Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

versation, to win all around them to the service of their Master. When, therefore, they are exhorted and profess to come out from the world, the meaning is, that they are no longer conformed to the world ; that they have separated themselves from the maxims, the follies, and the criminal habits of the world ; that they have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather, by their conduct, habitually reprove them; that they withdraw, not only from every forrn of open corruption, but also from many of the more decent forms of recreation and social indulgence, which the world allow, and pronounce innocent but which all experience shows to be unfriendly to a life of communion with God. They confess Christ before men, not merely by going, at stated seasons, to a sacramental table, but also by daily manifesting the power of his religion in their spirit and conversation. In short, they live, in some measure, as those who are habitually seeking a beller country, that is an heavenly; whose treasure is in heaven, whose hearts are there also, and who are daily ascending thither in holy contemplation and spiritual desires. Believe it, my friends, if you would really be on the Lord's side, you must decisively take your stand, practically, as well as in words, with those who are represented as a chosen generation, a peculiar people. Hence, the solemn address of heaven's King isCome out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

4. Again; they alone can justly be said to be on the Lord's side, who are os THE SIDE OF HIS LAW; who delight in his will, rejoice in his government, and strive to obey him in all things.

This is what the inspired Apostle emphatically calls, loving not in word only, but in deed and in truth. And, accordingly, the Saviour himself declares, Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. And again, He that hath my commandments, and keepoth them, he it is that loveth me. And, in accordance with the Saviour's words, John, the beloved disciple, with awful solemnity pronounces-He that sailh I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Holy obedience, my friends, enters essentially into the character of the Christian. Our blessed Saviour did not come to destroy the law, bul 10 fulfil it. Ile did not come to purchase for his followers a license to sin ; but 10 purchase for them a deliverance from the dominion, as well as the guilt of sin. Hence, the genuine, scriptural evidence that you are on the Lord's side, is exactly proportioned

to the evidence of your SANCTIFICATION. Accordingly, the followers of Christ are represented in scripture as saints, that is, sanctified ones; they are said to be chosen in Christ, that they might be holy and without blame before him in love. Nay, the real friend of Christ, not only aims and endeavours to obey him, but he also loves to obey him. He delights in his law after the inward man. It is his meat and drink to obey the will of his beloved Saviour. His obedience is not merely external, but real and cordial; not partial, but universal; not temporary, merely, but persevering. No mere man, indeed, in this life, ever did, or ever will perfectly obey the divine law. If any man say that he hath no sin, he deceives himself, and the truth is not in him. But he of whom we speak desires perfection, breathes after perfection, and is daily humbled and grieved that he falls short of it. Whatever God has appointed or commanded, he who is on the Lord's side, so far as he is acquainted with it, is disposed to respect and honour. The sabbath of the Lord, he feels bound to venerate and to sanctify. The sanctuary, and all its ordinances he loves, and delights to attend. He regards prayer as a privilege as well as a duty. In short, whatever imperfection may actually attend his obedience and this imperfection is acknowledged by none more readily, and lamented by none more deeply, than by himself; he does not allow himself to neglect or slight any thing that God has ordained; but desires and strives to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

5. Lastly; they alone are on the Lord's side, who are on THE SIDE OF HIS HONOUR; who habitually and supremely seek his glory. As Jehovah made all things for his own glory; as this is the ultimate end which he himself has in view in all his dispensations both of Provi. dence and of grace; so he commands all his crealures to make it their highest object. And all the children of his grace, in some good measure, do this. They heartily espouse the cause of God, and take a deep and tender interest in it as their own. Their aim, and in some degree their attainment, is to hold all other interests in subordination to this. They do not, indeed, neglect their worldly affairs. Nay, commonly, they are more diligent, systematick, and orderly in their temporal business, than most others. But still they seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. The spread of the Gospel; the revival of religion; the prosperity of Zion; the salvation of souls; the honour of the Redeemer-chese are the objects which above all others they esteem and seek. They are grieved when the Saviour is dishonoured. They mourn from the heart over all the error, the profaneness, and the profligacy which they wituess around them. And while they turn away with abhorrence from every thing, either in principle or practice dishonouring to God; it is their meat and drink to exalt the name of God; 10 honour his institu. tions; to benefit his people; to extend the knowledge of his religion ; to instruct the ignorant; to reclaim the vicious; to assist in sending the Gospel to the dark places of the earth; and, in a word, over all the lurking places of ignorance, and sin, and misery, to assist in shedding the rays of knowledge, faith, love, joy, and happiness. These are the favourite objects of all who are on the Lord's side. For these they labour, and plan, and contribute, and pray. And into the blessed scale of these interests, they delight to cast the whole weight of their desires, their exertions, and their example from day to day.

Such are they who are on. the Lord's side. Here, then, my friends, before we proceed to the second head of discourse, which will be reserved for another opportunity-let us make a solemn pause, and inquire, whether we have any part or lot in the character which has been described. You will perceive that, in delineating this character, I have not dwelt on the peculiarities of any particular denomination of christians; but upon those great principles of our common christianity, which all the friends of evangelical truth concur in maintaining. How stands this great concern, then, my beloved hearers, with regard to each of you? Are you on the Lord's side, or are you leagued with his enemies? The testimony by which this question is to be decided, is not remote or obscure; but plain, simple, and at band. Let me beseech you to review with impartiality the marks of friendship to God which have been laid down. Do you take the part of Jehovah's truth against hereticks, and hold fast the fundamental doctrines of his Word? Do you supremely love his character and service, preferring them above those of any other master? Do you delight in his law after the inward man, and unfeignedly mourn over all your known departures from it? Have you, with penitence and faith, renounced your rebellion, come forth from its ranks, and submitted to the Saviour as the Lord your righteousness, and the Lord your strength? Is sin your grief and burden, and is it your habitual governing desire to be delivered from its pollution, as well as its guilt, and to obey the will of Christ in all things ? Is the honour of the Redeemer dear to your hearts, and the extension and glory of his kingdom preferred above your chief joy? If you can, iv the fear of God, answer these questions in the affirmative, you are on the Lord's side ; and have a right to the privileges and comforts of this

relation. But if not, you are still aliens and enemies. Fellow mortals ! can you conceive of an inquiry more momentous than this ? Can you consent that ii should remain for one hour undecided? Or, if compelled in candour to decide it against yourselves,-can you remain a moment at ease ? Remember that there is a solemn trial just before you. You may turn away from this inquiry now; but you cannot evade it long. And, Oh, when the decision comes, where will you then be ? On the right hand or on the left? Great Searcher of hearis ! thou knowest ! O search us, and try us, and lead us in the way everlasting!

SERMON IX.

Exodus, XXXII. 26.--Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and

said, Who is on the Lord's side ?

HAVING endeavoured, with the utmost plainness, to show what is implied in being on the Lord's side, I come now,

II. TO OFFER SOME REASONS WHY BE ON THE LORD'S SIDE.

WE OUGHT, ALL OF US, TO

com.

But can it be necessary to reason on such a subject ? Yes, my friends, it is necessary. Impenitent men are so infatuated, so pletely beside themselves, in a spiritual sense, that they need all the entreaty and expostulation which we can einploy for their benefit. Accordingly, Jehovah himself condescends to reason with his rebellious creatures, and to beseech them to be reconciled to him. Come now, saith He, by the Prophet, and let us REASON together.

1. The first reason which I shall offer why we ought all to be on the Lorl's side, is, that it is THE SIDE OF TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. It is, emphatically 'THE RIGHT SIDE. In espousing the side of any in. dividual or party, in a worldly controversy, we are always in some danger of being betrayed into error, or, at least, into excess. For, as no man is perfect, so alınost every cause or party 10 which we can attach ourselves in the present life, has some mixture of imperfection, which a wise man sees and regiets, and which he dares not, as a conscientious man, advocate throughout. But in the case before nis, we are in no such danger. The cause of God is infinitely wise and righteous, without the possibility of mistake or injustice. In the great controversy existing between Him and rebellious man, God is wholly in the right, and man altogether in the wrong. God is a holy, wise, and equitable Sovereign :

YOU ARE NOT ON HIS.

while man is an unreasonable, perverse, and infatuated rebel. God requires nothing of the rebel, but that which he ought, upon erery principle, immediately to perform. While the disobedient creature, himself being judge, is constantly pursuing a course as irrational as it is criminal. It is evident, then, that all who take the side of God in this controversy, take the right side ; the side which is holy and just, and good, in an infinite degree. I appeal to you, then, iny friends, whether we are not all solemnly bound to be on this side ? Is not being on this side the most reasonable, and in every respect the most worthy of our rational nature ? Is it not the side of all that is excellent, and blessed, and benevo. lent, and heavenly, against all that is criminal, and degrading, and destructive in the creation of God.

2. Again ; as another reason why you ought to be on the Lord's side, let me beseech you to consider seriously. ON WHAT SIDE YOU ARE, IF

If you are not on the side of God, you are on the opposite, hostile side. It is impossible, as was before said, 10 stand neuter in this controversy. You must you assuredly do side with the one or the other; the kingdom of light, or the kingdom of darkness; God or mammon ; Christ or Belial. There is no other al. ternative. If

f you only decline to take the Lord's side, that is enough 10 condemn you. l'hat itself is taking side against him. Only "forget" Hiin, and his word declares that you will be regarded and treated as traitors against his government. It is painful to say it; but as long as you do not heartily take the Lord's side, it is a solemn iruth, that you are "in league with death, and in covenant with hell." You are enlisted under the banner of the prince of darkness, and acting in concert with the devil and his angels." My dear hearers, who yet remain aliens from the covenant of promise, can you think of this, and not tremble? Can you recollect without horror, that, as long as you remain in this situation, whether you go out, or come in; whether you sit down or rise up; whererer you go, or whatever you do, you are joining with the enemies of the God hat made you; are taking the side of rebellion against that government which is ihe only hope of the intelligent creation? Creature of God! dying, yet immortal! I ask ag. in, canst thou think of this without deep alırm ? Canst thou think of standing in direct hostility with infinite Wisdom, infinite Power, and infi. nite Benevolence ? Art thou willing to be found in league with all that is evil, and at war with all that is good in the universe ? If God be against thee, who can be for thee? Canst thou contend with him ? Canst thou thunder wilh a roice like Him? Wce to him that strivelh with his Maker?

3. Consider further, as another reason why you onght to be on the Lord's side, hoW MUCII The LORD HAS DONE FOR rou. Consider how often he has been your Helper, your Protector, and your

Benefactor; how often he has appeared for your deliverance, and how rich have been the bounties of his Providence. To this heavenly Sovereign are every one of you indebted for your existence; for all your faculties; for the distinguished rank which you hold in the scale of being. To Him are you indebted for every breath you draw, for every moment

« ElőzőTovább »