« הקודםהמשך »
been spending thy youth in vanity and folly : “Remem. ber thy Creator therefore in the days of thy youth, before the evil day come.” The autumn of man's years is here in divers respects called the evil day: Oh! it is exceed. ing sweet and precious to see and be sensible of an innocent life, and modest, sober conversation in youth ; when they are in their blooming, flowery years, to be scented with grace and truth, must needs be affecting. When youths are laden with the fruits of grace, and of the holy spirit, how pleasant is the taste of it; it generally relishes well with all men, and naturally brings praise to God, as well as peace to the soul. May the youth of this present generation, as also generations to come, be such holy plants, that God's right hand may be seen in planting them: when after being fruitful, and doing the work and service of their day, and answering the noble end of God in making and planting them here in this world, they may be transplanted into the eternal kingdom of heaven ; which, doubtless, they will, who first seek his kingdom, and the righteousness of it.
2d. If we consider that our life and being is daily granted to us, and we supported by the goodness and providence of Almighty God every day, it is but just that he should have the first or prime of our thoughts, in the morning of the day; and he (being the first and the last) ought to be last, as well as the first in our thoughts, also in the evening. The royal psalmist saith “If I prefer not Jerusalem before my chiefest joy, then let my right hand forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;” much more ought we to prefer our Creator to all things, and to have our thoughts on him, first and foremost in all things, and every day.
3d. For what are the things of this world in comparison of those that are to come, all these are fading and transitory ; but the things of that which is to come, are durable, and permanent; and therefore ought to be first and chief in our minds. That which is chief in our hearts, may be said to have the first place there ; “One thing (says a servant of God) have I desired, and that will
I seek after, that I might dwell in the house of God all the days of my life.” This was the first or prime thing, which he and we were, and are to seek for, and after. As for the morrow, we need not be too thoughtful or anxious concerning or about it, for we know not whether we shall live to enjoy it, so that as Christ says, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Judge not, that ye be not judged;" Chap. vii. Verse 1,
“For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judg. ed; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Verse 2. A
great and wise expression, or sentence, from a righteous and just judge; the Judge of heaven, and of earth, to whom all power in both is given ; by which we may easily perceive we are to be very careful in judgement and censures of others, and that we are not rash and censorious therein ; considering that with what judgement we judge our neighbours, or fellow mortals, with such shall we also be judged ourselves, and that measure which we measure out to others, shall be filled to us again ; when it comes to our turn to be judged, or censured by others, for any thing which we have done or said, we are ready then to cry out for charity ; are we so careful to be char. itable in our judging and censuring others!
It is better to suspend personal judgement, without we could see the hearts of men ; and if we think we do, then to imitate God and Christ, who mixes mercy and love with judgement; rashness and extremes in judgement, being commonly hurtful.
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Verse 3.
“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, and behold a beam is in thine own eve." Verse 4.
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” Verse 5.
Most true it is, that the transgressions of others are most alicting to those who fear God, and this is not in
tended to hinder the good from reproving the evil; but shews us that we must be clear of evil in ourselves when we reprove others, else the guilt of hypocrisy will be, and is by Christ cast upon us, and laid at our door. We are more to look at our own failings, than at the failings of others; and to take special care that we are clear of that which we reprove others for ; and is it not deceit
, to set up for reformers of others, when there are great defects in ourselves ? It is too general a fault in poor mortals to 1 be quicker sighted to see the faults of others, than their own. It is worthy reciting our Saviour's words to the Jews, who brought the woman taken in adultery, to him, and told him, by their law she ought to die; he answers, “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone at her.” So they being guilty, and convicted of sin in their own consciences, left her to Christ, and went their way: and when we have done what we can to convince others of sin, we must leave them to Christ at last; whether we are in sin, or without it; but we shall be the better able to help to reform others, if we are clear from guilt in our own hearts.
“Give not that which is holy to dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swiné, lest they trample them underli their feet, and turn again and rent you." Verse 6.
When we see the biting and persecuting nature, dirty, selfish spirit of men, it is to little purpose, gen. erally, to cast before them the precious pearl of truth
, or to shew unto them the deep mysteries of the kingdom of God, or the light of life, they being in a brutish spirit ; but when people are sober, and show forth humanity and moderation, then are holy things valuable to them, and the things of Christ's kingdom, and his doctrine, precious in their eyes, or esteem. Wherefore it greatly behoveth Christ's ministers to minister that to the people which is suitable for them, and rightly to divide between the precious and the vile, and to give to every one portion, according to their deeds; mercy to whom met cy, and judgement to whom judgement belongs ; with out partiality, and without hypocrisy, or deceit; and not to fatter and daub those who are in the doggish and swinish nature.
“ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Verse 7.
“ For every one that asketh, receiveth ; and he that -seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” Verse 8.
“ Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone ?” Verse 9. “ Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent
?s Verse 10.
“ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him ?” Verse 11.
Our kind and tender Redeemer would stir up and provoke souls to prayer and supplication; he has been lib. eral in his holy advice; and to stir us up to it, here are moving expressions, if thy heart be open to receive them. Can we have easier terms if we were to make them ourselves with the Lord, than to ask, and have; seek, and find; knock, and the gates are opened ; provided we ask in faith tenderly, and seek in humility, and knock with divine wisdom and submission ? Our Lord's own practice shows that we should be tender, submissive, and fervent in prayer; and then the fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much with the Lord. Christ urgeth us to it, and brings ourselves for example. “ What man is there among you, who if his son ask bread, or a fish, will he give him a stone, or a serpent?” Surely no: no father would deal thus with his child; but when his child is hungry, and wants and asks bread, he gives it to him : so when the Almighty sees our hunger, and we tenderly seek divine assistance and refreshment from him, he, in his own time, satisfies such souls with bread from above, and the thirsty with living water out of the wells of salvation : Oh! blessed be his holy name for evermore. Evil men know how to give good things to their children, therefore we may well conclude that our heavenly Father knows how to give with much more discretion and understanding the good things
of his kingdom, to true asking, seeking, knocking or praying souls.
" Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do even so to them ; for this is the law and the prophets.” Verse 12.
Well may this be called the golden rule; for if we square our lives and actions by it, it will certainly mete us out the true way to happiness and glory. We are generally apt to say, when any one doth ill to another, “Would he be willing to be served so himself ?” And if we follow this rule in all our concerns, it would be well; whether in relation to public or private business; whether in trade or religion, or in our domestic affairs : the law and the prophets point at it, and our Saviour plainly lays it down as a rule for us to walk by.
“ Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat." Verse 13.
“ Because strait is the gait, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be who find it." Verse 14.
It is afflicting to consider how natural it is for people to walk in this broad way, and they who walk in it are many; for here is room for people to walk if they are proud, whoremongers, adulterers, thieves, swearers, liars, drunkards, covetous, or in any other evil course of life, this broad way hath room enough in it for them to walk in ; but let them know, it leadeth to destruction, and the end is eternal misery, and their many companions will administer no consolation to them, when they lift eyes in heH. And whereas the way that leads to life is called strait, it is only strait to flesh and blood, or the will of unregenerate men : Oh! it is a pleasant way, exceed. ing pleasant, when brethren walk together in love and unity. The enemy of mankind would persuade souls, that it is narrower than it really is, when they have some faint inclinations to make trial of it. It may truly be said, “ Blessed are the undefiled in this strait and narrow wav, , who walk in the law of the Lord :" For, “ His ways