« הקודםהמשך »
right to the tree of life, are they who keep of faith, and suppose it to be Jesus Christ the commandments, and the truth that an in his person and in his character. It is a unrighteous man shall not inherit the king- summary, but at the same time a most true dom of God. If a man see not every one and substantial affirmation, that we are object that is placed within the sphere of | saved by faith in Christ. And yet this very his natural vision, he sees none of them, affirmation, true as it is, may have been so and his whole body is full of darkness. If misunderstood as to darken the minds of a man believe the Bible to be the word of many, into the very misconception that we God, he will read it; but if he read it, and are attempting to expose. I could not be believe not every one truth that lies within said to have faith in an acquaintance, if I the grasp of his understanding, he believes believed not all that he told me. Nor have none of them, and is in darkness, and I faith in Christ, if I believe not every item knoweth not whither he is going.
of that communication of which he is the If I open the door of my mind to the author, either by himself or by his mesword of God, I as effectually make it the sengers. So that faith in Christ, so far from repository of various truths, as, if I open excluding any of the truths of the Bible, the door of my chamber, and take in the comprehends our assent to them all. But Bible, I make this chamber the repository we are willing to admit, that the phrase is of the book, and of every chapter, and of calculated to fasten our attention more parevery verse, that is contained in it. I thus ticularly on such truth'as relates, in a more bring my mind into contact with every one immediate manner, to the person and the influence, that every one truth is fitted to doings of the Saviour. Take it in this exercise over it. If there be nothing in sense, and you will find, that though emithese truths contradictory to each other, nently and directly fitted to work peace in (and if there be, let this set aside, as it the heart of a believer, it is just as directly ought, the authority of the whole commu- and powerfully on the side of his practical nication,) then the mind acts 'a right and righteousness. When I think of Christ, and consistent part in believing each of them, think of him as one who has poured out his and in 'submitting itself to the influence of soul unto the death for me, I feel a confieach of them. And thus it is, that believing dence in drawing near unto God. When the propitiation which is through the blood employed in this contemplation, I look to of Christ, for the remission of sins that are him as a crucified Saviour. But without past, I may feel through him the peace of keeping mine eye for a single moment from reconciliation with the Father; and be- off his person-without another exercise lieving that he who cometh unto Christ for of mind, than that by which I look unto forgiveness must forsake all, I may also Jesus, simply and entirely, as he is set forth feel the necessity which lies upon me of unto me,-I also behold him at one time as departing from all iniquity; and believing an exalted Saviour, and at another time as that in niyself there is no strength for the a commanding Saviour, and at another time accomplishment of such a task, I may look as a strengthening Saviour. In other words, around for other expedients, than such as by the mere work of faith in Christ, I bring can be devised by my own natural wisdom, my heart into contact with all those motives, or carried into effect by my own natural and all those elements of influence, which energies; and believing that, in the hand give rise to the new obedience of the gosof Christ there are gifts for the rebellious, pel. When the veil betwixt me and the and that one of these gifts is the Holy Spirit Saviour is withdrawn, when God shines to strengthen his disciples, I may look to in my heart with the light of the knowhim for my sanctification, even as I look ledge of his own glory in the face of his unto him for my redemption: and believing Son,-when the Spirit taketh of the things that the gift is truly promised as an answer of Christ, and showeth them unto me, and to prayer, I may mingle a habit of prayer, I am asked which of the things it is that is with a habit of watchfulness and of en-most fitted to arrest a convicted sinner, in deavour. And thus may I go abroad over the midst of his cries and prayers for dethe whole territory of divine truth, and turn liverance,- I would say, that it was Christ to its legitimate account every separate por-lifted up on the cross of his offences, and tion of it, and be in all a trusting, and a pouring out the blood of that mighty exworking, and a praying, and a rejoicing, piation, by which the guilt of them all is and a trembling disciple,-and that, not be-washed away. This is the rock on which cause I have given myself up to the guidance he will build all his hopes of acceptance of clashing and contradictory principles, before God. He will look unto Christ and but because, with a faith commensurate to be at peace. But this is not the only attithe testimony of God, I give myself over tude in which Christ is revealed to him. in my whole mind, and whole person, to He will look to Christ as an example. He the authority of a whole Bible.
will look to him as a teacher. He will look But secondly, let us take what some may to him in all the capacities which are atthink a more restricted view of the object | tached to the person, or identified with the doings of the Saviour. He will look to him, I pretext and a pacification to his conscience, asserting his right of authority and disposal | under a wilful habit of perseverance in over those whom he has purchased unto iniquity. But, if this partial faith of his be himself. He will, by the eye of faith, see not a real faith, then we are not responsible that rebuking glance which our Saviour cast for his conduct, nor ought he to be at all over the misconduct of his disciples,—and quoted as an exception against that alliance, which, when Peter saw, by the eye of sight, for which we are contending, between the he was so moved by the spectacle, that he faith of the gospel and the cause of practical went out and wept bitterly. That meek- righteousness. Only grant the faith. to be ness and gentleness of Christ, in the name real, and as there is no one doctrine of the of which, Paul besought his disciples to Bible, out of which it may not gather a puwalk no more after the flesh, will be pre-rifying influence to the heart, so out of this sent in its influence on those who, though doctrine of the atonement, will such a purithey see him not, yet believe him, and have fying influence descend most abundantly on their conceptions filled and satisfied with the heart of every genuine believer. his likeness. They will behold him to be For, it first takes away a wall of partition, an exalted Prince, as well as an exalted Sa- which, in the case of every man who has viour, and they will count it a faithful say- not received this doctrine, lies across the ing, that he came to sanctify as well as re- path of his obedience at the very comdeem,--and they will look upwards to his mencement. So long as I think that it is present might as a commander, as well as quite impossible for me so to run as to obforwards to his future majesty as a judge, tain, I will not move a single footstep. Unand they will be thoroughly persuaded, that der the burden of a hopeless controversy to persevere in sin, is altogether to thwart between me and God, I feel as it were the great aim of the enterprize of our re-weighed down to the inactivity of despair. demption,-and they will understand as I live without hope ; and so long as I do so, Paul did, who affirmed, with expostulations I live without God in the world. And beand tears, that the enemies of righteousness sides, he, while the object of my terror, is are also the enemies of the cross ;--and also the object of my aversion. The helpthus, from Christ, in all his various attitudes, less necessity under which I labour, so long will a moralizing power descend on the as the question of my guilt remains unsethearts of those who really believe in him,- tled is to dread the Being whom I am comand as surely as any man possesses the manded to love. I may occasionally cast a faith that is in Christ Jesus, so surely will feeble regard towards that distant and inache be sanctified by that faith.
- cessible Lawgiver: But so long as I view And, thirdly, let us confine our attention him shrouded in the darkness of frowning still farther, to one particular article of our majesty, I can place in him no trust, and I faith. Paul was determined to know no- can bear towards him no filial tenderness. thing, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I may occasionally consult the requireNow, conceive faith to attach itself to the ments of his law: But when I look to the latter clause of this verse, and that Christ uncancelled sentence that is against me, I crucified, for the time being, is the single can never tread, with hopeful or assured object of its contemplation. There is still footsteps, on the career of obedience. But no such thing as a true faith, attaching let me look unto Christ lifted up for our itself to this one object exclusively; and offences, and see the hand-writing of ordithough at one time it may be the sole con- nances that was against us, and which was templation which engrosses it, at other contrary unto us, nailed to his cross, and times it may have other contemplations. If, there blotted out and taken out of the way; in fact, it shut out those other contempla- and then I see the barrier in question leveltions, which are furnished by the subject-led with the ground. I now behold the way matter of the testimony of God, it may be of repentance cleared of the obstructions, proved now, and it will be proved in the by which it was aforetime rendered utterly day of reckoning, to be no faith at all. But impassable. This is the will of God -even just as it has been said, that the mind can your sanctification, may be sounded a thouonly think of one thing at a time, so faith sand times in the ear of an unbeliever, and may be employed, for a time, in looking leave him as immoveable as it found him; only towards one object; and as we said be- because, while under a sense of unexpiated fore, let Christ crucified be conceived to be guilt, he sees a mighty parapet before him, that one object. From what has been said which he cannot scale. But if the same already, it will be seen, that this one exer- words be sounded in the ears of a believer, cise of faith will not counteract the legiti- they will put him into motion. For to him mate effect of the other exercises. But we the parapet is opened up, and the rough should like to compute the influence of this way is made smooth, and the mountain and one exercise on the heart and life of a be- the hill are brought low, and the valley of liever. In the case of an Antinomian, the separation is filled, and he is made to see doctrine of the atonement may furnish a Ithe salvation of God. The path of obedience
is made level before him, and he enters it somuch that the state of the believer, in rewith the inspiration of a new and invigora- spect of motive and of practical influence, ting principle; and that love to God, which is the very reverse of what we have now the consciousness of guilt will ever keep at adverted to. In the act of becoming a bea distance from the heart, now takes up the liever, he awakens from the deep and uniroom of this terrifying, and paralysing, and versal lethargy of nature. With his new alienating sentiment; and the reception of hope commences his new life. He ceases this doctrine of atonement is just as much to be stationary,--and what is more, be the turning point of a new character, as it never ceases to be progressive. He does is the turning point of a new hope; and it not satisfy himself with barely moving onis the very point, in the history of every wards to a higher point in the scale of huhuman soul, at which the alacrity of gospel man attainment, and then sitting down obedience takes its commencement, as well with the sentiment that it is enough. He as the cheerfulness of gospel anticipations. never counts it enough. The practical attiTill this doctrine be believed, there is no tude of the believer is that of one who is attempt at obedience at all; or else, it is ever looking forwards. The practical movesuch an obedience as is totally unanimated ment of the believer is that of one who is by the life and the love of real godliness. ever pressing forwards. He could not, wiibAnd it is not till this doctrine has taken out a sorrender of those essential principles possession of the mind, that any man can which make him what he is, tarry at any take up the language of the Psalmist, and one point in the gradation of moral escesay, “Lord, I am thy servant, I am thy ser- lence. It is not more inseparable from him vant, thou hast loosed my bonds.”
to be ever doing well, than it is inseparable Conceive, then, a believer with the career from him to be ever aspiring to do betier. of obedience thus opened up and made so that the paltry question about the de hopeful to him,-conceive him with the ne- grees and the comparisons of virtue, he encessity of obedience made. just as authen- tertains not for a moment; and, with all the tically known to him as are the tidings of aids and expedients of the gospel for help his deliverance from guilt,---conceive a man ing his advancement, does he strenuously who, by the act of rendering homage to the prosecute the work of conforming to the truth of God, rests a confidence in the death precept of the gospel,-to be growing in of Christ for pardon, and who also, by the grace, to be perfecting himself in holiness. very same act, subscribes to the sayings of It has been a much controverted ques Christ about repentance, and the new walk tion, how far this process of continual adof the new creature,-and then let me ask vancement will carry a believer in this you to think of the securities which encom- world. Some affirm it will carry him to pass his mind, and protect it from the delu- the point of absolute perfection. Others sion that we have already alluded to. We more cautiously satisfy themselves by the have said that the peace which is felt in a remark, that whether perfection be ever vague apprehension of God's mercy, and our attainment or not, it ought always to which makes no account of his truth, or of be our aim. And one thing seems to be his justice, has the effect of making him certain,—that there is no such perfection who entertains it altogether stationary, in in this world, as might bring along with it point of acquirement. With the semblance the repose of victory. of good that he has about him, he will meet Paul counted all that was behind as nothe sterner attributes of the Deity. For his thing, and he pressed onwards. And it is defect of real good, he will draw on the in- the experience of every Christian, who dulgent attributes of the Deity. He will makes a real business of his sanctification, make the character of God, suit itself to his that there is a struggle between nature and own character, so that any stimulus to ad- grace, even unto the end. There is no disvance or to perfect it, shall be practically charge from this warfare, while we are in done away. And thus it is, that along the the body. To the last hour of life there whole range of human accomplishment, will be the presence of a carnal nature to you may observe an unvaried state of re-humble him, and to make hiin vigilant ; pose,-the repose, in fact, of death,- for the and, with every true Christian, there will repose of man who brought to the estimate be the ascendency of grace, so as that this of a spiritual law, will be found, to use the nature shall not have the dominion over significant language of the Bible, dead in him. The corruption of the old man will trespasses and sins,-sinning at one time be effectually resisted ; but not, we fear, till without remorse, trusting at another time the materialism of our actual frames be rewithout foundation. .
solved into dust, will this corruption be Now the gospel scheme of mercy is clear destroyed. The flesh lusting against the of this abuse altogether. It comes forth spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, is the upon the sinner with an antidote against short but compendious description of the this security, just as strong and as promi- state of every believer in the world ; and nent as is its antidote against despair. In- I could the evil and adverse principle be eradicated, as well as overborne,-could as of Christ, is, through his means, to obtain living man bid the sinful propensity, with an erasure of the sentence of their conall its workings and all its inclinations, demnation. Now, though this, undoubtconclusively away from him,--could the edly, be one great design of the gospel, it authority of the new creature obtain such is not the design in which it terminates. unrivalled sway over the whole machinery It may, in fact, be only considered as a of the affections and the doings, that re-preparation for an ulterior accomplishsistance was no longer felt, and the battle was ment altogether. Christ came to redeem brought to its termination,-if it were pos- us from all iniquity, and to purify us unto sible, we say, for a disciple, on this side of himself a peculiar people, zealous of good the grave, to attain the eminency of a con- works. It were selfishness under the guise dition so glorious, then we know not of of sacredness, to sit down, in placid conwhat use to him would be either a death tentment, with the single privilege of jusor a resurrection, or why he might not tification. It is only the introduction to bear his earthly tabernacle to heaven, and higher privileges. set him down by direct translation amongst But not till we submit to the righteousthe company of the celestial. But no! ness of Christ, as the alone meritorious There hangs about the person of the most plea of our acceptance, shall we become pure and perfect Christian upon earth, 1 personally righteous ourselves, --not till we some mysterious necessity of dying. That see the blended love and holiness of the body, styled with such emphasis a vile Godhead, in our propitiation, shall we body, by the Apostle, inust be pulverized know how to combine a confidence in his and made over again. And not till that mercy, with a reverence for his character, which is sown in corruption shall be raised --not till we look to that great transacin incorruption,-not till that which is tion, by which the purity of the divine nasown in weakness shall be raised in power, ture is vindicated, and yet the sinner is --not till that which is sown a natural delivered from the coming vengeance, shall body shall be raised a spiritual body,- not we be freed from the dominion of sin, or till the soul of man occupy another tene- be led to admire and to imitate the great ment, and the body which now holds him Pattern of excellence. The renewing Spirit, be made to undergo some unknown but indeed, is withheld from all those who glorious transformation, will he know what withhold their consent from the doctrine it is to walk at perfect liberty, and, with of Christ, and of him crucified. Paul was the full play of his then emancipated determined to know nothing else; and it is powers, to expatiate without frailty, and in this knowledge, and in this alone, that without a flaw, in the service of his God. we are renewed after the image of him
We know that the impression which who created us. many have of the disciples of the gospel is, Now the God of peace, that brought that their great and perpetual aim is, that again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that they may be justified, -that the change of great Shepherd of the sheep, through the state which they are ever aspiring after, is blood of the everlasting covenant, make a change in their forensic state, and not in you perfect in every good work to do his their personal,—that if they can only at-will, working in you that which is welllain delivery from wrath, they will be sa-l pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, tisfied, and that the only use they make to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
APPLICATION OF CHRISTIANITY
COMMERCIAL AND ORDINARY AFFAIRS OF LIFE.
The following Discourses can be regarded in no other light, than as the frag. ment of a subject far too extensive to be overtaken within a compass so narrow. There has only a partial survey been taken of the morality of the actions that are current among people engaged in merchandise : and with regard to the morality of the affections which stir in their hearts, and give a feverish and diseased activity to the pursuits of worldly ambition, this has scarcely been touched upon, save in a very general way in the concluding discourse. . And yet, in the estimation of every cultivated Christian, this second branch of the subject should be by far the most interesting, -as it relates to that spiritual discipline by which the love of the world is overcome; and by which all that oppressive anxiety is kept in check, which the reverses and uncertainties of business are so apt to inject into the bosom; and by which the appetite that urges him who hasteth to be rich is effectually restrained—50 as to make it possible for a man to give his hand to the duties of his secular occupation, and, at the same time, to maintain that sacredness of heart which becomes every fleeting traveller through a scene, all whose pleasures and whose prospects are so soon to pass away.
Should this part of the subject be resumed at some future opportunity, there are two questions of casuistry connected with it, which will demand no small degree of consideration. The first relates to the degree in which an affection for present things, and present interests ought to be indulged. And the second is, whether, on the supposition that a desire after the good things of the present life were reduced down to the standard of the gospel, there would remain a sufficient impulse in the world for upholding its commerce, at the rate which would secure the greatest amount of comfort and subsistence to its families.
Without offering any demonstration, at present, upon this matter, we simply state it as our opinion, that, though the whole business of the world were in the hands of men thoroughly Christianised, and who, rating wealth according to its real dimensions on the high scale of eternity, were chastened out of all their idolatrous regards to it-yet would trade, in these circumstances, be carried to the extreme limit of its being really productive or desirable. An affection for riches, beyond what Christianity prescribes, is not essential to any extension of commerce that is at all valuable or legitimate; and in opposition to the maxim, that the spirit of enterprise is the soul of commercial prosperity, do we hold, that it is the excess of this spirit beyond the moderation of the New Testament, which, pressing on the natural boundaries of trade, is sure, at length, to visit every country where it operates, with the recoil of all those calamities, which in the shape of beggared capitalists, and unemployed operatives, and dreary intervals of bankruptcy and alarm, are observed to follow a season of overdone speculation.