« 前へ次へ »
time ad interim. For however mortifying it may feel to the pride of some who bear the Christian name, I cannot consider the general government of the church even now in any other light than that of an interim. And St. Paul himself, who has been slanderously represented as indifferent, if not averse, to the honour of his countrymen, so far from it, declared most explicitly this belief in their favour, and that their casting off for a time was for the reconciling of the world, when he wrote to the church of Rome-yes to the very head of the new hierarchy, adding these remarkable expressions, “ If thou wert cut out of the olive-tree which is wild by nature, and grafted contrary to nature into a good olive-tree,-how much more shall these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive-tree ?-and so ALL ISRAEL shall be saved : as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel (says he) they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For THE GIFTS AND CALLING OF GOD ARE WITHOUT REPENTANCE.” (Rom. xi. 15, &c.)
But this may seem like looking forward to a distant period, which can only be known to him who ordains it; as our Saviour told the disciples at the period of his ascension, “ It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which your Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts i. 7.) It is the part of the ministry, the forerunners of the Lord, to co-operate in the mean time with God and angels in “purifying unto him a peculiar people zealous of good works ;” (Tit. ii. 14;) to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord : (Isai. lxi. 1:) which is now, whenever" the day of vengeance of our God” may come; as it is written again, “ Behold, now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation.” (Cor. II. vi. 2.) Their faith is to be fed continually with new evidence, or with the old newly presented: the flame of devotion that has been kindled in some by God's holy Spirit must be fanned by the breath of his priests: the relapsed are first to be treated with gentle and earnest exhortation as long as there seems any hope of reclaiming them. To those who “hold the truth in unrighteousness,” and are become adepts in the mystery of iniquity; “ who being past feeling have given themselves orer unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness,” (Eph. iv. 19,) exhortation would be misapplied; but they may be treated with dignified sarcasm : and let them have enough, that others bearing it may be thereby set against their foul example, and learn to despise their pernicious influence.
To go through with the doctrine of mercy and grace, .
4. It is after all in our own part—in the part of its objects generally and individually, that the mercy of God must terminate and be perfected, howerer it may begin, and by whatever means, stages or degrees it may be conducted to that point. I have signified before now, and others do likewise, I hope, as I would not be singular in this profession, if it be getting rather obsolete, THAT WE HAVE SOMETHING TO DO FOR OURSELVES in order to obtain mercy, and are also undER A FEARFUL RESPONSIBILITY to do what we can for ourselves; working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you (says the apostle) both to will and to do of his good pleasure, (Phil. ii. 12, 13,-a very sufficient reason and encouragement for us to do what we can for ourselves, without either expecting compulsion in our own cause, or desiring to be left out of the management. However, it seems a paradox to my mind, that God should work in us to will; and that, to do nothing.
Every commandment from God is an evidence of the cooperation that he expects from us in his mercy toward 11. For if his commandments do not imply a sufficiency inherent in the object, they must some ability to perform what was enjoined with his assistance, or they would not be given. The truth is, that God worketh with us and for us. To require a perfect obedience from us, without affording us the power to obey him, and the inclination too, considering how we are situated, would be like the tasking of the oppressed Israelites in Egypt, and worthier of such a one as the infatuated Pharaoh, than of Jehovah, the God of mercy. “ For he knoweth whereof we are made: he remembereth that we are but dust.” (Ps. ciii. 14.) He does not require us to make our full tale of bricks, and find straw; but to make the best use that is possible of the means he affords us, and the talents committed to us, as well for our own enriching in the kingdom of righteousness, as for the happiness and advancement of others.
“Through God will we do great acts: for it is he that sball tread down our enemies,” (Ps. lx. 12,) says the Psalmist; agreeably to the saying of the Son of God, “ If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.” (John x. 37.) Whereupon it may be said again by ourselves, as it was by the chief priests and Pharisees,“ What do we? for this man doeth many MIRACLES.” (Ib. xi. 47.) If the miracle of subduing the proud spirit, of conciliating the petulant, of assuaging the malignant, which cannot be done by a similar, nor yet by a neutral-spirit, be performed by Christ; if " he hath done all things well, making both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak,” (Mark vii. 37,) what do we? what is our share in the work of salvation? Why, we do no more than he enables us to do: but very different from what we did. “I can now do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me;" (Phil. iv. 13 ;) and “as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things might be glorified through Jesus Christ; to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.” (Pet. I. iv. 11.)
We read in the Gospel of “a man travelling into a far country: who called his own servants, and delivered unto
them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability: and straightway took his journey:". (Matt. xxv. 14, 15.) Wherefore only one may be considered a saving talent: but what that one may be, is rather a subject of dispute among those grovelling merchants who would fain be content with one talent, and hide that one in a napkin. (Luke xix. 20.) Thus among the five that I shall mention some will regard one with watery lips, and some another: but not for any great use that they think to make of them. There are, for example, such talents confided to mankind, through the mercy of God our Saviour, as 1, Faith ; 2, Grace to repent; 3, Wisdom and Experience; 4, a joyful Hope; with 5, the potent resource of Charity. Now an active man might find either of these very convenient as a fund or beginning; and he would not expect, nor desire, to find a saving talent among them until it was put out to use. For then faith might accompany grace in the work of repentance, and by repentance lead to reformation and salvation. So“ tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” (Rom. v. 4,5.) Or if one had but the single talent of charity, and was disposed to make a good use of it, as every active, WORKING MAN must, only that,--good, fervent “ charity-shall cover the multitude of sins.” (Pet. I. iv. 8.)
Perhaps among all our talents, which are more than five, (Luke xix. 13, the first mentioned faith, being an humble reliance on the goodness of the Endower, may be the most saving or fundamental: when“ with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” (Rom. x. 10.) But an idle and presumptuous faith is most ruinous..
No medicine can profit without being taken: but some men will think the sight of it enough. Some men would be crowned too without running, I believe, if they could;
they would be rich without labour, and wise without ex. perience; virtuous, without either suffering or exertion ; free, without ransom;, new made, without repentance; approved, without trial; and perfect, without reformation: whereas they have all much to endure for what they hope, to enjoy. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it.” (Matt. vii. 14.) We should therefore endeavour to contemplate our situation fairly as it is; and not suffer ourselves to be abused with those extravagant ideas of beatitude which the devil artfully strews in our way, and we are often simple enough to take up with : for they will only mislead us, and make our condition so much worse, as they represent it better than it is. Let us remember, that man is not born into the world at this season upright and innocent, like Adam in the first instance; but full of evil propensities, which must be corrected ; and charged with guilt both new and old, with personal offences as well as with those of his forefathers; which must be taken out of his way by atonement, before he can approach his Maker, and presume to look up to him for any good.
Thus it behoves the best of us to think as much as the worst; and not to reckon upon any thing like a stock of primitive integrity, which must all have gone at one stroke if the first man had lived ten thousand years in his uprightness, or before the first offence. “For the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Gal. üü. 22.) The pride of independence is now gone by with us : and so far are we from having any goodness or moral worth to plead before God, that we have not by nature so much as a legal existence. In this bankrupt condition therefore we may be glad with any terms of acceptance, and to obtain at any rate those precious privileges which self-love, or infernal flattery, would induce us to look upon as a matter of course, like our fortune or birthright.-We read, how“ it became him for whom are all things, and by