« הקודםהמשך »
to the Saviour, except in the character of lost sinners. We are therefore required to humble ourselves before God, and to allow the justice of his awful sentence: and we must not in any measure excuse our crimes, or expect de liverance from wrath, and the gift of eternal life, as in any degree our due. The Scripture no where warrants a sinner to come in this spirit, or to advance such a plea. “ Wilt thou,” says Jehovah, “ condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous ?” Job xl. 8. This was precisely the case of the ancient Jews; “ they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Rom. x. 3, 4.
There are two principal reasons of men's rejecting the gospel. In general they hate religion, and desire to live without restraint. They take pleasure in worldly objects: and if not compelled by their circumstances to labour, or engaged in covetous or ambitious pursuits ; they love to spend their time and money in gratifying their own humour and inclinations: but submission to Christ is absolutely contrary to such a course of life. When, however, this seems to be in a measure got over; and men take a nearer view of Christianity; they are greatly offended at its humiliating doctrines. To come before God as dependent creatures might be tolerable: but to approach him as justly condemned criminals, is too great a degradation to be endured; especially when connected with self-denial and renunciation of their darling pursuits. A method of salvation, which paid more respect to their wisdom, learning, or other distinctions, and especially to their virtue and goodness of heart, would meet with a better reception. To speculate and decide as philosophers, to perform duties by their native energies and good dispositions, and to demand a reward of their distinguished piety and charity, would better suit their feelings; than to be saved by grace alone; to sit as little children at the feet of Jesus, to give the Lord the glory of every good desire, thought, word, and action; to rely on the all-sufficient merits and atoning blood of the Saviour, and to receive eternal life as the gift of God in him. Yet the text, compared with the general tenor of Scripture, requires this unreserved submission of sinners to divine justice, and reliance on free mercy and grace, as essential to salvation.
But it also demands from us implicit obedience to the Saviour, as the anointed king over his redeemed people, and over all worlds for their advantage. “ Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and so ye perish from the way.” When Samuel anointed Saul king over Israel, he testified his cheerful and cordial acquiescence in the Lord's appointment, by the kiss of allegiance. In like manner, we are not only required to welcome the salvation of Christ with unfeigned gratitude, and to express our love by obedience in some particulars ; reserving to ourselves a choice, because we are children, not slaves : but we are called upon to submit to his authority, and yield obedience in all things, and if our repentance, faith, and love, be sincere, we shall cordially render it, only lamenting the imperfection of our most upright and self-denying services. Our past sins will appear to us, as acts of rebellion against our Sovereign and bounteous Creator ; present failures will be considered as additional provocations, which need forgiveness through the atoning blood; and our obedience, as the only undeniable evidence of our repentance and conversion. We shall regard every interest or obedience which would draw us aside, as an idol and usurper ; every contrary propensity as the remains of our old bondage; and the path of duty as true liberty, the perfection of which we shall long after with groans and tears.
But further, the text commands us, “ to honour the Son even as we honour the Father that sent him.” 1 Jolin v. 23. Thus the worshippers of Baal kissed his image, and the idolatrous votaries of the golden calves used the same ceremony. 1 Kings xix. 18. Hos. xiii. 2. Jehovah therefore seems to say in the words of the text, “I demand for my beloved Son that very adoration, which I prohibited and abhorred when offered unto idols. When
our Lord had said, “ I and my Father are One," the Jews accused him of making himself equal with God; and their renewed attempt to stone him, together with the immediate cause of his condemnation to the cross, proves that he neither denied nor evaded the charge. On this point, he and the Jews were at issue ; for this supposed crime he suffered and died: but “he was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead.” And he who carefully examines the account given of the worship rendered to “ the Lamb that was slain,” by redeemed sinners, an innumerable multitude of angels, and all creatures, as made known in vision to the apostle, will not be able to mark any difference between it, and the adoration paid to “ Him who sitteth on the throne, and liveth for ever and ever.” Rev. v. 6. It cannot therefore be wonderful, if the disciples of Christ on earth, should be required to learn the worship of heaven, as a part of their “ meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light.”—But it is time for us to proceed to the remaining part of the subject, and,
III. Make some remarks, on the warning and encouragement, which close the psalm : “ If his wrath be kindled, yea but a little ; blessed are all they that put their trust in him."
What is this but a declaration, that if you refuse the salvation of Christ, reject his authority, and deny him the honour due to him, his love will be turned into fiery indignation, and he will glorify his name in taking vengeance on his despisers, as well as in saving and blessing his humble disciples ?'-With allusion to the day of judgment, it is said, " The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains : and said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand.” Rev. vi. 15–17. Observe the words, “ the wrath of the Lamb,” the wrath, not only of an offended King and Judge, but also of a despised Saviour. This will enhance the guilt and condemnation of those who neglect the gospel, and render their condemnation more intolerable than that of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Our attention should likewise be peculiarly fixed on the expression, " If his wrath be kindled, yea but a little,"—that is, 'should you be found among the more plausible and moderate of those, who refuse submission to the Saviour; among those who have least provoked his indignation; your doom will yet be very tremendous. This comes home to the case of multitudes. Many persons readily express their abhorrence of the blasphemies, atheism, and other enormous crimes, which, alas, have been perpetrated in a neigh, bouring nation; and with a latent self-flattery, they rise in their own good opinion, by comparing their conduct with that of such daring enemies to God and his Christ. Others exclaim against those that deny our Lord's die vinity, or his atonement; and they seem to feel much inward satisfaction in opposing these dangerous heresies; while some congratulate themselves, that they never scoff at religion, but always speak respectfully of its sacred truths and duties. Thus in various ways men keep up a persuasion that they are Christians : yet if we insist upon unreserved submission to Christ, according to that view of it which hath been stated, they would perhaps acknowledge, they had not gone so far in religion. If they have not been avowed opponents, they have in a great measure endeavoured to maintain a neutrality ; but such persons should recollect that Christ hath said, “ He that is not with me is against me;" so that all will be considered as enemies, who are not his cordial friends and loyal subjects.- Indeed this is a general cause of men's destruction: they compare themselves with some other characters, fancy themselves better than they, quiet their consciences, and go on in the ways of sin and ungodliness.
But what consolation will it be in the day of wrath, should your condem
nation be one degree less heavy than that of your neighbours ? Should you approach as near to Christianity, as a man can possibly do, who is not a true disciple of Christ, what would it avail you? Suppose you hesitate, from love to some lawful earthly comfort, which you prefer to Christ, and refuse to part with for his sake : will not that very circumstance render your feelings most exquisitely poignant, when the doom shall be pronounced against you? This cannot be too closely brought home to conscience : for it was a prevailing delusion even at the time when our Lord was on earth. Know, therefore, whether thou art a Judas, betraying Christ for sordid lucre, under the mask of a disciple or a minister; a Pilate, “washing thine hands," by giving up his cause from fear of man, and then pretending to excuse it ;-a Herod, that openly insultest him;—a Gallio, that carest for none of these things ;—or a Felix, who tremblest and stiflest thy convictions. Whether thou join the multitude that cry, “ Crucify him, crucify him; not this man but Barabbas;" or with Agrippa, art “almost persuaded to be a Christian;"
departest sorrowful, because thou hast great possessions :” which of these characters soever belong to thee, know assuredly that thou wilt perish from the right way, unless thou repent, and become a believing and obedient subject of the Lord Jesus. And what will it avail thee, that numbers will be associated in the same condemnation, or even perish in a still more tremendous manner ?
But is not this harsh and uncharitable? Hear the words of Christ himself.—“Except a man deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple. “Except he forsake all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Does charity consist in contradicting “ the true and faithful Witness,” or “in speaking peace, when there is no peace ?” The case is the same as it was of old. Some daringly blaspheme, and openly reject the Son of God: others use respectful language; but their actions shew, that they value the pleasures of sin, the friendship of the world, the pride of life, filthly lucre, or the praise of men, more than him and his salvation. But all such persons virtually declare, that they did right, who, actuated by various worldly motives, concurred in nailing him to the cross. None who lived at that time, and might have heard his doctrine, or witnessed his miracles, were wholly free from the guilt of his death, except the remnant of his true disciples: and none at present are wholly free from the charge of crucifying the Son of God afresh, who persist in neglecting his great salvation.
“ Blessed then are all they that put their trust in him.” They are blessed in their present security and privileges; and they shall be blessed in their eternal inheritance. To you, my brethren, who thus cordially welcome the Saviour, and submit to the king of Zion, with unreserved obedience and fidelity, though with many lamented imperfections; to you belong peace with God, peace of conscience, the adoption of children, and the consolations of the Holy Spirit. It is your privilege to “ rejoice in hope, to be patient in tribulations ;" to find support in trials, safety in all dangers, victory over every enemy, and a rich advantage from all losses and sufferings. Whether you be rich and prosperous, or poor and afflicted; whatever your station or circumstances may be, you are blessed ; for God himself hath pronounced you so : you shall be blessed through life, and in death; and when the Redeemer shall appear to judge the world. Lift up then your heads, for your redemption draweth near; and when others shall cry to the rocks to fall on them, and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb; you shall exclaim with triumphant exultation ; “ This is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the Lord,,we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
CHRIST'S COMING TO JUDGMENT.
1 CORINTHIANS IV. 5.
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring
to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God
The reception which the zealous, unwearied, and disinterested labours of the apostle Paul met with from mankind, forms the most conclusive proof of human depravity ; next to that arising from the contradiction, contempt, and cruelty, which his divine Master had experienced. Not only was this distinguished servant of God “ every where spoken against," and treated as “ the filth of the world, and the off-ecouring of all things," by unconverted Jews and Gentiles: the whole body of Jewish converts also were exceedingly prejudiced against him ; many of the churches he had planted were alienated from him, and his Corinthian converts had been so perverted by false teachers, as to entertain the most injurious suspicions, as to the motives of his ministerial conduct. But fervent zeal for the honour of Christ, and affectionate longing after the salvation of souls, kept him from fainting, and rendered him «stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;” and he even submitted, with the most evident reluctance, to vindicate his character, and magnify his ministry to the disaffected Corinthians; that, by re-establishing his apostolical authority, he might recover them from the delusions into which they had been seduced. In attempting this, he warned them against exalting some and despising others, of those who had laboured among them. “ Let a man," says he, “ so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” All Christians are servants of Christ, and the word rendered minis. ters, denotes those servants who wait on any person, as ready at all times to execute his orders with unreserved assiduity. But ministers are also stewards of the mysteries of God: they are not mere teachers of morality, as some men imagine; but they are intrusted with the great mysteries of revealed truth, that they may declare them to mankind, as they have received them of the Lord. “ Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.' It is not necessary for ministers to be orators, courtiers, philosophers, or even men of distinguished genius or learning ; but integrity and faithfulness are indispensible. Any person of common prudence would prefer a downright honest steward, though but moderately qualified, to the most accomplished man in the world, who, he was aware, would oppress his tenants and embezzle his property. Thus faithfulness is the grand requisite in a minister ; without which, talents may recommend him to the applause of men, but will not procure him deliverance from the wrath of God. “But," says the apostle, “ with me it is a very small thing, that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment; yea I judge not mine own self; for I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified ; but he that judgeth me is the Lord.”—It must not be expected, that every one who aims to be faithful, should thus decidedly rise superior to the opinion of men, especially those within the church. At the call of duty, a minister may be enabled to venture giving offence; yet do it reluctantly, and be drawn into many re
serves, under the notion of prudence, which may greatly impede his useful
Christians should therefore take heed, that they do not inadvertently tempt ministers to unfaithfulness, or render faithfulness uneasy to them. The apostle no doubt did examine his own motives and conduct; but he knew that an appeal lay from his decision to that of his heart-searching Judge ; and that reflection gave rise to the caution and warning of the text;
_" Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.” Let us then,
1. Meditate on the coming of the Lord, and the solemnities of that awful event.
II. Consider the discoveries which will then be made.
I. I would call on you to contemplate with me, the coming of the Lord, and the solemnities of that awful event.
The sacred Scriptures continually lead our thoughts to this great crisis, when the important and eternal interests of the whole human species will be finally determined. The servants of God from the beginning of the world looked forward to it: even “ Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these things: saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 14, 15. That profession which
Job ardently wished might be “graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever," seems to have had as much respect to the second coming of the Lord, as to his first appearance in our nature; " I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job xix. 23—27.
Omitting various passages from the prophets, that call our attention to this grand event, we may properly make a quotation from the fiftieth psalm, which is a most sublime, prophetical description of a future judgment, “ Our God shall come and shall not keep silence, a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth that he may judge his people. And the neavens shall declare his righteousness, for God is judge himself. Selah.” Psalm l. 3—6. The words of Solomon shall close these citations from the Old Testament. “ Rejoice, O young man in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the way of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will call thee into judgment."-"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Eccles. xi. 9. xii. 14.
In the New Testament the same subject continually demands our attention. Christians are said to “ wait for the Lord from heaven, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come,” to “ look for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," and " to love his appearing.” Thus the language of the Old Testament relative to the coming of Jehovah, and our preparing to meet God, who is judge himself, is applied to Christ, by his apostles, without the least hesitation. And with a conscious dignity, he spake of himself, in his lowest abasement, as the judge of the world, and the arbiter of men's eternal state, “ when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations." Matt. xxv. 31, 32.