« הקודםהמשך »
ST. MARY'S, OXFORD, BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY, ON AUGUST 24, 1744.
“ Whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the
sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head." Ezek. xxxiii. 4.
“ And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Acts iv. 31.
1. The same expression occurs in the second chapter, where we read, “ When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all," (the Apostles, with the women, and the mother of Jesus, and his brethren,) “ with one accord, in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost :” One immediate effect whereof was, “ They began to speak with other tongues ; ” insomuch, that both the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and the other strangers who “came together, when this was noised abroad, heard them spcak, in their several tongues, the wonderful works of God.” (Acts ii. 146.)
2. In this chapter we read, that when the Apostles and brethren had been praying, and praising God," the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts iv. 31.) Not that we find any visible appearance here, such as had been in the former instance : nor are we informed that the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were then given to all or any of them; such as the “ gift of healing, of working other miracles, of prophecy, of discerning spirits, the speaking with divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Cor. xii. 9, 10.)
3. Whether these gifts of the Holy Ghost were designed to remain in the Church throughout all ages, and whether
or no they will be restored at the pearer approach of the “ restitution of all things,” are questions which it is not needful to decide. But it is needful to observe this, that, even in the infancy of the Church, God divided them with a sparing hand. Were all even then Prophets? Were all workers of miracles? Had all the gifts of healing ? Did all speak with tongues ? No, in no wise. Perhaps not one in a thousand. Probably none but the Teachers in the Church, and only some of them. (1 Cor. xii. 28-30.) It was, therefore, for a more excellent purpose than this, that “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.”
4. It was, to give them (what none can deny to be essential to all Christians in all ages) the mind which was in Christ, those holy fruits of the Spirit, which whosoever hath not, is none of his; to fill them with “ love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness ;” (Gal. v. 22—24;) to endue them with faith, (perhaps it might be rendered, fidelity,) with meekness and temperance; to enable them to crucify the flesh, with its affectious and lusts, its passions and desires, and, in consequence of that inward change, to fulfil all outward rightcousness, to “ walk as Christ also walked,” “in the work of faith, in the patience of hope, the labour of love." (1 Thess. i. 3.)
5. Without busying ourselves then in curious, needless inquiries, touching those extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, let us take a nearer view of these his ordinary fruits, 'vhich we are assured will remain throughout all ages ;-of that great Work of God among the children of men, which we are used to express by one word, Christianity; not as it implies a set of opinions, a system of doctrines, but as it refers to men's hearts and lives. And this Christianity it may be useful to consider under three distinct views :
J. As beginning to exist in individuals : JI. As spreading from one to another : 11. As covering the carth.
I design to close these considerations with a plain practical Application.
I. 1. Aud first, let us consider Christianity in its risc, as beginning to exist in individuals.
Suppose, then, one of those who dicard the Ipostle Peter preaching repentance and remission of sins, 1115 prieked 10 the heart, was convinced of sin, reputed, and thien belierced in Jesus. By this faith of the operation of God, which was the very substance, or subsistence of things hoped for, (Heb. xi. 1,) the demonstrative evidence of invisible things, he instantly received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby he now cried, “Abba, Father.” (Rom. viii. 15.) Now, first, it was that he could call Jesus Lord, by the Holy Ghost, (1 Cor. xii. 3,) the Spirit itself bearing witness with his spirit that he was a child of God. (Rom. viii. 15.) Now it was that he could truly say, “I live not, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. ii. 20.)
2. This, then, was the very essence of his faith, a divine Elexos (evidence or conviction) of the love of God the Father, through the Son of his Love, to him a sinner, now accepted in the Beloved. And, “ being justified by faith, he bad peace with God,” (Rom. v. 1,) yea, “ the peace of God ruling in his heart;” a peace, which passing all understanding, (TQVTA YBY all barely rational conception,) kept his heart and mind from all doubt and fear, through the knowledge of him in whom he had believed. He could not therefore "be afraid of any evil tidings;" for his heart stood fast, believing in the Lord." He feared not what man could do unto hin, knowing the very hairs of his head were all numbered. He feared not all the powers of darkness, whom God was daily bruising under his feet. Least of all was he afraid to die; nay, he desired to “ depart and to be with Christ;” (Phil. i. 23;) who, “through death, had destroyed him that had the power of death, even the Deyil, and delivered them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime (till then) subject to bondage.” (Heb. ii. 15.)
3. His soul therefore magnified the Lord, and his spirit rejoiced in God his Saviour. “He rejoiced in him with joy unspeakable, who had reconciled him to God, even the Father: “in whom he had redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” He rejoiced in that witness of God's Spirit with his spirit, that he was a child of God; and more abundantly, “in hope of the glory of God;” in hope of the glorious image of God, and full renewal of his soul in righteousness and true holiness; and in hope of that crown of glory, that “inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
4. “The love of God was also shed abroad in his heart, by the Holy Ghost, which was given unto him.” (Rom. v. 5.)
Vol. I. No. 1.
“ Because he was a son, God had sent forth the Spirit of his Son into his heart, crying, Abba, Father!” (Gal. iv.6.) And that filial love of God was continually increased by the witness he had in himsell (1 John v. 10) of God's pardoning love to him; by “beholding what manner of love it was, which the Father had bestowed upon him, that he should be called a child of God.” (1 Jobu ii. 1.) So that God was the desire of his cyes, and the joy of his heart; his portion in time and in eternity:
5. lle that thus loved God, could not but love his brother also; and “not in word only, but in deed and in truth.” “If God,” said he, “so loved us, we ought also to love one another; ” (1 Joliivill;) yca, cvery soul of man, as “the mercy of God is over all his worko.” (Psal. cxlv. 9.) Agreeably hereto, the affection of this lover of God embraced all mankind for his sake; not exceping those whom lie had never seen in the lies, or those of whom he knew nothing more than that they were the oil pring of God," for whose souls his Son had died; not excepting the cril and unthankful, and least of all his enemies, those who hatưd, or persccuted, or despitefully used him for his Master's sake. These had a peculiar place, both in bis beart and in his prayers. He loved them “ cveu as Christ loved us."
6. And “love is not puffed up.” (1 Cor. xii. 4.) It abases to the dust erery soul wherein it duels : accordingly, he was lowly of heart, little, mean, and vile in his own eyes. He neither sought nor received the praise of men, but that which cometh of God only. He was ineek and longsuífering, gentle to all, and easy to be entreated. Faithfulness and truth never forsook him; they were “bound about his neck, and wrote on the table of his heart.” By the same Spirit lie was enabled to be temperate in all things, refraining bis soul even as a weaned child. He was “crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him ;” superior to the desire of thic flesli, the desire of the cre, and the pride of life." By the same almighty love was hie swell, both from passion and pride; from lust and vanity; from ambition and covetousness; and from ercry temper which was not in Christ.
7. It may casily be bdierec, he who had this love in his heart, would work no evil to his neighbour. li vas impossible for him, knowingl: and designedly, to do larm ww my man. He was at the greatest distance from cruelty and wrong, from any umjasi or unkind action. Mills the same care did berset
a watch before his mouth, and keep the door of his lips," lest, he should offend in tongue, either against justice, or against mercy or truth. He put away all lying, falschood, and fraud; neither was guile found in his mouth. Hespake evil of no man; nor did an unkind word ever come out of his lips.
8. And, as he was deeply sensible of the truth of that word, “Without me ye can do nothing," and, consequently, of the Deed he had to be watered of God every moment; so he continued daily in all the ordinances of God, the stated channels of his grace to man: “in the Apostles' doctrine," or teaching, receiving that food of the soul with all readiness of heart; in “the breaking of bread,” which he found to be the communion of the body of Christ; and “in the prayers” and praises offered up by the great congregation. And thus, he daily "grew in grace,” increasing in strength, in the knowledge and lore of God.
9. But it did not satisfy him, barely to abstain from doing evil. His soul was athirst to do good. The language of his heart continually was, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” My Lord went about doing good; and shall not i tread in his steps? As he had opportunity, therefore, if he could do no good of a higher kind, he fed the hungry, clothed the naked, helped the fatherless or stranger, visited and assisted them that were sick or in prison. He gave all his goods to feed the poor. He rejoiced to labour or to suffer for them; and wherein soever he might profit another, there especially to « deny himself.” He counted nothing too dear to part with for them, as well remembering the word of his Lord, “Inasmuch as ye have done it uuto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. xxv. 40.)
fo. Such was Christianity in its rise. Such was a Christian in ancient days. Such was every one of those, who, when they heard the threatenings of the Chicf Priests and Elders, “lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Thc multitude of them that believed, were of one heart and of one soul.” (So did the love of him in whom they had believed, constrain them to love one another!) “ Neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own ; but they had all things common.” So fully were they crucified to the world, and the world crucitied to them! “And thcy continued steadfastly with one accord in the Apostle's doctrine, and in the breaking