Imágenes de páginas

will have such a temperature as will be most conducive to its fruitfulness. If, in order to punish its inhabitants, God did of old

“ Bid his angels turn askarce

This obliqye globe,” thereby occasioning violent cold on one part, and violent heat on the other; he will, undoubtedly, then order them to restore it to its original position: so that there will be a final end, on the one hand, of the burning heat, which makes some parts of it scarce habitable; and on the other, of

“The rage of Arctos and eternal frost.” 15. And it will then contain no jarring or destructive principles , within its own bosom. It will no more have any of those violent convulsions in its own bowels. It will no more be shaken or torn asunder, by the impetuous force of earthquakes; and will, therefore, need neither Vesuvius, nor Etna, nor any burning mountains to prevent them. There will be no more horrid rocks, or frightful precipices; no wild deserts, or barren sands; nu impassable morasses, or unfruitful bogs, to swallow up the unwary traveller. There will, doubtless, be inequalities on the surface of the earth; which are not blemishes, but beauties. And though I will not affirm, that

“ Earth hath this variety from heaven,

Of pleasure situate in hill and dale';" yet I cannot think gently rising hills will be any defect, but an ornament, of the new made earth. And doubtless we shall then likewise have occasion to say ;

“ Lo, there his wondrous skill arrays

The fields in cheerful green!
A thousand herbs his hand displays,

A thousand flowers between !" 16. And what will the general produce of the earth be ? Not thorns, briars, or thistles; not any useless or fetid weed; not any poisonous, hurtful, or unpleasant plant; but every one that can be conducive, in any wise, either to our use or pleasure. How far beyond all that the most lively imagination is now able to conceive! We shall no more regret the loss of the terrestrial paradise, or sigh at that well devised description of our great poet:

" Then shall this mount
Of paradiso, by might of waves, be moved
Out of his place, push'd by the horned flood,
With all its verdure spoild and trees adrift,
Down the great river to the opening gulf,

And there take root, an island salt and bare!" For all the earth shall be a more beautiful paradise than Adam ever saw.

17. Such will be the state of the new earth with regard to the meaner, the inanimate parts of it. But great as this change will be, it is nothing in comparison of that which will then take place throughout all animated nature. In the living part of the creation were seen the most deplorable effects of Adam's apostasy. The whole animated creation, whatever has life, from leviathan to the smallest mite, w

was thereby made subject to such vanity, as the inanimate creatures could not be. They were subject to that fell monster, DEATH, the conqueror of

all that breathe. They were made subject to its forerunner, pain, in its ten thousand forms; although “God made not death, neither hath he pleasure in the death of any living.” How many millions of creatures in the sea, in the air, and on every part of the earth, can now no otherwise preserve their lives, than by taking away the lives of others ; by tearing in pieces and devouring their poor, innocent, unresisting fellow creatures! Miserable lot of such innumerable multitudes, who, insignificant as they seem, are the offspring of one common Father; the creatures of the same God of love! It is probable not only two thirds of the aninial creation, but ninety-nine parts of a hundred, are under a necessity of destroying others in order to preserve their own life! But it shall not always be so. He that sitteth upon the throne will soon change the face of all things, and give a demonstrative proof to all his creatures, that “ his mercy is over all his works." The horrid state of things which at present obtains, will soon be at an end. On the new earth, no creature will kill, or hurt, or give pain to any other. The scorpion will have no poisonous sting; the adder, no venomous teeth. The lion will have no claws to tear the lamb; no teeth to grind his flesh and bones. Nay, no creature, no beast, bird, or fish, will have any inclination to hurt any other; for cruelty will be far away, and savageness and fierceness be forgotten. So that violence shall be heard no more, neither wasting or destruction seen on the face of the earth. “ The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,” (the words may be literally as well as figuratively understood,) "and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: they shall not hurt or destroy,” from the rising up of the sun, to the going down of the same.

18. But the most glorious of all will be, the change which then will take place on the poor, sinful, miserable children of men. These had fallen in many respects, as from a greater height, so into a lower depth, 'than any other part of the creation. But they shall “ hear a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men: and he will dwell with them; and they shall be his people ; and God himself shall be their God," Rev. xxi, 3, 4. Hence will arise an unmixed state of holiness and happiness, far superior to that which Adam enjoyed in paradise. In how beautiful a manner is this described by the apostle: “ God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying: neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are done away.” As there will be no more death, and no more pain or sickness preparatory thereto; as there will be no more grieving for, or parting with friends; so there will be no more sorrow or crying. Nay, but there will be a greater deliverance than all this; for there will be no more sin. And, to crown all, there will be a deep, an intimate, an uninterrupted union with God; a constant communion with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, through the Spirit ; a continual enjoyment of the Three-One God, and of all the creatures in him!

such as,

SERMON LXX.-- The Duty of Reproving our Neighbour. 4. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him," Lev. xix, 17.

A GREAT part of the book of Exodus, and almost the whole of the book of Leviticus, relate to the ritual or ceremonial law of Moses ; which was peculiarly given to the children of Israel, but was such“ a yoke," says the apostle Peter, “as neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.' We are, therefore, delivered from it: and this is one branch of “the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.” Yet it is easy to observe, that many excellent moral precepts are interspersed among these ceremonial laws. Several of them we find in this very chapter :

“Thou shalt not gather every grape in thy vineyard: thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger. I am the Lord your God," verse 10. “Ye shall not steal, neither lie one to another,” verse 11.' “ Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee till the morning,” verse 13. “ Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind: but thou shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord,” verse 14. As if he had said, I am he whose eyes are over all the earth, and whose ears are open to their cry. “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the persons of the poor," which compassionate men may be tempted to do, “nor honour the person of the mighty,” to which there are a thousand temptations, verse 15. “Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale bearer among thy people,” verse 16: although this is a sin which human laws have never yet been able to prevent. Then follows, " Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.”

In order to understand this important direction aright, and to apply it profitably to our own souls, let us consider,

1. What it is that we are to rebuke or reprove? What is the thing that is here enjoined ?

II. Who are they whom we are commanded to reprove ? And,
III. How are we to reprove them ?

1. 1. Let us consider, first, What is the duty that is here enjoined ? What is it we are to rebuke or reprove ? And what is it to reprove ? To tell any one of his faults ; as clearly appears from the following words : “ Thou shalt not suffer sin upon him.” Sin is therefore the thing we are called to reprove, or rather him that commits sin. We are to do all that in us lies to convince him of his fault, and lead him into the right way.

2. Love indeed requires us to warn him, not only of sin, (although of this chiefly,) but likewise of any error, which, if it were persisted in, would naturally lead to sin. If we do not“ hate him in our heart," if we love our neighbour as ourselves, this will be our constant endeavour; to warn him of every evil way, and of every mistake which tends to evil.

3. But if we desire not to lose our labour, we should rarely reprove any one for any one thing that is of a disputable nature; that will bear much to be said on both sides. A thing may possibly appear evil to not to be judged by my conscience: to his own Master he standeth or falleth. Therefore I would not reprove him, but for what is clearly ang undeniably evil. Such, for instance, is profane cursing and swearing; which even those who practise it most, will not often venture to defend, if one mildly expostulates with them. Such is drunkenness; which even an habitual drunkard will condemn when he is sober. And such, in the account of the generality of people, is the profaning of the Lord's day. And if any who are guilty of these sins, for a while attempt to defend them, very few will persist to do it, if you look them steadily in the face, and appeal to their own conscience in the sight of God.

therefore I scruple the doing of it: and if I were to do it while that scruple remains, I should be a sinner before God: but another is


II. 1. Let us, in the second place, consider, Who are those that we are called to reprove ? It is the more needful to consider this, because it is affirmed by many serious persons, that there are some sinners whom the Scripture itself forbids us to reprove. This sense has been put on that solemn caution of our Lord, in his sermon on the mount: Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot, and turn again and rend you." But the plain meaning of these words is, Do not offer the pearls, the sublime doctrines or mysteries of the gospel, to those whom you know to be brutish men, immersed in sins, and having no fear of God before their eyes. This would expose


precious jewels to contempt, and yourselves to injurious treatment. But even those whom we know to be, in our Lord's sense, dogs and swine, if we saw them do, or heard them speak, what they themselves know to be evil, we ought in any wise to reprove; else we “hate our brother in our heart."

2. The persons intended by our "neighbour” are, every child of man; every one that breathes the vital air; all that have souls to be saved. And if we refrain from performing this office of love to any, because they are sinners above other men, they may persist in their iniquity, but their blood will God require at our hands.

3. How striking is Mr. Baxter's reflection on this head, in his“ Saints' Everlasting Rest :” “Suppose thou wert to meet one in the lower world, to whom thou hadst denied this office of love, when ye were both together under the sun; what answer couldst thou make to his upbraiding? At such a time and place, while we were under the sun, God delivered me into thy hands : I then did not know the way of salvation, but was seeking death in the error of my life; and therein thou sufferedst me to remain, without once endeavouring to awake me out of sleep! Hadst thou imparted to me thy knowledge, and warned me to flee from the wrath to come, neither I nor thou need ever to have come into this place of torment.”

4. Every one, therefore, that has a soul to be saved, is entitled to this good office from thee. Yet this does not imply, that it is to be done in the same degree to every one. It cannot be denied, that there are some to whom it is particularly due. Such, in the first place, are our parents, if we have any that stand in need of it; unless we should place our consorts and our children on an equal footing with them. Next to these we may rank our brothers and sisters, and afterwards our relations, as they are allied to us in a nearer or more distant manner, either by blood or by marriage. Immediately after these are our servants, whether bound to us for a term of years, or any shorter term. Lastly, such, in their several degrees, are our countrymen, our fellow citizens, and the members of the same society, whether civil or religious: the latter have a particular claim to our service; seeing these societies are formed with that very design,-to watch over each other for this very end, that we may not suffer sin upon our brother. If we neglect to reprove any of these, when a fair opportunity offers, we are undoubtedly to be ranked among those that" hate their brother in their heart.” And how severe is the sentence of the apostle against those who fall under this condemnation! “He that hateth his brother," though it does not break out into words or actions, “is a murderer :" “and ye know," continues the apostle, “that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” He hath not that seed planted in his soul, which groweth up unto everlasting life : in other words, he is in such a state, that if he dies therein, he cannot see life. It plainly follows, that to neglect this is no small thing, but eminently endangers our final salvation.

III. We have seen what is meant by reproving our brother, and who those are that we should reprove. But the principal thing remains to be considered : how, in what manner, are we to reprove them ?

1. It must be allowed, that there is a considerable difficulty in performing this in a right manner : although, at the same time, it is far less difficult to some than it is to others. Some there are, who are particularly qualified for it, whether by nature, or practice, or grace. They are not encumbered either with evil shame, or that sore burden, the fear of man: they are both ready to undertake this labour of love, and skilful in performing it. To these, therefore, it is little or no cross; nay, they have a kind of relish for it, and a satisfaction therein, over and above that which arises from a consciousness of having done their duty. But be it a cross to us, greater or less, we know that hereunto we are called. And be the difficulty ever so great to us, we know in whom we have trusted ; and that he will surely fulfil his word, “ As thy dags, so shall thy strength be.”

2. In what manner, then, shall we reprove our brother, in order that our reproof may be most effectual ? Let us first of all take care, that whatever we do, may be done in “the spirit of love ;" in the spirit of tender good will to our neighbour; as for one who is the son of our common Father, and one for whom Christ died, that he might be a partaker of salvation. Then, by the grace of God, love will beget love. The affection of the speaker will spread to the heart of the hearer; and you will find, in due time, that your labour hath not been in vain in the Lord.

3. Meantime, the greatest care must be taken, that you speak in the spirit of humility. Beware that you do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. If you think too highly of yourself, you can scarce avoid despising your brother. And if you show, or even feel, the least contempt of those whom you reprove, it will blast your whole work, and occasion you to lose all your labour. In order to prevent the very appearance of pride, it will be often needful to be explicit on the head; to disclaim all preferring yourself before him; and at the very time you reprove that which is evil, to own and bless God for that which is good in him.

4. Great care must be taken, in the third place, to speak in the spirit of meekness, as well as lowliness. The apostle assures us, “ that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Anger, though

« AnteriorContinuar »