Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

indeed, Christian virtue consists in this : that every duty have its proper place and concern. For instance:

The first duty and great concern of a clergyman is, to take care of the flock committed to his charge; of a parent, to take care of his children; of a magistrate, to preserve peace, and to do justice; of servants, to be faithful to their masters;

of the rich, to take care of the poor; and of the poor, to be content with their condition.

And if a man should be never so zealous in other instances of well-doing, and neglect these relative duties, and such as peculiarly belong to his condition of life, he would want one of the surest marks of his being under the conduct of the Spirit of God; and of reaping the fruits of his labours, and the reward of a faithful servant.

This order of Providence, therefore, being first regarded, the next thing that a good man will do, will be to consider, how he may be most useful in his generation ? And having before his eyes the words of the Apostle, immediately going before the text, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he (Gal. 6. 7,

8.] also he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap

reap; corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting;" he concludes, from these words, that whatever is unnecessarily laid out upon the body, is all entirely lost at death, when that body sees corruption. And that whatever can be spared, and is bestowed in promoting the glory of God, and the good of mankind, that this is laying up a treasure in heaven, and that we shall reap the fruits thereof to all eternity. He therefore resolves to look beyond the grave, and to make some provision for a life that is to last so long.

Now if a Christian, thus affected, and thus resolved, should desire to know how (as Solomon speaks), “He may sow in Prov. 11. righteousness, so as to reap a sure reward;" one cannot, perhaps, direct him to a better charity than something like this before us, where the bodies and the souls of the poor are provided for; where parents receive both relief and comfort in the care that is taken of their children ; where so many children are taught to know, and to fear God.

By which charity many thousands have been, and many thousands are like to be, rescued from extreme poverty, and

18.

SERM. the consequences of it: which are, too often, want of instrucLXXX.

tion, gross ignorance, great temptations to vice, and a proneness to run into it.

By which charity the number of evil examples will every day be lessened; a great many families, knowing and fearing God, will (in His good time) be established; a great many of these, in all probability, gratefully remembering the method and way by which they were raised, will hereafter contribute towards continuing this way of well-doing to future generations.

In the mean time, neither they that are the managers, nor they that contribute towards this good work, will have any reason to despond. It is seed sown; and it will have its increase most certainly. We see it so in the common course of husbandry. When the corn is sown, it is left to the ordinary providence and blessing of God, who gives an increase according to the goodness of the ground, and the means made use of to improve it.

Now, the kingdom of heaven is compared to seed sown in the ground, to give Christians an idea, and an assurance, , that their spiritual labours, their endeavours for the good of their souls, will as certainly be recompensed as their temporal labours for the support of their bodies.

They shall see the fruit, and they shall receive the reward, of their labours. They will see those, whom they have plucked as fire-brands out of the fire, giving God eternal · praises for His goodness in making them the instruments of their conversion and salvation. And they will find the Lord of heaven and earth, who needs none of our services, yet condesce ding to accept our poor endeavours, and to reward them beyond our utmost wishes. Sufficient, one would hope, to make us bear with patience all the discouragements we can possibly meet with!

Happy will it be for us, if the frequent occasions of this kind we meet with shall make us more careful so to husband the talents wherewith we are entrusted, as that we may always have whereof to offer a testimony of our gratitude to our great Benefactor.

And the good Lord accept of and give a blessing to all our charities, and grant that they may obtain for us this comfort, that so much as we have given to God, and to these good purposes, so much treasure we have laid up in heaven.

For which place, may the good God prepare and bring us all, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake.

To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

[blocks in formation]

SERMON LXXXI.

PREACHED AT A CONFIRMATION.

THE ORDINANCES OF GOD ATTENDED WITH CERTAIN, THOUGH

INVISIBLE EFFECTS.

JOHN iii. 7, 8.

1. 23;

See 1 Pet. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again. The 1 John 3.1.

wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth : 80 is every one that is born of the Spirit.

The occasion of these words was this : Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, considering the wonders which Jesus Christ did, concluded that He was certainly a teacher come from God; he was therefore desirous to know of Jesus, whether God designed to make known to His people by Him more than He had revealed to them by Moses and the prophets?

Jesus answered him, “ That which I am come to teach you is this : that whoever hopes for happiness in the life to come, must be born again, or from above."

Nicodemus not understanding this way of speaking, though he was a master of Israel, and wondering how a man could be born again, our Lord proceeds to tell him, ver. 6, “ That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” That which you call life, and which you received from your parents, is but a mortal life, which subjects you to sin and to death. Your parents were sinners, and so are you, and such will your children be after you; you have lost the image of God, in which you were created, and nothing on earth can restore you to that, and to God's favour.

:

I do therefore (saith our Lord) solemnly assure you," that ver. 6. except a person be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;" that is, unless he be baptized, and by that means made a member of Christ's Church, a child of God, and an heir of the kingdom of heaven, he cannot partake of that Spirit, from above, which is absolutely necessary to change our nature, to make us new creatures, and to fit us for heaven and happiness everlasting.

Nicodemus not understanding how such a ceremony as baptism should be a means of obtaining that Spirit; or how the Spirit, which we cannot see, should be able to work such a mighty change; our Lord proceeds to convince him, by a familiar instance, that such a thing is not impossible, nor unlikely: “ The wind,” saith He, “ bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth;” that is, though the wind be invisible, yet we find the effects of it very plainly, and in a thousand ways. In like manner, though the Spirit of God be not seen by men, yet He produces very strange effects in those to whom He is communicated. He enables them to subdue their corruptions; He enlightens their understandings; He changes their hearts; He gives them new thoughts, new desires, new affections; in short, if they do not drive Him from them, He will make them new creatures, and fit for that happiness which God designed at first to bestow upon them.

Now, from all this it appears, that if we continue in the state in which we were born, we are certainly undone; “For (John 8. 6; that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” That we can only

Eph. 2. 8.) be restored by the Spirit of God: “By grace ye are saved." That baptism is indeed the ordinary means of salvation; but that baptism does not save us, as it is the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience, bearing witness that we have the Spirit of God. In short; that nothing but becoming new creatures can fit us for heaven; and that nothing but the Spirit of God, communicated to us in His holy ordinances, can make this new creation.

Now, though these things are as plain from the Holy Scriptures as truths can be; yet it is as sure they are too often overlooked, neglected, or despised, by people of careless

« AnteriorContinuar »