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our bodies, which he peculiarly claims, which the apostle beseeches us, " by the mercies of God, to present unto him, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.”
2. A second objection, nearly related to this, is, that love is all in all that it is "the fulfilling of the law," " the end of the commandment, " of every commandment of God; that all we do, and all we suffer, if we have not charity or love, profiteth us nothing; and therefore the apostle directs us, to
follow after charity” and terms this “the more excel
I answer, it is granted, that the ove of God and man, arising from faith unfeigned, is all in all, the fulfilling of the law, the end of every commandment of God. It is true, that without this, whatever we do, whatever we suffer, profits us nothing. But it does not follow, that love is all in such a sense as to supersede either faith or good works. It is "the fulfilling of the law," not by releasing us from, but by constraining us to obey it. It is “the end of the commandment,” as every commandment leads to and centres in it. It is allowed, that whatever we do or suffer, without love, profits us, nothing : but withal, whatever we do or suffer in love, though it were only the suffering reproach for Christ, or the giving a cup of cold water in his name, it shall in no wise lose its reward.
3. “But does not the apostle direct us to 'follow after charity ?' And does he not term it 'a more excellent way?'”-He does direct us to “ follow after charity;" but not after that alone. His words are, "Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts,”' 1 Cor. xiv, 1. Yea, “ follow after charity;" and desire to spend and be spent for your brethren. “ Follow after charity;" and, as you have opportunity, do good to all men.
In the same verse wherein he terms this, the way of love, “a more excellent way,” he directs the Corinthians to desire other gifts besides it; yea, to desire thein earnestly. “ Covet earnestly,” saith he," the best gifts; and yet show I unto you a more excellent way," 1 Cor. xii, 31. More excellent than what? Than the gifts of healing, of speaking with tongues, and of interpreting, mentioned in the preceding verse; but not more excellent than the way of obedience. Of this the apostle is not speaking ; neither is he speaking of outward religion at all : so that this text is quite wide of the present question.
But suppose the apostle had been speaking of outward, as well as inward religion, and comparing them together ; suppose in the comparison he had given the preference ever so much to the latter ; suppose he had preferred (as he justly might) a loving heart to all outward works whatever; yet it would not follow that we were to reject either one or the other. No; God hath joined them together from the beginning of the world; and let not man put them asunder.
4. “ But 'God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.' And is not this enough ?_Nay, ought we not to employ the whole strength of our mind herein ? Does not attending to outward things clog the soul, that it cannot soar aloft in holy contemplation? Does it not damp the vigour of our thought ? Has it not a natural tendency to encumber and distract the mind? Whereas St. Paul would have us to be without carefulness,' and to 'wait upon the Lord without distraction.'”
I answer, God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. Yea, and this is enough : we ought to employ the whole strength of our mind therein. But then I would ask, What is it to worship God, a Spirit, in spirit and in truth? Why, it is to worship him with our spirit; to worship him in that manner which none but spirits are capable of. It is to believe in him, as a wise, just, holy being, of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and yet merciful, gracious, and long suffering ; forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin; casting all our sins behind his back, and accepting us in the Beloved. It is, to love him, to delight in him, to desire him, with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; to imitate him we love, by purifying ourselves even as he is pure; and to obey him whom we love, and in whom we believe, both in thought, and word, and work. Consequently, one branch of the worshipping
God in spirit and in truth, is the keeping his outward commandments. To glorify him therefore with our bodies, as well as with our spirits; to go through outward work with hearts lifted up to him; to make our daily employment a sacrifice to God; to buy and sell, to cat and drink, to liis glory ;-this is worshipping God in spirit and in truth, as much as the praying to him in a wilderness.
5. But if so, then contemplation is only one way of worshipping God in spirit and in truth. Therefore, to give ourselves up entirely to this, would be to destroy many branches of spiritual worship, all equally acceptable to God, and equally profitable, not hurtful, to the soul.' For it is a great mistake to suppose that an attention to those outward things, whereto the providence of God hath called us, is any clog to a Christian, or any hinderance at all to his always seeing him that is invisible. It does not at all damp the ardour of his thought; it does not encumber or distract his mind; it gives him no uneasy or hurtful care, who does it all as unto the Lord; who hath learned, whatsoever he doeth in word or deed, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; having only one eye of the soul, which moves round on outward things, and one immoveably fixed on God. Learn what this meaneth, ye poor recluses, that you may clearly discern your own littleness of faith : yea, that you may no longer judge others by yourselves, go and learn what that meaneth:
* Thou, O Lord, in tender love
Dost all my burdens bear;
And fix it cver there.
Midst busy multitudes alone ;
Till all thy will be done.” 6. But the grand objection is still behind. “We appeal,” say they, to experience. Our light did shine; we used outward things many years; and yet they profited nothing. We attended on all the ordinances; but we were no better for it; nor indeed any one else: nay, we were the worse ; for we fancied ourselves Christians for so doing, when we knew not what Christianity meant.“'
I allow the fact: I allow that you, and ten thousand more, have thus abused the ordinances of God; mistaking the means for the end ; supposing that the doing these, or some other outward works, either was the religion of Jesus Christ, or would be accepted in the place of it.
But let the abuse be taken away, and the use remain. Now use all outward things, but use them with a constant eye to the renewal of your soul in righteousness and true holiness.
7. But this is not all: They affirm,“ Experience likewise shows, that the trying to do good is but lost labour. What does it avail to feed or clothe men's bodies, if they are just dropping into everlasting fire ? And what good can any man do to their souls? If these are changed, God - doeth it himself. Besides, all men are either good, at least desirous so to be, or obstinately evil. Now the former have no need of us; let them ask help of God, and it shall be given them: and the latter will receive no help of us. Nay and our Lord forbids to cast our pearls before swine.'”
I answer, 1. Whether they will finally be lost or saved, you are expressly commanded to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. If you can, and do not, whatever becomes of them, you shall go away into everlasting fire. 2. Though it is God only changes hearts, yet he generally doeth it by man. It is our part to do all that in us lies, as diligently as if we could change them ourselves and then to leave the event to him. 3. God, in answer to their prayers, builds up his children, by each other in every good gift; nourishing and strengthening the whole “ body, by that which every joint supplieth.” So that “the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee;":10, nor even head to the feet, I have no need of you. Lastly, how are you assured, that the persons before you are dogs or swine ? Judge them not, until you have tried.
“ How knowest thou, O man, but thou mayest gain thy brother,”—but thou mayest, under God, save his soul from death? When he spurns thy love, and blasphemes the good word, then it is time to give him up to God.
3. “We have tried ; we have laboured to reform sinners; and what did it avail ! On many we could make no impression at all: and if some were changed for a while, yet their goodness was but as the morning dew, and they were soon as bad, nay, worse than ever : so that we only hurt them, and ourselves too; for our minds were hurried and discomposed, -perhaps filled with anger instead of love: Therefore we had better have kept our religion to ourselves.”
It is very possible this fact also may be true; that you have tried to do good and have not succeeded; yea, that those who seemed reformed, relapsed into sin, and their last state was worse than the first. And what marvel ? Is the servant above his Master ? But how often did he strive to save sinners, and they would not hear; or, when they had followed him awhile, they turned back as a dog to his vomit! But he did not therefore desist from striving to do good: no more should you, whatever your success be. It is your purt to do as you are commanded : the event is in the hand of God. You are not accountable for this : leave it to him, who orders all things well. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper,” Eccles. xi, 6.
But the trial hurries and frets your own soul. Perhaps it did so for this very reason,
because you thought you was accountable for the event, which no man is, nor indeed can be ;-or perhaps, because you was off your guard; you was not watchful over your own spirit. But this is no reason for disobeying God. Try again ; but try more warily than before. Do good (as you forgive) “not seven times only; but until seventy times
seven.” Only be wiser by experience: attempt it every time more cautiously than before. Be more humbled before God, more deeply convinced that of yourself you can do nothing. Be more jealous over your own spirit; more gentle and watchful unto prayer. Thus“ cast
upon the waters, and you shall find it again after many days." IV. 1. Notwithstanding all these plausible pretences for hiding it, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." This is the practical application which our Lord himself makes of the foregoing considerations.
“Let your light so shine:”—Your lowliness of heart; your gentleness, and meekness of wisdom ; your serious, weighty concern for the things of eternity, and sorrow for the sins and miseries of men ; your earnest desire of universal holiness, and full happiness in God; your tender good will to all mankind, and fervent love to your supreme benefactor. Endeavour not to conceal this light, wherewith God hath enlightened your soul; but let it shine before men, before all with whom you are, in the whole tenor of your conversation. Let it shine still more eminently in your actions, in your doing all possible good to all men; and in your suffering for righteousness' sake, while you "rejoice and are exceeding glad, knowing that great is your reward in heaven.”
2. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works :"-So far let a Christian be from ever designing, or desiring to conceal his religion ! On the contrary, let it be your desire not to con ceal it; not to put the light under a bushel. Let it be your care to place it on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house." Only take heed, not to seek your own praise herein, not to desire any honour to yourselves. But let it be your sole aim, that all who see your good works, may“ glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
3. Be this your one ultimate end in all things. With this view, be plain, open, undisguised. Let your love be without dissimulation : why should you hide fair, disinterested love! Let there be no guile found in your mouth : let your words be the genuine picture of your heart. Let there be no darkness or reservedness in your conversation, no disguise in your behaviour. Leave this to those who have other designs in view; designs which will not bear the light. Be ye artless and simple to all mankind; that all may see the grace of God which is in you. And although some will harden their hearts, yet others will take knowledge that ye have been with Jesus, and, by returning themselves to the great Bishop of their souls, glorify your Father which is in heaven.
4. With this one design, that men may glorify God in you, go on in his name, and in the power of his might. Be not ashamed even to stand alone, so it be in the ways of God. Let the light, which is in your heart, shine in all good works, both works of piety and works of mercy. And in order to enlarge your ability of doing good, renounce all superAuities. Cut off all unnecessary expense in food, in furniture, in apparel Be a good steward of every gift of God, even of these his lowest gifts. Cut off all unnecessary expense of time, all needless or useless employments; and “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”. In a word, be thou full of faith and love ; do good; suffer evil. And herein be thou" steadfast, unmoveable ; [yea,) always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as thou knowest that thy labour is not in vain in the Lord.'
SERMON XXV.-Upon our Lord's Sermon on the Mount.
DISCOURSE V. * Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfiiled.
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. v, 17-20.
1. AMONG the multitude of reproaches which fell upon him who was despised and rejected of men," it could not fail to be one, that he was a teacher of novelties, an introducer of a new religion. This might be affirmed with the more colour, because many of the expressions he had used were not common among the Jews: either they did not use them at all, or not in the same sense, not in so full and strong a meaning. Add to this, that the worshipping God " in spirit and'in truth” must always appear a new religion to those who have hitherto known nothing but outside worship, nothing but the "form of godliness.”
2. And it is not improbable, some might hope it was so; that he was abolishing the old religion, and bringing in another,-one which, they might flatter themselves, would be an easier way to heaven. But our Lord refutes, in these words, both the vain hopes of the one, and the groundless calumnies of the other.
I shall consider them in the same order as they lie, taking each verse for a distinct head of discourse.
I. 1. And, first, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
The ritual or ceremonial law, delivered by Moses to the children of Israel, containing all the injunctions and ordinances which related to the old sacrifices and service of the temple, our Lord did indeed come to destroy, to dissolve, and utterly abolish. To this bear all the apostles witness; not only Barnabas and Paul, who vehemently withstood those who taught that Christians “ought to keep the law of Moses,” Acts xv, 6; not only St. Peter, who termed the insisting on this, on the observance of the ritual law, a “tempting God," and * putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers," saith he, nor we were able to bear;"—but “all the apostles, elders, and brethren, being assembled with one accord,” verse 10, declared, that to command them to keep this law, was to subvert their souls ;” and that“ it seemed good to the Holy Ghost” and to them,
to lay no such burden upon them.” This" hand writing of ordinances our Lord did blot out, take away, and nail to his cross,” verse 24.
2. But the moral law contained in the ten commanriments, and enforced by the prophets, he did not take away. It was not the design of his coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken, which“ stands fast as the faithful witness in heaven.” The moral stands on an entirely different foundation from the ceremonial or ritual law, which was only designed for a temporary restrairt upon a disobedient and stiff necked people; whereas this was from the