« הקודםהמשך »
fulness of a state of utter distance from God
DISCOURSE XXXV. by nature, but also the blessedness of being brought nigh by the blood of Christ. He knows what it is to live under his smiles and THE END OF THE SAVIOUR'S EXby his influences. And now that the charm
ALTATION. which deceived him is dissolved-now that he has leisure for reflection—now that he is Him hath God exalted, with his right hand to separated from his very idols, no wonder he
be ( Prince and a Saviour, for to give reresolves if possible to return to a state in
pentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Acts v. 31. which it was better with him than now.
And let those who have been led astray ELEVATION is necessary to influence. Of and have fallen by their iniquity, adopt imme- what advantage is “a candle under a bushel?" diately the same resolution. While you con- —but place it “in a candlestick, and it giveth sider the melancholy change that has taken light to all that are in the house.” While the place in your experience-remember two sun is below our earth, all is dark and coldthings—
but when he arises, there “is healing under First, that it cannot be better with you his wings;" and from his loftiness in the skies than it is till you return to God; since it is he scatters his enlightening and enlivening by your departure from him that you have beams. When the shrub rises up out of the sustained all these losses and incurred all this ground, it rather requires than affords support misery. “Set thee up way-marks, make thee and assistance—" but when it is grown, it high heaps ; set thine heart toward the high becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air way, even the way which thou wentest; turn come and lodge in the branches thereof." A again, O virgin of Israel, turn to these thy man in the obscurity and contractedness of cities."
private life may feel dispositions prompting And, Secondly, while with weeping and him to do good—but he can only pour forth supplications you are disposed to seek him benevolent wishes and shed ineffectual tears. again, guard against that despondency which But give him pre-eminence, place in his hands would tell you that it will be in vain. It is the reins of empire, and at his disposal the not in vain. There is hope in Israel concern- treasures of the state, and lo! thousands are ing this thing. He waiteth to be gracious, refreshed by his shadow, protected by his and is exalted to have mercy upon you. “Re- power, and enriched by his bounty; his fame turn, ye backsliding children, and I will heal spreads encouragement; prayer also shall be your backslidings. Behold, we come unto made for him continually, and daily shall he thee; for thou art the Lord our God. Truly be praised. Thus Jesus “ascended far above in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, all heavens, that he might fill all things. and from the multitude of mountains: truly Or take another illustration. The life of in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.” Joseph is not only affecting as a history, but
Have any of you been restored? Turn not also important as a type. Joseph was hated again to folly. Has it not cost you enough al- of his brethren; and they sold him as a slave ready? After all this, will not the very ap- to a company of Ishmaelites in order to prepearance of evil terrify you? Live near to vent the fulfilment of his dreams. But the God.-Your welfare depends upon it. means used to hinder his advancement termi.
And as for those young converts who have nated in the promotion of it;»and in process just subscribed with their own hand and sur- of time he was made ruler over all the land named themselves by the name of Israel, let of Egypt. And it is worthy of our regard, these also beware. Now perhaps you think that his elevation was not only the aggranthere is very little danger of this cantion. dizement of himself—but also the preservaSuch at present is your attachment to the tion of thousands, and in a peculiar manner Saviour and his way, that it seems to be im- the salvation of his father's house. He was possible for you ever to forget the one or for- the only dispenser of supplies to those who sake the other. But how many who once had were perishing with famine—and “Go unto the same confidence with yourselves, have Joseph”—was the order given by Pharaoh to since denied him or followed him afar off! every petitioner. • Wherefore let him that thinketh he stand- But a greater than Joseph is here. Thus eth, take heed lest he fall. Watch and pray, Jesus suffered from the hands of sinners: and Jest ye enter into temptation: the spirit in- they acted only as enemies—but the curse deel is willing, but the flesh is weak." was turned into a blessing. His sufferings
* Now unto Him that is able to keep you led to his exaltation; and this exaltation was from falling, and to present you faultless be- not only a personal reward—but a relative fore the presence of his glory with exceeding glory. He is made head over all things “unto joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be his body the Church.” He has power given glory and majesty, dominion and power, both him over all flesh, “ that he should give eternow and ever!-Amen."
nal life to as many as the Father has given
him." And him, says the Apostle, to the provided for him a ransom, and through a sufJews, " him hath God exalted with his right fering Saviour is willing to receive him hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to graciously. This dissolves the heart and give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of makes him “sorrowful after a godly sort."
For the tear of evangelical penitence drops Thus he is advanced as mediator, to the from the eye of faith; and faith while it grandeur and resources of his present station, weeps stands under the cross. “I will pour not only to govern, but to save; and to save upon the house of David, and upon the inhaby governing. Some are exalted as princes bitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and who are by no means saviours. They do not of supplications: and they shall look upon me study to secure the common rights of man- whom they have pierced, and they shall kind.—They do not set examples of temper- mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only ance, humanity, and social affection. They son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one do not cultivate harmony and peace. They that is in bitterness for his first-born.” seem only raised up to oppress and to destroy. The pressure of these various feelings conMurder and desolation mark their progress. stitutes what we mean by having the heart The ruins of towns and villages, the tears of broken for sin. But the man has now new widows and orphans, are the materials of their dispositions and resolutions; and hence a new glory. They sacrifice the lives of their sub- course of life. He is delivered from the love jects to save their own-yea, they frequently of sin, the love of all sin, however dear besacrifice them to gratify their pride, their va- fore. He is freed from the dominion of sinnity, their avarice, their revenge. But he sa- so that it no longer “reigns in his mortal crificed himself for the welfare of his subjects body, that he should obey it in the lusts there—“I give my flesh for the life of the world.” |of. Neither yields he his members as instruThey are princes of war—but he is the ments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yields Prince of peace.” They are princes of death himself unto God as those that are alive from -but he is "the Prince of life.” They are the dead, and his members as instruments of princes and destroyers—but he is “a Prince righteousness unto God." He avoids also and a Saviour.” He takes us under the wing the occasions of sin, and "abstains from of his protection; redeems us from the curse all appearance of evil."-And this is what of the law; delivers us from the wrath to we mean by having the heart broken from come; saves us from our sins. He makes his sin," subjects holy and happy-For " he gives re- And what is forgiveness? It is simply pentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of the removal of all obligation to punishment. sins."
It does not render a man innocent of the Let us take three views of these blessings. crimes which he has committed; for a man -Let us consider-THEIR MEANING—THEIR can never appear otherwise to God than he CONNEXION—and THEIR SOURCE.
really is; and it will be everlastingly true, I. Let us consider THEIR MEANING.—What that Job cursed the day of his birth, and Peter is repentance ? Every one will see the pro- denied his master. But sin contracts guilt, priety of making this inquiry, who only re- and guilt binds over to punishment: now, flects that every thing excellent admits of forgiveness cancels this obligation and recounterfeit—that there are specious resem- stores the offender to safety. And frequently, blances not only of every moral virtue, but of at least among men, forgiveness extends no every Christian grace and that Pharaoh, further. But it does with God. He takes and Ahab, and Judas, and others, are said to pleasure in those whom he pardons as if they have repented, and after all died in their sins. had never sinned, and indulges them with the Perhaps a better definit:on of repentance was most intimate friendship. never given than by an old divine, one excel- When two individuals have been at valency of which is, that it is easily remember- riance, the hardest to believe in reconciliation ed. He tells us that “Genuine repentance is the offender. The blame is his: and judg. consists in having the heart broken for sin, ing under a consciousness of his desert, he and from it."
can hardly be persuaded that the party he has Be it then remembered, that the subject of injured does not feel like himself. History repentance is convinced of sin. He sees informs us that when a man had offended that it is the greatest evil in the universe - Augustus, the emperor, to show his greatness not only as it is the cause of his sufferings, of mind, declared that he pardoned him. But and has exposed him to the miseries of hell the poor creature, who expected only destruc-but because it is the pollution of his soul, tion, astonished beyond measure, and fearing and the degradation of his nature, and has the declaration was too good to be true, in rendered him vile and abominable in the eyes all the simplicity of nature, instantly desired of God. Hence he feels shame, self-loathing, his majesty to give him some present as a abhorrence, grief, and contrition—especially proof that he had really forgiven him. Thus when he apprehends the goodness of God, anxious is the awakened mind. Such a free which has spared him under all his offences, and full forgiveness after all his heinous proPocations seems incredible; he therefore de- I have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he sires a token for good: and many pledges will abundantly pardon." of the most perfect reconciliation the God of III. We remark THE SOURCE OF THESE all grace affords in his dealings with his peo- BLESSINGS—" He gives repentance unto Isple. He hears their prayer; he is with them rael and forgiveness of sins." in every trouble ; he delivers them and ho- Some think repentance a very legal subnours them; he makes all things to work to ject, and are ready to condemn the man who gether for their good, and engages to receive preaches it, as a stranger to the Gospel. But them to glory.
there never was a greater mistake than this. II. Let us glance at THE UNION OF THESE For not to mention, that our Lord “came to BLESSINGS. Repentance and forgiveness of call sinners to repentance,” and that the sins are mentioned together. Now let it be Apostles "went forth preaching everywhere observed, that this is not a meritorious con- that men should repent”-I would observe, nexion between repentance and forgiveness, that repentance is a subject peculiarly evanas if the one deserved the other--for they are gelical. The law has nothing to do with reboth given—and how can one gift meritano- pentance—it does not even command it—all ther!
it has to do with the transgressor is to conBut there is between them, First, a con- demn. It allows him neither liberty nor nexion of propriety. It would not accord ability to repent, but the Gospel gives him with the wisdom of God to deliver from hell both. And indeed to little purpose would it a man who would be miserable in heaven; give us the one without the other. But here is to forgive one incapable of enjoying or serv- our encouragement—the Gospel not only gives ing him-yea, one who abhors him. Without us space, but grace for repentance. What repentance we should never value the bless- in one view is a duty, in another is a priviing of forgiveness, and therefore we should lege: and what is cominanded is also proneither be happy in nor thankful for the pos- mised. The “ broken heart and the contrite session of it. " If a servant or a child were to spirit” is not only a sacrifice which he will behave improperly, though goodness may in- not despise, but it is also a sacrifice which he cline you to pardon, you would naturally re- must provide ! quire a proper state of mind, and signs of And he does provide it. He "gives resorrow, confession, and reformation; other- pentance unto life.” For having ascended wise your forgiveness would look like con- up on high leading captivity captive," he nivance at the transgression, or indifference received gifts for men, even for the rebellious to the offence, and encourage a repetition of also, that the Lord God might dwell among disobedience.
them.” The chief of these was the dispenHence there is between them also, a con- sation of the Holy Ghost. By his influence nexion of certainty. They are indissolubly the understanding is enlightened and the conunited-no one ever really enjoyed forgive science awakened; the heart of stone is taken ness without repentance; and no one ever away and a heart of flesh given; and sinners, truly exercised repentance without forgive- before weak and averse to holiness, are enness. And hence it follows that the best way abled to "walk in his statutes, and to keep to ascertain our state before God is not a his judgments to do them.” Thus the word reference to dreams and visions, sudden im- is rendered effectual; and the events of Propulses, and accidental occurrences of Scrip- vidence are sanctified; afflictions make them ture to the mind—no—but an examination " acknowledge their offence; and the goodof our character; a comparison of ourselves ness of God leadeth them to repentance. with the features of pardoned sinners pour- And if repentance be not derived from ourtrayed in the Gospel. To know whether we selves—can forgiveness of sins? If the former are justified, let us inquire whether we are be a gift_ca
-can the latter be a purchase? renewed in the spirit of our minds: and be “He gives repentance unto Israel, and forassured of this, that he is not the partaker of giveness of sins." And hence two things Divine forgiveness who is not the subject of follow. genuine repentance.
First, if we possess these blessings—we On the other hand, as there is an insepa- learn to whom we are to address our praise. rable connexion between these, if you had "Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I been humbled for your sins; if your hearts righteousness and strength.” had been broken for them, and from them; Secondly, if we want them—we see to you should not despair of acceptance, but whom we are to address our prayers. Betake view this experience as the authorized evi- yourselves to the Friend of sinners, and say, dence of Divine favour. “Believe in God." | " Lord, remember me now thou art come He cannot deny himself. And he has said, into thy kingdom.' • Heal me, and I shall “ He that confesseth, and forsaketh his sins, be healed; save me, and I shall be saved : shall have mercy. Let the wicked forsake for thou art my praise.' • Lord, if thou wilt. his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; thou canst make me clean.'—And hast and let him return unto the Lord, and he will thou not said, .him that cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out?' Behold a sinner one that asketh receiveth: and he that seeketh that wishes to have nothing more to do with findeth: and to him that knocketh it shall be sin. O save him from the bondage of corrup- opened." Amen. tion, as well as from the burden of condemnation. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according
DISCOURSE XXX V I. unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Create in me a RELIGION MAKES US PROFITABLE. clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.''
I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I Oh! be induced to do this, and to do this have begotten in my bonds : which in time immediately. Here is a Saviour exalted to past was to thee unprofitable, but now profite
able to thee and to me.
1.-Philemon 10, 11, bless you with all spiritual blessings—and especially to bless you, by " turning every The Epistles are of three classes. Some one of you away from your iniquities”-and are addressed to Christians at large--some to there is no blessing like this. Seek him while particular Churches—and some to single inhe may be found: call upon him while he is dividuals. near. For there is a time when if
call The Epistle before us is of the third class. he will not answer, and if you seek him early — And as it is inscribed to one person, so it you will not find him. The season for ob- is limited to one subject. It furnishes none taining these blessings is short and uncertain. of those glaring scenes which the pencil of Surely you need not be informed that you the historian requires: but it is full of imare sinners—but “ the wages of sin is death.” portance to a Christian teacher. It says While you are strangers to pardon, you are nothing of the intrigues of statesmen, the cononly “ treasuring up wrath against the day tentions of senators, the exploits and mischiefs of wrath.” You are open to all the miseries of heroes; but it yields topics of reflection of life, the sting of death, the torments of hell. much more interesting and useful to a serious Yea, you are exposed to a double condemna- reader. These are concisely expressed in the tion; one from the Law which you have words which I have read. transgressed, and another from the Gospel We will therefore STATE THE CIRCUMwhich you have despised. And how is it that STANCES OF THE CASE TO WHICH THEY REFER: you do not lay these things to heart! How and DEDUCE SOME REMARKS FROM THEM FOR is it you do not fear lest every moment “ the OUR INSTRUCTION AND EDIFICATION. earth should open its mouth,” and your souls THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE may be "go down quick into hell." How will you thus briefly stated. At Colosse lived Philecontrive to sleep to-night—when you know mon. He appears to have been a person of that if you die in your present state, God is some respectability, if not distinction. The under an oath to destroy you !
Apostle calls him a fellow-labourer. He had But “ blessed is he whose transgression is a church in his house; and by his liberality forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is often “refreshed the bowels of the saints." the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not With this Philemon lived a servant whose iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." name was Onesimus. Onesimus like too He is blessed in his duties, for he is assured many servants was ungodly, though he lived of acceptance and assistance. He is blessed in a pious family and enjoyed religious means in his enjoyments, for he tastes the loving- and privileges. He robbed his master, and kindness of God in them. He is blessed in with the purloined property made his escape. his trials, for they flow from love and are de- As it is usual for such criminals to go to some signed for his profit. Now he is delivered large populous place to avoid detection, Onefrom the curse, he can bear the cross. He simus hastened to Rome, the capital of the will not endure his troubles long; and he does world. not endure them alone.
Thither Paul had arrived a little before in Here are some whom he has pardoned. consequence of his appealing unto Cæsar; He gave them to see and feel and confess and having hired a house," preached the their sins. He discovered to them the scheme kingdom of God, and received all that came of salvation revealed in the Gospel. He en- in unto him." As he was the subject of conabled them to come with all their unworthi- versation in the city, Onesimus is informed of ness, smiting upon their breasts, and saying, him; and from curiosity or some other mo“God be merciful to me, a sinner”—and be- tive-perhaps he had heard his name or seen lieving, they passed from death unto life. his person at his master's house, he goes to They found rest unto their souls. They are the Apostle's lodgings and attends his minisnow serving him, and they find his "yoke try. Probably Paul preached against thievery. easy, and his burden light.”
However this may be, “the word was quick “And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be and powerful, sharper than any two-edged given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock, sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder and it shall be opened unto you. For every of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and was a discerner of the thoughts and and a contrite spirit which God will not deintents of the heart.” Onesimus is convinced spise.” To return. and alarmed. He feels his guilt: and now Persuaded of his sincerity, the Apostle would dreads not only human but divine justice. He have taken Onesimus into his service, had it not cannot get rid of his distress; but walks about looked like detaining what is deemed another the city crying to himself, “ What must I do man's property. He therefore conscientiously to be saved ?"
resolves to send him back to Philemon. And At length he resolves to go and open his influenced by the same principle, Onesimus case to Paul— He may afford me instruc- wishes to return—but fears the displeasure of tion and relief.” He waits upon him. “Sir, his offended master; and is conscious that if I lately heard you preach, and I am one of he demanded reparation, it would not be in the characters you described and condemned.” | his power to make it. The Apostle therefore -What is your name? “Onesimus."—What undertakes to plead his cause, becomes his are you? “I was a slave."—And who was surety, and sends along with him a letter of your master ? " Philemon of Colosse.”—Him recommendation full of the most persuasive | know. But what, Onesimus, brought you eloquence—and this is the principal subject here !-Onesimus weeps—" Oh! I cannot —"I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, deny it, I cannot conceal it-I robbed my whom I have begotten in my bonds; which in master and fled hither from justice. And time past was to thee unprofitable, but now ever since I heard that sermon, I can find no profitable to thee and to me.” rest. My iniquities have taken hold upon me,
Hence let us derive the following REMARKS. so that I cannot look up. My sin was the First. Observe the humility, the tenderness, most heinous and aggravated : it was a good the kindness of the Apostle Paul. Great as master I injured! How often did he admonish he was, he exemplifies in his own practice me! How earnestly did he pray for me!" what he recommends in his doctrine to others,
See here what a victory grace obtains over “mind not high things, but condescend to nature! Onesimus goes and confesses him- men of low estate.” He does not think it self a thief!- For he was now remote from beneath him to attend to the wants and wishes the scene of action; no person was there to of this poor slave, and to write a whole epistle impeach him? and if he had not acknowledg- on his behalf. The more the mind is raised ed the crime himself, it could never have been by intelligence and religion, the less will it known. This was no pleasant task. Nothing be impressed with those adventitious distinccould be more irksome to the pride of the tions which dazzle the multitude. True human heart. It is as common to cover as to greatness is always condescending and symcommit sin. Men, such is their injustice and pathetic. Are we mistaken ? What do we self-love, men wish to appear beiter in the see yonder ? Let us draw near. “He riseth eyes of their fellow-creatures than they really from supper, and laid aside his garments; and are; even better than they know themselves took a towel
, and girded himself: after that to be. But when the Holy Ghost lays a bur- he poured water into a basin, and began to den upon the conscience, no diversion can re-wash his disciples' feet, and to wipe them move it. Divine grace produces self-abase- with the towel wherewith he was girded. So ment; and a true penitent will not only con- after he had washed their feet, and had taken fess his sin to God, but when called by cir- his garments, and was set down again, he cumstances, he will own it also to men, to said unto them, know ye what I have done his fellow Christians, to Ministers. And such to you? Ye call me Master and Lord; a disclosure may sometimes ease the mind of and ye say well: for so I am. If I then, a load of anguish, and teach the person to your Lord and master, have washed your whom the communication is made how to feet; ye also ought to wash one another's speak a word in season, and apply the remedy feet. For I have given you an example, that of the Gospel. We are therefore commanded ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, to “confess our faults one to another, and to verily, I say unto you, the servant is not pray one for another, that we may be healed." greater than his lord; neither he that is sent, Be it remembered however, that when such greater than him that sent him. If ye know a penitent thus acknowledges his sins-he these things, happy are ye if do them." will not do it as if he were relating heroical And who does them? Some imagine themdeeds or even actions of indifference-he will selves humble because their condescension not like some speak of his former wickedness has never been put to the trial. Others have with a kind of pleasure, arising from the approved how very little they resemble our Lord prehension that they magnify divine grace, and Saviour by declining those instances in and render his conversion the more marvellous which their condescension ought to have apand certain, or at least with a tone and coun-peared. Alas! how many are there who tenance far from expressing deep humiliation" hide themselves from their own flesh;" and godly sorrow, but he will evidence, by who would think it beneath them to perform his feelings and his manner, "a broken heart, personally an office of humanity and charity