he is now out of the reach of temptation. It still remains for God to prove
the grace he hath given : he shall be tried as gold in the fire. He shall be tempted not less than they who know not God : perhaps abundantly more; for Satan will not fail to try to the uttermost those whom he is not able to destroy. Accordingly, “ the rain" will impetuously descend; only at such times and in such a manner as seems good, not to the prince of the power of the air, but to him “whose kingdom ruleth over all.” “ The floods," or torrents, will come; they will lift up their waves and rage horribly. But to them also, the Lord that sitteth above the water floods, that remaineth a King for ever, will
say, “ Hitherto shall ye come, and no farther : here shall your proud waves be stayed.” “ The winds will blow, and beat upon that house,' as though they would tear it up from the foundation : but they cannot prevail : it falleth not; for it is founded upon a rock. He buildeth on Christ by faith and love; therefore he shall not be cast down. He “shall not fear though the earth be moved, and though the hills be carried into the inidst of the sea. • Though the waters thereof rage and swell, and the mountains shake at the tempest of the same:" still he “dwelleth under the defence of the Most High, and is safe under the shadow of the Almighty.”
III. 1. How nearly then does it concern every child of man, practically to apply these things to himself? Diligently to examine, on what foundation he builds, whether on a rock or on the sand ? How deeply are you concerned to inquire, What is the foundation of my hope ? Whereon do I build my expectation of entering into the kingdom of heaven? Is it not built on the sand ? Upon my orthodoxy, or right opinions, which by a gross abuse of words I have called faith? Upon my having a set of notions, suppose more rational or scriptural than many others have ? Alas! what madness is this ! Surely this is building on the sand, or rather on the froth of the sea! Say, I am convinced of this: am I not again building my hope on what is equally unable to support it! Perhaps on my belonging to “ so excellent a church; reformed after the true Scripture model; blessed with the purest doctrine, the most primitive liturgy, the most apostolical form of government!" These are, doubtless, so many reasons for praising God, as they may be so many helps to holiness; but they are not holiness itself: and if they are separate from it, they will profit me nothing ; nay, they will leave me the more without excuse, and exposed to the greater damnation. Therefore, if I build my hope upon this foundation, I am still building upon the sand.
2. You cannot, you dare not, rest here. Upon what next will you build your hope of salvation? Upon your innocence ? Upon your doing no harm ? Your not wronging or hurting any one? Well; allow this plea to be true. You are just in all your dealings; you are a downright honest man ; you pay every man his own; you neither cheat nor extort; you act fairly with all mankind : and you have a conscience towards God; you do not live in any known sinh. Thus far is well. But still it is not the thing. You may go thus far, and yet never come to heaven. When all this harmlessness flows from a right principle, it is the least part of the religion of Christ. But in you it does not flow from a right principle, and therefore is no part at all of religion. So that in grounding your hope of salvation on this, you are still building upon the sand.
3. Do you go farther yet? Do you add to the doing no harm, the attending all the ordinances of God? Do you, at all opportunities, partake of the Lord's supper ? use public and private prayer ? fast often ? hear and search the Scriptures, and meditate thereon ? These things, likewise, ought you to have done, from the time you first set your face towards heaven. Yet these things also are nothing, being alone. They are nothing without the weightier matters of the law. And those you have forgotten : at least, you experience them not :faith, mercy, and the love of God; holiness of heart; heaven opened in the soul. Still, therefore, you build upon the sand.
4. Over and above all this, are you zealous of good works? Do you, as you have time, do good to all men ? Do you feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction ? Do you
visit those that are sick ? relieve them that are in prison ? Is any a stranger, and you take him in? Friend, come up higher! Do you “prophesy in the name of Christ ?" Do you preach the truth as it is in Jesus ! And does the influence of his Spirit attend your word, and make it the power of God unto salvation ? Does he enable you to bring sinners from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God? Then
and learn what thou hast so often taught, “ By grace are ye saved through faith :” “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but of his own mercy he saveth us.” Learn to hang naked upon the cross of Christ, counting all thou hast done but dung and dross! Apply to him just in the spirit of the dying thief, of the harlot with her seven devils ! Else thou art still on the sand ; and after saving others, thou wilt lose thy own soul.
5. Lord, increase my faith, if I now believe! Else, give me faith, though but as a grain of mustard seed !—But " what doth it profit, ií a man say he hath faith, and hath not works? Can [that] faith save him ?" Oh no! That faith which hath not works, which doth not produce both inward and outward holiness, which does not stamp the whole image of God on the heart, and purify us as he is pure ; that faith which does not produce the whole of the religion described in the foregoing chapters, is not the faith of the gospel, not the Christian faith, not the faith which leads to glory. Oh beware of this above all other snares of the devil, of resting on unholy, unsaving faith! If thou layest stress on this, thou art lost for ever: thou still buildest thy house upon the sand. When “the rain descends, and the floods come, it will surely fall, and great will be the fall of it.”
6. Now, therefore, build thou upon a Rock. By the grace of God, know thyself. Know and feel that thou wast shapen in wickedness, and in sin did thy mother conceive thee; and that thou thyself hast been heaping sin upon sin, ever since thou couldest discern good from evil. Own thyself guilty of eternal death; and renounce all hope of ever being able to save thyself. Be it all thy hope to be washed in His blood, and purified by His Spirit, “who himself bore [all] thy sins in his own body upon the tree.” And if thou knowest he hath taken away thy sins, so much the more abase thyself before him, in a continual sense of thy total dependance on Him for every good thought, and word, and work, and of thy utter inability to all good, unless he water thee every moment. 7. Now
for your sins, and mourn after God, till he turns your heaviness into joy. And even then weep with them that weep; and for them that weep not for themselves. Mourn for the sins and misem ries of mankind; and see, but just before your eyes, the immense ocean of eternity, without a bottom or a shore, which has already swallowed up millions of millions of men, and is gaping to devour them that yet remain! See here, the house of God eternal in the heavens! there, hell and destruction without a covering !-and thence learn the importance of every moment, which just appears, and is gone
for ever! 8. Now add to your seriousness, meekness of wisdom. Hold an even scale as to all your passions, but in particular as to anger, sorrow, and
fear. Calmly acquiesce in whatsoever is the will of God. Learn in every state wherein you are, therewith to be content. Be mild to the good : be gcatle towards all men; but especially towards the evil and the unthankful. Beware, not only of outward expressions of anger, such as calling thy brother, Raca, or Thou fool; but of every inward emotion contrary to love, though it go no farther than the heart. Be angry at-sin, as an affront offered to the Majesty of heaven; but love the sinner still : like our Lord, who “looked round about upon the Pharisees with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts." He was grieved at the sinners, angry at the sin. Thus be thou “angry, and sin not !"
9. Now do thou hunger and thirst, not for “ the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life.” Trample under foot the world, and the things of the world; all
these riches, honours, pleaWhat is the world to thee? Let the dead bury their dead; but follow thou after the image of God. And beware of quenching that blessed thirst, if it is already excited in thy soul, by what is vulgarly called religion ; a poor, dull farce, a religion of form, of outside show, which leaves the heart still cleaving to the dust, as earthly and sensual
Let nothing satisfy thee but the power of godliness, but a religion that is spirit and life; the dwelling in God and God in thee; the being an inhabitant of eternity; the entering in by the blood of sprinkling “within the veil," and "sitting in heavenly places with Christ Jesus!'
10. Now, seeing thou canst do all things through Christ strengthening thee, be merciful as thy Father in heaven is merciful! Love thy neighbour as thyself! Love friends and enemies as thy own soul! And let thy love be long suffering and patient to all men. Let it Le kind, soft, benign; inspiring thee with the most amiable sweetness, and the most fervent and tender affection. Let it rejoice in the truth, where soever it is found; the truth that is after godliness. Enjoy whatsoever brings glory to God, and promotes peace and good will among men. In love, cover all things,-of the dead and the absent speaking nothing but good; believe all things which may any way tend to clear your neighbour's character; hope all things, in his favour; and endure all things, triumphing over all opposition: for true love never faileth, in time or in eternity
11. Now be thou pure in heart; purified through faith from every unholy affection ; “ cleansing thyself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Being, through the power of his grace, purified from pride, by deep poverty of spirit ; from anger, from every unkind or turbulent passion, hy meekness and mercifulness; from every desire but to please and enjoy God, by hunger and thirst after righteousness; now love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy strength!
12. In a word: let thy religion be the religion of the heart. Let it lie deep in thy inrnost soul. Be thou little, and base, and mean, and vile (beyond what words can express) in thy own eyes ; amazed and humbled to the dust, by the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Be serious. Let the whole stream of thy thoughts, words, and actions, flow from the deepest conviction that thou standest on the edge of the great gulf, thou and all the children of men, just ready to drop in, either into everlasting glory or everlasting burnings! Let thy soul be filled Vol. J.
with mildness, gentleness, patience, long suffering towards all men ;at the same time that all which is in thee is athirst for God, the living God; longing to awake up after his likeness, and to be satisfied with it! Be thou a lover of God, and of all mankind! In this spirit, do and suffer all things! Thus show thy faith by thy works; thus “ do the will of thy Father which is in heaven!" And, as sure as thou now walkest with God on earth, thou shalt also reign with him in glory!
SERMON XXXIV.- The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use
of the Law. “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good," Romans vii, 12.
1. PERHAPS there are few subjects within the whole compass of religion, so little understood as this. The reader of this epistle is usually told, by the law St. Paul means the Jewish law; and so apprehending himself to have no concern therewith, passes on without farther thought about it. Indeed some are not satisfied with this account; but observing the epistle is directed to the Romans, thence infer, that the apostle in the beginning of this chapter alludes to the old Roman law. But as they have no more concern with this, than with the ceremonial law of Moses, so they spend not much thought on what they suppose is occasionally mentioned, barely to illustrate another thing.
2. But a careful observer of the apostle's discourse, will not be content with these slight explications of it. And the more he weighs the words, the more convinced he will that St. Paul by the law mentioned in this chapter, does not mean either the ancient law of Rome, or the ceremonial law of Moses. This will clearly appear to all who attentively consider the tenor of his discourse. He begins the chapter, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) [to them who have been instructed therein from their youth,] that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth ?” (What, the law of Rome only, or the ceremonial law ? No surely; but the moral law.) “ For,” to give a plain instance, “ the woman which hath a husband is bound by the [moral] law to her husband so long as he liveth; but it the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress : but if her husband be dead, she is tree from that law; so that she is no adulteress though she be married to another man. From this particular instance the apostle proceeds to draw that general conclusion: "Wherefore, my brethren," by a plain parity of reason, “ye also are become dead to the law," the whole Mosaic institution, “ by the body of Christ,” offered for you, and bringing you under a new dispensation : "That ye should (without any blame] be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead;' and hath thereby given proof of his authority to make the change; "that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” And this we can do now, whereas before we could not : “For when we were in the flesh,” under the power of the flesh, that is, of corrupt nature, (which was necessarily the case till we knew the power of Christ's resurrection,] "the mutions