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preaching this, for it is a very old doctrine, although some tell as it is quite a new doctrine, but they show their dreadful and consummate ignorance when they say so; it is an old doctrine that the Apostles used to preach, and the new doctrine is, that which is contrary to it: the Apostle Peter was preaching this old doctrine, and a large number of persons were cut to the heart, and they began to cry out, what shall we do to be saved! It was a very singular thing, that a man like Peter, who had been a fisherman, who had been an Apostle, who was a very unlikely agent to be so employed, that such a man preaching the Gospel should produce such an effect. It was the Holy Ghost produced the effect, Peter was merely the agent. The Holy Ghost brought the word home to the hearts of the people, and the effect was, that they began to enquire what they should do to be saved—they were pricked to the heart. Ah, my dear hearers, there are some of you who have been pricked to the heart, some of you who have not heard of Christ crucified for nothing. It touched the heart and wounded the heart, and you went out of church thinking, of all men in the world, you were the most wretched—thinking that there was hardly a sinner upon earth whose guilt was so great as yours, and that there was a great probability, notwithstanding all, you would be sure to go to eternal ruin; and you used to go and mourn and weep and lament and repent and bewail your sins in secret; and the thought that
Jesus had laid down his life was any thing but comfort for you; it made you wretched, and it made you mourn, and it made you repent in dust and ashes. That was a good sign; but has there not been another effect produced. "Through this man," said Peter, "is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him, all that believe, are justified freely from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." Who knows the value of that text? No one can know the value of it till he knows the value of being justified— till he knows the need of standing in a righteousness superior to his own—till he has learnt that his own righteousness will not do to stand before God. And thus, in the words of Scripture, we see "that all his righteousness is nothing worth, and that his iniquities, like the winds, carry him away." To such a man, who hears of pardon and peace through His blood, all the world would be little and poor in comparison with such a gift.'
This whole congregation now stands together—you will one day be separated. The last day—and you 'will not stand all together, at least I fear not. "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall divide them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall place the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left."
(To be continued.J
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What does it mean? Do you wish to know? It means, that when the Son of Man shall come, the real Christian shall be safe on the right hand of the Judge, and the sinner shall be lost and damned. "I lay down my life for the sheep; the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." What says the church? How does she speak of the elect of God in this matter? How does your church speak of it? What dost thou learn in the articles of thy belief. "First, I learn," says the church, "to believe in God the Father, who made me and all the world. Secondly, in God the Son, who hath redeemed me and all mankind. Thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God." The elect, then, are sanctified—the sheep of Christ are sanctified. The man of the world may scoff at the term—and no wonder he scoffs at the term who scoffs at the thing. No wonder that you hear the men of the world speaking of Christians as your sanctified ones—and that with a scoff—and that with a taunt. God grant that I may be found among them—God grant that you may be found among them. I ask of God to have my place among them; I ask not to have my place among the rich, among the great, among the noble. No, no; I ask to have my place with the sanctified ones; and in that day, when the Lord shall come to fudge the quick
and the dead, may you and I appear with joy, and not be ashamed, or have cause to be ashamed, when he shall make his appearance.
Now, then, I have tried to help you to judge, because the men who belong to Christ—they who are the sheep of Christ—they for whom the Son of God did especially and effectively shed his precious blood—those men, as your own church teaches you, they are the called of God. "They, through grace, obey the call," says the seventeenth article—" they are justified freely—they walk before God in good works, and finally, through grace, they attain everlasting life. I want to know, my Christian brethren, whether this is the case with some of you? "I lay down my life for the sheep." It may serve you to judge whether you be the sheep of Christ; because if so, there will be the call effectual of his grace. "They, through grace, obey the call." I shall be told this is mystery. It is. It is part of the mystery of godliness—it is mysterious, but it is truth.
I have thus endeavoured, from time to time, as God has enabled me, though with much infirmity, to preach to you the word of life; and by and by we shall come to meet together for the last time—God only knows how soon we shall meet together for the last time. The preacher and the people know very little of it; perhaps, however, in the midst of strength and use
fulness God may call, and we must go. It was only last Tuesday that I was attending the funeral of the Rev. Basil Wood, who for forty-five years had been preaching a faithful Gospel in the metropolis. As he was carried to his grave, among other things, I could not help thinking how many had gone before him to another and a better world, of those who had been benefited by his ministry. Oh, with what joy must a faithful minister when he enters the presence of God and casts his eye around, with what joy must he behold some of those who have been the children of his prayers and the seats of his ministry 1 Oh, tell me not what this world can give— tell me not of the riches, or the greatness, or the dignities that earth can give—but tell me what are the feelings
of a disembodied spirit rising from the earth and safe in heaven! not only the feeling that he has got to heaven himself, but that through grace he has been used as an humble instrument in bringing sinners to God, and has got those in glory, who may be his joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Brethren, this is the Gospel we wish to preach to you; and after having preached it here on earth, may we be permitted through all eternity to magnify the love of God in Christ, who has washed us from sin, from the guilt of it, from the dominion of it, from the power of it, and delivered us from the penalty of it, to admire the mercy and the love of God, when we shall no longer need the mercy of God.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. R. C. DILLON.
AT THE ASYLUM FOR FEMALE ORPHANS, SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 1, 1831.
The whole of this and of the succeeding epistle presents an affecting spectacle. It is that of a venerable old minister instructing a young one—not merely pointing oat principles to him, because in these Timothy had been early initiated, having from a child known the Holy Scriptures, which were able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus— but illustrating those principles by his personal experience. He was anxious to prepare the heart of his young disciple for difficulties, which, in every variety of form, would assail him in his progress through life. He resembled the brave old warrior unbuckling his own armour, that he might buckle on the armour of the youthful soldier going forth to battle. And how
finely does he combine the solemn injunction—" This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses,"—How finely is all this combined with his own triumphant feelings, as he raises the song of victory—" I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing." He had tried the extremity of the battle; and he now .hears the trumpet sounding his retreat from the field, which, with another note, was summoning the youthful Timothy into it.
There are three things which this short sentence awakens in the mind.
First: What the apostle needed and obtained—mercy.
Secondly: How he obtained what he needed: and
Thirdly: The glorious display which is here made of the Divine Character.
First: Let us consider What The
APOSTLE NEEDED AND OBTAINED
Mercy :—" but I obtained mercy."
Probably the most concise and simple definition that we can give of mercy is, that it is favour shewn to those who are unworthy of it. Mercy, then, in its nature and operations is wholly free. No man can have any pretensions to mercy. Differences there may be, indeed, between the degrees of guilt; but even the least guilty can lay no claim to the divine compassion; for the establishment of a claim on the part of any individual wculd constitute the showing of compassion on God's part an act rather of justice than of mercy. In this respect, then, all mankind are reduced to one melancholy level—all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; so that every mouth must be stopped, and the whole world be found guilty before Him. But the admission of this truth by no means requires us to say, that some sinners do not stand in greater need of mercy than others. The transgressions of some men may be of longer standing and of deeper dye than those of others, and their pardon would be an act of greater and richer mercy; it would be a more striking display of the riches of divine love. Now, such was the mercy which the Apostle needed, and obtained: and there is one word in the text which seems to intimate, that of all men he seemed the least likely to have obtained it—" but —I obtained mercy."
It may be interesting, then, to in
quire what were the peculiar circumstances in St. Paul's history which made it, if not more difficult, at least less probable for him to obtain mercy than for others. He tells us himself that he was the chief of sinners. But wherein did his sinfulness consist? What had been St. Paul's peculiar guilt before his conversion to the faith of the Gospel? Had he been an idolator, an adulterer, or a drunkard; or in any marked degree a slave to his licentious appetites? Had he been unjust, dishonest, or covetous? Was he ever chargeable with the guilt of oppressing the poor, the fatherless, or the widow? or of notoriously violating the command to keep holy the sabbath-day? or of openly expressing his disregard and contempt of religious duties? Was it in all, or in any of these particulars, that he had been thus eminently guilty? Strange as it may appear, he had not been guilty in any one of them. So far otherwise, no man perhaps ever carried the code of moral or of eternal righteousness further than St. Paul carried it; for he declares, in his epistle to the Philippians, that, '' touching the righteousness which is in the law, he had been blameless." I can readily imagine it very possible that I may be addressing some now present, who consider it surprising, and passing strange, that an individual, who had neither been an idolator, nor a profane, nor an immoral man, should yet be called, and truly called, the chief of sinners. This is a declaration you find it difficult to understand. And why do you find it so? because, brethren, we erroneously judge of sin if we judge it merely by the outward act. The measure of our guilt before> God is not to be estimated merely by the injury which we do to our fellow-creatures. The sinfulness of sin consists in its being committed against God, and in the opposition and enmity of the heart to the Divine character and will. Taking this as the standard, then, by which to form our judgment, we shall find that St. Paul's iniquity was of no common order. Outwardly moral, it is true, he was in his conduct, and even zealous in his religious profession; but he was inwardly a bitter enemy to God and holiness. He was full of pride and unbelief; the two worst sins of which a man can be guilty. He hated the Gospel, because it opposed his prejudices, and bade him lay aside his self-righteous hopes of justifying himself-by his works; and because he hated the Gospel he refused to attend to the proofs which might have convinced him of its truth. He obstinately shut his eyes that he might not see, and his ears that he might not hear, while he conceived and cherished the most rancorous enmity against the holy Jesus and his faithful followers.
I apprehend, then, brethren, that even if our examination of the Apostle's guilt were to terminate at the point to which I have just brought it, we must allow it to have been guilt of no common measure. But the description does not end here; much remains to be added. The virulence of the Apostle's heart broke out into open hostility against God. In the very verse where our text is placed he informs Timothy that he had been a blasphemer and a persecutor, and injurious; and how many blasphemous speeches had he uttered against the blessed Jesus and the Gospel of his grace! How many false, malicious, and blood-thirsty words had he spoken against the unoffending Christians! But his rage against them had not been confined to words; he was a persecutor, and injurious, as well as a blasphemer. The very first time his name is mentioned in the sacred history is in connexion with the martyrdom of Stephen, when the witnesses, it is said, laid down their clothes at a young man's
feet, whose name was Saul. He pro^ bably reproved their slackness, and said, "Strip and stone him, and I'll take charge of your raiment." He himself, indeed, testifies to the same fact; and how feelingly does he mention it: "When the blood of the martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by and consenting to his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him." After this he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and, without regard to sex or age, throwing the Christians into prison. His own confession is— "Many of the Saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests ; and when they were put to death I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities." Such was the unparalleled ferocity of this extraordinary blasphemer and persecutor. You cannot fail, then, of seeing the force of his expression in the text— "Hut I obtained mercy." Sinner as I was—reduced beneath the level of ordinary transgressors—an impious blasphemer—an injurious and ferocious persecutor—an enemy even to God himself, I yet obtained mercy. There was mercy with God in Christ Jesus even for me—He who came into the world to save sinners found mercy, even for me—I was not out of the limits of his wondrous compassion—" but I obtained mercy" and where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
Secondly: Let us examine, then, nowiiEOBTAiNEDTiIIsMEHcY. Where was he when he obtained it? Was he attending the sanctuary when the Saviour met with him? Was he smiting upon his breast with agonizing contrition like the poor publican, who went up to pray in the temple? Was he found in the use of any one of the