Page images

Christ, which began, when the sentiments which you express, and Mosaic economy ended, and will the spirit which you manifest, that continue forever. This kingdom, you are prepared to embrace the at first, consisted of the few, who truths of my gospel, as soon as embraced Jesus of Nazareth as you shall be made acquainted with the Christ; but it will, finally, em- them, and that you will, ere long, brace all the redeemed from among unite with my disciples, and bemen.

come a member of the visible 2. The kingdom of God, or Christian church, the kingdom of church of Christ, as it exists up- God upon earth. on earth, has a visible appearance,

It remains to enquire, and may be considered as includ- II. What reason Christ might ing all those, who own Christ behave, for thus speaking to the Jewfore men, and furnish evidence, ish Lawyer? that they are his true disciples.- An answer to this question, may None, however, are really mem- be gathered from the preceding bers of the kingdom of God, but context, which has just been such as have been born of the read. And, spirit, and cordially embrace the 1. Christ perceived, that this truth as it is in Jesus. In order Scribe possessed a truly candid to be properly a member of the mind. He came to the Teacher kingdom of God upon earth, nei- sent from God, not to cavil, but ther a profession without faith, nor to learn. Instead of manifesting faith without a profession, is suffic- a wish, like the Pharisees and ient; but one must both confess Sadducees, to entangle Christ in with the mouth, and believe with his talk, he appeared desirous to the heart. None but saints have hear the gracious words, which a right to offer themselves to be- flowed from the lips of him, who come members of a church of spake as never man spake. There Christ; nor has a church of Christ was nothing captious in the quesa right to admit any as members, tion, which he put to our Lord. It except such as appear to be real was a serious and truly important saints. Hence,

question, which evinced a sincere 3. To be near the kingdom of desire to know the truth respectGod, is to be about to become a ing his duty to God. true and living member of the 2. Christ perceived, that this church of Christ. At the time of Scribe had correct views of the our Lord's conversation with the Divine Law. He readily assented Scribe, the Mosaic ritual had wax- to the answer, which our Lord en old, and was about to vanish gave to his question; and, in his away. The kingdom of heaven remarks upon it, made it evident, was at hand. The church of God that he had just apprehensions of was about to be purged of its un- the spirituality and extent of the sound members, and to assume a law of God, and of the superior new form, under the Christian dis- value of obedience to it, when

The olive-tree was compared with the performance of shedding its dry and barren sacrificial rites and ceremonies.branches, to be grafted with fruit. In this respect, he differed widely ful scions. When, therefore, our from the Pharisees and other DocLord said to the Scribe, - Thou tors of the law, who perverted the art not far from the kingdom of words of Moses and the Prophets, God," his meaning was, as if he and made

void the commandments I perceive, from the l of God by their traditions,

had said,


3. Christ perceived, that this honest and good heart, and would, Scribe not only understood, but therefore, not only hear the word really loved the Divine Law. He with joy, but keep it, and bring answered discreetly, and in such forth fruit with patience. terms and with such an air, as Since such was the character of manifested a cordial and warm at- the Scribe, our Lord knew that he tachment to the Law of God, in should soon be precious to him, as its true import and spirituality. the true Messiah and Saviour of Christ looked through his heart; Israel, and that he would soon forand had he perceived that his pro- sake all that he had, and take up fessions were hollow, and his show the cross and follow him. And of regard to the Divine Law, hypo- hence, with the greatest truth and critical and false, it is not to be propriety, he closed his conversasupposed that he would have flat- tion with him, by declaring, in the tered his iniquity with an expres-hearing of the multitude, "Thou sion of his approbation. Without art not far from the kingdom of doubt, the Searcher of hearts saw God." him to be sincere, and a real lov

IMPROVEMENT. er of the holy, just and good Law 1. It is natural to conclude, from of the Lord. Hence,

what has been said, that all the 4. Christ perceived, that this sound members of the Jewish Scribe was a sound member of the church, in the days of our Saviour true church of God. The Jewish and his apostles, cordially emchurch, was, at that time, the on- braced the gospel. Thus the Scribe ly true church of God upon earth. was prepared to do, as soon as he To this church the whole Jewish was made acquainted with the nation professedly belonged. Ve- character of Christ, the evidences ry many of them, however, were of his Divine mission, and the nabut Jews outwardly, being stiff- ture of his doctrine and requirenecked and uncircumcised in ments. And thus all were preheart. But those, who were soundpared to do, who were, what all members of this true church of the members of the Jewish church the living God, were real saints, professed to be, friends of God, who actually loved the Lord their and lovers of his holy, just and God with all the heart, soul, mind good law. There was nothing to and strength, and their neighbours hinder such from receiving the as themselves. Such was the Lord Jesus, as their Prophet, Scribe. And hence,

Priest and King. The prophecies 5. Christ perceived, that this attested the Divinity of his miscandid, sincere, and upright Scribe sion, his works manifested the Di. was prepared to embrace the gos-vinity of his person, and all his pel, as soon as he should hear it, words and actions exhibited the and to join the Christian church, purity and benevolence of his as soon as it should be formed. - character. Those members of the The moral obstacle in the way of ancient church, therefore, who his embracing the gospel and be could see “no form nor comeliness coming the disciple of Christ, had in him, nor any thing for which been removed by Divine grace; they should desire him,' were and every natural obstacle was morally blind, loving darkness soon to be removed by the light of rather than light, because their evangelical truth, which was break deeds were evil. Hence Christ ing in upon his mind. He had an said, “Ye believe not, because ye

are not of my sheep. Every one

Every one scriptural sentiment, in the words that hath heard and learned of the of our text. The Scribe, who was Father, cometh unto me." Those, not far from the kingdom of God, who were broken off from the was not a good, impenitent sini good olive, because of their unbe- ner, but a penitent, humble saint.

lief and rejection of Christ, were He loved the law of God, which never sound members of the Jew- all impenitent sinners hate. He ish church. He, who knew what desired to know, that he might do was in man, pronounced them

the will of his heavenly Father; hypocrites, and compared them to while all impenitent sinners say whited sepulchres.

unto God, Depart from us, for we 2. We may infer from this sub-desire not the knowledge of thy ject, that those who are really ways. As there is but one kind of friendly to the Divine law, will sin; so there is, essentially, but

not reject the gospel of Christ.- one sort of sinners. The differi Though the law and the gospel are ence between unrenewed men is

distinct, yet they are not opposite. merely circumstantial. They all The law lies at the foundation of possess the carnal mind, or evil the gospel; and the gospel estab- heart, which is enmity against lishes the law. It requires pre- God, and are alike children of cisely the same feelings of heart, wrath, being dead in trespasses to approve of the one, as to ap- and sins. There is none that doprove of the other. Those, who eth good; no, not one. Nothing love the Divine law, receive the is more absurd, than to suppose,

gospel, as worthy of all accepta- that there is a class of seeking sin- tion; and those, who embrace and ners, who are daily growing bet

obey the gospel, are such as have ter, and are already near to the e been born of God, have become kingdom of God. Impenitent sin

reconciled to the Divine character ners are always far from God and and government, and delight in holiness, and are constantly growthe law of God after the inner ing worse, in proportion to the man. Under the light of the gos- | light and advantages which they pel, all, who love God, repent of enjoy. They are never so bad as sin; and all, who repent of sin, when most thoroughly awakened receive Christ, as the Lord their and convinced of sin, and most righteousness.

There is not a deeply sensible of their guilt and friend of God upon earth, who re- danger. And hence it is easy to jects the gospel of Jesus Christ. see, what direction it is proper to

3. We may infer, from what give enquiring sinners. The prohas been said, that our text lends per direction is not, Go on, seek no countenance to the popular sen- and strive, and pray, with such timent, that there are two sorts of hearts as you have: For they are sinners, the one very bad, and the in the way to death. But the proother negatively, if not positively per and 'scriptural direction is, good; the one stout-hearted and Turn ye, turn ye; for why will far from righteousness, and the you die. Cast away from you all other tender-hearted and near to your transgressions, whereby ye

This, moral sinners have transgressed; and make you would feign believe; and this, a new heart and a new spiritsome, whose duty it is to teach ; Repent and believe the gospelthem better, encourage them to be- Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, lieve. But the Divine Teacher and thou shalt be saved. advanced no such absurd and un

Wherefore, “Let the wicked,


forsake his way, and the unright-have mercy upon him; and to our eous man his thoughts: and let him God, for he will abundantly parreturn unto the Lord, and he will don." Amen.

on it.

ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION. be done, then. is to rouse the

church, and put them in a proper No. VIII.

state of feeling, to be prepared for In enquiring what things ought such a work. Among the means to be done to promote a revival of adapted to effect this, one of the religion, it may be proper first to first seems to be, that they should enquire what things ought to be endeavour to obtain a suitable done to put the church in a proper sense of the vast in portance of state of feeling, to be prepared for having a revival. To attain this, such a work. It is certainly God's let them consider its importance ordinary method to make use of to themselves as individuals, its the exertions of the church in the importance to the church to which conversion of sinners. In reading they belong, its importance to the history of revivals, we usually their children and neighbours, and find this to be the case in an emi- its importance to the church uninent degree. And if in some in-versal. stances we have no account of it, I. Its importance to themselves the omission of this fact in the as individuals. narrative does not prove that it 1. Let them consider how much did not exist. But there is no their present comfort depends upreason to expect the church will

Let them look back to the make any suitable exertions for days that are past, when they were the accomplishment of this object, in the lively exercise of the Christtill they experience a revival in ian graces, and compare the comtheir own souls. It is only when forts they enjoyed then, with those they are awake themselves, and in they enjoy now. Let them rethe lively exercise of the Christian member the time when the light of graces, that they act in character. God's countenance shone upon The first object, then, is to pro- them, and his peace filled their duce a revival in the church. And hearts. How sweetly then did all no doubt God has instituted means their moments pass-How closely to accomplish this. These means, did they walk with God-How however, they will not use, while intimate was their intercourse in a state of apathy. While they with heaven-How near were their are satisfied to remain as they are, approaches to a throne of graceand while they are contented to How refreshing were the seasons let sinners remain as they are, of religious worship-How sweet they will not be persuaded to use was their communion with Godany means to promote a revival. How animating was their Christian And they are not in a proper state fellowship-How delightful were of feeling to use any such means, their foretastes of heaven. But if they could be persuaded to make now-how distressing is the conthe attempt. They would not use trast—" How is the gold become them perseveringly, nor faithfully, dim; how is the most fine gold nor systematically; and many of changed.” How poor, how tastethe necessary means they would less, how miserable, in comparinot use at all. The first thing to son, are the best comforts which

this world can give. What Christ-, Have they groaned under the polian does not sigh for the return of lutions of their own hearts, and those precious seasons. A revival earnestly desired to be thoroughwould restore them.

ly cleansed? Have they discover2. Let them consider how much ed the beauty and excellency of their progress in divine knowledge holiness, as set before them in the depends upon a revival. "Divine bright example of the Lord Jesus knowledge has been rightly called Christ? And do they desire to be the food of the soul. It is plain more and more transformed into that there cannot be any more en- his image! A constant revival in joyment of God than there is their own hearts would greatly knowledge of him; nor any more promote this work. The Christian right feelings respecting ourselves graces, by lively and vigorous exthan there is knowledge of our-ercise, would increase in strength. selves. The perfections of God, Habitual mortification of the flesh, as displayed in the works of crea- with its affections and lusts, would tion, providence, and redemption, weaken its influence. Self-denial, afford matter of the most delight-often repeated, would become eaful contemplation to the angels. sy. Obedience to the precepts, And as far as good men approach and conformity to the example of those holy intelligences, in the Christ, would grow into habit.teinper of their minds, they will Their conflicts with temptation delight in the same employment. would be less frequent; their vic* This is life eternal, that they tory more sure. might know thee the only true 4. Let them consider how necGod, and Jesus Christ whom thou essary is a revival, to keep them hast sent.” But in the time of from falling into gross and scanspiritual declension, other objects dalous sins. What security has engross their attention, and the the Christian when he has begun things of God are pushed from to backslide? What bounds can their thoughts. While they take he set to himself, when once he little interest in these things, they has begun to comply with temptawill take little pains to enquire tion? How easy and how imperinto them. If they make any pro- ceptible is his progress, when once gress in the knowledge of Divine he has departed from the path of things, it will be exceedingly slow. duty. Having ceased to struggle Indeed, it is to be feared, that with the current, and committed many forget more than they learn. his bark to the mercy of the tide, Is it desirable that Christians how swiftly is he borne downwards should, in this respect, be more towards the gulf of perdition.assimilated to the angels in heav- What multitudes of professors, in en? Then it is desirable that there a time of declension, thus make should be a revival in their hearts. shipwreck of their religious char

3. Let them consider how much , acter, dishonour their Lord and their growth in grace depends up- Master, disgrace their Christian on a revival. By growth in grace profession, grieve the hearts of I mean an increasing conformity their brethren, destroy their own to Christ, in their temper and hope, and plunge their souls in practice. Have they seen the od - darkness and despair! And who ious nature of sin? Have they felt that backslides from God, and it to be vile and loathsome? Have sinks down into a state of stupidity they abhorred it in themselves, and spiritual death, can promise and longed to be delivered from it? himself an exemption from any of

« PreviousContinue »