Imatges de pÓgina

orders to set bounds about the mount, lest | amongst men,-not what have you done at the people should draw near, and God the mere impulse of sensibilities however should break forth upon them. amlable, or of native principles however upright, and elevated, and manly,-but what have you done unto me? how much of God, and of God's will, was there in the principle of your doings? This is the heavenly measure, and it will set aside all your earthly measures and comparisons. It will sweep away all these refuges of lies. The man whose accomplishments of character, however lively, were all social, and worldly, and relative, will hang his head in confusion when the utter wickedness of his pretensions is thus laid open,-when the God who gave him every breath, endowed him with every faculty, enquires after his share of reverence and acknowledgment,-when he tells him from the judgment-seat, I was the Being with whom you had to do, and

But we have an evidence to our state of banishment from God, which is nearer home. We have it in our own hearts. The habitual attitude of the inner man is not an attitude of subordination to God. The feeling of allegiance to him is practically and almost constantly away from us. All that can give value to our obedience, in the sight of an enlightened Spirit who looks to motive, and sentiment, and principle, has constitutionally no place, and no residence in our characters. We are engrossed by other anxieties than anxiety to do the will, and to promote the honour, of him who formed us. We are animated by other affections altogether, than love to him, whose right hand preserves us continually. That Being by whom we are so fearfully and wonder-yet in the vast multiplicity of your doings, fully made; whose upholding presence it I was seldom or never thought of,-when is that keeps us in life, and in movement, he convicts him of habitual forgetfulness and in the exercise of all our faculties; of God, and setting aside all the paltry who has placed us on the theatre of all our measurements which men apply in their enjoyments, and claims over his own crea- estimates of one another, he brings the high tures the ascendency of a most rightful au- standard of Heaven's law, and Heaven's althority; that surely is the Being with legiance to bear upon them. whom we have to do. And yet, when we It must be quite palpable to any man who take account of our thoughts and of our has seen much of life, and still more if he doings, how little of God is there? In the has travelled extensively, and witnessed the random play and exhibition of such feelings varied complexions of morality that obtain as instinctively belong to us, we may gather in distant societies,-it must be quite obaround us the admiration of our fellows,vious to such a man, how readily the moral and so it is in a colony of exiled criminals. feeling, in each of them, accommodates itself But as much wanting there, as is the he- to the general state of practice and observamage of loyalty to the government of their tion,-that the practices of one country, for native land; so much wanting here, is the which there is a most complacent tolerahomage of any deference or inward regard, tion, would be shuddered at as so many to the government of Heaven. And yet this atrocities in another country,—that in every is the very principle of all that obedience given neighbourhood, the sense of right which Heaven can look upon. If it be true and of wrong, becomes just as fine or as that obedience is rewardable by God, but obtuse as to square with its average purity, that which has respect unto God, then this and its average humanity, and its average must be the essential point on which hinges uprightness,-that what would revolt the the difference between a rebel, and a loyal public feeling of a retired parish in Scotsubject to the supreme Lawgiver. The re- land as gross licentiousness or outrageous quirement we live under is to do all things cruelty, might attach no disgrace whatever to his glory; and this is the measure of to a residenter in some colonial settlement, principle and of performance that will be set-that, nevertheless, in the more corrupt over you, and tell us, ye men of civil and and degraded of the two communites, there relative propriety, who, by exemplifying in is a scale of differences, a range of characthe eye of your fellows such virtue, as may ter, along which are placed the comparabe exemplified by the outcasts of banish- tive stations of the disreputable, and the ment, have shed around your persons the passible, and the respectable, and the supertiny lustre of this world's moralities; tell excellent; and yet it is a very possible us how you will be able to stand such a thing, that if a man in the last of these severe and righteous application? The stations were to import all his habits and measure by which we compare ourselves all his profligacies into his native land, with ourselves, is not the measure of the superexcellent as he may be abroad, at sanctuary. When the judge comes to take home he would be banished from the geneaccount of us, he will come fraught with ral association of virtuous and well-ordered the maxims of a celestial jurisprudence, and families. Now, all we ask of you is, to his question will be, not, what have you transfer this consideration to the matter done at the shrine of popularity,--not, what before us,-to think how possible a thing have you done to sustain a character it is, that the moral principle of the world

[ocr errors]

and approving acquiescence, in the existing practice of the world at large,-that the security which is inspired by the habit of measuring ourselves by ourselves, and comparing ourselves amongst ourselves, may therefore be a delusion altogether,—that the very best member of society upon earth, may be utterly unfit for the society of heaven, that the morality which is current here, may depend upon totally another set of principles from the morality which is held to be indispensable there;--and when

at large, may have sunk to a peaceable | we gather these principles from the book of God's revelation,-when we are told that the law of the two great commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our strength, and heart, and mind, and to bear the same love to our neighbour that we do to ourselves,—the argument advances from a conjecture to a certainty, that every inhabitant of earth when brought to the bar of Heaven's judicature, is altogether wanting; and that unless some great moral renovation take effect upon him, he can never be admitted within the limits of the empire of righteousness.


Christ the Wisdom of God.

"Christ the Wisdom of God."-1 Corinthians i. 24.

WE cannot but remark of the Bible, how | pose, are thus driven in, where in the whole uniformly and how decisively it announces compass of nature or revelation can any itself in all its descriptions of the state and effectual security be found? It may be character of man,-how, without offering easy to find our way amongst all the comto palliate the matter, it brings before us the plexional varieties of our nature, to its ratotality of our alienation, how it represents dical and pervading ungodliness; and thus us to be altogether broken off from our alle- to carry the acquiescence of the judgment giance to God,--and how it fears not, in the in some extended demonstration about the face of those undoubted diversities of cha- utter sinfulness of the species. But it is not racter which exist in the world, to assert so easy to point this demonstration towards of the whole world, that it is guilty before the bosom of any individual,-to gather it him. And if we would only seize on what up, as it were, from its state of diffusion may be called the elementary principle of over the whole field of humanity, and send guilt,-if we would only take it along with it with all its energies concentered to a us, that guilt, in reference to God, must single heart, in the form of a sharp, and consist in the defection of our regard and humbling, and terrifying conviction,-to our reverence from him,-if we would only make it enter the conscience of some one open our eyes to the undoubted fact, that listener, like an arrow sticking fast,-or, there may be such an utter defection, and when the appalling picture of a whole world yet there may be many an amiable, and lying in wickedness, is thus presented to the many a graceful exhibition, hoth of feeling understanding of a general audience, to make and of conduct, in reference to those who each of that audience mourn apart over his are around us, then should we recognize, own wickedness; just as when, on the day in the statements of the Bible, a vigorous, of judgment, though all that is visible be discerning, and intelligent view of human shaking, and dissolving, and giving way, nature, an unfaltering announcement of each despairing eye-witness shall mourn what that nature essentially is, under all the apart over the recollection of his own guilt, plausibilities which serve to disguise it, over the prospect of his own rueful and and such an insight, in fact, into the secre- undone eternity. And yet, if this be not cies of our inner man, as if carried home done, nothing is done. The lesson of the by that Spirit, whose office it is to apply the text has come to you in word only and not word with power into the conscience, is in power. To look to the truth in its geneenough, of itself, to stamp upon this book, rality, is one thing; to look to your own the evidence of the Divinity which in- separate concern in it, is another. What we spired it. want is that each of you shall turn his eye homewards; that each shall purify his own heart from the influence of a delusion which we pronounce to be ruinous; that each shall beware of leaning a satisfaction, or a triumph, on the comparison of himself with corrupt and exiled men, whom sin has de

But it is easier far to put an end to the resistance of the understanding, than to alarm the fears, or to make the heart soft and tender, under a sense of its guiltiness, or to prompt the inquiry,-if all those securities, within the entrenchment of which I

want to take my quiet and complacent re-graded into outcasts from the presence of

[ocr errors]

God, and the joys of paradise; that each of you shall look to the measure of God's law, so that when the commandment comes upon you, in the sense of its exceeding broadness, a sense of your sin, and of your death in sin, may come along with it. "Without the commandment I was alive," says the Apostle; "but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." Be assured, that if the utterance of such truth in your hearing, impress no personal earnestness, and lead to no personal measures, and be followed up by no personal movements, then to you it is as a sounding brass and as a tinkling cymbal. The preacher has been beating the air. That great Agent, whose revealed office it is to convince of sin, has refused to go along with him. Another influence altogether, than that which is salutary and saving, has been sent into your bosom; and the glow of the truth universal has deafened or intercepted the application of the truth personal, and of the truth particular.

time in all the tranquillity of death. We say peace, when there is no peace. Though in a state of disruption from God, we live as securely and as inconsiderately as if there were no question and no controversy betwixt us. About this whole matter, there is within us a spirit of heaviness and of deep slumber. We lie fast asleep on the brink of an unprovided eternity,—and, if possible to awaken you, let us urge you to compare, not your own conduct with that of acquaintances and neighbours, but to compare your own finding of the ungodliness that is in your heart with the doctrine of God's word about it,-to bring down the loftiness of your spirit to its humbling declarations-to receive it as a faithful saying, that man is lost by nature, and that unless there be some mighty transition, in his history, from a state of nature to a state of salvation, the wrath of God abideth on him.

The next inquiry comes to be, What is this transition? Tell me the step I should take, and I will take it. It is not enough, then, that you exalt upon your own person the degree of those virtues, by which you have obtained a credit and a distinction

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

This leads us to the second thing proposed in our last discourse, under which we shall attempt to explain the wisdom opposite to that folly of measuring ourselves by ourselves, and comparing ourselves among ourselves, among men. It is not enough, that you which we have already attempted to expose. throw a brighter and a lovelier hue over

The first step is to give up all satisfac- your social accomplishments. It is not tion with yourselves, on the bare ground, enough, that you multiply the offerings of that your conduct comes up to the measure your charity, or observe a more rigid comof human character, and human reputation pliance, than heretofore, with all the requiaround you. This consideration may be sitions of justice. All this you may do, of importance to your place in society; but, and yet the great point, on which your as to your place in the favour of God, it is controversy with God essentially hinges, utterly insignificant. The moral differences may not be so much as entered upon. All which obtain in a community of exiles, are this you may do, and yet obtain no nearer all quite consistent with the entire oblitera- approximation to Him who sitteth on the tion amongst them, of the allegiance that throne, than the outlaws of an offended is due to the government of their native government for their fidelities to each other. land. And the moral differences which obtain in the world, may, in every way, be as consistent with the fact, that one and all of us, in our state of nature, are alienated from God by wicked works. And, in like manner, as convicts may be all alive to a sense of their reciprocal obligations, while dead, in feeling and in principle, to the supreme obligation under which they lie to the sovereign, so may we, in reference to our fellow-men, have a sense of rectitude, and honour, and compassion, while, in reference to God, we may labour under the entire extinction of every moral sensibility, so that the virtues which signalize us, may, in the language of some of our old divines, be neither more nor less than splendid sins. With the possession of these virtues, we may not merely be incurring take sinners into reconciliation; but it is for every day the guilt of trespassing and sin-him both to devise and to publish this way; ning against our Maker in heaven; but de--and we must just do what convicts do, void as we are of all apprehension of the when they obtain a mitigation or a cancelenormity of this, we may strikingly realize ment of the legal sentence under which the assertion of the Bible, that we are dead they lie,-we must passively accept of it, in trespasses and sins. And we pass our on the terms of the deed,-we must look

To the eye of man you may be fairer than before, and in civil estimation be greatly more righteous than before, and yet, with the unquelled spirit impiety within you, and as habitual an indifference as ever to all the subordinating claims of the divine will over your heart and your conduct, you may stand at as wide a distance from God as before. And besides, how are we to dispose of the whole guilt of your past iniquities? Whether, is it the malefactor or the Lawgiver who is to arbitrate this question? God may remit our sins, but it is for him to proclaim this. God may pass them over; but it is for him to issue the deed of amnesty. God may have found out a way whereby, in consis tency with his own character, and with the stability of his august government, he may

[ocr errors]

of time in all the try
say peace, when that
In a state of disrupt
as securely and is
there were no question
betwixt us. About the
is within us a spirit
deep slumber. We is
brink of an unproved
possible to awaken
ompare, not your own

to the warrant as issued by the sovereign, world, or as elevate them to a certain de-
and take the boon or fulfil the conditions, gree above the level of the world's popula-
just as it is there presented to us. The question. These are the materials of the found-
tion is between us and God; and in the ad- ation on which they build. It is upon the
justment of this question, we must look possession of virtues which in truth have
singly to the expression of his will, and feel not God for their object, that they propose
that it is with him, and with his authority, to support in the presence of God the atti-
that we have exclusively to do. In one tude of fearlessness. It is upon the testi-
word, we must wait his own revelation, and mony of fellow rebels that they brave the
learn from his own mouth how it is that he judgment of the Being who has pronounced
would have us to come nigh unto him. of them all, that they have deeply revolted
Let us go then to the record. "No man against him. And all this in the face of
cometh unto the Father but through the God's high prerogative, to make and to pub-
Son." "There is no other name given un-lish his own overtures. All this in contempt
der heaven, but the name of Jesus, whereby of that Mediator whom he has appointed.
we can be saved." "Without the shedding All this in resistance to the authentic deed
of blood there is no remission of sin ;" and of grace and of forgiveness, which has been
"God hath set forth Christ to be a propitia- sent to our world, and from which we gather
tion through faith in his blood." "He was the full assurance of God's willingness to be
once offered to bear the sins of many,"-and reconciled; but, at the same time, are ex-
On the wrath of Gr" became sin for us, though he knew no sin, pressly bound down to that particular way
that we might be made the righteousness of in which he has chosen to dispense recon-
God in him." "God is in Christ reconciling ciliation. Who does not see, that, in these
the world unto himself, and not imputing circumstances, the guilt of sin is fearfully
unto them their trespasses." "Justified by aggravated on the part of sinners, by their
faith, we have peace with God
rejection of the Who not
Jesus Christ our Lord;"-" and we become see, that thus to refuse the grant of everlast-
the children of God, through the faith that is ing life in the terms of the grant, is just to
in Christ Jesus." We are "reconciled to God set an irretrievable seal upon their own con-

from a state of

next inquiry cas

nsition? Telme
ad I will taken fs:
at you exalt mere



acquaintances and
mpare your own fix
that is in your hear
God's word about
ness of your suma
man is lost by rate.
be some mighty mar:

tions-to receive it

ce of those virtues ained a credit 25. en. It is not e righter and a m

al accomplish by the death of his Son,"-" and by his demnation? Who does not see, that, in the

de t you multiply the y, or observe a mar

obedience are many made righteous," and
"where sin abounded, grace did much more
heretofore wh. abound.".

act of declining to take the shelter which is
held out to them, they vainly imagine,
that God will let down his


tice. All this great point, with God

much as exter lo, and yet ca to Him who se e outlaws d'a their feltes nan you may estimation be pre-and re Diety wi

nice as ever t

the divine

to many; but the cross of Christ is foolish-
ness to those that perish. They appear to
them invested with all the mysteriousness
of a dark and hidden saying; but if this
Gospel be hid, it is hid to them which are
lost. They have eyes that they cannot see
the wondrous things contained in this book
of God's communication; but they have
minds which believe not, because they are
blinded by the god of this world, lest the
light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who
is the image of God, should shine into them.
And here we cannot but insist on the utter
hopelessness of their circumstances, who
hear these overtures of reconciliation, but
will not listen to them. Theirs is just the case
of rebels turning their back on a deed of
grace and of amnesty. We are quite confi-
dent in stating it to the stubborn experience
of human nature, that all who reject Christ,
as he is offered in the Gospel, persist in that
radical ungodliness of character on which
the condemnation of our world mainly and
essentially rests. And as they thus refuse
to build their security on the foundation of
his merits,--what, we would ask, is the
other foundation on which they build it?
If ever they think seriously of the matter,
or feel any concern about a foundation on
which they might rest their confidence be-
fore God, they conceive it to lie in such a principle that might be easily compre-
feelings, and such humanities, and such hended. God is the party sinned against:
honesties, as make them even with the and if he have the will to be reconciled, it

such performances as are utterly devoid of
any spirit of devout or dutiful allegiance to
the Lawgiver? This is, in fact, a deliberate
p sting of themselves, and that more firmly
and more obstinately than ever, on the
ground of their rebellion-and let us no
longer wonder, then, at the terms of that
alternative of which we read so often in the
Bible. We there read, that if we believe, we
shall be saved; but we also read, that if we
believe not, we shall be damned. We are there
told of the great salvation; but how shali
we escape if we neglect it? We are there
invited to lay hold of the Gospel, as the
savour of life unto life: but, if we refuse
the invitation, it shall be to us the savour
of death unto death. The gospel is there
freely proclaimed to us, for our acceptance;
but if we will not obey the Gospel, we shall be
punished with everlasting destruction from
the presence of the Saviour's power. We are
asked to kiss the Son while he is in the way;
but if we do not, the alternative is that he will
be angry,and that his wrath will burn against
us. He is revealed to us a sure rock, on
which if we lean we shall not be confounded;
but if we shift our dependence away from it,
it will fall upon us and grind us to powder.

And this alternative, so far from a matter
to be wondered at, appears resolvable into

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


is surely for him to prescribe the way of to God in the highest; and for this purpose it and this he has actually done in the re- did the eternal Son pour out his soul an of velation of the New Testament: and whether fering for sin, and by his obedience unto he give a reason for the way or not, certain death, bring in an everlasting righteousness. it is, that in order to give it accomplish-It is through the channel of this great exment, he sent his eternal Son into our world; piation that the guilt of every believer is and this descent was accompanied with washed away; and it is through the imsuch circumstances of humiliation, and con-puted merits of him with whom the Father flict, and deep suffering, that heaven looked was well pleased, that every believer is adon with astonishment, and earth was bid-mitted to the rewards of a perfect obedience. den to rejoice, because of her great salva- Conceive any man of this world to reject tion. It is enough for us to know that God the offers of reward and forgiveness in this lavished on this plan the riches of a wisdom way, and to look for them in another. Conthat is unsearchable; that, in the hearing ceive him to challenge the direct approbaof sinful men, he has proclaimed its import- tion of his Judge, on the measure of his ance and its efficacy; that every Gospel own worth, and his own performances, and messenger felt himself charged with tidings to put away from him that righteousness of pregnant of joy, and of mighty deliverance Christ, in the measure of which there is no to the world. And we ask you just to con- short coming. Is he not, by this attitude, ceive, in these circumstances, what effect holding out against God, and that too, on á it should have on the mind of the insulted question in which the justice of God stands Sovereign, if the world, instead of respond- committed against him? Is not the poor ing, with grateful and delighted welcome, to sinner of a day entering into a fearful conthe message, shall either nauseate its terms, troversy, with all the plans, and all the peror, feeling in them no significancy, shall fections of the Eternal? Might not you turn with indifference away from it? Are conceive every attribute of the Divinity, we at all to wonder if the King, very wroth gathering into a frown of deeper indignawith the men of such a world shall at length tion against the daringness of him, who send his armies to destroy it? Do you think thus demands the favour of the Almighty it likely that the same God, who after we on some plea of his own, and resolutely had broken his commandment, was willing declines it on that only plea, under which to pass by our transgressions, will be equally the acceptance of the sinner can be in harwilling to pass them by after we have thus mony with the glories of God's holy and despised the proclamation of his mercy; inviolable character? Surely, if we have after his forbearance and his long-suffering fallen short of the obedience of his law, and have been resisted; and that scheme of par- so short as to have renounced altogether don, with the weight and the magnitude of that godliness which imparts to obedience which angels appear to labour in amaze- its spiritual and substantial quality,-then ment, is received by the very men for whom do we aggravate the enormity of our sin, it was devised, as a thing of no estimation? by building our hope before God on a founSurely, if there had been justice in the sim-dation of sin? To sin is to defy God: but ple and immediate punishment of sin-this the very presumption that he will smile justice will be discharged in still brighter complacency upon it, involves in it another, manifestation on him, who, in the face of and a still more deliberate attack upon his such an embassy, holds out in his determi- government; and all its sanctions, and all nation to brave it. And, if it be a righteous its severities, are let loose upon us in greater thing in God to avenge every violation of force and abundance than before, if we his law, how clearly and how irresistibly either rest upon our own virtue, or mix up righteous will it appear, when, on the great this polluted ingredient with the righteousday of his wrath, he taketh vengeance on ness of Christ, and refuse our single, entire, those who have added to the violation of and undivided reliance on him who alone his law, the rejection of the Gospel! has magnified the law and made it honourable.

But what is more than this-God hath condescended to make known to us a reason, for that peculiar way of reconciliation, which he hath set before us. It is, that he might be just while the justifier of those who believe in Jesus. In the dispensation of his mercy, he had to provide for the dignity of his throne. He had to guard the stability of his truth and of his righteous-profited over many of his equals in his own ness. He had to pour the lustre of a high nation,-when, though had he measured and awful vindication, over the attributes himself by them, he might have gathered of a nature that is holy and unchangeable. from the comparison a feeling of proud suHe had to make peace on earth and good periority,-when, though in all that was will to men meet, and be at one with glory counted righteous among his fellows, he

But such, if we may be allowed the expres sion, is the constitution of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that, in proportion to the terror which it holds out to those who neglect it, is the security that it provides to all who flee for refuge to the hope which is set before them. Paul understood this well, when, though he

« AnteriorContinua »