Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

peaceful spirit only, yet in those around him he will not always find the same disposition. In him there is no cause of hostility; but in them it will not, of course, be extinguished. While he is surrounded by beings of this description, therefore, he cannot expect undisturbed peace. Yet amid the discord, and violence, of this world, his moderation, his kindness, will either allay, or quietly and firmly endure, the storm. Men of candid dispositions, beholding his conduct, will approve, and commend; and men of prejudice and passion will often be overcome, and desist from their persecution.

Yet even here he will find many persons of a character, kindred to his own. Of the approbation, the love, and the kind offices, of these men, he is assured. The esteem of Wisdom, and Worth, is invaluable; is accompanied by sincere love; is followed by a perpetual train of kind offices; and is, therefore, an ample compensation for the contempt, hatred, and obloquy, of all the unreasonable, and unworthy. Should he meet, then, with many troubles from men of this character; he will still find a rich enjoyment from the approbation and good-will of the wise and virtuous; a table of rich viands, spread before him in the presence of his enemies ; a cup, running over with blessings.

At the same time he is still more refreshed, and comforted, by a sense of the approbation of God. A humble hope of forgiveness is accompanied, of course, by a hope of the divine complacency. The favour of God even in this world is life, and his loving-kindness better than life. A disposition to obey this great and glorious Being is always delightful; and his law sweeter to an evangelical taste than honey, and the honey-comb. Although men, therefore, although all men, should rise up in hostility against him; he would say with David, The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do unto me? I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved. The Lord God is his shield : he cannot fail, therefore, of being safe. The Lord God is his sun: his life will, therefore, be cheered with the light of heaven.

II. The Manner, in which this legacy is given, is taught in those remarkable words of our Saviour, Not as the world giveth, give I

The world gives with an intention to gain, at least as much as it gave; and thus gives for its own benefit; not for ours. The world gives by halves; and often resumes what it has given. The world gives grudgingly; with a meanness, which embitters the boon, to those who receive it. The world gives in pretence, and not in reality: its gifts being, at best, of little value, and of momentary duration. Finally, the world reproaches us, as being

; deeply indebted for its largesses; and imperiously demands servile acknowledgments, and base compliances, as a proper return for the obligations which it has conferred.

unto you.

Christ, on the contrary, gives with perfect liberality, and unlimited bounty; cheerfully; never resuming what he has given; for our benefit only; really, and not in pretence; with absolute sincerity, and supreme nobleness of disposition. His gifts also, while they are of high value in themselves, endure for ever. At the same time he never reproaches us on account of his blessings; and demands of us no unworthy sacrifices.

REMARKS. From these observations we learn, 1st. How to estimate this legacy of Christ.

To a Being, in the situation of man, as described in the former part of this

discourse, such a gift is plainly and pre-eminently necessary. Condemned, loathed, and afflicted, by his Maker, he has no friend, to whom he may betake himself for consolation, and

1; no refuge, to which he may fly for safety. Whatever he does; God is present to see, and to retribute. An Enemy here, he is an enemy every where: an enemy, from whom there is no concealment, defence, nor escape. Still the circumstances of the unhappy man would be less dreadful, if he could find peace and support within. But, there, Conscience arms herself against him ; while his rebellious passions bring their pain in hand, and are frequently followed by remorse and despair. When he looks abroad, he sees his fellow-creatures at war with him, also; and from them seeks in vain for an alleviation of his sufferings.

In this situation Christ proclaims to him peace with God, with mankind, and with himself; peace passing all understanding; peace, which the world can neither give, nor take away. Henceforth, nothing is desirable in his sight, but that which God chooses ; nothing lovely, but that which God loves. To know the divine will is, in his view, to know all that is necessary; and to obey it, all that is useful. He is assured of the divine protection, and is therefore safe: for he knows, that no enemy can endanger his welfare, or disturb his repose.

In the mean time, his soul has relurned to its rest, and is quiet. The storm is past; and is succeeded by serenity and sunshine. If he finds enemies abroad; he disarms half their rage by his own meekness: the rest he sustains, pities, and forgives.

In times of danger, when God comes out against mankind, to judge the world in righteousness, he enjoys the unspeakable consolation of believing, that this awful Being is a friend to him. When, therefore, the tempest rages, the famine desolates, or the pestilence hurries its victims to the grave; when a thousand fall at his side, and ten thousand at his right hand ; it shall not come near

Afflictions will, however, reach even him. It is necessary, that he should be chastened : and chastening in its very nature is griedous. But, for this grief the peace of the Gospel provides a sure

HIM.

and delightful alleviation. The pain, he knows, is inflicted by the Father of his spirit; that he may become a partaker of his holiness, and live. He receives it, therefore, with patience and resignation ; and thus strips disease of its languor; robs pain of its sting; and lights up a cheering lamp in the dark chambers of sorrow.

In death, that melancholy and distressing day to the wicked, his eye penetrates the gloom, and descries the glorious morning which dawns beyond it. On the other side of this narrow gloomy valley, spreads a world of peace: where no storm ever blows; no enemy ever invades; and no danger ever threatens. There all are friends. God is his friend : Christ is his friend: and none but his friends are found among the innumerable company of angels, or the general assembly of the first-born.

2dly. How greatly is this blessing enhanced by the consideration, that Christ has given us his OWN PEACE.

Peace I leave with you; MY PEACE I give unto you. In this declaration we are reminded of the glorious character of Him, who bestows the legacy, and of the wonderful things, which he has done to procure it for us. Christ is divinely great and excellent; and the gift is suited to his character; is excellent, noble, and divine. It is the rich fruit, the genuine evidence, of virtue: a seal, impressed by the Saviour on the soul, as unquestionable proof, that it has become his: a living witness, that he has there taken up his residence, as in a temple, in which he is pleased to dwell. It is his still, small voice, whispering in delightful accents, that he is there; and that he is there, on his own most benevolent purpose of purifying it for heaven, and quickening it with immortal life. The Giver is divine; the gift is divine: the end, for which it is given, is also divine.

The things, which he has done, and suffered, to procure this gift for man, are infinitely great and endearing. For this end, when he was in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with

he made himself of no reputation ; was made in the likeness of men; and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. In the peace, which Christians enjoy, they are presented with a perpetual memorial of these wonderful efforts of him, who thus in his flesh abolished the enmity; and made, preached, and became, Peace to them who were afar off, and to them who were nigh. Whenever this delightful serenity of soul is enjoyed by us, we cannot easily avoid recollecting, that with boundless benignity the Son of God became man; lived a life of unceasing humiliation and suffering; died on the cross; rose from the dead; ascended to heaven; and there intercedes for ever, that this blessing may be ours. What love can be compared to this? What character was ever so lovely, so endearing, so peculiarly divine?

As the Peace of Christ, also, this glorious possession assumes a new character of excellence and worth. In him, this peace was

God;

the result of consummate wisdom and supreme rectitude: a divine harmony of perfect intelligence and immeasurable love. It was a possession completely independent. None could give it: none could take it away. In the pure, serene, eternal Mind of the Sav- . jour, it dwelt of course, inseparably, and for ever. It was the necessary and immortal offspring of immortal excellence: the coeternal splendour of light eternal. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever he had formed the earth and the world ; then was it by him, as one brought up with him ; and was daily his delight, rejoicing alway before him: rejoicing with a divine prescience in the future, habitable parts of the earth, and placing its delights in the sons of men.

In his Mediatorial residence among the children of apostate Adam; amid all his sorrows and labours, amid all the opposition, rejection, and persecution, which he experienced; amid all the living anguish, and dying agonies, which he suffered ; this celestial companion, this divine inmate of his bosom, perpetually sustained him; and diffused fortitude and serenity around his soul. Thus sustained, thus tranquillized, he smiled in agony, and triumphed in death.

To us, as to him, it is peace passing all understanding ; peace, which the world cannot give, nor take away. Grace and Mercy descend first in the train of infinite blessings from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ; and Peace enters our doors immediately behind them. A guest, fresh from heaven, and from the presence of God, Peace

bears all the characteristics of the world from which she descends ; of the region in which she was born; of the family to which she is allied; and of the Parent, from whom she sprang. Gentle and serene, beautiful and lovely, she becomes a willing companion to every humble, faithful follower of the Lamb; to every genuine child of God. Her own angelic disposition she breathes insensibly into the soul; her softness and gentleness she infuses into the heart; and her living smiles she spreads over the aspect. At once, the man is changed into a new creature. His soul, before the region of darkness and storm, is cleared, at once, of the clouds by which it was overcast. Its tempestuous passions cease to rage, and ravage; and a heavenly sunshine illumines the world within. The universe, to him beretofore a vast kingdom of war and opposition, is converted into a delightful residence of quiet and harmony ; in which an immense multitude of the inhabitants, such aś no man can number, are become his friends, and in which the hostilities of the rest will only work together for his good. God, also, seen by him before in clouds and darkness, which were very tempestuous round about him, has unfolded to him the light of his countenance; and given him a lively and transporting earnest of serene, unclouded, everlasting day Vol. II.

68

SERMON LXXXV.

CONSEQUENCES OF REGENERATION.-JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST.

Romans xiv. 17. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness,

peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

On the last Sabbath, I considered the nature and importance of Spiritual Peace. I shall proceed to examine another consequence of Regeneration : viz. Joy in the Holy Ghost.

In the text, the Apostle declares, that the Kingdom of God is formed of Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost. By this kingdom he intends, plainly, not the kingdom of Creation, nor the kingdom of Providence, nor, in a strict sense, what is usually called the kingdom of Grace. The word kingdom is here used in a figurative manner; and denotes the Effects of that secret, invisible, incomprehensible influence over the hearts of mankind, which is exerted by the Spirit of Grace in the work of Sanctification. This influence is the great engine of the divine government over the hearts of Intelligent beings; and is often with the utmost propriety termed in the Gospel the kingdom of God. Of this influence, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, are effects, primarily important; and in the text are, figuratively, called by a name, which, in simple language, would properly belong to the Cause of their existence. In a similar manner is the term used by Christ, Luke xvii. 20, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say concerning it, Lo here, or lo there : for the kingdom of God is within you.

Of these three great effects of the energy of the divine Spirit, the first, viz. Righteousness, here used for holiness or Evangelical virtue, is, in the soul, the cause of the two last. From Righteousness, in this sense, spring, of course, the Peace and Joy of the Spiritual character. Joy in the Holy Ghost, therefore, is obviously a consequence of Regeneration. In the text, as well as in the order of nature, it is subjoined to Peace; although we are ever to remember, that they always exist together in the same mind, and at the same time.

In examining this subject, the following considerations have occurred to me as particularly deserving the attention of a religious assembly.

1. The Joy, spoken of in the text, is not a mere Natural joy.

By natural joy, I intend the pleasure which is found by the mind in natural or physical good, whether possessed, or expected. Such

« PoprzedniaDalej »