« PredošláPokračovať »
to the timid swallow her safe place words that they are miserable sinof retreat, so is thine altar, O Lord, ners, and that there is no health in to thy servant : yea blessed are they them; yet in their hearts“
they that dwell in thy house."
trust in themselves that they are J. E. O. E. righteous :" they have no sufficient
sense of the strictness of God's law,
or of their own grievous violations FAMILY SERMONS.—No. CCVI. of it, and hence they do not suita
bly feel their need of an all-suffi. Luke xviii. 9, 10 And he spake cient Saviour: they are “
a generathis parable unto certain which tion pure in their own eyes, yet are trusted in themselves that they were they not washed from their filthi. righteous, and despised others. ness;" thus deceiving themselves Two men went up into the temple with a superficial repentance, a dead to pray; the one a pharisee, and faith, an imperfect and worthless the other a publican.
obedience. To all such, by what
ever name they may be called, or Our blessed Lord “ spake as never to whatever sect they may belong, man spake," and whatever he said this parable is addressed: they may infinitely deserves our most serious justify themselves before men, and, regard : let us therefore consider so far as many of the outward duties the particulars of this most interest- of morality are concerned, they may ing parable, humbly praying for the have an appearance of reason for teaching of his Holy Spirit, that we their justification; they may plead may understand it aright, and find that they do not defraud their neighit profitable for our spiritual in bour of his property, or injure his struction.
good fame, or harden themselves The first circumstance mentioned against his necessities, or withhold in the parable is, the persons to from him the good offices of amiawhom it was addressed" those bleness or affection; but “ God that trusted in themselves that they knoweth their hearts, and many were righteous, and despised others.” things that are highly esteemed This description includes too many among men are abomination in his even of those who profess and call sight,” because of the wrong mothemselves Christians,
It com. tives and selfish or unholy principles prises a sin against God, a sin from which they spring. against our neighbour, and a sinful But besides the sin of justifying estimate of ourselves. Instead of ourselves before God, grounded on deeply feeling and lamenting the a false estimate of our own righdepravity of their nature and their teousness,
parable includes the innumerable sins, negligences, and sin of despising our neighbour. ignorances, there are many who Pride, in all its forms, is offensive to deceive themselves with a false idea God and destructive to man. That of their own goodness, trusting, in individual knows nothing of his own whole or in part, to their supposed heart who can say to his fellowmerits, instead of relying wholly on creature, “ Stand by thyself, come the infinite merits of Christ for par. not near to me, for I am holier than don and acceptance with God. thou.” Even allowing that we have They may not, indeed, venture, in been preserved from many offences their addresses to their Creator, to into which others have fallen, yet say, in the language of the elder who is it that hath made us to differ; brother, in the parable of the Prodi- and what have we that we have not gal Son, “ Lo, these many years do received ? Wby then should we Í serve thee, neither transgressed I boast over athers ? Why should at any time thy commandments ;” we pride ourselves upon our own they may even acknowledge in supposed superior attainments in Christ. OBSERV. No. 290.
religion; on our devout observances; collecting the taxes which the Roour prayers, our fastings,“our alms- mans levied upon the Jews, and givings; when, after all that we were doubly hateful to the people, have done or can do, we are at best both from their customary extorunprofitable servants? And even tions and from their being the agents where there is a real moral differ- inexacting an odious tax fora foreign ence, for which we ought to be and heathen power. But we must not truly grateful to God, it is sinful for judge of men by the name or party us to despise others who may not to which they may seem to belong : have enjoyed equal advantage of a
the heart and the conduct are the religious education, Christian in- tests of character; the former in struction, and good example. The the sight of God, the latter before greater may be our own knowledge mankind. Under the garb of the of scriptural doctrine or our ad- scrupulous and devout Pharisee vances in the graces of the Chris- lurked pride and ostentation, pretian character, the more ready sumption towards God, and unshould we be to bear with, to pity, charitableness towards man; while and to assist those who have been in the person of the Publican, a less privileged than ourselves. reputed sample of all that was most
Having thus declared to whom degrading and odious in human the parable is addressed, our Lord character, were found a humility, proceeds to the parable itself: "Two a penitence, a self-renunciation, men went up into the temple to and a sincere desire to obtain the pray; the one a Pharisee, and the mercy of God, which are recorded other a Publican."
for our edification with the approIn the visible church of Christ, bation of the Great Searcher of all the righteous and the wicked may hearts himself. be seen, like the tares and the wheat, Let us next observe the attitude, growing together; they may resort and listen to the petitions, of these to the same temple, and join in the two worshippers." The Pharisee same acts of devotion ; but He who stood and prayed thus with himself.” reads the heart perceives a wide He approached with a boldness ill difference between them. Of the becoming a sinner in the presence two worshippers in the parable un- of his Creator. We may conceive der consideration, the one was a him selecting the most conspicuous Pharisee, the othera Publican. The place for his pretended devotions ; Pharisees were a sect professing to sounding a trumpet before him, and bé remarkably strict in their lives, anxious to be seen of men. and most zealous for the law of proaching God, a true Christian is God, but they were guilty of the deeply abased in his own estimagreatest insincerity. They loved to tion: far from affecting an ostentapray in conspicuous places, in order tious publicity, he retires into his to be seen of men. For a pretence own secret thoughts, reflecting upon they made long prayers, while they his sinfulness, and the infinite madid not scruple to devour widows jesty and justice of his Creator ; houses. They paid tithes of the nor would he dare even to make most trifling herb, while they neg. his requests known to Him, but lected the weightier matters of the that he is encouraged to do so law, justice, mercy, faith, and love to by his own merciful invitation, God. They cleansed the outside through the merits of that all-suffiof the cup and of the platter, they cient Mediator who has opened a practised divers washings, and they way of access to our justly offended adorned the exterior of the sepul. Creator by his infinitely meritorious chre, while within they were full atonement. The Pharisee approach of ravening and wickedness. The ed the Divine Majesty with a proud Publicans were persons employed in and self-satisfied demeanour; not
so holy men of old; not so the innumerable other offences, both father of the faithful, who, when he against God and man; and because drew near to God, to intercede for he fasted twice in the week, which a perishing city, confessed himself was not required by the law of God, to be but dust and ashes, and prayed and gave tithes of all he possessed, that the Lord might not be angry even to a scrupulous minuteness, he that he had taken upon him to thought it no sin to boast before his speak before him; not so the blessed Maker, to bring in God himself as angels themselves, who veil their his debtor, and to challenge comfaces, and bow in humility before mendation instead of praying for the throne of their Creator, while mercy. He was utterly ignorant they celebrate his praises, and pour both of God and of bimself; for, out before him their grateful ac- had he known either aright, had he knowledgments for his mercies. measured himself by the perfect law
The language of the Pharisee was of his Creator, instead of setting such as we might anticipate from up a self-flattering standard by an one who trusted in himself that he ostentatious comparison with his was righteous, and despised others. neighbour, he had not dared proudly “ God, I thank thee that I am not to stand in the presence of the Alas other men are ; extortioners, mighty, and to narrate his supposed unjust, adulterers ; or even as this virtues, when he ought to have Publican.” Whether he added more, been humbly confessing his sins. we are not told; but these few words In thanking God, at least in words, furnish a sufficient specimen of the for preserving him from various spirit in which he addressed his gross offences, he does not seek for Maker. “God, I thank thee." True, renewed grace and strength to run we ought to be thankful to God for the way of his commandments, but his restraining grace, without which is contented with the attainments there is no excess of evil to which which he supposes himself to have our fallen and corrupt nature might already made. Instead of imploring not lead us; but in the lips of the pardon for his sins, he boasts that Pharisee this was but a heartless he does not require it. Like the formal profession of gratitude: he church of the Laodiceans, he thinks was not truly thankful: he ut. himself rich and increased in goods, tered the language of thanksgiving and having need of nothing, and only as a customary expression, å knows not that he is wretched, and decent acknowledgment, the bet- miserable, and poor, and blind, and ter to introduce his own praises. naked. Such were his lamentable deHis real object in coming to the fects, even supposing that he really temple, under the pretence of pray- believed his own declaration ; but ing, was to utter before God, and how much greater still his guilt if probably in the hearing of the by- that declaration, as, from our Lord's standers, the various virtues for frequent descriptions of the Phariwhich he thought himself distin- sees, we may suppose to have been guished. “I am not as other men the fact, was false and hypocritical, are; extortioners, unjust, adulterers; in order to deceive men while he or even as this publican. I fast mocked God! In either case, we twice in the week; I give tithes of learn from his unhappy example, all that I possess." He shews no carefully to examine ourselves, as sense of his own unworthiness; he to our real state before our Maker ; acknowledges no defect in his obe- and not to rest content with an outdience; because he was not, if we ward shew of religion, destitute of a may believe his statement, an ex- spiritual change of heart. Like the tortioner, or unjust, or an adulterer, Pharisees of old, we may deceive he was satisfied to be proud, self- others, we may even deceive ourrighteous, censorious, and guilty of selves; but we cannot deceive God. He requireth truth in the inward but one plain, simple petition; but parts; he is not satisfied with the that petition was most full of meanname or form of religion ; he will ing. “ God be merciful,” said he, not lower the just requirements of " to me, a sinner." How much is his holy law to the level of our im- indicated in those words! They imperfect conceptions of it, or acquit ply his reverence for the majesty of us, because we either are, or think God; a penitent confession of his ourselves, better than other men, sins; an affecting sense of his own while in his sight we are still cor- unworthiness; an acknowledgment rupt, and guilty, and destitute of of his need of mercy from his ofall true religion. The frame of mind fended Creator, and a consciousness which he requires and approves, is that in that mercy alone was his only the very reverse of that which we hope.- Where the heart is truly imhave been considering, as will ap- pressed with a sense of our sinfulness pear, if we advert to the conduct in the sight of God, our prayer will and language of the other individual be in substance that of the Publican. mentioned in the text, the Publican, The great subject of our petitions of whom it is said, that “ he went will be not any thing worldly, not down to his house justified rather the honours, or riches, or pleasures than the other."
of a vain and sinful life, but the The feelings of this man's mind pardon of our sins, a renewal of our were strikingly displayed in his fallen nature, acceptance with God, outward gestures and demeanour. grace to walk in the way of his com“ Standing afar off, he would not lift mandments, the consolations of his up so much as his eyes to heaven; Holy Spirit, and at length an abunbut smote upon his breast.” He did dant entrance into his kingdom of not press foremost in the throng of glory. All other things will be subworshippers, or study to be seen of ordinate, and will be implored only men: he went up to the temple be- in submission to his Divine will. cause that was the place appointed But mercy, the free favour of God for the worship of God; thire was in Christ, not for the merit of any the visible emblem of his presence, works which we can perform, but there was placed the seat of mercy, springing from his own infinite comand there was prayer wont to be passion to us miserable sinners, will made; but be stood afar oft; he felt be the chief object of our wishes his unworthiness; his eye was bent and prayers. In the most deupon the ground, for his iniquities pressed condition, the prayer of the had taken such hold of him that he Publican will suit our wants; and, could not look up; he smote upon amidst the highest attainments in bis breast, and penitently uttered religion, it will never become superthe few but expressive words which Auous. So long as we continue in formed his humble supplication to the present sinful world, we shall rehis Creator.
main partakers of its defilements, · And what were those words? Did and therefore shall daily need to they contain, like thie address of the pray, “ God be merciful to me a Pharisee, a statement of his own sinner.” good deeds ? Did he dissemble or And what, in conclusion, was the cloak his transgressions before God; issue of the address of the Pharisee, or, if in words he confessed them, and the prayer of the Publican ? did he add some vain excuse to di- The latter “ went down to his house minish their heinousness? or did he justified rather than the other;" that plead the merit of some supposed is, and not the other. The humble virtues, to counterbalance the guilt suit of the penitent Publican found of bis offences; or make promises of acceptance with God: he was abfuture good deeds, to atone for his solved of his sins, and received into past transgressions? No, he uttered favour with his Maker; while the Pharisee, satisfied with his own for boasting, and needing salvation righteousness, and preferring self. through his free mcrcy, in Christ Jeapplause and the honour that cometh sus. On that mercy then let us humfroin man more than the favour of bly rely. If, like the Publican,we conGod, left the presence of his Creator fess our sins, God is faithful and just without any token of approbation. to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse Like Cain, his offering was rejected, us from all unrighteousness. Let because it was not presented as God us look to the cross of Christ, to required. While he was expressing that blood which cleanses from all his contempt for his neighbour, he sin, for the expiation of our transwho discerned what passed in his gressions. And then, being justibeart, far from approving of his self- fied by his merits, let us remember styled excellencies, says of all such his oft-repeated command,“ Go, offerings, “ They are a smoke in my and sin no more;" for vain would nose, a fire that burneth all the day." be our hope, that we shall obtain
We must not, in perusing this pardon by merely adopting the lanparable, fall into the error of sup- guage of the Publican, if we are not posing that it was the moral obser- partakers of the same humility and vances of the Pharisee that caused tenderness of conscience. If we rehis rejection, or the supposed vices gard iniquity in our heart, the Lord of the Publican that peculiarly will not hear us; but if weary and fitted him for the reception of Di- heavy laden under the burden of vine mercy. Of the private life of our transgressions, we come to the either we know nothing; and it is not throne of Divine Mercy, and seek perhaps unlikely that the balance of deliverance from them, we shall find moral virtues might be in favour of pardon and rest unto our souls. the Publican, rather than of his Then, having much forgiven, we ostentatious neighbour. But the shall love much; and our great eflesson which we learn from the pa fort and delight will be to live to the rable is, that whatever may be our glory of Him who thus graciously character in other respects, in the interposed the arm of his mercy for sight of God we are sinful and perish- our deliverance. ing creatures, without any ground
We think it right to insert the follow- Tothe Editorofthe Christian Obscrver. ing Transatlantic communication, on
Nashville, Tennessee. account of its containing a defence of Highly respected Sir, an individual, whose name had been
As I have an opportunity, noticed in our pages.
We must a thing I have wished for many leave our readers to form their own years, of returning you my unjudgment upon it ; only expressing feigned thanks for the instruction that gratitude to God which our and pleasure that I have derived correspondent reasonably judges we from the perusal of your excellent ought to feel, that our humble la. work, I now embrace it. I was bours should be found useful in re- educated in Scotland in Presbytemote parts of the world, where we rian principles, and had some preshould scarcely have ventured to judices against your church ; but suppose they would be known even the perusal of the Christian Obby name.
server has completely removed them.