Imágenes de páginas

will in nowise cast out? Behold a sinner) one that asketh receiveth: and he that seeketh that wishes to have nothing more to do with findeth: and to him that knocketh it shall be sin. O save him from the bondage of corrup- opened." Amen. tion, as well as from the burden of condemnation. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according

DISCOURSE XXXVI. unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Create in me a RELIGION MAKES US PROFITABLE clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.'"

I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I Oh! be induced to do this, and to do this have begotten in my bonds : which in time immediately. Here is a Saviour exalted to

past was to thee unprofitable, but now profit bless you with all spiritual blessings—and

able to thee and to me.- Philemon 10, 11. especially to bless you, by “turning every! The Epistles are of three classes. Some one of you away from your iniquities"—and are addressed to Christians at large-come to there is no blessing like this. Seek him while particular Churches—and some to single iihe may be found: call upon him while he is dividuals. near. For there is a time when if you call. The Epistle before us is of the third class he will not answer, and if you seek him early —And as it is inscribed to one person, so it you will not find him. The season for ob- is limited to one subject. It furnishes none taining these blessings is short and uncertain. of those glaring scenes which the pencil of Surely you need not be informed that you the historian requires: but it is full of imare sinners—but “ the wages of sin is death." portance to a Christian teacher. It says While you are strangers to pardon, you are nothing of the intrigues of statesmen, the cononly "treasuring up wrath against the day tentions of senators, the exploits and inischiefs of wrath." You are open to all the miseries of heroes; but it yields topics of reflectim of life, the sting of death, the torments of hell. much more interesting and useful to a serious Yea, you are exposed to a double condemna- reader. These are concisely expressed in the tion; one from the Law which you have words which I have read. transgressed, and another from the Gospel We will therefore STATE THE CIRCTX which you have despised. And how is it that STANCES OF THE CASE TO WHICH THEY REFER: you do not lay these things to heart! Ilow and DEDUCE SOME REMARKS FROM THEM FOR is it you do not fear lest every moment “ the ouR INSTRUCTION AND EDIFICATION. earth should open its mouth," and your souls THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE may be “go down quick into hell!” How will you thus briefly stated. At Colosse lived Philecontrive to sleep to-night-when you know mon. He appears to have been a person of that if you die in your present state, God is some respectability, if not distinction. The under an oath to destroy you!

Apostle calls him a fellow-labourer. He had But "blessed is he whose transgression is a church in his house; and by his liberality forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is often “refreshed the bowels of the saints." the man unto whom the Lord imputeth notWith this Philemon lived a servant whose iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." name was Onesimus. Onesimus like too He is blessed in his duties, for he is assured many servants was ungodly, though he lived of acceptance and assistance. He is blessed in a pious family and enjoyed religious means in his enjoyments, for he tastes the loving- and privileges. He robbed his master, and kindness of God in them. He is blessed in with the purloined property made his escape. his trials, for they flow from love and are de- As it is usual for such criminals to go to some signed for his profit. Now he is delivered large populous place to avoid detection, Onefrom the curse, he can bear the cross. He simus hastened to Rome, the capital of the will not endure his troubles long; and he does world. not endure them alone.

| Thither Paul had arrived a little before in Here are some whom he has pardoned. consequence of his appealing unto Cæsar; He gave them to see and feel and confess and having hired a house, “ preached the their sins. He discovered to them the scheme kingdom of God, and received all that came of salvation revealed in the Gospel. He en- in unto him.” As he was the subject of como abled them to come with all their unworthi- versation in the city, Onesimus is informed ol ness, smiting upon their breasts, and saying, him; and from curiosity or some other mor “ God be merciful to me, a sinner"-and be- tive-perhaps he had heard his name or see lieving, they passed from death unto life. his person at his master's house, he goes. They found rest unto their souls. They are the Apostle's lodgings and attends his minis now serving him, and they find his "yoke try. Probably Paul preached against thievers: easy, and his burden light.”

| However this may be, “the word was quck “And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be and powerful, sharper than any two-edges given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock, sword, piercing even to the dividing asuna and it shall be opened unto you. For every of soul and spirit, and of the joints and mare


row, and was a discerner of the thoughts and and a contrite spirit which God will not deintents of the heart." Onesimus is convinced spise." To return. and alarmed. He feels his guilt: and now Persuaded of his sincerity, the Apostle would dreads not only human but divine justice. He have taken Onesimus into his service, had it nou cannot get rid of his distress; but walks about looked like detaining what is deemed another the city crying to himself, “ What must I do man's property. He therefore conscientiously to be saved ?"

resolves to send him back to Philemon. And At length he resolves to go and open his influenced by the same principle, Onesimus case to Paul_" He may afford me instruc-wishes to return—but fears the displeasure of tion and relief.” He waits upon him. “Sir, his offended master; and is conscious that if I lately heard you preach, and I am one of he demanded reparation, it would not be in the characters you described and condemned.” his power to make it. The Apostle therefore -What is your name? “Onesimus.”_What undertakes to plead his cause, becomes his are you? “I was a slave."—And who was surety, and sends along with him a letter of your master? “ Philemon of Colosse.”-Him recommendation full of the most persuasive I know. But what, Onesimus, brought you eloquence—and this is the principal subject here !-Onesimus weeps“ Oh! I cannot _“I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, deny it, I cannot conceal it-I robbed my whom I have begotten in my bonds; which in master and fled hither from justice. And time past was to thee unprofitable, but now ever since I heard that sermon, I can find no profitable to thee and to me." rest. My iniquities have taken hold upon me, Hence let us derive the following REMARKS, so that I cannot look up. My sin was the First. Observe the humility, the tenderness, most heinous and aggravated : it was a good the kindness of the Apostle Paul. Great as master I injured! How often did he admonish he was, he exemplifies in his own practice me! How earnestly did he pray for me!" what he recommends in his doctrine to others,

See here what a victory grace obtains over “mind not high things, but condescend to nature! Onesimus goes and confesses him- men of low estate." He does not think it self a thief!-For he was now remote from beneath him to attend to the wants and wishes the scene of action; no person was there to of this poor slave, and to write a whole epistle impeach him? and if he had not acknowledg- on his behalf. The more the mind is raised ed the crime himself, it could never have been by intelligence and religion, the less will it known. This was no pleasant task. Nothing be impressed with those adventitious distinccould be more irksome to the pride of the tions which dazzle the multitude. True human heart. It is as common to cover as to greatness is always condescending and symcommit sin. Men, such is their injustice and pathetic. Are we mistaken? What do we self-love, men wish to appear better in the see yonder ? Let us draw near. “He riseth eyes of their fellow-creatures than they really from supper, and laid aside his garments; and are; even better than they know themselves took a towel, and girded himself: after that to be. But when the Holy Ghost lays a bur- he poured water into a basin, and began to den upon the conscience, no diversion can re wash his disciples' feet, and to wipe them move it. Divine grace produces self-abase with the towel wherewith he was girded. So ment; and a true penitent will not only con- after he had washed their feet, and had taken fess his sin to God, but when called by cir- his garments, and was set down again, he cumstances, he will own it also to men, to said unto them, know ye what I have done his fellow Christians, to Ministers. And such to you? Ye call me Master and Lord; a disclosure may sometimes ease the mind of and ye say well: for so I am. If I then, a load of anguish, and teach the person to your Lord and master, have washed your whom the communication is made how to feet; ye also ought to wash one another's speak a word in season, and apply the remedy feet. For I have given you an example, that of the Gospel. We are therefore commanded ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, to “confess our faults one to another, and to verily, I say unto you, the servant is not pray one for another, that we may be healed." greater than his lord; neither he that is sent, Be it remembered however, that when such greater than him that sent him. If ye know a penitent thus acknowledges his sins-he | these things, happy are ye if ye do them." will not do it as if he were relating heroical | And who does them? Some imagine themdeeds or even actions of indifference he will selves humble because their condescension not like some speak of his former wickedness has never been put to the trial. Others have with a kind of pleasure, arising from the approved how very little they resemble our Lord prehension that they magnify divine grace, and Saviour by declining those instances in and render his conversion the more marvellous which their condescension ought to have apand certain, or at least with a tone and coun-peared. Alas! how many are there who tenance far from expressing deep humiliation" hide themselves from their own flesh;" and godly sorrow, but he will evidence, by who would think it beneath them to perform his feelings and his manner, "a broken heart, personally an office of humanity and charity for the poor and needy; who would never known “in the palace,” and we read of stoop to write a letter for a menial domestic; "saints even in Cæsar's household." And, who treat their servants no better than brutes Onesimus! you will have reason to bless -and often not half so well.

God for ever for his confinement and impriBut servants should be considered as fel-sonment there! low-creatures and as humble friends. It is a Do we lay too much stress upon this cirscandal to a Christian, to suffer a servant to cumstance !- The salvation of one soul, the leave his house unable to read. Are you not soul of a poor slave, is an event of far greater to do good as you have opportunity?' Shall importance than the deliverance of a nation we call that contemptible which God deigns from civil bondage. “There is joy in the to honour? Did not He who made thee in presence of the angels of God over one sinthe womb make them? Has he not endued ner that repenteth. Besides, Onesimus bethe low-born child, the beggar, the slave, with came a minister; the Apostle speaks of him a portion of reason and immortality? Are as such in his epistle to the Colossians : Ignathey not the care of his providence? Are tius, in his epistle to the Ephesians, speaks they not the purchase of the Saviour's blood ? | of him as pastor of their church immediately And has he not assured us that “it is not the after Timothy: and the Roman martyrology will of our Heavenly Father, that one of these assures us that he was stoned to death in little ones should perish ?"

Rome under the reign of Trajan the emperor. Secondly. Let us learn how impossible it There he entered a state of grace, and there is to hinder the work of God: or frustrate the also he entered a state of glory! How wodpurposes of his grace.--" Whom I have begot- derful! At one time this man was there a ten in my bonds." Nothing comes to pass by wicked fugitive slave-and a few years after chance. What appears to be chance among a preacher of the Gospel, a martyr for the men is nothing less than the providence of word of God and the testimony of Jesus God permitting, appointing, arranging, over-Christ! ruling all events. “He doth according to his Thirdly. Therefore let us learn to de own will in the army of heaven, and among spair of none of our fellow-creatures. Whatthe inhabitants of the earth, and none can ever time has elapsed; whatever means have stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest been useless; whatever lengths a man has thou? His counsel shall stand, and he will run, let us encourage ourselves with this do all his pleasure.” And what a complica- thought, that other seasons may prove more tion of occurrences and circumstances some- favourable—that other instruments may prove times enters into the execution of his design: more successful--that he is not gone beyond some of them apparently inconsistent with it, the reach of the divine arm; of the mercy of others seemingly subversive of it! But he God to pardon; of the grace of God to change grasps and guides them by an unerring hand: and sanctify. he harmonizes them and gives them a unity This observation is for you, O parent, of tendency ! they reach their end: none of whose heart is bleeding over those undutiful them are superfluous; none of them could be and ungodly offspring, who despise your auspared.—The very wrath of man praises him, thority, your prayers, and your tears. “Gou and the remainder of it he restrains.

is able, even of these stones, to raise up chilCan a man stop the rolling tide? Can heldren unto Abraham." retard the progress of the sun? The cause "This observation is for you, O minister, of God is in motion and will crush every ob- whose sabbath-day evenings are imbittered stacle. Nor is this all-he makes opposition by the exclamation, “Lord, who hath bean advantage : his enemies intend one thing lieved our report !"—who are looking with and he another; and they serve an interest despondency on that hearer who, after all they despise and labour to repress: their your faithful warnings, is rejecting the coutschemes fulfil his plan; he turns them from sel of God against himself. The desire of their natural currents into secret channels his eyes may be torn from him. Sickness prepared to receive them, and in which they may recall him from the wanderings of flow along into the fulness of him that filleth health. He may go into a new neighbourall in all."

hood; he may meet with very different comPaul, persecuted in Judea, is driven to panions; he may hear another preacher; and Rome. But though he "suffers as an evil doer, he may so hear as that his soul may live. Is even unto bonds, the word of God is not any thing too hard for the Lord ? He can bound.” In these bonds he did wonders. His vary his means. His resources are endless. sufferings turned out to the furtherance of We are prone to give up characters too soon. the Gospel. There he wrote many of his Persons have been considered as abandoned epistles. There he re-animated the timid by of God at the very time he was going to dis his example. He filled the capital with the play his power and the riches of his grace in savour of the Redeemer's knowledge. How their conversion. many were called by his instrumentality we This observation is for you, O sinner, who know not; but we find that his name was have to this hour been unhappy, or rather

[ocr errors]

criminal enough to live without God in the | Abraham by faith; “I will bless thee and world, but now that you feel a willingness to thou shalt be a blessing." return, are concluding that it will be in vain. Finally. We remark that our being useNo. “There is hope in Israel concerning ful does not depend upon our abilities and this thing." And “where sin has abounded, station. See Onesimus—a slave-profitable grace shall much more abound. That as sin -even to such men as Philemon and Pau) hath reigned unto death, even so might grace - profitable to "thee and me." It is with reign through righteousness unto eternal life the community as it is with the body. “The by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

body is not one member but many. If the foot Fourthly. Conversion makes a man use- shall say, because I am not the hand, I am ful. “ Who was in time past unprofitable, not of the body, is it therefore not of the but is now profitable." This is the case with body? And if the ear shall say, because I every regenerate sinner. To render us pro- am not the eye, I am not of the body, is it fitable is the design of religion, and it is easy therefore not of the body? If the whole to see that it must be the effect of it. Reli- body were an eye, where were the hearing ? gion is social and diffusive. According to If the whole were hearing, where were the our Saviour's language, the possessors of divine smelling? But now hath God set the memgrace are the salt of the earth to keep it from bers every one of them in the body, as it hath corruption. They are the lights of the world pleased him. And the eye cannot say unto to keep it from darkness; and this light is not the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again, to be concealed “under a bushel," but to be the head to the feet, I have no need of you." fixed“ on a candlestick, that it may give | Thus we behold in the world and in the light to all that are in the house." And church, difference of rank, of office, of talents; their light is “ so to shine before men, that but there is a connexion between the whole, they may see their good works, and glorify and a dependence arising from it. And from our Father which is in heaven.” The ta- this none are exempted; even “ the king is lents they receive from God look beyond served by the labour of the field.” themselves. The blessings they enjoy they! Every man, whatever be his condition and are to communicate. They are to “comfort circumstances, is of some importance in soothers with the comforts wherewith they ciety --and we should labour to impress our themselves are comforted of God.” Of their minds with this reflection-especially in three fortune they are only stewards, not owners. cases. - They are commanded to “ bear one an- Let us remember it- when we are in danother's burdens." And even in their prayers ger of pride and disdain with regard to any they are taught brotherly love-they are to of our fellow-creatures. The idol you adore plead for others as well as for themselves; is not every thing, and the wretch you dethey are to say, “our Father-forgive us out spise is something. Perhaps he is more netrespasses; and give us this day our daily cessary to you than you are to him. bread.” Divine grace never leaves us as it Let us remember it—when discouraged finds us. It produces a change the most from exertion. Oh! if I had such opportuniwonderful and glorious and beneficial. “The ties and means, I would serve my generation. wolf also dwells with the lamb: and the leo But if great faculties were necessary, they pard lies down with the kid : and the calf would be more frequently bestowed. Situaand the young lion and the fatling together, tions calling for ten talents are rare—those and a little child leads them. Instead of the which require five are more common-but thorn comes up the fir-tree, and instead of those which demand only one are to be found the brier the myrtle-tree. The wilderness every where and every day. And in nothing and solitary place shall be glad for them; and are we so likely to be mistaken as in such the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the conclusions. He that is “not faithful in litrose."

|tle,” has no reason to believe that he would Divine grace destroys those vices by which be “ faithful in much." we are iniurious to others. For the best! We should also remember it-when we charity I can exercise towards my fellow- are tempted to do good in unlawful ways. reatures cave a good man, is to leave off | What I mean is this. Some suppose that sinning myself. It subdues the selfishness | they can only be useful in such a particular which is só common to our depraved nature; station or office, and hence they are ready to it enlivens and expands the affections; it leave their present condition to rush into it. leads us to rejoice with them that do rejoice, But, says the Apostle, “Let every man abide and weep with them that weep. It teaches in the calling in which he is called of God.” and enables us to act with propriety in every Things are so constituted, that if any man capacity and relation in life. Every com- wishes to do gooul, he may do it in the circumpany and neighbourhood is the better for us: stances in which he is placed: he has some we are as “ a dew from the Lord." And thus influence. For instance and to refer to the the promise is fulfilled in every child of case before us are you a servant? Jacob

was a servant, and Laban, his master, said, the firmest basis of morality: secure God's “I have learned by experience that the Lord claims and you will not miss your own. has blessed me for thy sake.” Joseph was Let this influence those who have comemployed by Potiphar, “and it came to pass panions to choose; and also those who have from the time that he had made bim overseer connexions to form. Oh! young man, “ fa. in his house, and over all that he had, that vour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be Joseph's sake: and the blessing of the Lord praised." Oh! young woman, devote thywas upon all that he had, in the house and in self to nothing profane, sceptical, irreligious; the field." Hence, says the Apostle to Titus, marry, but “only in the Lord.” " Exhort servants to be obedient unto their Secondly. If religion be profitable to others, own masters, and to please them well in all it is much more so to ourselves. It sanctifies things; 'not answering again, not purloining, all our mercies. It sweetens all our trials. but showing all good fidelity; that they may It teaches us “in whatever state we are, adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all therewith to be content.” “Its ways are things." And hence he says to Timothy, pleasantness. Its paths are peace." "Yes, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke (it is profitable unto all things, having promise count their own masters worthy of all honour, of the life that now is, and of that which is that the name of God and his doctrine be not to come.” blasphemed.” Here we see how much de- ! No wonder therefore it should be called pends upon Christian servants : they may wisdom, and that Solomon should speak of it either recommend their religion or disgrace as he does. “Wisdom is the principal thing: it. For the people of the world are not quite therefore get wisdom: and with all thy so blind as we sometimes suppose them to be: getting, get understanding." although incapable of entering into Christian experience, they can estimate the value of principles, by the goodness of their effects. DISCOURSE XXXVII. And what can they think of the gospel, if the professors of it are as bad, or even worse than others ; inattentive to the duties of their THE CURE OF BLIND BARTIMEUS. places, idle, gossippers, busy-bodies, heady,

And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh insolent, unfaithful to their trust? On this

unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the principle, I am sorry to say, that there are

way-side begging: and hearing the multisome who have expressed a determination to

tude pass by, he asked what it meant. And have nothing more to do with religious ser they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passvants. But they surely mean servants who

eth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou are religious only in pretence-who raise

son of David, have mercy on me. And hopes by their profession, which they disap

they which went before rebuked him, that he point by their practice-and thus cause the should hold his peace: but he cried so much way of truth to be evil spoken of:—for as to

the more, Thou son of David, have mercy those servants who are really religious, they on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded must be better than others—they must be him to be brought unto him: and when he “ profitable.”

was come near, he asked him, saming, What Let us therefore conclude with two reflec wilt thou that I shall do unto thee 7 and he tions.

said, Lord, that I may receive my sighi. First. If religion renders people, in all And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight. situations, valuable and useful, how deserving thy faith hath saved thee. And immediate is it of encouragement! Let therefore all ly he received his sight, and followed him, unite together to promote it.

glorifying God.-Luke xviii. 35—43. Let governors and magistrates promote it. To read the Scriptures superficially will This is the way to have good subjects and not answer the purpose of a man who is citizens. Innumerable are the advantages desirous of being made “wise unto salvation which communities derive from it in civiliz He will peruse them with reverence, he will ing, restraining, and sanctifying mankind. I explore them with diligence, and feel all Human laws cannot extend far enough, in a anxious and prayerful to have the end for thousand cases interesting to the peace and which they were given realized in his OWA welfare of a nation. They can never reach experience. And what is this end? The the heart. But religion lays hold of the con- | Apostle tells us. “Whatsoever things were science, and places a man, even when alone, I written aforetime were written for our learn. under the eye of God, and in sight of endlessing, that we, through patience and comfort happiness or wo.

of the Scriptures, might have hope." Let masters of families promote it in their Our Saviour made every misery he beheld households. This is the way to have obedi- his own. “He took our infirmities, and bare ent servants, and dutiful children. Piety is our sicknesses." As he moved from place

« AnteriorContinuar »