Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

his neighbour greatly; and longs to love him as wholly and absolutely as he loves himself. He loves “ the household.of faith.” He would gladly do good to men, and in every way glorify God: and while he is cheered, amidst the frowns and scorns of an ungodly world, by the assurance of a gracious recompence for “ his work and labour of love :" yet if any good were practicable by him, for which he was sure, never to be the better himself, either in this world or in the next, he would not decline it; because he loves God, and man, and holiness: nor would he, in his better judgment, commit sin, if he could possibly be assured, that he should in no way suffer by it; because he abhors it as the greatest of evils. "How ♡ shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer $6 therein."1" His seed remaineth in him, and he s cannot sin, because he is born of God." A tender mother will not decline the most self-denying attention to her darling child; because she is not, as a hireling nurse, to receive wages for her labour and trouble: nor would she injure it, even if she could be assured of escaping all punishment. Love would suffice in both cases. A servant works for his hire ; and a slave from fear of punishment; each alike from mere self-love; even when they dislike both their master and their work; and commonly they will do more, than is necessary for this selfish purpose : but a dutiful affectionate son will labour, with alacrity, from love to his father; and because he accounts his father's interest, credit, or comfort, in some respects, his own; nor will he need to be deterred by fear of punishment, from doing those things, which he knows will grieve and displease his kind and honoured parent. This is the precise difference between “the “ spirit of bondage" and " the spirit of adoption :" now Christians “ have not received the spirit of “ bondage again to sear,—but the Spirit of adoption, « whereby they cry, Abba, Father :" and thus, by producing filial confidence, reverence, and love, " the Spirit himself witnesses with their spirits, that " they are the sons of God." Under this sacred constraining influence; the question is not, "How ' much must I do, to escape punishment,' or to obtain salvation ? but " What can I render to the " Lord for all his benefits?!" What can I further do to glorify God my Father, and to adorn and recommend the gospel of my beloved Saviour? In what way can I do most good for his sake, to his brethren and my brethren; after his admired example ? or how promote the best interests of mankind, even of mine enemies and persecutors ? “Here “ am I, send ine." • Employ me, O my gracious

* Rom. vi, 2.

1 1 John iii.9.

Lord and Father, in whatever way thou seest good; and I shall count every “ labour of love," which * thou wilt enable me to perform, an additional

• favour conferred 'on me." Now therefore, O : « LORD my God, we thank thee, and praise thy 6 glorious name. But who am I, and what is my “ people, that we should be able to offer so willingly

after this sort? For all things come of thee, and

[ocr errors]

s of thine have we given thee."! Beyond doubt, this is the spirit, with which the blessed inhabitants of heaven, “ serve God day and night;" and find that service their liberty and pleasure: and how can they be “ meet to be partakers of the inheritance“ of the saints in light,” who have not, in a measure, the same main-spring of activity, and who are not capable of delighting in the same employments and services here on earth ? · The Scripture, in exhorting believers to good works, by no means exclusively addresses their selflove, in any form, but the higher principle of love to God and man. “Let your light shine before “ men, that they may see your good works, and “ glorify your Father which is in heaven."? " That " the word of God be not blasphemed.” “That he “ who is of the contrary part may be ashamed, “ having no evil thing to say. of you.” “ That they “ may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all “ things."3 “ That with well doing ye may put to “ silence the ignorance of foolish men.” “ That, ." whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they “ may by your good works, which they shall behold, “ glorify God in the day of visitation.” « That “ whereas, they speak evil of you, as evil doers, " they may be ashamed, that falsely accuse your 66. good conversation in Christ.”4 No doubt a gracious recompence is frequently connected with exhortations to duties, especially such as are peculiarly,

,i Chron. xxix. 13--18. ? Matt. v. 16.
3 Tit. ii. 5.8, 10. 4.1 Pet, ii, 12. 15. iii. 16..

self-denying; and our faith must be shewn by our works, in order that it may be approved to be living and genuine: but the general style of scriptural exhortation, especially in the New Testament, proposes motives taken from the honour of the gospel, the glory of God, the love of Christ, love of the brethren, and good will to mankind at large; rather than from any thing immediately connected with the salvation of the persons exhorted; except as some doubt is intimated, that they are in danger of deceiving themselves.

P. clvii. l. 1. "I can shew, &c.'? Only faith saved the thief upon the cross; and only faith saves any man: for the will, and the power, of doing good works, is a part of his salvation. “ His name " shall be called Jesus; for he shall save his people “ from their sins.”2 “By grace are ye saved, through « faith."-" We are his workmanship, created in 66 Christ unto good works, which God hath before « ordained, that we should walk in them." Thus they are necessary to salvation ; for salvation would be wholly incomplete without them; or at least the

ir I can shew a man that by faith without works lived, and • came to heaven : but without faith never man had life. The “thief, that was hanged when Christ suffered, did believe only, " and the most merciful God justified him. And because no man • shall say again, that he' lacked time to do good works, for else • he would have done them; truth it is, and I will not coptend

therein : but this I will surely affirm, that faith only saved him.' " li he had lived, and not regarded 'faith, and the works thereof, « he should have lost his salvation again.' (Homily of Works, quotation from Chrysostom.)

Matt, i. 21. 3. Eph. ii. 8-10..

disposition to love and perform them. If salvation, from wrath and guilt, could be separated from salvation from sin ; the person thus saved would to eter,: , nity bear the image of the devil, be utterly incapable of happiness, and in himself very miserable, though exposed to no positive punishment.--It may pass, in a general discourse, to speak of the thief upon the cross as saved without works: but, in fact, his faith was shewn by his works, in a highly satisfactory manner. “ He confessed Christ before men,” even when he hung upon the cross, surrounded with insulting enemies, and forsaken by his disciples. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, 6 and with the mouth confession is made unto salva5 tion." He humbly acknowledged that he deserved the excruciating death, which he was suffering; and this was an indication of deep repentance, and patient submission to the will of God. He de. declared, that Jesus “ had done nothing amiss :" and if so, then he was “ Christ the Son of the living « God." He rebuked his fellow sufferer, and ex. postulated with him, as “ not fearing God,” even when suffering death for his crimes; which was an act of zeal for the honour of the reviled Saviour ; and of love to the soul of his fellow-sufferer. “ Behold he prayeth !" He “ called on the name of “ the Lord Jesus, Lord, remember me, when thou “ comest into thy kingdom." But " whosoever

calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

· Rom. x, 10. See also Matt. x. 32, 33, Luke xii. 8, 2.
4 Luke xxiii, 39-43.

« PoprzedniaDalej »