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orders to set bounds about the mount, lest the people should draw near, and God should break forth upon them. But we have an evidence to our state of banishment from God, which is nearer home. We have it in our own hearts. The habitual attitude of the inner man is not an attitude of subordination to God. The feeling of allegiance to him is practically and almost constantly away from us. All that can give value to our obedience, in the sight of an enlightened Spirit who looks to motive, and sentiment, and principle, has constitutionally no place, and no residence in our characters. We are engrossed by other anxieties than anxiety to do the will, and to promote the honour, of him who formed us. We are animated by other affections altogether, than love to him, whose right hand preserves us continually. That Being by whom we are so fearfully and wonderfully made; whose upholding presence it is that keeps us in life, and in movement, and in the exercise of all our faculties; who has placed us on the theatre of all our enjoyments, and claims over his own creatures the ascendency of a most rightful authority;-that surely is the Being with whom we have to do. And yet, when we take account of our thoughts and of our doings, how little of God is there ? In the random play and exhibition of such feelings as instinctively belong to us, we may gather around us the admiration of our fellows, and so it is in a colony of exiled criminals. But as much wanting there, as is the homage of loyalty to the government of their native land; so much wanting here, is the homage of any deference or inward regard, to the government of Heaven. And yet this is the very principle of all that obedience which Heaven can look upon. If it be true that obedience is rewardable by God, but that which has respect unto God, then this must be the essential point on which hinges the difference between a rebel, and a loyal subject to the supreme Lawgiver. The requirement we live under is to do all things to his glory; and this is the measure of principle and of performance that will be set over you, -and tell us, ye men of civil and relative propriety, who, by exemplifying in the eye of your fellows such virtue, as may be exemplified by the outcasts of banishment, have shed around your persons the tiny lustre of this world's moralities; tell us how you will be able to stand such a severe and righteous application ? The measure by which we compare ourselves with ourselves, is not the measure of the sanctuary. When the judge comes to take account of us, he will come fraught with the maxims of a celestial jurisprudence, and his question will be, not, what have you done at the shrine of popularity--not, what have you done to sustain a character
amongst men, not what have you done at the mere impulse of sensibilities however amiable, or of native principles however upright, and elevated, and manly,–but what have you done unto me? how much of God, and of God's will, was there in the principle of your doings? This is the heavenly measure, and it will set aside all your earthly measures and comparisons. It will sweep away all these refuges of lies. The man whose accomplishments of character, however lively, were all social, and worldly, and relative, will hang his head in confusion when the utter wickedness of his pretensions is thus laid open, when the God who gave him every breath, endowed him with every faculty, enquires after his share of reverence and acknowledgment, when he tells him from the judgment-seat, I was the Being with whom you had to do, and yet in the vast multiplicity of your doings, I was seldom or never thought of.-when he convicts him of habitual forgetfulness of God, and setting aside all the paltry measurements which men apply in their estimates of one another, he brings the high standard of Heaven's law, and Heaven's allegiance to bear upon them. It must be quite palpable to any man who has seen much of life, and still more if he has travelled extensively, and witnessed the varied complexions of morality that obtain in distant societies, it must be quite obvious to such a man, how readily the moral feeling, in each of them, accommodates itself to the general state of practice and observation,--that the practices of one country, for which there is a most complacent toleration, would be shuddered at as so many atrocities in another country, that in every given neighbourhood, the sense of right and of wrong, becomes just as fine or as obtuse as to square with its average purity, and its average humanity, and its average uprightness, that what would revolt the public feeling of a retired parish in Scotland as gross licentiousness or outrageous cruelty, might attach no disgrace whatever to a residenter in some colonial settlement, —that, nevertheless, in the more corrupt and degraded of the two communites, there is a scale of differences, a range of character, along which are placed the comparative stations of the disreputable, and the passible, and the respectable, and the superexcellent; and yet it is a very possible thing, that if a man in the last of these stations were to import all his habits and all his profligacies into his native land, superexcellent as he may be abroad, at home he would be banished from the general association of virtuous and well-ordered families. Now, all we ask of you is, to transfer this consideration to the matter before us, -to think how possible a thin it is, that the moral principle of the worl
at large, may have sunk to a peaceable and approving acquiescence, in the existing practice of the world at large-that the security which is inspired by the habit of measuring ourselves by ourselves, and comparing ourselves amongst ourselves, may therefore be a delusion altogether, that the very best member of society upon earth, may be utterly unfit for the society of heaven, that the morality which is current here, may depend upon totally another set of principles from the morality which is held to be indispensable there;—and when
we gather these principles from the book of God’s revelation,-when we are told that the law of the two great commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our strength, and heart, and mind, and to bear the same love to our neighbour that we do to ourselves, the argument advances from a conjecture to a certainty, that every inhabitant of earth when brought to the bar of Heaven's judicature, is altogether wanting; and that unless some great moral renovation take effect upon him, he can never be admitted within the limits of the empire of righteousness,
“Christ the Wisdom of God.”—1 Corinthians i. 24.
We cannot but remark of the Bible, how uniformly and how decisively it announces itself in all its descriptions of the state and character of man,—how, without offering to palliate the matter, it brings before us the totality of our alienation, how it represents us to be altogether broken off from our allegiance to God, and how it fears not, in the face of those undoubted diversities of character which exist in the world, to assert of the whole world, that it is guilty before him. And if we would only seize on what may be called the elementary principle of guilt-if we would only take it along with us, that guilt, in reference to God, must consist in the defection of our regard and our reverence from him, if we would only open our eyes to the undoubted fact, that there may be such an utter defection, and yet there may be many an amiable, and many a graceful exhibition, both of feeling and of conduct, in reference to those who are around us, -then should we recognize, in the statements of the Bible, a vigorous, discerning, and intelligent view of human nature, an unfaltering announcement of what that nature essentially is, under all the plausibilities which serve to disguise it, and such an insight, in fact, into the secreCies of our inner man, as if carried home by that Spirit, whose office it is to apply the word with power into the conscience, is onough, of itself, to stamp upon this book, the evidence of the Divinity which in: spired it.
But it is easier far to put an end to the resistance of the understanding, than to alarm the fears, or to make the heart soft and tender, under a sense of its guiltiness, or to prompt the inquiry, is all those securities, within the entrenchment of which I
~ to take my quiet and complacent re
pose, are thus driven in, where in the whole compass of nature or revelation can any effectual security be found? It may be easy to find our way amongst all the complexional varieties of our nature, to its radical and pervading ungodliness; and thus to carry the acquiescence of the judgment in some extended demonstration about the utter sinfulness of the species. But it is not so easy to point this demonstration towards the bosom of any individual,—to gather it up, as it were, from its state of diffusion over the whole field of humanity, and send it with all its energies concentered to a single heart, in the form of a sharp, and humbling, and terrifying conviction,-to make it enter the conscience of some one listener, like an arrow sticking fast,--or, when the appalling picture of a whole world lying in wickedness, is thus presented to the understanding of a general audience, to make each of that audience mourn apart over his own wickedness; just as when, on the day of ..". though all that is visible be shaking, and dissolving, and giving way, each despairing eye-witness shall mourn apart over the recollection of his own guilt, over the prospect of his own rueful and undone eternity. And yet, if this be not done, nothing is done. e lesson of the text has come to you in word only and not in power. To look to the truth in its generality, is one thing; to look to your own separate concern in it, is another. What we want is that each of you shall turn his eye homewards; that each shall purify his own heart from the influence of a !. which we pronounce to be ruinous; that each
‘shall beware of leaning a satisfaction, or a
triumph, on the comparison of himself with corrupt and exiled men, whom sin has degraded into outcasts from the presence of God, and the joys of paradise; that each of you shall look to the measure of God’s law, so that when the commandment comes upon you, in the sense of its exceeding broadness, a sense of your sin, and of your death in sin, may come along with it. “Without the commandment I was alive,” says the Apostle; “but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Be assured, that if the utterance of such truth in your hearing, impress no personal earnestness, and lead to no personal measures, and be followed up by no personal movements, then to you it is as a sounding brass and as a tinkling cymbal. The preacher has been beating the air. That great Agent, whose revealed office it is to convince of sin, has refused to go along with him. Another influence altogether, than that which is salutary and saving, has been sent into your bosom ; and the glow of the truth universal has deafened or intercepted the application of the truth personal, and of the truth particular.
This leads us to the second thing proposed in our last discourse, under which we shallattempt to explain the wisdom opposite to that folly of measuring ourselves by ourselves, and comparing ourselves among ourselves, which we have already attempted to expose.
The first step is to give up all satisfaction with yourselves, on the bare ground, that your conduct comes up to the measure of human character, and human reputation around you. This consideration may be of importance to your place in society; but, as to your place in the favour of God, it is utterly insignificant. The moral differences which obtain in a community of exiles, are all quite consistent with the entire obliteration amongst them, of the allegiance that is due to the government of their native land. And the moral differences which obtain in the world, may, in every way, be as consistent with the fact, that one and all of us, in our state of nature, are alienated from God by wicked works. And, in like manner, as convicts may be all alive to a sense of their reciprocal obligations, while dead, in feeling and in principle, to the supreme obligation under which they lie to the sovereign, so may we, in reference to our fellow-men, have a sense of rectitude, and honour, and compassion, while, in reforence to God, we may labour under the entire extinction of every moral sensibility,+so that the virtues which signalize us, may, in the language of some of our old divines, be neither more nor less than splendid sins. With the possession of these virtues, we may not merely be incurring every day the guilt of trespassing and sinning against our Maker in heaven; but devoid as we are of all apprehension of the enormity of this, we may strikingly realize the assertion of the Bible, that we are dead in trespasses and sins. And we pass our
time in all the tranquillity of death. We say peace, when there is no peace. Though in a state of disruption from God, we live as securely and as inconsiderately as if there were no question and no controversy betwixt us. About this whole matter, there is within us a spirit of heaviness and of deep slumber. We lie fast asleep on the brink of an unprovided eternity,+and, if possible to awaken you, let us urge you to compare, not your own conduct with that of acquaintances and neighbours, but to compare your own finding of the ungodliness that is in your heart with the doctrine of God’s word about it, to bring down the loftiness of your spirit to its humbling declarations—to receive it as a faithful saying, that man is lost by nature, and that unless 1here be some mighty transition, in his his— tory, from a state of nature to a state of salvation, the wrath of God abideth on him. The next inquiry comes to be, What is this transition ? Tell me the step I should take, and I will take it. It is not enough, then, that you exalt upon your own person the degree of those virtues, by which you, have obtained a credit and a distinction among men. It is not enough, that you throw a brighter and a lovelier hue over your social accomplishments. It is not enough, that you multiply the offerings of your charity, or observe a more rigid compliance, than heretofore, with all the requisitions of justice. All this you may do, and yet the great point, on which your controversy with God essentially hing may not be so much as entered upon. A this you may do, and yet obtain no nearer approximation to Him who sitteth on the throne, than the outlaws of an offended government for their fidelities to each other. To the eye of man you may be fairer than before,and in civil estimation be greatly more righteous than before, and yet, with the unquelled spirit of impiety within you, and as habitual an indifference as ever to all the subordinating claims of the divine will over your heart and your conduct, you may stand at as wide a distance from God as before. And besides, how are we to dispose of the whole guilt of your past iniquities? Whether, is it the malefactor or the Lawgiver who is to arbitrate this question? God may remit our sins, but it is for him to proclaim this. God may pass them over; but it is for him to issue the deed of amnesty. God may have found out a way whereby, in consistency with his own character, and with the stability of his august government, he may take sinners into reconciliation ; but it is for him both to devise and to publish this way; —and we must just do what convicts do, when they obtain a mitigation or a cancelment of the legal sentence under which they lie-we must passively accept of it, on the terms of the deed,—we must look to the warrant as issued by the sovereign, and take the boon or sulfil the conditions, just as it is there presented to us. The question is between us and God; and in the adjustment of this question, we must look singly to the expression of his will, and feel that it is with him, and with his authority, that we have exclusively to do. In one word, we must wait his own revelation, and learn from his own mouth how it is that he would have us to come nigh unto him. Let us go then to the record. “No man cometh unto the Father but through the Son.” “There is no other name given under heaven, but the name of Jesus, whereby we can be saved.” “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin;” and “God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.” “He was once offered to bear the sins of many,”—and “became sin for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and not imputing unto them their trespasses.” “Justified by faith, we have peace with God through
"Jesus Christ our Lord ;"—“ and we become
the children of God, through the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” We are “reconciled to God by the death of his Son,”—“ and by his obedience are many made righteous,”—and “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” These verses sound foolishness to many; but the cross of Christ is foolishness to those that perish. They appear to them invested with all the mysteriousness of a dark and hidden saying ; but if this Gospel be hid, it is hid to them which are lost. They have eyes that they cannot see the wondrous things contained in this book of God's communication; but they have minds which believe not, because they are blinded by the god of this world, lost the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them.
And here we cannot but insist on the utter hopelessness of their circumstances, who hear these overtures of reconciliation, but will not listen to them. Theirs is just the case of rebels turning their back on a deed of grace and of amnesty. We are quite confident in stating it to the stubborn experience of human nature, that all who reject Christ, as he is offered in the Gospel, persist in that radical ungodliness of character on which the condemnation of our world mainly and essentially rests. And as they thus resuse to build their security on the foundation of his merits, what, we would ask, is the other foundation on which they build it ! If ever they think seriously of the matter, or feel any concern about a soundation on which they might rest their confidence before God, they conceive it to lie in such feelings, and such humanities, and such honesties, as make them even with the
world, or as elevate them to a certain degree above the level of the world's population. These are the materials of the soundation on which they build. It is upon the possession of virtues which in truth have not God for their object, that they propose to support in the presence of God the attitude of scarlessness. It is upon the testimony of fellow rebels that they brave the judgment of the Being, who has pronounced of them all, that they have deeply revolted against him. And all this in the face of God’s high prerogative, to make and to publish his own overtures. All this in contempt of that Mediator whom he has appointed. All this in resistance to the authentic deed of grace and of forgiveness, which has been sent to our world, and from which we gather the full assurance of God's willingness to be reconciled; but, at the same time, are expressly bound down to that particular way in which he has chosen to dispense reconciliation. Who does not see, that, in these circumstances, the guilt of sin is fearfully aggravated on the part of sinners, by their rejection of the Gospel 2 Who does not see, that thus to refuse the grant of everlasting life in the terms of the grant, is just to set an irretrievable seal upon their own condemnation? Who does not sce, that, in the act of declining to take the shelter which is held out to them, they vainly imagine, that God will let down his approbation to such performances as are utterly devoid of any spirit of devout or dutiful allegiance to the Lawgiver? This is, in fact, a deliberate p sting of themselves, and that more firmly and more obstinately than ever, on the ground of their rebellion—and let us no longer wonder, then, at the terms of that alternative of which we read so often in the 3ible. We there read, that is we believe, we shall be saved; but we also read, that if we believe not, we shall be damned. We are there told of the great salvation; but how shall we escape if we neglect it ! We are there invited to lay hold of the Gospel, as the savour of life unto lise: but, if we resuse the invitation, it shall be to us the savour of death unto death. The gospel is there freely proclaimed to us, for our acceptance; but if we will not obey the Gospel, we shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Saviour's power. We are asked to kiss the Son while he is in the way; but if we do not, the alternative is that he will be angry,and that his wrath will burn against us. He is revealed to us a sure rock, on which if welean we shall not be confounded ; but if we shift our dependence away from it. it will fall upon us and grind us to powder.
And this alternative, so far from a matter to be wondered at, appears resolvable into a principle that might be easily comprohended. God is the party sinned ago and is he have the will to be reconciled, “
is surely for him to prescribe the way of it: and this he has actually done in the revelation of the New Testament: and whether he give a reason for the way or not, certain it is, that in order to give it accomplishment, he sent his eternal son into our world; and this descent was accompanied with such circumstances of humiliation, and conflict, and deep suffering, that heaven looked on with astonishment, and earth was bidden to rejoice, because of her great salvation. It is enough for us to know that God lavished on this plan the riches of a wisdom that is unsearchable; that, in the hearing of sinful men, he has proclaimed its importance and its efficacy; that every Gospel messenger felt himself charged with tidings pregnant of joy, and of mighty deliverance to the world. And we ask you just to conceive, in these circumstances, what effect it should have on the mind of the insulted Sovereign, if the world, instead of responding, with grateful and delighted welcome, to the message, shall either nauseate its terms, or, feeling in them no significancy, shall turn with indifference away from it? Are we at all to wonder if the King, very wroth with the men of such a world shall at length send his armies to destroy it ! Do you think it likely that the same God, who after we had broken his commandment, was willing to pass by our transgressions, will be equally willing to pass them by aster we have thus despised the proclamation of his mercy; after his forbearance and his long-suffering have been resisted; and that scheme of pardon, with the weight and the magnitude of which angels appear to labour in amazement, is received by the very men for whom it was devised, as a thing of no estimation ? Surely, if there had been justice in the simple and immediate punishment of sin—this justice will be discharged in still brighter manifestation on him, who, in the face of such an embassy, holds out in his determination to brave it. And, if it be a righteous thing in God to avenge every violation of his law, how clearly and how irresistibly righteous will it appear, when, on the great day of his wrath, he taketh vengeance on those who have added to the violation of his law, the rejection of the Gospel ! But what is more than this—God hath condescended to make known to us a reason, for that peculiar way of reconciliation, which he hath set before us. It is, that he might be just while the justifier of those who believe in Jesus. In the dispensation of his mercy, he had to provide for the dignity of his throne. He had to guard the stability of his truth and of his righteousness. He had to pour the lustre of a high and awful vindication, over the attributes of a nature that is holy and unchangeable. He had to make peace on earth and good will to men meet, and be at one with glory
to God in the highest; and for this purpose did the eternal Son pour out his soul an offering for sin, and by his obedience unto death, bring in an everlasting righteousness. It is through the channel of this great expiation that the guilt of every believer is washed away; and it is through the imputed merits of him with whom the Father was well pleased, that every believer is admitted to the rewards of a perfect obedience. Conceive any man of this world to reject the offers of reward and forgiveness in this way, and to look for them in another. Conceive him to challenge the direct approbation of his Judge, on the measure of his own worth, and his own performances, and to put away from him that righteousness of Christ, in the measure of which there is no short coming. Is he not, by this attitude, holding out against God, and that too, on a question in which the justice of God stands committed against him 2 Is not the poor sinner of a day entering into a fearful controversy, with all the plans, and all the persections of the Eternal 2 Might not you conceive every attribute of the Divinity, gathering into a frown of deeper indignation against the daringness of him, who thus demands the favour of the Almighty on some plea of his own, and resolutel declines it on that only plea, under . the acceptance of the sinner can be in harmony with the glories of God's holy and inviolable character? Surely, if we have fallen short of the obedience of his law, and so short as to have renounced altogether that godliness which imparts to obedience its spiritual and substantial quality,+then do we aggravate the enormity of our sin, by building our hope before God on a foundation of sin 7 To sin is to desy God: but the very presumption that he will smile complacency upon it, involves in it another, and a still more deliberate attack upon his government; and all its sanctions, and all its severities, are let loose upon us in greater force and abundance than before, if we either rest upon our own virtue, or mix up this polluted ingredient with the righteousness of Christ, and refuse our single, entire, and undivided reliance on him who alone has magnified the law and made it honourable. But such, if we maybe allowed the expression, is the constitution of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that, in proportion to the terror which it holds out to those who neglect it, is the security that it provides to all who flee for refuge to the hope which is set before them. Paul understood this well, when, though he profited over many of his equals in his own nation,-when, though had he measured himself by them, he might have gathered from the comparison a feeling of proud superiority,+when, though in all that was counted righteous among his fellows, he