« PreviousContinue »
tained as many appear to imagine ? | and to suffer the whole will of God, On the 'contrary, there are great and and, in a course of vital piety, to enformidable difficulties to be encoun
dure unto the end.” tered, obstacles to be surmounted, and Here, then, we discover a principal enemies to be subdued by those who cause of the slow progress made in would “sit down with Abraham, and the divine life by many, who appear Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of desirous of being the Lord's, and of God. Experience accords with these whose sincerity we are unwilling to representations ; for where is the per
doubt. Here we may learn whence son who has ever seriously entered it arises that the resistance they offer upon the paths of real religion, that to their spiritual adversaries is so will not bear his testimony to their slight and ineffectual, and that they truth? Where is the genuine Chris- are so easily overcome, they overlook tian that will not tell us of the great the work of the Spirit in the great and manifold difficulties with which plan of man's salvation. Instead of he has to contend with-in common placing their dependance on his grace with all who would live godly in Christ and power, instead of seeking strength Jesus—in the pursuit of this great ob- from him, they are trusting to their own ject? He has enemies within, and strength, their own resolutions, and enemies without; enemies that are their own efforts. No wonder, then, subtle and strong, while he, in him- that so many are unstable, so many self, is weak. The world, and Satan, halting and lingering—so many sinkand the flesh, are in active opposition ing into cold and listless formality. to him—temptations and trials are For none can walk in the paths of continually assailing him-snares in- 'safety, none can glorify their God and numerable beset his path in every Saviour, but through the grace and direction. Who, then, it may be asked, strength of the Holy Spirit; and this can be saved? Who, of the weak and grace, and this strength, is freely ofsinful race of man, can overcome the fered without money, and without snares, and enemies, and countless price. “ If ye,” said the Lord Jesus, difficulties opposed to his progress in “ know how to give good gifts unto the way which leadeth unto life ? For your children, how much more shall your encouragement and mine, the your heavenly Father give the Holy Holy Scriptures declare, that the Spirit to them that ask him?" weakest believer in Jesus may-and Be encouraged, then, ye who feel you may, my brethren-weak, though and lament your weakness and mani. you are in yourselves, if “strength- fold infirmities. You are not comened with might by the Spirit of God manded to go forth to the fight of in the inner man”-you may go forth faith in your own strength-you are to encounter the enemies and the ob- even expressly and repeatedly warned stacles to your salvation, “ conquer- against it in the Holy Scriptures. ing, and to conquer.” It is that Seek, then, strength from above, and blessed Spirit, who is the author and expect the aid of the Holy Spirit only source of all spiritual strength in the in answer to believing prayer, and in hearts of the people of God-it is he the persevering use of all the appointed alone, my brethren, that can strengthen means of grace. For though in youryou against the corruptions of your selves you can do nothing, what can own hearts, the temptations of Satan, you not do, if strengthened with might and the snares of the world. It is he by the Spirit of God in the inner man? alone that can strengthen you to do
My brethren, thus strengthened you
will grow in grace, overcome every obstacle, and vanquish every foe to your salvation; trample under foot with a holy disdain the vanities of the world-crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts-obtain peace in life, joy in death, and bliss in eternity.
The next petition offered by the Apostle, for his beloved Ephesians, is thus expressed-" That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. This is the glorious privilege of the established believer. Of him, who with a deep sense of his own guilt and misery, and ruin, as a sinner, and his consequent need of Christ as the only and all-sufficient Saviour, has fled to him from the wrath to come, and thus he enjoys a spiritual union with Christ by faith. By faith he is grafted into him, as a branch of the true vine. By faith he is built up in him, as a living stone in the sure and tried foundation. By faith he abides in him as the strong tower, in which alone he can be safe; and as he thus abides in Christ, so on the other hand Christ abides in him. Hence St. Paul tells the Colossians that "Christ is in them the hope of glory."
and prayer, and you will be convinced of this important truth. If, therefore, when tried by this test, you find yourselves wanting, I beseech you to seek this faith of GOD-it is his gift— it is of his operation-but it is a gift which he is willing to bestow. Ask, then, and receive, that your joy may be full.
My brethren, is this your privilege? Is this your religion? Have you that lively, realizing faith, by the exercise of which the believer has Christ dwelling in his heart? If not, truth compels me to say, that your religion is of no value. It is a form without the power-a body without soul—a shadow without substance. Only search the Scriptures with diligence, impartiality,
The prayer of St. Paul is thus continued: "That ye being rooted and grounded in love," (that is deeply fixed and firmly established in love to the Lord, and to his people for his sake,). " may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of GOD.
The term "Saints" is frequently applied by the ungodly to the true and faithful servants of God, as a term of ridicule and reproach; but it is applied to them in the Scriptures in a very different sense. There it is given to them as a title of honour, and there their happiness and privileges are displayed in the most glowing and attractive colours. In the passage before us, they are said to comprehend and know, what no others can comprehend and know, namely, the redeeming love of Jesus. They survey it in its breadth, as commensurate with the very boundaries of the earth, extending to sinners of every nation and character. They dwell with delight on its length, as
Hence, he prays in our text for the Ephesians, "that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith." For it is by faith that this exalted privilege is enjoyedit is faith enthrones the Redeemer in the affections of his people-it is faith that seats him in their hearts-it is faith that renders him precious to them —as it is written, "unto you that be-reaching from everlasting to everlastlieve he is precious."
ing. They contemplate it in its depth as bringing him who thought it not robbery to be equal with God-Jehovah's fellow-the everlasting Son-of the everlasting Father, to the deepest state of humiliation and suffering, to the ignominous death of the cross, for the salvation of a ruined world. And they meditate on its height, as viewed in the lofty privileges to which it advances them in the present world, as
inscribed on the thrones of glory, on which it will assuredly place them in the next, and as manifested in his being still mindful of them in his exalted state at the right hand of the Father, where he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Thus, to comprehend and know the redeeming love of Christ, is an unspeakable blessing. For what can be so efficacious in sweetening life, ministering consolation amidst its multiplied trials, and supplying a never failing source of peace and joy.
this as the chief end of existence
Fully, indeed, to comprehend and know this love, we never shall be able on this side of the grave. For, saith the Apostle, "it passeth knowledge;"rished respecting them. To such I
but it should be our hearts desire and prayer to know more and more of it; to have more enlarged and comprehensive views of it; and to experience more of its sanctifying influence and energy, in constraining us to live no longer unto ourselves, but unto him who died for us and rose again. And what was the great object which in breathing these fervent supplications for the Ephesians, St. Paul proposed? It was, that they "might be filled with all the fulness of GOD"-that they might have his image reflected in them that they might exhibit a conformity to his moral perfections-that they might have a fulness of light and grace and holiness, and joy, and peace in the present life; and at length arrive at the most perfect vision and enjoyment of him, and conformity to him in his immediate presence.
would say, be wise in time-pursue the one thing needful which the Bible most clearly sets before you-seek the honour which cometh of GoD-lay up treasures in heaven-repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out-forsake your iniquities and flee to the Redeemer-pray that you may be strengthened with might by the spirit of God in the inner manpray that you may have Christ dwelling in your hearts by faith-pray that you may not only know, but feel the efficacy of his redeeming love, nor rest satisfied till through the mighty power of his grace, you "be filled with all the fulness of GOD." And now brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. That this may be the happy
My brethren, is this the grand ob- portion of you all, may GOD of his inject which you are proposing to your-finite mercy grant for Christ's sake. selves? Do you view and consider | Amen.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. R. ROBINSON,
AT THE COLLEGIATE CHURCH, WOLVERHAMPTON, ON SUNDAY, MARCH 27, 1831.
Matthew, xxi. 29._" He answered and said, I will not ; but afterwards he repented,
Whoever attentively peruses the book | vah, the dawning of the Gospel disof God's holy word, and accurately pensation, the glorious appearance of investigates the thoughts of his own salvation, and of reconciliation bemind, can never be at a loss to dis- tween man and his offended GOD, cover that the "carnal mind is at en- burst upon a benighted world. The mity with God," and that the hu- long foretold blessings of redemption, man heart is deceitful above all things and the hallowed visions of prophecy and desperately wicked.” Through the were realised in all their fulness, and whole and unbroken chain of Scrip- exhibited in all their power. The ture history, from the expulsion of boundless love of God to sinful man Adam and Eve out of the garden of shone out in meridian splendour, and Paradise, down through the long and the offering of his only begotten Son, countless ages of prophecy, to the ap- the immense price of the soul's repearance of Christ and his Apostles, demption filled all the courts of heaven one uniform spirit of rebellion seems with admiration, and carried into the to have pervaded the whole human recesses of hell the feeling of wonder race. The lives even of patriarchs and and astonishment. The laws of the of prophets, of those who are pecu- eternal God had been wantonly broliarly described as the servants of God ken, his ordinances violated, and bimand the favourites of the Most High, self despised and set at nought, when are stained with blemishes, and ex- as the last grand resource of reclaimhibit to our view the evident traces of ing a disobedient and sin-loving people, inherited sin. The transgression of and that the issues of eternal life or Adam descended to all his posterity, and eternal death might for ever depend the polluted waters of sin had deluged upon it, he sent forth the Son of his and corrupted the whole earth, bring- love “that whosoever should believe ing down upon a degenerate world the on him might not perish, but have wrath and vengeance of an insulted everlasting life.” Thus, then, was the God. The mists of ignorance and Saviour of the world earnestly and superstition enveloped the land, and mercifully occupied in the performance the sin of rebellion was stamped in of his stupendous mission, and actively legible characters on the countenance engaged in the salvation of souls, by of apostate man. In the midst of drawing the attention of the human doubts and perplexities in the awful mind to the Gospel dispensation, when upbraidings of a guilty conscience, he addressed the words of my text to and the alarming consideration of a those who surrounded him. lost and desperate and helpless state- With these preliminary remarks, I in the thought of the utter impossibi- shall now proceed to point out, so far lity of escaping eternal punishment, as I am able, the meaning and the vast and of appeasing the wrath of Jeho- importance of this portion of Holy Writ. The evident intention of all the of that piety which may bring forth the parables of Christ was to illustrate in fruits of righteousness. We find even a way familiar to the understandings of in the prophetic times, in the writings his hearers the doctrine which he taught, of Isaiah, that the same earnest desire the duties and precepts which were to for the happiness of his creatures—the be practised, and the grand and all- same excessive love to the souls of his important object of the Gospel dis- people, dwelt in the great and eternal pensation. And in the parable now God who inhabiteth eternity. We under consideration, the blessed Re- hear him, in the fifth chapter of the deemer produces to the chief priests book of the evangelical prophet, afand elders a doctrine of a novel and fectionately expostulating with them on peculiar character, when he holds out the neglect of the means of grace and to the vilest of sinners, who repented opportunities which they possessed, and believed at the preaching of the and pointing out to them the dignified Baptist, acceptance with God, and situation in which they were placed, lightly regards the conduct of those and the interest he had taken for their who honour God with their lips, whilst happiness :-"What could have been their hearts are far from him.” The done more to my vineyard, that I have whole scope and design of these words not done in it? Wherefore, when I of Christ is, to point out to mankind looked that it should bring forth grapes, the nature and efficacy of the Gospel brought it forth wild grapes ?" dispensation; to exhibit to their view
By the two sons mentioned in the the vast importance and distinction parable, our Saviour evidently wishes between vital and outward religion- to represent two different and distinct between the religion of the heart and classes of people who lived in those the mere profession of it.
days, and which are by no means un“A certain man had two sons; and common in the present generation, he came to the first and said, Son, The former of these, as described by go work to-day in my vineyard : he Christ, are they who have been totally answered and said, I will not; but indifferent about their immortal souls, afterwards he repented, and went. reckless of a future state, and who And he came to the second and said have desperately plunged into almost likewise; and he answered and said, every vice, and deeply stained themI go, sir; and went not.”
selves with crime. Nevertheless, on Under the beautiful emblem of a the preaching and ministry of John the man and his two sons, our blessed Baptist—when the glad tidings of salLord represents the great Father of the vation by the Gospel sounded in their universe, and the creatures of his own ears—when an admission into the hands—the whole human race. God heavenly Jerusalem, and an inheritAlmighty is here described as pater- ance among the saints in light was nally interested in the glorious work proclaimed " by a new and more perof the blessed Gospel, and wishful fect way,” these repented, and joyfully above all things for the salvation of all embraced the Gospel terms. his children. He desires them to com- And, again, the other class of permence in the important business of the are the Scribes, the Pharisees, soul's welfare-to cultivate the truths and the self-righteous, who were of religion—to root out the destructive scrupulously exact in all the outward habits of sin, and to cherish and en- forms and ordinances of religion-who courage in the human mind the growth punctually and rigidly observed the