« PoprzedniaDalej »
consequences, can throw around it, stands confest an impious perversion of this noble gift, to the dishonor of the Great Giver, the undermining of confidence among men, and the degradation of the human character. For this complication of guilt, an awful condemnation is revealed from Heaven. It may now be unheeded; the ear may be deaf to it; the trifling and unthinking mind may not stop to regard it; the hardened heart may mock at it; yet liars will find their portion with him, one of the worst representations of whose character, given in Holy Writ, is, that he is a liar, and the father of lies.
In the simplicity that is in CHRIST, brethren, avoid this guilt, and escape this awful danger. Let your yea
Let your yea be yea, and your nay nay.
No interest to be answered by equivocation and falsehood is a counterbalance to its iniquity. No present relief it may afford is to be compared with the sweet consciousness of having held fast your integrity. No gloss of custom can make that true which, in its very terms, is false, or separate from it the degrading character, and the threatened recompense, of lying.
Grossly inconsistent, too, with the simplicity that is in CHRIST, are vanity and pride in intercourse with fellow men. Whether these appear as ambition, aspiring to be great at the expense of the happiness of others; as spiritual pride, puffed up with the idea of superior holiness, and manifested by supercilious deportment, an uncharitable tongue, and unkind tempers and dispositions ; as self-elation, quick in apprehending injury or insult, and inexorable in demand for vengeance; as vain confidence in intellectual or spiritual superiority, impatient of denial, overbearing in the advancement of opinion, or unjust or unkind towards the sentiments of others; as pride of birth, wealth, station, or person ; as insensibility to the privations and miseries of others; in whatever shape they appear, they are hostile to the spirit of our holy religion. Let Christians beware of their corrupting influence. Ministering here either perpetual uneasiness, or a species of joy and satisfaction unworthy of an intelligent being, they cannot but be highly offensive to God, and exposed to the severity of His just indignation.
Lastly, in our personal characters, the simplicity that is in Christ should conspicuously appear.
And this will naturally be the case, if we imbibe the spirit connected with the particulars of the virtue already considered. They will lead to that humility, artlessness, and sincerity, which will throw over the whole character purity, loveliness, and attraction. Mildness and gentleness, will take possession of the heart, and influence the life. Conscious integrity, and singleness of purpose, will preserve the mind from the degrading, self-tormenting, and extensively unhappy influence of a jealous and suspicious temper. Moderation, temperance, and gratitude, will impart to the gifts of Heaven their highest enjoyment. Covetousness, ostentation, and extravagance, will give place to Christian feelings of stewardship in the possession of the gifts of Providence, for the good of others, and the glory of the Giver. The miseries of selfishness will be lost in the delights of fidelity in social duty; and the high head, the affected look, and the sullen temper, of spiritual pride, be exchanged for the meekness, kindness, and cheerfulness of the Gospel
Cultivate, my brethren, this simplicity that is in Christ. Take heed lest your minds be corrupted from it. The pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and the love of the applause of men, are its active enemies. Be true, then, to the conditions of your covenant in CHRIST, and renounce them. Strive to be preserved from their influence, that you may possess and manifest the pure, holy, humble, and ingenuous character of the followers of the Lamb.
Thus, in reference to God, your fellow men, and yourselves, you are to preserve the simplicity that is in CHRIST. It is a heavenly virtue, for the possession of which, you should seek divine grace, with a diligence and sincerity proportioned to its infinite importance.
No means, accompanying your prayers, can be more promising of success than diligent and careful study of the character of our blessed LORD, and of his first disciples, as given in the inspired pages, and in the records and remains of primitive Christian antiquity. To the religion of that period, when frequent and cruel persecution had a powerful tendency to check insincere professions, and preserve purity of faith, picty, and morals, and the immediate influence of the personal ministry of Clinist and his apostles yet
shed its blessings on the church, we may safely look for the doctrine and practice which constitute the true simplicity that is in CHRIST. The nearer we conform to them, the less shall we be in danger of being corrupted from that simplicity. The best prayer that we can offer for ourselves, for society, and for the church, is, that the spirit of those times may be revived among us; and upon the principles then prevalent, all Christians be united in one body; and as then, be distinguished from the world, not only by profession, but in life and conversation.
JESUS CHRIST THE ONLY SOURCE OF REST
BY WILLIAM L. JOHNSON,
RECTOR OF CRACE CHURCH, JAMAICA, L. I.
John, vi. 68.-" Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shull we go? Thou hast
the words of eternal life."
The discourse of our LORD, recorded in this chapter, unfolds many of the most essential truths of his gospel. The words which dropped from his blessed lips on this occasion were indeed spirit and life. Speaking with great authority and intelligence he unlocked the heavenly treasures ; he proposed them as worthy of the most ardent pursuit of an immortal soul ; and showed by what means they were to be obtained. “Labor not," said he, "for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you." He declares himself a sufficient and willing Savior, when he says, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger ; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
He shows the absolute necessity of that intimate union with Him, which is
effected by his Spirit in the operations of faith ; the happy result of which is a participation of his anointing. This unspeakable benefit he expresses in the following strong and metaphorical terms: “I am the bread of life. This is the bread which cometh down from Heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever ; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Verily, verily I say unto you, except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father : so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” When this doctrine and these expressions were by many literally understood, our Savior immediately directed to a spiritual apprehension of them; and intimated, from his approaching ascension, that they could not possibly be meant in a carnal sense. “What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth ; the fesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you,” that is, my doctrines, “they are spirit, and they are life.”
Further, he shows that salvation is not of man, but of God: that we are entirely dependent upon Him for illumination to discern the truth, and for ability to embrace the blessings of his gospel : and thus, to drive us from every false hope, and bring us to the only foundation on which we can rest with safety, he explicitly declares, "No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” And again, “No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."
This exposition of bis heavenly doctrines, and the faithfulness and love which prompted him to declare them, one would truly
think, ought certainly to have conciliated his hearers, and attached his professed followers more closely to his person. But these truths were too spiritual, and too humiliating for the generality to relish. As it often happens, they were well enough pleased with the exterior of the sanctuary; but had neither taste to discern those beauties, nor desire to possess those treasures, which make its inmost recesses glorious. The doctrine of man's impotency mortified their pride ; of spiritual union to the LORD JEsus, opposed their carnal views; of sanctification, was adverse to their corruptions. They murmured; they were offended ; and, it is added, “ from that time many of the disciples went back, and walked no more with him." It was a season of general defection among those who professed to be Christ's followers. It would seem the far greater portion had entirely renounced his authority, and thrown contempt upon his pretensions; for they walked no more with him." ” Their example, no doubt, had its effect; and the poison began to insinuate itself into the hearts of Christ's real disciples. There was but a small number that still adhered to their Master. The thousands which had followed him, were no longer seen in his train. Those that were left, disheartened and disappointed, were in danger of becoming the victims of false shame. Even the twelve, the intimate friends of Jesus, and the chosen heralds of his gospel, appear to have been offended at this unexpected event, and to have had their faith greatly shaken. But the compassionate Savior, who knew their weakness, and the severity of the present trial, soon affords them seasonable relief. By a single question he brings to their recollection the wonderful displays of his power and grace; their inviolable obligations of attachment to his person and his cause; and the endearing relation which subsisted between him and them. “He said unto the twelve, will ye also go away ? This address instantly touches their hearts, and revives the languishing flame of their love. Returning hope and confidence strengthen their holy resolution never to forsake him ; and prompt them to reply, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."
In this their confession of the Messiah is implied--a conviction of the insufficiency of all human means for the attainment of