Page images
PDF
EPUB

Saviour, saying, "Lord, I will follow thee, but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house." This request for the postponement of his voluntary proposal was met by a severe reproof. "And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God."* Figurative as the language is, the meaning is plain to every man of the most moderate capacity. It shows us, that whoever is not willing to follow the Son of God at once, and through all difficulties, is still on the side of the world. The service of Christ admits of no neutrality: "He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."+ How many of my hearers may probably feel themselves condemned by this representation! There are young persons present, who have had serious thoughts of religion, and perhaps some deep convictions, but are still seeking the world. There are others more advanced in life, who are become the heads of families, and who see their children growing up "like olive branches round about their table," and have yet the great work wholly to do! And there is a third class, whose conduct is more painful still :—I refer to the aged: to men who have been under the gospel from their infancy, and are yet "dead in trespasses and sins!" There are some whom God never converts by the word, and there is cause to

[ocr errors]

But yet there is room.”

fear this may be your case! Your hoary head may be yet a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness. These silver locks, with which time has made so free, may yet adorn a countenance which the Spirit of grace has made to shine. Yes, these feeble limbs may yet carry you" to a throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." And you shall not, even now,

* Luke ix. 61, 62.

+ Matt. xii. 30.

seek in vain, while it is written, "him that cometh to me

I will in no wise cast out."

Then

"Let not conscience make you linger,

Nor of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness he requireth

Is to feel your need of him."

Secondly. Preference is likewise included. The blessings of the soul are to be first in affection as well as in time. The statements of scripture are decisive on this subject. Hear the merciful Redeemer: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." In our language this sounds "a hard saying." There is a similar one, however, both in Matthew and Mark. The meaning is, that if he do not prefer me and my kingdom to all these beloved friends and endearments, and is not willing to surrender them, if required, rather than relinquish his discipleship with me, he is none of mine. We have reason to bless a kind Providence, that we are not put to this test; but our exemption from the trial does not render the possession of such a principle of attachment to Christ unnecessary. The solemn and explicit declaration of an apostle is still on record, and will be of obligation as long as this book shall be the will of God: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha.”*

Thirdly. The promise annexed to the pursuit. "And all these things shall be added to you." We have a similar assurance in another part of this same Evangelist. "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my namesake, shall receive an hundred fold,

* 1 Cor. xvi. 22.

and shall inherit everlasting life:"* that is, he shall either in the course of providence be restored to more than he has lost, or he shall receive more than an equivalent in the peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost with which he shall be enriched. Uncertainty attends every earthly enterprise; but "godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." It is implied in the text, that if we seek salvation, the blessing is our's. And this is the subject of frequent and distinct promise. Thus it was said to the Jews: "If thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him; if thou seek him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul."+ So likewsie the prophet Jeremiah declares: "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." The belief of this seems necessary to success: for" he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of all them that diligently seek him." But while this truth is assumed in the text, it is expressly said, that all these things-all necessary food and raiment, shall be added. Away then, Christian, with your corroding solicitude about the future. Here is a solid foundation on which you may build with confidence. Are you seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness?" Have you been brought with deep humility to the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy? And do you hope that you have a Father in heaven, who has adopted you into the family of his Son? Then, if there be a creature in the universe who has reason to trust, and not be afraid, you are that creature. Instead of inferring, from painful trials and perplexing difficulties, apprehensions of evil to come, you ought to rejoice, that you are travelling through much tribulation to the calm and peaceful abodes of eter

* Matt. xix. 29. + Deut. iv. 29.

Jer. xxix. 13. § Heb. xi. 6.

nal day. In every season, therefore, of sorrow and afflic tion, use the words of the psalmist as your own: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Thou shalt guide me by thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory." Grace to help shall come, when it is needed: " for as thy day, thy strength shall be."

III. LET US CLOSE BY THREE REFLECTIONS.

First. What a friend to man is Christianity! It meets him in every difficulty-relieves him under every trouble--and directs him in every path of peril and perplexity. How useful in relation to the present--how consoling with respect to the future. It is the balm of health to the sick, the day star of guidance to the wanderer, and the inexhaustible source of comfort to the unhappy. Its character is, mercy to the miserable, pardon to the guilty, bounty to the unworthy, and life to the dead. Its spirit is benignity and benevolence, compassion and tenderness. Bring forward the cold and heartless system of infidelity, and put it in contrast with the precepts, and promises, and actual blessings of the gospel. “What proof of its benevolence has it given to the world? What health of body or peace of mind has it imparted? What advantages has the public reaped by its propagation? Where shall we trace the footsteps of its mercy toward the place where want and sorrow dwell? What refuge has it opened for the homeless and the destitute? Look around, my brethren, and behold the general desolation: try to estimate the sum of the world's misery, as you listen to the whole creation that groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now.' Surveying, as from another Olivet, this scene of woe, Christian, you may weep; but the heart of infidelity never was touched

·

with such generous grief; nor was her sympathy ever known to have a tear to spare for this world in ruins.'

Secondly. What an enemy to our peace is a worldly spirit! By this remark I mean the spirit of ever-restless anxiety about" to-morrow." Christians of this temper of mind, if such they may be called, are in great danger of losing the relish of communion with God, and of becoming the victim of every temptation and snare. Doubtless many have brought much darkness into their souls, and have accumulated much anguish in their conscience, by its indulgence. Let us apply the apposite remarks of an excellent writer on this subject. "We are in danger

by it of being robbed of our spear and cruse of water, as Saul was when he slept; of being nailed to the earth, as Sisera was in Jael's tent; of minding earthly things only; of having head and heart fixed to the world. The rich fool was thus nailed, and he counted upon goods laid up for many years. We can never reach heaven while we are fastened to the earth. We are in danger by it of being given up to sleep, as the disciples were in the garden; and of sinking into destruction, as Jonah was when he disobeyed the commandment of God, through unbelief."

Finally. What a reproof does this subject administer to multitudes of the hearers of the word! How many thousands of individuals who attend the preaching of the gospel every week, instead of seeking the kingdom of God first, never seek it at all! Heaven, and all its realities, are wholly hid from their view, and excluded from their pursuit. They have souls, but they never ask how they must be saved; they have convictions, but they

Sermon by the Rev. S. Curwen, now of Frome, on the Internal Evidences of Christianity, in the Monthly Lectures.

See Memoirs of the Rev. Matthew Henry, by J. B. Williams, Esq. F. S. A.-an admirable volume of Christian Biography.

M M

« PreviousContinue »