« PoprzedniaDalej »
that "as many as are led by the Spirit of GOD they are the sons of GoD:" and that it is by the receiving of his Spirit that they cry, "Abba, Father." It is GOD therefore as our Father whom we are to worship; and this indeed is the Christian's most precious boon, and his dearest privilege. The ignorant heathen sees his god only in the elements that surround him-in the wind, or in the cold, or in the sun that gives him light. The Jews saw Jehovah in all his terrors, in unbearable majesty and dread: and "not so much as a beast durst to approach the mountain lest he should be consumed alive." But the Christian looks upon GOD, and regards him with feelings expanding with love and reverence, impressed with the hope that he is his Father. In his paternal character he recognises the love of Him who can be "just, and yet the justifier of them that believe;" and is reminded that "GOD sent not his Son into the world, to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." The believer has "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;" and "for this cause he bows his knees to the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the whole family in heaven and carth is named." Has he heard the announcement that no man cometh to the Father but by Christ, and that whoso denieth the Son hath not the Father. And feeling his absolute need of intercession, is he not thankful, that he has an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the righteous? And seeing that he that abideth in Christ hath the Father and the Son, and that the Father hath been glorified in the Son, he knows of a surety that what he asks of the Father in Christ's name, he will give it to him;
and receives with joy the assurance of Scripture, that He whom he worships will be a Father of mercies, and a GOD of consolation.
The Third and last clause of the text describes the disposition, and inward feelings of the true worshippers: they worship the Father IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH." Theirs is no formal service, no language of the mouth, to which the heart is not consenting. Do they break out into thanksgivings for God's mercies received? With all that is within them they praise his Holy Name. they unfold to Him their wants in prayer, beseeching Him who knows their necessities to make suitable provision for soul and body? They are bold in utterance under the teaching of the Holy Spirit who helpeth their infirmities-who, when they know not what to ask for, "maketh intercession for them with groanings that cannot be uttered." Do they ask? They ask with moderation. Do they deprecate? They deprecate in a Spirit of resignation. Do they rejoice? It is in a spirit of purity, and cheerfulness. Do they mourn? They mourn not as those, who mourn without hope-as Rachel mourning for her children, and would not be comforted; but as those who know that GoD will wipe away all tears from off all faces; they know that those who sow in tears shall reap with joy.
They worship him also in truth. To worship GoD in truth, is to worship him according to the knowledge he has revealed of himself, and of his will. Those who know God only by natural religion cannot worship him in truth. The heathen cannot worship him in truth; and this affords a strong argument, for promoting as far as in us lies, the efforts of those Christian men, who would bring them to the knowledge of the true God.
But there are others, who have more opportunity than the ignorant heathen, who yet do not worship him in truth. There may be among our Christian brethren (so called) those who do not worship GoD in spirit, and in truth. There must be an intelligent knowledge of GOD afforded by the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, before we can worship GoD in truth. Can Christianity consist with ignorance? No more than it can consist with unholiness.
Brethren, our children must be instructed in the truths of the Gospel, in a Christian land, before they can be worshippers in spirit and in truth. We must bring them by times to the foot of the cross, to teach them there that Christ would have even the little children brought to him, and that he reproves those who would hinder them from coming, that they may be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And at this point I would desire to bring your thoughts, in conclusion, to the schools in connexion with this chapel.
I have set before you, the nature of the worship rendered by the true worshipper in spirit and in truth. I have desired in dependance on Christ's Holy Spirit to be enabled to put to your own hearts, my Christian brethren, the searching question, whither you have profited by your Christian advantages, and are indeed worshippers in spirit and in truth. And if you are such, I shall not need bring before you any arguments for encouragement in the work of Christian education, or to stir you up to Christian charity towards your brethren poorer in this world's riches, but whose souls are dear to GOD as your own.
I have asked why so few as twentyfour children, are all who are educated in connexion with this chapel: I know, and I bless GOD for it, that
there are other schools connected with this populous neighbourhood towards the support of which this congregation is called on to contribute their charitable aid. But I would gladly see a larger number connected more immediately with yourselves. I learn from those who are engaged on behalf of the twenty-four children, and are endeavouring to train them up in the way they should go, that to extend these benefits to a larger number of children depended upon the extension of your charity, when larger means shall be provided for their accommodation. I would that such a collection be made this day as not merely to provide for the annual expenses of the present school, but so ample that there should be such a
surplus, through the subscriptions, and by means of the annual collections, as may enable the managers of the school to execute the project of building a larger room for the accommodation of more children. In some degree this rests with yourselves: you know the principle object for which these children are educated, and as a parent myself I cannot but feel, as others do, (for there may be many parents now before me) how liable to sin their children are, for whose eternal happiness they are themselves in some degree responsible; to how many dangers they are exposed, by contact with those whose principles are not founded on the eternal word of God. We further these institutions, to provide those whom we place in our nursery, the tenderest objects of our regard, with superintendents who shall give them true Christian principles, which shall enable them to speak a word in season to the charge we commit to them, who shall keep the children back from hurtful communicationsfor "evil communications corrupt good manners."
I feel that I cannot use a stronger argument to excite your charity, than by showing you, that freely ye have received, and that, therefore, you should freely give. May the Lord be pleased to prosper your gift with his blessing, and give an increase, not only
to the state of the children educated here, but may he also enlarge your hearts with a warmer glow of Christian love, and give you a more confirmed faith in Jesus Christ our Lord, that you may be true worshippers of the Father in spirit and in truth.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. ARTHUR T. RUSSEL, B. C. L. VICAR OF CAXTON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE.
AT WEST HACKNEY CHURCH, SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 26, 1833.
1 John, iv. 8.-" He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love."
THESE words of the blessed Evan- he is known to be love. But such is gelist set forth the proper disposition of the mind and affections toward religion-that of love. And they also prove to us the fitness of such a state of the soul from the nature of that obligation upon which our religious duty is built-that God is love.
For not the power, wisdom, and greatness of GOD, but his goodness is that which claims the service of his creatures, and effectually claims it; for love produces gratitude and willing obedience in those toward whom it is exercised. Greatness, it hath been said, may be admired; power may be feared; but it is only goodness that can be esteemed and lovedwhether goodness be in man or in GOD. We are accordingly taught by the blessed Evangelist, that without the union of the heart with the understanding, we cannot conceive rightly of GOD, we cannot enter into the nature of religion, we cannot know the blessedness of their freedom who serve GOD. For He alone serves GOD acceptably who serves Him out of love. Nay, GoD is not known till
the effect of sin that men can love themselves and slight their Maker. They are buried in the deceits of the senses and are lost in the din of earthly sounds; whilst the voice of nature that every where invites them to GOD, passes unheard, and the soul roves in quest of repose, yet ever a stranger to rest, because wandering daily from GOD.
Such in short is the condition of man, that he needs to be reminded that religion is an appointment not less for his happiness than for his Creator's glory; and that to love GoD is the preparation of the heart for true wisdom, security, and pleasure. But men wilfully shut their eyes to this truth, even to such an extent as that they rather turn to the obstacles which imagination throws in the way of reason, when reason would lead us to confess the goodness of God, than silence the objections of their imagination whilst exaggerating the evils they know but in part. Such speculations upon Providence and the world as end in doubt or denial of the
divine goodness, as they are partial, so they may be traced to the narrow mindedness of pride. Pride and love cannot dwell together. The proud man's knowledge must be limited by his pride.
Let every one be assured of this, that pride and hard-heartedness, an overweening conceit of our own powers, and a willingness to fix upon the dark side of things, and to find fault, and to seek difficulties, and make doubts, evince that the mind is not candid but captious, not inclined to the love of truth, but to disputation. And to such, the Almighty and allwise GOD is not careful to show himself. Divine wisdom is surely a gift too excellent for those who cannot even confess that they need it. For as we cannot avoid seeing much that is lovely and excellent in the world, fallen as it is from the glory of Pa- | radise, he, who cannot find in his heart to trace up this to its Author, cannot know him; he can have no will to know him; he cannot think it worth his while to meditate on the books of nature and providence, or to give ear to revelation, who loves not, whose soul is chained down, whose affections are constrained by pride.
So we may see at once the truth of the blessed Evangelist's words, " He that loveth not, knoweth not GOD."
I. Let us now consider How OUR NATURE IS ADAPTED TO ENTERTAIN THE LOVE Of God.
II. How GOD, IN COMPASSION TO OUR NATURE, HAS ADDED EXTRAORDINARY INDUCEMENTS TO LEAD US TO LOVE HIM.
III. HOW THE LOVE OF GOD WITHIN US INCREASES OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. I. Remark HOW OUR NATURE IS ADAPTED TO ENTERTAIN THE LOVE OF GOD. It is prepared for this principle by our natural love of truth and knowledge; by our natural love of goodness, and by our natural desire of love, of some guidance support and friendship, which may give by its presence substance to our happiness, and may make our burdens at least tolerable.
1. Our natural love of knowledge and desire of truth, prepare us to entertain the love of God. For whatever knowledge we seek, whether of nature, or of ourselves, or of the whole course of mankind and the history of the past, all witness to an overruling power; all declare that a Glorious and Uncreated Spirit wrought all things and is in all: which Spirit being itself the most noble object upon which the mind can reflect, the most exalted to which it can soar, raises the desire of the mind above all other things to ascend to it, and to find out what can be known of GOD, the inconceivable Beginning and End, the First and the Last, of all that the understanding can trace. And although this knowledge in all its height and depth is too great for us, it is yet promised to the pure in heart in another world, to an extent which may have a bound, but which yet must be infinitely beyond our present reach.
(To be continued.)
SERMON BY THE REV. A. T. RUSSELL.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 1833.
(Rev. A. T. Russell's Sermon concluded.)
2. Our natural love of goodness leads us up to God. Whence do we learn that God is love, but, in the first instance, from the beautiful variety of delights which the Creator presents to the senses, to the imagination and to the heart, softening our passions, controlling our discontent, reforming the madness of our folly, and melting us into tears of pity and love to all, and even opening to us brighter skies and happier worlds? "When I consider thy heavens, even the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him?" Again, when we look upon the virtue that is in the world, imperfect as much of it is, debased in many by ignorance or by inconsistency, or heightened as it may often be by our affection toward those who possess it, yet can we fail of directing our admiration to the perfect fountain of love, truth, and purity? Can we see less of GOD in the souls he has inspired than in the material creation which he made but for their use?
Wherefore is it that the pride of infidelity itself is sometimes checked by better feelings, and the being who
serves his lusts turns suddenly with awe to GOD, and forgets for a moment his vain philosophy, when the children of light bid him reverence their heavenly Father. Such of you as are drawn aside by the glitter of false sentiment—by passion speciously arrayed in the disguise of honour-by vicious impulses, the warmth of which the world calls nature, if not innocence-could you but imagine how much pleasure is in reality denied to the benevolent through the perversion of their affections; could you but disinterestedly meditate upon that provision for true satisfaction which the path of duty holds out; could you but admire innocence instead of the semblance of it; could you but so learn to love the Creator in his creatures; how would you perceive his love, in forming creatures capable of holiness; how would you hear it calling to you not to injure the works of his hands, the spirits he made for himself! How would the very objects which now tempt to sin, incline you to virtue ! How would the snare of the passions become their restraint, and the very senses themselves, instead of worshipping sense, raise themselves to the love of GOD. Yes; our natural