Obrazy na stronie

must cleave to him with full purpose of heart.


so the Lord himself had "said to those Jews which believed on him; If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The value of the plant is neither in the blade nor in the blossom; but in the ripened fruit. And the "honest and good heart" is that which having " heard the word, keeps it, and brings forth fruit with patience." "We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."8



ACTS xi. 25, 26.

25. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

26. And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they as

8 John viii. 31. Luke viii. 15. Heb. iii. 14. James i. 12. 1 Refer to chapter ix. 30.

sembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Hitherto, those converted to the faith have been spoken of as brethren, as disciples, as believers. The time was now come, when they should be distinguished by the name of him in whom they believed, whose disciples they were, and who had made them brethren. They were united together in a body under the title of Christians. And this honour was first given to the church of Antioch, where the grace of God had so remarkably prevailed.

Here, then, a new and peculiar class of men appears, an order of men unknown till within the last few years-unknown at Antioch till within the last few months. What has created them, and distinguished them from others?

One had come into the world offering deliverance from sin, and from the consequences of sin offering peace with an offended God: offering pardon and acceptance now, and in the end eternal life. "He that heareth my word, and believeth in him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." 2

This was either believed, or disbelieved; received or refused. Some mocked; some neglected; others actively opposed themselves. These remained what they had been before; they were

2 John v. 24.

still followers of the law of Moses, or they were still Gentile idolaters. Those who were now for the first time called Christians were those who believed the message; received the offer: were baptized in the name of Christ, and professed themselves his disciples, his followers. And their faith was briefly this. The world is lost by sin: ruined through Adam's fall: "in Adam all died." But as many as commit themselves to Christ, sent of God for their deliverance, are recovered from that ruin; their sin is expiated: God treats them as righteous and his Spirit makes them such; renews their nature, and prepares them for his heavenly kingdom.

The Jewish assembly, for example, (chapter iv. 12,) are told, that there is "salvation in no other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Those, then, who received this word gladly, and were baptized, "the multitude of them that believed," acknowledged the fact that in themselves they were ruined, and in Christ they were delivered from ruin. They that are safe need not a deliverer; -but they that are lost.

Such was the confession of these Christians concerning their own state. But what was He who had appeared as their deliverer? He was the Son of God, "who was in the beginning with God, and was God;" proved to be so, in that he had risen from the grave, and ascended up to the glory which he had with the Father "before the world was." When the Ethiopian (chap. viii. 37) de

sired to be baptized, Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Then "he baptized him.”

It was natural, therefore, that Christians should have been styled, believers. But this term alone did not completely describe them. They were also disciples. They looked up to Christ as a teacher as well as a redeemer. Had they been asked a reason of the practice, the new and peculiar practice which they followed, the reply would have been: He "whose we are,' " and to whom we have devoted ourselves, has left us an example, and laid down for us a law. We forgive our enemies, we avenge no injuries, because he, "when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered he threatened not, "4 but committed his cause to God. We are ready to distribute, glad to communicate of this world's good, according as God hath prospered every man, because we are followers of him, who "when he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich." We "keep under our body, and bring it into subjection," because he has assured us that "such is the will of God, even our sanctification:" that they must be " pure in heart," who are to possess "the inheritance of the saints in light that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord." We set our affections on things above, not on things of the earth," because we are taught of him to lay up treasure

41 Peter ii. 23.


52 Cor. viii. 9.

[ocr errors]

in heaven. "For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

The inquirer, who had gone thus far in acquainting himself with the faith of these Christians, must ask one question more, if he had any experience of his own heart. He must naturally proceed to say -How is this change produced in you? How are you enabled to moderate your affections; to subdue "the desires of the flesh and of the mind ?" To live in the world, and not be of the world?

[ocr errors]

To this, too, there was an answer.

We were

baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." It was promised, that as the children of God, through faith in his beloved Son, we should "receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," who should change our original nature, and " put a new heart and a right spirit within us," and bring us "to will and to do" that which is approved of God." And so we experience it to be. Old things are passed away: all things are become new. "We have put off the old man, which is corrupt after the deceitful lusts, and are renewed in the spirit of our mind; and have put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." So that now "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," are not objects of desire to be courted by us, but objects of suspicion to be dreaded.

6 Matt. xxviii. 17.

7 Chapter ii. 38. 2 Cor. i. 22. Eph. iv. 30.

8 Eph. iv. 22.

« PoprzedniaDalej »