Page images

acted like a charm, and the mighty purpose which brought him from heaven to earth, stretched him upon the cross, and consigned him to death, could safely be sported with by the rebels he came to redeem. Oh! the deceitfulness of sin. Oh! the perverseness of the unrenewed heart. Oh! the deadly enmity of the carnal mind, even against a God of love and salvation. Gracious LORD put forth thy Almighty grace, and quicken us all to our duties and privileges as Christians.

Thirdly, our confession of Jesus Christ must be witnessed in the face of persecution, tortures, and death, should we thereto be called. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of meand he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. Yea, and he that hateth not his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Therefore, he that by denying me findeth his life, or any other present good, shall lose itand he that loseth his life, or any other present good, for my sake, shall find it. Hence, my brethren and hearers, we may learn to estimate the vital importance of an open profession and constant perseverance in the faith of the gospel. For if the Christian, who, to avoid persecution, concealed his profession, or at the stake, overcome by the terrors of a cruel death, and to escape from it, denied and renounced his Lord and Master, did by persisting in such denial, blot his name out of the book of life, bow much more shall the same righteous principle sweep into perdition those who are either afraid or ashamed to take


them the light and easy yoke which our Redeemer hath laid upon us. If, indeed, the fires of persecution were let loose upon us, though there could be no excuse there would be more pity and compassion for those who thus barter eternity for time. But where neither loss, nor disgrace, nor suffering is to be encountered, how shall we not rather receive greater damnation, if we continue to put away from our hearts the solemn warning and express condition of my text-Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

In this short passage of Scripture what a wide range of thought is opened to us my friends. Yet through whatever varieties of required faith and commanded duty it may lead our meditations, it ends in that awfulclose when an assembled world shall stand before its Judge, and the confession or denial of us by Jesus Christ, be conclusive to each one for happiness or misery eternal. And it binds us down to the great master principle by which our acceptance or rejection will then be determined—faith in the LORD JESUS CHRIST for pardon, life, and salvation, openly professed, steadfastly persisted in, and bearing fruit unto holiness. SERMON XXIII.

What shall we say, then, to these things, my hearers ? What is the only improvement that we can all make of them? Why this-Let us no longer be ashamed of the gospel of Christ ! Take the Redeemer's yoke upon you as the first and indispensable step to the attainment of his grace, for while you refuse to come to bim it is in vain to expect any help at his hand. Learn of him by reading, meditation, and prayer; and the teaching of his Holy Spirit shall guide you on your way and show you that all things are possible to him that believeth. He will strengthen you to overcome the world in the fear of its scoff and in the snare of its unhallowed pleasures and pursuits. He will lead you through all the wonders of a spiritual change, from faith to faith, and from grace to glory, till a well done from your heavenly Master, Almighty Saviour, and righteous Judge, shall crown your repentance and renewed obedience with eternal life.

And you, my professing brethren, whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life, while you take to yourselves the holy comfort of his promise in the text, let it arm you with strength and engage you with affection to walk worthy of it, that being found in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, your light may so shine before men as to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Much depends upon your example, my Christian brethren, for the praise or reproach of the gospel, for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, or the growth of that infidel spirit which threatens the downfall of all religion in the casting away of the only hope which heaven in its mercy has vouchsafed to fallen man, in the LORD our righteousness. Show yourselves, then, a living epistle of Christ to be read of all men, in life and conversation conformed to the gospel of Christ, and while you

[merged small][ocr errors]

encourage yourselves in the holy comfort of your acceptance in the beloved, rejoice with trembling, for you are yet on trial, and he who bath promised to confess you before God warns you that not every one that saith to him LORD, LORD, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of his Father which is in heaven. Of doing that will our blessed Saviour hath set us a most pure example. By that, then, as your polar star steer your course through the trials and temptations of this world. To that, as your copy, labour and strive to bring both your outward life and inward spirit, that the mind which was in him being in you, you may rise with him to the life immortal, and pass to a full reward in glory and blessedness for ever, through the merit and righteousness, the power and grace of this Jesus our LORD and our God; to whom with God the Father, and GOD the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, be universal glory and praise world without end !

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


John viii. 24, last clause.

* For if ye believe not that I am He ye shall die in your sins."

It is a strong confirmation of the external proofs 'we are furnished with of the divine original of Christianity, that its leading truths and fundamental doctrines should be the full and clear disclosure of those original, indelible, and universal impressions on the heart of man which are independent of the fortuitous circumstances of country, complexion, and education. And I have often thought, my brethren and hearers, that when Christian navigators, in the first range of discovery, found continents and islands peopled with beings like themselves, though of a strange speech and different colour, when they saw the priest, the altar, and the victim, invariably accompanying their worship of an unknown but acknowledged God, they must have felt the deepest conviction of a common origin, a common nature, a common guilt, and common hope ; they must have seen revelation confirmed, and as the new wine is found in the cluster so was the cross of Christ, and a propitiation for personal guilt by the blood of another, shadowed out in their ignorant superstitions as the one only hope of our fallen race.

And may not we, my friends, by an honest attention to the frame of our own spirits, to what passes

within us,

when serious thought realizes the condition of our being, the account we have each to give in to God for his gifts of nature and grace, and when conscience summons up in dread array the actual sins and shameful neglects we are guilty of towards our Maker, or when danger surprises guilt into fear and sinks the boldest among us into dismay at the near prospect of a death bed unprovided for—may not these and the many other intimations which the still, small voice of God now whispers to our hearts, prompt us all to inquire

VOL. II.-34

seriously into our state, to seek after the best information we can obtain, and to try what is presented to us as a message from heaven by its outward proofs, by the internal witness we all have in its agreement with our previous impressions, and by its fitness to relieve our most pressing wants, in the cheering light it sheds over the otherwise dark and anxious anticipations of a future being, and in the fruit of its truth believed and its counsel followed. Would not this be the part of prudence as well as interest on so momentous and imposing a subject. And how can any man be said to have acted an honest or even a rational part by his immortal soul who has not made a sincere and persevering effort, under the direction of the gospel, to secure its hope and enjoy its comfort.

If ye believe not that I am He ye shall die in your sins, says a messenger from heaven, accredited to our senses by all that can avouch the authority of heaven, and to our hearts by every impression which truth, duty, and interest can give to feeling and consciousness. And what do we, too many of us, but set to work to invalidate the testimony rather than examine the proofs --to dispute the dignity of the messenger rather than consider the message itself-to cavil at the conditions rather than thankfully to embrace a free and gracious offer of mercy and salvation—to enlist the powers and faculties, not of rational but of rebellious creatures, and the stores and resources, not of wisdom, but of science falsely so called to obscure and resist the truth rather than to promote the present and eternal welfare of all around us, and the glory of the Giver of every good and perfect gift to his creatures; while by so doing we contribute to bring a night of darkness and despair over the moral world, taking from faith its foundation, from hope its comfort, from charity its motive, from fear its sanction, and from righteousness its reward. And is this a result to be desired, my friends ? Are the checks to human depravity so plenty and so efficient, that the pride and vanity of learning may safely and innocently be allowed to sport itself with interests which have no other measure than eternity! Yet such is the inevitable result if the words of my text rest upon any lower authority for their claim to your attention than that of heaven's king and this world's

« PreviousContinue »