Page images

and by not being ashamed to show that it is so. He who shows such a change in him we may

well believe to be reconciled to God: not that such works in themselves, or any works that he can do, are able by their own merit to reconcile him; nor does he for a moment believe that they are; but because, as it is our sin and carelessness that keep us away from Christ, so, where we see a manifest disposition to avoid sin, there we may be sure that Christ's Spirit has worked, and that Christ's redemption has been thankfully received. And now then


I not well call on all who hear me to be reconciled to God? On all who have any influence, from whatever cause derived, that they being converted may strengthen their brethren, and not, while they perish themselves, incur also the dreadful guilt of leading others to perish also ? On all who are ripening in age, and on all who are not yet ripening; for neither can afford to linger on their way, and both, if they delay, are as yet in that state in which it would have been good for them if they had never been born? On all who being possessed of some ability, are either wasting it in absolute idleness, or disposed to exert it for the sake of their own distinction and credit, exercising their understandings while their hearts are neglected ? On all who being deficient in ability have little or no interest in the peculiar business of this place, but who have there

fore the more reason to take heed lest while they give up earthly prizes with indifference, they should give up the pursuit of eternal life besides. On all in short of whatever character, of whatever powers;-lest it should be said of you that it were good if you had never been born, when to the poorest understanding, to the humblest in age and influence amongst us, every hour of life may be made so precious, that to have been born shall be an eternal and infinite blessing. Rugby CHAPEL,

October 11th, 1835.




St. Luke, iii. 4.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

As the lessons which are read from the New Testament are not chosen for the particular Sunday, but are taken in their order according to the day of the month and year, so we cannot expect that there should be any particular harmony between them and the fixed parts of the service, such as the lessons from the Old Testament, and the Epistle and Gospel. But when we do find such a harmony, and can thus connect together all the portions of the Scripture which are read on the same day, the effect is particularly striking. Now this is in a great measure the case with the parts of this day's service. The Gospel speaks of the blessing upon true repentance; and the second lesson for the morning describes the ministry of

the preacher of repentance, John the Baptist ; while, combined with these, the two lessons from the book of Samuel present us with the two extremes of human nature in the cases of Samuel and the sons of Eli; the last so hardened in sin that they were beyond repentance; the other so early led to God, and so constant in His service, that in the common sense of the term he had no need of it. While again the second lesson for this evening reminds us, that in the higher and Christian sense we all need it: that by the deeds of the law will no flesh be justified; for that cursed is he who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.

From out all these parts of Scripture so bearing upon the same subject, I have taken for


text the words of Isaiah, by which John the Baptist described himself. He said, “ I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” And so he has been commonly called the forerunner of Jesus Christ. But it may be that many have never clearly understood what was meant by John being Christ's forerunner, why any forerunner was needed, and what truth is declared to us in this part of God's dispensations, which showed that he was needed. The subject is very vast, and might be illustrated

by many examples, taken either from history or from private life. And the truth contained in it is this, that Christ's work has never been done effectually in men's hearts, except so far as the work of His forerunner has been done beforehand; that the baptism of the Holy Spirit requires the previous baptism of water; or in other words, that no man can profitably receive the truths of the Gospel, unless they find his heart made ready by repentance, unless they find him in that state that he knows the evil of his heart, and hates it, and longs to be delivered from it.

I shall not dwell long upon the examples from history, but one or two may be mentioned to show what is meant. When St. Paul dwells upon the advantage which Timothy had had in having been taught the Scriptures from his childhood, and adds that they are able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus, inasmuch as they were profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God might be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works; he was comparing with this case of Timothy that of those who had been brought up in heathenism, with nothing that could be called instruction in holiness, with little or no notion of what was meant by sin and repentance. These persons, when they grew up, seeing the folly of the religion of their fathers, and

« PreviousContinue »