Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

kind and generous object, doth not challenge our most cordial acceptance and entire subjection; and whether gratitude, as well as duty, should not prompt us to fulfil every part of it to the utmost of our power.

Indeed, if we consider God as a severe takmaster, as I am afraid too many of us do; in that case, whatever he enjoins, will appear to be an hardship or a burden. But if we view him in his true character, as a wise and good parent, who in every thing consults the real advantage of his children, then his yoke will appear to be easy indeed, and his burden to be light. The cords of love will draw us on to obedience; and gratitude, which is ever ingenious in finding out ways to express itself, will constantly prompt us to the most dutiful obfervance of his will.

Show me the man whose ingenuous mind, not only expects a future reward, but feels a present joy in the service of his God: and to that man I will address the words of unfeigned falutation.

I will say to him, “ Hail thou favoured of the Lord,” thine is the true “ spirit of adoption," which de

viseth

H 3

viseth liberal things; thine is that foul which is born from on high, and which doth not commit fin; thine is that love which fulfilleth the law, and which perfecteth the saints.

But show me the man whose servile foul is moved only by the fear of punishment, to yield a grudging and penurious, service to his Maker ; and to that man I must be sparing of consolation. I must remind him, that it is the heart which God requires ; that God hath respect to the offering of a liberal giver ; but that he hath no regard to the churl, or to his offering.

Thus far I might argue upon general principles, that we ought not only to abstain from what the law of God prohibits, but also to fulfil, to the utmost of our power, what the spirit or intention of the law requires. But as I speak to Christians, I will now resort to an authority which they muft acknowledge to be valid, and sufficient to decide the question.

The proposition which I have laid down then, is not deduced by remote inference, neither does it depend upon a single testimony; but is both supported and illustrated by a multitude of clear and express declarations of Scripture.

We are commanded, not only to depart “ from evil,” but “ to do good ;” not only f6 to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of ☆ the flesh and spirit,” but also “ to perfect 6 holiness in the fear of God.”? Christ is proposed to us as our example; and what was his character ?

“ He went about doing good, and persisted, till he had finished “ the work which was given him to do.” Nay, he faith himself (John ix. 4.),

work the works of him that fent me. And if he, who voluntarily came under the law, was bound to this active and extensive service, shall we, who are its necessary subjects, plead an exemption from it? Paul, in his epistle to Titus (chap. iii. 11.), informs us, that “ the grace of God, which hath “ appeared to all men, bringing falvation, “ teacheth us not only to deny ungodliness “ and worldly lufts, but to live soberly, and “ righteously, and godly in the world;" and that Christ gave himself for us, for this end, " that he might redeem us from all ini

quity,

« I must

H4

[ocr errors]

“ quity, and purify to himself a peculiar “ people, zealous of good works.

These paílages of Scripture need no commentary, all of them point out the neçessity of a positive and an active obedience.

But this is not all. Our blessed Lord, who well knew what was in man, seems to have directly calculated fome of his discourses, to prevent the possibility of a mistake on this subject. The parables of the rich man and Lazarus, of the talents, and of the barren fig tree, plainly appear to have been delivered with this view.

We are not told that the rich man was in any respect injurious or oppressive to Lazarus: his guilt lay in his not extending his kindness to supply his wants. fitable servant was cast into outer darkness, not for losing or squandering away lent, but for hiding it in a napkin, and neglecting to improve it. And the fig-tree was cut down, and cast into the fire, not for prociucing bad fruit, but because it produced no fruit at all. But left the allegorical dress of thefe instructions should leave men at too great liberty to explain away the force

The unpro

his ta

of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of them, this wife and provident Teacher, in a serious and awful discourse on the process of the last judgement, resumes the same argument, (Matth. xxv. 31.--- ). There he tells us expressly, that men shall not only be punished for doing evil, but also for neglecting to perform active service; and in particular, for neglecting to perform the offices of humanity to their brethren. For the charge runs in these words :

was an hungered, and ye gave me no

meat ; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no « drink; I was a stranger, and ye took

me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and

ye

visited me not.”_" For in as much as ye did it

not to the least of these my brethren, ye « did it not to me." And then follows the doom to be pronounced on those against whom this charge is brought : “ These “ shall go away into everlasting punish

ment.

From these passages of Scripture, we learn with assurance, that unless life is filled up with good works, death, which introduceth us to judgement, must approach to us with a

dark

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »