« PredošláPokračovať »
those in his visible church in so equitable proportion "one to another. Is is true, he is a sovereign, and does not give to all advantages alike. In this as well as other refpects, to fome he gives ten talents, to others five, and to others one. But then he requires from gone any more than in proportion to their talents, And besides that, in relation to the state of the church from one age to another, there may be observed a remarkable balancing of adyantages and disadvantages :, of which the case before us is one instance, the state of those who faw Christ in the flesh, and of those who have not seen him."
2. We may see the necessity of divine grace · in order to saving faith in every age of the church. During Christ's ministry, and since also, the Gospel is to 6 fome a favour of life
unto _life,” and to others - of death unto death ;" and in both periods, faith is to be
confidered as “the gift of God," Eph. ii. 8. When the Gospel was effectual to produce saving faith in the primitive times, it was “ the power of God unto salvation,” Rom. i. 16. 6s mighty through God;" and so it is still. And therefore, while we are considering the , excellencies of Gospel-discoveries in them. *selves, and the evidences given us of their
truth, we should earnestly apply to God for his grace to form our minds to a faith un. féigned, a faith of the operation of God; and through the whole course of the christian life, which is animated by faith, we should make our daily prayer, “ Lord increase our faith,"
Euke xvii. 5.
3. ,Wemay, collect the usefulness of a standing ministry in the church, Since Christ has lefto the world, and was a preacher of his Gofpel in perfon only for a few years and to one country ; it was fit that there should be fomé in every age and in all places, as far as may be to preach the Gofpel to every creature. ** How shall men call on him, whom they have not believed ?' and how shall
they believe in him, of whom they have not heard ? and how shall they hear without a preacher ?” Rom. x. 14. For this purpose the apostles were first employed to propagate the Gospel ; but they did not leave the matter there, but appointed Welders (standing presbyters) to be ordained in every city,” Tit. i. 5. And Paul enjoins Timothy, 2 Tim. ii. 2. “ The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses the fame commit thou to faithfulmen, who shall be able to teach others also.” If it
should be said, that the need of such is now ta superseded by the Gospel's being committed
to writing : I answer; the writings of the New Testament appoint this farther provision, as in the place just mentioned, and therefore for certain do not supersede it. All our doctrine indeed must be tried by the written word; and we are not “ lords of mens faith : but helpers of their joy;" and nothing which we can deliver hath any authority, farther than we can support it by evidence from the Scriptures. But the business of ministers is to help you to understand the Scriptures, and to represent to your consciences the truths contained there. If there were no such provision, I
believe religion would-be at a far lower ebb in the world than it is. It is God's appointed and usảal way for bringing men to the ou bedience of faith, and for the perfecting of the saints, to instruct, admonish and exhort men by men like themselves, who have the same everlasting interests to mind; and need the fame Saviour as they do.
4. We have reason to be content with the circumstances of that age of the world, wherein our lot is caft. "We are favoured with sufi ficient advantages, and are encouraged to apply for the same grace to make them effe&tuala And indeed the condition we are in, that we fee not the Saviour in whom we believe, is. entirely of a piece with the rest of a Chriftian's ftate in this world. The main objects of our
attention and concern, as Christians, are * things invisible,“ We walk by faith and not by fight,” 2 Cor. v. 7. We look not at the things, which are seen, but at the things which are not seen," chap. iv. 18. Our chief concern is with an invilible God, Heb. xi. 27. The principal benefits we have to valus are fpiritual blessings, Eph. i. 3, and the inheritance we are born to is out of sight. It is suitable therefore to all the rest, that our Redeemer should be fo too. This is a circumstance which may greatly contribute to * promote one principal branch of the christian *
disposition, to aspire after a heavenly country, when we must consider our dear Saviour as already there at the right hand of God," Col. iii. i. It facilitates to a Christian the work of dying, to think that his death is not
a removal from his Lord, but going to him.
5. Let us be very folicitous, that under our many advantages, and by the help of that grace so ready to be bestowed, we may lieve to the saving of our souls.” That every part of the testimony which God hath borne to his Son, be readily entertained by us; and that we receive and appropriate him to ourselves for all the uses and purposes for which he is offered in the Gospel.
6. - Let our faith in him be allowed its proper practical influence upon the whole chrif tian temper and life.. More immediately upon those holy dispositions towards Christ himself, of which the text speaks ;- love to him and joy in him.. If our faith thus work by * love, and work us up to the genuine joy of living Christians, this cannot fail to animate the whole of the divine life.
Love to Christ.:
1. Pet. i. 8. Vhom, having not feen, ye love : In whom, though now ye fee him not, yet believing, që srejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory
HE practical regards we owe to the Lord
Jesus himself, make an eminent and diftinguishing part of the christian temper: of which regards these words may be understood
as a summary. How should Christians ftand affected to their master ? Just as these antiene Christians in the text were affected towards him. Their first concern should be, that they, may have a genuine, a firm and lively faith in him ; so they had, whom St. Peter celebrates, though they had never seen him in the flesh, any more than we. Then their faith in him kindled in their breasts a holy and strong affection to him : and upon the foundation of faith and love, they were able to rise up to ao triumphant joy in him:
The first of these, faith in hin, has been ther. subject of a former discourse. This is to be employed in the second branch.
II. Love to Christ; as the fruit of faith in him, though he is unseen, is a necessary part : of the chriftian difpofition. It is fó neceffa-ry, that on the one hand, all those that'are. deftitute of it lie under a dreadful curse ; a curse pronounced by an apoftie under the fpirit of inspiration, i Cor. xvi. 22.. “If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maran-atha ;" accursed, tih. the Lord comes. And on the other hand, all who are truly of this disposition, are en-couraged by the apostle's benediction to ex.. pect all the fruits of divine favour, Eph. vi. 24.
66 Grace be with all them who love our Lord Jesus Ghrift in fincerity."
In the prosecution of this, I shall shew, ift, , the grounds of a Christian's affection to Chriit: 2dly, The characters of it. And, 3dly, The ways in which it is to be exprefled.