« PoprzedniaDalej »
minded man has his good things now -his purple and fine linen, his sump-tuous fare, his gaities, his vanities, his pleasures; these are his good things, his portion in this life. The true believer, whatever he may have here, has always some better thing to come. His present portion, poor as it may be at times, is far better to a spiritual mind, than the other man's; his crust of bread with the hope of heaven is better than any of this world's dainties without that hope; yet his best and purest joys here, have always to be followed by higher and purer joys hereafter.
And how know we that there is such a continuing city to come? We know it from the best of all authorities-that of the word of GOD who cannot lie. We have a description of that continuing city marked down in the Bible; we have the way that leads to it faithfully pointed out; we hear of those who are already there. What has become, think you, of apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of saints, of our fathers, of the last generation? Are they not all, as many as were truly Christ's, denizens and inhabitants of the heavenly city? Men seem to doubt whether there is any heaven, any hell, any future state, and any GOD. Men do not act so in other things. The merchant believes that there is many a city which he has never seen, and he acts accordingly. There are many moral truths which men believe with the mind, though from their very nature they cannot be demonstrated to the eye. Heaven is a spiritual place, and can only be seen with the spiritual eye; flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." But to the eye of faith it is as clear, that heaven is a city to come, as any object in this place is clear to the natural eye at noon-day. I have no more doubt, that there is a heaven to come, than I doubt my own existence at this
But, lastly, there is a continuing city to come, and we brethren, are to
be seeking it. "We seek one to come." The Apostle could use such hopeful language of the majority of Christians of his day; the majority were faithfully seeking heaven, the nominal professors and the hypocrites were the exceptions. But are you all seeking a city to come? I beg your deepest attention to this point; it may help and encourage you, if you are indeed seeking it; it may help to convince those who are not seeking that heavenly city. If we are seeking that city to come, we are made, through God's grace, deeply sensible of the vanity of the world, the instability of earthly things; we have been led to feel that the world is a scene of danger to our souls; we have discovered our state as sinners guilty before GOD, and our need of a Saviour such as Jesus Christ. If, seeking heaven, we have come to Jesus Christ, and humbly sought for-, giveness, reconciliation, and salvation, through his merits--if we have done this in real earnest, in real sincerity of soul, GOD, who knows all hearts, is our faithful witness; we have fled for refuge to the cross, we have come to Christ as the way of truth and life. If seeking aright the heavenly city, you have discovered that "no man cometh to the Father but by Christ:" the presence of the unpardoned sinner would defile heaven, but nothing that defileth can enter that holy place; therefore sin must be pardoned, if you, a sinner, are saved; but there is no way in which sin once committed can be pardoned of God, but through the mediation of Christ. If you fancy there is some other mode, you may try it, I was going to say, but I would not advise it. It were a bold thing to go and knock at heaven's gate, and say, 'I come in my own name, I demand admittance into heaven as my personal right.' It were a daring enterprise to force your way into heaven contrary to GoD's express word and his declared will. That infidel was a bold, though he was an ignorant man, who said, I want no mercy, I want nothing but justice from God.' But, if seeking aright the heavenly city, you have discovered that Jesus Christ in his
person, work, sufferings, merits, grace, and mercy, is your only, yet sufficient way of access.
But even more is required. It is not enough to know the way to the city: you must also have set out in it, if you would ever reach that city. When you set out on a journey you not only thought and talked of it, made your plans, enquired the road; but on a certain day you rose up early, you laid aside other engagements, you fairly set out. But have you done as much for heaven? You have surely sometimes thought of heaven, sometimes talked of GOD, made some plan, enquired something about the road. Now has there been a certain day in your history-it is not necessary that you should know the very day, it is necessary that you should have done the very thing-has there been a time when you have said, "I will arise and go to my Father." Have you awoke from the sleep of sin, become deeply anxious for your soul, actually and truly come Christ, set out under his faithful guidance for heaven? Has there been a time in your history-now do consider and enquire of yourselves has there been a time when like Lydia, of whom we heard this morning, the Lord opened your heart, that you attended to the word of GOD; or, like the jailor at Philippi, when you were brought to him and cried with trembling, "What must I do to be saved?" or, like the dying thief, when he looked at the crucified Saviour and said, 66 Lord, remember me, now thou art come into thy kingdom." Has the poor publican's prayer ever been the prayer of your heart—"GOD be merciful to me, a sinner?" Have you, like St. Paul, at his conversion, been brought to enquire of Jesus, "Who art thou, Lord?"-what is thy name, thy character, thy will, thy claims on me? Have you asked his other question-"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Have angels cause to say of you as they said of him-" Behold, he prayeth? Have you, with Mary, sat down to learn at the feet of Jesus, and "chosen that good part which shall never be taken from you?" My friends, your Bibles will furnish these
and many like examples and marks
continuing city aright, there is farther,
And now in conclusion, surely this subject will serve, with God's gracious blessing, to convince you of your true state. Where has been the hearing, where the mind, where the conscience, of him who goes away this evening deluding himself that he is seeking heaven when he is walking in the broad way that leadeth to destruction? Surely the subject must often revert to the thoughts of even the most careless amongst us. When you travel from city to city-when you walk in the fields and look towards the great city-when, as you go to and fro from day to day, you observe its secure and massive buildings when you mix in its crowds, take part in its business, or indulge in its
pleasures, I am persuaded you must
I turn to some, for such I am persuaded there are, who have long been seeking a continuing city to come? And of them, I would ask, Do you now repent of your choice? Would you go back to the world of sin.
Have you any complaint to make of religion's ways? Are they not ways of pleasantness, and are not her paths all peace? Have you aught to say against GOD as though he were an hard master-against Christ, though he was an ungracious Lordagainst the Holy Spirit, as though he were a stern teacher? Does not even the question we ask you, whether you doubt God's goodness, give pain to every ingenuous mind? Would you not rather say, "I have very much to complain of in myself, much weariness, much perverseness, much ingratitude, much backsliding; but as for GOD his way is perfect, his name is love, his dealings have all been gracious with me, his very chastenings have been full of kindness?" Well then, trust, love, serve him even to the end; press forward in the strength of Christ; persevere through his eternal grace; walk in fellowship and in love towards all your fellow pilgrims; help each other, by prayer, by example, and by sympathy on the way. Encourage those behind youthe young penitent, the little child, the babe in Christ just setting out. Pity and pray for those who seem determined to walk in that other road; whose impious courses, whose vain life, whose idle words you cannot help sometimes hearing; shudder and pass on; pray for them and pursue your way; do them any good you can, be very ready to return good for evil, but go not with them. Yours is the right road, press therefore forward: mind not difficulties and trials; He who has provided that continuing city at the end will give you grace, and strength, and every needful provision by the way: and then at the end (lo! we shall soon be there) Christ is waiting to receive you, and to lead you round with him to survey the continuing city. Then he will turn to you and affectionately say, "This is my Father's home, and my Father is your Father: this is your home; these are the mansions which I went to the cross, and afterwards came to my Father's right hand, to prepare for you: "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
AT WYCLIFFE CHAPEL, STEPNEY, SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 1, 1833.
Luke, ii. 34.—“ Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.” THE saints of the former economy | assured, by reference to the general had their whole attention directed to one grand event; and that event was, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was promised to them under that dispensation. Every thing present to them pointed to this, every thing present to them prepared them for this, and every thing in that dispensation was entirely subservient to this. The whole of that economy, therefore, is said to have been only a shadow of good things to come: it had in it no substance, it had in it no perpetuity, it had in it no excellence; its excellence was derived from its reference to something beyond itself. It was the shadow of a substance which
had not yet made its appearance; and it was the promise of things which were not yet actually bestowed.
The great circumstance of the promise of the coming of Jesus Christ, as connected with that dispensation, and as terminating that dispensation, would lead us anxiously to inquire what is the effect of his appearance since he has actually come.
effect of his coming on the professing church and on the children of men, in the words of our text, that it should be "for the fall and rising again of many in Israel." Simeon expresses himself in these words with perfect confidence; and he does so while his heart is still filled with rejoicing at the very fact of the Redeemer's appearance. He makes this declaration emphatically in reference to Israel; but he makes it prophetically in reference to the Gentile world, and to the multitudes which to the end of time shall come under the sound of the Gospel. It is therefore true in our time, as it was true in his day, that this child Jesus is revealed from heaven for the falling and for the rising of many in Israel: in other terms, and without any figure of speech, that Christ is revealed as the salvation and as the condemnation of men; that Christ is come, and in him is accomplished both the acceptable year of the Lord, as it is the year of his grace and redemption-and the
to something brighter and better which was yet to be unfolded. Not a single Jew, believing in that dispensation, had it been inquired of him whether he was earnestly desiring the coming of the Messiah, but would declare at once it was the chief and predominant desire of his heart. Nevertheless the Jews generally were expecting the Messiah to appear in a manner greatly different from his proper cha
day of his vengeance, when he will no longer pass by offences, but will take cognizance of sin, and will punish sin with a just, holy, and eternal severity. The words, therefore, have a standing use to the church so long as the church shall be composed of professed and of real worshippersso long as there shall be tares mingled with the wheat-so long as those who are devoted to Christ in reality, and those who are only devoted in ap-racter and office. Their carnal mind pearance, shall mix together in one service and profess to acknowledge one Lord.
Let us, then, seriously give heed to the passage; and let us attempt, in the first place, to illustrate the subject; and in the second place, to derive from it practical and important improvement. "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel:" Behold, this child, who was appointed to be a Saviour to the end of the world, shall nevertheless in fact administer punishment to the ungodly to the uttermost, and bestow to the uttermost life and salvation to those who trust in the shadow of his wings.
had led them to carnal conceptions of his person, of the establishment of his kingdom, and the benefits they were to derive from his hands. They were therefore full of temporal expectations, full of temporal anxieties, and full of desire to be delivered from the Roman bondage, that they might become again an independent people, and enjoy their civil and political privileges. But when Christ came, and his appearance was so contrary to all their expectations had led them to look for, they were prepared, not to receive him, but positively to reject and dishonour him. They exclaimed, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not this the son of Mary?
In the first place, we propose to Do we not know his family? Have
ILLUSTRATE THIS REPRESENTATION OF
OUR SAVIOUR'S MISSION. Illustrations may be borrowed from almost every circumstance in his work, and from every perfection in his personal ministration.
His very appearance in the first instance illustrated forcibly, and in some cases painfully, the truth of this declaration, that, on his entrance into our world, and on his revealing himself by the ministry of his word, he should have been for the falling and for the rising again of many in Israel. When he came, indeed, all Israel were professedly waiting for his appearance, and longing for that appearance; all were professing to look off from the existing economy
we not expected that when Messiah should come, he should come as a temporal prince, and restore us from a state of vassalage and bondage, to a state of liberty and enjoyment and national dignity?" And because Messiah did not so appear, they were prepared at once to reject Him for whom they were, professedly, anxiously and continuously looking.
And so the appearance of Christ in the world is a stumbling block to the present day. There are multitudes who enquire in reference to him, and in reference to his name, whether the Pharisees and the rulers have believed on him. They are disposed to take the customs of the world, and the belief of the world, as the ruling prin