Imatges de pàgina
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the awakened and renewed mind. This con- posed to the various palliations which the sists in the consciousness of the existence pride, the indolence, and the self-love of men of the principle of evil within, of the guilt have invented. It may, for example, be quite of original sin, of the defilement of here- in character for the corrupt church of Rome ditary and inborn sin, and of the actual in- to cherish the unscriptural distinctions borfluence and dominion of sin ; joined with the rowed from earlier writers, concerning mortal deep conviction of its heinousness, as a trans- and venial sins, and thus to afford to her gression of the sacred law of God, an op- priests a kind of scale to which they may position to his holy nature, a rebellion adapt their equally unscriptural modes of against his authority, an insult to his purity penance. But the true penitent, while he and his goodness, and an indication of natu- fully acknowledges that there are degrees of ral alienation of heart and enmity against heinousness in different offences, knows at the him. When this is felt, sin is found to be same time that the offence which, in man's burdensome, degrading, polluting, destruc- estimation, is of smallest import, possesses a tive. The sense of separation from God is weight of guilt which no temporal penalties of itself sufficient to plunge the soul into can obliterate, but which is sufficient by remediless despair.

itself to sink him into the lowest gulf of 3. And this burden becomes increasingly misery. And the advanced Christian is conoppressive when the violated requisitions of scious that the remaining infection of his the divine law are set in contrast with that nature, and consequent concupiscence within, total incapacity to fulfil them, of which the has of itself the nature of sin. It is true that awakened person is also conscious, and of there is a wide difference between the habitual which his daily renewed anxieties and efforts practice of any sin, and the yielding to the to yield obedience render him more and more force of sudden and vehement temptation ; deeply and painfully convinced. For, in pro- between the thought of evil cherished and portion as sin is felt to be burdensome, (if the dwelt upon, even though not brought into true and only mode of deliverance is not action, and the same thought resolutely practically discovered), repeated efforts will checked as soon as it has presented itself to be made to establish a righteousness by the the mind. Yet even the latter is truly sin, works of the law. At the same time, increas- and is not in its own nature more venial than ing acquaintance with the power of inward the other. No human effort can remove the corruptions, and with the spiritual force and guilt of either; both alike need the interferextent of the sacred injunctions of that law, ence of sovereign grace. To the man whose will produce increasing consciousness of de- conscience is tender as it should be, the filement, depravity, guilt, and inability for secret sin is as loathsome as the open offence; self-deliverance. Thus hope deferred will the evil which man calls light will be dreaded make the heart sick; and the afflicted soul as a weighty and oppressive burden. And becomes more weary, while it labours under all human distinctions calculated to diminish repeated disappointment.

the estimate of any offence against God Nor is it only at the outset of the Christian ought to be rejected with holy indignation life that sin is felt to be a heavy load on the and abhorrence. conscience. The child of God, throughout When impressed by such feelings as these, his whole life, finds this to be the occasion of the mind is prepared to receive the tidings of his weariness, the burden which oppresses II. An all-sufficient Deliverer; for the call him. Temptation would have no influence, of our blessed Saviour to the weary, labourbut for the indwelling corruption which is ing, and heavy-laden is, " Come unto me.” too ready to yield to every unholy suggestion. And why does he thus direct the oppressed Afflictions would be exempt from their chief exclusively to himself? Because he is at bitterness, were it not for the past offences once able and willing, and endued with the which they recall to mind, and the present right and authority to bestow the deliverance corruptions which they stir up and bring into which is needed. exercise. And while one great business of 1. Does the oppressed sufferer require a the believer's life is to " lay aside every deliverer who is able to give relief? weight, and the sin which does so easily Jesus Christ may say, Come to me; for he is beset him," the inward struggles of the na- the Almighty God. This glorious truth shines tural principle compel him again and again so brightly throughout the sacred word of to exclaim, “O wretched man that I am, God, that were all Christendom to unite in its who shall deliver me from the body of this denial, the most simple reader of that word death ?"

might discover it there. And by those who The view of sin thus communicated by feel the burden of sin, it will be received not divine teaching, and the experience of its merely as a doctrine theoretically true, but character as a heavy burden, is directly op- as an invaluable principle of life and consola

tion. Nothing less than the arm of Omnipo- | and the use of all the other ordinances of tence can give relief. Hence the conscious. Christ's appointment, will be the actings and ness of utter depravity and helplessness opens evidences of that faith by which this spiritual the eyes to the glorious revelation of the approach to Christ is made. Triune Jehovah, and affixes a value beyond And all who, in obedience to his word, conception on that great mystery of godliness, resort to this Deliverer, will find his promise that Jesus our Deliverer is God manifest in fulfilled in the experience of the flesh.

III. Effectual relief," I will give you 2. Again, do we need a deliverer who is rest. willing to espouse our cause ?

This promise involves at once the removal His free surrender of himself to assume of every evil, and the enjoyment of every our nature and to fulfil his Father's will in good. the work of redemption ; his miraculous in- 1. It includes deliverance from the burden carnation ; his deep abasement; his actions; of spiritual ignorance. It affords an answer his sufferings; his death ; his repeated de- to ihe restless inquiry of the men of the clarations of love; and his exceeding great world, “Who will shew us any good ?" It is and precious promises, -- all manifest his the calming influence of divine instruction, abundant willingness to save to the utter- pointing out the way of life to those who most all who come unto God by him. have been groping in the gloom of dismal

3. And further, do the weary and heavy- uncertainty. It is the communication of the laden require one endued with authority and knowledge, not merely of our own state of competency to deliver ?

sin and wretchedness, but of that God who is On this ground likewise the Redeemer love. It is the revelation of the everlasting says, Come unto me. He is the appointed good-will of God the Father to his chosen Mediator, for whom God the Father had pre- people ; of the redeeming grace of the eternal pared a body, that by partaking of our flesh Son; of the manifold saving operations of and blood he might become one with his God the Holy Ghost; of the covenanted enredeemed, Emmanuel, God with us. The gagements of the Triune Jehovah. It is the Father hath made him perfect through suf- possession of the excellency of the knowledge ferings, that he might through him fulfil his of Jesus Christ; the experience of that pracpurpose of bringing many sons to glory. tical acquaintance with God the Father, and And to evince the fulness of this authority, with his Son Jesus Christ, through the teachthe Saviour testifies, " all things are delivered ing of the blessed Spirit, which our Lord has to me of my Father," and especially claims characterised as the basis of life eternal. his sheep as made over to him by an everlast- 2. The promised rest comprehends, moreing covenant, which can never be violated. over, a deliverance from condemnation ; for

To this omnipotent and gracious Deliverer, there is now ng condemnation to them that thus consecrated for his sacred office in the are in Christ Jesus. The pardon conferred councils of heavenly love, the weary and by Christ on all who come unto him, is an heavy-laden may approach with confidence. immediate, an entire, a full, a complete, an

The emblematic description of faith in absolute pardon. In him, the broken-hearted volved in the expression, “ Come unto me,” and penitent believer has redemption through beautifully represents the operation of simple his blood, even the forgiveness of his sins. confidence and of earnest desire for an ex- There is no partial, imperfect, or gradual perience of his saving influence. Thus does pardon on record in the sacred word of the sick man come to the physician on whose truth. Even Israel, after repeated rebellions skill and attention he relies ; thus does the and backslidings, receives the gracious assurdestitute come to the liberal benefactor for ance, “ I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy the supply of his wants; thus does the transgressions for mine own sake, and will heavily laden apply to the kind and vigorous not remember thy sins." The chastisements friend for the removal of his burden. As of the people of God are by no means intiNoah entered into the ark provided for his mations that their sins are not wholly and rescue from the flood; as the manslayer completely pardoned; rather, they are solemn hastened to the city whose appointed walls memorials of the absolute evil of sin, and are were to screen him from the pursuit of the instruments which God employs in their avenger of blood; so does the deeply contrite purification. David was fully pardoned when soul hasten to Christ. The same Spirit who the prophet declared, “ The Lord also hath has revealed the danger and given a con- put away thy sin ;” and the many trials sciousness of the burden, inspires the faith which followed him through life, deeply as which resorts to the Saviour, in obedience to they were felt by him as chastisements, were his word, Come unto me. And the exercise exempt from every thing of a penal character. of prayer, the study of the revealed word, He knew what it was to rest in the consci

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and rejoice in the experience of the favour of his sured expectation of eternal happiness. They God.

who come to Christ are sealed by the Holy 3. Another essential portion of this rest is Spirit unto the day of redemption. This deliverance from the influence of sin. In the prospect cheers the believer under the many experience of those who live by faith in trials and conflicts which painfully remind Christ, this promise is fulfilled, “ Sin shall him that the rest on earth is but an incinot have dominion over you; for ye are not pient and incomplete state of blessedness, under the law, but under grace. Being There is a higher blessedness to the dead Christ's, they “have crucified the flesh, with which die in the Lord; for they rest from the affections and lusts." They “ walk not their labours, and their works do follow them. after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The The evils and difficulties occasioned by tempdescription of St. Peter is realised : “ He tations from without, and by unbelief and the that hath suffered in the flesh bath ceased struggles of other partially subdued corrupfrom sin, that he no longer should live the tions within, shall for ever cease ; while the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of works which especially characterised the new men, but to the will of God." They who are man, the works of holy obedience and thankin Christ know and love the good, and accept- ful adoration, shall so follow them into heaven able, and perfect will of God, and advance as never to be again interrupted; nay, they in conformity to it. The fulfilment of the shall be brought to their fullest perfection, purpose of God in their sanctification is the when that better thing provided for all the present blessedness of his people ; and the Church shall be bestowed, and the whole prospect of the completion of that holiness is company of redeemed saints shall, with their one of the great incentives to their earnest risen and glorified bodies reunited to the desires for that rest which is reserved for soul, enjoy the fulness of everlasting rest. them hereafter.

1. Of the many practical inferences which 4. The rest which our Lord promises com- this important subject suggests, that which prehends also deliverance from unreasonable claims the first attention is this, that there is doubts and fears, and the communication of no genuine and abiding rest except that which solid and permanent peace.

The command is bestowed by Christ. of the Gospel is, “ Strengthen ye the weak The methods of relief to which men resort, hands, and confirm the feeble knees : say however various, and however insufficient, unto them that are of a fearful heart, Be agree at least in betraying the uneasiness strong, fear not." The love of Christ delivers within. Hence the efforts to drown the conthe soul from the restless bondage to the sciousness of disquietude by continued occulegal covenant under which it once lay. The pation in business or in pleasure, according partakers of this rest are not required to to the varied tastes of the sensual, the worldlabour with the harassing uncertainty whether ly, or the intellectual. Hence, too, the sacrithey have done or can do enough to contri- fices, and ceremonies, and self-tortures of bute their share to salvation, or to rescue many among the heathen, and the fictitious themselves from wrath. They see salvation modifications of religion among those who secure in Christ ; they know the unchange- name the name of Christ. Some seek rest ableness of the promise; they rest on the for the conscience in a course of outward everlasting covenant, which is ordered in all virtues, valuable in their influence on the things and sure; and they work with all comfort of society, but worthless, in a reenergy and perseverance, not that they may ligious view, in the eye pure and heartobtain grace, but because they have already searching God. Others place reliance on the received grace. Sinful anxiety is banished; outward services of religion, and even pervert they cast their care on God; they acquiesce the precious sacraments of Christ's own apwith humility and patience in all his dispen- pointment into substitutes for Christ; putting sations ; they receive chastisements as from the emblematic parts of these sacraments in the hand of a loving and beloved parent; the place of the graces and gifts of which they stand fast in the liberty with which they are the representatives and the channels; Christ has set them free. The Spirit of God interpreting the sound and spiritual language bears witness to their adoption into the family of our own sacramental formularies by the of the redeemed, and teaches them to cry, careless, if not erroneous, expressions of early Abba, Father. They dwell in Christ, are writers, instead of referring them to their united to him by an indefeasible union; and genuine prototype, the sacred word of God; because they have this security of full salva- while they attempt to supply their still action, they have nothing to interrupt the sted knowledged deficiencies by acts of will-worfast uniformity of their efforts to glorify God ship, prohibited by God, and derogatory to and to shew forth his praise.

the freedom of his grace and the profession

of a

not

of the work and office of the Redeemer. prohibitions against will-worship and volunThe Saviour himself decides the point : “I tary humility; in spite of the contempt therewill give you rest.” None can communicate by cast on the merits and the righteousness the gist but himself; and while the believer of the only and all-sufficient Saviour. The thankfully employs those sacraments, as well promise of Christ is rest. How then can a as other appointed ordinances, as instru- permanent and self-entailed bondage be conmental in leading the soul to him, and as

sistent with childlike faith and spontaneous channels by which he may convey the gift of and cheerful obedience ? No, God is the his Spirit, still in Christ alone his confidence Father of his people ; and he delights, not in is placed; to Christ alone the honour is the slavish service of one who works with ascribed.

uncertainty of success, and obeys through 2. But we may be further reminded, that fear of stripes ; but in the happy and filial it is an offence against Christ himself to at- obedience of those whose hearts are filled tempt to preclude any who are labouring and with love and confidence. Christ will heavy-laden from the rest which he bestows. break the bruised reed, nor quench the smok

The ministers of Christ are not permitted ing flax." “ Comfort ye, comfort ye my to lay on the already oppressed penitent the people, saith the Lord,” is the characteristic heavy burden of despair ; and to taunt him announcement of the Gospel; and “rejoice with the supposed contrast between his state evermore” is a precept peculiar to the reand the imaginary, but never realised, con- ligion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. dition of those who have lived since baptism 3. Lastly, we are reminded, that as the in unsullied purity. Thus did not Christ to ministers of Christ are especially, like their the publicans and sinners who flocked to his Divine Master, sent to the weary and heavyinstructions. Who, indeed, that knows any laden, it is their duty fully and faithfully to thing of the purity of God's law, of the evil teach every thing which the Scripture reveals of sin, and of the workings of his own heart, concerning the excellency and sufficiency of can dare to class himself among the pure, or Christ, and the way of salvation through him. do otherwise than join the publican's cry, It is an act of criminality to conceal what “God, be merciful to me a sinner ?

God has commissioned us to teach. Our And even in the case of open backsliders, business is to make known without reserve who, after apparent devotedness to the service the whole counsel of God; and by manifestaof God, have wilfully departed from him, and tion of the truth to commend ourselves to plunged themselves into worldly-mindedness, every man's conscience in the sight of God. or other iniquity, may any man dare to with To do otherwise, is to maintain, instead of hold from them the promise of the Saviour, renouncing, the hidden things of dishonesty, when they return, weary and heavy-laden and to handle the word of God deceitfully. under the sense of their accumulated and Shall the minister of Christ use his own judgaggravated guilt ? No, nothing is too hard ment, or the judgment of his fellow-men, as for the Lord. They whose sins are as scarlet to the portion which he may deem it expedishall be washed in the blood of the Lamb, ent to conceal of divine truth? Shall the and made white as snow. It is true, that we pastor, in a congregation of nominal Chrisknow not the heart, and therefore must clothe tians-shall the missionary, in an assemblage our language of encouragement with many of ignorant heathen,-speak of rest for the cautions. But no other source of rest must heavy-laden, and not let them know that the be pointed out besides the merits and righte- security for this rest is the eternal Son of ousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God, incarnate for the salvation of his people? Some, indeed, will say, “I do not seek rest Shall they suppress the glad tidings of that here; my sins deserve it not, and I may well atonement, without which there can be no be satisfied with the simple possibility that peace, no rest? Shall they leave any one, salvation may be mine at last, although the whom their instructions can reach, uninformed chains of my guilt weigh me down in sorrow in the glorious revelation of God, the Father, throughout my life."

Son, and Holy Ghost? What if any portion But this feeling, under a show of humility, of the early Church was guilty of that unholy is in fact too frequently nothing more than mimicry of heathenism, that they must have one of the carnal substitutes put in the place some fancied mystery, some secret, which of the pure Gospel of free grace. It may God had not appointed ? Are we, whom seem strange, but it is a fact, that the pride God has delivered from such bondage, to of man cannot indulge itself more effectually follow in their steps ? God forbid ! If we than by cherishing notions of self-torture. It yield to such a precedent, we shall soon find would gladly accept deliverance from the similar results produced, and rapidly descend burden of guilt by the superadded load of from the follies and weaknesses of some of ascetic mortifications, in spite of the inspired the fathers into the abyss of popish abominations. May those of us who are called to art mindful of him ? or the son of man, that thou visitest the service of the sanctuary, and those among

him? Thou makest him lower than the angels, to us who are anticipating the privilege of that

crown him with glory and worship. Thou makest him

to have dominion over the works of thy hands : and sacred office, remember always, that a dis- thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet, pensation is committed to every one invested all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field, with the holy ministry of God's word and

the fowle of the air, and the fishes of the sea, and whatsacraments. It is not left to our option what

soever walketh through the paths of the sea." Thus

did the inspired Psalmist find that the contemplation doctrines and what precepts we shall select. of the wonderful works of God was one of the best and The conscience of each should testify within purest sources of human happiness,-a pleasure that himself: “ Necessity is laid upon me; yea,

can never be weakened by repetition,--a pleasure that woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel.”

satisfies, inasmuch as there is an inward satisfaction

while the mind is so employed; yet unsatisfying too, And what can be a more delightful, a more at the same time, because as it is a pleasure that never privileged office, than to preach good tidings cloys or wearies, we desire ever to grasp at more ; and to the meek, to tell of Him who binds up the therefore the more that such meditations are pursued, broken-hearted, who gives liberty to the cap- they raise it to the contemplation of diviner and

the more do they delight the soul, and the more do tives, who comforts the mourners, and gives purer objects, ever to think less of the creature, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heavi- more of the Creator. In a word, they shew us our ness? What more blessed than to take up the

own insignificance, and should therefore teach us language of our Divine Master himself, and humility, we, as we approach God and the things that

are God's, should become smaller in our own eyes, say, “Come unto Jesus, all ye that labour and

like a “heaven-directed spire,” which, as it rears its are heavy-laden, and he will give you rest ?” head to the firmament, where the God in whose honour

it has been erected dwells in glory unapproachable,

feels, as it were, and acknowledges its ascent to his The Cabinet.

throne by becoming smaller and more tapering. THE Psalmist's CONTEMPLATION OF THE WORKS Holy Scripture.—It ought rather to recommend of God.* - In a former discourse to you on the forty- than disparage the Scriptures, that what is revealed is second Psalm, I recommended the more frequent peru- so copious and extensive, that, like a river, it will sal of this portion of the holy Scriptures, not only on supply a lamb with what may quench its thirst, and account of its general utility, from its embracing so cannot be exhausted by an elephant.- Boyle on the wide a field of subjects (since there is no holy thought or Style of the Scriptures. feeling that may not be found embodied in the Psalmist's words), but also from the beautiful simplicity of the

The New Nature. - Intimately connected with language and imagery employed, which, by engaging

this doctrine of the justification of the sinner by faith the imagination, at once touches the heart, and with

alone, to the utter exclusion of works in any degree

whatever, is that of the renewal of the heart to holigreater force and perspicuity teaches the uneducated Christian to know and to understand rightly those

ness by the power of the Holy Spirit. Man, being by great truths, which are able to make bim“ wise unto

nature dead in sin, must be raised to newness of life. salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Man, being by nature alienated from God, must be But besides this high recommendation which is offered,

brought nigh by the blood of Christ. And not only there is yet another, which every attentive reader of

so, but a great and saving change must be wrought the Psalms cannot fail to have observed ; and this is,

upon his heart; a change which, though it cannot that no one writer of the holy Scriptures more fre

render him worthy, will qualify him and make him quently dwells upon the glorious works of the creation.

meet for admission to heaven. For “ they that are in These may be called the poor man's library,—that book

the flesh cannot please God.” The vastness of this of nature wherein he, be he a scholar or not, may, as

change is fully manifested by the terms employed he works, read of God; where the simple-minded but

in Scripture to represent it. Figured by the external teachable Christian may trace the finger of the Al

ablution in the waters of baptism, it is a cleansing of mighty, and search out his wisdom and goodness;

the inner man by the power of the Holy Ghost. Nay, " the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err

it is spoken of as the possession of a new nature. therein" (Is. xxxv. 8). And if this be the case, the

Observe the striking, forcible language of God's word book of Psalms must be doubly interesting to many of

with reference to this important subject, and the strong you, my brethren, whose lot it is to be engaged in out

terms employed to describe the vastness of the change. of-door occupations, which must necessarily give you

It is not a better heart that is to be possessed, but a new constant opportunities of observing the handy-work of

heart. Old things are not merely to be improved, but a great and glorious God, some “ going forth to their

“old things” are to pass away, and all things are to work and to their labour until the evening” (Ps. civ.

become “ new.” It is not simply an external refor23) ; while others of you, "going down to the sea in

mation of conduct that is required,-it is the renewal

of the inner man. ships, and occupying your business in great waters,

It is not merely the cultivation of see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in

many of the graces and virtues, for which even a heathe deep” (Ps. cvii. 24). How must our hearts at

then might be distinguished, and which may be postimes be overwhelmed with gratitude and love, as

sessed even while the soul is dead in trespasses and we ponder on these things, as we think that for

sins, and which are never to be confounded with the us were they all created, and to us has the govern

fruits of the Spirit's influence,--but that deep vitality of ment of them been committed. Who, impressed as he

religion in the soul which is the source of all true must be, with the excellency of his power, can refrain

practical godliness. No substitution of outward ablufrom joining in the chorus of praise into which the

iion must be made for this inward washing by the eterenraptured Psalmist bursts : “ What is man, that thou

nal Spirit. “ Marvel not," when it is said unto you,

ye must be born again.” Let it ever be recollected, • From "The Sea is his, and he made it:" a Sermon preached that He who uttered the solemn declaration is to be in Chideock Church, Dorset, on occasion of the violent hurricane,

the Judge of quick and dead,—that without being a on the south-western coast, Nov. 1838. By the Rev. Henry Rawlinson, B.A., Curate. London, Burns, 1839 ; Tucker, Brid

partaker of this spiritual birth, no man “can see the port.

kingdom of God." We may blot out the sun from the

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