« AnteriorContinuar »
infinite interest to be reunited. They are tidings of renewed holiness, to beings given over to endless sin; of peace and reconciliation, to beings consigned to eternal alienation ; and of immortal life, to beings sentenced to die for ever. They are tidings which communicate the happiest and easiest terms on which these blessings may be had; unfold the means by which they may be certainly attained; and present the motives which, with infinite force, allure and urge to the attainment.
They are published to a great world in ruins, and proclaim its restoration to hope and to happiness. They convey the richest blessings in the gift of Jehovah to this ruined world. Of the communication of these blessings, or any other, to such a world, heaven had utterly despaired, and heard the voice which first announced them with universal wonder, ecstacy, and praise. All her regions rung with gratulation, and resounded blessing, and honour, and glory, and power,“ be un“ to him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for “ ever and ever.” Not one sinner merely was now beheld as repenting and returning, but a world of sinners. The regions of immortality were now to be peopled by creatures of this new and unexpected character, and everlasting joy was seen to be extended by the future arrival of these extraordinary companions. The Saviour who is announced is the Saviour of men': every child of Adam, who hears the glorious news, may point to him and exclaim, “ This is my Redeemer! For my deli“ verance is he come. For me he became incarnate, lived, and “ died; for me he rose again, and ascended to the heavens. “ To wash away my sins he poured out his blood; to inter“cede for my soul he stands before the throne. To me he "cries, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.' To me he calls, “ Buy wine " and milk, without money and without price.”
Who, with these tidings resounding in his ear, would not exult? Who would not join in the angelic hymn, “ Glory to “God in the highest, and on earth peace : Good will towards “men!" Who would not feel and exclaim,“ Though I have “ been dead, yet I am alive again; though I have been lost, “yet am I found.”
III. How strange and guilty must be the disposition of him who will not rejoice in such a Saviour.
How blind must he be to his guilt, his condemnation, and his ruin? How insensible to his odicusness and deformity ? How torpid to the wrath of an offended God, to an approaching judgment, to an opening hell?
What ingratitude must defile his heart towards this amiable and excellent person? What stupidity must debase his mind, while he marks the condescension, the labours, the self-denial, the sufferings of the Son of God, which procured eternal life for the soul; and is yet deaf to the voice of the heavenly charmer, charming him with divine wisdom and tenderness, and calling to him to repent, and return, and live? How lost is. he to life, and holiness, and happiness ; how buried in the sleep of death, and guilt, and woe? How wise in his own conceit, and yet how bereft in fact of reason; how poor and wretched a maniac, dreaming that his dungeon is a palace, his tatters robes of state, his straw hat a diadem, and his dunghill a throne ; giving mock orders to his fellow-bedlamites, and mistaking it for empire ; clanking his chains, and calling it harmony ? “ The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his mas“ ter's crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not con66 sider."
IV. With what eagerness, according to this doctrine, ought mankind to embrace the offers of salvation.
Let me address this remark immediately to my audience.
You, as well as the rest of mankind, are sharers in all the wants, dangers, and miseries which I have mentioned. Your souls are the subjects of sin and guilt, are exposed to the wrath of God, and infinitely need to be forgiven and saved by Christ. The same death is hastening to summon you to the future world ; the same grave is opening to receive you; the same judgment is waiting for your appearance; the same world of misery rejoices in your impenitence and approach; the same dark and comfortless regions sigh for your condemnation; the same evil spirits exult over your ruin, and hail with dreadful prescience your arrival to their agonies ! !
Your souls can never cease to be. They may live; if they embrace Christ they will live,—if they reject him, they will die for ever.
Bring these things home to your hearts. Spare a solitary moment from the world, and sense, and sin, and ponder soberly on your situation and your prospects.
Without the love, the atonement, and the intercession of Christ, how will you disarm death, and triumph over the grave? Who will guide your lonely and anxious steps through the unknown world,-sustain your hearts before the last tribunal,-acquit you of your immeasurable guilt,--and redeem you from endless darkness and despair ?
Who will conduct you to heaven ? Who will provide for you immortal good ; support you with self-approbation and peace; adorn you with beauty and excellency; inspire you with love; improve and refine you with wisdom; instamp on you the glorious image of God; and bring you to the general assembly of the first-born as their eternal friend and
companion ? Who will unlock for you the springs of life? Who will feed you with living bread? Who will clothe
with unfading robes of righteousness ? Who will fix
in mansions of everlasting joy ? Who, in a word, will be your light, your portion, and your friend for ever?
ON A GOOD PROFESSION.
1 TIMOTHY VI. 12.
66 Lay hold on eternal life ; whereunto thou art also called, and
hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
In this passage St. Paul exhorts Timothy to lay hold on eternal life, and presents two powerful motives to engage him in the pursuit. Of these the first is, that he has been called by God to take possession of this glorious inheritance. The call here spoken of not only intends the general invitation of the Gospel, but also that which by the Westminster Assembly is styled Effectual Calling—the internal call of the divine Spirit. The second is, the good profession which he had professed before many witnesses. Timothy had publicly professed the religion of Christ before many witnesses; thus declaring that this was the religion of his choice, and solemnly given himself up to the Redeemer as one of his disciples. In the former of these transactions God had bound him to seek eternal life; in the latter he had bound himself. More powerful reasons could not be alleged, why he should continue to seek with unremitted diligence and fervour this all-important object.
The profession which Timothy had made of the religion of the Gospel in this case was a public profession ; for it was
made before many witnesses.
St. Paul declares it also to have been a good profession; and in this, as he spoke by inspiration, could not be deceived.
The same religion is publicly professed in our churches, as it plainly ought to be. That the profession when made ought also to be good, cannot rationally be denied; for it can hardly be supposed that any other will be acceptable to God.
In the following discourse it is my design to consider the subject with some attention. In pursuing this design, I shall consider,
I. What a good profession of the Christian religion is.
II. What is that state of mind in which a profession may be made.
I. What is a good profession of the Christian religion?
First place, A declaration that we believe the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel.
That some doctrines of the Gospel are fundamental, will hardly be questioned by any man, who believes the Gospel to be a revelation. Doctrines of the Gospel are truths, conformity to which in our hearts and lives will entitle us to the favour of God. Such as will be condemned at the fatal day among those who know the Gospel, we are assured will be condemned, because they obey not the Gospel. But it is clearly certain, that what we do not believe we cannot obey. No man's heart or life was, it is presumed, ever better than it would appear to be from the whole of the doctrines which he believed.
Among these doctrines, however, some are obviously of more importance than others; and of such as possess this importance, some are obviously essential to the very nature of the scheme of which they are parts. This is true of all systems of thought, whatever may be their nature or subject, Most evidently is it true of the evangelical system. There are certain truths of the Gospel on which all the rest depend for their whole importance, and even for their meaning. If we believe not these we believe not the Gospel; for without these the Gospel is nothing: if we love not these, we love not the