Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore, rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them." The great design of Christ is becoming more and more interesting and affecting to the whole intelligent universe, and they are all more and more engaged, either to promote it, or to obstruct it; nor is there a single individual, who understands it, indifferent towards it. He that is not with Christ, is against him and his great and glorious design.

IMPROVEMENT.

1. If none can be indifferent towards the design which Christ is carrying on, then none have any ground to imagine that they are neuters in religion. It is to be feared that many, who live under the light of the gospel, wish to persuade themselves that they are neither friendly nor unfriendly to Christ. They do not desire to profess any love to Christ and his cause, nor, on the other hand, do they desire to appear opposed to him, or the design he is pursuing. They mean to be neutral in respect to religion, and neither promote it nor oppose it. They see some very sensible and respectable persons professing to be with Christ, and to be engaged to promote his cause, and therefore,

they wish not to counteract them. And they see some very vile , and worthless persons openly professing to despise and oppose

the cause of Christ, and they choose not to appear as belong. ing to their class. They endeavor to feel, and appear to feel, indifferent towards that cause, which some are so much for, and others are so much against. They determine to steer a middle course, and to act a neutral part. They choose to let religion alone, and pay no more regard to it than they find necessary, in order to pursue their own business to the best advantage. If their character or interest requires them to attend public worship, they will attend; or if custom requires them to pay an external respect to the Sabbath, they will pay that respect; or if circum. stances require them to read the Bible, or even to pray in their families, they will do these things; or if they think it will be for their profit to support religion, they will support it. They are also resolved never to speak against religion, nor to appear to act against it. Is this a mere imaginary character? Is it not actually exhibited by many who esteem themselves, and are esteemed, very amiable, excellent, valuable persons ? Neuters of this character are very numerous, and are willing to be considered as such by others. But though they may really

.

think themselves to be neutral, and may be thought to be so by their fellow men, yet they are not neutral, and do not appear to be neutral in the heart searching eye of Christ. He knows what is in man, and he knows that no man can be indifferent towards him and the great design he is pursuing. He declares the truth when he says, “ He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." There is no design with respect to which men are so fond of appearing neutral, as the design which Christ is engaged in; but there! is no design to which they can be less neutral. It is extremely absurd and dangerous for any to imagine that they are really neutral to the most important cause that was ever pursued, and upon which their own interest, and the interest of the whole intelligent universe is suspended. They must be happy or miserable to all eternity, accordingly as they are with, or against Christ, in his great and glorious design. For, if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, God says, “ Let him be anathema, maran-atha."

2. If none can be indifferent towards the design which Christ is carrying on, then all who do not act for him, act against him. As all must be for him or against him in their hearts, so all must be for him or against him in their conduct. So Christ plainly declares in the text. He says, “ He that is not with me, is against me;" that is, he that is not for me in his heart, is against me in his heart. Again he says, “ He that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad;" that is, he that is not for me in his heart, is against me in his conduct; "he scattereth abroad," and really opposes my design. Thus Christ viewed, represented and treated, such as pretended to be with him, but were destitute of true love to him. “ It came to pass, that they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.” This was an implicit rejection of him for his insincerity. “When he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testisy of man: for he knew what was in man." He knew that those who professed to love and believe in him, were totally destitute of both love and faith, and rejected them accordingly. When those whom he had miraculously fed, followed him over the sea of Tiberias, he said unto them, “ Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled.” This was a severe reproof for their following

29

as

VOL. VI.

him externally, while their hearts were far from him. Though those who are destitute of love to Christ, may profess to love him, to be with him, to act for him, and to be workers together with him in building up his kingdom; still they are against him, and scatter abroad. Paul acknowledges, that though he should preach like an angel, and suffer like a martyr, without love to Christ and his cause, it would not be acting for him, but against him. He says, " Though I speak with the tongues

I of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though

. I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." It is more than possible that not a few who live under the light of the gospel, who profess to love the gospel, who attend all the ordinances of the gospel, and who do a great many things, which under the government of Christ tend to promote the design of the gospel, are nevertheless, in his view, against him, and scatter abroad. Men must be inwardly with Christ, in order to be externally for him. While men ultimately seek their own things, they cannot seek the things of Christ. So long as they are internally against him, they are externally against him, let them say, and do, or suffer, ever so much for him.

3. If all who are with Christ are united to him in his great and glorious design, then all who are united to him are more firmly united to one another, than any other persons in the world. There is nothing that unites the men of the world so strongly together, as their union in their worldly designs. Union of design will often bind those together who are disunited in affection. Worldly designs, however, are liable to fail, or change, and consequently the unions formed by them are often dissolved. But the great design of Christ is immutable and eternal, and all who are united to him in his design, are immutably and eternally united to him and one another. Christians are united to each other, not only in affection, but in a design that cannot be defeated, or change. Hence Paul triumphantly asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of

Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? - Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to

[ocr errors]

separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The sincere and ardent brotherly love of the primitive christians excited the admiration of the world. The heathens exclaimed, “How these christians love one another!” The union of christians to one another is founded in their union to Christ in his great and glorious design; and can no more fail, than Christ can fail in finishing the work which his Father has given him to do.

4. If all who are not for Christ are against him, then the most regular and amiable sinners may be as much against him as any other sinners. They are as unwilling to have their desires, their hopes, their interests, and selfish designs counteracted and defeated, as the most stupid and abandoned sinners. But if Christ pursues and accomplishes his great and benevolent design, he will entirely disappoint and destroy all the selfish hopes, desires, and designs of the most regular and amiable sinners, which cannot fail to raise their enmity and opposition to him in the most lively and sensible manner. Accordingly, we find that this has always been the case. Sinners of the fairest character and of the highest estimation in their own view, and in the view of the world, were the bitterest enemies that Christ had while on earth. These were the Scribes and Pharisees, whose character and conduct Christ most pointedly condemned, and whose condition he represented as the most dangerous and deplorable. They saw that Christ's design was diametrically opposed to theirs, and would completely destroy their eternal hopes and interests. Sinners of the fairest characters and highest hopes at this day, view the design of Christ in the same light, and are, of all others, the most opposed to that eternal purpose which God purposed in Christ Jesus, and sent him into the world to accomplish. What persons are generally more opposed to the doctrine of election and reprobation, than the most intelligent and inquisitive sinners? They generally know more about the character and design of Christ, and the scheme of salvation revealed in the gospel, than thoughtless and careless sinners; and of course they are generally the most understandingly and heartily opposed to the gospel, and raise the strongest objections against it. And this holds true with respect to awakened sinners, who externally reform, and most ardently inquire what they must do to be saved. When they are told that they must believe in Christ, love his character, and cordially approve of his carrying into execution his eternal purpose of saving those whom his Father has given him, and no others, their hearts rise in total enmity, and they invariably say, This man shall not reign over us.

5. We learn from what has been said, the great criminality of sinners. They are all against Christ in their hearts and in their conduct, without a single exception. They both see, and hate, and oppose that eternal purpose, which Christ is constantly carrying into execution. And by opposing this great and glorious purpose, they oppose the glory of God, and all the ho. liness and happiness in the universe. Is this a small error, or a mere venial fault? Is it not a sin of the first magnitude? Can they be guilty of a greater? It is criminal to destroy the property of an individual. It is more criminal to destroy the life of an individual. It is more criminal still. to destroy the lives of millions. And it is the highest possible degree of

. criminality to destroy the holiness and happiness of the whole universe. And this sin can be committed in the heart, and is committed in the heart of every one who is against Christ, and gathers not with him, but scaiters abroad, and does all in his power to prevent the infinite good which will eternally flow from the accomplishment of Christ's design. Is this true ? some sinner may be ready to ask. Let me ask that person whether he would not choose that the good of the universe should be destroyed, rather than to be eternally miserable ? And if he would choose this, he would destroy the good of the universe, were it in his power, to prevent his own eternal destruction. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God; and he wishes that there might be none, rather than suffer his eternal wrath. The carnal mind, therefore, is enrnity against God, not subject to his law or government; neither indeed can be. This every person knows to be true, who has seen the plague of his own heart. Unbelief, or opposition to the person and design of Christ, is the greatest of all sins, and will draw after it the greatest of all punishments. It shall be more tolerable for the men of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judg. ment, than for sinners who die impenitent and unbelieving under the gospel.

6. This subject shows the imminent danger of all who are against Christ, and opposing his great and glorious design. They reject the counsel of God against themselves; but that counsel will stand; and if it does stand, it will necessarily destroy all the counsels, and designs, and desires, and hopes, and happiness of sinners. Christ himself possesses omnipotent power, and has all created objects and created beings under his absolute control; and can employ them all as instruments to accomplish his eternal purpose. How is it possible then, that he should be counteracted and defeated in his design? Sinners may misconstrue and misunderstand particular passages of scripture; but they cannot misconstrue and misunderstand the great design which Christ is pursuing, and will certainly accom

« ÎnapoiContinuă »