Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

or comforting them that are distressed ; that it be not done, or rather undone in doing, with such supercilious roughness, venting itself either in looks or words, or any way, as sours it and destroys the very being of a benefit, and turns it rather into an injury. And generally the whole conversation of men is made unpleasant by cynical harshness and disdain.

This courteousness which the apostle recommends, is contrary to that evil, not only in the surface and outward behaviour: no; religion doth not prescribe, nor is satisfied with such courtesy as goes no deeper than words and gestures, which sometimes is most contrary to that singleness which religion owns. These are the upper garments of malice; saluting him aloud in the morning, whom they are undermining all the day. Or sometimes, though more innocent, yet it may be troublesome, merely by the vain affectation and excess of it.

Even this becomes not a wise man, much less a Christian. An overstudy or acting of that, is a token of emptiness, and is below a solid mind. Though Christians know such things, and could out-do the studiers of it, yet they, as it indeed deserves, do despise it.

Nor is it that graver and wiser way of external plausible deportment, that answers fully this word; it is the outer-half indeed, but the thing is a radical sweetness in the temper of the mind, that spreads itself into a man's words and actions. And this not merely natural, a gentle, kind disposition, which is indeed a natural advantage that some have, but this is spiritual, a new nature descended from heaven, and so, in its original and kind, far excelling the other; it supplies it where it is not in nature, and doth not only increase it where it is, but elevates it above itself, renews it, and sets a more excellent stamp upon it. Religion is in this mistaken sometimes, in that men think it imprints an ungodly roughness and austerity upon the mind and carriage. It doth indeed bar and banish all vanity and lightness, and all compliance and easy partaking with sin. Religion strains, and quite breaks that point of false and injurious courtesy, to suffer thy brother's soul to run the hazard of perishing, and to share in his guiltiness, by not admonishing him after that seasonable, and prudent, and gentle manner, (for that indeed should be studied,) which becomes thee as a Christian, and that particular respectful manner which becomes thy station. These things rightly qualifying it, it doth no wrong to good manners and the courtesy here enjoined, but is truly a part of it, by due admonitions and reproofs to seek to reclaim a sinner; for it were

the worst unkindness not to do it. “ Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine beart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him," Lev. xix. 17.

But that which is true lovingness of heart and carriage, religion doth not only in no way prejudice, but you see requires it in the rule, and where it is wrought in the heart, works and causes it there : fetches out that crookedness and harshness which are otherwise invincible in some humours : makes the wolf dwell with the lamb. This, Christians should study, and belie the prejudices which the world take up against the power of godliness; they should study to be inwardly so minded, and of such outward behaviour, as becomes that spirit of grace which dwells in them, endeavouring to gain “ those that are without,” by their kind, obliging conversation.

In some copies, it is “humble;” and indeed, as this is excellent in itself, and a chief characteristic of a Christian, it agrees well with all those mentioned, and carries along with it this inward and real, not acted courteousness. Not to insist on it now, it gains at all hands with God and with men ; receives much grace from God, and kills envy, and commands respect and goodwill from men.

Those showers of grace that slide off from the lofty mountains, rest on the valleys, and make them fruitful.

“He giveth grace to the lowly,” loves to bestow it where there is most room to receive it, and most return of ingenuous and entire praises upon the receipt; and such is the humble heart. And truly, as much humility gains much grace, so it grows by it.

It is one of the world's reproaches against those who go beyond their size in religion, that they are proud and selfconceited. Christians, beware there be nothing in you justifying this. Surely they who have most true grace, are least guilty of this. Common knowledge and gifts may “puff up;" but grace does not.

He whom the Lord loads most with his richest gifts, stoops lowest, as pressed down with the weight of them. The free love of God humbles that heart most to which it is most manifested.

And towards men, humility graces all grace and all gifts ; it glorifies God, and teaches others so to do. It is the preserver of graces. Sometimes it seems to wrong them by hiding them; but, indeed, it is their safety. Hezekiah, by a vain showing of his jewels and treasures, forfeited them all.

Leighton.

you say to that?"

TO THE SABBATH BREAKER. An infidel young man once mockingly remarked, when reproved for neglecting public worship, “I always spend my sabbaths in settling accounts.” A friend immediately replied, " You will find, sir, the day of judgment will be spent in exactly a similar manner.” Yes, the day of judgment is spent in settling accounts; and oh! what an account is yours, for God has said, “ Remember the sabbath-day to keep it holy." He has specially set it apart for holy rest, for prayer and praise, for meditation on the past, and anticipation of the future; but by you it is neither remembered nor sanctified. It is made a mere day of business or amusement, in which “you do your own ways, find your own pleasures, and speak your own words."

In thus acting, you are not only dishonouring God, but you are guilty of the basest ingratitude. Take the homely illustration of a poor but pious man. In reasoning with a sabbath-breaker, he said, “Suppose I had been hard at work all the week, and earned seven shillings; and suppose I met a man and gave him six shillings out of the seven, what would

Why, I would say that you were very kind, and that the man ought to be thankful.” “Well, but suppose he was thereafter to knock me down, and rob me of the other shilling, what then? “Why, then, he would deserve to be hanged." Well, now, this is your case. Thou art the man. God has freely given you six days to work and earn your bread, and the seventh he has specially reserved for his own service and glory, and commands us to keep it holy; but you, not satisfied with the six days God has given, rob him of the seventh. What, then, do you deserve?” Now to you I repeat the question, "What do you deserve?” If you cannot answer, God does it for you, for he said of him who was found doing his own works on the sabbath-day: “ The man shall surely be put to death." It is true, sabbath-breaking is not now punished in this way; but though a visible and temporal judgment is not now inflicted as of old, yet a more awful, because an eternal judgment, shall follow it into the world to come, even the second and eternal death. This death, unhappy sinner, awaits

you,

unless Sovereign Mercy, through the blood of Christ, prevent. In no other way can you escape from wrath to come. Then offer up in faith the publican's prayer,

66 God be merciful to me a sinner,” for there is forgiveness with God, that he may

be feared. Repent. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and

66

thou shalt be saved. And then you will not rest until you can call the sabbath "a delight, the holy day of the Lord, and honourable.”

BELIEVERS NOT LAWLESS. To every enlightened reader of the New Testament it must be quite clear that there is a particular kind of conduct which springs from the genuine belief of the gospel of Christ, and which is fully described in the apostolic epistles. True believers in Christ cannot live as they once did, because the love of Christ shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost constrains them not to live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again, 2 Cor, v. 14, 15. Their believing in Christ for life evidences them to be in him, as the branches are in the vine, and therefore new creatures ; hence old things with them are passed away, and all things are become new, 2 Cor. v. 17. Their faith, the evidence and fruit of their election of God, is never alone in their hearts, but is always accompanied with the bright train of the Spirit's graces, which being in them, and abounding, as Peter teaches, make them neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Peter i. 5-8. Saving faith, as James teaches, is a living operative principle, working by love, purifying the heart, and securing a cheerful obedience to the truth as it is in Jesus, Jas. ii. 14–26; Gal. v. 6; Acts xv. 9; Rom. xiii. 18.

Hence genuine believers cannot be hidden from the observation of those amongst whom they live. Impossible! They are described as the epistles of Christ, known and read of all men—as a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid or escape observation-as the salt of the earth, both as having savour themselves, and as preserving the world from entire moral corruption--and as light-bearers to hold forth, by their instructions and examples, the word of life to the acceptance of their fellow-men, 2 Cor. iii. 2, 3; Matt, v. 13, 14; Phil. ii. 15, 16. Their influence, therefore, must be both seen and felt wherever their lot is cast. Paul styles them the choice workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that they should walk in them, Eph. ji. 10.

Accordingly, every professed believer in Christ who is not careful to maintain good works, demonstrates to all men that his profession consists wholly in mere words, 1 John iii. 16 24 ; ii. 5, 6, 29. Thanks be unto God for his boundless grace; his believing children are not left to regulate their deportment by their creature counsel and strength; but the Spirit which dwells in them quickens them, and sweetly constrains them to walk according to the law of love—the law of the Spirit of life, Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27; xi. 19, 20; Jer. xxxii. 38–41; Phil. ii. 12, 13; 1 John jii. 24; iv. 13; Eph. ii. 1, 5, 10.

Knowing that their inward tempers and outward conduct are of the greatest importance as establishing their election of God in Christ, all sincere believers are most anxious to realize the fruits of believing unto life. They follow after charity or love, and earnestly desire spiritual gifts, in order that they may minister the same one to another, and thereby make their calling and election of God sure, 1 Cor. xiv. 1; 1 Peter iv. 10. Paul knew that the Thessalonians, to whom he wrote, were the elect of God, by the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit in their daily walk and conversation, 1 Thess. i. 3, 4. Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity, and walk in love, doing good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith ; and then their effectual calling of God in Christ will be established beyond the shadow of a doubt, 2 Tim. ii. 19; Eph. v. 2; Gal. vi. 10.

Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.',

J. L.

KINDNESS TO ANIMALS. I HAD a curious propensity to discover and observe the natural dispositions of aninials. And this curiosity was, in some instances, so strong as to make me overlook the uneasiness which, by teasing them, was occasioned to the animals themselves. I was not naturally of a cruel disposition, but was rather pleased to see the animal creation about me enjoy themselves. The propensity I have mentioned was, however, sometimes unwarrantably indulged: so much so, as to mark a depraved turn of mind, which, even now, gives me pain to recollect. I ought to have reflected that all animals have assigned to them by the Author of nature a pleasurable existence, and that it is our duty to second his intention as we have opportunity, and especially to avoid all occasions of inflicting upon them unnecessary pain. An additional excitement to this duty is, that whilst we encourage' a disposition to

« ElőzőTovább »