Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and Pharisees, yet wept over the devoted city. And Paul, while warning the disciples of the Lord against the character and the doom of opposers and apostates, breathed none other than the spirit of Christ.“ Brethren, be ye followers of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction."

I must not enlarge. Much have I omitted, lest I should inex. cusably presume upon your indulgence. But I could hardly feel warranted to say less, in exposition of the nature of the "weapons of our warfare," -our own warfare, my brethren, if “we do not war according to the flesh," and if, like Paul, we labor to promote the gospel, by publishing it as a definite and distinctive system of faith and practice, indispensable to salvation and freely offered to all ; publishing it in simplicity and godly sincerity, without the inventions or admixtures, the artifices and embellishments of worldly wisdom, and without false professions to secure honors or emoluments ; publishing it with earnestness most intense as, being a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death, and with boldness, as that of which none should be ashamed, but which all should be ready to confess and to proclaim in all places ; publishing it with meekness and humility, because its most honored champions are themselves but pardoned rebels, and because their preaching is made effectual only by the power of the Holy Ghost, in answer to fervent prayer; and publishing it in love-love to God, love to Christ, love to the Church, love to all men-holy love-universal, unbounded, ever-enduring philanthropy.

These weapons are indeed not carnal. The means by which Paul achieved such triumphs for the honor of Christ Jesus, were of the kingdom which is "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." From those, who, as the professed friends of Christ, and of souls perishing in sin, would otherwise seek to gain victories and conquests in the empire of the powers of darkness, the cause of our Redeemer needs no assistance. One such warrior in "the good fight of faith,” as was Paul, would achieve more than a thousand thousand or a thonsand million of them.

And as now we look back from our advanced position, can any distrust the "weapons of our warfare," which were ordained and furnished by Him, who is “wonderful in counsel and excellent in working ?Did not the ancient "soldiers of the cross ” plant the banner of the Prince of Peace and of Life upon the ramparts or the ruins of all the majestic and magnificent structures of idolatry and classic mythology, throughout the almost interminable empire of the Cæsars ? what “strongholds” then, from the Acrtic circle to the capes of the South Atlantic and Pacific, can be too strong for " the sacramental host of God's elect," if they will but take to themselves " the whole armor of God ; having their loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness, and their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace ; above all, taking the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ?” As ministers at home, or as missionaries abroad—from the river to the ends of the earth,what more do we need, and what have we to fear, if the truth and Christ be in us, and for us?

If ever for one moment we are tempted to inquire, whether, in " the faith once delivered to the saints," and in " the whole armor of God," we have all that is requisite for the world's emancipation from all its boudage,-let history speak to us, as God's witness in providence. Let it suffice, and more than suffice, to mark the recorded results of all such pretensions and movements, as those of some in our days, who claim to have left the prophets and apostles far behind them, and even to have hope of seeing, as well as heralding, a “better” Jesus, than “ Paul preached !!" Such are they, who verily would "turn the world upside down," if large numbers could be infatuated or stultified enough, to embrace their impious and detestable fooleries,-gravely propounded as they are, with so many "goodly words," as reason, freedom, eqnality, fraternity, progress, happiness, perfection! Let them all throw off the mask, “ as the manner of some is," and it is no violation of the “charity” which is of Christ, to say of them, that we should " see the dragon's nature in their bosom!"

It would be “a new thing under the sun,” for Satan to “cast out Satan.” And would that they who have named the name of Christ, and most of all that they who minister in that name, would more experimentally and faithfully remember that his kingdom is not of this world ; that, despised as may be the gospel, it is mighty to the uttermost through Christ's all-sufficiency and almightiness ; and that, while bold as lions, the servants of the Lord that bought them, with blood most precious, should ever be wise as serpents and harmless as doves! O if it had always been thus, there could not have been, at this eventful period of the 19th century, so much of the land of promise yet to be possessed-80 many millions of heathen in such fearfully dark places of the earth, and who have never heard the name of Jesus, or the first note of the song :-“ How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth salvation !” If, since the farewell charge upon the Mount of Olives, all that have named the name of Christ, had been faithful to his word and spirit, as was Paul, then would they have been to the enemies of the cross “terrible as an army with banners ;” and they would have gone forth from conquering to conquer, until long since "every knee" should have been constrained to "bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

It is, as I humbly conceive, no common responsibility, whatever may be said of the privilege,-which pertains to the office of a minister of the gospel, in our ancient commonwealth of Massachusetts. May I then be permitted to inquire, to what end we have now come up to this city of the fathers and of the children, at this anniversary of "holy convocation ?” What do we hear, as ministers of the New Testament,-worthy in any measure of our "high calling,"—if "we seek our own, and not the things which are Jesus Christ's ;” and if, while participating in these numerous solemnities, we do not find it in our hearts to return to our pulpits and the people of our charge, with a renewed resolution in love stronger than death, that we will PREACH CHRIST more faithfully than ever-as much as in us lies,-by the power “of faith and of the Holy Ghost ? " What higher commission than ours can mortals have, from the highest heaven? And who is sufficient for the trust thereof, without Christ and the spirit of Christ, as his light, love, and life?

While he himself, our adorable Master and Saviour, has left us in his own divine ministry-when" in the days of his flesh,"—that human example, which can so far be appropriated and approached, that Paul might say to us,-"Brethren, be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ,"—it is yet an occasion of unspeakable gratitude, that we have the apostle's own undying example, for our instruction, our admonition, and our animating consolation. Can any of us follow him too closely, in any one principle, rule, or characteris. tic of all those means, by which “Christ wrought" in him, “to make the gentiles obedient, by word and deed ?” Ours is the same Lord, the same gospel, the same baptism, the same rejoicing hope. Let us, therefore, so preach the gospel, as we have him for our example ; and like him, let us feel that all our sufficiency is of God in Christ, and Christ in our own souls. And to this end, may the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom !

"If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle ?" Let no man, then, ever be at a loss to determine what it is that we preach, as the gospel of Christ ; and let no sincere and kindly-affectioned believer in Jesus ever have occasion for a doubt, that we preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,—as opportunity is given us to magnify our office. Whatever may be the signs of the times ; whatever the aspect of the churches in this "goodly heritage," now extended from ocean to ocean ; whatever the encouragements or the discouragements in our immediate sphere of labor and of trial, whether we have a refreshing from on high, or the love of many waxes cold, and iniquity abounds, and we seem to be in the very region and shadow of death ;-let us still preach Christ and him crucified, as the sovereign remedy for all the woes of man, until time shall be no more.

In the spirit and devotedness of Paul, we also should be “determined not to know anything save Jesus Christ and him crucified." And like him too we should ever in our preaching, spontaneously and impressibly, make manifest our personal and our joyous faith in the Creator and the Crucified as ONE. Ineffectual, utterly ineffectual, for the purposes and the ends of the Christian ministry, will be all our preaching,—if we do not HONOR THE SON EVEN AS THE FATHER! It will not, it cannot be, in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, -witness, if example were needed, the memorable ministrations of Chalmers,-intellectual, accomplished, earnest, and eloquent as he was, in his fourteen years at Kilmany. It cannot be possible for us to make too much of Christ, in our private and our public life ; or to preach too many sermons ALL OF CHRIST.

We are of course to avoid all appearance and all reality of aim at "excellency of speech," as if of men we sought glory. But the beauty of holiness and love in the gospel is infinitely worthy of the richest and the purest offerings of human genius, learning, and refinement. True it is as ever, according to the sacred description and commendation of eloquence, that "a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” And we are without excuse, certainly the most of us,--if we ever prompt a hearer to inquire, whether there be any incompatibility between the requirements of evangelical truth and the laws of good taste ; or whether any man can be warranted to make the offence of the cross still more an offence to the carnal mind, by a seeming or an actual disregard of those proprieties and attractions of style, in which the original Scriptures excel all the literature of all nations.

Such " foolishness" as Paul had in his preaching, it is very safe and very wise in us now to have. But his “foolishness of preaching," so called, was not FOOLISH preaching nor vulgarity, nor discourtesy. “Since I have known God in a saving manner," Henry Martyn once remarked, “painting, poetry, and music, have had charms unknown to me before. I have received what I suppose is a taste for them : for religion has refined my mind, and made it susceptible of impressions for the sublime and beautiful. O how religion secures the heightened enjoyment of those pleasures which keep so many from God, by their becoming a source of pride !" Such a testimony is above suspicion, and is not to be lightly esteemed.

To her preachers, from the beginning hitherto, New England has been most indebted, under God, for her unrivalled advancement in civilization, her exalted character of intelligence, her correctness and propriety and strength of language, as well as her distinction in theology and morals. But no man can shut his eyes to the fact, that there has never been so great a degree of enlightened elevation among the people at large, nor so much of intellectual activity applied to all subjects and objects; and hence never so much of imperative demand for a high order of excellence in the general or ordinary character of the ministrations of the sanctuary. To such a state of things we must adapt ourselves, as best we may, by our diligence in study, and our increased watchfulness unto prayer. But, alas, are there not too many of us, who have no light reason to fear, that we STUDY FAR LESS, because we PRAY THE LESS ? And if the study and the closet of all could here testify, would it not be said of more than one, in the lamenting confessions of another, that “want of private devotional reading and shortness of prayer, through incessant sermon-making, had produced strangeness between God and his soul !"

And my beloved and respected brethren, why is it, that we so often seem to forget, that we stand between the living and the dead ? It cannot, full well I know, be expected of any of Christ's ministers, that they should always be alike interested, earnest, powerful and impressive. But if we preach of heaven and hell, as a stone speaking to stones," or if when redeeming love is our theme, we are as cold and passionless as the unquarried marble,how can it be, that we commend the truth to any man's conscience, or how do we anything, as becometh us, that Christ may see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied ?

Yet must it be remembered, that no one has a commission to preach, as if in his own hands were “the keys of hell and of death," and it was for him to open or shut at his pleasure. And a sad blemish, if not a fearful sign of the inward spirit or interior life, it must be regarded in any man's preaching, who declaims of "the damnation of hell," as if sure of personal deliverance from the wrath to come, and cared little, except as effecting his place and emoluments, whether his bearers repented, or perished ! Not so was he who ceased not to warn every man, day and night, with tears, and who always exercised himself to have a conscience void of offence, and so unremittingly watched over his remaining propensities of corruption and liabilities of iniquity,--lest after having preached the gospel to others, he himself should be a castaway !

There are views that we might take of ourselves and our responsibilities, which, if long cherished and not counteracted, would seriously hinder us in our work, and greatly embitter our sweetest satisfactions. An example, if I do not much mistake, we have in that eminently holy young man, David Brainerd ; so also in a marked degree, in the godly and devout Henry Martyn; not to speak of Payson and of others, whose praise is in all our churches. But may I say to my coævals, and more especially to my younger brethren, that, if we would have as heavenly a spirit as that of Payson, or of Martyn, or of Brainerd, and as close a walk with God, —with a cheerfulness and a lovliness unsurpassed in any whom we have ever known, -we may find a model with which many may do well to be more familiar. I refer to Robert Murray McCheyne, of the Free Church of Scotland, and who, not inappropriately, has been called the Henry Martyn of Scotland.

Perhaps some may have known of him only by that song of Jehovah Tzideknu,” or “The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,"—a strain, which would seem to be pure and sweet enough for the holiest melodies of a blood-bought harp in heaven. Upon the beauty of His life unto Christ-amidst severe infirmities and most arduous toils,- there was no veil, and no tinge or shadow of sombre melancholy. He had joy in believing ; and joy over many sinners repenting. “He dwelt while here below, far away from the damps that rise about Doubting Castle, and hard by the Beulah, where the sunlight ever falls." And why should not we-all of us,—and why not all here present with us, or associated with us, as "fellow-helpers to the truth, "-why should not we all be thus devoted, --be thus lovely and heavenly,—thus happy and rejoicing in the Lord our Righteousness ?

Young as he was, he was accustomed to seal his letters, with the impression of the sun going down behind the mountains, and the motto on it-"The night cometh.” Brethren, “the night cometh," very soon to some of us. But not too soon, for him who is ready and waiting for his Lord. Meanwhile, when so much can be

« AnteriorContinuar »