« AnteriorContinuar »
of ourselves—not to be one of those glorious spirits, but to be such a poor, weak and infirm creature as you and I feel ourselves to be.
I may go on to observe, Thirdly, that the angels are celestial or heavenly spirits. Heaven was their first and proper abode and dwelling place— there it is they surround the bright and heavenly throne of God—there they see his face and share his glory —there, in delighted adoration, they cease not to cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory"—there it is they feed on the bread of life, and drink deeply, and for ever, of the fountain of life. Had it pleased the son of God, therefore, to take upon him their nature, he would at least have continued to dwell in the immediate presence of his Father—in one of the rooms of the palace of the Great King;—he would have heard unceasing songs of gratitude and love to him that sitteth on the throne—his eye would have been wounded by no scenes of vice, or sorrow, or worldliness, or impiety—he would have seen no act of rebellion, have heard no whisper of disaffection to the Great Sovereign of the Universe in that bright world—he would have been called to ascociate only with heavenly intelligences, with beings inferior in holiness only to him who is their Creator. But, brethren, when he took upon him our nature he descended at once into scenes of sorrow and of sin—be walked amidst the sad ruins of the original Creation of God— he came to see vice in all its power and surrounded with all its awful consequences—to hear the name of God blasphemed—to see his temple defiled —his day dishonoured—to witness the infidelity of the Sadducees, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and to endure the almost universal contempt and violence of those for whom he shed his blood. "He came to his own and
his own received him not." Oh, brethren, what a world for the Son of God to behold!
Suppose him to enter it now, he finds in one creature indifference, insensibility, infidelity, conflict and violence, injury, controversy and bitterness and disappointed pride. He finds, even in his own church, the breaking down of the best principles, the want of simplicity, the want of integrity, the absence of that simple and intense love, that has carried some as martyrs to the stake, but which is scarcely strong enough, in our own age, to induce us, even for a moment, to subject our will to the will of our heavenly Father. He came to look into such families as, perhaps, yours or mine, or into other families where there was no approach to God in prayer, no study of the word, no dedication of the heart to God , or to see some where their prayers were neglected, and the Bible hypocritically studied; and, moreover, however loud the profession, the practice was loose, and the temple was abandoned. While the true servant of God, as he walks the path of his earthly pilgrimage, finds much to shake his moral peace, and to wound the best feelings of his mind, it is impossible for him to pass through our streets, our towns, our villages, and not to find much there revolting to every good feeling of his own heart; and yet how dull must we conceive his moral sensibility to be in comparison with that of the crucified Saviour? How has our familiarity with sin in our own case, and that of others, deluded our taste for the beauties of holiness I But, brethren, in the pure and perfect mind of the Saviour, we may believe, that sin presented itself in all its unmixed, undisguised, and polluted vileness; and yet, remember, he chose to dwell among us, to take our nature, to surround himself with all that could wound a mind that hated iniquity with a perfect hatred, when "he took on him not the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham."
This inquiry, my Christian brethren, might be extended almost indefinitely —extended, indeed, till we get to topics from which I am persuaded men had better abstain. Strive not to fathom the deep things of God, strive rather to enter in at the narrow gate— "for straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that enter therein." I would rather stop my enquiry on this point, and go on, Secondly, To Draw
A TEW PLAIN INFERENCES, FROM THE SUBJECT, WHICH APPEAR TO ME OF IMPORTANCE, AND TO BEAR WITH MUCH POWER, ON THE OBJECT TO WHICH OUR ATTENTION IS TO BE
Called To-day. In the First place, then, if the Son of God thus took on him, not the nature of angels, but the nature of man, how immeasurable is the debt of gratitude and love which we owe to him. Brethren, allow me to make two suppositions that may serve, as I think, to put this subject in a strong point of view.
In the first place, suppose that instead of the Son of God taking our nature upon him, he had taken upon him the nature of angels, and that intelligence of the fact had been conveyed to the pure and heavenly spirits which surround the throne of God. Suppose them to be told that he had stooped from the throne of ages to assume the nature of those wretched spirits who are now sunk in the darkness of perdition for ever. Let me ask, brethren, what would have been the transport of the spirits around the throne of God? How do you think they would have received that intelligence? How would their shining ranks have crowded round to proclaim his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth? Brethren, compare
their feelings with ours, compare them with your own ; even now, when they contemplate his sufferings, not for themselves or their own order, but for you, for poor fallen man, we know that they make the concave of heaven ring with their shouts of wonder and of praise. Oh, brethren, is this the state of your own minds? Is it thus you feel for the Saviour of sinners? you that have been the objects of this salvation—you whose nature he took and for whom he shed his blood—for whom he thus mixed himself in scenes of pollution, and encountered the calamities and the scenes of vice—for whose sake he surrounded himself with every thing that was hostile to his own nature, encountered and bore all the trials and temptations of the world—do you, in whose cause he bore all this, let me ask, do you love him? Does your song rise to him? Have you the anthem of gratitude on your lips? Do you give the only substantial proof that you love him by walking consistently in the path of your duty, and thus adorning the doctrine of God your Saviour? Is your religion a religion of love—love to him who first loved you? It was the observation of a great divine, when asked what was meant by Christianity—it is this, said he, "we love him who first loved us." Is that your Christianity— is that your language?
But again, brethren, suppose the fact, that he had taken upon him the nature of angels, to have been conveyed to the miserable spirits that are now confined in everlasting chains for the vengeance of the Great Day, who now, in chambers of unutterable darkness and despair, linger out the course of an agonizing existence—suppose some messenger from heaven to have conveyed the same glad tidings which angels conveyed to the shepherds, "Unto you is born a Saviour who is Christ the Lord"—suppose them to have been told that their everlasting chains might be broken, the flames of unextinguishable fire quenched, the worm that never dies destroyed, and themselves once more lifted from hell to heaven, and reinstated in all the joys and glories of their Father's house—I do not ask how the intelligence would have been received by them, because we are altogether unable to conceive how such intelligence would act upon minds that had once risen in open rebellion against God, trampled on the riches of his grace, and polluted the - brightness of his immediate presence; but this I may say with confidence, that they could scarcely receive it worse than multitudes on earth, that they could scarcely receive it worse than those who profess his name, and live lives of violence and dissipation, or unbelief, or half-belief—of dedication to the world, when they profess to be the disciples of a crucified Lord—they could scarcely receive it worse than many who profess the name of Jesus, and yet lock up their heart against every generous principle, banish from the soul every noble affection and sympathy, and, professing to live for him who lived for any one but himself, live only to themselves, their interest, their honour, their selfgratification, their self-indulgence—I may truly say, that they could scarcely receive it worse than those who sin, because grace abounds, who dishonour the name of Christianity by connecting with it the principles and practices and tempers of a fallen world, who repay the Lord of life for his agony and death by crucifying him afresh, by driving home again the nails of the cross and platting a new crown of thorns for his brow.
Brethren, if there be any person in this congregation that loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, I would earnestly pray, that these simple considerations may serve with the power of the Holy
Spirit to awaken in him a deep feeling of the love and gratitude which they owe to their Lord and Master. Brethren, you yourselves are the objects of his love. To you is given what was denied to angels, to throw yourselves at the feet of your great and glorious benefactor, of your crucified and risen Lord, of the Saviour who ever liveth to make intercession for you—who, even now, has not divested himself of the nature of man—who is, even now, not ashamed to call us brethren, but on the throne of ages, and amidst the innumerable company of angels, and the splendours and glories of the eternal God, is still the Lamb that was slain. This is the Saviour we present to you, and this is the Saviour whom we call on you to adore and to love.
But, finally, brethren, I may further observe, from the doctrine of the text, what a powerful lesson it conveys to us, as to our feelings and conduct with regard to each other. Did the Son of God take upon him not the nature of holy and heavenly angels, but of miserable fallen guilty men in all our affections? Was he afflicted? Did he submit himself to suffer, that he might suffer no longer? Then, brethren, what an irresistible argument does his conduct supply for tenderness, compassion, love, benificence; for largeness and liberality of heart and conduct to every breathing creature in this wilderness of tears! Look at him, brethren, conversing with the guilty woman of Samaria, wiping the eyes of the weeping penitent at his feet—contemplating the poor widow, and commending her, as she cast in her two mites into the treasury—raising the son of the widow and delivering him with inexpressible tenderness to his mother's arms—and then, can you believe, that such a Saviour would not contribute to ameliorate the sufferings, and increase the comforts of those of whom I am the advocate to-day? Brethren, there are very many points in which the sort of charity, of which I have to speak, corresponds with the example of Christ and with the precepts he has given. I need not tell you, for instance, how much of his tenderness was directed to the bodies of men—I need not say how much of his tenderness and compassion he bestowed on the female sex—I need not say how much his regard to the wants and wishes of other persons, how much it consisted in visiting the distressed ;—but, perhaps, there is a single point on which I may dwell. It is observable, with regard to every act of our Lord, which was directed by the object of advancing the bodily means or comfort of those around him, that their souls were never forgotten; that if, with the one hand, he strived to mitigate suffering, with the other he laboured to promote holiness. And such, brethren, I believe, is especially the object of the institution, which I am begging you to assist. I believe I may honestly say, that their object is not merely that these women should be comforted in an hour in which they much want comfort, but, in the language of the apostle, "that they should be saved in childbearing." Their object is, that, perhaps, the only hours of solitude and repose in that life of a poor woman should be watched over, should be seen for purposes of religion, that she should find a tender and intelligent and spiritual friend and instructor standing at her bed-side smoothing her pillow and binding up the wounds of her heart, that this should be a season consecrated to religion and to the salvation of the soul. I need not enter further into the case; I believe the particulars with regard to this institution are sufficiently known to the great mass of persons, who are attending this place of worship. I might, perhaps, remind you,
that one hundred and fifty cases have been relieved during the present year. From the commencement of this institution many thousands have been visited and relieved in these particular circumstances, and that much comfort to the body, and, I believe, much benefit to the soul has been thought, by those best qualified to judge, to have resulted from those visits of mercy and love.
I will, therefore, only say, brethren, if you love your Saviour—if you feel there is any thing of power in the arguments which have been adduced from Scripture to-day, that your gracious Lord so loved you, as to be willing to stoop to your wants and necessities, though he was rich to become poor, that you, through his poverty, might be rich—if that is the case, then, brethren, let the supporters of this institution have your assistance in so pure and benevolent a design—let those in this congregation, who know the comfort of having their own wants almost anticipated in their peculiar circumstances, let them hasten to make others, in a less favourable state than their own, on whom Providence has lavished his bounties less largely, partakers of your own comfort and your own happiness, for if you expect more of comfort yourselves you must be ready to give it to others.
May this congregation comprehend, among high and low, many happy mothers and holy children, and may he, who is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, bind each of you, one to another, with the same golden chain by which he has, I trust, bound many of you to himself, even for ever; and as Christ took upon him, not the nature of angels, but your nature, may you endeavour, brethren, to manifest his spirit and to walk in his steps through the several stages of your earthly pilgrimage! • • *, The resurrection of Christ is one of the greatest events of the Gospel; perhaps the most glorious circumstance in it. It is, as it were, the acceptance by the Father of the great work of atonement. It is the broad seal of heaven put upon the one sacrifice, by which he did for ever perfect them that are sanctified. It is the open declaration, that the debt has been perfectly cancelled, that the ten thousand times ten thousand talents have all been paid, that he who was made sin for his church, though he knew no sin, has been pronounced righteous, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him. But, in another point of view, the resurrection of Christ is in a covenant sense the resurrection of the church; for as every member of his body was in the Father's eye crucified with him, when he hung upon the accursed tree, so that they suffered in their head; so also, in the resurrection of their head, do they all participate; and when he rose from the dead, it was, in a glorious sense, the church rising with him. I trust that this part of my subject may not be lightly thought of by any that hear me; for it is one of the greatest glories of the Gospel.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. H. EVANS,
AT JOHN STREET CHAPEL, KINGS ROAD, APRIL 3, 1831.
Colossians, iii. 1, 2.—" If ye then be risen with Christ, *ech thote things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections am things above, not on things on the earth."
His resurrection, too, was, as it were, the great example of our resurrection. The spirits of the just made perfect are now, I doubt not, unutterably happy; but the perfection of their happiness shall be when their bodies are united to them, and of
this blessed event, which will be the perfection of the church, the resurrection of our dear Lord is the great pattern. And besides all this, it is the effect of his resurrection, that every spiritual blessing descendeth to the church;—that any souls are converted, that any heart is quickened, that any work is revived, that any backslider is restored, that we experience the renewings of the Holy Ghost, without which we should be of all men the most wretched, is the blessed and immediate effect of our Lord's resurrection. He arose that he might intercede for blessings on his people; and he intercedeth ever, and we want him ever, and we have that which we want.
In the passage that I have quoted as our text this morning, the argument of the Apostle runs somewhat in this way—"If ye then be risen with Christ." He did not suppose, that all the Colossians were certainly the elect of God—he did not know certainly that all the church of Colosse were made partakers of saving grace; that is more than could be said of the twelve, for there was among the twelve one that was not. Let this hare its due effect upon our souls—let no circumstances of an outward nature blind our minds to the subject of personal religion. It is not outward things, however excellent—it is not outward things, however in accordance with the mind and will of God, that will stand us in stead, or do us good in the trying