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upright shall be blessed.” From the begin- | shall be last.—Many shall come from the ning God has done good to some for the sake east and the west, and shall sit down with of others. Though Ishmael was denied the Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the king. blessing of Isaac, " yet,” says God to Abra- dom of heaven; but the children of the king. ham, "I will make him a nation, because he dom shall be cast into outer darkness; there is thy seed.” Moses tells the Israelites that shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." they were not preferred to national privileges The subject addresses the young, with refor their righteousness; "only the Lord had gard to a very momentous concern, which a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he should always be entered upon with prayer chose their seed after them, even you above and deliberation : I mean, the choice of comall people, as it is this day.” “I will defend panions for life. Much should be looked for this city for my own sake and for my servant in the individuals themselves; but connex. David's sake," said God to Hezekiah, when ions are of consequence, and should not if the Assyrian besieged Jerusalem. Many possible, be overlooked. You should consiother instances might be mentioned in which der not only whom, but whose you are about we find God bestowing favours from a re- to choose. 'An intercourse will of necessity gard to good men, even ages after their take place with their families—Is it likely to death.
be respectable and improving ? or injurious It is neither possible nor necessary to de- and contaminating ? There is also a retrotermine how far this regard extends, or in spective influence to be valued or fearedwhat particular ways it may sometimes ope- What do they inherit? What is entailed rate : but the fact is beyond dispute. And upon them from ancestors—a blessing or a how morally instructive and encouraging is curse ? it! What an appeal does it make to the There was a time when your forefathers heart of a parent !"If you would fill up that made this a subject of serious reflection. In tender and important relation to advantage; those better days, children never thought of if you would be useful even when you are no acting without the advice of their parents ; longer in this world; be concerned to please and their parents, like the patriarchs, dever and glorify God. Devote yourselves to him thought of sending them to the daughters of whose promise is to you and to your children. the land, but to the houses of their own peoThe way to bless your offspring is to be re-ple. Thus pious families combined ; and while ligious yourselves.” “A good man leaveth religion was befriended by marriage, it amply an inheritance to his children's children." repaid the respect shown it by perpetuating a
What an inheritance then does the sinner godly seed. This pious prudence has long leave to his offspring !-No instructionsex- been set at nought by children and parents ; cept such as regard the present evil world; and the effects are too obvious to be denied, no example--but of folly and wickedness; no and too serious not to be deplored. prayers--but recorded in their place, oaths “() God, satisfy us early with thy mercy, and lies; no sanctified substance; no triumph that we mfy rejoice and be glad all our days. in death; no providential alliance-nothing -- Make us glad according to the days wherebut what will lead the children to rise up in in thou hast afflicted us, and the years where the judgment against their parents, and cause in we have seen evil.- Let thy work appear them to be put to death !
unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their How unhappy the condition of those chil children. And let the beauty of the Lord dren whose parents are ungodly! Let us pity our God be upon us; and establish thou the them.“ Let us pray for them. Let us also work of our hands upon us; yea, the work encourage them. “Let not the son of the of our hands establish thou it." stranger," says Isaiah, “ that has joined himself to the Lord, say, He has utterly separated me from his people.” He will cast out none
DISCOURSE LXI. that come to him. And, partakers of his grace, you may be the means of saving those
DIVINE KNOWLEDGE. who ought to have endeavoured to save you.
Let us hail those who are happy enough God, who commanded the light to shine out of to claim godly parents. You ought to be darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give more thankful than if you had been born of the light of the knowledge of the glory of nobles or princes. Your obligations to God God in the face of Jesus Christ.--2 Cor. are inexpressible. But your responsibility
iv. 6. rises with your advantages. “To whom The original production of the world is a much is given, from them will be much re- striking subject of contemplation. It exhibits quired.” And remember that nothing can be a marvellous display of Divine power; and a substitute for personal religion. Pious re- serves to distinguish the works of God from lationship cannot save you. The rich man the operations of man. Man can do little ; in hell called Abraham father. “There are God can do every thing. Man can only act last that shall br first, and there are first that in consequence of a capacity given hine; God has an all-sufficiency in himself. Man does and gross darkness the people:" and the Aposnothing without labour and toil; God aets tle, referring to the state of the Gentiles, bewith infinite ease: " he speaks, and it is done; fore they received the benefit of the gospel, he commands, and it stands fast.” Man's work- describes them as "alienated from the life of manship must resemble the materials from God through the ignorance that was in them, which it is derived; but it is the prerogative because of the blindness of their hearts." The of God to bring order out of confusion, and exemplifications of this truth are numerous good out of evil.
and awful. Hence the sacred writers frequently speak There is only one God, the Former of all of the creation. They sometimes adduce it things: but the world had lost the knowledge as a sovereign consideration to relieve the of him so early, that it is hard to determine fears of God's people, arising from their dan- at what period idolatry commenced. But gers and difficulties, “ Who art thou that thou they “had lords many, and gods many.” The shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, least exceptionable kind of idolatry seemed and the son of man which shall be made as to be the adoration of the heavenly bodies: grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, yet even this betrayed their ignorance, that that hath stretehed forth the heavens, and they would worship and serve any of his crealaid the foundations of the earth ?–Our help tures, however great and useful, “ more than is in the name of the Lord that made heaven the Creator, who is God over all blessed for and earth.”
evermore.” But they descended much lower; At other times they allude to it as holding and "worshipped birds, and four-footed beasts, forth an image of Divine agency, in the reno- and creeping things." A dog was adored : a vation of our nature. With this view the fly was deified. Apostle, in one place, says, “We are his As the object of worship was misunderworkmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto stood, so the service rendered him was no good works.” In another, he enjoins us to longer a reasonable service. Even human
put on the new man, which after God is blood streamed upon their altars; and the created in righteousness and true holiness." "fruit of the body was frequently offered for And in the words that await our meditation, the sin of the soul.” Innumerable other he tells us; “God, who commanded the light usages prevailed, which, though less cruel, to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our were not less absurd. Indeed it is scarcely hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of possible for us to imagine to what a degree the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." the human mind was imposed upon and de
It is commonly and reasonably supposed graded. But ali history bears testimony to it. that the Apostle refers to a sentence recorded -Such were the practices of mankind from by Moses in his account of the creation : "He age to age; and such are the delusions of said, let there be light, and there was light." mankind even now in countries unblessed with Longinus, the heathen, having met with this revelation. sentence, mentions it as an instance of the There are persons who acknowledge this true sublime. The reason is obvious. It to be a just statement of the heathen world; combines simplicity and grandeur; facility of but will not allow the application of our charge operation, and immensity of effect. Paul, to those nations that enjoy the advantages of brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and versed the Gospel. These advantages we cannot too in the poetry of Greece, was no stranger to highly value. But is there no difference bethe "excelleney of speech;" but he lays hold tween the possession of means and the proper of this passage, not to illustrate the nature use of them? Are men secure from error of style, but to exemplify the doctrine of di- and delusion in a land of vision? Do we not vine grace. “God, who commanded the light often see their ignorance in their views of to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our the evil of sin? in their apprehensions of the hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of way of salvation ? in their indifference to the the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." things that belong to their everlasting peace!
The saving knowledge of God is our sub- in their subjection to the world ? in their disject: and we are here led to consider-I. affection to God? For this is the decision of THE NECESSITY OF IT. 11. THE MEDIUM OP the Scripture; “He that loveth not, knoweth III. THE RESIDENCE OF IT. IV. THE not God, for God is love."
“ If we say we
have fellowship with him, and walk in dark. I. THE NECESSITY OF IT. Nothing can be ness; we lie, and do not the truth.” “He done without it; and yet we are naturally that saith he is in the light, and hateth his destitute of it.
brother, is in darkness even until now.” The When God viewed the earth, it was form- rays of the sun may shine around a man, and less and void, “and darkness was upon the upon him, while yet, because of his blindness, face of the deep;" and he produced what he he may grope in darkness at noon-day: “ the did not find. So, when he comes to the soul, light shineth in darkness, and the darkness he sees it full of disorder and ignorance. Thus comprehendeth it not.” we read, that “darkness covered the earth, We may be delivered from gross idolatry,
and yet indulge in a more refined species of return to him. We do not find that those it, and which is equally destructive to the who are most familiar with the wonders of soul. Many would be shocked to bow down be- the creation are the most devoted to him. fore a stock or a stone, and yet they transfer to Some of them feel an overpowering admirasome creature the dependence and service they tion of a Being so wise ; and may discover owe to the Lord of all. They make “ gold an awful reverence for a Being so great; but their hope, and fine gold their confidence.” | they know nothing of the sentiments resultThe “ covetous" man " is an idolater;" so ing from reconciliation and friendship. The is he that “ loves the praise of men more Scripture leads us back to God by the cross. than the praise of God.” Education may “ We have boldness to enter into the holiest dispose us to revere the Sabbath, and to yield by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living a customary attention to the ordinances of way, which he has consecrated for us through religion ; but grace alone can so act upon the the vail, that is to say, his flesh. He has heart as to enable us to worship “ him who once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, is a Spirit, in spirit and in truth."
that he might bring us unto God.” If he But this knowledge of which we are des- had not assumed the office of mediator, and titute, is not a matter of indifference. It is lived and died for us, we should never have of indispensable importance. “For the soul obtained any acquaintance with him that to be without knowledge,” says Solomon, would operate as the principle of our reco“ it is not good.” The soul without know- very.-- We might have known that there ledge, is like the body without the eye, or was a God, but not that he was our God. the earth without the sun. The devil main-We might have known his power and righttains his empire by error; but God maintains eousness, by the wrath we should have sufhis cause by truth. One reigns in a kingdom fered; but we could have known nothing of of darkness, the other in a kingdom of light. his giving us eternal life, for “ this life is in The one blinds all his followers, and all their his Son." works are works of darkness, the other en- It is in him that we see the union and lightens his subjects: he engages them by harmony of the divine perfections. It is in choice; and they “ are all the children of him that we see “ the just God and the Sathe day; they are not of the night, nor of viour.” It is in him that we see the glory darkness." Ignorance is not the mother of of God without being dazzled to death by the their devotion : they know whom they wor- effulgence. There it is softened; there it is ship, and why they worship him. In a word, approachable ; there it is inviting. There all God's operations in his people are begun we have the only discovery of him that could and carried on in the illumination of the meet our case—the immensity of his commind. Take repentance, faith, patience, passion; the exceeding riches of his grace; courage, love,—what are these? If they do the pledge of his readiness to admit us to not result from, and are not influenced by just favour and forgiveness. This alone can diviews of things, which supply what we call vest us of that fear which follows guilt
, and motives, they are not Christian graces, nor necessarily produces enmity and flight when even moral virtues.
there is no prospect of reconciliation. “We II. Observe THE MEDIUM OF THIS KNOW- are saved by hope:” and here it must be LEDGE: we have the light of the knowledge inspired : “ he that spared not his own Son of God " in the face of Jesus Christ.” “ No but delivered him up for us all, how shall he man hath seen God at any time; the only not with him also freely give us all things?" begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the III. We are led to THE RESIDENCE OF Father, he hath declared him." And how THIS KNOWLEDGE. It is the heart; he hath did he declare him? Not only by the doc- shined " in our hearts,” to give us the light trines he taught, but by the work to which of the knowledge of the glory of God in the he was appointed ; and by his temper, his face of Jesus Christ. It is an awful truth life, his character. If we would know what that we may perish not only by ignorance, God is, we must learn of him “ who went but by knowledge. There is a knowledge about doing good :" and who said to Philip, possessed by many who hear the Gospel
, that “ He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; will only aggravate their sin and enhance and how sayest thou then, Show us the Fa- their condemnation. ther?" Hence he is called “ The image of We are far from pleading for a zeal withthe invisible God; the brightness of his glory, out knowledge ; but let us not rest in a knowand the express image of his person.” ledge without zeal. We read in the Scrip
Much of God is indeed displayed in the ture of " a form of knowledge," works of nature. Impressions of his per- " a form of godliness.” Our creed may be fections appear in the largest, and in the orthodox, while our affections are worldly
. least. The heavens declare his glory; and The head may be clear while the heart is 80 does every blade of grass. But these cold. But the religion of Jesus is addressed works are more adapted and designed to aid to the heart; and as the heart is, so is the us when we know God, than to produce our man; so is his state; so is his character.
as well as
The knowledge of which the Apostle here | meek will he guide in judgment: and the speaks is very distinguishable from mere meek will he teach his way.” The same opinion and speculation; it has to do with must be said. “For the natural man underthe heart. It affects it first in a way of godly standeth not the things of the Spirit of God: sorrow. There is a “ broken heart" which neither can he know them because they are "God will not despise :” and here it is pro- spiritually discerned.” The nature, the effiduced. “ They shall look upon him whom cacy, the blessedness of this knowledge prove they have pierced, and they shall mourn for it to be of a divine original. And to this him, as one mourneth for his only son; and every believer readily subscribes. He may shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is often question whether he is the subject of in bitterness for his first-born.”—Secondly; this illumination; but he never doubts wheit affects the heart in a way of desire. The ther God is the source of it. He acknowman longs to appropriate what he discovers. ledges that by his grace he is what he is : Such earnestness he feels to obtain nothing and on him who has begun this good work else. It is called “ hungering and thirsting he is depending for the progress and compleafter righteousness.” And it is as durable tion of it: “ Open thou mine eyes, that I as it is powerful. Instead of being satisfied, may behold wondrous things out of thy law. it is increased by indulgence : and the prayer Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou constantly is, “ I beseech thee, show me thy art the God of my salvation; on thee do I glory." __ Thirdly : it affects the heart in a wait all the day.” way of complacency. The believer not only O that you would think of this ! Till God submits, but acquiesces. He submits indeed has revealed his Son in you, you know noto this plan of salvation from necessity-for thing as you ought to know. Many are there is no other: but if other methods of proud of their attainments who are mere fools salvation were possible, he would reject them in the view of Heaven. “Vain man would all; he would enter no other refuge; he be wise, though he be born like a wild ass's would build on no other foundation; he would colt." —And here he is ruined. He goes on walk in no other way. His necessity is his without prayer, relying upon himself, and choice. He is not only relieved, but delight- supposing that he is equal to his own direced: and so far from being ashamed, he tion; and in the greatness of his delusion he glories : as it is written, “ Blessed is the eternally goes astray. Whereas the man people that know the joyful sound: they that is convinced of his ignorance, and feels shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy coun- his insufficiency to understand divine things tenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all without a divine teacher, falls upon his knees, the day: and in thy righteousness shall they and immediately finds an Interpreter, who be exalted." It also affects the heart in a will lead him into all truth. “ This is the way of gratitude. We see, we feel that we way, walk ye in it.” The wise and the prudent are not our own, but bought with a price, and may sneer at the supposed enthusiasm of such bound to glorify God in our body and in our a course; but we know the authority that has spirit, which are God's. We love him be- prescribed it: “ If any of you lack wisdom, cause he first loved us; and cannot but ask, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men what shall we render unto the Lord for all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be his benefits towards us? This disposition given him.” becomes the source of all cheerful obedience, Are the
whom this revelaand animates him in every exertion, and in tion has been made? Cannot you, with humevery sacrifice he is called to make.
ble confidence, say, " Whereas I was once
blind, now I see?' I was living without God; “ Were the whole realm of nature mine That were a present far too small ;
God was not in all my thoughts : but I sought Love so amazing, so divine,
and I found him, found him in Christ .reconDemands my soul, my life, my all."
ciling the world unto himself, not imputing IV. We are led to THE AUTHOR OF THIS their trespasses unto them. I was turned KNOWLEDGE. It is God himself. “ He who from dumb idols to serve the living and true commanded the light to shine out of darkness, God; and to wait for his Son from heaven.' hath shined in our hearts, to give the light No longer asking, Who will show me any of the knowledge of the glory of God in the good? The Lord is my portion,' said my face of Jesus Christ." When Peter had soul, “therefore will I hope in him.' And Oh! made a good confession, our Lord said unto what a different life have I since led! I have him, “ Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for not only heard that a life of communion with flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto God, and of devotedness to him, is blessed, thee, but my Father which is in heaven." but I have found it so; and I am rejoicing in The same may be said of every enlightened the hope, in the earnests, in the foretastes of sinner. The same is said. “ All thy chil- the glory that shall be revealed.” dren shall be taught of the Lord."
What a mercy that the doctrine you have secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; been hearing is not an unexperienced truth, and he will show them his covenant. The nor a truth you have to confess with regard
to others. You can say,
“God, who com
I. “A CERTAIN MAN HAD A FIG TREE manded the light to shine out of darkness, PLANTED IN HIS VINEYARD." This "certain hath shined in our hearts, to give us the man” denotes God. To him every thing belight of the knowledge the glory of God in longs. “ The earth is his, and the fulness the face of Jesus Christ !"
thereof; the world and they that dwell thereAnd for what purpose has he done this? in.” But the Church is peculiarly his, as it But that you should " show forth the praises is called by his name, and formed to show of him who hath called you out of darkness forth his praise. It is often held forth in the into his marvellous light. Ye were darkness, Scripture by a vineyard, while the wide but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as world is as frequently represented by a wilchildren of the light.”
derness. This church, in its external and
among God's people are found wicked men;
men who have indeed “a name to live, but
are dead ;" and wear " the form of godliness, THE BARREN FIG TREE. but deny the power thereof.”
This circumstance enables us to answer a (NEW YEAR'S DAY.) Lord, let it alone this year also.—Luke xiii. 8. question of great importance—Who is in
tended by the “fig tree” planted in this vine It is impossible to do justice to the cha-yard ?-It cannot be a real Christian. All the racter, or even manner of our Saviour as a truly regenerate are fruitful. They are not preacher. But even his enemies exclaimed, indeed equally, but they are really fruitful
. 6 Never man spake like this man.” Much of The good ground brought forth in one place the singular interest that he always excited thirty, in another sixty, in a third a hundred in his hearers arose from his perfect acquain- fold: but though it yielded in different pro tance with human nature; from the tender portion, every part of it was productive soil
. ness of his feelings; from his improvement –The character here intended is a man of present occurrences; and from his com- placed in the external and visible church, mand of imagery. We have often remarked and enjoying all the privileges of such a faa difference between our Lord and men of voured situation. It was once the highly faerudition. When the latter avail themselves voured Jew, to “whom pertained the adop, of allusions, they are ambitious of selecting tion, and the glory, and the covenants, and those that do not so much illustrate their the giving of the law, and the service of God, subject, as serve to display their reading and and the promises; whose were the fathers, science: they are classical and artificial, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ rather than familiar and natural; and by be came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. ing unintelligible to the generality of man- Amen.” It is now the highly favoured Chris kind, are unimpressive and useless. But all tian, blessed with all the religious advantages the comparisons of the latter are derived of Judaism, multiplied, improved, perfected: from the common scenes and operations of it is now the highly favoured Briton, born not nature. They are such as all
, however igno- only in a land of freedom and science, but of rant, can understand and feel. They are Gospel groce. It is thou who wast brought up constantly to be met with ; they become a in a godly family, and favoured with the pras; substitute for books and teachers; they ena-ers, the instructions, the examples, the tears of ble people, wherever they are, to teach them- pious parents. It is thou who hast a name and selves, and to find in a field, a garden, a vine- a place in his sanctuary, from Sabbath to Sabyard, nothing less than the house of God, and bath, where thine eyes see thy teachers:
and the gate of heaven.—“He spake also this thy ears hear a voice behind thee, saying, This parable ; A certain man had a fig tree planted is the way, walk ye in it, when you turn to in his vineyard; and he came and sought the right hand, and when you turn to the left." fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your unto the dresser of his vineyard; Behold, ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, these three years I come seeking fruit on that many prophets and righteous men have this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; desired to see those things which ye see, and why cumbereth it the ground ? And he an- have not seen them; and to hear those things swering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this which ye hear, and have not heard them.” year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung Few are aware of the value of such privileges it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then Few consider themselves as accountable for after that thou shalt cut it down."
the use of them. Few, few indeed! are conIn this parable Four things require atten- cerned to improve them. And thus we find tion. THE PLANTATION OF THE FIG TREE this fig tree, though planted in a rich soil, THE COMPLAINT OF THE PROPRIETOR. The and where nothing was wanting to make it BENTENCE OF DESTRUCTION. THE INTERCES- fruitful, was all barrenness. For observe,
II. THE COMPLAINT OF THE PROPRIETOR. “ Behold,” says he to the vine-dresser, " these
BION OF THE VINE-DRESSER TO SUSPEND THE