« PreviousContinue »
re-begets his children he stamps upon | Again, beloved brother, what is this them his own likeness, he places upon darkness? We know that the darkthem his own image, and so, as the ness is a darkness of an holiness, and Apostle Peter says, we are made of unrighteousness of sin, and wretchpartakers of the Divine nature, having edness. The darkness in which the escaped the corruptions that are in the devil himself walks, for he himself is world through lust.” Remark, there said to be the prince of darkness. Let fore, this, beloved brethren, we must no man deceive you, therefore, says have, if we are the people of God, the the Apostle, for he that committeth image of God upon us; and now, then, sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth wherein does this image consist? “This from the beginning, and he was a liar is the message,” says John, “which from the beginning. Again, if God is we have heard of him and declare love, and if the children of God are unto you, that God is light, and in like him, what follows ? but that we him is no darkness at all.” So, then, must walk in love, walk even as Christ that the children of God must be chil- walked, and Christ's walk was the dren of light, because God himself is walk of love. We have seen the love light. Again, that same Apostle says, of God in giving Christ to us ; we have
‘God is love"—what follows ? then seen the love of Christ to us in that, the children of God must walk in love, whilst we were yet sinners, he laid must be children of love, otherwise down his life for us. That being such they will not be, they could not be the a proof of love, and the children of children of their heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ being like him, wbose name is love. Again, "God is we ought, says St. John, to lay down a Spirit”-what then follows ? “Those our lives for the brethren. Here, who worship him must worship him then, we see the character which will in spirit and in truth, for the latter be invariably contemplated on those seeketh such to worship him.” There- that are brought to Christ and came to fore the children of God must be spi- God through him. ritual, because God himself is a spirit. Again, let us remark, that if such Hence, “that which is borne of the be the character of the children of flesh is flesh, and that which is borne light, and if the love of God be their of the Spirit is Spirit.” Then, beloved peculiar character, how very opposite brethren, whatever is capable of being is that love to that of the world. reflected of God's character is en “Love,” says an Apostle, “not the stamped on the children of God, when world, neither the things in the world, the Holy Spirit, by his sovereign act, for all that is in the world, the lust of regenerates us and makes us new crea- the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the tures in Christ Jesus—What, then, pride of life, is not of the Father but ought to be our conduct in this re- of the world.” Can we, then, indeed, spect? If we are the children of light unite with the world? Beloved bre.. how can we have any association with thren, we must come out of the world, the deeds of darkness ? how can we yea, we must be separate from the walk in darkness ? " Let not man de- world; we must not partake of that ceive you—if we say we have fellow-worldly spirit which is the death of ship with God, and walk in darkness, thousands of thousands. No, we must we lie and do not the truth ; but if we come out from them we must not walk in the light, as He is in the light, have any thing to do with them-we we have fellowship one with another, must not touch the unclean thing and the blood of Jesus Christ, God's we must be separate from them, and son, cleanseth us from all sin.” | God has promised that he will receive us, and be a father unto us, and we may be so known. How shall we shall be his sons and his daughters. know ourselves to be ministers of
Again, if God is light, and love, Christ, for instance, if we do but and righteousness, and holiness, so compare ourselves with the standard likewise God is truth ; therefore, the which the Apostle Paul hath left, children of God must be lovers of whereby to known them. He says :truth and haters of lies, and haters of “Are they ministers of Christ? (I all liars. “And who is a liar but he speak as a fool) I am more; in labours that denieth that Jesus is the Son of more abundant, in stripes above mea. God, he is anti-christ who denieth sure, in prisons more frequent, in both the Father and the Son." Oh, deaths oft. Of the Jews five times rethen shall we go together with those, ceived I forty stripes save one. Thrice shall we make friends of those, whom was I beaten with rods, once was I the Apostle John speaking of, de- stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a clares, “ that it is unlawful to receive night and a day I have been in the deep. and that whoso biddeth them God In journeying often, in perils of waters, speed, is partaker of their evil deeds!” | in perils of robbers, in perils by mine owa No; we must come out from amongst countrymen, in perils by the heathen, them; we must be separate from them, in perils in the city, in perils in the and depend upon it, God will receive wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils us and be a Father unto us.
among false brethren; in weariness But, beloved -brethren, if such be and painfulness, in watchings often, in the character which all who come to hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in Christ must bear, if we can speak this cold and nakedness.” of all the children of God, how much Is there any minister here present more ought they to possess the cha- that can say that he bears these marks racter who are God's ministers, whom of a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ? he has raised up to preach the glad I have never yet met with such a one, tidings of his everlasting Gospel ? and therefore the conclusion I draw Ought not they, above and beyond all
from it is this, that the church is not others, to come out and shew them- | in the same state now that it was in selves separate from this wicked and the days of the Apostle. Now, some perverse generation ? Beloved it ought will say, aye, but the face of the indeed to be so. We ought to shew world is altered, and now they are not forth by our conduct and conversation
so persecuted as they were in consethat we are a peculiar people, a chosen quence. But I say, beloved brethren, generation—that we are a royal priest- if this be the reason, let us be sure of hood, and a holy nation.
one thing, that insomuch as we escape Beloved brethren, the ministers of the persecution of the world, by so Christ are not only to come to Christ, much do we lose the spirituality of but they are to bring others to Christ; the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. for it is God working through their in
If the world cease to persecute, why is strumentality, that brings souls to his it? Is it because the world is come dear Son Jesus Christ. Let us remark, to us, or is it because we are gone to and let us look into the Scriptures, and the world? It is not, it cannot be, see that we are sure that we bear the that the world is come to us, but it marks that are there given, in order to
must be that the church is gone down recognize the true ministers of Christ.
to the world; because, though the But, brethren, this I say, that if we
world has no common principle with look into this present time, we shall
the church, yet the church has with scarcely find any marks whereby we
the world. They have the same body
of Aesh, they are exposed to the same peculiarities of the minister of the temptations continually, and the con- Lord Jesus Christ. sequence is, beloved brethren, the And, beloved brethren, now to conworld can only love us in proportion clude, I may observe, it is because, as it sees its own image reflected upon comparatively speaking, this society us, and sees the image of Jesus Christ is as it were a small and outcast soto be absent. What is it the world ciety, for I speak by comparison, it i hates in us? It is not our own per- a small society, it is but one compasons, it is not the body of flesh and ratively little known and much spoken blood, no, nor our soul either, but it is against, that it is with peculiar pleathe image of Christ which is enstamped sure I stand up as its advocate on this
This the world cannot bear. occasion. I know not, indeed, fully Jesus Christ was the image of God, what measure of success they have and they loved not him—they liked had; I place it not on that; I place it not him—but they slew the Prince of on this, that they are not ashamed of Life, and they crucified the Lord of the Gospel of Christ and those prinGlory. And, beloved, we have the ciples of which I have now been speakimage of Christ upon us, and in pro- ing; and that the great reason that portion as they see that image in us, induces them to go forward is for the in that proportion will they, and must sake of the remnant, according to the they, hate and persecute, and evil en election of grace. “I endure all things,” treat us. Oh, then, it is not us they says Paul, “ for the elect's sake." persecute—it is God they persecute- Beloved, brethren, if we go forth in it is Christ they persecute. “Saul, their principles there is no disappointSaul, why persecutest thou me?" But ment to be met with. We know where whom was Saul persecuting? Not the God call us he will not call us in vain person of our Lord Jesus Christ, but -we know that God has a twofold it was Christ in his members; and he purpose in the preaching of his Gossays, in the twenty-fifth chapter of pel, and that though it be a savour of Matthew, “ Inasmuch as ye have done death unto death to some, yet we shall it unto one of the least of these my not have gone forth without God's brethren, ye have done it unto me.” purpose, for we know that “the GosOh, then, let us see, if we would be pel is the savour either of life unto thought Christian ministers, whether life or of death unto death.” or not we have any thing of these marks. Are we, then, cast out as case, and these being the motives, I evil? Are our names reviled ? Are would entreat you to open your hearts, we said to be deceivers, and yet true ; and your purses likewise, in order to as poor, yet making many rich; as support those ministers, who, as far having nothing, and yet possessing as God has given them opportunities all things ? Are we as the filth of the of doing good, have met with such earth and offscouring of all things ? portions of success as we might raNow, these are the marks of the true tionally expect. We do not, indeed, Apostle of Christ, the true minister of expect to see the whole world conthe Gospel of God. My brethren, I verted by means of their instrumentawould not say that we should wilfully lity, but, in those dark countries, which throw ourselves into persecution and are most eaten up by papal superstibring it on ourselves; but this we tion, in the minds of Babylon on the plainly know from the word of God, one hand, and again, by the open inthat except these things do come, we fidelity of apostate Protestant nations are without one of the most striking on the other; among them we send
se Beloved brethren, this being the
forth ministers to preach the glad tidings of the grace of God, knowing that where that is sounded GoD will bring his people; for it is written,
"all that the father giveth me shall come unto me, and that they do come by means of the preaching of the Gospel."
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. G. WARD,
Psalm, iv. 4.—" Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still."
ONE great cause why sin is so feebly resisted, and that we see and feel it to be so universal, is, that we persist in neglecting the means prescribed for overcoming it. GOD, in the Bible, has been pleased to express plainly the nature of sin, and the seductive arts by which the great enemy of mankind seeks to promote it in the world; but He has also as plainly instructed us how to overcome it. Serious reflection-meditation-self-examinationprayer, and the Holy Sacramentsthese are some of the chief means ordained by Him, who knoweth all our necessities and all our infirmities. If we have diligently sought and applied ourselves to them-well; but otherwise, if we have neglected and desspied them, we must fall. And, in fact, men do fall every day from this very neglect; walking as in no fear of harm or danger, they give no time to meditation, they have no communion with God, or with their own hearts; and religion, if they have recourse to it at all, is but to them a mere formthey know nothing of the spiritual nature of prayer. Thus men fall into many grievous errors which they are ever ready to lay to their weakness and infirmity, but which are alone the effect of their presumption and wicked
It ought to be the care of every Christian minister to impress this on the minds of his congregation; and accordingly my design to-day is, to en
force the duty of communing with ourselves. "Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still." First, then, we must consider the state of our soul as to its chief and eternal interests. Men are apt to think all is right if they avoid the commission of heinous crimes; and all well enough if they preserve a fair character in the world. Yet in the pursuits of that world, how are all their hopes, their mind, and their strength wasted-whether in business, or the affairs of the household, they are equally devoted, and even when nothing is immediately to be done, every thought is directed how to remove obstacles, and to make smooth the way; the grand concern of the soul is overlooked and forgotten, and left "to work out its own salvation," without "fear or trembling." Consider well, my brethren, whether this may not be your case, whether you do not go on trusting all will be well at the last, and wishing to know as little as possible of your spiritual concerns at present? Remember, confidence is not security! And there is a most fatal confidence which leads men to shut their eyes on all that influences the welfare of their souls. The Spirit declared unto the church of Laodicea, "Thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor,
and blind, and naked.” And doth not declares, “ Except a man be converted the Spirit also in these words address and become as a little child, he shall all those who sit down indifferent, or not enter into the kingdom of heaven." careless of their future state? Is it Do I fulfil all righteousness without not alarming to hear in the word of ve do I sincerely desire and pray God these assertions of our poverty for the assistance of the Holy Spirit in and nakedness (though we know it my endeavours, and do I by my actions not)—for it may be we have wilfully prove that the Spirit of God is in me? despised the grace of God, and are In all these, and various other points treading the road which leads to ever- of like kind, must you try yourselves : lasting destruction ; even now, per- they who are deceived, or wilfully haps, on the brink of perdition, be-blind, may “cry peace ;" but it is cause we turn away from the means peace without support, it will fail of making ourselves acquainted with them at the end. And now, my brethat spiritual state which must decide thren, of whom must you enquire these our future happiness or misery. Will questions? Not one of your most any of you then be thus content to go intimate friends could answer them ; on blindfold ? Rather search your own your own heart alone is capable of hearts-if you are in the right way, it doing so,-dive then to the bottom of will afford you greater comfort to that heart, that it may bear witness persevere;
if f you are in error, it may to the good or evil. Let it not be induce you to turn from it while it is pleaded by any one, that this were a yet time. Question yourselves, there- useless task, because we are told that fore, for though perhaps highly es- “the heart is deceitful above all things teemed of men, they judge the outside and desperately wicked;"—when God alone! Seek your own spirit-search so charges us with wickedness and your heart, its temper, its passions, infirmity, it is to encourage us to and the principle by which you are “repent and turn unto Him," and is guided. Ask yourselves—is not my never calculated or intended to fill us carnal spirit indulged, at least in with despair. Only exert yourselves thought? Are my passions subdued, to the utmost-comply with the prinand my temper controled by a sense of ciples of His holy law-rely on His what is right? Do I seek the praise Almighty Power--pray for His enof men, or the praise of God? Am I lightening spirit, and doubt not but He just and charitable to my fellow.crea- will remove the veil from your hearttures ? Try yourselves by the Gospel He will shed light into its inmost reof Christ. Have I a sincere faith-a cesses—and his powerful grace worksteady view of God, my Maker and ing together with your hearty desires Redeemer ? Have I a firm reliance on shall enable you not only to know but His mercies, and an awful dread of amend all its errors.—Thus far we have any thing incurring His displeasure ? admitted the necessity of communing Does it act upon my whole life, puri- with our own hearts ; but the text fying every action and every thought ? goes further, inasmuch as it sets forth Again, the Gospel says, “Repent, that certain times and opportunities for ye may be saved.” Have I humbly doing so. Every time and place is come to repentance and salvation from indeed proper for serious thought and a thorough sense of my utter unwor- meditation, though, in the midst of thiness? Do I abase myself, looking worldly business and company, it were, up to Christ alone for pardon and for perhaps, next to impossible to enter grace? Finally, are my good resolu- into communion with the heart. How tions sincere and earnest ? The Gospel | lamentable, then, the state of those