Billeder på siden

effectual by the inward teaching of ing to do good in our families, conthe Holy Spirit; without which, nexions, and situations, we must Paul would have planted, and Apol-adhere to the doctrines and prelos watered in vain. No wonder cepts of Scripture; pray with ferthen, that such teachers as deny, vent importunity for the influences deride, explain away, or even keep of the Spirit, and be very careful out of sight, the promised influences not to grieve him, or to quench that of the Holy Spirit, harangue the sacred fire which he kindles in the people in weekly lectures, from year believing heart. If we have hitherto to year, without witnessing or even been remarkably unsuccessful, we expecting any great effect. While should seriously inquire, on what men depend on their own rationality, account the Lord contends with us? ingenuity, or eloquence, and disho- And especially we should examine, nour the divine Spirit, we may be whether we have not depended on sure that the Lord will frown upon our own supposed abilities, or sought the presumptuous attempt, and blast our own honour, instead of relying all their vain endeavours. Indeed simply on the Holy Spirit, with a no man is warranted to expect suc- readiness of mind to ascribe to him cess, even in preaching the pure all the glory of every successful atgospel of Christ, except as he simply tempt.

relies on the Holy Spirit to assist They, who would enjoy the benefit and prosper his labours, uses the of an able and faithful ministry, proper means of obtaining his power-should be instant in prayer for their ful cooperation, and explicitly gives pastors. If this were more attendhim all the glory. ed to, we should doubtless be en"If any man have not the Spirit abled to set forth the true and of Christ he is none of his." Un-lively word of God, both by our less, therefore, we possess some preaching and living,' with far evidence in our own hearts, that we greater effect; and should be in are the temples of the Holy Ghost, all respects much more useful. But we cannot, without manifest pre-our fervent supplications should not sumption, expect that the Judge of be confined to those with whom we the world will, at the last day, own are more immediately connected; us as his true disciples: but this for we ought to pray continually cannot be known to us, except by for the " pouring out of the Spirit the effects produced on our views, from on high," upon every part of dispositions, affections, and conduct. the visible church, and upon all Humiliation for sin, faith, love of orders and descriptions of men Christ and his people, compassion throughout the world. This should for sinners, a spiritual mind, and an constitute a prominent part of our habitual aim to glorify God and do daily prayers, in our closets and good to men, are the genuine effects families; and enter particularly into produced by the Spirit of God dwell- the various circumstances in which ing in us. Can it be rational to mankind are placed. We ought to overlook those Scriptures which entreat the Lord to render all his speak on these subjects? or to ex-ministers faithful, holy, and successpect the eternal felicity promised to ful; to send forth labourers into his Christians, while destitute of those harvest; to unite all Christians in things which are declared essential the bonds of brotherly love; to to Christianity? prosper all means used for the conAgain, would we prosper in our version of Jews, Mahometans, Paown souls, or succeed in endeavour-gans, or infidels; and to "fill the

earth with truth and righteous-prove his richest advantage! What ness." a blessed religion is this, which can We shall not probably live to wit- turn the king of terrors into a kind ness this glorious scene: yet the friend, and the loss of all terrestrial Lord may bless some means which things into the most valuable of acwe use, in making way for that quisitions! What, my brethren, can grand triumph of his cause. Thus wealth, reputation, authority, geDavid zealously prepared materials nius, or philosophy propose, which for the temple, though assured it is comparable to this? Why then would not be builded in his days. should you hesitate to sell all, and If we have little else in our power, purchase the pearl of great price? either to serve our generation, or But though the apostle had a to sow seed for the good of posterity; longing "desire to depart and be we may perform an important ser- with Christ, as far better;" yet he vice by our persevering prayers; was willing to continue on earth, and whenever the Lord shall" pour "for the furtherance and joy of out his Spirit from on high," to make faith" of his beloved people.-As his gospel victorious over all oppo- if a pardoned rebel should volunsition, his people will certainly go tarily submit to the inconveniences forth to meet him with their united and sufferings of a dungeon, in order. fervent supplications. to recommend the clemency of his prince to other criminals; or be helpful to those, who having likewise received mercy, were for some reason retained a while longer in confinement.




Hence he took occasion to exhort

PHILIP. i. 27.-Only let your con- the Philippians in the following versation be as it becometh the Gos-words, " Only let your conversation pel of Christ,


be, as it becometh the gospel of ST. PAUL wrote this epistle, as well Christ; that whether I come and as some others, from his prison at see you, or else be absent, I may Rome and it is manifest that the hear of your affairs, that ye stand Lord was with him, as he had been fast in one spirit, with one mind, with Joseph in similar circum- striving together for the faith of the stances; which rendered his con- gospel, and in nothing terrified by finement unspeakably more plea- your adversaries."-From the part sant, than a splendid palace with a of this exhortation contained in our guilty conscience and ungovernable text, I shall endeavour, passions. Instead of dejection, murmurs, or resentment, we find the

apostle uniformly employing the language of cheerfulness, confidence, and exultation. He declares, that "to him to live was Christ, and to die gain." All his credit, interest, business, and pleasure in life, consisted in communion with Christ, and earnest endeavours to glorify him and promote his cause; and he was sure that death, in whatever form it should arrest him, would

L. To give a compendious view of the gospel of Christ.

II. To show that this gospel, when rightly understood, and truly believed, will produce a corres pondent conduct and conversation.

III. To mention some leading particulars in which “a conversation becoming the gospel" more especi ally consists.

IV. To make some remarks on the emphatical word "Only."

I. I would attempt to give a ditors; and the arrival of a fleet compendious view of the gospel of with provisions, in a time of urgent Christ. famine, occasions a joy, of which

We know that the word rendered such as live in plenty can form no gospel signifies glad tidings; and a adequate conception. We must preacher of the gospel is a messen- therefore understand something of ger or herald, bringing and publish- our own condition, before we can ing good news. "How beautiful cordially welcome the gospel of upon the mountains, are the feet of Christ; and inattention or mistake, them that preach the gospel of in this respect, forms one grand reapeace, and bring glad tidings of son, why so many slight the message good things!" Isaiah lii. 7. Rom. of salvation. But lectures on moral X. 15. duties separated from the doctrines

The Ephesians, when they had of grace, no more meet the case of formed the design of building the lost sinners, than an extract from celebrated temple of Diana, were at the statutes of the realm can give a loss where to procure a sufficient comfort and hope to condemned criquantity of the finest marble, to ac-minals. complish the plan; and it is recorded, We may know something of our that a certain person, in this emer-situation by facts; and the Scripgency, found a quarry at no great ture further explains the humiliatdistance, exactly suited to the pur-ing and alarming subject. It canpose. Running therefore without not be denied that the world is full delay to inform the citizens of this of crimes and miseries; this is fortunate event, he was saluted and equally certain, whether men beafterwards called, Evangelus, or the lieve or disbelieve the Bible. Even bringer of good tidings; a name of they who are averse to the doctrine exactly the same import, with that of human depravity, when applied rendered a preacher of the gospel to themselves and their connexions, or an evangelist. But though his show by the caution with which they tidings were infinitely less important transact their affairs, that they conand joyful than ours; it may be sider mankind in general as basely questioned, whether any whole selfish: and he who at first disdains city ever thus gladly welcomed the this sentiment, as unjust and illibemessage of salvation; and we know ral, will be at length constrained to that in general it meets with a very adopt it, or become a prey to designdifferent reception. ing men. Hence it is, that incauGood tidings often derive a great tious young persons, having been part of their value, from their suit-repeatedly deceived, often grow ableness to the case of those who suspicious and peevish as they adhear them. The promulgation of vance in years; and, when this is good laws and the impartial ad-the case, they give vent to their vexministration of justice, though valu-ation by reviling this or the other able blessings in themselves, can description of men. As if the fault give no pleasure to condemned lay in their rank or profession, and malefactors: but a report of the were not common to the human king's clemency, or an assurance species, however restrained, disof a pardon would suit their case, guised, or modified, except as true and tend to cheer their drooping religion produces an effectual change hearts. An act of grace is glad of disposition. tidings to confined debtors; though At the same time, it is evident, it may give umbrage to their cre- that all our comforts are entwined

[ocr errors]

with cares and disquietudes; every fully rebelled against their bountienjoyment, after a while, palls and ful Creator, and disobeyed his exgrows insipid: all our possessions press and easy command. Thus are precarious, and may either be " by one man sin entered into the torn from us, or become the causes world, and death by sin; and so of the most exquisite anguish. death passed upon all men, in that Pain and sickness are entailed upon all have sinned." Thenceforth the us; death is certain, and who human race became subject to knows how near? Its approach is labours, pains, afflictions, and disdreadful, its stroke inevitable, and eases, until "they return to the its visible effects intolerably morti- dust whence they were taken." fying. A dark gloom overshadows The holy image of God was also the rest who but he that believes effaced, and men became incapable the sure testimony of God, can say, of spiritual felicity, dead in sin, and what is beyond the grave? Yet prone to every kind of evil. there are forebodings of future re- When the root of our race thus tribution, which most men experi- fell, all the branches must share his ence to their additional alarm: so doom, and become mortal and sinthat numbers seem to suffer many ful: And as "it is appointed to all deaths in fearing one! To escape men once to die, and after death such distressing reflections, they the judgment;" still more terrible who are not confined by daily busi- miseries may justly be dreaded in a ness, have recourse to some species future world. A criminal may sufof dissipation. These at first yield fer many things previous to his a childish delight; but soon become trial and condemnation, but his irksome, unless novelty be super- principal punishment follows afteradded by unceasing variety. This wards. And as the human soul is the real secret of public and pri- is subject to sinful passions, corresvate diversions; and of the libe- ponding to the diseases of the body, rality with which immense sums we must inevitably be exposed to are expended in encouraging new condemnation at the tribunal of species of amusement, however God, and we also carry in our lapsed frivolous and absurd! These enable nature the seeds of misery and demen, for a moment, to escape from struction." the tediousness of life, or the an- But our pride and self-love start guish of solitude or reflection; and a thousand objections to these doctend to promote forgetfulness of trines; though the difficulty of God, of death, and of a judgment to reconciling facts with our notions


and reasonings unavoidably recoils We appeal to every man's feelings upon us. We have, however, anand observation, whether this de- other view given us, in the sacred scription does not accord with facts? oracles, of our actual condition, still and whether it have any depend- more suited "to stop every mouth, ance on religious opinions, except and to bring in all the world guilty as men are seldom able wholly to before God."-We are doubtless, disbelieve a God and a future state? as reasonable creatures, accountable Let us then inquire what light the to our Supreme Governor and Judge, Scriptures throw upon the subject. for every part of our conduct; and There we learn that God made his holy law is the rule, by which man in his own image," and created every disposition, word, and action the world"very good:" but that must be tried. Now, without enterthe first parents of our race ungrate-ing further on the subject, who does

[ocr errors]

not feel that he hath in many in- When these things are seriously stances violated the reasonable and considered, the condition of manrighteous commandments of God? Who hath not heard that "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them?"

kind appears truly deplorable. Related to God and an eternal world; exposed to death and a future judgment; already guilty of many heinous crimes, and propense to increase Thus "the Scripture hath con- the number; liable to final condemcluded all under sin:" and it was nation, and vessels of wrath fitted not without cause, I hope not with- to destruction: what can any one out meaning, that we this morning do, to rescue or ransom himself or added after each of the command- his brother, from the awful sentence ments, Lord, have mercy upon already published by the Judge, us, and incline our hearts to keep" Depart, ye cursed, into everlastthis law.'

[ocr errors]

ing fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" It is in vain to reason and dispute against facts, and the sure testimony of Scripture:

The man, who carefully compares his past and present conduct, with this most strict and spiritual stand ard, will soon find his own consci- Who art thou, that repliest against ence bring in a verdict against him: God? Shall not the Judge of all the "And if our hearts condemn us, earth do right? Shall mortal man be God is greater than our hearts, more just than God? Shall a man and knoweth all things." No re- be more pure than his Maker?" pentance or amendment can com- Job iv. 17.

pensate for past offences: because Let us rather submit to his rightewe cannot in any instance exceed ousness, and seek that relief which our present duty; and our debt his gospel proposes to us. The increases in proportion as we still Lord, against whom we have rebelfall short of perfect obedience. Nor led, hath revealed himself to us, as can we estimate the intrinsic evil of" merciful and gracious, forgiving our sins against the infinite majesty iniquity, transgression, and sin:" of heaven, or the punishment we de- and hath made way for the exercise serve for our ungrateful rebellion. of his boundless mercy, in harmony When we attempt to frame our with infinite justice and holiness in conduct by the holy law of God, we the person, redemption, and mediafeel a wonderful reluctance and tion of his beloved Son. And the backwardness to this most reasona- divine Saviour, having made a comble service, and a strong propensity plete atonement for sin, brought in to disobedience. These evil dispo- everlasting righteousness, and trisitions, though common to all, are umphed over all our enemies, now in some exceedingly strengthened reigneth Lord of all worlds, and is by habit, and rendered ungoverna- "able to save to the uttermost all ble by peculiar temptations. Such them that come to God by him; men therefore, as have some serious seeing he ever liveth to make interthoughts and form good purposes, cession for them." commonly find their resolutions The proposal of mercy and grace, enervated, and their endeavours without money and without price, baffled; and after some fruitless to the chief of sinners; the pressing efforts they return to their former invitations and persuasions with course of life, unless relieved by the which God doth by his ministers gospel of Christ. beseech us to be reconciled to him; Ꭱ Ꭱ

« ForrigeFortsæt »