« AnteriorContinuar »
well knowing that the more he can enchant them with the idea of their learning, their virtue, their piety, and other natural graces, the more secure he will have them in his hold, the more contemptuous and proud will they be against all who preach the Gospel in simplicity and truth. This is the infidel within the church, the Pharisees and outward professors : the former was the infidel without the church, the savant, and the liberal, and the Sadducee of every name.
But, still, these are not all that I included in this class. Beside the Pharisees and the Sadducees, there are two other classes--the Schismatics and the Heretics--who will not hear the word of God, or will not retain it: for Satan is not only prince of this world, and the proud angel of light, but he is also a divisive spirit, splitting the body of Christ asunder; and a liar, who continually inventeth falsehoods, and palmeth them upon the world for truths: whereupon they do at once reject the truth in the stead of which he hath substituted them. And this is the true distinction between the spirit of schism and the spirit of heresy,--that the former divides, narrows, and contracts the truth; the latter upholds as the true word of God that which is not so, but only the wisdom of man, or the invention of Satan.
I do distinctly bear in mind, therefore, that the doctrine of the kingdom of Christ, which I now preach unto you for the salvation of your soulsnamely, that God is in him reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses ; that if you believe in Him, ye shall be delivered from the curse of a broken law, from the power of sin, and the penalty of sin, from death and the
grave; and if you believe not in Him, as the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world, ye shall utterly perish, there being redemption in no other, and regeneration only in the Holy Ghost, bestowed in virtue of his death, and administered by his own most gracious ministry:this Gospel, which I preach unto you continually, and have again this night preached unto you, I do preach in the full assurance, and I pray you to be likewise assured, that it will utterly fail of any fruit in all those whose heart and soul go out after the world; who love the world and the things of the world. I say not, who are professed infidels, though that makes things a deal worse; but I say worldlings; who love the world, and say, “ When will the Sabbath be over, that I may buy and sell and get gain ?” who follow greedily after the world's wealth, or power, or vain society, or empty distinctions. Such who hear me, had better not have heard me; for this word Satan will pluck away before to-morrow's dawn, and it will be only another witness against you.
“ Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The word of Christ hath no fellowship with the word of Belial. The wisdom from above hath no kindred with the wisdom which is of the earth. Therefore think ye not to grasp both worlds at once; the one in the right hand, the other in the left. It cannot be. Ye must renounce your idolatries. The first commandment is, “ Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." This is the threshold and porch of the spiritual temple of salvation. Ye must renounce the hidden works of darkness, and the unprofitable works of this world, which is to be destroyed with Satan its prince. Ye must“ seek first the kingdom of heaven
and its righteousness;” and be content with its reproach, as more worthy than the honours and treasures of Egypt. And if ye will not, then hear me declare unto you again, that this word availeth only to your greater condemnation: nor will it avail to any thing better, until ye will for God sacrifice right eye and right hand, and whatsoever in you offendeth his holiness.
And this Gospel of the kingdom I offer also in vain unto, and pronounce it to be a testimony of witness against, all those who are trusting for salvation in their own dead works and religious observances. I preach unto you Christ, the End of the Law for righteousness, and the Author of righteousness to all that believe. I preach unto you the Holy Ghost, the Creator of a new heart and a righteous spirit; who will make you holy, and harmless, and separate from sinners. And if ye will not accept salvation by a crucified Saviour, then I preach unto you
the Law as your death, and God “as your consuming fire.” Ye will not have the Law from Zion in its mercy: then have it from Sinai in its fearful terrors; have it as your prison and scourge while you live, and when you die have it as your accuser and your sentence: “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them !” Ye hypocrites, which of the laws of God do you not violate in thought, word, and deed? What word passeth from you perfect? what act holy? And do you think Christ will save you in the manner you will, who will not be saved as he will? Ye shall utterly perish, every one who looketh to be saved by another righteousness than the righteousness of Christ imputed to faith for justification, and for sanctification wrought in you by the Holy Spirit. But it is not to argue nor to remonstrate with you that I now speak, but simply to declare, that while you are under that delusion of Satan this word will profit you nothing. Know it will not, believe it will not. I know and believe it will not, and regard it as an evidence which is written in heaven against you, and which there shall never be cancelled, though it may soon be forgotten elsewhere.
Furthermore, and finally upon this head. To all those who, following the bountiful affections, beautiful objects, and benevolent desires of human nature, will not acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer and the Saviour, the Prophet and Teacher, the Quickener and the Renewer of the natural man; but, rejecting the Gospel and its peculiarities as old wives' fables and superstitious mysteries, will pursue their schemes of education, of charity, of society, of morality, of religion, wholly apart from and independent of His blessing;-to all such classes, who do abound without number amongst us, I know and feel assured that I preach the word of the doctrine of Christ in vain. Oh, how thou art entrenched, O Satan, how thou art entrenched in thy beautiful deceptions! Thou hast played thy part well in this last age. Thou art all but the Holy One, thou consummate deceiver !--I do take God to witness that I have warned you every one, who go on heedless of the Redeemer and the Mediator, that you are under the delusion of Satan in the semblance of the angel of light. You cannot receive the word; you cannot hear it : he plucketh it away so soon as it is sown: it is as idle tales. But, oh! beloved brethren, it is not idle tales or cunningly devised fables ; it is the truth of God in a mystery. In a mystery, I confess : not palpable to the natural man; yet to the honest and good man commending itself at first sight, and inviting his further research. Oh! answer me this one question ; Why doth Satan put on these appearances so like unto Christ, if Christ, very Christ, be not most comely and beautiful? Why would he steal those forms of mercy, of charity, and of benevolence, yea, and of moral and religious truth, did he not know that they are dear and profitable unto the estate of man? But, ah ! ye will not pass over Jordan unto the promised land: ye will not have faith in Christ, ye will not humble yourself unto the teaching of the Spirit. And Satan hath you, and hath you only the more securely by reason of his disguises. He loveth not those disguises. He hateth Christ, though he be fain to trick himself with his pretended glory. Murder is his dear act, and a direct falsehood is his word ; but that he may deceive you also, and drive a richer and a better prey, he betaketh himself to this cozenage. And you are his stalking-horse, to approach and come over the fry, the numerous fry, who swim the common stream. Ab, Lord! how long! how long stay dost thou make! When wilt thou come to disenchant the world, and cast out that master of its enchantment?
Therefore, men and brethren, give heed, and take warning; and go not to say, 'I will give ear to thee against some more convenient season: it is a small matter I can take it up at any time: the word is still with me, and the word is omnipotent to save.' What sayest thou? the word is omnipotent to save! Thou shouldst have said, To