« AnteriorContinuar »
at once to abase and exalt the soul, to fill it equally with sentiments of humility and emotions of rapture, that the God who formed and sustains it, who is the fountain of purity and wisdom, and the father of men and angels, condescends to become its instructor, to pour into it the streams of celestial knowledge, to carry on with it an immediate and intellectual intercourse, and thus to prepare it for an eternal and unrestricted reciprocation of thought and of feeling with himself. Shall it be deemed an honourable distinction, that a man was the pupil of Plato or of Aristotle, those boasted names of antiquity, those princes of a philosophical age? How incomparably superior is the privilege and the dignity of being "taught of God!" Who amongst you, my brethren, feels himself worthy of such an honour? Yet upon the meanest of the saints--men who were once the scorn of the world, and over whom it has long since cast its oblivious shadow-has this honour been conferred. How is the believer ennobled, when he is thus taught the grand and infinitely important truths of redemption, not by men, his equals, or at most only a few degrees wiser than himself, but by Him, whose essential attributes are wisdom, omniscience, and truth; when, in a word, "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into his heart."
III. We pass on to exhibit, in the last place, the great evidence by which it may be ascertained, if we are made partakers of this spiritual illumination, if God hath shined into our hearts.
On this part of the subject, the text leaves us free from the slightest difficulty, since it describes so clearly with what design the light from heaven is imparted. It is given, that by means of it we may discover “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
In every work of Deity there is some discovery of himself. The impression of his majesty, and excellent glory, is left upon all his productions. Those demonstrations of his being and perfections which are found in the works of nature, the light of nature enables us to perceive. “ The invisible things of him, even his eternal power and godhead, are understood from the things that are made.” But there is another manifestation of himself and of his purposes, which nature does not supply; and it is for the purpose of bringing us into acquaintance with this, that our minds are enlightened by the Spirit. If, consequently, you enjoy this great privilege, you know God, not simply as he is discoverable in nature's magnificence and nature's beauty, but as he appears in the gospel of his Son. You have been led form such views of him as correspond at once with all that is inflexible in justice, and all that is tender in mercy. You bow before him with profound veneration, and, at the same time, confide in him with filial love. He appears in your estimation equally glorious in holiness, and rich in grace :"a just God and a Saviour.” While your mind is open to the reception of any information respecting him, conveyed to you from any part of his works, it is in the work of redemption chiefly that you delight to contemplate him. Here you learn more of his character, and derive to yourself more comfort, satisfaction, and joy, than from all besides. As in the firmament, “one star differeth from another star in glory," so some of the works of the Divine Being may reflect more of his perfections than others; but as the brightness of the orb of day eclipses all the stars, so in the person of his Son, and the dispensation of his gospel, he has surpassed every other manifestation, and left nothing more to be revealed, till we see him, and worship him, in " the temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
“ The brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person” is the incarnate Saviour. In him the fulness of Deity is embodied. All divine perfections essentially reside in him. His are the wisdom and power, the holiness and love, the majesty, condescension, and grace, and whatever else of the glorious and benignant of character in combination with them enters into the ineffable nature of the Godhead. To him belong all authority and dominion. The throne and the sceptre are his. He is entited to universal homage, and is especially enthroned upon the affections of the Christian. None can withhold from him an equal adoration to that which is paid to the Father, and yet be guiltless. By him also the great sacrifice has been offered, which,“ once for all,” makes an atonement for sin. In his blood the basis is laid of an everlasting reconciliation between God and man. Henceforth the Eternal Father is seen moving towards his apostate creatures in an attitude of grace and friendship, while they are invited to move towards him in the posture of penitence and faith. Peace was announced at his birth, , and ratified in his death. He is therefore the new and living way, through which we have access to God. He is the Priest and the Advocate. He propitiates on earth ; he intercedes in heaven ; so
we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” The source of all spiritual blessings which flow to the guilty and the depraved, is found in his mediatorial virtue ;—in the infinite value of his sufferings, and the unfailing prevalence of his intercession. The mercy that pities and redeems—the grace that pardons and saves, are treasured up in him; and to his hands are confided the solemn interests of Deity, to be preserved unimpaired, while compassion is extended to the miserable, and salvation to the
lost. In a word, “him hath God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Now to reveal him in the plenitude of his glories, as well those which are personal, as those which result from his official relations, is the province of the Comforter. That blessed Spirit, in all his ministrations, aims to exalt the Redeemer. The tendency of his work upon the soul, whether in its incipient stages as the Regenerator, or in its maturer progress as the Sanctifier, is invariably to produce devout, affectionate, and confiding thoughts of the Son of God. He leads the penitent sinner to the cross, for his first convictions of his exceeding sinfulness of sin, and for his first hopes of pardon; and to the cross also he leads the advanced believer for the confirmation of his faith, and his establishment in the comforts and anticipations of the gospel. “He shall glorify me," said the Redeemer, “ for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
It follows, therefore, that no man is enlightened by the Spirit, who has formed a low estimate either of the personal attributes or the mediatorial work of the Saviour. sions to accurate scriptural knowledge, to a clear, and consistent, and rational understanding of the gospel, are utterly futile, where he is not deemed worthy of supreme love, and implicit trust, as the Son of God and the Saviour of men. If you do not honour him as you honour the Father, it avails nothing in how high a degree of subordinate estimation he be held. If you do not look exclusively to his atonement for salvation, it is to no purpose that you rely upon it in part. Those views which proceed from the Spirit's illumination, will lead you to confide in him as an Omnipotent Redeemer, than whose proper attributes none can be more substantially divine, than whose sacrifice for sin none can be more gloriously perfect.
And in these views of the person and work of his Son, the glory of God himself will be recognized. The Father is manifested in him. “He that hath seen me,” are his own words, “ hath seen the Father.” To entertain those views of him which are the result of divine teaching, is to have the clearest perceptions of which the human mind is capable of the Great Invisible. He exists in such conjunction with the Father, as to be, if we may so speak, the receptacle into which Deity is perpetually pouring the streams of its infinite affluence, emanations of light, and ineffable beauty. Especially in the redemption effected by him, the attributes which compose the divine character, are seen more resplendently than in any
other exhibition which the universe can supply. It is emphatically “the knowledge of the glory of God,” with which we are made acquainted “in the face of Jesus Christ.” In the salvation of lost sinners accomplished by him, mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace embrace each other. The perfections of Jehovah cooperate harmoniously in the recovery of a lost world ; they meet and mingle their glories around the cross of Christ. And if you walk in the light, you can admire and adore this wonderful display of mercy, in conjunction with justice-of holiness maintaining unimpeached the rectitude of the divine government, and grace at the same time conferring eternal life upon guilty man.
The great evidence of divine illumination then, and it is to one view only of the evidence of enjoying this inestimable benefit, that of which the text speaks, that your attention is in these observations directed—the great and principal evidence of being thus enlightened from above, will be found in the sentiments which are entertained in reference to the Redeemer and redemption. Only that it remains to be added, these sentiments, to amount to satisfactory proof, must not be mere speculations, resting in the understanding, and having no influence upon the heart; but they must produce their proper and characteristic effects ;—they must be the spring and the life of experimental and practical piety. Whoever is truly illuminated by the Spirit, will personally confide in the sacrifice and righteousness of Christ; and with all simplicity of dependance, and to the abandonment of every other hope, confide in him alone for salvation. Such faith will “work by love," and lead to holiness as the practical result, and so the evidence will be complete, and the proof perfect, that “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into your heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
SLAVERY INCONSISTENT WITH THE WORD OF GOD, AND
THE SPIRIT OF ENGLISH LAW.
BY JOHN MORISON.
Matt. vii. 12.—Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men
should do to
ye even so to them.
I HAVE, from an imperious sense of public duty, promised this evening to deliver my sentiments to the people of my charge on the subject of slavery, as it still exists in the colonies of Great Britain.
I feel the task I have undertaken to be peculiarly responsible; and I desire to discharge it, in this sacred place, with as little mixture as possible of that political and party feeling, which obtains in other circles, but which ought never to find a place in the christian pulpit.
It were enough, perhaps, for a minister of truth to tell his flock, on such an occasion, that he is impelled by conscientious motives to give utterance to the convictions of his mind, on a subject involving the interests of more than eight hundred thousand fellow-creatures, who are subjects of the British crown, and heirs with himself of the same immortality of being. But should such a plea as this be deemed an insufficient excuse for introducing the subject of colonial slavery into the christian pulpit, I should look for an apology in the state of public opinion, in the growing conviction of all parties that something must be done to settle this long-agitated question, in the anxious feeling of the most christian portion of the British nation, and in the vigorous exertions both of clergymen and dissenting ministers, throughout the land, to rescue their devoted country from all participation in a system which threatens to bring down upon its abettors the judgments of the God of nations.
It were easy to shew, that in all great national reforms the pulpit has exerted a most salutary influence, and that it has proved a far