Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

merits of Christ constitute the foundation of their acceptance with God. And they become interested in his merits by the “faith that worketh by love, purifieth the heart, and overcometh the world"—the faith by which they accept of his covenant. All true believers, therefore, are united to Christ in the covenant of grace, and are personally interested in the exceeding great and precious promises" of the Gospel. Hence" God can be just and yet the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”

It appears then, that the union of real Christians with Christ resembles, in some respects, the union of the branches with the vine-of the various parts of an edifice with the foundation-of the different members of the human body with the head and of the wife with her husband : and that all real Christians are inseparably united to Christ, by the holy disposition of their hearts; by the spirit of adoption ; by similarity of interests ; and by mutual covenant engagements.

From these considerations we are led to reflect,

1. How great is the benevolence and condescension of God, as exhibited in the plan of redemption by Jesus Christ.

Guilty and hell-deserving as we are, he offers to us the •pardon of our sins, and the salvation of our souls. He proposes to us an everlasting covenant of grace: a covenant by which all penitent and believing sinners are admitted to the most endearing and honourable relation to Christ, and, through him, to the infinite Jehovah.

Should a child of infamy and wretchedness be adopted into a family of affluence and reputation, and be treated with the tenderness of an heir, all men would applaud the disinterested condescension of the benefactor. This, however, would be but a very faint representation of Jehovah's condescension, in admitting any of the human race into union with his beloved Son. In the supposed case, it would be only the condescension of one creature to another. But in the gracious act of God to believers, there is the condescension of the Infinite Creator to guilty creatures. By an act of free and sovereign grace, he condescends to receive them into his own family, to call them his children, and to treat them as heirs of his throne and kingdom. He exalts them to a covenant-union with his own Son--the King of glory—the Saviour of Israel.

2. From this subject we may be assisted in deciding the momentous question, whether we are indeed Christians.

We are not Christians unless we are inseparably united to the Lord Jesus Christ. · And if we are truly united to Christ, we possess and exercise the same holy dispositions of heart, which he exhibited while dwelling among men: we have the Spirit of adoption ; we are pursuing the same interests which he sought; we have abandoned the love and the practice of sin ; we have fled, for refuge, from the condemning sentence of Divine Law, to the hope which is set before us in the Gospel ; we have accepted of the covenant of grace, and solemnly and sincerely given away ourselves to Christ, as everlasting trophies of his redeeming love. If we are truly united to Christ, we possess and exercise that living faith in him, which includes, not only the assent of the understanding, but, also, a warm and hearty approbation of his mediatorial character, and a full reliance on his merits for acceptance with God. If we are inseparably united to Christ, we have something of that heavenly temper of the Lamb, which he so eminently displayed while in this “vale of tears ;" we are daily imitating his zeal for the glory of his Father, his kindness and compassion towards men, his humility and meekness, his patience and resignation: And the great and glorious objects which he so zealously pursued while here below; and to which he is still devoted in the Heaven of heavens, will ever call forth our most vigorous and persevering exertions. Carefully examine your own hearts, then, dear brethren, and rest not contented, for a single moment, until you have clear and decisive evidence, that you are united to Christ in that " everlasting covenant” which is “ well-ordered in all things and sure.”

3. How exceedingly important is it that Christians should walk worthy of their relation to Christ.

It is well known that the conduct of our earthly relatives produces no inconsiderable effect on our reputation. If they conduct well, we share in the honour which they justly acquire. But if their conduct be vicious and infamous, we suffer by the dishonour they bring upon themselves. And the more nearly related they are to us, the more tenderly do we feel the wound which their dishonour inflicts.

So, when as Christians we maintain a near and humble walk with God; when we faithfully and habitually practise the holy religion which we profess'; when we exhibit, in our daily conduct and conversation, the virtues which so eminently distinguished the life of our exalted Redeemer : then we reflect honour on Christ and his cause—we adorn the doctrines of the gospel-we produce living testimony to the superlative excellence of the Christian religion. But when we contradict our profession, by unhallowed practice; when we are luke-warm, and careless, and inattentive to the duties of practical. piety; when we yield to “ covetousness, which is idolatry,” and are manifestly more anxious to enjoy the riches, pleasures, and honours of this world, than to secure an inheritance among saints and angels in glory; when our lives are unholy, irreverent, prayerless, or immoral : then Christ is deeply “ wounded in the house of his friends ;" his laws are violated; his holy religion is dishonoured; and sinners are hardened, and plunged deeper in impenitence and unbelief.

Since, then, the visible glory of Christ, and of his cause, depends so much on the conduct of his professed friends, and since we are admitted to such intimate and honourable union with him ; surely we should exhibit the fruits of holiness in our life and conversation. We should remember that we are closely allied to a Being whose honour is infinitely sacred; and that we have espoused the most important cause which ever called for the enterprise and exertion of intelligent creatures. For the honour of our Divine Master, then, as well as for the sake of our own precious souls, and the souls of those around us, we should live in the daily and faithful practice of every Christian duty. We should resolutely surmount every barrier in our way to glory. We should "run, with patience, the race which is set before

We should give all diligence to make our calling and election sure."

us."

1

"Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” we should “press,” with holy and increasing ardour, " towards the mark for the prize of the high-calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Finally ; Let none forget, that union with the Lord Jesus Christ is of unspeakable importance to all men,

It is absolutely essential to salvation. They, who are not united to Christ, have no interest in his atonement. They are yet under the condemning sentence of the Divine Law. In a spiritual sense, they are " wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” They are “ without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise ; having no hope, and without God in the world." They are “dead in trespasses and sins.” This is the deplorable condition of each one in this assembly who is not united to Christ. Let me, affectionately, but faithfully, warn you of your danger. While your affections centre in the pleasures of sin, the riches of this world, or the honour which cometh from man; and while you slight the honour and happiness of a covenant union with Christ, you incessantly expose yourself to the wrath of Heaven!

Christ is now offering you pardon and justification and eternal salvation. He is disclosing the terms on which reconciliation with God may be obtained. He is mercifully waiting for you to accept of those terms, and to receive his rich and sovereign grace. By his own tremendous death he has made atonement for your sins. By the agony of his cross; by his resurrection from the dead; by his ascension to glory; by all the horrours of perdition, and all the glories of Heaven, he now beseeches you to accept of his covenant, and be reconciled to God. If you accept the offered grace, and faithfully consecrate your life to his service, he will receive you to Heaven, “ that where he is, there you may be also.” He will crown you with “ glory and honour.” You shall dwell “where is fulness of joy." But if you reject Christ and his great salvation, you must, inevitably, “be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” For God is not a man that he should lie! And O, remember, too, that these benevolent interpositions of the Holy Trinity, if thus rejected, must for ever aggravate your ruin ;-must become a savour of death unto death."

Be persuaded, then, to view, with deep concern, your guilt and danger. Forsake the hard“ way of transgressors,” without a moment's delay. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation." Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” To-day abandon sin and the powers of darkness : humble yourselves before God; and, by the vigorous exercise of evangelical faith, cordially receive Christ as your Prophet, Priest, and King ; and thus ratify, in your own souls, that everlasting covenant which he has sealed with blood. So shall you be everblooming and ever-fruitful branches of the Tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God. AMEN.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Oceasion of the Death of MOSES BROWN, ESQ. One of the Founders of

Andover Theological Seminary.

BY LEONARD WOODS, D.D.
Abbot Professor in the Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass.

DUTIES OF THE RICH. 1 TIMOTHY, VI. 17, 18, 19.-Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy; THAT THEY DO GOOD; THAT THEY BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS, READY TO DISTRIBUTE, WILLING TO COMMUNICATE ; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

The duty of those who are rich, to abound in good works, needs to be inculcated at the present day as much as it did in the first age of Christianity. For, although we see many animating proofs of increasing benevolence in the Christian community; still the public benevolence, actually in operation, falls far below what the spirit of our religion and the exigencies of the world imperiously demand. The consequences, which flow from the want of a more general and active benevolence, we have had many occasions to notice, and many reasons to deplore. And if we love the church and the world as we ought, we shall feel ourselves obliged, whenever an opportunity occurs, to use our humble endeavours to promote the reign of benevolence, and to urge upon those who are rich, the duty of devoting their substance to the cause of human happiness.

Such an opportunity is afforded on the present occasion. The example of that friend of man, who has lately closed his eyes in death, will furnish a happy illustration of the principle which I shall aim to establish, and will give weight to the arguments by which I shall endeavour to en force it. My general position is,

THAT THOSE WHO ARE RICH ARE

UNDER

SACRED OBLIGATIONS TO

DEVOTE A CONSIDERABLE PORTION OF THEIR SUBSTANCE TO THE OBJECTS

OF BENEVOLENCE.

I here speak of benevolence in its highest sense ;-benevolence excited by motives and directed to objects peculiarly Christian. That benevolence which aims at objects of a secular, worldly nature, I cannot now take into consideration. Its claims ought to be exhibited, and will be exhibited, by those who are competent to the task, on various secular occasions. But the cause which I plead, is the cause of religious charity ; charity exercised to promote the spiritual and eternal interests of men.

Suffer me here to make three remarks preparatory to my chief design.

1. Nothing in the following discourse is intended to interfere in the least degree with the claims of relative duty. We are obliged, by the law of our nature and by the precepts of revelation, to provide for our own households. This provision should be comfortable and generous, and should doubtless bear some proportion to what we possess.

2. I shall utterly decline any attempt to decide, what proportion of a man's property ought to be devoted to private and domestic uses, and what to charitable objects. I would simply present the general claims of religious charity, and suggest some obvious.considerations to enforce them, and then refer the subject to every man's judgment and conscience. So Timothy was required to charge those who were rich, to do good, to be rich in good works ; but he had no direction from Paul to determine, or to attempt to determine, what should be the amount of any man's charities. He was seriously to inculcate the duty of the rich, and then leave it to them to judge and act for themselves. This is all I shall do.

3. Let it not be supposed that the obligations of benevolence are confined to those who are rich in the highest sense. The word, rich, is altogether relative. A man may be rich in comparison with those who have less property than himself, though he is not so in comparison with those who have more. But whatever may be our worldly circumstances, if we are raised above penury, we are under obligation to do good. It is, however, my special object to inculcate this duty upon those who are possessed of the higher degrees of wealth. With these views I remark,

First. The obligation to use property for benevolent purposes, may be proved and enforced from the consideration, that property is the gift of God.

So it is represented in the text. Charge them, that are rich,--that they trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gireth us all things richly to enjoy.The same is taught generally in the holy Scrip

« ElőzőTovább »