« ÎnapoiContinuă »
defenders shall we find? on whom shall we depend, in the time of visitation? who will deliver us, in the hour of death, and in the Day of Judgement?
Praise and glory be to God, we have still one powerful friend; a friend who died for us; who is now pleading our cause; and by whose merits and mediation, our repentance will be still accepted. To Him, our blessed Redeemer and Saviour, and to God through Him, let us sanctify the moments which are still our own; the talents, which still remain in our hands. Much of the past we have already wasted; let us be careful to employ the future well. For in this, let no man deceive us: unless we repent, we can find no mercy: we cannot plead the blood of Christ, while, by a wilful continuance in sin, we crucify Him, every day afresh. The wicked servant might procure himself friends, by flattery, by bribes, or by falsehood:-but our Almighty Redeemer is not so mocked of men; it is not an hypocritical and formal behaviour, nor a pretended faith, which is dead for want of works, nor a vain trust in our predestination to eternal life, which can procure for us the love and blessing of our Saviour. He knows the heart; and demands, of those who call on Him, a sincere repentance, a lively faith, and above all, a charity which never faileth. For though our Divine friend and advocate be above all sacri
fice; and need not any service, which we can render; yet is He graciously pleased to accept our weakest efforts; and to consider, as done to Himself, that good which we do to our fellowcreatures. On Him we can confer no obligation; Him we cannot clothe or feed; Him we cannot visit in prison; but He Himself hath said, and the time must come, [whether sooner or later, is known to Him only who seeth all things,] the time must come when, before men and angels, He will repeat His blessed declaration; "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."l
1 St. Matt. xxv. 40.
SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
ROM. vi. 23.
The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our LORD.
In the passage, from which these words are taken, and which has been read to yoù for the Epistle of to-day, a comparison is made by the apostle, between the different consequences of sin, and of holiness, under the likeness of the different wages, which two several masters offer, to entice us into their service. "I speak," says he, "after the manner of men, because of your infirmities." As if he had said, "In order that your weak capacities may the better understand me, I speak of spiritual matters, as if they were an ordinary transaction between man and man, — a bargain between a labourer and his employer. And I therefore exhort you, that, as ye have yielded your members (servants to uncleanness and to iniquity) unto iniquity, even so now yield your members (servants to righteousness) unto holiness."
This argument appears, at first sight, a little confused; I will therefore endeavour to explain it. The apostle means to say, that, as every man must needs be either good, or wicked; so all the world are servants either to God, or to the power of sin. And those, who flatter themselves, that they are set free by the blood of Christ from the yoke of the devil, must lose no time in proving the reality of this deliverance, by entering into the service of God; and by walking thenceforth in His holy ways. Your bodies, he continues, your limbs, your hearts, every member belonging to you, were lately servants to iniquity, and to uncleanness and you gave them up to do the hateful will of those impure and abominable tyrants; and to work whatever iniquity they required at your hands. But you are now, you tell me, the servants of God; then are your members now servants to holiness; and ye must give them up to work holiness, with the same readiness as you formerly did to the service of sin. The tongue, which was lately, as a servant of sin, occupied in lying and blasphemy, must now be employed, as a servant of righteousness, in giving glory to God, and good advice to your neighbours. The hands, which were exercised in theft, or in quarrelling, must now be employed in honest labour; and must delight to give relief to those who are in need. The heart, which was
lately full of evil thoughts, uncleanness, and envy, as well became the dwelling-place of Satan and his angels, must now be swept and garnished; made clean from all which may offend; and rendered, by God's grace and help, a habitation less unfit to receive His Holy Spirit. For," continues the apostle, when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." As if he had said, "if ye desire to know, in what manner ye can please that God, whom ye profess to serve, ye have only to recollect the perfect obedience, which ye paid to your former master, the devil; and to be as active and hearty in the cause of your Maker, as you were of late in that of your tempter and destroyer." "When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. When ye lived a wicked life in the cares and pleasures of the world, ye were then, at least, consistent in your obedience. You gave no ear to the whispers of conscience; you had no taste for the delights of prayer, or praise, or godly meditation, or the study of the sacred Scriptures. Your hellish master had no reason to complain, that you wandered from his service to the service of God: you vexed him by no stolen good deeds, or pious thoughts; you were his entirely, body and soul, his active and zealous soldiers. Is this the case? let your own hearts answer, in the obedience, which you now profess to pay to