Obrázky na stránke

frequently suffer the estrangement of kinsfolks,--the loss of the friends that were as their own soul. They find the truth of their Lord's word, (concerning the event, though not the design of his coming,) "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace upon earth ? I tell you, Nay; bu. rather division,” Luke xii, 51. And hence will naturally follow loss of business or employment, and consequently of substance. But all these circumstances likewise are under the wise direction of God, who allots to every one what is most expedient for him.

7. But the persecution which attends all the children of God is that our Lord describes in the following words : “ Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, [shall persecute by reviling you,) and say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake.” This cannot fail; it is the very badge of our discipleship; it is one of the seals of our calling; it is a sure portion entailed on all the children of God: if we have it not, we are bastards and not sons. Straight through evil report, as well as good report, lies the only way to the kingdom. The meek, serious, humble, zealous lovers of God and man are of good report among their brethren; but of evil report with the world, who count and treat them as the filth and offscouring o all things."

8. Indeed some have supposed that, before the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, the scandal of the cross will cease; that God wil. cause Christians to be esteemed and loved even by those who are as yet in their sins. Yea, and sure it is, that even now he at some times suspends the contempt as well as the fierceness of men ; "he makes a man's enemies to be at peace with him” for a season, and gives him favour with his bitterest persecutors. But setting aside this exempt case, the scandal of the cross is not yet ceased; but a man may say still, If I please men, I am not the servant of Christ.”. Let no man therefore regard that pleasing suggestion, (pleasing doubtless to flesh and blood,) “That bad men only pretend to hate and despise them that are good, but do indeed love and esteem them in their hearts." Not so : they may employ them sometimes; but it is for their own profit. They may put confidence in them; for they know their ways are not like other men's. But still they love them not; unless so far as the Spirit of God may be striving with them. Our Saviour's words are express : If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Yea, (setting aside what exceptions may be made by the preventing grace, or the peculiar providence of God,) it hateth them as cordially and sincerely as ever it did their Master.

9. It remains only to inquire, How are the children of God to behave with regard to persecution ? And, first, they ought not knowingly or designedly to bring it upon themselves. This is contrary, both to the example and advice of our Lord and all his apostles; who teach us not only not to seek, but to avoid it, as far as we can, without injuring our conscience; without giving up any part of that righteousness which we are to prefer before life itself

. So our Lord expressly saith, "When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another;" which is indeed, when it can be taken, the most unexceptionable way of avoiding persecution.

10. Yet think not that you can always avoid it, either by this or any other means. If ever that idle imagination steals into your heart, put it

to flight by that earnest caution, "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” But will this screen you from persecution ? Not unless you have more wisdom than your Master, or more innocence than the Lamb of God.

Neither desire to avoid it, to escape it wholly; for if you do, you are none of his. If you escape the persecution, you escape the blessing; the blessing of those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. If you are not persecuted for righteousness' sake, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. “If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him, he will also deny us.

11. Nay, rather, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad," when men persecute you for his sake; when they persecute you by reviling you, and by saying all manner of evil against you falsely;" which they will not fail to mix with every kind of persecution : they must blacken you to excuse themselves : “For so persecuted they the prophets which were before you ;"—those who were most eminently holy in heart and life; yea, and all the righteous which ever have been from the beginning of the word. Rejoice, because by this mark also ye know unto whom ye belong; and " because great is your reward in heaven,”—the reward purchased by the blood of the covenant, and freely bestowed in proportion to your sufferings, as well as to your holiness of heart and life. “ Be exceeding glad;" knowing that these " light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

12. Meantime, let no persecution turn you out of the way of lowliness and meekness, of love and beneficence. “Ye have heard (indeed] that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;" ver. 38; and your miserable teachers have hence allowed you to avenge yourselves, to return evil for evil; “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil :”—not thus; not by returning it in kind. But,” rather than do this,“ whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go mile, go with him twain.”

So invincible let thy meekness be. And be thy love suitable thereto. “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” Only, give not away that which is another man's, that which is not thine own. Therefore, 1. Take care to owe no man any thing: for what thou owest is not thy own, but another man's. 2. Provide for those of thine own household : this also God hath required of thee; and what is necessary to sustain them in life and godliness, is also not thine own. Then, 3. Give or lend all that remains, from day to day, or from year to year : only first, seeing thou canst not give or lend to all, remember the household of faith.

13. The meekness and love we are to feel, the kindness we are to show, to them which persecute us for righteousness' sake, our blessed Lord describes farther in the following verses : oh that they were engraven upon our hearts ! “ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy:" ver. 43, &c: God indeed had said only the former part, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour;'


bear a

the children of the devil had added the latter, "and hate thy enemy:" “But I say unto you,” 1. “Love your enemies :" see that you tender good will to those who are most bitter of spirit against you; who wish you

all manner of evil. 2. “Bless them that curse. Are there any whose bitterness of spirit breaks forth in bitter words ? who are continually cursing and reproaching you when you are present, and "saying all evil against you” when absent ? So much the rather do you bless : in conversing with them, use all mildness and softness of language. Reprove them, by repeating a better lesson before them ; by showing them how they ought to have spoken. And in speaking of them, say all the good you can, without violating the rules of truth and justice. 3. “Do good to them that hate you :" let your

actions show, that you are as real in love as they in hatred. Return good for evil. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” 4. If you can do nothing more, at least“ Pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." You can never be disabled from doing this; nor can all their malice or violence hinder you. Pour out your souls to God, not only for those who did this once, but now repent :—this is a little thing : “If thy brother, seven times a day, turn and say unto thee, I repent;" Luke xvii, 3; that is, if, after ever so many relapses, he give thee reason to believe that he is really and thoroughly changed; then thou shalt forgive him, so as to trust him, to put him in thy bosom, as if he had never sinned against thee at all. But pray for, wrestle with God for those that do not repent, that now despitefully use thee and persecute thee. Thus far forgive them, "not until seven times only, but until seventy times seven,” Matt. xviii, 22. Whether they repent or no, yea, though they appear farther and farther from it, yet show them this instance of kindness : “ That ye may be the children,” that ye may approve yourselves the genuine children,“ of your Father which is ini heaven;" who shows his goodness by giving such blessings as they are capable of, even to his stubbornest enemies; " who maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye! Do not even the publicans the same ?" Matt. v, 46 ;-who pretend to no religion ; whom ye yourselves acknowledge to be without God in the world. “ And if ye salute,” show kindness in word or deed, to

your brethren,” your friends or kinsfolk, "only; what do ye more than others ?”-than those who have no religion at all? “Do not even the publicans so ?” Nay, but follow ye a better pattern than them. In patience, in long suffering, in mercy, in beneficence of every kind, to all, even to your bitterest persecutors ; “Be ye [Christians} perfect, (in kind, though not in degree, even as your Father which is in heaven, is perfect,” ver. 48.

III. Behold Christianity in its native form, as delivered by its great Author! This is the genuine religion of Jesus Christ! Such he presents it to him whose eyes are opened. See a picture of God, so far as he is imitable by man! A picture drawn by God's own hand! “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish!" Or rather, wonder and adore ! Rather cry out, is this the religion of Jesus of Nazareth? The religion which I persecuted? Let me no more be found even to fight against God. Lord, what wouldest thou have me to do? What beauty appears in the whole! How just a symmetry! Whet exact proportion in every part Vori. I.


How desirable is the happiness here described! How venerable, how lovely the holiness! This is the spirit of religion; the quintessence of it. These are indeed the fundamentals of Christianity. Oh that we may not be hearers of it only !" like a man beholding his own face in a glass, who goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. Nay, but let us steadily “look into this perfect law of liberty, and continue therein.” Let us not rest, until every line thereof is transcribed into our own hearts. Let us watch, and pray, and believe, and love, and “strive for the mastery," till every part of it shall appear in our soul, graven there by the finger of God; till we are "holy as He which hath called us is holy, perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect!"

SERMON XXIV.-Upon our Lord's Sermon on the Mount.


“ Ye are the salt of the earth : hut if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted ? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

“ Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick ; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matt. v, 13-16.

1. The beauty of holiness, of that inward man of the heart which is renewed after the image of God, cannot but strike every eye which God hath opened, -every enlightened understanding. The ornament of a meek, humble, loving spirit, will at least excite the approbation of all those who are capable, in any degree, of discerning spiritual good and evil. From the hour men begin to emerge out of the darkness which covers the giddy, unthinking world, they cannot but perceive how desirable a thing it is to be thus transformed into the likeness of him that created us.

This inward religion bears the shape of God so visibly impressed upon it, that a soul must be wholly immersed in flesh and blood, when he can doubt of its divine original. We may say of this in a secondary sense, even as of the Son of God himself, that it is the “brightness of his glory, the express image of his person ;" atauyaoua sms došnis aurx,--the beaming forth of his eternal glory, and yet so tempered and softened, that even the children of men may herein see God and live ; xagaxtne TNS UTOSUOEWS Aur8,--the character, the stamp, the living impression of his person, who is the Fountain of beauty and love, the original source of all excellency and perfection.

2. If religion therefore were carried no farther than this, they could have no doubt concerning it; they should have no objection against pursuing it with the whole ardour of their souls; but why, say they, is it clogged with other things! What need of loading it with doing and suffering ? These are what damps the vigour of the soul, and sinks it down to earth again. Is it not enough to " follow after charity;" to soar upon the wings of love! Will it not suffice to worship God, who is a Spirit, with the spirit of our minds, without encumbering ourselves with outward things, or even thinking of them at all? Is it not better, that the whole extent of our thoughts should be taken up with high and heavenly contemplation ? And that, instead of busying ourselves at all about externals, we should only commune with God in our hearts ? 3. Many eminent men have spoken thus ; have advised us

to cease from all outward action;" wholly to withdraw from the world; to leave the body behind us ; to abstract ourselves froin all sensible things; to have no concern at all about outward religion, but to work all virtues in the will; as the far more excellent way, more perfective of the soul, as well as more acceptable to God.

4. It needed not that any should tell our Lord of this master piece of the wisdom from beneath, this fairest of all the devices wherewith Satan hath ever perverted the right ways of the Lord ! And oh! what instruments hath he found, from time to time, to employ in this his service, to wield this grand engine of hell against some of the most important truths of God !

-Men that would deceive, if it were possible, the very elect,” the men of faith and love; yea, that have for a season deceived and led away no inconsiderable number of them, who have fallen in all ages into the gilded snare, and hardly escaped with the skin of their teeth.

5. But has our Lord been wanting on his part ? Has he not sufficiently guarded us against this pleasing delusion! Has he not armed us here with armour of proof against Satan “transformed into an angel of light ?" Yea, verily : he here defends, in the clearest and strongest manner, the active, patient religion he had just described. What can be fuller and plainer, than the words he immediately subjoins to what he had said of doing and suffering ? “ Ye are the salt of the earth : but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted ? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick ; and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.'

In order fully to explain and enforce these important words, I shall endeavour to show, First, that Christianity is essentially a social religion; and that to turn it into a solitary one, is to destroy it. Secondly, that to conceal this religion is impossible, as well as utterly contrary to the design of its author. I shall, Thirdly, answer some objections ; and conclude the whole with a practical application.

I. 1. First, I shall endeavour to show, that Christianity is essentially a social religion ; and that to turn it into a solitary religion, is indeed to destroy it.

By Christianity I mean that method of worshiping God, which is here revealed to man by Jesus Christ. When I say, this is essentially a social religion, I mean not only that it cannot subsist so well, but that it cannot subsist at all, without society,--without living and conversing with other nen. And in showing this, I shall confine myself to those considerations which will arise from the very discourse before us. But if this be shown, then doubtless, to turn this religion into a solitary one, is to destroy it.

Not that we can in any wise condemn the intermixing solitude or retirement with society. This is not only allowable, but expedient :

« PredošláPokračovať »