« AnteriorContinuar »
dence, and may not be ashamed before him at his coming." “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one who doth righteousness is born of him. Now we are the sons of Godand it doth not yet appear what we shall be—but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope, purifieth himself, as he is pure.”
I have now laid before you the nature and excellency of the good land which God has promised to his people ; and have answered the question, Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
If I had been describing some country in this world, which was preferable to all other countries, and had been shewing you how you might obtain a settlement in it, and might know that you should inherit it, probably you would give me your attention.
The present is a subject of much higher importance, and I hope you have not been inattentive to this.
The land of Canaan, which was formerly called the glory of all lands, falls infinitely below the land which has this day been offered us for an everlasting possession. Who is there, that does not desire to inherit it? If you desire to inherit it, surely you have enquired, Whereby shall we know that we shall inherit it? The evidences of your title have been stated. Can you, on the foot of these evidences, support a claim to it? If you can, you are rich and happy-you will inherit all things. You may be contented in poverty, for you are rich. You may be patient in adversity, for your souls are in health. You may cheerfully distribute your substance, for by scattering you increase. You may take joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that you have in heaven a better and enduring substance. Let those who are rich in this world, be rich in good works; ready to distribute, and willing to communicate ; for they will lay up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, and will lay hold on eternal life. Let them who are poor in this world, rejoice in the assurance, that'God has chosen the poor, who are rich in faith, to be heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to them who love him.' Let all learn, in whatsoever state they are, therewith to be content, for God will supply all their need, according to the
riches of his goodness in Jesus Christ. Let them who are in affliction, be patient and establish their hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and he will admit them to inherit a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.
If you have good evidence, that you shall inherit the kingdom, keep your evidence bright, and brighten it more and more. Walk by faith in unseen things—keep the eyes of your faith fixed on the future world-strengthen your faith, and enliven your heavenly affections by attending on the instituted worship and ordinances of God-be not conformed to this world, but be ye, more and more, transformed by the renewing of your minds, proving what is acceptable in the sight of God-be followers of them, who by faith and patience inherit the promises, and thus give diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end. If any
find the evidences which have been stated, inapplicable to themselves, and are led hence to conclude, that the inheritance described is not their's; let them not continue in so unsafe and unhappy a state. The inheritance is glorious; it is offered to all without distinction; but the conditions must be complied with, before any can know that they shall obtain it. The conditions are such, and only such as are necessary to the possession. They are such as imply a meetness to partake of it.
Go to God, and implore his grace for the renewal and sanctification of your souls—renounce the ways and manners of the world-devote yourselves to God to serve him in newness of life
-converse with his word-attend on his worship-yield yourselves servants to him-commit yourselves to the guidance of his Spirit and to the protection of his grace, and place your hope in his faithfulness and promise. Go, like the returning captives, mourning your past sins ; seek the Lord your God-ask the way to Zion with your faces thitherward-stand in the way and seeask for the old paths, where is the good way-walk therein and ye shall find rest to your souls.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones ; for I say
unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Such a race of beings as we are, attended with various infirmities, subject to innumerable wants, probationers for future happiness, and soon to quit the present scene and enter upon an eternal state of existence, ought to feel for each other in every calamity and danger, and by prudent offices of kindness and love, to assist each other's safe passage through this world, and happy entrance into the other.
All pride in the contemplation of ourselves-all contempt of others for their supposed inferiority—all such treatment as would injure their feelings, corrupt their minds, or endanger their future felicity, is utterly inconsistent with the condition in which we are placed, and our relation to one another; and highly offensive to the benevolent Creator whose impartial providence extends its care to small as well as great.
Benevolence is the principle which should dictate our social conduct. And this principle must be founded in humble thoughts of ourselves.
When the disciples, aspiring to a worldly superiority, asked their master, who should be greatest in his kingdom, he rebuked their ambition by placing before them a little child, as an emblem of that humility, which should distinguish his disciples from the men of the world. “ Except ye be converted,” says he, "and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. But whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Having taught them humility as the first virtue in his religion, he next inculcates benevolence, as a virtue connected with it. 6 Whoso shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me ; but whoso shall offend one of these little ones who believe in me, it were better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
From the danger of offending these little ones, Christ takes occasion to give the general caution in the text. Take heed that ye despise them not-that you entertain not such indifferent and contemptuous ideas of them, as to be careless how you treat them. Think it not a small matter to cast in their way offences and stumbling-blocks, because they are little ones. For this reason you must rather encourage, strengthen and support them. To enforce this caution he represents little ones as God's peculiar
He has given the angels charge of them; and their angels do always behold His face in heaven, and stand ready to execute His commands in their defence, or in the punishment of their enemies.
We will consider,
II. What is that contempt of them which is here forbidden, and
III. The force of the argument against despising them.
1. The persons, whom we are cautioned not to despise, are called little ones. They are said to have believed in Christ-and are compared to the little child whom Christ placed before his
disciples, as an example of that character which he requires in us all.
The persons thus primarily intended, are pious children and youth. Those who, impressed with a sense of religion, commit themselves to the grace and to the service of their Redeemer.
There were, in our Saviour's day, some who believed in him while they were but little ones. From the womb of the morning he received the dew of the youth. Out of the mouths of babes, flowed praises to his name. The children in the temple sang, Hosanna to the Son of David. John speaks of little children who knew the Father, and who had obtained forgiveness by faith in Christ.
The tender minds of the young are more susceptible of serious impressions, than those in riper age; but these impressions are more easily effaced by the sensible objects which surround them.
They may form virtuous resolutions, but they meet with numerous temptations which divert them from these resolutions. Inexperienced in the dangers of the world, they are liable to be entangled in unseen and unsuspected snares. They need more frequent cautions, counsels and encouragements, than those who are habituated to the practice, and confirmed in the purposes of piety and religion. They are thus entitled to our particular attention and care.
The Saviour expressed a special concern for them; and has enjoined on us a tender and cautious treatment of them, lest we cause their feeble feet to stumble in the path of virtue, on which they have newly entered.
Besides children in years, there are many who, according to the style of scripture, may come under the denomination of little
There are new-born babes—those who have but lately been begotten through the gospel; and though they may, in a natural sense, be men, yet they are but children--but babes in Christ Jesus. Their powers, as men, may be great; but as christians, their experience is but short, their strength small, and their resolution weak. These are exposed to many of the same dangers, and therefore need the same cautious and tender treatment, as chil