תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

prove, that all bclicrers must, sooner or later, " walk in darkness.”

8. One of these is, Isaiah 1. 10, “ Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeveili tie voice of his servant, that walketh in darkuess, and hath no light? Let bim trust in the mame of the Lord, and stay upen bis God.” But how does it appcar, either from the text or contest, that the person here spoken of, crer lad light? One who is convinced of sin, “fcarcth the Lord, and obeveth tue voice of liis servant." And him we should advise', ilonghi he was still dark of soul, and had never seen the light of God's countenance, yet to “trust in the vane of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” This text, therefore, proves nothing less than that a believer in Christ "1111:st sometimes valk in ruiness.

9. Another text which has been supposed to speak the same doctrine, is Hoscu ii. U, “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.” Hence it has been inferred, that God will bring every believer into the wilderness, into a state of denduess and darkness. But it is certain, the text speaks ao such thing; for it does not appear that it speaks of puricular believers at all: It manifestly refers to the Jewish nation; and, perhaps, to tliat only. But if it be applicable to particular persons, the plain meaning of it is iliis :- I will draw liim by lore; I will next convince him of sin; and ticu comfort liinalay my pardoning mercy.

30. A third scripture, from thence the same interence has been drain, is that abu!recited!, “Ye Now have sorrow': but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy vo man tarth from you." This has been supposed to imply, that God would, allen a time, within limsell from all beli ters; and iles candid not, ull clier they bad thus sorrowed, are the joy which wo man could take from them. But the whole contes i shoirs, that our Lord is here speaking personally to the bustles, and no others; and that he is speaking canceruing these particular crcuts, liis own death and resurrection. "liile wiki," say's lie, - and ye shall not see anc,7*-., whil! I am in ile grave': “Smagain, a little wuile, and ye slial) se me;" when I am risen from the dead. “ Ye will seep üid lament, and the world will rejoice: but your sorrow shall be turned into joy."_“Ye now liave sorrow," because I am about to be taken from your head; “ but I will see you again,” after my resurrection, " and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy," which I will then give you, “no man taketh from you.” All this we know was literally fulfilled in the particular case of the Apostles. But no inference can be drawn from hence, with regard to God's dealings with believers in general.

11. A fourth text (to mention no more) which has been frequently cited in proof of the same doctrine, is, 1 Pet. iv. 12. “ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” But this is full as foreign to the point as the preceding. The text, literally rendered, runs thus: “ Beloved, wonder not at the burning which is among you, which is for your trial.” Now, however this may be accommodated to inward trials in a secondary sease; yet, primarily, it doubtless refers to martyrdom, and the sufferings connected with it. Neither, therefore, is this text any thing at all to the purpose for which it is cited. And we may challenge all men to bring one text, either from the Old or New Testament, which is any more to the purpose than this. - 12. "But is not darkness much more profitable for the soul than light? Is vot the work of God in the heart most swiftly and effectually carried on, during a state of inward suffering ? Is not a believer more swiftly and thoroughly purified by sorrow, than by joy ?-by anguish, and pain, and distress, and spiritual martyrdoms, than by continual peace?' So the Mystics teach ; so it is written in their books; but not in the Oracles of God. The Scripture no where says, that the absence of God best perfects his work in the heart! Rather, his presence, and a clear communion with the Father and the Son: a strong consciousness of this, will do more in an hour, than his absence in an age. Joy in the Holy Ghost will far more etfectually purify the soul, than the want of that joy; and the peace of God is the best micans of refining the soul from the dross of earthly affections. Away then with the idle conceit, that the kingdom of God is divided against itself; that the peace of God, and joy in the Holy Ghost, are obstructive of righteousness; and that we are saved, not by faith, but by uubelief, not by hope, but by despair!

13. So long as men dream thus, they may well ~ walk in darkness :” nor can the effect cease, till the cause is removed. But yet we must not imagine it will immediately cease, even when the cause is no more. When either ignorance or sin has caused darkness, one or the other may be removed, and yet the light which was obstructed thereby, may not immediately return. As it is the free gift of God, he may restore it, sooner or later, as it pleases liim. In the case of sin, we cannot reasonably expect that it should immediately return. The sin began before the punishment, which may, therefore, justly remain, after the sin is at an end. And even in the natural course of things, though a wound cannot be healed while the dart is sticking in the ficslı; yet neither is it healed as soon as that is drawn out, but soreness and pain may remain long after.

14. Lastly : If darkness be occasioned by manifold, and beavy, and unexpected temptations; the best way of removing and preventing this, is, to tcach believers always to expect temptation, seeing they dwell in an evil world, among wicked, subile, malicious spirits, and liave an heart capable of all evil. Couviuce then, that the whole work of sanctification is not, as this imagined, "touglit at once"; that irhen they first believe, ilzey are but as new-born babes, who are gradually to grow!), and may expicet many storms, before they come to the fwi stature of Christ. Above all, let them be instructed, when the storm is upon them, not to reason with the Devil, but to py; to pull out their souls before God, and show Him of their trouble. And these are the persons into whom, chiefly, we are it apply the great and precious promises; not to the cravit, ul tlie istorance is removed, much less to the impeniteat simer. To these we may largely and affectionatchy k Jare the lovingkindness of God our Saviour, and expatiate upon his teider mercies, which have been erer of old. Here ve may dwell upon the faithfulness of God, whose “ word is tried to the uttermost;” and upon the virtue of that blood, which was slied for 115, to “ cleanse is from all sin :" and God will then bear wituess to his word, and bring their souls out of trouble. Tie will say, “ Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thec." Yea, and that light, is thou walk humbly and closely rith God, will "shine more and more unto the perfect day.”

SERMON XLVII.

HEAVINESS THROUGH MANIFOLD

TEMPTATIONS.

Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through

manifold temptations.1 Peter i. 6.

1. In the preceding discourse, I have particularly spoken of that Darkness of mind, into which those are often observed to fall, who once walked in the light of God's countenance. Nearly related to this is the Heaviness of soul, which is still more comnion, even among believers. Indeed, almost all the children of God experience this, in an higher or lower degree. And so great is the resemblance between one and the other, that they are frequently confounded together; and we are apt to say, indifferently, Such an one is in darkness, or, Such an one is in heaviness ;-as if they were equivalent terms, one of which implicd no more than the other. But they are far, very far from it. Darkness is one thing ; Heaviness is another.

There is a difference, yea, a wide and essential difference, between the former and the latter. And such a difference it is, as all the chidren of God are deeply concerned to understand : otherwise, nothing will be more easy, than for them to slide out of heaviness into darkness. In order to prevent this, I will endeavour to show,

I. What Manner of Persons those were, to whom the Apostle says, “Ye are in Heaviness :”.

II. What kind of Heaviness they were in :
III. What were the Causes : and,

IV. What were the Ends of it. I shall conclude with some Inferences.

1. ). I am, in the First place, to show, What Manner of Persons those were, to whom the Apostle says, “ Ye are in Heaviness.” And, first, It is beyond all dispute, that they

were Believers at the time the Apostle thus addressed inchi, For so be expressly says, 'ver. 5,) “Ye who are kept by the power of God through faith wto salvation.” Again, (ver. 7, he mentions “ tlic trial of their faithi, much more preciolis than that of gold which perisheth.” And yet again, (ver. 9, he speaks of their “receiving the end of their laiili, the salvation of their souls.” At the same time, therefore, that they were “in heaviness," they were possessed of living faith. Their hcariness did not destroy ther Faith: licy still “endured, as seeing Ilim that is invisible.”

2. Neither did their beariness destrostheir l'eace; the speace which passeth all widerstaking;” which is inseparable from truc, living faith. This ise may casily guiller from the second verse, whercia tie Apostle prats, not that grace and peace may be gizen !!!!!!, but only, Vilt it may“ be multiplied unto them;” that the blessing, which they already enjoyed, misut be more abundantly bestowed upon them.

3. The persons to whom the Apostle here speaks, were also full of a living llope. For this lic speaks, (rer. 3,) “Blessed be the God and Tather of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, accoriling to liis abundant mercy, hath begotten us again,”-me and you, all of us who are “sanctified by the Spirit," and enjoy the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,"_" unto a living hope, into an inheritance,”-that is, unto a living hope of an inheritance, “incorruptible, undetile, and that fadeth hot away.” So that, lotwithstanding their heariness, they still retained au pe full of immortality,

1. And they sull “rejoiced in bope of the glory of God.” They were lice with Joy in the Holy Ghost. So, (ver. S.) the Apostle living just mentioned the final“ revelation of Jesus Chrisi, "(namely, then be cometh to judge the rorld,) immediately ailds, “In whom. though now ye see him not, (not with your bedi'y oves,] vet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory' Their heaviness, therefore, was not only consisieni with living hope, but also with joy unspeakable: at the same time they were thus heary, they nevertheless rejoiced with jos full of glory.

5. In the midse of their heaviness, they likewise still enjoyed the Love of God, which had been shed abroad in their hearis;—" whom,” says the postle', “ having not seen, ye love." Though ve bare not yet scen him face to face; vet, knowing him by faitli, ye have obeyed his word, “My son, give me thy heart." He is your God, and your love, the

« הקודםהמשך »