« PoprzedniaDalej »
the word of his grace, to the agency of his baptism and the ordinance of the Lord's SupHoly Spirit. And let us lift up our hearts per are founded. They do not remember with our voices while we sing,
that though the substance be confessedly the
main thing, circumstances are often very "And now, my soul, another year Of thy short life is past;
beautiful and impressive and beneficial; that I cannot long continue here,
we are not only to possess, but to profess reAnd this may prove my last.
ligion; that we are not only to serve God “Much of my dubious life is gone, Nor will return again;
individually, but to unite ourselves to a body And swift my passing moments run, of Christians, and walk in holy fellowship, And few perhaps remain.
"striving together for the faith of the Gospel; " Awake, my soul, with solemn care,
and that we are bound not only to "glorify
which are God's.” So that the form when "Now a new scene of time begins
attached to the principle, is so far from being Set out afresh for heaven; Seek pardon for thy former sins
improper, that it is commendable and importIn Christ so freely given.
ant. * Devoutly yield thyself to God,
But here we have reached the Fourth class
to which we referred, those who have the form, Nor fear a happy end."
but deny the power. These are awful characters; and therefore, says the apostle, to
Timothy, “From such withdraw thyself.” DISCOURSE XXXII. We should do this as much as possible with
regard to their persons, but above all with
regard to their state. In order to this let RELIGION MORE THAN
us, I. CONSIDER THE POWER OF GODLINESS; FORMALITY.
and, II. INQUIRE WHENCE IT IS THAT SO MANY
WHO DENY IT ARE STILL DISPOSED TO MAINHaving a form of godliness, but denying the TAIN THE FORM. power thereof.—2 Tim. üi. 5.
I. THE “ POWER” OF GODLINESS IS HERE And what is godliness? It is the tendency DISTINGUISHED FROM THE MERE “FORM:” and of the mind towards God: and is exercised in indeed it is easy to show the difference bebelieving in him, loving and fearing him, tween them. The one is principally exterholding communion with him, resembling his nal, and deals in words—the other is internal, perfections and employing ourselves in his actuating our feelings, and governing our service. It is the introduction of God into actions. The one is the name the other is all our concerns, our acknowledging him in the thing; the one is the appearance-the all our ways, our doing all we do in his name, other is the reality. The one is the body—the and with a reverence to his authority and other is the soul, that inspires every member, glory, through the mediation of the Saviour, and penetrates every particle of the frame. and by the influences of the Holy Spirit. The one is the picture--the other is the origi
This is godliness; and nothing else deserves nal: the one shows us the Christian on canthe name. This godliness however has its vass-the other presents him to us alive and form and its power; and this distinction in motion. enables us to arrange four classes of charac- Now what I want to convince you of here ters.
is this—that real godliness is more than a For, first, there are some who have neither show, a fancy, a form—it has an efficacy in the power nor the form of godliness. They it-there is a power attending it. For conare as destitute of the pretension as they are sider how it is produced and maintained. It of the reality; and often glory in this for we is in its existence, as well as in its revelation, read of some " who glory in their shame.” a Divine principle. Hear how the Apostle
Secondly, there are some who possess both speaks of it in his epistle to the Ephesians. the power and the form. And these are the "God is able,” says he, “to do exceeding most worthy of our esteem and imitation. abundantly above all that we ask or think" – May their number daily increase !
“ according to the power that worketh in us." Thirdly, there are some who have the I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord power of godliness, but not the form. Their Jesus Christ—“that he would grant you, acreligion is a kind of disembodied spirit: and cording to the riches of his glory, to be because some have laid too much stress upon strengthened with might by his Spirit in the outward things, they lay too little. They inner man. And again, he prays for them, carry their notions of the spirituality of divine that they may know-what is the exceeding worship so far as to exclude social considera- greatness of his power to us-ward who betions; the influence of the body over the lieve, according to the working of his mighty mind; and the use which the Supreme Being power, which he wrought in Christ, when he himself makes of our senses, to aid our graces, raised him from the dead, and set him at his and which is simply the principle upon which own right hand, in the heavenly places :" where we find—that the same almighty ener-, but from very different motives, and in a very gy which quickened into endless life the en- different manner. He has now also much tombed body of our Lord, is actually put forth more to engage his attention. His regard is in the renovation of the believer: “that like no longer confined to externals only, but he as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the is taken up with “the hidden man of the glory of the Father, even so we also walk in heart;" and prays with David, “Create in newness of life.” Hence it is called “the me a clean heart, O God, and renew a life of God;” and “the participation of the right spirit within me.” Hence spring exerDivine nature.” What is the water that the cises to which he was once a stranger; and Saviour promises to give to those that ask he feels himself engaged in a warfare which him? " Living water." And,” says he, often perplexes him, and leads him to exclaim, " the water that I shall give him shall be in "If I am his, why am I thus ?" him a well of water springing up into ever- Behold then the life of the real Christian, lasting life.” Here is nothing stagnant and and trace the operation of the power of godlidead; but every thing is expressive of in- ness there. fluence and activity. Thus the Apostle tells It appears with regard to the ordinances the Thessalonians that the Gospel came to of divine worship. Others who have only the them—“not in word only, but in power:" form, come without expectation and prayer, and that they received it, not as the word of and return without reflection and concern: men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, they are satisfied with their attendance—but “ which effectually worketh also in you that he is not. He is anxious to derive spiritual believe.” And thus, to view the subject more advantage from it: he enters the closet beseparately, and in parts, we read of the fore he approaches the temple, and his lanwork of faith, the labour of love, and the guage is, “Oh that I knew where I might patience of hope.”.
find him, that I might come even to his Observe the subjects of Divine grace. This seat!" Oh that I may be of the circumciprinciple distinguishes them from others: and sion who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in is capable of producing a holy singularity. If Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the you have only the form of godliness, there will flesh.” be no practical difference between you and It appears with regard to the dissipations others; if servants—you will be as idle, as of the world. He voluntarily resigns those gossipping, as regardless of the property of amusements in which he once placed so much your employers, as others: if wives you will of his happiness: and he returns no more to be as unsubmissive; if husbands—as tyran- them. And why? If he were mindful of nical: if tradesmen-as grasping and over the country whence he came, he has opporreaching as others. But if you have the tunity to return: he is surrounded with the power-you will resemble good Nehemiah. same allurements as others—why then does « The former governors,” says he, “were he not engage in these diversions again ?chargeable to the people but so did not I, Because he has found something infinitely because of the fear of God.” Piety would not more noble and more satisfying. And i suffer him to act like them. And if you are greater good has power to abolish the imunder the influence of it, you will not, in pressions of a less. When the sun arises, your various relations and circumstances, be the stars disappear. And the grapes of Eshborne down by the errors and vices around col cause us to forget the leeks and onions you: but you will be able to act uprightly : of Egypt. you will be kept from consulting custom, and You may see it in the mortification of sin. be constrained to listen to conscience : you He denies himself; he crucifies the flesh will not be permitted to sin as do others, or with the affections and lusts; he plucks out “sleep as do others you will not be con- a right eye, and cuts off a right hand. You formed to this world, but be transformed, by may see it in what he is willing to sacrifice the renewing of the mind, that you may and to suffer. Read history: read the book prove what is that good, and acceptable, and of martyrs; read the eleventh chapter of the perfect will of God.” A dead fish can swim epistle to the Hebrews and see what the with the stream, but a live one can swim force of this powerful principle can accomagainst it.
plish. There you see an Abraham at the comYea, this principle distinguishes the man mand of God, “ leaving his own country, and from himself. Thus, under the influence of his father's house, and going out, not knowit, the drunkard becomes sober; the swearer ing whither he went:" and, in obedience to learns to fear an oath, and the liar a lie. He the same authority, “when tried, offering up that stole, steals no more, but labours. The Isaac; his son, his only son; of whom it was churl becomes liberal, and the niggard bounti- said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” ful; it cannot be otherwise. If the man has There you see a “ Moses, when come to been moral before, he continues to avoid the years, refusing to be called the son of Phasame vices, to perform the same duties, and raoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer afto attend the same means of grace as before fliction with the people of God, than to enjoy
the pleasures of sin for a season ; esteeming | minished, it is with him to determine so it
others had trial of cruel mockings and scourg- above the world, subdues his corruptions, The ings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprison and supports and comforts him in all his
ment: They were stoned, they were sawn sufferings—this power, many, alas! are igno asunder, were tempted, were slain with the rant of, and in works, if not in words, really sword: they wandered about in sheepskins deny.
and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tor- II. THEY YET ASSUME AND MAINTAIN THE the cemented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) FORM—and some of the reasons which induce
they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, them to do this, are the following:
First, because the form is comparatively " But we are not called to such scenes as easy. The difficulty lies in the power. It is ? dst these." Blessed be God, you are not. But an easy thing to pretend to be rich; to pur
every Christian, says Luther, is a piece of a chase splendid apparel and furniture; and aces martyr; “ yea,” says the Apostle," and all live in style upon the property of others.
that will live godly' in Christ Jesus shall suf- which is the fashion of the day. This difser persecution.” There is the same malig-fers exceedingly from the economy and in
nity in human nature against vital religion dustry and labour of the man who in his calllec
as formerly; and it will operate as far as it is ing gains a competency lawfully. It is an by the permitted by circumstances. And when re- easy thing to profess to be wise: but to acOS E ligion is vital, it will enable a man to abide quire knowledge by the weariness of study;
the test; and resolve to go forward, notwith- by rising early and sitting up late; by keepstanding the ridicule of infidels, the sneer of ing the mind always alive, and attentive to worldlings, and the reproaches of relations perceivė, appropriate, and classify fresh inand friends. And this requires a degree of tellectual stores—here is the difficulty. And the same grace as martyrdom.
thus it is in the case before us. The form The vigour of this principle appears also of godliness requires no strenuous exertions ;
in other sufferings. How many are there at demands no costly sacrifices. It is the power itiri this moment, enduring a variety of grief in of it that renders the Christian life "striy
private, whose names will never be published ing to enter in at the strait gate;" a "pressin history, but who, in the eye of God, are ing into the kingdom of God;" a "wrestling greater than the admired heroes of the age! with principalities and powers;" a "running
They act nobly, without the prospect, or the the race that is set before us;" a " fighting de desire of notice, or of fame: they breathe no the good fight of faith.” And it is this too
revenge towards instruments; they neither that incurs opposition from the world. It will charge God foolishly nor unkindly in any of indeed be acknowledged that sometimes the the disappointments and afflictions which very form draws forth the rancour of others: have befallen them; they are strar ers to and of all people those are most to be pitied impatience and repining; and all you hear who are persecuted for what they have not ; is, ** I mourn, but I do not murmur. I pray, who are reproached as Christians without debut I do not prescribe. • The Lord gave, and serving the honour. But upon a nearer inthe Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the spection of these mere formalists, the world name of the Lord.' I have more reason for is generally made quite easy. They see that thankfulness than complaint. I know not they were mistaken in the characters; they what he is doing with me—but he know- find that they are “ of their own," though eth the way that I take. Whether the trial wearing a religious uniform. And discover. be removed or continued, increased or di- l ing in them their own spirit, which disposes
them to plead for their vanities and leads | ward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is them to indulge in the very same practices, one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the as far as they can safely do it—they will rea- heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; dily allow them their odd way of thinking, or whose praise is not of men, but of God. The their peculiar observances; yoa, they may kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but even consent to go with them to hear their righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy favourite preacher, if these formalists will go Ghost. The kingdom of God is not in word, with them in return to see their favourite but in power." actor. The real Christian may say to these And to draw towards a close-If such a nominal ones, as his Lord and Saviour did to subject as this was ever necessary, it is pecuthe Jews; " The world cannot hate you; but liarly so in the present day, when hearing me it hateth, because I testify of it that the the gospel entails so little reproach, and the deeds thereof are evil.”
profession of religion is so cheap, having beSecondly, Persons are sometimes induced come so common. Let me therefore beseech to take up the form of godliness through the you to examine yourselves by this solemn influence of their connexions. From some test; and to inquire, whether you have the of them they feel the influence of authority ;| power, as well as the form of godliness
. It from some, the influence of friendship; from is a good evidence in your favour, if you are some, the influence of business. For with willing to come to the light; and can even many,“ gain is godliness;" and they assume address yourselves to God in the language of religion because they imagine they can suc- David : “Search me, O God, and know my ceed better in the church than in the world. heart : try me, and know my thoughts : and This often decides the place of their hearing. see if there be any wicked way in me, and Some of them also pay for seats in several lead me in the way everlasting. places of worship-it makes them known- And be it remembered, that in a case of and is likely to increase customers.
such vast importance, and where the conseThough religion particularly and practiquences of deception are not to be repaired, cally considered be obnoxious to mankind, yet we cannot be too anxious to be right. It is viewed superficially and in the gross, it com- better to have a timorous conscience, than a monly obtains something like applause; and presumptuous one: and to be unnecessarily few would choose to have any thing to do distressed for awhile, and—be safe—than to with a person who avowed himself to be irre- enjoy a carnal confidence, and— perish for ligious in principle and practice. Many ever! therefore nicely determine the boundary of To induce you to seek after real godliness, safety; and without going so far as to give you would do well to reflect on “ the exceedoffence, they will go far enough to procure ing great and precious promises,” which are respect. Hence, says Henry, “they assume attached to it in the Scriptures of truth. If a form of godliness to take away their re- you have the life and power of religion, you proach, but not the power of it to take away will indeed be engaged in exercises and trials their sin."
which the mere formalist escapes but then Thirdly, They avail themselves of the form you will have privileges and hopes of which of godliness to preserve peace within. For he can never partake. He does not go
far without something of religion, conscience enough to relish its enjoyments or amass its would rage and clamour; but by means of this, riches. But for this shall every one that is it is amused and quieted; and this renders it godly pray unto thee, in a time wben thou so extremely dangerous. For, engaged in a mayest be found : surely in the floods of great number of duties, he presumes on the good-waters they shall not come nigh unto him." ness of his state; and feeling no fear, he “ The Lord hath set apart him that is godly makes no inquiry. The man is secure with- for himself.” “ Bodily exercise profiteth litout being safe; and while “poor towards tle: but godliness is profitable unto all things God,” supposes himself to be rich, and in- having promise of the life that now is and of creased with goods, and to have need of no that which is to come. .” For eternity-here thing."
is the assurance of deliverance from every But what is the hope of the formalist evil, the possession of all good, the vision and though he has gained ?" "And what does he the presence of their Lord and Saviour for gain? He may pass for religious in the ever. And for time-here is the certainty opinion of his fellow-creatures, and lull con- not of health, of property, of ease and friendscience to sleep—But does he obtain the ap- ship—but what is far better—the persuasion
, probation of God? Can he possibly elude that all things shall work together for good his discernment ? “His eyes are as a flame to them that love God, to them that are the of fire,” which will pierce through every pre-called according to his purpose !" tension, and consume every disguise. No. “Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto “ He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; me, as thou usest to do unto those that love neither is that circumcision, which is out I thy name!"
DISCOURSE XXXIII. the derangement of one of which brings on
the dissolution of the whole—the wonder is,
that we ever live a single day to an end ! AUTUMN.
Accordingly many are carried to the grave We all do fade as a leaf !—Isaiah lxiv. 6.
as soon as they are born. They open their
eyes on a vale of tears; weep and withdraw. The inspired writers often send us to the Others grow in stature, become lovely in animal, and even to the vegetable worlds for form, engaging in manners, amiable in teminstruction: and it must be confessed, that per, and promising as to wisdom and virtue; they are wonderfully adapted to strike and to these live long enough to engage the affecadmonish us.
tions of their relatives, and then leave them The misfortune however is, that “ seeing mourning and “refusing to be comforted bemany things, we observe not.” The means cause they are not.” Others advance further, of instruction are plentifully dispensed, but a form connexions, and enter on their busy mind to use them is rarely found.
schemes—but " in that very day, their Yet such a mind it behoves us to cultivate. thoughts perish.” Sometimes wars, famines, And when the attention is awakened, and we pestilences, and earthquakes, receive a comare willing to learn, every thing becomes a mission to destroy. These may be compared teacher or a monitor. “The heavens declare to storms, which desolate a whole forest at the glory of God. All his works praise him.” once, and cover the ground with foliage. The
ravens encourage us to trust in him for When a leaf falls it drops irrecoverably. food; and the lilies for clothing. His voice It is otherwise with the tree: “there is hope is heard in the thunder : he whispers also in of a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout the breeze: and even a falling leaf preaches again, and that the tender branch thereof a lesson to man.
will not cease. Though the root thereof wax From our windows, or in our walks, we old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in may now see the trees, shedding their ho the ground, yet, through the scent of water, nours.—Isaiah tells us that this is an emblem it will bud and bring forth boughs like a of ourselves" For we all do fade as a leaf." plant.” But the leaf has no second spring:
It is observable that he does not compare it can never be revived. And man is like it. life to a tree. An oak by slow degrees rises " Man dieth and wasteth away, yea, man to perfection, and long maintains its glory. giveth up the ghost and where is he !-Man For ages it defies the fury of the elements, lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens and at last, after long and repeated assaults, be no more, they shall not awake, nor be it gradually decays, or sullenly submitting to raised out of their sleep.” Oh! could prayers the axe, sinks slowly and crashing upon the and tears bring him back, and rejoin him to ground. Many trees are much less solid and the living! But all is vain —And equally durable than the oak. But man is compared vain are all our wishes and our endeavours to none of them-his image is " a leaf." to prevent the doom! “O remember that
A leaf while it hangs on, adorns the my life is wind; mine eye shall no more see branches and looks beautiful; it is the shel- goud. The eye of him that hath seen me ter of the fruit and the dress of the tree; it shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon waves to the wind and murmurs to the ear. me, and I am not. As the cloud is consumed. But how weak, how frail is it! By what a and vanisheth away; so he that goeth down slender bond does it retain its situation! How to the grave shall come up no more. He small a force is required to bring it down to shall return no more to his house, neither the ground! where it soon mixes with the shall his place know him any more. earth, and is no more to be distinguished But the main thing intended in the image, from it.
is the short continuance of its being, and the A leaf does not always endure a whole still shorter duration of its vigour and verseason. It is exposed to a thousand disasters. dure. Be favourable, ye winds, and, ye beasts It is often crushed in its prime. Insects of the field, come not to devour-let the leaf gnaw it off; the beasts of the field may de- remain and flourish. How contracted the your it; winds may scatter it; or it may be measure of its existence—and of its glory! shaken down with the fruit. And, between When Jacob was asked how old he was, he the diseases and accidents to which human answered, “ The days of the years of my pil. nature is liable, few of the human race com- grimage are one hundred and thirty years: paratively attain old age. The Jews formerly few and full of evil have been the days of the reckoned up nine hundred and three diseases; years of my pilgrimage: and I have not atbut accidents are absolutely innumerable. A tained unto the days of the years of the life vapour may cause death: our houses may of my fathers, in the days of their pilgrimbury us in their ruins: our food may poison age." But if he fell short of the age of his us. When we consider the extreme delicacy ancestors, we come vastly short of his. That of the human frame, and the multiplicity of man is old. Ask him how many annual pefine and tender parts of which it is composed, Iriods of time he has passed through? “Three