Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

general disuse, but from a lamentable want of devotional spirit, both in the clergy and the laity.

For, surely, this is the eternal changeless character of true religion. After this short life is ended, after these dim and passing visions of His glory, what is the heaven to which the devout man looks forward, except to realize the enjoyments he is here endeavouring to anticipate, and to behold, without an intercepting cloud, the brightness of that countenance which is all his salvation, and all his desire? What is his hope, except that, standing ever with girded loins, and burning lamp?, he shall be ready, at his master's summons, to pass the limit of these outer courts, and be admitted into the inmost sanctuary of His temple, in whose presence is the fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore:

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

SERMON XIII.

THE DAILY SERVICE.

PART II.

HEBREWS X. 25. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,

as the manner of some is.”

In a former discourse from these words, I have taken occasion to call your attention, to the almost universal neglect, into which the daily service of the Church has fallen of late years. It has not been without much thought, and some years of attentive observation, that I have been compelled to adopt the conclusion, which I have already laid before you : namely, that such a fact is symptomatic of the spiritual condition of our Church.

In every Church, and in every period of the Church's history, there has been a mixture of good men and bad, of religious and irreligious. Our blessed Redeemer has plainly taught us, that it is not His purpose, in this state of things, to make an absolute separation between the righteous and the wicked. His Church is not constructed on such a principle: and any religious community, which attempts to make the exclusive principle the basis of its institution, is, by the mere fact of such an attempt, a departure from the fundamental maxim, on which Christ has built His Church. The Church of Christ, I repeat, is based not on a principle of exclusion, but on a principle of comprehension. It is a net, which has no contrivance in its structure, to prevent the entrance of the worthless and the vile. It is a field, which possesses no inherent properties in its soil, to reject or destroy the seeds of such useless or noxious weeds, as an enemy may cast upon its bosom in the hours of darkness. The Church, as Jesus Christ designed and constructed it, is a net, which draws to land, without discrimination, every kind, which it has gathered'. It is a field, in which the wheat and the tares are, by His command, left to grow together, “lest,” saith He, “while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them ?." At the time of harvest, and not till then, will the Lord of the harvest say to the reapers ; “ Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn 3." When the net is full and drawn to shore, and not till then, will they sit down, and gather the good into vessels, but cast the bad away 4. In plain words, as our Saviour has himself disclosed the meaning of these figures, it is by His express design, that the Church is suffered, in this world, to contain, within its sacred enclosures, the children of the kingdom, and the children of the wicked one. The day is coming, when, by other hands than ours, the wicked shall be severed from among the just 5. At

Matt. xiii. 47. ' Ib. v. 24—30. 3 Ib. v. 30.

4 Ib. v. 48. 5 lb. v. 40.

m

the end of the world, and not before, shall the Son of man send forth His angels, and they sball gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity?

Obviously, then, the spiritual condition of the Church, or of any part of it, is to be collected, not from the enormities or excesses of those, who are Christians only in name, but from the spiritual condition of those, who have some truth and reality of religion. It is the tone and . character of the piety of this latter class of persons, that furnish the standard by which the piety of the Church, in any particular place or period, is to be measured. On this account, therefore, I have felt my. self justified, in considering the state of our daily services, as symptomatic of the spiritual condition of our Church: those who appear before the world as the most actively engaged in religious duties, being habitually absent from service except on Sundays; and that, certainly, as far as we can discover, without feeling their absence

* Matt. xiii. 41.

« AnteriorContinuar »