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purpose of imploring the divine blessing upon the business in which you are to be employed. While you remain in the house of prayer, let ejaculatory petitions frequently ascend to the divine throne, that whatever strikes you as important, or peculiarly interesting, may be rendered permanently influential ; and, when you have done with public engagements, when you have gone through the stated exercises of the day, when you have heard all that the ministers of Christ have been prepared to bring before you, go home and pray over it.
These, brethren, are advices dictated, be assured, by a deep concern for your best welfare; and they are admonitions which recommend themselves to your own consciences, and which your own judgments will approve. I beseech you, take them into serious consideration. Do not come to this sanctuary, and do not go to any other sanctuary, for the mere sake of being amused —for the mere sake of being excited—for the mere sake of being intellectually gratified; but remember that you have souls that must live for ever, souls that must be saved or lost, --souls that are rapidly hastening into eternity; and be attentive, be serious, be in earnest, be prayerful.
Another sabbath is coming to a close ; another opportunity of religious instruction is gone; another hour for obtaining spiritual improvement has passed away. How many more remain we cannot say; but of this we are certain, there is one less than there was ; and that one, perhaps, like every other which has preceded it, some of you have lost! O, careless sinner! should this be the last time of your appearing in the sanctuary, what will be your emotions on a death-bed, when you call to mind the opportunities you have squandered for gaining salvation? What, think you, will be your remorse and dismay, when you find that life is trembling and fluttering over the abyss of destruction, the pulse forgetting to beat, and the soul struggling and clinging to its tenement; and when
you remember that every prayer, and every sermon, and the gospel itself, with all the blessings it contains, were only despised, neglected, forgotten ? And what will be your disappointment, your terror, and your anguish, when the lamp of this existence has expired, when the door of mercy has been closed, and when there remains nothing before you but the blackness of darkness ? May God help you to lay these things to heart! May he spare you in his mercy! And, with renewed opportunities, may he grant a disposition to make a better use of them than has been made of those with which he has hitherto favoured you ! Amen.
2 Cor. iii. 9.–For if the ministration of condemnation be glory,
much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
The review of any beneficent measure, which has contributed to the happiness of mankind, is one of the most pleasing exercises in which we can engage. To retrace its course, marking attentively the various influences which it has exerted, and the new order of things to which it has given rise, is at once to enlarge our knowledge, and to gratify every benignant feeling of our heart. There is something ennobling in the spectacle of practical philanthropy, something which tends to refine the affections, and to destroy the selfishness of our nature. Nor is it uninstructive to observe what important benefits have flowed from causes which, in their first operation, were esteemed insignificant and powerless. The history of man affords many illustrations of this. Selfishness has frequently looked with contempt on the agency by which an enlightened charity has sought to promote the welfare of others. But that agency has gradually assumed a character of importance which has commanded universal respect, and enabled it ultimately to effect even more than its most sanguine friends had anticipated.
Thus it has been with revealed religion. In its first development its principles were few, and its character extremely simple. If examined at that period by any of the infidels or scoffers of a later age, it would undoubtedly have been pronounced unequal to the purposes it contemplated. It would have been made the object of derision and scorn; would have been contemptuously rejected as a futile attempt to impose the shackles of superstition on the
human mind. We can easily imagine how the patriarchal simplicity of its character and forms, would have awakened their derision, and called forth an expression of mortified pride, similar to that with which the captain of the Syrians replied to the prophet of the Lord. And yet, in following its course, we see the perpetual progression of its glory. It increases before our eye, like the cloud which the prophet's servant saw, till at length it fills the whole heaven, and becomes fruitful with blessings to all nations. It emerged from comparative obscurity, when God, having called his people out of Egypt, gave them the law by the hand of Moses. The circumstances which accompanied that event were eminently adapted to awaken the attention, and to command the reverence of the people. They were impressive indications of the Divine presence, and threw around the dispensation which they ushered in, an unprecedented degree of glory.
But revelation was far from having attained its greatest lustre at this distinguished period. Significant as were the types of future things then afforded when compared with the information previously obtained, they were darkness itself when contrasted with the luminous exhibitions which are supplied under the present economy.
In the verses immediately preceding my text, the apostle institutes a comparison between the Mosaic and the Christian dispensations, and represents the glory of the latter as greatly exceeding that of the former. The phrase “ ministration of condemnation" is similar in its import to the “ministration of death," mentioned in the previous verse. This is said to have been “ written and engraven on stones," obviously referring to the ten commandments which Moses received immediately from God. The apostle, however, does not appear to us to have absolutely confined himself in the clause under consideration to the decalogue, but to have had in view the Mosaic dispensation as a whole, which, as it contained the rule of our conduct, and announced the penalty of transgression, may appropriately be termed the “ministration of condemnation." The term by which he designates the Christian economy is equally significant and becoming. It is called the ministration of righteousness," on account of the manifestation which it affords of the divine rectitude in connexion with the exercise of mercy. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood; to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”
The subject, then, to which we invite your attention, is the superior glory of the Christian to that of the Mosaic dispensation. In the consideration of such a topic it would be easy to adduce a variety of particulars, each tending more or less to illustrate our general position. It requires no extraordinary degree of sagacity or penetration to observe numerous points of superior interest in the present economy; the consideration of the whole of which would require much more time than is allotted to the present service. We shall therefore confine ourselves to two or three particulars.
I. The superior glory of the Christian dispensation arises from the preeminent dignity of the person who introduced it.
In our estimate of human affairs, we are powerfully affected by the consideration of individual character. A person of exalted rank or genius throws a splendour around the transactions in which he takes a part, of which they would otherwise be wholly destitute. The attention of mankind is thus effectually arrested, and a publicity and distinction given to such transactions, which render them subsequently prominent on the page of history. If we apply this principle to the Mosaic and Christian economies, we shall see that the latter is preeminently glorious. Moses, indeed, was highly exalted in his day and generation. Educated in the palace of Pharaoh, he imbibed the wisdom of the Egyptians, and had the fairest prospect of temporal dignity and power which the world could then supply. But his highest distinction arose from the intercourse which he was permitted to hold with God. This greatly exceeded in its degree and intimacy what had ordinarily been allotted to his predecessors. For many years he was in the habit of receiving his instructions immediately from God. There was no intermediate system of revelation then established, to which he could appeal in his perplexities, as to an unerring oracle. The few and simple principles which had been inculcated in the previous revelations of the Most High were utterly incompetent to direct his movements in the new situation in which the people were placed. The voice of God therefore conveyed to him directly the counsels which he needed. He entered into the cloud and received his instructions immediately from the Father of Lights, and was thus rendered illustrious and honourable in the estimation of the Israelites. On the giving of the law he was preeminently distinguished by God. “The Lord then spake unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend.” Considering these circumstances, we do not wonder at the superstitious veneration with which this servant of God has been regarded by his countrymen in all succeeding times.
But however illustrious Moses may have been, one greater than he was the agent in introducing the ministration of righteousness.
Moses was but a servant, but Christ was a Son over his own house: wherefore, says Paul, “ he was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house." When the legal economy was to be established, it was sufficient that God should speak through the medium of one of the children of men. The nature and the purposes of such an institution did not render the employment of any higher agency requisite. But not so with the ministration of righte
This required a different manifestation of the Deity; it called for the establishment of a mode of intercourse with mankind wholly unprecedented in the previous history of our world. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath,” says Paul, “ in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." The dignity of his person infinitely transcends our loftiest conception. “He was with God, and he was God.” One in his essential nature with the Father, he yet “made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant." The incarnation of such a person as the means of establishing an honourable basis of reconciliation between God and man, is an event adapted to awaken in every thoughtful breast emotions of the deepest astonishment, admiration, and gratitude. Nothing can be conceived of more adapted to impress a character of glory on the Christian dispensation than this. An occurrence so singular in itself, so foreign from all which had previously taken place, so adapted to awaken the inquiries and to minister to the knowledge of the intelligent creation, tends to raise in our minds an exalted view of its own unrivalled glory. There is so much of the contractedness and carnality of earth attaching to our minds, that we fail to realize the peculiar and extraordinary character of this event. And yet, who that seriously reflects upon it, can fail to perceive, that it is, of all the wonders on which the eye of man has gazed, the most mysterious and surprising. The Divine mind had previously been seen exerting its creative power, but never had it dwelt in a human form, nor undertaken the deliverance of the guilty from its own equitable threatening, till the “Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us.” The wisdom and omnipotence of the Redeemer assure us that the effects secured will be fully proportioned to the means thus employed; that there will be a value in the result obtained, proportioned, in a good degree, to the costliness of the method by which it has been gained. If then the reason of man attaches an interest to his performances with which the actions of the brute creation are not invested, how great must be the glory of that economy, the immediate agent of which was “ Immanuel, God