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kind) of your Father which is in heaven ; who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
2. But it is sure, there is a peculiar love which we owe to those that love God. So David : “ All my delight is upon the saints that are in the earth, and upon such as excel in virtue." And so a greater than he:
“A new comandment I give unto you, that ye love one another : as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another," John xiii, 34, 35. This is that love on which the apostle John so frequently and strongly insists : “ This,” saith he,“ is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,” 1 John iii, 11.
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us : and we ought [if love should call us thereto] to lay down our lives for the brethren,” ver. 16. And again : Beloved, let us love one another : for love is of God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love,” chap. iv, 7, 8. “ Not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one anothor," ver. 10, 11.
3. All men approve of this. But do all men practise it? Daily experience shows the contrary. Where are even the Christians who “ love one another, as he hath given us commandment ?" How many hinderances lie in the way! The two grand, general hinderances are, first, That they cannot all think alike; and, in consequence of this, secondly, They cannot all walk alike; but in several smaller points their practice must differ, in proportion to the difference of their sentiments.
4. But although a difference in opinions or modes of worship may prevent an entire external union ; yet need it prevent our union in affection ? Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion ? Without all doubt we may. Herein all the children of God inay unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works.
5. Surely in this respect the example of Jehu himself, as mixed a character as he was of, is well worthy both the attention and imitation of every serious Christian. " And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him. And he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart ? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand,”
The text naturally divides itself into two parts, first, A question proposed by Jehu t3 Jehonadab : “Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart ?" Secondiy, An offer made on Jehonadab's answering, It is: “If it be, give me thine hand.”
I. 1. And, first, let us consider the question proposed by Jehu to Jehonadab, “ Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart ?"
The very first thing we may observe in these words, is, that here is no inquiry concerning Jehonadab's opinions. And yet it is certain, he held some which were very unconiman, indeed quite peculiar to himself; and some which had a close influence upon his practice; on which likewise he laid so great a stress, as to entail them upon his chil
dren's children, to their latest posterity. This is evident from the account given by Jeremiah, many years after his death: “I took Jaazaniah and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites,--and set before them pots full of wine and cups, and said unto them, Drink ye wine. But they said, We will drink no wine; for Jonadab (or Jehonadab] the son of Rechab our father” [it would be less ambiguous if the words were placed thus, Jehonadab our father, the son of Rechab; out of love and reverence to whom he probably desired his descendants might be called by his name] “commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye nor your sons for ever. Neither
build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any; but all your days ye shall dwell in tents. And we have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us,” Jer. XXXV,
3-10. 2. And yet Jehu (although it seems to have been his manner, both in things secular, and religious, to drive furiously) does not concern himself at all with any of these things, but lets Jehonadab abound in his
And neither of them appears to have given the other the least disturbance, touching the opinions which he maintained.
3. It is very possible, that many good men now also may entertain peculiar opinions; and some of them may be as singular herein, as even Jehonadab was. And it is certain, so long as we know but in part, that all men will not see all things alike. It is an unavoidable consequence of the present weakness and shortness of human understanding, that several men will be of several minds in religion as well as in common life. So it has been from the beginning of the world, and so it will be " till the restitution of all things.'
4. Nay farther : Although every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true; (for to believe any opinion is not true, is the same thing as not to hold it; yet can no man be assured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true. Nay, every thinking man is assured they are not; sceing Humanum est errare et nescire: to be ignorant of many things, and to mistake in some, is the necessary condition of humanity. This, therefore, he is sensible is his own case. He knows in general, that he himself is mistaken; although in what particulars he mistakes, he does not, perhaps he cannot know.
5. I say, perhaps he cannot know ; for who can tell how far invincible ignorance may extend? Or (that comes to the same thing,) invincible prejudice ?-which is often so fixed in tender minds, that it is afterwards impossible to tear up what has taken so deep a root. And who can say, unless he knew every circumstance attending it, how far any mistake is culpable ? Seeing all guilt must suppose some concurrence of the will; of which he only can judge who searcheth the heart.
6. Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking, which he desires they should allow him; and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions, than he would have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He bears with those who differ from him, and only asks him, with whom he sires to unite in love, that single question, “is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart ?"
7. We may, secondiy, observe, that here is no inquiry made concerning Jehonadab's mode of worship; although it is highly probable there was, in this respect also, á very wide difference between them. For we may well believe Jehonadab, as well as all his posterity, worshipped God at Jerusalem: whereas Jehu did not; he had more regard to state policy than religion. And, therefore, although he slew the worshippers of Baal, and destroyed Baal out of Israel; yet from the convenient sin of Jeroboam, the worship of the golden calves, he departed not, 2 Kings x, 29.
8. But even among men of an upright heart, men who desire to « have a conscience void of offence,” it must needs be, that, as long as there are various opinions, there will be various ways of worshipping God; seeing a variety of opinions necessarily implies a variety of practice. And as, in all ages, men have differed in nothing more than in their opinions concerning the Supreme Being, so in nothing have they more differed from each other, than in the manner of worshipping him. Had this been only in the heathen world, it would not have been at all surprising: for we know, these" by (their) wisdom knew not God;" nor, therefore, could they know how to worship him. But is it not strange, that even in the Christian world, although they all agree in the general, "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth," yet the particular modes of worshipping God are almost as various as among the heathens ?
9. And how shall we choose among so much variety ? No man can choose for, or prescribe to, another. But every one must follow the dictates of his own conscience, in simplicity and godly sincerity. He must be fully persuaded in his own mind, and then act according to the best light he has. Nor has any creature power to constrain another to walk by his own rule. God has given no right to any of the children of men, thus to lord it over the conscience of his brethren ; but every man must judge for himself, as every man must give an account of himself to God
10. Although, therefore, every follower of Christ is obliged, by the very nature of the Christian institution, to be a member of somo particular congregation or other, some church, as it is usually termed; (which implies a particular manner of worshipping God; for two cannot walk together unless they be agreed ;) yet none can be obliged by any power on earth, but that of his own conscience, to prefer this or that congregation to another, this or that particular manner of worship. I know it is commonly supposed, that the place of our birth fixes the church to which we ought to belong; that one, for instance, who is born in England, ought to be a member of that which is styled the church of England; and, consequently, to worship God in the particular manner which is prescribed by that church. I was once a zealous maintainer of this; but I find many reasons to abate of this zeal. I fear it is attended with such difficulties, as no reasonable man can get over : not the least of which is, that if this rule had took place, there could have been no reformation from popery; seeing it entirely destroys the right of private judgment, on which that whole reformation stands.
11. I dare not, therefore, presume to impose my mode of worship on any other. I believe it is truly primitive and apostolical : but my
belief is no rule for ancther. I ask not, therefore, of him with whom I would unite in love, are you of my church ? of my congregation? Do you receive the same form of church government, and allow the same church
ufficers with me? Do you join in the same form of prayer, wherein I worship God? I inquire not, do you receive the supper of the Lord in the same posture and manner that I do? Nor, whether, in the administration of baptism, you agree with me in admitting sureties for the baptized; in the manner of administering it; or the age of those to whom it should be administered ? Nay, I ask not of you, (as clear as I am in my own mind,) whether you allow baptism and the Lord's
sups per at all ? Let all these things stand by; we will talk of them, if need be, at a more convenient season; my only question at present is this, ' Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart ?"
12. But what is properly implied in the question ? I do not mean, What did Jehu inply therein ? But what should a follower of Christ understand thereby, when he proposes it to any of his brethren ?
The first thing implied is this : Is thy heart right with God? Dost thou believe his being, and his perfections ? His eternity, immensity, wisdom, power; his justice, mercy, and truth ? Dost thou believe, that
upholdeth all things by the word of his power ?". And that he governs even the most ininute, even the most noxious, to his own glory; and the good of them that love hiin? Hast thou a divine evidence, a supernatural conviction, of the things of God! Dost thou " walk by faith, not by sight?” Looking not at temporal things, but things eternal?
13. Dust thou believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, “God over all, blessed for ever?" Is he revealed in thy soul ? Dost thou know Jesus Christ and him crucified ? Does he dwell in thee, and thou in hin? Is he forined in thy heart by faith ? Having absolutely disclaimed all thy own works, thy own righteousness, hast thou“ submitted thyself unto the righteousness of God,” which is by faith in Christ Jesus? Art thou "found in him, not having thy own righteousness, but the righteousness which is by faith ?" And art thou, through him, “fighting the good fight of faith, and laying hold of eternal life ?”!
14. Is thy faith evelyxuen di' ayarns,-filled with the energy of love? Dost thou love God, I do not say, “above all things;" for it is both an unscriptural and an ambiguous expression; but “ with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength ?" Dost thou seek ail thy happiness in him alone? And dost thou find what thou seekest ? Does thy soul continually "magnify the Lord, and thy spirit rejoice in God thy Saviour ?" Having learned in every thing to give thanks,” dost thou find “it is a joyful and a pleasant thing to be thankful ?” Is God the centre of thy soul? The sum of all thy desires ? Art thou accordingly laying up thy treasure in heaven, and counting all things else dung and dross ? Hath the love of God cast the love of the world out of thy soul? Then thou art“crucified to the world ?" thou art dead to all below; and thy “ life is hid with Christ in God.”
15. Art thou employed in doing “ nut thy own will, but the will of him that sent thee?" Of him that sent thee down to sojourn here awhile, to spend a few days in a strange land, till, having finished the work he hath given thee to do, thou return to thy Father's house ? Is it thy meat and drink “ to do the will of thy Father which is in heaven ?" Is thine eye single in all things ! Always fixed on him! Always looking unto Jesus? Dost thou point at him in whatsoever thou doest ? In all thy labour, thy business, thy conversation ? Aiming only at the glory of God in all ;—"whatsoever thou doest, either in word or deed, doing it
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all in the name of the Lord Jesus; giving thanks unto God, even the Father, through himn ?"
16. Does the love of God constrain thee to serve him with fear,-10 “ rejoice unto him with reverence ?" Art thou more afraid of displeasing God, than either of death or hell? Is nothing so terrible to thee as the thought of offending the eyes of his glory? Upon this ground, dost thou “ hate all evil ways,” every transgression of l.is holy and perfect law; and herein “ exercise thyself to have a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards man ?”
17. Is thy heart right towards thy neighbour ? Dost thou love, as thyself, all inankind without exception ? “ If you love those only that love you, what thank have ye?” Do you " love your enemies ?" Is your soul full of good will, of tender affection towards them? Do you love even the enemies of God, the unthankful and unholy? Do your bowels yeárn over them? Could you“ wish yourself (temporally) accursed” for their sake? And do you show this, by “ blessing them that curse you, and praying for those that despitefully use you, and persecute you ?".
18. Do you show your love by your works? While you have time, as you have opportunity, do you in fact“ do good to all men," neighbours or strangers, friends or enemies, good or bad ? Do you do them all the good you can ; endeavouring to supply all their wants; assisting them both in body and soul, to the uttermost of your power ?-If thou art thus minded, may every Christian say, yea, if thou art but sincerely desirous of it, and following on till thou attain, then “thy heart is right, as my heart is with thy heart.”
II. 1. “ If it be, give me thy hand.” I do not mean, opinion.” You need not: I do not expect or desire it. Neither do I mean, “ I will be of your opinion.” I cannot: it does not depend on my choice: I can no more think, than I can see or hear, as I will. Keep you your opinion : I mine; and that as steadily as ever. You need not even endeavour to come over to me, or bring me over to you. I do not desire you to dispute those points, or to hear or speak one word concerning them. Let all opinions alone on one side and the other : only “give me thine hand.” 2. I do not mean,
my modes of worship : or, I will em brace yours.” This also is a thing which does not depend either on your choice or mine. We must both act, as each is fully persuaded in his own mind. Hold you fast that which you believe is most acceptable to God, and I will do the same. I believe the Episcopal form of church government to be scriptural and apostolical. If you think Presbyterian or Independent is better, think so still, and act accordingly. I believe infants ought to be baptized; and that this may be done either by dipping or sprinkling. If you are otherwise persuaded, be so still, and follow your own persuasion. It appears to me that forms of prayer are of excellent use, particularly in the great congregation. you judge extemporary prayer to be of more use, act suitably to your own judgment. My sentiment is, that I ought not to forbid water, wherein persons may be baptized ; and, that I ought to eat bread and drink wine, as a memorial of my dying Master : however, if you are not convinced of this, act according to the light you have. I have no desire to dispute with you one moment, upon any of the preceding heads. Let all these smaller points stand aside. Let them never come into sights