« PoprzedniaDalej »
may require resolution far beyond our is no well-meant service to God that power, it cannot discourage enquiry will pass without a recompense, no ininto religion. Once set your mind to tention to glorify him but will meet serve God, and make it your sincere with its remuneration ; a cup of cold prayer that you may be enabled so to water given to a disciple in the name do, and there is a glorious doctrine in a of Christ shall not loose its reward; part of the Gospel which assures you seed that is sown in the service of God of the succour and aid of the Holy shall return an hundred fold; every Spirit to help your infirmities, to plant sincere effort to glorify him, every dewithin you new principles, to make sire of seeing him glorified, every asyou a new creature, to take the great piration after his image and after his realities of the Gospel and present service, will meet with an appropriate them in such a manner as to reveal reward. Those who have made it them to you, to make them become their business to serve Him here, and powerful, and to fill you with holiness. have employed their feeble powers in And here, therefore, all objections praising Him, God will employ his against the service of God are at once mighty powers in rejoicing over them; swept away; we are infinitely benefit- He will heap on them recompense such ed by being sanctified, and it becomes as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard ; no presumption to aspire after it, when and as they made his authority parawe recollect, that if we are sincerely mount above all others, the Divine desirous of serving God, the Holy Spirit Being will show that he is infinitely is sent forth to strengthen us and to richer than any of the monarchs of enable us to come forth and unite in the this world. “I appoint unto you a living head. The Lord Jesus Christ kingdom as my father hath appointed is able to supply all our wants out of his unto me, that you may eat and drink fulness-s0 that babes have perfected at my table in my kingdom.”—“To the praise of God, and persons of the him that overcometh will I grant to meanest condition have broken forth sit with me on my throne, even as I from a course of sin and inveterate also overcame and am sit down with habits of wickedness, not certainly my Father on his throne." from any resources of their own, but Recollect, again, my dear brethren, in consequence of hearing the call of the impossibility of neutrality and the the Gospel, and from a desire to serve danger of delay; you cannot be neuter. God; and blessed be God it may be so “Choose you this day whom you will with sinners stil).
serve," or CHOOSE THIS DAY." What Consider, my brethren, in the next was there in that day? Nothing parplace, the great rewards which hereafter ticular marked that day; but it was necessarily accompany the service of God; to-day-the present time, that which is and these are such as it is impossible now in our possession, to-morrow or for us at present adequately to con- the next day is in the hand of God, it ceive, much less to represent in mor. lies hid in his counsels, and whether tal language. Hear what our blessed it may be disclosed in time or eternity Saviour speaks himself. He tells you none but the Divine Being can know. respecting the watchful servant, who It is, therefore, the present time, and is occupied in waiting for his master, on that account Joshua presses on them He will gird himself and serve him. the immediate improvement of it. There He will say to such a one, “Well done are some here who are ready to start thou good and faithful servant, enter back and say, we intend to serve the thou into the joy of thy Lord." There LORD, we shudder at the thought of dying in irreligion, we do not intend no portion, no employment beneficial or to give up ourselves to sensual enjoy- dignified or delightful to all eternity. ments, we intend to be serious and There are many ways in which men religious, and the true servants of God, employ themselves at present, by which but who procrastinate still. But, my they amuse their leisure and contrive brethren, think of this, that time is not to pass away their hours tranquilly, your own; if you fix on another time, till the hour of sickness, or the bed of that time is in the hand of God, but death arrive ; but there is no amuseis, perhaps, never destined for you; you ment, no avocation, no employment will witness it, but witness it as a part of the faculties in eternity to such as of eternity. Now is the accepted have not served the LORD. In heaven time. Let not any one count with God is all in all, the enjoyment of certainty on having another opportu, it consists in seeing him as he is, in nity; this may be the last, the only serving him with perfection, and being sermon, the only invitation that they for ever like him. The joy of the remay have from the lips of truth and deemed is to celebrate the praises of mercy. Recollect, there is no neutra- God, and to serve him day and night lity, you must either be the servants in his temple; there is not the least of God or his enemies. When the le
effort or energy but will be called forth, gitimate claims of a monarch are such all the affections will ascend up as a as can be distinguished, to be neutral pleasing offering to God, all the pow. between him and the usurping rebel, ers will intensely and eternally be is the highest act of insult, and stamps employed in his service, nor will these such persons as traitors against him. perfected spirits cease day nor night Though you profess to serve God, if from crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord you refuse to serve Him, if you bar the God Almighty, who was, and is, and heart against Him, if other Lords have is to come.” Therefore, my brethren, dominion over you, if He does not if you are not able to serve God here, reign as the sovereign of your heart, you will not be able to serve God He will consider himself as deprived there ; the recollection of the past, of his right; He will bear no compe- and the fearful presentiment of the titor, He is a jealous God, and says, future, the resources of your own mind, "Thou shalt serve Him, and shall and the depths of eternal torment and serve Him only." This is the doc- despair must convince you of this. trine taught by our Lord, my bre. Could you live your own time you thren, and from which there is no ap- might neglect religion; but God will peal. “He that is not with me is call every one to judgment. There is against me, and he that gathereth not an appointed day in which he will with me scattereth abroad." There is judge the world in righteousness, and no possibility of being neutral, nor as there is no neutrality, he will then will the state of man's heart be neu. exercise his judicial authority, and say, tral, because, if he does not love God“ bring hither those men who would by choice, and serve and honour and not that I should reign over them and love his Creator, he must be at enmity slay them before me.” with Jehovah ; and such persons can- Is there any person here who ima. not please God, or be subject to the gines it is undignified to serve the laws of God.
LORD, when he recollects that Joshua, Recollect, my dear brethren, in a one of the most eminent of legislators, very short time, if you are not employ. after having been engaged in continual ed in the service of God, you will have warfare for many years, and then enjoy.
ing peace in the midst of his enemies, in fall short of the importance and mo-
lecting the time when they might have
DELIVERED BY THE REV. H. MELVILL,
AT CAMDEN CHAPEL, CAMBERWELL, MARCH 20, 1831.
John, iii. 3.--" Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." There is a twofold course which we you give him not the power of deare at liberty to pursue in investigating termining whether there be within him the fact of our being possessed of any an especial relish for melodious breathendowment or property which may ings. In this, and in many other the happen to become the subject of inquiry like instances, the man is necessitated, -we may either search abstractedly for as it were, to come out of himself, out the endowment or property itself, or of that invisible and yet spacious world we may attain a knowledge of the man- which is composed of the several chamner wherein such endowment or pro- bers and departments of the mind, and perty actuates commonly the conduct, avail himself of the aids of material and then by examining the conduct de- agency, before he can set himself to termine the existence or non-existence estimate the extent or variety of spiof the proposed principle of action. It ritual power. is the latter method, which in practice, Now the question to which I would we are compelled almost invariably to next direct your attention is, whether adopt-for so inscrutable a thing is the same necessity of gathering, from the soul of man to itself, as well as to without, tokens whereby to judge of others of its own species, that it is, that which is within, exists where we commonly, wholly unable to decide on apply ourselves to examine the fact of the possession of abstract qualities, our having been regenerated by the without having recourse to the ma- influences of the Spirit of the Most terialism of the tabernacle in which it High. To be born again is to be made dwells, and deriving from external the subject of a complete renovationworkings its proof and evidence of in- a surprising change which spreads itternal motives. And I think I may self over the widest circuits of the deventure to add, that so peculiarly con- sires and the affections ; it imports the stituted are, in many instances, the overthrow of one dominion and the faculties of man, that we may remain, setting up of another; and it is a for days or years, utterly ignorant of visionary thing and an ideal, unless powers which we actually possess, just hope and fear and the thousand emobecause we have never been exposed to tions which agitate successively the those outward circumstances which, spirit of man, have put on altogether a by striking on a peculiar chord, de- new aspect, and taken, I might almost monstrated the being of a peculiar pro- say, new elements into their respective perty. If I may descend to familiar constitutions, and undergone so absoillustration I would observe, that a lute a transformation that whereas man who has never heard music is hitherto, they had drawn all their certainly not competent to judge colouring from earth, henceforwards whether he has any taste for music, they are strongly marked with the flush and unless you fill the air around him of eternity. And I allow it would with the symphonies of sweet sounds, seem undeniable, that a change so total
and marvellous, could never pass over ever such change hath actually taken the inner man without (if it be lawful place; but we are bound, at the same thus to speak) such visible and audible time, to remember that frames and tokens, that it can be in no sense need-feelings, are of all witnesses, those ful to call in material demonstrations by which we may most readily be as auxiliaries, in proving the glorious deceived, and that it would be of all revolution. I am ready to concede, things the easiest, for the secluded that if the process of regeneration hermit to persuade himself that he should pass upon a man dwelling alone, had centered his affections on the the solitary inhabitant of some rocky bright heaven which is above, whereas island, removed far away from all the if he be only brought again into collicompanionship of kindred, and de- sion with the sparkling varieties of this barred, by the circumstances of his lone- passing scene, he might quickly deliness, from submitting himself to the monstrate that those affections had ordeal which is furnished by the inter- never ceased to cling most tenaciously course with the beings of our race to things that are below. We require still the man could not remain igno- a standard which will allow of our rerant of his having been regenerated— ducing our religious estate into a mathe could not fail of the consciousness ter of simple and patient calculation, that he had verily become a new crea- we must be furnished with criteriæ ture—and there would of necessity be which shift not and vary not with such a beautiful and unwonted com- every beat of the natural pulse; neimunion maintained with the Almighty ther can we arrive commonly at a sain the privacies of his soul, that al- tisfactory conclusion, unless we prothough he had no power of discoursing ceed, step by step, with a most rigid with the godly on the signs of con- arithmetic, and sit like philosophers version, or bringing his feelings to the over an obscure and intricate problem, touchstone of a changed and well dis- establishing firmly one point before ciplined life, still he might be fully and we advance to the investigation of antriumphantly satisfied that he had been other. born of a new, even a celestial birth And hence I believe, that justificaand there would, I believe, rise up tion is never so legitimately proved as within him such a host of joyous wit- when inferred from sanctification, the nesses, that whilst he drew not his soundest method of ascertaining the proofs from the material creation, he existence of faith which we cannot see, would yet call upon that creation to being the examination of works which participate in his rapture, and summon, we can see. It were, indeed, possible like the Psalmist, wind and wave, and to institute a scrutiny into the currock and mountain, to join in cele- tained secrecies of the soul, and to brating the praises of the LORD. search after faith in the very dwelling
It is, therefore, with no intention of place in which faith is presumed to redisparaging the worth of that witness, side—it were possible to propose to which St. John describes the Christian ourselves a series of close interrogaas having, that I proceed to assert the tions on articles of belief and subjects value and importance of external evi- of hope and matters of futurity, and dence when we sit in judgment on our to obtain answers which might afford own spiritual condition. We may a species of guidance, in our endeavour, concede, that the inner man will give to ascertain whether there had been ample and instant testimony to the set up within us that powerful empire fact of a regenerating change, when- which deals with the invisible things