Page images
PDF
EPUB

the present world, while they present themselves before God in their Redeemer's name, and receive from Him those tokens of His favour which by His word and Spirit He confers upon them. But still they look forward to the day when“ with joy and gladness they shall be

brought, and shall enter into the king's pa“ lace,” where He keeps His court and admits His faithful servants to familiar intercourse with Himself.

As it is written that « without holiness no

man shall see the Lord;" and as every conscious bosom is acquainted with its own impurity; the earnest desire of every genuine Christian is occupied about personal sanctification. For since no one can “ ascend into the hill of “ the Lord,” or “ stand up in His holy place,” but he who “ hath clean hands and a pure “ heart," the believer's salvation depends on the work of purification which he trusts is begun and carrying on in his soul. All those persons, therefore, who are taught of God, will join heartily in this collect of our church, which is adapted exclusively to the use of her genuine members who, conscious of internal defilement and acquainted with the necessity of sanctification, aspire to be conformed to Him who was “ holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from " sinners."

But how is this blessing, in its rise, progress, and high perfection, attainable by sinners ? That we have no native, disposition towards it, no ability to produce it in ourselves, no meritorious claim on Divine agency for its accomplishment, is evident. But this needful blessing is, like all others, the result of the mediation of Christ. He was “ presented in the temple in

“ substance of our flesh,” that we might be “ presented to God with pure and clean hearts." His merit procures the grace, and His love constrains to an imitation of His example, rendering sin odious, and an intire purification from it the object of holy ambition.

But may we suppose that the perfect personal holiness which will be attained by every converted soul at the time of its admission into the presence of the Divine Majesty, will afford a title to that admission? Or are we only to consider it as a needful qualification? It is only to be viewed in the latter respect: for as it is not self-derived, no merit can be attached to it; and therefore, when possessed of this meetness for glory, we must be “presented to God by “ the same His Son Jesus Christ our Lord," who for our sakes " was presented in the temple". at Jerusalem « in substance of our flesh.” He must introduce us, or we shall be rejected. His name must be our only plea, His merit our only ground of confidence. And when we are admitted, HE will be the theme of our eternal song, who “ loved His church, and gave Him“ self for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse “ it with the washing of water by the word, “ that He might present it to Himself a glo“ rious church, not having spot or wrinkle or

any such thing, but that it should be holy og and without blemish."

ST. MATTHIAS'S DAY.

O Almighty God, who into the place of the traitor Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the twelve Apostles ; Grant that thy church, being always preserved from false Apostles, may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen:

S

YT. Matthias not being an Apostle of the

first election, immediately called and chosen by our Saviour, particular remarks concerning him are not to be expected in the history of the gospel. He was one of our Lord's disciples (and probably one of the seventy) that had attended on Him the whole time of His public ministry, and after His death was elected into the Apostleship upon the following occasion. Judas Iscariot * had been one of the Twelve, immediately called by Christ to be one of His intimate disciples, equally impowered and commissioned with the rest to preach and work miracles, was numbered with them, and had “ obtained part of their ministry.” And yet all this while he was a man of vile and corrupt designs, being wholly destitute of renewing grace; to let us see that there may be bad seryants in Christ's own family, and that the

* So called probably from the place of his nativity, orap un, a man of Kerioth, a city anciently situate in the tribe of Judah.

US

wickedness of a minister does not evacuate his commission, nor render bis office useless and ineffectual. The unworthiness of the instrument hinders not the ends of the ministration; seeing that the efficacy of an ordinance depends not on the quality of the person, but on the Divine institution, and the blessing which God has entailed on it.* Judas preached Christ, no doubt, with apparent zeal and fervency; and, for any thing we know, with as much success as the rest of the Apostles: and yet he was a bad man, a man actuated by sordid and mean designs, one that had prostituted religion and the honour of his office to covetousness and evil practices. The love of money had so intirely possessed his thoughts, that his resolutions had no other object in view but worldly interest and advantage.“ But they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare.” This covetou's temper betrayed him, as in the issue to the most fatal end, so to the most desperate attempt. Origen calls the putting Christ to death, the most prodigious impiety on which the sun ever shone. Such indeed was the traitorous surrender of his innocent Lord into the hands of those who, he knew, would treat Him with every circumstance of insolent scorn and cruelty. How little does kindness work uport a disingenuous mind! It was not the honour of the office to which, when thousands of others were passed by, our Lord had called him; his admission to a free and intimate fellowship with His Divine person; nor his adoption into the number of His peculiar domestics and attendants, that could divert the wretch from his wicked

* Art. xxvi.

* Αγος το παντων ανοσιωτατον.

purpose. He knew how very desirous the great men of the Jewish nation were to get Christ into their hands, especially at the time of the Passover, that they might with the more public disgrace sacrifice Him before all the people; and therefore he bargains with them, and for no greater a sum of money than one under four pounds, to betray " the Lamb of God" into the paws of these wolves and lions: In short, he heads the party, conducts the officers, and sees Him delivered into their hands.

But there is an active principle in the breast of man, which seldom suffers daring sinners to pass quietly to their graves. Awakened with the horror of the fact, conscience began to be roused and to follow the traitor closely, till he was unable to bear up under its furious assaults. At length being wearied with melancholy reflections on what was past, he threw back the wages of iniquity in open court, and dispatched himself by a violent death, vainly hoping to take sanctuary in the grave, and to meet with that ease in another world which he could not find in this. “ He departed, and went, and “hanged himself; and falling down, burst

asunder, and his bowels gushed out;" leaving a memorable warning to all treacherous and ungrateful, greedy and covetous persons, and especially to hypocritical and worldly-minded ministers, of the danger to which they are exposed. Indeed it is a caution to all Christian professors that they suffer not the world to insi-, nuate itself into their affections, but that they “ watch and pray, lest they enter into tempta« tion." Our present state is slippery and in. secure.

« Let him," therefore, who thinketh " he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” What

« PreviousContinue »