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Egypt, and yet perished in the wilderness, are held forth to us as a warning to make a due improvement of the mercies we have received". Our Lord also bids us to "remember Lot's wife." To every one of you, then, I would say, Employ your time, and put forth all your powers, in the service of the Lord. This is to every one of you a day of grace, a day of salvation. The Gospel now sounds in your ears. The Saviour is proclaimed to you in all the wonders of his love and mercy; and not one of you that will call upon him, shall be rejected. On the other hand, if, like Capernaum, you are exalted in your privileges, like Capernaum, shall you also be distinguished by a heavier condemnation, if you abuse them.]
2. For our encouragement
[If only we will engage diligently in the work assigned us, verily "our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord." Hear what blessed encouragement is afforded us by an inspired Apostle: "Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall not be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; but so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." What can any of us desire more than this? We would not wish to have our own labours dispensed with: all that any of us can wish, is, to be assured that they shall be effectual to the desired end. In the name of Almighty God, then, I declare to all of you, that to him who will employ his talents "shall more be given, and he shall have abundance;" abundance here, for more special improvement; and abundance hereafter, as his recompence of reward'.]
Luke xix. 27. Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. IN any assembly of Christians, there appears, externally, but little difference between one and another:
for, as all profess the same faith, it may be supposed they stand nearly on the same footing as it respects the eternal world. But amongst them, if there be found many" friends" of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be acknowledged and rewarded by him in the future judgment, there will also be found many who, as enemies, shall be made objects of his everlasting displeasure. To assist you, my brethren, in ascertaining to which party you belong, and what sentence from him you are to expect, I will endeavour to shew
I. Who are they whom Christ will account his enemies
We, in general, number none amongst his enemies except those who have been guilty of some very flagrant transgression; and even for them we find so many excuses, that we are ready to acquit them of any intentional disrespect to him. But he will judge by a very different standard from that which we adopt. He will inquire, What has been our regard for him, and what our conduct in reference to his revealed will?
He requires all to take upon them his light and easy yoke
[He has a right to demand this at our hands. As our Creator, he may well expect that every faculty we possess should be employed for him. As our preserver, in whom we live and move and have our being, he is yet further entitled to every service which we can render to him. Above all, as our Redeemer, who "has bought us with the inestimable price" of his own blood, he may well expect that we live only for him, and that "our whole body, soul, and spirit be sanctified to his service.]
In what light, then, must he view us, if in this we counteract his will?
[Can he call us his friends? or can we flatter ourselves that we have any title to be regarded by him under that character? If" we will not that he should reign over us," that very disposition is itself an irrefragable proof that we are "enemies to him" in our hearts: we are enemies to his will, his kingdom, his glory. We cannot serve God and mammon too: whichever we affect, we must of necessity hate and despise
the other. We may think this " an hard saying:" but there is no such thing as neutrality in reference to God: "Whosoever will be the friend of the world, he is thereby constituted the enemy of God"
Supposing such persons to be justly designated the enemies of Christ, let us consider,
II. What is the judgment that awaits them—
They will certainly be distinguished by the Judge of quick and dead
[Men in this world, who can judge only by the outward appearance, may easily be mistaken in their estimate of human character: but to Him who will decide the destinies of men, the most secret recesses of their hearts are open. He will discern with infallible certainty what their true character was: to his all-seeing eye it will be as obvious as to us is the difference between sheep and goats. And when he shall say to his angels, "Bring them hither," there will be no possibility of escape. None can hide themselves so as to escape their search; nor can any resist the power that summons them to his presence.]
Then will be inflicted on them the threatened judg
[Capital punishment amongst men is merely a privation of life: but the punishment that will be inflicted on the enemies of Christ will be of perpetual duration. There is "a lake of fire and brimstone, into which they will be cast;" and "the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever and ever." This the Prophet Nahum distinctly affirms: "God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth: the Lord revengeth, and is furious: the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies." The Psalmist also, if possible, yet more pertinently declares, "Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies; thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them."]
1. Those who think this a hard sentence
[Let me ask, What can you reasonably expect? Can you suppose that God will "put no difference between his friends and his enemies; between those who serve him, and those who serve him not?" But you think that God will proclaim a
a Matt. vi. 24.
b Jam. iv. 4. See the Greek.
d Ps. xxi. 8, 9.
e Mal. iii. 18.
general amnesty; since he is too great to be affected by any thing that we have done, and too good to notice it with such severity. Amongst earthly governments, a general amnesty may well be proclaimed, and punishment be limited to those who have been the ringleaders in rebellion. Indeed, a monarch who should proceed to extremity with all who have risen up against him, might almost depopulate his empire; and, if he exercise mercy, the pardoned rebels may richly repay him by their fidelity in future. But God needs not us, nor can ever be repaid by us, for any lenity which he may exercise. He must and will fulfil his own word, and will execute judgment on all impenitent transgressors. And the only hope that remains for us, is, to humble ourselves before him, and to seek for mercy through that very Saviour, against whom we have rebelled.]
2. Those who acquiesce in it
[Many acquiesce in the declarations of God as true, who by no means approve of them as good: and I pray you, brethren, not to confound these ideas, or to give yourselves credit for the better feeling, because you cannot divest yourselves of that which forces itself irresistibly upon you. Never imagine that you are right in the sight of God, till you delight in the Redeemer's yoke as light and easy, and are ready, as faithful subjects, to lay down your lives in his service.]
OUR LORD'S TRIUMPHANT ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM. Luke xix. 37, 38. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the Disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
DURING the greater part of our Lord's ministry upon earth, he abstained, for the most part, from an avowal of his Messiahship, especially when conversing with the Scribes and Pharisees: he rather left it to be inferred from his words and actions, than asserted it in plain terms. Two reasons he had for this reserve: one was, to prevent his zealous followers from proclaiming him a king; and the other was, to keep the wrath of his enemies from breaking forth to the uttermost, before he should have finished the work which
God had given him to do. Now, however, the time being come for him to return to his Father, he openly acknowledged himself to be that King, of whom the Prophet Zechariah had spoken, saying, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass." In general, the fulfilment of prophecy was left to the course of events: but here our Lord himself directed the events which were to accomplish the prediction". The acclamations of the multitude, at the time of his fulfilling this prophecy, will afford us a profitable subject for our present meditation. Let us consider, I. The acclamations themselves—
Doubtless the people at that time had abundant reason to rejoice
[They had long seen the wonderful works which the Lord Jesus had done; and more especially a most stupendous miracle just wrought-the restoring of Lazarus to life, after he had been dead four days. This carried to the minds of multitudes a more than ordinary conviction of Christ's Messiahship; because Lazarus went in and out before them, a living witness of his power: and so universal was this impression, that "the chief priests consulted to put Lazarus to death," in order to remove from before their eyes an evidence which they could not withstand.
Persuaded that he was indeed the Messiah, they welcomed him with suitable expressions of admiration and love. They felt that it was an inestimable privilege to behold Him of whom Moses and the prophets had for so many ages spoken, and whom many prophets and kings had in vain desired to see.]
The particular expressions of their joy must be distinctly noticed
[They were the very terms which David, a thousand years before, had suggested as suited to the occasiond. How far the people used them in their highest sense, we cannot exactly declare. We fear their views of him were too carnal to admit of their entering into the full import of the Psalmist's words. Yet, even in their view of them, the sending of the
a Zech. ix. 9.
b Matt. xxi. 4, 5.