« AnteriorContinuar »
renouncing its charms and its predilections, / Now so long as the work of religious inmust learn to have his conversation in hea-struction can be upheld by such analogies ven, and to choose God as the strength of as these,--so long as the relations of civil or his heart and his portion for evermore. All of domestic society can be employed to this flashes plainly and significantly enough, illustrate the relation between God and the through that veil of mysticism which ap- creatures whom he has formed,-so long pears to overspread the general doctrine of as the recollections of daily experience can the preacher; and imparts a forbidding cha- thus be applied to the method of the divine racter to it in the eyes of those to whom administration,-a vein of perspicuity will we are alluding; and they will be glad of appear to run through the clear and rational any pretence to shun a painful and a re- exposition of him who has put all the mist volting contemplation; and they will com- and all the technicals of an obscure theoplain of him on the very ground on which logy away from him. All his lessons will the Jews of old complained of Ezekiel, as run in an easy and direct train. Nor do we a dealer in parables and while much of see how it is possible to be bewildered their antipathy is founded upon his being amongst such explanations, as are sugso strict and so spiritual, and so unaccom gested by the most ordinary doings and modating to the general tone of society, concerns of human society;--and did the one of the charges which will be most fre- preacher only confine himself to such docquently and most loudly preferred against trine, as that God rewards the upright, and him, is, that he is so very mysterious. punishes the rebellious, and upon the im
In the prosecution of the following dis- pulse of that compassion which belongs to course, we shall endeavour in the first place him, takes again the penitent into acceptto state shortly the ground on which the ance, and in the great day of remuneration, religion of the New Testament looks so will give unto every man according to his mysterious a thing to the men of the world, works,—did he only confine himself to and then conclude with a short practical truths so palpable, and build upon it appliremonstrance upon this subject.
cations so obvious, as just to urge us to the I. There are certain experiences of hu-performance of duty by the promised reman life so oft repeated, and so familiar to ward, and deter us from the infraction of it all our recollections, that when we per- by the severities of the threatened punishceive, or think we perceive, an analogy be- ment, and call us to reformation by affectween them and the matters of religion, tionately pleading with us the mercies of then religion does not appear to us to be God, and warn us with all his force and all mysterious. There is not a more familiar his fidelity, that should we persist in obexhibition in society than that of a servant stinate impenitence we shall be cut off from who performs his allotted work, and who happiness for ever, there might be someobtains his stipulated reward-and we are thing to terrify,but there would at least be all servants, and one is our master, even nothing to darken or to perplex us in these God.
interpretations-nothing that would not There is nothing more common than that meet common intelligence, and be helped a son should acquit himself to the satis- forward by all the analogies of common obfaction of his parents,--and we are all the servation, and should this therefore prove children of an universal parent, whom it is the great burden of the preacher's demonour part to please in all things. Even when stration, we should be the last to reproach that son falls under displeasure, and is either him, as a dealer in parables, or as a dealer visited with compunction or made to re- / in mysteries. ceive the chastisement of his disobedience, To attach us the more to this rational there is nothing more common than to style of preaching, we cannot but perceive witness the relentings of an earthly father, that it obtains a kind of experimental counand the readiness with which forgiveness is tenance from the actual distinctions of chaawarded on the repentance and sorrow of racter which are realized in the peopled the offender, and we, in like manner, liable world around us. Can any thing be more to err from the pure law of heaven, have evident than that there is a line of separasurely a kind and indulgent Father to deal tion between the sensual and the temperate, with. And, lastly, there is nothing more between the selfish and the disinterested, common than that the loyalty of a zealous between the sordid and the honourable; or and patriotic subject should be rewarded by if you require a distinction more strictly the patronage, or at least by the protection religious, between the profane and the deof the civil magistrate,--and that an act of cent keeper of all the ordinances? Do not transgression against the laws should be the former do, what, in the matter of it, is visited by an act of vengeance on the part contrary to the law of God, and the latter of him who is a terror to evil-doers, while do, what, in the matter of it, is agreeable a praise to such as do well. And thus it is, to that law? Here then at once we witness too, that we are under a lawgiver in heaven the two grand divisions of human society, who is able both to save and to destroy. I in a state of real and visible exemplification
ciety;-and did the
-and what more is necessary than just to the degree of their disobedience, are wretch-
has told us all the works and all the efforts It is needless to say how much this pro- of unrenewed nature are of no avail in cess is reversed by many a teacher of gaining us acceptance, and that he has laid Christianity. It is true that they hold out the burden of our atonement on him who most prominently the need of some great alone was able to bear it; and he not only transition--but it is a transition most mys- | invites, but he commands, and he beseeches teriously different from the act of crossing us to enter into peace and pardon on the that line of separation, to which we have footing of that expiation which Christ hath just been adverting. Without referring at made, and of that righteousness which all in fact to any such line, do they come Christ hath wrought out for us; and he forth from the very outset with one sweep- further declares, that we have come into ing denunciation of worthlessness and guilt, the world with such a moral constitution, which they carry round among all the va- as will not merely need to be repaired, but Mielies of character, and by which they as will need to be changed or made over affirm every individual of the human race, again, ere we be meet for the inheritance to be an undone sinner in the sight of God of the saints; and still for this object does Instead of bidding him look to other sin- he point our eyes to the great Mediator who ers less deformed by blemishes, and more has undertaken, not merely for the forgive.ch in moral accomplishments, than him-ness, but who has undertaken for the sanctisell, and then attempt to recover his dis- fication of all who put their trust in him ; and tance from the divine favour by the imita- he announces that out of his fulness there tion of them, they bid him think of the ever come forth supplies of strength for the awful amount of debt and of deficiency new obedience of new creatures in Jesus that lies between the lawgiver in heaven, Christ our Lord. Now, it is when the and a whole world guilty before him. They preacher is unfolding this scheme of salvaspeak of a depravity so entire, and of an tion, --it is when he is practically applying alienation from God, so deep, and so uni- it to the conscience and the conduct of his Versal, as positively to obliterate that line hearers, it is when the terms of grace, and of separation which is supposed to mark faith, and sanctification, are pressed into off those, who, upon the degree of their frequent employment for the work of these Obedience, are rightful claimants to the very peculiar explanations,- it is when, inhonours of eternity, from those, who, upon I stead of illustrating his subject by those
iere might be some
vore to this ration cannot but peran experimental ( distinctions of cis zed in the percent any thing he mur is a line of copy land the temperat | the disioterat the honourable; ir rtion more than rolane and the doo dinances? Door the matter of LA rod, and the of it is general at once we witnes of human scay, ble exemplificato
analogies of common life which might have | Christianity, bearing evidence upon myself done for men of an untainted nature, but that I have a real part and interest in these which will not do for the men of this cor- things? rupt.world, he faithfully unfolds that econo- There can be no doubt as to the existence my of redemption which God hath actually of such a class and under another text, set up for the recovery of our degenerate there could be no difficulty in finding out a species,-it is then, that to a hearer still in spiritual application, by which to reach and darkness, the whole argument sounds as to reprove them. But the matter suggested strangely and as obscurely, as if it were by the present text is, that if a minister of conveyed to him in an unknown language, the present day should preach as the Apos
it is then, that the repulsion of his nature tles did before him,--if the great theme of to the truth as it is in Jesus, înds a willing his ministrations bé Jesus Christ, and him excuse in the utter mysteriousness of its crucified, --if the doctrine of the sermon be articles, and its terms; and gladly does he a faithful transcript of the doctrine of the put away from him the unwelcome mes- New Testament, there is one class, we sage, with the remark, that he who delivers have every warrant for believing, from it, is a speaker of parables, and there is no whom the word will not return unto him comprehending him.
void,--and there is another class who will It will readily occur as an observation be the willing hearers, but not the obeupon all that has been delivered, that by the dient doers of the word: but there is still a great majority of hearers, this imputation third class, made up of men of cultivated of mysteriousness is never preferred,-that literature, and men of polished and respecin fact, they are most habituated to this table society, and men of a firm secular instyle of preaching, -and that they recognise telligence in all the ordinary matters of buthe very thing which they value most, and siness, who, at the same time, possessing are best acquainted with, when they hear no sympathies whatever with the true spirit a sermon replete with the doctrine, and and design of Christianity, are exceedingly abounding in the terms, and uttered in the shut up, in all the avenues both of their cadence of orthodoxy. Of this we are per- heart and understanding, against the pecufectly aware. The point to carry with the liar teaching of the gospel. Like the hearers great bulk of hearers is, not to conquer of Ezekiel, they feel an impression of mystheir disgust at the form of sound words, teriousness. There is a certain want of but to conquer their resistance to the power adjustment between the truth as it is in Jeof them; to alarm them by the considera- sus, and the prevailing style of their contion, that the influence of the lesson is alto-ceptions. All their views of human life, gether a distinct matter from the pleasant- and all the lessons they may have gathered ness of the song that their ready and de- from the school of civil or classical molighted acquiescence in the preaching of the rality, and all their preferences for what faith, may consist with a total want of obe- they count the clearness and the rationdience to the faith, and that with all the ality of legal preaching, and all the prelove they bear to the phraseology of the dilections they have gotten in its favour, gospel, and all their preference for its minis- from the most familiar analogies in human ters, and all their attendance upon its sacra- society,- all these, coupled with their utter ments, the kingdom of God, however much blindness to the magnitude of that guilt it may have come to them in word, may which they have incurred under the judgnot at all have come to them in power. ment of a spiritual law, enter as so many This is a distinct error from the one we elements of dislike in their hearts, towards have been combating,-a weed which grows the whole tone and character of the peculiar abundantly in another quarter of the field doctrines of Christianity. And they go to altogether, a perverseness of mind, more envelope the subject in such a shroud of deceitful than the other, and perhaps still mysticism to their eyes, that many of the more unmanageable, and against which preachers of the gospel are, by them, resistthe faithful minister has to set himself ed on the same plea with the prophet of old, amongst that numerous class of professors, to whom his contemptuous countrymen who like to hear of the faith, but never ap- meant to attach the ridicule and the ignoply a single practical test to the question, miny of a proverb, when they said he is Am I in the faith? who like to hear of re- a dealer in parables. generation, but never put the question, Am We mistake the matter, if we think that I really regenerated ? who like to hear that the offence of the cross has yet ceased from without Christ they can do nothing, but the land. We mistake it, if we think that may be enabled to do all things through the persecution of contempt, a species of him strengthening them, but never enter into persecution more appalling to some minds the important personal inquiry, Is he really than even direct and personal violence, is strengthening me, and am I, by my actual not still the appointed trial of all who would victory over the world, and my actual pro- ! live godly, and of all who would expound gress in the accomplishments of personal l zealously and honestly the doctrine of
here is still a of cultivated
and reset 7 secularis atters of be - posten ne true spuit exceeding Both of the
st the part e the beards sion of my an wani di as it is in de of their con
Christ Jesus our Lord. We utterly mis- works, conform himself unto that doctrine take it, if we think that Christianity is not of grace by which he is brought to deny uneven to this very hour the same very peculiar godliness and worldly lusts, and to live sothing that it was in the days of the Apos-berly, righteously, and godly in the present tles, that it does not as much signalize evil world. We again ask them, if all this and separate us from a world lying in wick- be offensive to their taste, and utterly reedness,-that the reproach cast upon Paul, volting to their habits and inclinations, and that he was mad, because he was an intrepid if they turn with disgust from the bitterfollower of Christ, is not still ready to be ness of such an application, and can behold preferred against every faithful teacher, and no strength to constrain them in any such every consistent disciple of the faith, -and arguments, and no eloquence to admire in that, under the terms of methodism, and them. With what discernment truly is fanaticism, and mysticism, there is not rea- your case taken up in this very Bible, dy to be discharged upon them from the whose phraseology and whose doctrine are thousand batteries of a hostile and unbe- so unpalatable to you, when it tells us of lieving world, as abundant a shower of in- the preaching of the cross being foolishvective and contumely as in the first ages. |ness, but remember that it says it is fool
II. Now, if there be any hearers present ishness to those who perish: when it tells who feel that we have spoken to them, of the natural man not receiving of the when we spoke of the resistance which is things of the Spirit,--but remember that it held out against peculiar Christianity, on says, if ye have not the Spirit of God, ve the ground of that mysteriousness in which are none of his; when it tells of the gospel it appears to be concealed from all ordinary | being hid, --but hid to them who are lost : discernment-we should like to take our "In whom the God of this world hath leave of them at present with two observa-blinded the minds of those which believe tions. We ask them, in the first place, if not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of they have ever, to the satisfaction of their Christ, who is the image of God, should own minds, disproved the Bible,--and if shine unto them.” not, we ask them how they can sit at ease, Secondly, let us assure the men, who at should all the mysteriousness which they this moment bid the stoutest defiance to the charge upon Evangelical truth, and by message of the gospel-the men whose nawhich they would attempt to justify their tural taste appears to offer an invincible contempt for it, be found to attach to the barrier against the reception of its truths, very language, and to the very doctrine the men who, upon the plea of mysterious of God's own communication ? What if itness, or the plea of fanaticism, or the plea be indeed the truth of God? What if it be of excessive and unintelligible peculiarity, the very language of the offended lawgiver? | are most ready to repudiate the whole style What if they be the only overtures of re- and doctrine of the New Testament, let us conciliation, upon the acceptance of which assure them that the time may yet come, a sinner can come nigh unto him? Now he when they shall render to this very gospel actually does say that no man cometh unto the most striking of all acknowledgments, the Father but by the Son,--and that his even by sending to the door of its most is the only name given under heaven faithful ministers, and humbly craving whereby men can be saved, and that he from them their explanations and their will be magnified only in the appointed prayers. It indeed offers an affecting conMediator..and that Christ is all in all, trast to all the glory of earthly prospects and that there is no other foundation on and to all the vigour of confident and rewhich man can lay, and that he who be-joicing health, and to all the activity and lieveth on him shall not be confounded enterprize of business, when the man who
He further speaks of our personal prepa- made the world his theatre, and felt his Talion for heaven--and here, too, may his mountain to stand strong on the fleeting utterance sound mysteriously in your hear-foundation of its enjoyments and its conmg, as he tells that without holiness no man cerns --when he comes to be bowed down can see God.and that we are without with infirmity, or receives from the trouble strength while we are without the Spirit to , within, the solemn intimation that death is make us holy--and that unless a man be now looking to him in good earnest: When born again he shall not enter into the king-such a man takes him to the bed of sickdom of God, and that he should wrestleness, and he knows it to be a sickness unto In prayer for the washing of regeneration death, when, under all the weight of
and that he should watch for the Holy | breathlessness and pain, he listens to the Ghost with all perseverance,--and that he man of God, as he points the way that should aspire at being perfect through leadeth to eternity-what, I would ask, is Christ strengthening him--and that he the kind of gospel that is most fitted to should, under the operation of those great charm the sense of guilt and the anticipaprovisions which are set up in the New tions of vengeance away from him ? Sure Testament for creating us anew unto good l we are, that we never in these affecting
are guiden lassical mit ps for when
the rally all the pre uts farour os in human h their ute s that gush I the juos 29 so many rts, 1013
the parului ther go shroud di vans hem, nato
phet al die
circumstances--through which you have all substantial importance, why put them away to pass--we never saw the man who could from you now? You will recur to them maintain a stability, and a hope, from the then; and for what? that you may get the sense of his own righteousness; but who, forgiveness of your sins. But there is a if leaning on the righteousness of Christ, something else you must get, ere you can could mix a peace and an elevation with obtain an entrance into peace or glory. his severest agonies. We never saw the You must get the renovation of that nature, expiring mortal who could look with an un- which is so deeply tainted at this moment daunted eye on God as his lawgiver; but with the guilt of ingratitude and forgetfuloften , has all its languor been lighted up ness towards God. This must be gone with joy at the name of Christ as his Sa- through ere you die; and say if a change so viour. We never saw the dying acquaint-mighty should be wantonly postponed to ance, who upon the retrospect of his virtues the hour of dying?—when all your refusals and of his doings, could prop the tranquilli- of the gospel have hardened and darkened ty of his spirit on the expectation of a legal the mind against it; when a demonstration reward. O no! this is not the element of the Spirit then, is surely not to be counted which sustains the tranquillity of death-on, as the return that you will experience for beds. It is the hope of forgiveness. It is a resisting all his intimations now; when the believing sense of the efficacy of the atone-effects of the alienation of a whole life, both ment. It is the prayer of faith, offered up in extinguishing the light of your conin the name of him who is the captain of science, and in riveting your distaste for all our salvation. It is a dependence on that holiness, will be accumulated into such a power which can alone impart a meetness barrier in the way of your return to God, for the inheritance of the saints, and present as stamps upon death-bed conversions, a the spirit holy, and unreproveable, and un- grievous unlikelihood, and should giye blamable, in the sight of God,
an imperious force to the call of “ToNow, what we have to urge is, that if these day," -- while it is called to-day, harden be the topics, which, on the last half hour not your hearts, seeing that now is your of your life, are the only ones that will accepted time, and now is your day of possess, in your judgment, any value or salvation.”
“ He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of
heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that he hath."-Matthew xiii. 11, 12.
It is of importance to mark the principle / recting those who feel the mysteriousness of of distribution on which it is given to some these truths, and long for light to arise in to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the midst of it;-shall address ourselves to heaven, and it is not given to others. Both those who have an honest anxiety after may at the outset be equally destitute of a that truth, which is unto us salvation, but clear understanding of these mysteries. But find the way to it beset with many doubts the former may have what the latter have and many perplexities -- to those who are not. With the former there may be a de- impressed with a general conviction on sire for explanation ; with the latter there the side of Scripture, but in whose eyes a may be no such desire. The former may, darkness impenetrable still broods over its in the earnest prosecution of this desire, be pages,--to those who are haunted by a praying earnestly, and reading diligently, sense of the imperious necessity of religion, and striving laboriously, to do all that they and at the same time cannot escape from know to be the will of God. With the latter, the impression, that if it is any where to be there may be neither the habit of prayer, found, it is to be found within the records nor the habit of inquiry, nor the habit of of the Old and New Testament, but from obedience. To the one class will be given whose heart in the reading of these records what they have not. From the other class the veil still remains untaken away. what they have shall be taken away. We In the further prosecution of this dishave already attempted to excite in the latter course, let us attempt, in the first place, to class a respectful attention to the truths of explain what it is that we ought to have, in the gospel, and shall now confine ourselves order to attain an understanding of the myschiefly to the object of encouraging and di-| teries of the gospel; and, in the second