« ÎnapoiContinuați »
their souls more and more painfully and dangerously acquainted with sin, and to turn them from Him who would give rest and relief. And therefore it is, that He who made us, and who, knowing the spirit of a man, has in the religion which he appointed as the comforter, the guide, and the corrector of life, rendered its application especially powerful when addressed to the heart that mourns. Every body who has in sorrow felt the invitations which the Gospel breathes out has also felt that they have in sorrow a power, a tenderness, a heart-searching and a heart-soothing efficacy, which he never knew them to have before. It is as if the Lord Jesus Christ, who came himself to be a man of sorrows, took those sorrows under his special protection; that he invites men to draw near, that he makes them acquainted with the remedy by which sorrow is relieved; that he makes their hearts sensible to the efficacy of that invitation by which the mourners are summoned ; and makes them know that, if there is in sorrow a power to subdue and to rend the heart—there is a balm, a blessed balm, which religion sheds, to heal those sorrows, and makes them to be accounted of no moment in comparison with the rejoicing which follows
It is a subject which should always engage your thoughts whenever the thought of sorrow reaches the heart, that you are not in your sorrows less acceptable, but rather more acceptable, to Him who came to save sinners; and let it have the effect of preventing you from, in any case, seeking those precarious and dangerous resources which the world sometimes lavishes, and most insincerely proffers. We know perfectly well—and the knowledge that man has, has been embodied in the opinion which prevailed in heathen time—that the effect of sorrow, of any grief upon the soul, is, as it were, to make man less confident, less trusting than he had been before. And if calamity overtake one in whose heart there has not been love and disposition to trust in the Lord Jesus, that calamity comes with a fearful power to carry him off from the Lord. But to him who receives the Gospel there is addressed the assurance, that he who is afflicted is chastened by the Lord, because the Lord loves him; and it is merciful as well as wise in the appointments of religion thus to satisfy the sad heart, that in its sorrow it will be ever more acceptable to Him who gives the blessed invitation. See how you find it in life: see, if you are a kind and considerate friend, how you behave towards the friend upon whom sorrow has laid its heavy hand. Do you not know that he becomes more jealous, more watchful, more suspicious? Are you not sure of that? Are you not sure, also, that if he has offended you, he becomes more dubious, more estranged, from the desire to acknowledge his offence and to ask your pardon? And why? Because he is in a state in which he has become more distrustful of every body's love. The same sorrow which has lessened his confidence in himself, destroys his trust in the regard in which he is held by others. And see how you feel yourself in such cases. If you yourself have offended some kind and good friend, and if you come into the presence of your friend with a half-formed desire to make an acknowledgment of your trespass, and seek his pardon; and if, as you stand before him prepared to make the confession, you see that his brow is fixed, his countenance stern, that there is no kindliness, no appearance of sympathy, will you not find that the purpose with which you came becomes frozen in your heart, and that you cannot utter the words of humiliation ? But if, as you look, you discern some yearning of love towards you in the countenance on which your eye is fixed_if there be some manifestation of tenderness in the countenance—if there be the appearance of a tear-then can you, with all readiness, with all submission, pour forth the feelings that labour within your heart, and declare that you have offended, and supplicate the pardon of him in whose heart you have the assurance your offence has not destroyed affection for you. And when you have considered this, you will see how merciful and how gracious it is in our blessed Lord to give us the invitation, how he loves and cares for us in our sorrows, even in the wanderings of our sinful hearts; that thus you can understand the value of the Lord's prayers and tears and watching for men; and that you can find that, while upon the cross of Calvary, he died to make atonement for the sins of the whole world by that sight of love, and tenderness, and suffering, and by those blessed invitations he has given, he has been acting and speaking to the heart of sinners, to awaken them, that they may accept the salvation he has purchased for them.
Let it be our trust, brethren, that we shall all understand this invitation. To him in whose heart it has once obtained an entrance, all objects in nature, all incidents in nature, bring the invitation to his relief. If once you have felt at the heart that Christ has spoken to you the touching words, " Come to me, and I will give you rest,” you cannot turn to any estate in life, to any place in the wide expanse of nature, to any scene or circumstance in which there will not be the remembrance addressed to you of that gracious invitation. The still whisper of the summer's breeze will convey it to the heart: the lingering lights of the summer's evening will look in upon your hearts with it. The motions of moonlight, the setting sun, the silence of the sparkling firmament will give it to you. But the Bible, which God has given you for your learning, which he has preserved for you, will speak it to you continually; and his holy church, throughout all the world, will acknowledge and proclaim it to you.
If you are, therefore, anxious that it shall be preserved to you, and spoken to all, that all men may profit by it; and even in the humble demonstration which you are now called on to make of your regard for the institution by which God's word is proclaimed to men; let there be in your mind this morning, the recollection that a word in season may have often turned a soul from sin ; and that surrounding the addresses appointed by God to be made to his creatures with the due decorum and propriety which his word demands, the result of such exertions shall not be fruitless. Remember what in the old time was done in order that that Bible, which is written for our learning and for our hope, should be preserved to us. The Lord Jesus spoke his word of invitation to many careless ears, and the cities in which he spoke them have fallen into decay, and the nation to whom he spake them is scattered over the world. But while the palaces in which they sounded have mouldered in the dust—while the cities have disappeared—while the splendour of their stately buildings have vanished away—the words that the Lord spake have been preserved so as to communicate to our hearts, at this day, in full power and efficacy, the gracious invitations which he addressed to men of old. And at what sacriâces! Many a time, in the elder day, when tyrants cruelly raged against God's church—many a time when it was proposed to men to halt and hesitate between the saving of their own lives and the saving of God's word from profanation, they gave their own bodies to the flames, that their children might read God's word in their habitations. Many a time a man did
not hesitate for one instant whether he should give God's word to be burned, or go into the flames himself: and the Lord Jesus was with him in the flames. And in the days that followed, when it was sought to be destroyed, God was seen with his blessed word, and He who protected it from pagan tyrants in early Rome, protected it from wicked men in later days. I thank God, England has sent it forth into every part; and may she send it forth more extensively! And may you upon all occasions, even upon this humble one, seek that what God has preserved for you, you may cause to be spoken to others, to his praise; that they may hear his invitations continually addressed to them, and be assured that when they come to him he will in no wise cast them out.
• The resolution that Joshua expressed is a most noble resolution, and deserving of our most serious imitation, ' A8 for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.' He would not serve the Lord, either without his house, nor would he suffer his house to fear the Lord, and yet at the same time to neglect Him. • As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.' He was decidedly on His side ; he had made a vow to be the Lord's, and he would not go back. But he was not content with his own personal devotedness, My house will serve the Lord. He could not command the obedience of the tribes of Israel to the extent he wished, having now laid aside his public duties; but he still retained a power over his own family to demand of them to listen to instruction -he could command their ear, if not their hearts; and he was determined to command his household, that they might keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord might visit them with the good things of which he had spoken. He declares that he will serve the Lord as well as his house.
“It is to be lamented that there are heads of families who give up all thoughts of religion themselves, and yet at the same time feel sincere solicitude for the salvation of their children. There is a certain period at which they begin to imagine that it is in vain for them to turn their attention to religion, but still they feel the most sincere desire that their children and relations might be found partakers of eternal life. I recollect a passage in the diary and memoirs of the Rev. Mr. Williams, of Kidderminster, in which that good man observes, that when young, he was riding to market with a highly respectable person and his son, his acquaintances, and while they were walking and riding, and conversing together on indifferent subjects, the father stopped and demanded of his son, and enjoined him, to cultivate the acquaintance of that young man: for, said he, he will lead you to religion, he will acquaint you with what is good; but as for me, he said, the time is gone by, my heart has become hard and insensible.' How awful is such a declaration! What a dreadful acknowledgment! calm, and yet full of despair in the prospect of eternal ruin! How striking an illustration of the alarming potency of sin which makes a man contemplate with apathy and indifference the prospect of everlasting perdition !
“But with Joshua the case was totally different. • As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.' If all the tribes of Israel had determined to leave God, if all the families of these separate tribes had determined to abandon the sanctuary and institutions of His worship, yet Joshua's heart was fixed, bis mind was determined, he would dare to be singular, and to stand alone, despite the frowns of thousands who had cast off the fear of Jehovah. This, my friends, is a universal test of true religion; when we can dare to stand alone without example when we can stem the torrent, and go against the course of this world, and assert the divine liberty of a mind which is devoted to God, and dependent on him, which looks for protection to him, and to him only.”—Rev. ROBERT HALL.
ADMISSION TO THE CHURCH IN HEAVEN.
REV. R. AINSLIE,
NEW COURT CHAPEL, CAREY STREET, JANUARY 10, 1836.
Ye are come to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to
Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant."—HEBREWS, xii. 23, 24.
This subject is fully understood by millions who were once as imperfectly acquainted with it as ourselves. There is no doubt or difficulty in their minds : it continually engages their attention, and they enjoy the unspeakable happiness of heaven. We do not fully understand it, and no one on earth can teach us a single lesson beyond what we have in the Bible. We must be content on many subjects with the elementary and exclusive information of the Scriptures. We should have known nothing of immortality, if God had not given us a revelation; and instead of being dissatisfied because abstruse and difficult points are not cleared up, and all heaven unveiled to our present vision, we should be grateful that “ life and immortality are brought to light,” and that “ what we know not now we shall know hereafter."
It was under the strong excitement, created in Paul's mind by his clear views of the surpassing glory of the Christian dispensation when contrasted with the Mosaic, that he penned the words I have read, and its sublime context. He exhibits in a clear and powerful manner, in the following verses, the privileges of the two dispensations. “ Ye are not come to the mount which could be touched, and to flaming fire, and thick dark clouds, and blackness, and tempest; and to the sound of the trumpet, and to the voice of commandments, the hearers of which earnestly entreated that not a word might be added to them (for they could not bear the command ; “if even a beast touch the mountain it shall be stoned or thrust through with a dart:” and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I am exceedingly afraid and tremble): but ye are come to mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born enrolled in heaven, and to the Judge, the God of all, and to the spirits of the just having obtained their reward, and to the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel.” This passage describes the privilege of the believer in every act of worship he performs. It may also be viewed in another light, as describing the position, the exaltation, and glory of the believer, when at death he is admitted to the church in heaven.
This is the view we propose to take of it in the present discourse. The