« הקודםהמשך »
words, they no doubt teach us a most im- the foolish, “slumbered and slept.” Carportant and necessary lesson ; namely, nal and unregenerated sinners are repreThat we should carefully search the sa- sented in Scripture as being in a state of cred Scriptures, and, with a sincere and death; quite stupid and unfeeling; but humble temper of mind, labor to know even those who have got a principle of what is the “good, and acceptable, and new life may suffer very sad decays; and perfect will of our God.”
though they do not totally expire, yet But I rather incline to understand this they may fall into that sleep which is the expression as importing the lively and image of death. Though the precious oil constant exercise of all our Christian which feeds the light will not suffer it to graces. This is indeed the best prepara- go out; yet, for want of trimming, it may tion for our Lord's return. To have our grow so dim and obscure, that it shall repentance mourning over our past sins, scarcely be discernible .
Now this, my and keeping the heart humble under a brethren, is a very melancholy situation; sense of guilt;-our faith applying the and it highly concerneth us to guard blood of Christ for pardon, and deriving, against it with our utmost care, We read at the same time, strength from above for of some who lost their first love; nay, vanquishing our lusts, that “sin may no Paul complains of the Hebrews, that they more have dominion over us ; -our love had lost even their former knowledge, and embracing an unseen Saviour, and extend had need “to be taught again which be ing to all his members; our hope casting the first principles of the oracles of God.” anchor within the vail, and keeping the “ The hand of the diligent maketh rich ; soul fixed and steady, amidst all the revo- and he that is slothful is brother to him lutions of this changing world ;-our pa- that is a great waster.” Indeed, if holitience triumphing over sufferings;-our ness were natural to us, then it might meekness passing by injuries, blessing and abide with us, and grow up of its own acdoing good to our most inveterate ene- cord without any care on our part; but mies ;-and, by the happy influence of all as it is of a foreign extraction, and as our these, the light of our external conduct hearts are choked up with noxious weeds, adorning our profession, and engaging this precious seed must be watched over, others to glorify our heavenly Father : and carefully tended, otherwise it will This is to have our lights burning indeed; starve and decay. The sleeping Christian this will make us ready to meet our Lord. cannot thrive; and if he be surprised in We shall not be backward to open at his that condition when his Master calls, how call, when all is thus cleansed and in good great shall his disorder be! We should order within. And this is the preparation therefore beware of slothfulness; we have we ought chiefly to study. Our readiness still work to do, and God hath not allowed to work will not avail us by itself; we us one moment more than is needful. Let must be doing, our work must be advanc- us then awake to our business; let us ing; for in vain do we trim the lamp, if it never think we have finished our task so do not shine and give light; in vain are long as there is any part of the day to our loins girded about, if we have nothing run; but let us imitate the great apostle to do, or neglect our business. Further, of the Gentiles, who, notwithstanding his in the
high attainments in religion, yet " did not 3d place, We are here directed to be think he had already obtained, either was constantly on our guard, and to keep a already perfect; but, forgetting the things strict and careful watch till our Master which were behind, and reaching forth
unto those things which were before, he Watchfulness is frequently in Scripture pressed towards the mark, for the prize of opposed to sleep: and that even the best the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Christians have need of this caution, we But we may consider watchfulness in may learn from our Saviour's parable of another light, namely, as a duty arising the ten virgins; where it is said, (Matth. from our present circumstances of danger. xxv. 5.) that “while the bridegroom tar- And in this view the necessity of it will ried, they all," that is, the wise as well as appear unspeakably great; for though we
could acquire such a stock of graces that begin to beat the men-servants, and we needed not make any further addition maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be to them; nay, though we might even lie drunken ; the lord of that servant will down and sleep, without any apprehension come in a day when he looketh not for of their decay; yet, if we be in danger him, at an hour when he is not aware, and frorn without, if thieves may break through will cut him in sunder, and will appoint and steal our treasure, then of necessity him his portion with the unbelievers." It we must be constantly on our guard ; nor appears from this passage, that the faithful is it wise in us to drop our watch for one discharge of social duties has a higher
And who can doubt that this rank in religion than many seem to appreis our situation ? “ Watch and pray,” hend. It is not indeed the whole of religion; said our Saviour, " that ye enter not into neither can it be called the most essential temptation." So great is our danger, that part of it; for no doubt the duties of the our own vigilance is not sufficient to secure highest class are those which belong to us; we must call in foreign assistance, we the first table of the law, and arise from must implore the divine aid; for “unless our first and most lasting relation. We an Almighty Guardian keep the city, the were the subjects of God before we became watchman waketh in vain." Yea, when members of human society; and if we Satan desired to have Peter, that he prove unfaithful to God, it cannot surely might “ sift him as wheat,” our Saviour give him any pleasure to behold confederhimself, who had encountered this enemy, ated rebels living in the most perfect and knew his strength, prayed for his agreement among themselves: so that a zealous disciple, that his faith might not man may, in several respects, prove an fail. And if both watchfulness and prayer agreeable, perhaps an useful, member of be necessary for our defence, alas! what society, and after all be condemned for shall become of those who neglect both ? his ingratitude to God, and rebellion One compares the gracious soul to a ship against his Maker. Nevertheless, the richly laden; which is the greater tempta- discharge of those duties which we owe to tion to pirates upon that very account. I one another, is of such importance in relisay not this to discourage the sincere gion, that I can warrantably affirm, no Christian; for greater is he that is with man shall be saved who transgresses them, you than all that can be against you; but or even who wilfully and habitually nemethinks it should excite you to double glects them. It is not to be expected, your watchfulness. If you have profited nor indeed is it necessary, that I should by the means of grace; if your treasure give you a detail of these; they are univeris increased; instead of growing secure, sally better understood than they are pracyou should be the more humble and watch- tised. Our duty here extends to all the fal upon that very account; for needful is different expressions of righteousness and that caution, “ Let him that thinketh he love; and the rule is both short and plain; standeth, take heed lest he fall.” Once All things whatsoever ye would that men
should do unto you, do ye even so to 4th place, Our Saviour here directs us them. The best offices are those which to consider ourselves as fellow-servants promote our neighbor's spiritual and eterand members of his family, and in this nal interest; and therefore religious inview another part of our preparation for struction, friendly advice, and seasonable his coming must lie in the performance reproof, cannot be dispensed with. Whatof the duties we owe to each other, as ever tends to discourage vice, or to prowell as of those duties which more imme-mote the interests of religion and virtue, diately respect himself. This is more is strictly incumbent upon us, according clearly pointed out to us in the 45th and to the power and authority which our sta46th verses of this chapter, where we find tion gives us; and therefore he is but half a fearful threatening denounced against a magistrate, and a poor half too, who rethose who neglect this mutual relation; sents only the injury that is done to men,
But, and if that servant say in his heart, and overlooks those horrid instances of My lord delayeth his coming, and shall impiety against God, which the good laws
more, in the
of our land authorize him to punish. In certain and necessary; and the apostle short, whatever be our condition in life, Paul, in the 8th chapter of his epistle to there are certain duties belonging to it the Romans, derives a very ingenious, but which we must perform; and I shall only substantial, argument in favor of this add, that as the obligation is mutual, both doctrine, from the present burdened state parties are equally bound, and neither can and weary face of the creation : nor can withhold from the other what is due with any who professeth Christianity pretend out an injury; nor is the superior less to question it. Should not this then strictly bound to those who are below him, oblige us to make ready for it? With than the inferior to those who are above these very eyes shall we see our Rehim; and they who possess the highest deemer; and how shall we look him in stations are equally, obliged, with the the face, if we have been unfaithful during meanest of their brethren, to “live his absence, and lived at random, as if soberly, righteously, and godly, in the none had power over us? Nay, methinks world," and to promote the glory of God, this very consideration that he is now reand the welfare of human society, by the moved from us, should work upon our infaithful and conscientious use of all those genuity, and excite us to the utmost care talents which God hath put into their and diligence in his service. Every one hands; and if they do otherwise, they will be doing while he sees the master shall be condemned and punished by their present; the test of fidelity is, to mind Master and Judge when he cometh again. the master's interest when he is at a dis
After this manner are we taught to tance; especially the interest of such a make ready for the Lord's return.
Master, who hath bought us from the We must lay aside every thing that most deplorable slavery with his own premay encumber us in his service; we must cious blood, and requires nothing at our labor to know our Master's will, and to hand, but what tends to make us happy keep all our graces in lively and vigorous here, and to fit us for eternal glory hereexercise ;-particularly, we should guard after. against slothfulness and security, and, 2dly. The uncertainty of the time of from a sense of our danger, keep a strict his coming should excite us to be always and habitual watch against the enemies of busy at our work, and in a fit posture to our souls; at the same time regarding receive him. This argument is much ineach other as fellow.servants, and faith- sisted upon by our Saviour. He often fully performing those social duties which compares his coming to that of a thief in belong to our several stations and rela- the night, who studies secrecy, and will tions. To all which I might further add, not give any previous notice: and this that we should earnestly look out for our seems to be the meaning of that allusion Master's coming, and long for his second in the 36th verse, where he likens himand glorious appearance, when we and all self to one who is attending a marriagehis faithful servants shall be admitted solemnity; because on such occasions peointo his immediate presence, and be ena- ple are not usually masters of their own bled to serve him without any mixture of time, which renders the season of their sin, in another and a better world than return to their own houses more uncerthis.
tain. And if this be the case, can there I COME now to exhort you to the prac- be a more powerful motive to an habitual tice of these duties ; for which I offer the preparation? “Behold, I come following motives and arguments :- thief," says our Saviour, in the book of
1st then, One great argument for the the Revelation.-"Blessed is he that preparation here recommended may be watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest drawn from the certainty of our Lord's he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
This is asserted in so many pas- Dost thou not know, 0 man! but that tosages of Scripture, that there is no room morrow thy Master may come to thee left us to doubt it. The present mixt or, which is the same thing, may call state of things renders a future judgment thee to him ? and wilt thou not be busy? not only probable to reason, but almost Show us thy security for one day, and
then claim that day as thine own : but if , vants, never more to rise again. O blessed thou canst not, how mad art thou to neg. rest! 0 glorious society ! O delightful lect thy business, or to leave any task un. entertainment! But what can these words finished, whilst it is in the power of thy mean; He shall gird himself, and come hands to do it ? Especially, if it be con- forth and serve them ?-Surely this cansidered, in the
not be literally fulfilled; yet it must have 3d place, That when thy Master re- a resemblance to something that is real, turns, thy working-time is over. What otherwise it would not have been men. is then unfinished must remain so for tioned. He comes to judge thee, according
Thus much we know, that on that day to what thou hast done, and not to call Christ shall bestow some extraordinary thee to perfect thy unfinished labors. marks of respect upon his servants, which This, my brethren, is a most awful con- our ears have not yet heard, neither can sideration; we are now sowing the seed our hearts conceive." for eternity, and what we sow, that shall If "there is joy in heaven over one we reap.
Our Master's order is, “ Oc- sinner that repenteth,” though he is then cupy till I come: that is the term; and only beginning his warfare, and has many we can neither get it protracted nor re- a weary and painful step before him; if newed; and if we be found unfaithful, the prodigal is so kindly embraced upon dreadful shall our punishment be; and his first return from feeding swine, and the more dreadful upon this account, that gets “the wedding-ring on his finger, and it shall be perpetual, without abatement the best robe put on him; what shall and without end. But, as I would rather be the saint's honor in that day of the choose to allure than frighten you to your
"manifestation of the sons of God!' duty, I shall represent to you, as a
“ If any man serve me," saith Christ, 4th Motive to a diligent preparation " let him follow me; and where I am, for your Master's coming : The glorious there shall my servant be. If any man advancement, and blessed reward, of the serve me, him will my Father honor.” watchful servants, which is mentioned in But these matters are too high for us; the last part of my text; Verily I say the glories of the upper world are far beunto you. It is introduced with a strong yond our sight. Yet surely those disasseveration, to denote the absolute cer- coveries which have been imparted to us, tainty of the thing; and, Ohow con- are sufficient to invite our thoughts fredescending is that which follows! He quently thither; and especially to excite shall gird himself, and make them to sit us to the most diligent preparation for our down to meat, and will come forth and Lord's return, “who is gone before to serve them. Surely this is a reward, not prepare a place for us, and who shall cerof debt, but of grace; for how can the tainly come again, and receive us unto most perfect obedience merit any thing himself, that where he is, there we may like this? Those faithful servants shall be also." be advanced to an honor, which, were it Well, then, my dear fellow-servants, not promised, they could not lawfully Let our loins be girded about, and our hope for. They shall be entertained by lights always burning; ere long our work their Master at his own table; there shall shall be at an end, and this glorious they feast without any to disturb them. eternal reward shall begin.
" Let us not Here, indeed, whilst we are at our work, be weary in well-doing : for in due season we obtain some foretastes of this heaven. we shall reap if we faint not.” Above ly banquet; but how soon is the table all
, let us guard against security and selfdrawn !' But it shall not be so in hea- confidence; let us join prayer with our ven.-Here we must eat, as the Jews did watching, depending upon him who hath their passover, “in haste, with our loins said, “My grace is sufficient for thee." girded, our shoes on our feet, and our To whom, with the Father, and the everstaff in our hand.”—But in heaven we blessed Spirit, one God, be glory and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and honor, dominion and power, for evermore. Jacob, and with all our dear fellow-ser-| Amen.
SIMILITUDE OF THE RACE.
are open, we may continually hear its SERMON XIV.
voice behind us, saying, "Lo ! this is the
in it." But the Christian life includes in it
something more than the mere perfor1 CORINTHIANS, IX. 24.—"So run that ye may mance of duty; the cross lies in our way, obtain.”
and we shall never get to the end of the
race, unless we take it up, and, with meekIn these words the
the Christian life is ness and patience, carry it along with us. compared to a race, and the disciples of It must be owned, indeed, that this, at Jesus are warmly exhorted to press for- the first sight, hath rather the look of a ward in their way to heaven, till they ob. clog or incumbrance; and the Christian, tain the glorious prize for which they while under the cross, is very apt to think contend.
so : he feels his burden, and in his own apI shall therefore make it my business, prehension, moves so heavily, that he is in the following discourse,
afraid he shall never get to the end of his First, To give you a general account journey; which frequently inclines him to of the race we have to run; and
wish that the load were removed, and some Secondly, To illustrate the fitness and easier piece of service assigned him. But propriety of this similitude. After which, this in reality is a mistake : the cross is
far from being a hindrance in our way to Third place, I shall press the exhorta- heaven; for though a heavy material load tion by some motives and arguments. oppresses the body, yet in the spiritual
I NEED not spend much time upon the race it often happens, that the burdened first of these particulars. In general, the soul makes both the swiftest and the surest race we have to run, comprehends the progress. " Tribulation worketh patience, whole of that duty we owe to God; and patience experience, and experience namely, obedience to his laws, and sub- hope.” The cross may be called a tree mission to his providence; doing what he both of knowledge and of life: the fruit commands, and patiently enduring what it bears hath no deadly quality; on the ever he is pleased to appoint. The charge contrary, it gives both sight and health; which our great Master hath given us is it opens our eyes to see the good we ought expressed in these words : Occupy till I to choose, and the evil we ought to shun;
All the gifts of nature, of provi. and is often made effectual, by the blessdence, and of grace, are talents put into ing of God, to purge away those fatal disour hands; which must not only be care- tempers which sin hath brought into our fully kept, but diligently improved, for frame, to beget in us a loathing of every his glory and our own spiritual advantage; thing that is evil, and more ardent desires otherwise we shall be condemned, not only after higher measures of that holiness, as slothful, but as wicked, servants, and which is at once the ornament and the punished accordingly. “To him that happiness of our nature. The cross doth knoweth to do good, and doeth it not," not enfeeble us, though we erroneously saith the apostle James, “to him it is may think so; it only makes us sensible sin.” It is not sufficient, barely “ to deny of our weakness, that we may depend upungodliness and worldly lusts : " the on him who is “the Lord our strength; grace of God doth further teach us "to and instead of crushing us with its own live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the weight, obligeth us to quit our hold of world;" adding one Christian grace to those real incumbrances which mar our another, abounding more and more in the progress, and hinder us to “ run the race work of the Lord, till we have perfected that is set before us.” holiness in the fear of God. Thus exten- Thus I have given you a general view sive is the divine law, reaching to every of the race we have to run. part of our conduct, at all times, and in hends obedience to the laws of God, and all places and circumstances. Wherever submission to his discipline; doing what we are, it speaks to us; and if our ears he commands, and patiently enduring what