« PoprzedniaDalej »
together for" their good.” If we could be assured that we belonged to this highly favored class; that we did truly ask in the right way, through the all-prevailing name, I am quite sure that our imaginations could not conceive of language more appropriate, more rich, more eloquent, and every way more full of consolation, than the words of the promises of God in CHRIST JESUS. The Christians who first heard and received them, were often known, as well they might be, to sing songs of exultation and joy in their dungeons, whilst smarting under the terrible effects of scourging and chains; nay, they were sometimes heard to say that they always,- even in bonds, imprisonments, and deaths,—that they always triumphed in CHRIST; and in truth they were taught such an uncommon estimate of things that one of them has written, “To us it is given”_-speaking of it as the highest favor and privilege,"to us it is given in behalf of CHRIST, not only to believe on his name, but also to suffer for his sake."
4. If these are the feelings, the bursts of strong emotions from the hearts of those who have truly been taught to trust in God, we may expect a similar strain of wonderful and triumphant argumentation. That they could and did argue thus, our text is a blessed example and proof. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not, with him, also freely give us all things?” Here are astonishing promises indeed, the love of the Father of the Universe shown, by delivering up his own Son to shame, and suffering, and death, for us miserable sinners. And what a glorious inference this! "How will he not with him, freely give us all things.” If this is not divine and transcendently glorious reasoning, than I know not what is. After strictly examining it, must we not admit that God has been at infinite pains that we should have strong consolation, we, who “have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us in the Gospel ?"
Very briefly, such my brethren, are a few of the strongest encouragements we have for trusting in God. Amid this changeful and dying world there is no other refuge for us; and we have in His character, and in the word of his oath and promise, the highest assurances that he is able and willing to help and to save to the uttermost. Nay, more, He bimself, puts petitions and arguments into our mouths, which carry along with them divine evidence of their truth and power, and will assuredly, if our hearts employ them, bring down the richest blessings from above.
But, with deepest solicitude may we ask, to whom these promises, and the privilege of trusting in the Most High God, truly belong? Do they belong to me? Do they belong to all of us ? Are they our birthright? Is there no crime-no course of life by which they can be forfeited ? Surely we cannot employ a few moments more profitably than by endeavoring to solve these questions.
It is evident then, I think, that the privilege of reposing un. doubted confidence in the promises of God, and applying them to our own case, does not belong, as a matter of course, to every son and daughter of affliction. For the idea inseparable from a privilege is, that it is not common to all; if it were, how could it be said that some enjoy a distinction or privilege above the rest ? It is equally evident that those who never think of the promises; who have no wish for those blessings to which they relate ; who never ask them of God, or look to them for comfort; can have no shadow of claim to them : such, most assuredly, have neither part nor lot in these things. It is perfectly evident, therefore, that some specification is necessary. And surely none can have so good a right to point out to whom the promises belong, as He who hath been pleased freely to make them. And the diligent student of the Bible will be struck, perhaps, with nothing more than that almost every specific promise-certainly the greatest and best of the promises--are immediately connected with some intimation, or some description or other, of the class of persons, the kind of characters, for whom the promise is meant. Of this the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount furnish a striking example ; —there being remarkable appropriateness in the promise, to the description of character to which it belongs. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain
“ mercy-Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," &c.
In the Epistles the same principle evidently prevails. Who are they for whom all things shall work together for good ? even those "who love God, and are called according to his purpose.” Who are they " whose light afflictions shall work out for them a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory?" even those who look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen ?” Who are they who may humbly urge the argument of our text, and ask for "all things ?" None surely but believers in the sacrifice of Christ, and thankful receivers of the benefits of his cross and passion!
This course of argument and the whole tenor of the foregoing discourse, lead naturally to the following reflections:
1. The appropriate, the peculiarly precious promises of the Gospel, belong only to those who are truly sorry for their sins; who sincerely believe the promises of God in Christ Jesus; to those who daily repair to these promises as the main pillar and ground of their hope and comfort; to those who plead for the fulfilinent of these promises, as far the greatest of all blessings; to those who are endeavoring to please God in newness of life, and whose most precious hopes and consolations, for time and eternity, are derived from a simple, child-like reliance upon the truth of God, in all his gracious promises.
2. If this be true, then the condition of the thoughtless gay, and of the prayerless rich and prosperous, is unspeakably miserable? For, what is youth; what is wealth ; what the flush of prosperity; what the spring-tide of life? They are but the sweetness of morning, before the darkness of night-the brilliancy of the cloud, before the bursting of the tempest—the calmness of an Italian evening, before the eruption of a volcano. One of their own prophets, a poet of their own, hath written
“What are the pleasures of this life, in sooth,
A torrent's smoothness ere it dash below."
Then who, if the promises of God are not theirs, who shall stand by them, when youth and health are exchanged for sickness and coming death-when prosperity shall, as shortly it must, be succeeded by adversity and sorrow? Who will stand by these wretched, deserted sufferers, when earth is receding from their grasp, and the promises of God are not theirs? Imagination cannot conceive a victim of wretchedness more utterly desolate than a lover of the world, torn from all that his heart pants after and adheres to; whilst the Heavens above him are gathering blackness, and he is compelled to feel to what eternal beggary and wretchedness he has reduced himself, by heaping up treasures upon earth, without a thought of making himself rich towards God. Think of this, ye who are now flushed with prosperity, and be persuaded to lay up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come! Think of this, ye whose sense of dissatisfaction and wretchedness already warns you that, aside from the favor of God, there is no happiness; and over whose prospects the shadows of disappointment, and the forebodings of approaching death, are already spread ? And oh! be entreated to exchange your dross for gold; be persuaded to accept of the promises of God for your portion, and to live upon them, in humble hope, as your all in all. . 3. To draw these remarks towards a conclusion, let us, my dear Christian brethren, diligently examine into the evidence of our being the children, and the heirs of God's gracious promises in JESUS CHRIST; for if we can settle the point that we are in our hearts truly sorry for our sins; that we steadfastly believe the promises of God, and desire nothing in comparison with an interest in them; if we do rest upon them, and daily plead them, with our covenant-keeping God, and cleave to them as to our last hope, and only refuge; then it matters exceedingly little what forms of sorrow haunt our imaginations, or mar our present peace; it matters, too little to be thought of, what difficulties or discouragements beset our path ; " for if God be for us, who can be against us." "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not with him also freely give us all things."
It will not do for our doubts and fears to rise up alarmed, and say-such blessings can never belong to creatures stained with sin as we have been: such promises cannot be the portion of such wayward, ungrateful, and unprofitable servants as we are. It is no such thing. The promises are for the unworthy, the guilty, and the miserable, provided they are only, at the same time, the penitent, and the sincere.
The saints of old doubtless felt and said just what you now say and feel; and yet which of them was not the special care of the
unchangeable Jehovah. What, if the fulfilment of his promises was long delayed ;-his oath and his faithfulness never changed. Moses was forty years old before the predictions and wonders attendant upon his birth seemed to be even in the way of their accomplishment. And then how was it at first ? disaster and exile !--exile of another forty years continuance was the result of the first striking event which marked his life. Yet he was patient all these long years, for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible. "He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, because he had respect unto the recompense of reward.” Be not depressed, then, humble believer, “ The LORD is not slack concerning his promises, as some men count slackness." For “He seeth the end from the beginning," and through the darkest and most disastrous hours is steadily aiming at the good of all those who trust in Him.
Why then, beloved friends, do we so often have occasion to rebuke ourselves for unbelief? Why are we so slow to take the promises as ours ? to apply them to our own case, and to live upon the precious things which they provide for us? In times past we have come- at least we have tried to come--even to the very feet of Him who has loved us, and died for us, and to cast our cares upon him. We have felt the insupportable burden of guilt removed by trusting in Him, and in Him alone. We resort to him daily, to cast our souls and the souls of our children, and of our beloved friends, upon him anew. And when we look forward through the dark vista of approaching years, anticipate the evils which must befal our children in the latter day, and act over in imagination the last hours of our own suffering lives, what can we do—what comfort can we find, but just to come to the holy and merciful Savior, as we first came to Him, weary and heavy laden, and to trust him wholly for our entire salvation ? Are we enabled to do this with some measure of joy and peace? Can we do it with humble hope and holy confidence ? Oh! then if we can trust Him for the greater, why cannot we trust Him for the less? If we can trust our souls in his hands, why not trust the interest of our perishable BODIES to his care? If we can find peace, whilst leaning upon his arm, and crossing the cold, deep waters of Jordan, is it not a