« AnteriorContinuar »
him? Would they have nodded to him in the street? Would they have invited him to their social parties? I tell you, nay. Even after he had become a preacher of righteousness, they would have exclaimed with those in the text, “ Is not this the carpenter?” and would have turned with disgust from his presence. And what shall we say, when this unreasonable and unchristian prejudice against the laboring classes is carried into the church of God, so that professors of religion refuse to unite with a church where mechanics attend ? It is often the case, that those who profess to be the followers of Christ will pass right by a church that needs their aid, and in which they can make their influence felt, and can do much good, and will go to another church, where they are not needed, and where their influence is lost in the crowd; because the former is attended by the poor, and the latter by the rich! Would Christ do so ? Do these proud professors really love him who was the carpenter of Nazareth, and who, even after he commenced his public ministry, was so poor that he had not where to lay his head? I tell you, my hearers, that if the Lord Jesus were to revisit the earth, he would consort with the poor rather than with the rich. Yes; and according to his own declaration, he who was for years a laborious mechanic, setting his fellow-men an example of industry, is now represented on earth by the laboring poor of his people; and he has said, with reference to their treatment, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” The whole system now so fully developed in our large cities, of building churches exclusively for the rich, separating them from the poor, is wrong, and the spirit of it, as exhibited in almost every city, is equally unchristian.
6. Christianity is the special friend of the laboring classes. Its divine Founder when on earth identified himself with the poor. He was for thirty years one with them, in toil and hardship, amid contempt and injury. During his public ministry he devoted special attention to that class, so that we read that “the common people heard him gladly," and that it was said of his labors, “The poor have the gospel preached unto them.” The whole spirit of the gospel tends to bless the laboring classes. It comforts them under trials, encourages them amid toil, rebukes all attempts to defraud or oppress them, and tends to elevate their condition and to augment their happiness. He who was himself a mechanic has given to the world a religion for the million, and in all ages they have cheerfully responded to it, while the rich and powerful have perished in their pride. Christ said that “it was easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," while James declared that “God hath chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him." How little is this genius of Christianity understood. Ministers and churches are continually striving to adapt it to the rich and powerful, so as to gain
their favor, overlooking the poor who are the hope of the church. What cause of God has not been carried forward mainly by the poor, the middle and lower classes ? What cause of God have not the rich and great opposed and vainly sought to crush? And yet the sympathies of many ministers and laymen is altogether with the latter. Such is not the spirit of Christianity. That gives its sympathies to those who need them, the toiling, struggling masses.
7. Let each learn to serve God contentedly in the calling in which Providence has placed him. Christ was willing to serve his Heavenly Father in any capacity, and willingly wrought for thirty years as a carpenter. We are prone to make a distinction in employments, as though some were holier than others; but, relatively to each man, his own proper business is the holiest, for it is the one which Providence has assigned, and in which God is best pleased with his labors. Thus Paul reasons, warning his readers against discontent, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman; likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant." The particular employment is not so important, although some are more pleasant and profitable than others, as that it be pursued diligently honestly, and for the glory of God, according to our Saviour's example. In the language of one of our favorite poets, let us say and feel
" In the darkness as in daylight,
On the water as on land,
And beneath us is His hand!
On the deck or in the cot,
Than in working out our lot."
THE WAGES OF SIN.
him? Would th
“The wages of sin is death.” Punishment follows close in lootsteps of crime. Sin and death are intimately allied. biete death is the eldest child of sin. In life, the wages of sin is matere death; in eternity, perpetual exile from the presence of God, everlasting destruction. When we sin, we close our eyes 10 light; we are blind to the established fact that the stipend of trans gression is never-ending death-that the hire of sin is the loss o the soul. When we break the laws of God, we write our own taphs, we follow in the funeral train of our own eternal home we abandon the contest and invite destruction: we acknowleis that we are sold to the Evil One, and court the wrath of an Terrible aberration of mind.
The precursors of this dreadful death are, unsanctifea sus rows: sickness which hath no spiritual consolations ; poverty darkened by despair, and a keen and abiding sense of the loss o in excence, dear as breath at the hour of dying. A German priLower once remarked, that he knew of but two beautiful thing. in the universe the starry sky above our heads, and a sense of duty in our hearts.
This consciousness of guilt, or loss of innocence, is the frontier heran o'eternal death. It springs from the recollection of a thouSann semn warnings—from parents and friends, from school-masters and hol ministers, from pulpits and Sabbaths, from open Rus and the invocations of the pious, and finally, from the mer.
di risitations of Providence, almost periodical. Eternal hopes, the scul appears to have none; it only awaits the "wrath and incentratuan" which shall devour the adversary.
I such are the wages of sin, how shall we avoid the payment of
er the gut of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our
n I become an inmate of the kingdom of heaven, and es.
I all evils, “the wrath to come?" Thanks through our Lord Jesus Christ.
A FAST-DAY SERMON.
BY REV. E. N. KIRK,
The rights of property are held sacred by every civilized people, and, the dishonest appropriation of property held in trust, is a crime which they agree to abhor. But there is a species of robbery, or, more specifically, a breach of trust, which even civilized nations have not learned to condemn. It is that so severely rebuked in this passage; which we may denominate an indictment against a corporation of stewards. To understand it fully, we inust refer to some peculiarities in the social organization of the Israelites. There is a remarkable connection here presented to our view, between temporal blessings and religious ceremonies, and a visiting of temporal judgments upon religious delinquencies is here threatened; which are not witnessed now. And there is also an importance attached here to sacrificial services, which, we are sure, was not founded on their intrinsic value. The Jewish government was entirely unique. Their God and their monarch were the same person; so that his moral government over them assumed a political form; and sins against the moral law were equally sins against the civil law. This explains the threatenings of temporal judgments for religious delinquencies. Here, for instance, were a drought and famine sent upon them for neglecting the services of religion. Under the dispensation of grace in the New Testament, it seems to many wonderful that so much importance could ever have been attached to the sacrifice of ani. mals. But, besides the support of the whole religious system of the nation, which depended chiefly on the altar gifts; and, besides the typical value, or the profound instruction imparted by them in reference to the great doctrine of atonement, they were a loyal expression of homage to their Sovereign. And when the fire consumed the precious offering, it was a beautiful expression of God's acceptance of the gift, and of his festive participation with man in
the fruits of the divine bounty. Any abatement of zeal, therefore, in this department of civil and religious duty, was a virtual departing from their King and God; a species of constructive rebellion, which required a prompt and intelligible expression of the divine displeasure. The prophet Malachi therefore comes, as king's sheriff, to read the indictment in the hearing of the nation.
And now for a few moments we may be spectators of the trial. There had not been an utter abandonment of the forms of worship. But they had offered polluted bread on the altars of the Lord ; they had betrayed an utter heartlessness in their ceremonies; they had turned the whole system of religion into a matter of commerce; they had brought the lame, and the sick, and the torn, to the sacrifice; they had withheld the King's tax, or the tithes on their produce. “Ye have robbed me,” saith God. “Wherein ?” is their reply. “In tithes and offerings.” “But, we are visited with famine, and our flocks are cut off; how can we continue our rich offerings? Our herds and our corn have failed, how can he expect us to bring the best of our small produce in offerings to his temple ? Let him now bless us again with abundance; and then will we bring again the tithes into the storehouse." This is their rejoinder. But hear the King's Attorney again ; “You plead the consequences of your sin as the cause of it. Ye are cursed with a curse for this very reason, that when ye had abundance ye became selfish, and irreligious, and disloyal. This poverty, of which you now complain, would not have come upon you, had you not first forsaken God. Now, therefore, I come to plead the Lord's cause with you. There is yet room for a reconciliation with your offended sove. reign, and for a reparation of this injury. Cease to plead falsely and vainly, to vindicate yourselves. Acknowledge your own delinquencies and God's justice; and now return to him. Yea, poor as you are, embarrassing as the course may be, meet his righteous claims. Bring the tithes into his storehouse; and see what your gracious Sovereign will do for you. You say you are willing to do your duty; that you do not wish nor intend to rob God. But you complain of poverty. Now bring the tithes; come, do your duty. Do not sit waiting for better times, but take the best you have, and bring it to the temple, and put the Lord to the test. Come, make the experiment, and see who is properly the cause of this curse and barrenness; the Lord or yourselves. Come, do your Statys though it takes your last stay from under you; and then see I he will not meet you and bless you."
Our attention is called in this passage to two facts pertaining to ourselves that of God's exclusive ownership, and our breach of
LGO IS THE EXCLUSIVE OWNER OF US AND OUR POSSESSIONS, SASTUS AND OPPORTUNITIES.
What is ownership? A supreme right to enjoy the use of an