« הקודםהמשך »
For unto you it is given, in the behalf of knowledgment that Christ is our Master. Christ, not only to believe on him, but al. But something more than the appellation so to suffer for his sake." Beware of of Christians is necessary to prove that courting the favor of the wicked, by con- we are in truth his servants. The proper, forming in any degree to their corrupt max. the only decisive test, is that which lies ims and practices; but keep up the majesty before us in the words of my text; where of true godliness, and study so to live, one who knew well what Christianity was, that they may find no occasion against thus speaks in the name of all sincere beyou, except it be concerning the law of lievers: Whether we live, we live unto
“Be blameless and harmless, the Lord, and whether we die, we dic the sons of God, without rebuke, in the unto the Lord : Whether we live therefore midst of a crooked and perverse nation, or die, we are the Lord's. among whom ye shine as lights in the
It is the comprehensive description of world, holding forth the word of life.” | the Christian's life expressed in these few “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are but emphatical words, We live unto the true, whatsoever things are honest, what- Lord, which I have chosen for the subject soever things are just, whatsoever things of the following discourse. And my deare pure, whatsoever things are lovely, sign is, whatsoever things are of good report: If 1. To inquire into the import of living there be any virtue, and if there be any unto the Lord ; and, praise, think on these things ;" "and the
II. To apply the character as a meaGod of peace shall be with you.” Amen. sure, or standard, for helping us to judge
of our spiritual condition.
I. Living unto the Lord may be con.
sidered as including the following parSERMON XXXII.
1st. That we make his will the rule, the IN LIFE OR DEATH THE LORD'S.
only rule of our conduct.
Our Lord hath intrusted us with vaRom. XIV. 8.--"Whether we live, we live unto the LORD; and whether we die, we die unto
rious talents, and requires that we should the Lord: Whether we live therefore or die, improve them to the best advantage, for we are the Lord's.'
the important purposes for which they
were bestowed. We are his servants, and THE following verse will
will inform you have a task assigned us, for which we who that Lord is of whom the apostle must be accountable to him at last. It is speaks in this passage. “To this end,” not left to our own choice what pieces of saith he, “ Christ both died and rose, and service we shall perform ; but we must at revived, that he might be Lord both of all times wait upon him for direction; the dead and living." He is the king saying, as Paul did when struck to the whom God hath set upon his holy hill of ground, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me Zion, and appointed to be the head over to do ?" Neither is it enough that we all things to the church; for as Paul do the things he requires, unless we do wrote to the Philippians, in regard of his them because he requires them. The laws humbling himself, and becoming obedient of our Lord are so wisely calculated to unto death, even the death of the cross; promote the private interests of individu" therefore God also hath highly exalted als, and the public welfare of human sohim, and given him a name, which is ciety, that they who are most disaffected above every name, that at the name of to his government, will choose, for their Jesus every knee should bow, of things own sake, to comply with many of his in heaven, and things in earth, and things sacred injunctions, but they, and they under the earth; and that every tongue only, live unto the Lord, who realize his should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, authority, and do every thing he enjoins, to the glory of God the Father.” This as an act of willing and cheerful obedidoctrine we all profess to believe; nay, ence, as a part of that homage they owe to the designation we bear imports an ac- their Master.
to the 56
2dly. To live unto the Lord, is to make other places; and many of the brethern his approbation our governing aim, and to in the Lord, waxing confident by my study to please him in all that we do. bonds, are much more bold to speak the
I need not tell you that we early con- word without fear. Some indeed preach tract a love for many things which are Christ even of envy and strife; and some hurtful to our souls, and stand condemned also of good will. The one preach Christ by the laws of our sovereign. This ren- of contention, not sincerely, supposing to ders some parts of duty so painful to the add affliction to my bonds; but the other flesh, that they are compared in Scripture of love, knowing that I am set for the de
cutting off a right hand, and the fence of the gospel. What then ? notplucking out à right eye;" operations withstanding every way, whether in prewhich no man would submit to, far less tence, or in truth, Christ is preached; perform them himself, unless the preser- and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will vation of the rest of his body rendered rejoice. For I know that this shall turn them absolutely necessary. Other parts to my salvation, through your prayer, and of duty are attended with inconveniences the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, of a different kind: they may draw upon according to my earnest expectation, and us the scorn, the hatred, and persecution my hope, that in nothing I shall be of a partial, blind, malignant world ; so ashamed, but that with all boldness, as that if we listen either to the corrupt part always, so now also, Christ shall be mag. of our own nature, or to the voice of the nified in my body, whether it be by life multitude, we shall unavoidably be per- or by death. For to me to live is Christ
, suaded to leave them undone, or rather to and to die is gain.” (Phil. i. 12-21.) If do the contrary.
Nothing else than a we live unto the Lord, we shall not seek prevailing habitual desire to please the great things for ourselves. This will be Lord can reconcile us to the practice of our only concern, that the Lord may be these self-denying duties. But if this magnified in us, and by us, either by our principle be deeply rooted in our hearts, doing or suffering; by our life or by our the roughest paths of obedience will soon death. We shall be contented to be embecome smooth; with resolution, nay, ployed in any station his wisdom shall with cheerfulness, we shall address our choose for us, and study to honor him in selves to our work; declining no service, that station by the diligent performance how painful or difficult soever, that we of the duties that belong to it. Though know will be crowned with the approba- we occupy the meanest office in his family, tion of our Judge. Thus did the primi. we shall with pleasure apply ourselves to tive Christians live unto the Lord. It ap- the work of that office, without repining peared a small matter to them to be at those who are dignified with a higher judged of man's judgment; this was their place; nay, instead of looking at them labor; that, whether present or absent, with envy, we shall rejoice to behold their they might be accepted of their Master. diligence and success. If our Lord be They so spake, and so acted, not as pleas- well served, if much work be done, that ing men, but God, who trieth the hearts will satisfy us, by whatsoever hands the of his creatures, and will render unto work is carried on. We shall execute every one according to his works.
what falls to our own share in the best 3dly. To live unto the Lord, is to make manner we can; and pray for larger meahis glory our end in every thing we do. sures of grace to those who have the honor
Paul expressed the genuine spirit of to be employed in higher pieces of serChristianity, when, with a dignity becom- vice. ing the character of an apostle, he thus 4thly. To live unto the Lord, is to be wrote to the Philippians: “I would ye wholly resigned to his disposal, blessing should understand, brethren, that the him at all times, in adversity as well as in things which happened unto me, have prosperity, making him as welcome to fallen out rather unto the furtherance of take from us as to give unto us. the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ How well our apostle had learned this are manifest in all the palace, and in all important lesson, appears from his own
words, (Phil. iv. 12.) “I know both how tion upon a sinful creature; that he to be abased, and I know how to abound; sḥould stoop so low as to become his phyevery where and in all things I am in- sician; nay, that he should visit him structed, both to be full and to be hungry, every morning, to administer medicine for both to abound and to suffer need." It is the recovery of his spiritual health, afflictrebellion against our Lord to repine at ing his body for the good of his soul. In any of his dispensations, how aftlicting this light will the true disciple of Jesus
What have we that we did not Christ view the most distressful events of receive from him ? and is it not lawful for Divine Providence. Convinced that his him to do what he will with his own ? Lord knows what is good for him better David, after contemplating the heavens, than he doth, he will kiss the rod, and the work of God's fingers, the moon and make every dispensation welcome; and the stars which he had ordained, breaks though nature may shrink a little, and forth into this exclamation, (Psal. viii. 4.) even wish that the bitter cup might pass “What is man, that thou art mindful of from him, yet grace will teach him to conhim; and the son of man, that thou visit- sent, and dispose him to say,
“Nevertheest him ? For thou hast made him a less, not my will, but thine be done." little lower than the angels, and hast Once more, crowned him with glory and honor.” He
5thly. To live unto the Lord, is to be there celebrates the goodness of God, in so thoroughly devoted to him, as to acassigning to man, at his first creation, so count that we live not at all, but in so far high a rank among the variety and im- as we serve him, and show forth his praise. mensity of his works. The form of ex- This, I apprehend, expresseth the true pression is a little varied, (Psal. cxliv. 3.) spirit of the apostle's words. He reckwhere, speaking of God's condescension to oned nothing worthy to be called living man in his fallen and degraded state, he that was not subservient to the great pursaith, “ Lord, what is man, that thou pose for which life was bestowed. He takest knowledge of him? or the son of measured his time, not by days, or months, man, that thou makest account of him? or years; but by a succession of services Man is like to vanity ; his days are as a to his dear Master, by those acts of obeshadow that passeth away." This reflec- dience he was enabled to perform. What tion arose from the experience he had of portions of time were otherwise employed, God's unmerited kindness to himself, he did not esteem to be living at all; these “who had taught his hands to war and he reckoned among the vacancies of life, his fingers to fight;" who had raised him like the hours that pass away in sleep, from the sheepfold to the throne of Israel, which is the image of death. The true and had “subdued his people under him." Christian prefers one day in the courts of But I am persuaded you will agree with the Lord to a thousand any where else, me, that what Job saith (Job vii. 17, 18.) and would rather be a door-keeper in the is more striking and emphatical than house of his God, than dwell in the tents either of the former two; when, in the of wickedness. deepest adversity, he expressed himself Thus have I told you what is included thus: “What is man that thou shouldst in living unto the Lord. I shall now magnify him ? and that thou shouldst set proceed, thine heart upon him ? and that thou II. In the second place, To apply this shouldst visit him every morning, and try description of genuine Christianity as a him every moment ?" David, speaking measure or standard for helping us to of the Divine beneficence, calls it a being judge of our spiritual condition. For “mindful” of man," taking knowledge this end, I must beg your attention, and of man, and
making account” of him ; the answer of a true conscience, to the but when Job speaks of correction, and following questions. chastisement, he raiseth his style, and 1st. Of what weight is the authority of calls it God's “magnifying man,
1 and | God in your hearts ? “setting his heart” upon him. He won- I am not inquiring, whether the things ders that God should bestow such atten- you do are commanded by God? I for
merly observed, that there may be a de hypocrisy? Are you as ready to perform ception here. God enjoins many things the most self-denying duties as those that as duty, to which human nature, even in are accompanied with immediate pleasure its present state, feeleth no aversion; for or advantage ? Are you the same in seour apostasy was chiefly from God him- cret that you appear, or wish to appear, in self; and though some fierce and unsocial public? Or rather, do you not suit your passions have sprung from this bitter root, behavior to the humor of the times ? yet, in the main, we are not naturally dis- Can you charge yourselves with no inaffected to our fellow-men, but rather dis- stances of a timid compliance with the posed to wish them well, and even to do prevailing maxims and manners of the them good, provided our personal interest world ? Hath not fashion some weight be not hurt by it. And therefore no man with you, to draw you into many things can be said with certainty to live unto the which you do not inwardly approve? and Lord, merely because he performs the are you not often restrained from doing common offices of justice, humanity and what conscience tells you ought to be done, beneficence, towards others with whom he by the fear of incurring the ridicule and is connected; for these things have a come- censure of others, even of those whom, in liness in them that is obvious to the dim- your hearts, you do not, and cannot esmest eye; they are of good report among teem ? If so, then these very hearts must all men; and, in most cases, a man cannot testify against you, that hitherto you have serve himself more effectually than by not been living unto the Lord. practising them. But if he practise them 3dly. What regard do you feel for the merely, or even principally, to promote honor of your Lord ? his own interest, he must not pretend that Are you willing to become any thing, he liveth unto the Lord; he only serves to do any thing, and to suffer any thing himself, and must therefore be left to re- for his sake? Are you contented to serve ward himself as he can. If he do not him in the meanest station of his family? mean to serve the Lord, if he do not act or if you aspire to an higher place, is it from love and loyalty to his Sovereign, he solely to enlarge your sphere of useful. can have no ground to expect any reward ness, that you may labor more abundantly, at his hand.
and serve him to greater advantage, than 2dly. Whom do you seek to please, and your present inferior situation will permit? whose approbation do you principally When we see you climbing upwards as covet?
fast as you can, may we really suppose If you only, or even chiefly, court the that this is your aim ? That it ought to applause of men, it is plain that you do be your aim, is obvious; for he who came not live unto the Lord. “We labor," not to be administered unto, but to minissaith the apostle Paul, in the name of all ter, keeps no idle attendants about his true believers, “that whether present or person for mere parade and show. Earthabsent, we may be accepted of Christ ;" iy princes, who are made of the same ma2 Cor. v. 9. The Pharisees gave much terials with other men, need many exteralms; they were frequent, and loud, and nal appendages to eke them out, as it were, long in their prayers; but they did all “ to and to give them bulk and importance in be seen of men;" and therefore our Lord the eye of the world; but he who made styled them hypocrites, and denounced the heavens and earth, infinitely disdains many awful woes against them. I am to borrow any significancy from the worksensible that this species of hypocrisy is manship of his own hands. The angels not the disease of the present age : there that excel in strength do his commandare few that make much noise about their ments, hearkening unto the voice of his prayers or their alms; and there are still word: the highest seraph hath his task: fewer
, I suppose, that can justly be charged " They are all ministering spirits, sent with excess in either; so that a caution forth to minister for them who shall be against being righteous overmuch seems heirs of salvation.” And can any of the quite superfluous. But can you discover sons of men be so befooled by temporal nothing in yourselves that is akin to this prosperity, as to imagine that any little
elevation they can attain on this footstool, I will make all others to know you too, in relaxes their obligation to serve God so that day when every disguise shall be torn strictly as meaner men do? They may off
, and your real character shall be pubimagine it; and when we survey the upper lished in the presence of an assembled ranks of life, we find too just cause to sus- world. pect, that this absurd and impious conceit I SHALL conclude this discourse with is entertained by many; but the faithful reminding you of those peculiar obligaand true Witness hath assured us, " that tions that lie upon all who name the name unto whomsoever much is given, of them of Christ, to live unto the Lord in the much will be required;" and that the manner I have endeavored to describe. greater talent, if not faithfully improved, 1st. Unless we live unto the Lord, we shall only heighten the condemnation of shall counteract the very design of that its possessor, and entitle him to more and marvellous love he hath manifested toheavier stripes. Once more let me ask, wards us, in giving himself for us an offer,
4thly. What is it that gives the highest ing and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smell. value to every thing in your esteem ? ing savor. “ He bore our sins in his own
“One thing have I desired of the body on the tree, that we being dead to Lord,” said David, '“ and that will I seek sin, should live unto righteousness. after, that I may dwell in the house of the gave himself for us, that he might redeem Lord all the days of my life, to behold us from all iniquity, and purify unto him. the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in self a peculiar people, zealous of good his temple.”—“I count all things but works." --" He died for all, that they who loss," said the holy apostle Paul," for the live," by the merit of his death, "should excellency of the knowledge of Christ not henceforth live unto themselves, but Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered unto him who died for them, and rose the loss of all things, and do count them again.”
This is so much insisted upon but dung that I may win Christ.”. If in the New Testament writings, that the you are sincerely devoted to the Lord Re-Socinians have represented it as the sole deemer, you will value other things in end for which our Lord both lived and exact proportion to their connection with died. But though we justly maintain, in him, and the relation they bear to him. opposition to them, that the death of You will prefer the Bible to all other Christ was, in the strictest propriety of books, because it is the word, the testa- language, a true propitiatory sacrifice for ment of your Lord. You will rejoice at expiating the guilt of sin, and rendering every return of the Sabbath, because it is the exercise of mercy to the sinner conthe Lord's day. You will delight in his sistent with the holiness and justice of saints, and account them the “excellent God; yet in expressing our abhorrence of ones in the earth," because they are dear their error, we must beware of running to your Lord, and bear his image. Prayer into the opposite extreme; for nothing will be your sweetest entertainment, be- can be more clearly asserted in the oracles cause it is the means of correspondence of truth, than that “the Son of God was and intercourse with your Lord: And manifested for this purpose, that he might doing good to the bodies, and more espe- destroy the works of the devil;" or, in cially to the souls of men, will be relished other words, that he might prepare men by you as the most pleasant and honora- for heaven, by the sanctifying influences ble employment, because it renders you of his Spirit, as well as that he might purmost like unto your Lord, “who went chase a heaven for them by the merit of about doing good,” leaving us an example his blood. And it deserves particular that we should follow his steps. And thus notice, that though the main difficulty the will you estimate all other things. first preachers of Christianity had to
These, and such like questions, I would struggle with among their own countryhave you to put to your own hearts, as in men, was to bring them off from a proud the presence of that God who is already dependence upon their own righteousness, perfectly acquainted with you; who will that they may rely upon Christ alone for shortly cause you to know yourselves, and pardon and acceptance; yet in declaring