Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

forgiveness, as our divine Lawgiver, he subjects us to his evangelical law, which inculcates universal holiness. As our Almighty Sanctifier, he releases us from the bondage of sin, and grants us grace strictly and universally to obey his holy precepts.

Let us then learn

1. To ascribe our salvation to the free and unmerited grace of God.

JEHOVAH is “our Righteousness." In our fallen state, no arm but his could save us. Our wilful transgressions separated us from the favor of God, and rendered us obnoxious to his justice. Depraved and guilty, we c uld neither make propitiation for the past, nor secure our obedience for the future. So incapable is man, independently of the grace of Jehovah his Righteousness, of any effectual efforts towards his salvation, that his deplorable condition is designated by the emphatic language "dead in trespasses and sins.” Even of the law of God, in its spiritual nature and full extent, unrenewed man is ignorant; for it is an inspired declaration, " The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither indeed can he, because they are spiritually discerned." While he is thus “ alienated from the life of God," and an “enemy to God through wicked works,” it would be folly to suppose that of himself he would break the chains of his bondage, and, renouncing the sins to which, prompted by nature, he is riveted by babit, seek those divine virtues which he has hated and shunned.

No-JEHOVAH alone is our Righteousness. An Almighty Redeemer only could expiate our sins, enlighten us in the knowledge and will of God, and sanctify our corrupt souls. All the means of our justification are the work of a divine power. These gracious means were furnished, not only without any agency of man, but when he was in rebellion against the merciful God, whose purpose it was to save him. “When we were enemies,” saith the apostle, “GOD reconciled us to himself.” Let then "every mouth be stopped, and the whole world confess itself guilty in the sight of God. Let the sinner learn that the first step in his salvation is to humble himself as guilty and helpless, and adoring the unsearchable riches of God's grace, who hath pro

VOL. II.-8

vided the means of his justification, to glory in the " LORD his Righteousness."

2. But while we humbly acknowledge and adore the free grace of God in our salvation, let us remember that there are qualifcations on our part.

The Savior is, indeed, plenteous in redemption; but he dispenses his mercies as Mediator only to those who come unto him. As a Lawgiver, he is infinitely perfect--but he enlightens in the knowledge of that law only the sincere and humble, who seek to know his will. As a Sanctifier, he is Almighty-but he grants his Spirit only in the use of those means which he has enjoined, and the rebellious and obstinate may resist, and quench his holy inspirations. There is salvation in no other but in CHRIST, JEHOVAH our Righteousness.

Would we then, my brethren, secure an interest in him, the only and all-sufficient Savior, let us go unto him, confessing our lost and miserable state, and casting ourselves on his infinite mercy and power as our Mediator. Blind as we are, by nature, to the excellence of divine truth, and indisposed to spiritual things, let us seek his illuminations, and submit ourselves to his authority, as our supreme and righteous Lawgiver. Corrupt and depraved as we are in our natural condition, let us implore his renovating grace as our Almighty Sanctifier, and attend on those ordinances of his Church, which are the means of conveying it. Thus let us seek the Savior, and we shall find him full of grace and truth-the LORD our Righteousness.

Blessed Jesus—be it unto us according to thy word. Pardon, enlighten, sanctify, and finally save us :—that through the ages of eternity we may ascribe unto thee, JEHOVAH our Righteousness, with the FATHER and the Holy Ghost, all power, majesty, and dominion, for ever. Amen.

REBELLION AGAINST GOD:

A Sermon

BY THE REV. THOMAS W. COIT,
RECTOR OF CHRIST CHURCH, CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS.

Isaiah i. 2.-" Hear O heavens! and give ear O earth! for the LORD hath spoken: I have

nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me."

REBELLION is defined to be “an open and avowed renunciation of the authority of the government to which one owes allegiance.” It is considered to imply a bitterer hostility than the violence of menaces of any foreign foe, since such a foe may have some equitable grounds for his opposition, and in any case breaks no bond of fealty. A rebel, by the very title which is applied to him, is supposed to resist where he ought to obey, and to injure where he ought to reverence. His crime, therefore, is considered the highest, perhaps, which can be perpetrated, and also the most excuseless.

If rebellion against a human government be thus criminal, by parity of reason, rebellion against the government of Heaven must be even atrocious. Yet the prophet declares, without preface to introduce, or qualification to soften, that the Israelites were rebels against their benignant Maker.

And, my hearers, had he made a similar averment, not with respect to you only, but to all transgressors, of every name and age, I am constrained to believe that his language would be literally true. In other words, I am constrained to believe that all sin partakes of the nature of rebellion. It is freely acknowledged that this is an idea, mortifying, repulsive, and even awful. It is freely acknowledged that the man who can utter it without pain, is destitute of all correct apprehensions concerning his own wants and exposures, and all genuine sympathy for the wants and exposures of his fellow-creatures. It is acknowledged, also, with equal freedom, that he who can utter it with feelings of triumph or denunciation, is actuated by a spirit scarcely less than diabolical.

At the same time it is maintained that, if it be true, it is of great, nay, of infinite importance, that we should admit it, with all its humiliating consequences. To this every candid and honest mind will unquestionably accede.

Let us then, my brethren, carefully remembering how vast the interests it involves, approach the idea in question, and examine the evidence by which it is supported. Let us approach it with impartial minds and susceptive hearts, never forgetting that it is one in which the speaker is concerned as fully as his hearers—one therefore in relation to which there can be no motive for overstatement.

The criminality of rebellion must, of course, be affected by the nature of the government and administration against which it is exerted. It must be measured by the mildness and propriety of the system whose authority it renounces, and by the patience, lenity, and wisdom, with which that system is administered. If the government be despotic in its character, and administered with implacable or ferocious sternness, it can hardly be unlawful, and may be deserving of commendation. Ifthe government be paternal in its character, and administered with paternal sensibilities, then it must be inexcusable and criminal to a degree absolutely appalling.

It becomes me, then, in the prosecution of this discourse, to dwell, to some extent, upon the nature of the divine government, and the manner in which its precepts are urged, and its sanctions enforced.

1. And, in the first place, you will remark that this government is paternal in the object of its precepts.

A despot seeks his own glory and pleasure rather than the benefit of his people. To him it matters not if his exactions contravene the most obvious and fundamental principles of justice, and drain the life-blood from thousands on thousands, so that his aims of conquest be accomplished, and he reign with broader sway, and more dazzling splendor. To him, too, it matters as little, if thousand on thousands are deprived of comforts, perhaps of necessaries, and compelled to toil, till wornout nature sinks beneath the imposition, so that his passions may be pampered, and his appetites glutted. Cared such men as Alexander, or Napoleon Bonaparte, think you, for the waste of life and treasure which their towering ambition cost ? Cared such as Caracalla, or Helio

gabalus, for the enormous expenditure with which their brutal desires were satiated ? No, my hearers, they lived as though possessed by the idea that the world itself was made for them, and they enjoyed the inalienable right, as well as the indisputable power, to sport with the temporal destinies of mankind.

Now it is the property of a father to look upon his children with sentiments completely different. He regards them as any thing but his slaves, or the menial instruments of his pleasures. He regards them, in themselves considered, as endowed with the same title to happiness as himself. He even reverences that title, and dare not abuse their sacred privileges for purposes at once degraded and selfish. And (which is more) he loves their happiness. He rejoices when they are glad. His continual aim, and one of his most delightful reversions, is to see their countenances illuminated, and their bearts expanded, by rational, pure, and innocent joy. All his discipline has no reference to his personal and independent advantage, but to their highest good. He is their governor, in the sense in which that word was often used in the languages from which it is derived. He is their guide-their guide to virtue, and its sublime and imperishable rewards.

Contemplate the exhibitions of His government and its economy, which God has made in Revelation, and see whether the same dispositions are not manifest in Him. He chooses to apply to himself the most encouraging and endearing epithets, in order to assure men of his tender and inexhaustible interest in their welfare. He calls himself their Shepherd, their Counsellor, their Deliverer, their Father. The whole scheme and tenor of Revelation are a beautiful and affecting illustration of the propriety and significance of these and other epithets, by which He is pleased to designate himself. The entire and simple aim of all and every one of his commands, and the motives by which He urges them, appears to be our advancement in knowledge, holiness, and felicity, that we may be fitted for his own presence, and intimate communion; for the exalted dignities and interminable bliss of the realıns where his honor dwelleth. If men coincided with this aim, if they universally loved and obeyed His statutes, the world would be regenerated, moral evil would be annihilated, and Paradise be regained

« PoprzedniaDalej »