« AnteriorContinuar »
In the first place, we notice, What
THE PATRIARCH INTENDED BY THE
Root That Was In Him. In metaphorical language, a root may be employed to illustrate any principle from which effects proceed. In the Old Testament, and in the New, we find the metaphor is employed in this sense, Moses speaks of the root of wormwood which might arise among the children of Israel. Paul exhorts his brother Christians to take heed, lest a root of bitterness spring up and trouble them. He tells Timothy that the love of money is the root of all evil. The metaphor is employed in these different connections to represent a principle from which effects proceed. Sometimes the metaphor is employed for a good principle. Those who are said, in the parable of the Sower, to have withered away, withered because they had no root; evidently referring to the good principle from which spiritual life proceeds. Now, as Job displayed his faith in the beautiful language we have read—and as, upon that confession, he immediately turns upon his opponents, and puts these words into their mouths, "Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me"—it appears that the principle of faith is intended by the Patriarch, and that we may find several points of analogy between the principle of faith in the soul, and the root of any plant, or tree, which vegetates upon our earth.
The analogy will strike you if you remember that the root is the means of stability. So is faith. As the root balances every plant, from the gigantic oak and the towering cedar to the hyssop that grows upon the wall; so faith balances and sustains the soul and character of the Christian. "The heart is established with grace," to use the phrase of the apostle: and, therefore, we find him addressing his brethren of the church at Colosse, saying, "As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him; rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught." Now, "stablished in the faith" seems to be only expletive of the metaphor employed in the previous part of the sentence: so that "stablished In the faith" is that rooting which the apostle describes, and it shows
how the soul is upheld and sustained by the root. And as the tree that has no root has no hold; so that soul that has no faith has no hold. We may gather a few flowers, and put them tastefully in water, or sand, in our drawing-rooms, and they will appear there pleasant for an hour or two: but place them in the atmosphere, and they will not stand the heat of the sun, nor the blast of the wind: they have no root; and having no root they wither away. So if we are placed as ornamental objects in the church of Christ, we shall, for a time, serve to fill up the pews, to fill up the church book, and to give the name and the effect which numbers must secure: but, having no root, in the time of trial we shall wither away. Sirs, there are storms of temptation, as well as storms of persecution and error, which will come on every professing soul: and if we have not a living principle to grasp the eternal rock of ages—if we are not laying hold of Christ by faith, with that tenacity and spiritual grasp which the root has of the living soil, we shall not brave the hurricane, we shall not outlive the tempest. Let us, therefore, be very anxious that we be found to possess the root of the matter, that we may have that principle in ua which shall live even amid the trials of mortality.
The Patriarch, I think, meant faith by the root, not only as faith is the means of stability, but as faith is the channel of nourishment. As the fibrous parts of the root of any plant absorb the moisture which the earth supplies, so faith receives the spirit which the Saviour imparts. Thus the idea of vitality is intimately connected with faith in the rooting of the divine word. "The just shall live by faith." All the representations we have of faith are connected with the act of repentance. We are said to "lay hold on Christ"—to "eat the flesh of the Son of God"—to "drink the water of life freely." These representations of laying hold on Christ, of receiving Christ as the meat and drink of the soul, are all analogous to the idea of the root taking up the moisture, and those elements which the earth supplies, for the existence of plants. Let it be our desire, that our faith be so in exercise that it may be a channel of nourishment. Preaching and reading the divine word will do little good, but as faith is thus in exercise. The Israelites, we are told, heard the word, but it did not profit them; because they did not mix faith with what they heard. The state of their souls was like an unhappy patient with a deranged stomach, whose food will never nourish him, because the chemical process of digestion is incomplete. Let us see, then, that we have faith which will enable lis to receive, from the exhibition of his glorious character and his varied offices—which will enable us to receive from his assured fullness of grace and divine influence—which will enable us to derive from his exceeding great and precious promises, all that comfort, all that support, and all that strength, which our spirits need.
We may say that the Patriarch intended faith by the root that was in him, because faith is the source of spiritual production. Botanists tell us that the root performs the part of a tender parent, by preserving the embryo plant in its bosom: and thus all the stems, and leaves, and petals, and fruit, are found in the root. Here the analogy is very complete: because as the root is the source of production to the plant, so faith is the source of every other grace in the soul. Do I need repentance to be exercised? Faith must look upon him whom I have pierced; and then I shall mourn, and be in bitterness, as one that mourneth for his only son. Do I hope for the glory of God? Hope is the daughter of faith, which receives the testimony of life and immortality brought to light by the gospel. Do I possess peace? Peace results from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; for "being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." We find, then, Sirs, that faith is the source of spiritual production. Thus we read of "the hearing of faith," and "the prayer of faith," and " the obedience of faith," and " the victory of faith." "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even yourfaith." See, then, friends, that faith is indeed the radical grace, as from it the production of every other grace comes. It is said in ecclesiastical history, that Julian the Apostate reproached the Christians as those who cried. Only
believe. The church of Rome has repeated this charge against Protestants, saying, that we make faith every thing. Brethren, let us show, that while we contend for faith as the means of justification, we regard faith as a seminal grace, as a grace that produces the fruits of holiness. Let our faith bud, and blossom, and bear fruit. Let it be found to produce fruit in the lips, even praise to our God—fruit in the hands, even acts of Christian liberality, and diligence, and laboriousness—fruit in the life, manifesting our consecration to Him whose we are, and whom we desire to serve.
Let us notice, in the second place,
HOW THE PATRIARCH MANIFESTEO THAT THIS ROOT WAS IN HIM. "Why
persecute ye him, seeing the root of the matter is in me i" It was found in him, first, by the confession which he uttered. Faith has ever been the parent of a good confession. "I believed," said the Psalmist, "therefore have I spoken." The apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, recognizes this same principle:—" The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." So that, a confession of the truth is one of the legitimate effects of faith. It was thus the faith of Job was manifested. "I know that my Redeemer liveth." He believed in a Redeemer—a living Redeemer—a Redeemer not yet incarnate; and yet with such confidence did he believe in him, that he was enabled to triumph over the afflictive circumstances by which he was surrounded. His faith evidenced these things: she did not see them, for they were afar off; but she knew them. Faith has been compared to the patriarch Jacob. When he was dim of sight, and his son Joseph brought his little grandchildren to him to be blessed, and he put his hand on the younger instead of the elder, and gave him the blessing, and when Joseph wished to correct him, he said, "I know it, I know it." He did not see the boy, but he was directed by the light within to the right child. Let it' be our happiness, then, to have a faith like Job's—to know the Redeemer, though we have not seen him ; remembering that this characterized some of the saints even in the apostolic age:— "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
Now, if the root be manifested by a confession made of the Lord Jesus Christ, what are we to say to you, my brethren, who profess to believe in the Son of God, and yet are ashamed of him before men. There are some of you that are most reluctant to avow your Christianity—ashamed, foolishly and sinfully ashamed, to declare yourselves the disciples of Christ—have kept yourselves back from identifying your persons with his people, your name with his cause. Remember he has said, "He that is ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of the Father with the holy angels." We cannot bear the dread laugh of the world, in an age so tolerant and latitudinarian as our own. Oh, Sirs, how should we endure persecution? how should we endure the prison, and the rack, and the gibbet, and the stake ?—how should we be enabled to cry with the first Christians, when they were brought into the area of the amphitheatre, I am a Christian, though ferocious lions were about to tear them, and the more savage multitude to exult in the shedding of their blood? Let us remember, that our faith is to be shown by our confession ; and let it be our desire to confess the Son of God before men. We have all need to consider that we are very deficient here; and let me charge my own conscience, and charge yours, to make a more steadfast avowal of our attachment to the truth as it is in Jesus.
How the Patriarch manifested that this root was in him is, secondly, to be seen by the satisfaction he avows. In the confession to which we have referred, he could say, " I know that my Redeemer liveth." At this moment Job had little that he could call his own. Where were his health and strength? Gone. Where were his riches and reputation? Gone.
Where were his family and friends? Gone. See him sitting, as it were, upon a dunghill, a miserable and squalid object, stript of all the ordinary possessions of life. What can he call his own? "I know that my Redeemer liveth." Having nothing, he possessed all things. Being poor, he was now eternally rich. Faith in the Son of God satisfied his mind under all the desolations, and amid all the ruin, which Divine Providence had spread around him. And whether we be placed in Job's circumstances or not, allow me to say, that it is only appropriating faith in the Son of God that can satisfy the mind. Some may have been long seeking the living among the dead—long seeking to satisfy the cravings of their immortal spirits with earthly good. They have been, to use an emphatic metaphor, like the wild asses on the mountains, snuffing up the wind, finding nothing to satisfy their appetites, nothing to meet the craving of their spirits. But the man that is enabled to look to the Redeemer—the individual that can, by faith, anticipate his second and glorious coming—the individual who knows he is united with him, and that, at length, he shall be quickened with him, and reign with him—that man has satisfaction such as the world cannot impart. If Job enjoyed this satisfaction under the dispensations in which he was placed— if he, who had no written scriptures— (mark that word—Job had no written scriptures)—if he, who had no regularly constituted system of worship, and but one typical appointment which could lead his mind to Christ—without the advantages of the ministry, and the light which has been diffused, by the coming of Christ, upon the whole system—if he could so triumph in Jesus Christ, and find such satisfaction in him—really, Sirs, we might attain to greater comforts than we possess, if we were not so unbelieving. Lord, increase our faith; and then our comforts and our consolations shall multiply.
The Patriarch manifested that this root was in him, thirdly, by the disposition he displayed. You have heard of the patience of Job: he has become proverbial among the sons of men for the endurance which he manifested under complicated trials. What was this patience but the result of faith? The individual who can see God as his Father reconciled in Jesus Christ— who can see him as an all-wise and gracious Father, working all things for the good of his children, and for the good of each individual child who puts his trust in him—that individual has motives to patience such as no one else possesses; and he is enabled to say with the apostle, " Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who hath loved us." Thus faith enables us in patience to possess our souls: and it is by the radical character of the grace of faith, which produces patience and every other lovely fruit of the Spirit, that evinces the root of the matter to be in us.
Let us, in the third place, notice What The Patriarch Expected. He expected forbearance and sympathy from kit fellow-believers, seeing he had the root of the matter in him. Many of us greatly err in entertaining uncharitable thoughts, and in using unguarded words, in reference to them who have the root of the matter in them. Here was a controversy between Job and his friends, upon apoint of truth in which they differed. It was not very apparent then which of them had the right of the question; though it is evident afterwards that Job was in the right. But seeing there was a debating between them, the truth was common to them all: for we must regard these friends as believers in the true God, and interested in his favour, as well as Job. Why, then, should they persecute him because he differed with them on a point of less moment? I think it is one of the errors of the times, that those things which are regarded not as essential truths, are treated with comparative levity and unimportance. But while I would not
field the smallest fraction of truth, if know it to be so; yet, when I debate upon a question, let me take heed that I do not run into a persecuting and injurious spirit. If I think that he with whom I dispute be wrong, and I am right, a principle of forbearance is re
quisite, because the root of the matter is in him. I am not to judge him; I am not to condemn him: he that believeth shall not be condemned; and if he is not condemned of his Master, let me not undertake to judge or censure him.
Not only did the Patriarch expect forbearance, but he also expected from them sympathy. If they were believers in common with himself, they possessed a common root. And here, if you will allow me to mar the harmony of the metaphor for a moment, we will compare them to branches on one stem; they were united together as members with one body. Sympathy with the suffering members was their duty and their privilege: for if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it. Let us therefore feel, that the appeal of Job to his persecuting friends, against their want of sympathy, may be applied to us, when little questions, which may be between us and our brethren, lead us to withhold our sympathy and affection from them. Let us not regard that as common and unclean which God has ordained, which God has sanctified and blessed. Let us regard the root of the matter as in them; and though we do not see eye to eye, let us, without a sacrifice of principle, forbear and sympathize as common members of the common body of our Head.
It is an interesting question which must arise out of this subject—" Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" From the train of remark into which I have been led, it will be seen that there is no vitality, no nourishment, no stability, no production in the soul, but as it has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ —that a confession of Christ must be insincere without faith—that professed satisfaction in Christ must be delusive and dangerous without faith—that no disposition of patient endurance can be possessed without faith. We are neither safe now, nor shall we be safe for eternity, unless we believe on the Son of God. Do we regard the testimony which God has given of his Son? "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." "He is able to save unto the very uttermost all that come to God by him." The man who first constructed a ship, and launched forth the vessel from the shore upon the ocean, must have had faith in those principles which have now become so certain that we overlook their existence. Now a man builds a ship, and launches her forth upon the bosom of the deep, himself seated at the helm with triumph; because he knows that, from the principle of the laws of matter, that vessel will be borne upon the bosom of the waters, and ride in triumph there. Now, you are not called to make the experiment for the first time; though a knowledge of the principles God has laid down might enable you to launch forth on the deep. But you have seen soul after soul, millions after millions of the people of God, casting their troubles all upon Christ, launching forth upon the ocean of his love, who have been sustained and borne onward till they arrived at the haven of eternal rest. Oh, then, for a simple faith to cast ourselves upon the Son of God—to cry to him, " Lord, save me, or I perish." Without any precaution, as it regards qualification and a previous state of fitness to come to Christ, let us feel that our guilt and our misery are warrants to come; just as a melancholy accident would be the warrant for you to bear the patient to the door of yonder hospital, and claim admission for him, that he might be healed. Jesus is able and willing to receive all that come unto him. God enable us with the simplicity of faith to trust in him.
"Dost thou believe on the Son of God," is a question of great moment to you. "He that believeth on the Son hath life; and he that believeth
not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." This is a question that belongs to every class of individuals. It belongs to the aged especially; because there may be but a step between them and death. But it belongs, too, to those in middle life; for they need the comforts and consolations which faith in Christ confers. It belongs to the young, to you, my dear children, who surround me on every hand, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that the wrath of God is not to be revealed, but it now rests just as the penalty of the law rests upon a criminal, as soon as his judge has pronounced sentence, and who, at any moment, may be carried to the scaffold, and endure the penalty. When we hear, as we have heard during the past week, and as we hear every week, only the instances are not commonly so splendid, and death does not always take so high a mark—when we hear how uncertain life is, and how, in the midst of all the excitement and gladness of friends, and associates, and admirers, and in the midst of prosperity and enjoyment, we may be cut off at a stroke—oh, Sirs, how necessary it is to believe on the Son of God, and to be prepared, that whether we live or die we may be the Lord's. Let me beseech you to give all attention to the matter, and see that you are interested in the Son of God. Then the root of the matter shall be found in you—a root which shall put forth glorious blossoms that shall not fade, and bring forth the fruits of holiness, through a happy immortality: which God grant, for Christ's sake.—Amen.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. W. DODSWORTH,
AT MARGARET CHAPEL, MARGARET STREET, CAVENDISH SQUARE, SEPT. 19, 1830.
Matthew, vi. 13.—" But deliver us from evil."
We have now arrived at the last petition in this comprehensive Prayer, which our Lord has left us as our model. This petition is obviously connected very closely with the one
immediately preceding it; so much so, that many commentators consider them as successive clauses in the same petition. That we may profitably enter into the discussion of the words