Obrazy na stronie

Christ, and render unto every man according to his works: to them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.*

O! what a tremendous day will that be, which tears the mask of hypocrisy from the face of sin; which rolls away the stone from off the whited sepulchre; which discloses the chambers of imagery, and discovers the hidden evils of a heart once admired, but now abhorred, by an assembled world.

In that day the wicked will bewail in bitter reproaches their forgetfulness of God, and their love of sin; but this bitterness of soul being utterly destitute of every gracious feeling, will only enhance the sharpness of their torment, and give additional strength to the sting of that worm which never dieth. Thus their self-reproach will be coeval with eternity. Hating God, and hating themselves, and hating the fiends who torment them, they will be wretched beyond all conception. "From everlasting damnation, Good Lord deliver us."

The rebellion of the human heart is most forcibly described by the prophet Jeremiah:-"Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone."........

...... What language can more forcibly depict the amazing power and force of human depravity, breaking through every restraint, and passing over every barrier? By the prophet Ezekiel,‡ the unrenewed heart is called a heart of stone, hard and insensible. These are a few of those scriptures which, like a mirror, show us to ourselves. Oh! that the sight of

* Rom. ii. 16, 6–9. + Jer. v. 22, 23. + Chap. xi. 19.

such deformity may humble every proud pretension to moral excellence, and cause us to seek to that divine and gracious Saviour, who so lovingly gave himself to redeem us from this lost condition.

Lord, unite me to thyself, that I may show forth thy praise, by a life of true humility, purity, and love. Be pleased to give me a new heart and a new spirit; a heart of flesh. Renew my soul in righteousness. Create me anew after thine image. Dwell in my heart by faith. Crucify every unholy affection. Mortify every unhallowed inclination. Wean my heart, O God, from earth, and bind my soul to thee. Be thou the centre of all my desires. May they all settle on thee. Give me clearer views of my real condition as a fallen creature; clearer apprehensions of thy grace in Christ Jesus; and clearer manifestations of thy purposes and love towards my poor sinful soul, that in the full assurance of faith and hope, I may go on from strength to strength, till I appear before thee in Zion.

Every humble student of the Holy Scriptures, that pure fountain of truth, must be convinced that mere head knowledge of the gospel will profit him nothing. However orthodox our opinions may be, they will avail nothing if they merely float on the mind, but never descend into, or influence the heart. However punctual our attendance on the ordinances of religion may be, we shall only resemble the lipserving Pharisees, who drew nigh unto God with their mouths, while their hearts were far from him. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”* "If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham." "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." These are severe words, but they were spoken by Him who is Love, and who knew what was in man. St. Paul * Matt. xxiii. 23. + John viii. 39.

John viii. 44.

points out the difference between the outward rite, and the inward grace, which applies as much to Christian baptism, as it does to Jewish circumcision. "He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."

[ocr errors]

With this accords the command of Moses : "Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked."+ Also the promise of sanctification: "The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."+

This distinction between the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace, is made by Stephen when addressing an assembly of circumcised Jews: "Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."§

When all this is brought to the test of facts, we may ask Was there no difference between the character and spiritual state of John, the beloved disciple, and Judas, the traitor ? Yet both were ordained by Christ to the office of the Apostleship? Was there no difference between Barnabas, "a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost," and Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to the Holy Ghost? Yet, they were equally professing members of the Church at Jerusalem? Was there no difference between the inward state of the baptised Cornelius, to whom was granted repentance unto life; and Simon Magus, who, after baptism, was declared, by the inspired Peter, to be in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity?

If this distinction of character be apparent, even * Rom. ii. 28, 29. + Deut. x. 16. Deut. xxx. 6.

§ Acts vii. 51. || Acts xi. 24.

in the primitive Church, should it be deemed an unwarrantable assumption, as some zealous maintainers of baptismal regeneration affirm, to divide baptised persons, composing the visible Church of Christ, into the godly and the profane?

Bishop Pearson, in his Exposition on the Holy Catholic Church, (the ninth Article in the Apostle's Creed) did not think so. "We must observe," writes this learned prelate, "that the Church, as it embraceth all the professors of the true faith of Christ, containeth in it not only such as do truly believe, and are obedient to the word, but those also which are hypocrites and profane. Many profess the faith, which have no true belief: many have some kind of faith, which live with no correspondence to the gospel preached. Within, therefore, the notion of the Church, are comprehended good and bad, being both externally called, and both professing the same faith.......This is that ark of Noah, in which were preserved beasts clean and unclean.......There are many called of all which the Church consisteth, but there are few chosen of those which are called, and thereby within the Church.”

From this satement of the Bishop, in accordance with the parables of our Lord, and to which he himself alludes, it is evident, that if we be mere nominal Christians, our admittance by baptism into the visible Church, will only aggravate our condemnation. The sin of Hophni and Phinehas was augmented by the sacred office which they held. The crime of David was enhanced by the favours which a God of love had heaped upon him. The condemnation of the cities, where our Lord preached and wrought his miracles, was increased by the light vouchsafed to them. Abused mercies, like the blood of Abel, cry out for vengeance. Sin is deepened in its atrocity, when committed against Light and Love. "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long

ago in sackcloth and ashes.....And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."*

All are equally responsible for the privileges conferred upon them, but are all equally impressed with the importance of their responsibility? Has not our blessed Lord made a distinction between the man who improved his talent, and the slothful servant who hid it in a napkin? Did he not pronounce an encomium of "Well done" upon the one, and a censure, "Thou wicked servant" on the other ?+ This distinction was not made from the inward state of the heart only, but from the diligence of the one, and the slothfulness of the other, agreeably to his own revealed rule of judging: "By their fruits ye shall know them."+

As the Judge of quick and dead, the Almighty Saviour has reserved to himself the work of separation between the sheep and the goats. He knoweth the secrets of all hearts. He can discern his people in the midst of their frailties; and the hypocrite beneath his specious virtues. This is His Prerogative.

But, he has even now drawn a line of demarcation between the godly and the profane. Did not the Lord say to Moses, respecting Korah and his company, "Separate yourselves from this congregation ?" And did not Moses command the people: Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men."§


What said the Lord to Jeremiah?"If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth."|| What was the complaint of the Almighty to Ezekiel, when speaking of Jerusalem ? "Her priests have violated my law,......they have put + Matt. xxv. 23, 26. § Numb. xvi. 21, 26. || Jer. xv. 19.

Matt. xi. 21, 23.

Matt. vii. 20.

« PoprzedniaDalej »