« AnteriorContinuar »
jects of Christ's kingdom, take pleasure in his everlasting and unchangeable word, and in the faithful exposition and ministry of the same: they love to be informed of this law and of that precept of the kingdom; they delight to be instructed in this doctrine and that mystery of its government. Above measure they delight in the varied acts and achievements of its King: they love every one who breathes his Holy Spirit; they communicate and hold fellowship with each other in the same spirit of truth and of love; they delight to hear of the successes of the kingdom,--and for information thereof they look into the archives of the state, which alike comprehend all the past, all the present, and all the future; and their soul is borne aloft
upon the wings of faith and hope, and ever and anon they go forth in the spirit of the dove, and hover above the assuaging waters of Satan's realm, to see if any summit of the new world, the kingdom to come, be appearing in view, and whether they can bring back in their mouth any word of encouragement, any olive branch of returning verdure unto their brethren in the ark of the church, which hath been so long floating over the waters of wrath, to save all who would enter therein, from the deluge wherewith the spiritual world hath been covered since the fall. And thus it is, my dear brethren, that while the cares of the world, or Satan's kingdom, indispose men to the reading and hearing of the word, the cares of the world to come, or of Christ's kingdom, do dispose or incline them thereto, as to their necessary food and greatest joy; while every heart that is subject unto the world doth receive the seed into thorns to be choked, the children of the kingdom do receive
it into good soil to be fructified: the former hating and despising it, and not able, however willing, to profit by it, because they cannot serve two masters; the latter looking upon it as their light and their saving health. They look upon it with a single eye, and their whole body is full of light. And they feel what the Psalmist expresseth in the xixth Psalm, that the sun in the firmament is but an emblem of the law of God; that the light he sendeth abroad, and the heat he diffuseth, from which nothing remaineth hid, is but an emblem of the law of the Lord, which converteth the soul from barrenness to fruitfulness, which enlighteneth the dark regions of the Spirit, which searcheth into our secret faults, and revealeth our presumptuous sins, and worketh every where gladness and peace unto ourselves, charity and love and earnest intercession towards our brethren, honour to the Lord Jesus Christ, and glory to God and the Father, through the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit ; and to these three Divine persons, in one God, be honour and glory, for ever and ever.
III. THE CURE. These remarks bring me to the third part of our lecture, in which we proposed to open in your hearing the only radical cure of this evil propensity of our fallen nature; from the mention of which we have not refrained ourselves as we went along, but now address ourselves to speak of it expressly. Our Lord, when handling this matter in his Sermon on the Mount, doth not remove the care of men from the things of the present world, without fixing them at the same time upon the things of the world to come; beginning his exhortation with the assertion of the contrariety and contradiction of the two kingdoms, present and to come, and concluding with this improvement of the whole, “ Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and its righteousness, and all these things of the visible kingdom shall be added thereto. To the imprisoned and benighted reason, which Satan, with so much pains and with so much success, endeavours to restrain and resist, and, when he can, utterly to overthrow by working against it the evils of the present world, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Reason itself, the Sun of Righteousness ar of Truth, from which we derive our light, and who lighteth every man that cometh into the world, directeth his ministry of redemption and deliverance, calling to it, “ Awake, thou that sleepest; arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light;" that is, the light of living faith, which substantiates a world to come, and realizeth a hope that is unseen. He cometh unto his own, mighty to save, in order to 'restore them to the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, and to restore the kingdom of God and its righteousness unto them. He cometh to destroy the works of the devil, and utterly to bereave him of his power, and deprive him of a local habitation and a name upon this earth in the age to come, with whose pure hopes and blessed carés he desireth his disciples to converse. He cometh to open the eyes of the blind, and the prison doors of them that are bound. And every one who loveth the light of reason, and seeketh after righteousness, cometh unto him, that he may be enlightened : and only those whose deeds are evil withdraw from him, and hate the light, whereby they become witnesses against themselves; for they have refused the only light
of truth, and preferred the darkness of error: they have refused the kingdom of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, and preferred the kingdom of Satan, which is in all wickedness and delusion. And he is also the life, to revive, and renew, and redeem man from that death which Satan is seeking to perfect within them; I say, seeking to perfect, because he hath not yet perfected death, for where death is there is no hope, and there is no resistance. A spirit is dead when it believes and trembles, but we are commanded to believe and be saved. A spirit is dead when Satan hath it without a wile and without a struggle, when there is no resistance of the will, and no dispensation of Divine grace and help held out to it. In short, a spirit is dead, when there is no sign or symptom of life;. that is, no consciousness nor love of truth, no desire after peace and blessedness, no sense of love and affection; but dark broodings of discontent, gloomy forebodings of evil, restless appetites of mischief, scorn and contempt of grace and forgiveness, and those other satanic features of man, with which that noble poet, now no more, hath made this generation too familiar. To which condition of utter death, Satan laboureth to bring every child that is born of a woman, by means of this world's kingdom, which is his armoury of offensive weapons, his treasury of bribes, his gaming-house, where souls are staked for chances of worldly goods; and, in short, his theatre for displaying himself in every form and character which may best suit the taste and disposition of the various beholders. But, though the death is gradual, and not consummated until we are removed hence; nor, as I may say, until the general judgment; yet, beloved brethren, it is
sure, and can in no other way be shunned, but by the redemption of Christ, and the work of the Spirit. So that it is called very death, “dead in trespasses and sins;” very wrath, " the children of wrath even as others :” even as the present condition of believers is called very salvation, and very life, and very blessedness, though it be but the transition out of death into life, and a condition not of infallible certainty, but of trial, and danger, and continual warfare; yet tending continually to certainty and the assurance of perseverance unto the end. So that we are, my brethren, placed in the kingdom of death, or the kingdom of life; the kingdom of darkness, or the kingdom of light; under the lordship and mastery of Satan, or under the lordship and mastery of Christ.
Now observe, that, according as the light and life which is in Christ Jesus,—that is, the faith of his word, and the operation of his Spirit,
in any soul, it is delivered out of Satan's deceitful kingdom, into the spiritual kingdom of faith and trust; for, as was said above, the outward world followeth in its redemption, the redemption of the inward world, which casteth its own colours and forms over the things which it is surrounded and served withal. The soul becomes faithful in the promises of God, assured of his love and favour, trustful in his providence, and conscious of another world to come, to the inheritance of which she is called, and of which she is permitted to entertain the hope and assurance through her union with the Lord Jesus Christ,—to which union she perceiveth that all her unworthiness and sinfulness are no obstacle whatever, but rather the very oc