Imatges de pàgina
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and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength. This is the First and great Commandment,” (Mark xii. 30.) the first and great branch of Christian righteousness. Thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord thy God; thou shalt seek and find all happiness in him. He shall be “thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” in time, and in eternity. All thy bones shall say, “ Whom have I in heaven, but thee? And there is none upon earth, that I desire beside thee !" Thou shalt hear, and fulfil his word, who saith, “My son, give me thy heart.” And, having given him thy heart, thy inmost soul, to reign there without a rival, thou mayest well cry out, in the fulness of thy heart, “ I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my strong Rock, and my defence; my Saviour, my God, and my might, in whom I will trust; my buckler, the horn also of my salvation, and my refuge.”

8. And the Second Commandment is like unto this; the second great branch of Christian righteousness is closely and inseparably connected therewith, even “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Thou shalt love-Thou shalt embrace with the most tender good-will, the most earnest and cordial affection, the most enflamed desires of preventing or removing all evil, and of procuring for him every possible good,- Thy neighbour ;-that is, not only thy friend, thy kinsman, or thy acquaintance; not only the virtuous, the friendly, him that loves thee, that prevents, or returns thy kindness; but every child of man, every human creature, every soul which God hath made; not excepting him whom thou never hast seen in the flesh, whom thou knowest not, either by face or name: 'not excepting him whom thou knowest to be evil and untbankful, him that still despitefully uses and persecutes thee. Him thou shalt love as thyself; with the same invariable thirst after bis happiness in every kind; the same unwearied care to screen him from whatever might grieve or hurt, either his soul or body.

9. Now is not this love “ The fulfilling of the Law?" The sum of all Christian righteousness ? Of all inward righteousness : for it necessarily implies “ bowels of mercy, humbleness of mind,” (seeing “ love is not puffed up) gentleness, meekness, long-suffering,” (for love “is not provoked;' but “ believeth, hopeth, endureth all things);” and of all outward righteousness ; for “ love worketh no evil to his neighbour, either by word or deed. It cannot willingly either hurt or grieve any one. And it is zealous of good works. Every lover of mankind, as he hath opportunity, “ doth good unto all men,” being “(without partiality, and without hypocrisy) full of mercy, and good fruits.”

10. But true Religion, or a heart right toward God and man, implies happiness, as well as holiness. For it is not only righteousness, bnt also“ peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” What peace? The peace of God, which God only can give, and the world cannot take away: the peace which “passeth all understanding,” all (barely) rational conception; being a supernatural sensation, a divine taste of " the powers of the world to come :" such as the natural man knoweth not, how wise soever in the things of this world : nor, indeed, can he know it, in his present state, “ because it is spiritually discerned.” It is a peace that banishes all doubt, all painful uncertainty ; the Spirit of God bearing witness with the spirit of a Christian, that he is a child of God. And it banishes fear, all such fear as hath torment; the fear of the wrath of God, the fear of hell, the fear of the devil, and in particular, the fear of death: he that hath the peace of God, desiring, if it were the will of God, “to depart, and to be with God."

11. With this peace of God, wherever it is fixed in the soul, there is also “joy in the Holy Ghost:" joy wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, by the ever-blessed Spirit of God. He, it is, that worketh in us, that calm, humble rejoicing in God, through Christ Jesus,“ by whom we have now received the Atonement,” xatarlayny, the reconciliation with God; and that enables us boldly to confirm the truth of the royal Psalmist's declaration, “Blessed is the man (or rather happy) 02 Ux, whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is covered.” He it is, that inspires

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the Christian soul, with that even, solid joy, which arises from the testimony of the Spirit, that he is a child of God; and that gives him to “rejoice with joy unspeakable, in hope of the glory of God;" hope both of the glorious image of God, which is in part, and shall be fully " revealed in him :” and of that crown of Glory, which fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for him.

12. This holiness and happiness joined in one, are sometimes stiled in the inspired Writings, the kingdom of God, (as by our Lord in the text) and sometimes, The kingdom of heaven. It is termed the kingdom of God, because it is the immediate fruit of God's reigning in the soul. So soon as ever he takes unto himself his mighty power, and sets up his throne in our hearts, they are instantly filled with this “ righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” It is called the kingdom of heaven, because it is (in a degree), heaven opened in the soul. For whosoever they are, that experience this, they can aver before angels and men,

Everlasting life is won :

Glory is on earth begun: According to the constant tenor of Scripture, which every where bears record, God “hath given unto us, eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son” (reigning in his heart) “ hath life,” (even life everlasting), 1 John v. 11, 12. “ For this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” John xvii. 3. And they, to whom this is given, may confidently address God, though they were in the midst of a fiery furnace, “ Thee,-Lord, safe shielded by thy power,

Thee, Son of God, JEHOVAH, we adore;
In form of man, descending to appear :
To thee be ceaseless hallelujabs given.
Praise, as in heaven thy throne, we offer here ;
For where thy presence is display'd, is heaven."

13. And this kingdom of God, or of heaven, is at hand.

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As these words were originally spoken, they implied, that
the time was then fulfilled, God being made manifest in
the flesh,” when he would set up his kingdom among men,
and reign in the hearts of his people. And is not the time
now fulfilled ? For, “Lo! (saith he) I am with you always,
you who preach remission of sins in my name, even unto
the end of the world,” (Matt. xxviii. 20.) Wheresoever,
therefore, the gospel of Christ is preached, this his “king-
dom is'nigh at hand.” It is not far from every one of you.
Ye may this hour, enter thereinto, if so be, ye hearken to
his voice, “ Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.”
• II. 1. This is the way. Walk ye in it. And, first, Re-
pent, that is, Know yourselves. This is the first Repentance,
previous to Faith : even conviction, or self-knowledge.
Awake then, thou that sleepest. Know thyself to be a sinner,
and what manner of sinner thou art. Know that corruption
of thy inmost nature, whereby thou art very far gone from
original righteousness, whereby “the flesh lusteth” always
“contrary to the Spirit,” through that “carnal mind which
is enmity against God," which “ is not subject to the Law
of God, neither indeed can be.' Know that thou art cor-
rupted in every power, in every faculty of thy soul; that
thou art totally corrupted in every one of these, all the
foundations being out of course. The eyes of thine under-
standing are darkened, so that they cannot discern God, or
the things of God. The clouds of ignorance and error rest
upon thee, and cover thee with the shadow of death. Thou
knowest nothing yet, as thou oughtest to know, neither God,
nor the world, nor thyself. Thy will is no longer the will
of God, but is utterly perverse and distorted, averse from
all good, from all which God loves, and prone to all evil,
to every abomination which God hateth. Thy affections are
alienated from God, and scattered abroad over all the earth.
All thy passions, both thy desires and aversions, thy joys and
sorrows, thy hopes and fears, are out of frame, are either
undue in their degree, or placed on undue objects. So that
there is no soundness in thy soul; but “from the crown of
the head, to the sole of the foot,” (to use the strong expres-

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sion of the Prophet) there are only “ wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores."

Such is the inbred corruption of thy heart, of thy very inmost nature. And what manner of branches canst thou expect to grow, from such an evil root ? Hence springs une belief, ever departing from the living God : saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should serve him? Tush! Thou God, carest not for it.” Hence independence, affecting to be like the Most High; hence pride in all its forms, teaching thee to say, “ I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing.” From this evil fountain, flow forth the bitter streams of vanity, thirst of praise ; ambition, covetousness; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. From this arise anger, hatred, malice, revenge, envy, jealousy, evil surmisings : from this, all the foolish and hurtful lusts, that now “ pierce thee tbrough with many sorrows,” and, if not timely prevented, will at length

66 drown thy soul in everlasting perdition.”

3. And what fruits can grow on such branches as these ? Only such as are bitter and evil continually. Of pride cometh contention, vain boasting, seeking and receiving praise of men, and so robbing God of that glory which he cannot give unto another. Of the lust of the flesh, come gluttony or drunkenness, luxury or sensuality: fornication, uncleanness, variously defiling that body, which was designed for a temple of the Holy Ghost : of unbelief, every evil word and work. But the time would fail, shouldst thou reckon up all : all the idle words thou hast spoken, provoking the Most High, grieving the Holy One of Israel : all the evil' works thou hast done, either wholly evil in themselves, or at least, not done to the glory of God. For thy actual sins are more than thou art able to express, more than the hairs of thy head. Who can number the sands of the sea, or the drops of rain, or thy iniquities?

4. And knowest thou not that “the wages of sin is death?" Death not only temporal, but eternal.

"The soul that sinnetb, it shall surely die :" for the mouth of the Lord hath VOL. VII.

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