Page images
PDF
EPUB

He vouchsafes to be a partaker with us; we cannot be one with Him, or He with us, till we have stood and given up to Him our whole heart in true repentance. Do we ask of what we are to repent, and how we are to show it? Let us look again at Zacchæus, and consider, as he did, the sins and temptations of our general life, and those also of our particular calling. In the former respect we are for the most part as he was. We all here assembled, in comparison with the largest portion of our fellow-creatures, may well be called rich. We all must so far be like Zacchæus, that we have tasted and are tasting daily of the indulgences which riches, or, if you will, which plenty, can afford us. We have all in this respect something to look to, something, I am sure, of which to re

We may not be called upon to give the half of our goods to the poor, though neither, in fact, does it appear that he was called upon to do so. But surely there are indulgences which might be restrained, there are denials of ourselves for the sake of our poorer brethren, which if we do not make, how dwelleth the love of Christ in us?— how can we be moved to true repentance ?—how obtain Christ's free forgiveness? Then again, in our particular calling, have we nothing to repent of there ? no waste of time, which should be made up by a fourfold diligence? no spirit of indifference to our duty, to be made up by a fourfold zeal? Can we

pent. We

wonder that so few of us feel the abiding sense of Christ's forgiveness, when we know,-our hearts too surely tell us,--that we have not probed them to the bottom ? We have not opened them wholly to Christ : all their evil has not been abandoned ; all their best has not been offered.

I hardly dare go on to dwell on the blessed state of those who, having once received Christ like Zacchæus, receive Him now like Mary. Those who, having truly repented, and having been fully forgiven, can now sit gratefully and joyfully at Christ's feet to hear His word. Not indeed that they sit still in the literal sense; they are not idle, not indolent, not inactive, but contented and peaceful. Their bodies are at work, their minds may be vigorous ; but their spirits are still at Christ's feet, and nothing can draw them from their rest. Theirs is indeed the better part, who have so found Christ in this life, as to make this life appear no other than the beginning of life everlasting. But who among us have attained as yet to this state ?—who may dare to look upon it without presumption, or without humiliation ?

Zacchæus' state must be ours first; and woe be to us if it be not so. Christ is with us, but we are not with Him; our salvation is not come to us, unless there be first our hearty repentance : unless we are afraid to sit down with Him, to take any rest in His presence, before we have opened our

hearts to Him, praying to Him to help us in opening them; that whatever of lurking evil is in them may be made as visible to our eyes as to His; and that having been made visible, it may be cast off utterly; even as He also will cast it off, and us together with it, to everlasting destruction, when the judgment which we had been afraid to pronounce upon our sins, He will pronounce for ever upon them and upon us.

Rugby CAAPEL,

March 8th, 1835.

SERMON XVI.

THE SECOND BIRTH.

St. John iii. 5, 6.

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot

enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. If we read the 15th chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, that famous chapter with which we are all so well acquainted, and which speaks at so much length of the resurrection, we shall find that there were some who called themselves Christians, and had joined the Christian society, who did not believe in any life after death. Now this to us seems a contradiction ; we cannot fancy a man's being a Christian, and at the same time his not believing in the resurrection. But what these persons meant is explained in a passage of St. Paul's second Epistle to Timothy, where he says that Hymenæus and Philetus maintained that the resurrection was past already. Of course they did not mean that either they or their disciples had been dead, and had risen again from the dead ; but they maintained that the resurrection which Christ had promised was a rising from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; that a man so rose when he was baptized and became a Christian ; that thus to all who were Christians, their resurrection was past already; they had received what Christ had promised, and for the future had nothing to trust to but such hopes of another life as they could gain from their own natural reason, without in any degree relying on any especial revelations of the Gospel.

Now it is true that the words “ death” and rising again” are often used in this figurative manner in the Scriptures, to express a man's being sunk and lost in wickedness, and then rising out of that lost state to a life of virtue. They are so used, it is probable, in the very next chapter but one to that from which the text is taken ; namely, in the 5th chapter of St. John. In the 25th verse our Lord says, “ the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” It is probable that our Lord here means exactly what His Apostle Peter means, when he says that “the Gospel was preached to them that are dead, that they might live according to God in the Spirit,” and what His Apostle Paul also means, when he writes to the Ephesians,

« PreviousContinue »