« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
these blessed changes yet been brought about in our hearts and souls! so that we would rather suffer any hardship, and submit to any loss, than wilfully commit a sin against God? I trust there are many among you (and God grant that there may be more and more) who have the satisfaction of feeling that God's mercies have not been bestowed in vain; who have reason to hope that, thoughtless and sinful as they may once have been, they have become better Christians and more obedient to their Saviour than they used to be; who have often called their past sins to remembrance, with much sorrow for having ever been guilty of them, and with much desire, resolution, and prayer that they may never be guilty of them again. Be joyful in the Lord, ye who, without deceiving yourselves, can say as much as this : go on to the end of this life's journey (it will soon be here) the same holy, happy course! go on and continue stedfastly to seek that which alone is worthy your desire, the kingdom of heaven and the salvation of your souls. Be joyful in the Lord! faint not in the time of trial, despair not when afflictions come upon you! Your Saviour is always with you : He who shed His blood for you (patiently bearing the cross and despising the shame of it), and upon this day rose again from the grave, from that blessed world where He now reigns in everlasting glory, watches over you: the friend of sinners now as much as ever.
Not only does He receive our prayers, He prays to His Father for us Himself: He bids as raise our hearts and our hopes to Him in heaven: He bids - us remember the sufferings which He bore for us, and think with sorrow of our many, many sins which brought those sufferings upon Him. If guilty, He bids us tremble; if penitent, He will not break the bruised reed: He promises that, if we continue His faithful servants to our life's end, we shall enter His joy, to live with Him through all eternity in the same happy place where He is now.
Thus, my brethren, within the last three days our attention has been called to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour: the two things on which all our hopes of happiness in the world to come entirely depend.
Can you now, I would ask, when you think of these things, and remember your own lost condition without Him for your Saviour, can you in any way reconcile it to your feelings to neglect this day His last and dying commandment? Can you think it right for a Christian to disobey Christ? Have you so little gratitude for Him who died for you, that you can refuse to take the holy sacrament, as He commanded, in remembrance of His death and sufferings for your sakes? O if the love of sin have still got such hold, such power, such rule over your hearts, that you dare not (because you cannot with a good conscience) approach the holy table, go, in God's name I beseech you, go and repent, and continue no longer in a state which makes you unworthy to do the duties of a Christian, and unworthy too to receive the rewards which Christ offers to His servants. But you
of whom better things can be spoken, you who have forsaken your sins, and have taken Jesus for your Master, and are living in obedience to His commandments, draw near, with lively faith in Him, with sorrow and repentance for things past, with holy purposes and resolutions for days to come, with charity, forgiveness, and loving-kindness to all your fellowcreatures; draw near and take this holy sacrament to your comfort. And God grant you His grace, that you may, both now and always, be fitting and preparing yourselves for the coming of that day when your Lord and Saviour shall visit the earth again, to confound His enemies with shame and misery, and to take all those who have done their duty towards Him into that blessed place, where He has prepared for them such good things as pass man's understanding.
MATTHEW xx. 16.
So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be
called, but few chosen.
WITH these words our Blessed Saviour ends that well-known parable of His concerning the labourers who were hired to work in a rich man's vineyard : a parable which, it is deeply to be lamented, has been applied to a most mistaken and dangerous purpose. It is the duty of us who are the ministers and stewards of Christ's holy Word, to teach that Word in truth, to set it plainly before you whenever it appears hard to be understood; and to correct and remove any false opinions or mistaken ideas that may be formed concerning it. It is with the wish to do this, that I