Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

grace, some have denied the necessity of practical holiness in believers, and maintained that they could do nothing to displease him; while others, to magnify his goodness, have represented it as requiring the final destruction of sin, throughout the universe, and the universal restoration of all to purity and happiness. It is sufficient to say, however, that the Antinomian in the one case, and the Universalist in the other, diminish our impressions of the purity and justice of God, without at all exalting our views of his grace and goodness. The surest, and indeed the only certain antidote to these things, is, for the sober-minded Christian to study, with lively joy and spiritual affection, the beautiful and solemn presentments of the word of God, on these subjects, as they disclose, in perfect harmony and affectionate sisterhood, and perpetual co-existence, all his adorable attributes. We may add, also, that in all those public and private duties with which ideas of the divine Being are closely associated, confusion, turnult, artifice, and disorder should be avoided; and in our thoughts and representations of Him, nothing should be admitted inconsistent with that dignity, and solemnity, and profound reverence which becometh his presence forever. A misapprehension in respect to him should be dreaded more than any earthly misfortune; and a new and juster perception of his moral glory, should be prized above gold and silver, or the richest treasures of human learning. When the soul rises to this pursuit under the luminous and life-inspiring guidance of the Holy Spirit, freeing herself from the clogs of sin, from every bias, every vain dependence, and every sinister intention, she starts on the track of her eternal destiny, and hastens to ensure her preparation for the exalted sphere which awaits her.

To the best means of overcoming these and various other obstructions, and of making the surest and most efficacious advances in the true knowledge of God, we might also, did time permit, direct your attention. Such a sketch, in proportion as it was correct, would have an important reference to the following propositions, already developed, viz.:

1. As verbal representations of the divine character, presented to a mind in which there is no taste for, but a natural aversion to, moral excellence, cannot impart to it, of themselves, any morally correct and operative apprehensions of God whatever; so, an important radical change of heart must occur, before even the most luminous and scriptural views of God can so exist within, as to turn the sinner from the evil of his ways, and induce him to choose God as the portion of his soul.

2. Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit does, in the progressive sanctifiction of believers, employ no other instrumentality but that of truth; and, as he may be expected, under ordinary circumstances, to bless those views of the divine character which are most scriptural, in preference to others; it follows, that your growth in holiness, if Christians, and your conversion, if impenitent sinners, are most intimately and solemnly connected with the care and fidelity with which you

resist all difficulties and temptations, and the earnestness and prayer with which you now habitually set yourselves to that noblest pursuit in which saints and angels are forever to be engaged.

3. As the feeblest powers, and the smallest intellectual attainments may, through the sovereign grace of the Holy Spirit, be competent to the possession of saving apprehensions of God,and as our advancement in just views of his character is uniformly more impeded by a wrong state and temper of mind, than intellectual defects and aberrations, which last indeed proceed from that source; so, the first and highest concern of every one of us, should be, that our souls may be replenished with the gifts of the Spirit, and that we may be induced to bring the aids of a holy, self-denied life, a devout and spiritual mind; a meek, docile, and humble spirit, and a true thirsting of soul after God, to private duties and public ordinances, and all those Sabbath and sacramental exercises, through which Jehovah is wont to make known himself to his people.

YE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST! who profess to have known Him, and to have entered into covenant with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,-on you, the duty of following on to know the Lord, lays its most solemn claim. If you have possessed these precious and transforming views of the blessed God, has not your own experience taught you, that as defection and heresy always begin in the affections; and wrong affections first pervert the judgment, and then pollute the life; so a slight omission, a wave of passion, a sinful word or thought, a covetous, vain, or ambitious desire, is often enough to abate that fervor with which you cherish them, and the impressiveness which has distinguished them? The bible shows you how much his servants have been distinguished for their desire to enjoy just, and cheering, and soothing manifestations of his presence; and your evidence of piety must consist in the possession of a similar disposition. A life of watchfulness, and meditation, and prayer, united with singleness of aim, dependence on Christ, and persevering endeavor, can alone afford you the prospect of such advances as shall lighten the sorrows and surmount the temptations of this life, and, when you enter the darksome vale of Jordan, give you to sing the song of the conquering Christian.

To those who are not NUMBERED AMONG THE FRIENDS OF GOD, let me also affectionately appeal. Men and brethren, what that measure of knowledge of the divine character is, which accompanies fallen angels and finally impenitent men to the regions of everlasting despair, and in view of which “ they believe and tremble;" or what augmentation of it the ceaseless growth of their wickedness and their misery may imply, we pretend not to know; but, it is enough to say, that it never subdues their enmity, softens their hardness, quells the fury of their passions, or turns back their guilty eyes, to behold,, with filial love and grateful pleasure, that adorable and lovely Being, whose essential excellence would there seem but to increase the aversion and the misery of his rebel creatures. Doubtless they will know enough of him to feel, in tenfold measure, what

the conscience of every sinner now enforces upon him, that they ought to obey and love him, and that the resistance of this most reasonable claim, is the real source of all their interminable anguish. To that gloomy world, where every tender, grateful, affectionate thought of the blessed God, has given place to enmity and dread, and where sin and unbridled passion have kindled up their quenchless fires, will you, beloved hearer, bend your steadfast way? Does not every step towards it betray such incorrect, unkind, ungrateful ideas of God, as you have no right to cherish? Angelic throngs, with untiring rapture, fill his pure abode with the swelling chorus, Holy, Holy, Holy, IS THE LORD GOD OF Hosts, because they see and know him as he is. Redeemed sinners on earth, at those favored hours, when, enabling them to see that they are hid in the cleft of Zion's Rock, He passes by and gives them to see the glory of his character, are melted into grief, and bathed in tears, that they have honored and loved him so little, and long for the hour of their ascension to his right hand. And, if you look at this lower world, do not all its animate and inanimate objects, as they smile amidst the silent serenity and cloudless brilliance of the summer morn of the Sabbath, seem to rejoice in Him? Or if you lift your eyes to the wide expanse of the heavens, where unnumbered worlds, in their varied revolutions, pour their brilliant radiance around the throne of God, and proclaim their subjection to his will, do you not see his works attest it right that the heavens should declare his glory, and all creation give a grateful expression of his presence and his power? And what right have you to be ignorant or insensible of those moral glories in the Godhead.which call forth still deeper emotions? The volume of creation and of providence is before you; and you are lost in the wonders of power, and goodness, and love, which each bright page unfolds! The volume of inspiration is in your hand; and it reveals a Saviour whose humiliation and sufferings for us were enough to make angels weep-whose, compassion and love would seem sufficient to draw tears from the scoffer's eye, and melt into penitence the murderer's heart. You have the testimony of the clearest evidence, also, that while the bible is thus lifting the veil of uncertainiy from every attribute of God, and while the cross is uttering its most thrilling appeals to your sense of duty, you stand yourself on the brink of eternity, to enter which, without having caught a sanctifying vision of God's true character, is to have closed life's harvest season unsaved, and shrouded the eye in everlasting night. .

Thus furnished for the work of knowing God, consider well, that while we speak there visits this assembly a Spirit, who if not resisted by you, will now begin those developments of transcendent excellence which it will require an eternity fully to make known! Need we then earnestly entreat you now to awake from every delusive slumber,-to-day to lift your thoughts and your affections to this great and glorious Being, saying, in the language of the text, “ I BESEECH THEE, SHEW ME THY GLORY?"!

[blocks in formation]

BY JOHN MATTHEWS, D. D.
PROF. OF THEOLOGY, ÁT SOUTH-HANOVER, INDIANA.

THE UNION OF TRUTH AND LOVE IN THE MINISTRY.

2 CoR. 6:4–6,7. But in all things approving ourselves as the min

isters of God....by love unfeigned, by the word of truth.

The slow progress of truth, and the limited extent of the Redeemer's kingdom amongst men, is afflictive to those who consider the importance of this truth, and the blessings of this kingdom. Why is this the case? It is now about eighteen hundred years since the risen Saviour gave the command and the commission to the Apostles, and through them to their successors in office, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” From that day to the present, there has been, and there still is, an order of men, by profession and solemn vows to God, devoted to the exclusive purpose of spreading the gospel through the world. And yet, at this day, not more than two eighths of the whole human family are nominally Christian. The nature of the case does not admit of perfect accuracy in the calculation; but it is supposed to be near the truth, that six hundred millions of our race are, at this day, without the gospel. Of those who are nominally Christian, probably not more than one in ten is truly pious, and living under the influence of the gospel. The question returns, with heart-thrilling interest, why is this the case? Why are these hundreds of millions without the gospel? Why are these hundreds of thousands, in lands called Christian, without the spirit of vital piety? What have the ministers of Christ been doing for the last seventeen centuries? To

them especially, the gospel has been committed in trust; on them has e been devolved the high and fearful responsibility of advancing the

| Redeemer's kingdom: have they been faithful to this trust? have

[ocr errors]

34

UNION OF TRUTH AND LOVE they labored and suffered, as they ought to have done, in the cause of their Master? If they have, why is the world in this state? Had the apostles lived and labored till this day, would the same state of things have existed? Would Paul, himself alone, have done no more, in seventeen centuries, than has been done?

Some years before the close of the first century, the faith of the Romans was spoken of throughout the whole world. The gospel was known in all the world, as it was to the Colossians, and was bringing forth fruit, as it was with them. Even then, the gospel was preached to every creature which is under heaven. Admit that the whole world means no more than the Roman empire; yet that empire included nearly, if not all, the nations at that time known to the Romans and the Jews. Adinit, also, that only a part of these nations had received the gospel; still we see the great and rapid progress which truth had made within the first half century. True, the apostles had the power of working miracles; yet those miracles were only intended to confirm the truth, and gain it admission to the conscience; but they compelled no man to believe. Men were born * again then, as they are now, by the Spirit and word of God. This truth has been the same in all subsequent ages, that it was then; its influence and its effects on the mind have also been the same. The gospel which they preached was the very same, in all its details, which their successors in office have been permitted and required to preach. The faithful record of these miracles has, in all ages, accompanied the gospel as evidence of its truth. Nor has the opposition to the gospel been greater at any time, than it was in their day. The same Spirit who gave the increase to their labors, is promised to the earnest prayer of all who ask for his aid. We ask again, therefore, had the apostles been permitted to labor for seventeen centuries, would there have been 600,000,000 of the human family, or even a single nation on earth, ignorant of the gospel? Would Paul, dressed in the splendors of royal magnificence, have rolled over the pavement in his coach; would he have enjoyed the elegancies of the wealthy and populous city, when he knew that there was a nation on earth, however remote, who were without the gospel? No! he would have encountered the perils of the deep, and of the wilderness; though bonds and afflictions had awaited him in every place, yet none of these things would have moved him from his purpose. If pious friends had entreated him, with tears, to spare his life, he would not have been persuaded. What mean ye, would have been his reply, to weep and break my heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus. He would have stood before kings and made them tremble; before the most learned philosophers and preached Christ crucified. He would have called from their retirement a Titus, a Timothy; would have infused his own spirit into hundreds of others and sent them into the field as his co-workers. Organizing a church, and ordaining elders in one city, he would have hastened to another, and another;

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »