Page images
PDF
EPUB

into

to prefer before life itself. So our Lord expressly saith, “ When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another ; which is indeed, when it can be taken, the most unexceptionable way of avoiding persecution.

10. Yet think not that you can always avoid it, either by this or any other means. If ever that idle imagination steals

your heart, put it to flight by that earnest caution, “ Rcmember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” But will this screen you from persecution ? Not unless you have more wisdom than your Master, or more innocence than the Lamb of God.

Neither desire to avoid it, to escape it wholly; for if you do, you are none of his. If you escape the persecution, you escape the blessing; the blessing of those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. If you are not persecuted for righteousness' sake, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. “ If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him, he will also deny us.”

11. Nay, rather, “ Rejoice and be exceeding glad,” when men persecute you for his sake; when they persecute you by reviling you, and by“ saying all manner of evil against you falsely ;” which they will not fail to mix with every kind of persecution: they must blacken you to excuse themselves: “For so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you;”those who were most eminently holy in heart and life; yea, and all the righteous which ever have been from the beginning of the world. Rejoice, because by this mark also ye know unto whom ye belong; and “ because great is your reward in heaven,”-the reward purchased by the blood of the Corenant, and freely bestowed in proportion to your sufferings, as well as to your holiness of heart and life. “Be exceeding glad;” knowing that these “light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

12. Meantime, let no persecution turn you out of the way of lowliness and meekness, of love and beneficence. « Ye have heard (indeed] that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;”(ver. 38;) and your miserable teachers have hence allowed you to avenge yourselves, to return evil for evil; “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil :”-not thus ;. Vol. I. No. 7,

U

not by returning it in kind. “Dit," rather than do this, “ whosoever smiteth thee on thy right check, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whoso. ever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."

So invincible let thy Veckness be. And be thy Love suitable thereto. “ Give to him that asheth thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” Only, give not away that which is another man's, that which is not thine own. Therefore, 1, Take care to owe no man any thing: for what thou owest is not thy own, but another man’s. 2, Provide for those of thine own household : this also God hath required of thee; and what is necessary to sustain them in life and godliness, is also not thine own, Then, 3, Give or lend all that remains, from day to day, or from year to year: only first, seeing thou canst not give or lend to all, remember the Houschold of Faith.

13. The Weekness and Lore we are to feel, the kindness we are to show to them which persecute us for rightcousness' sake, our blessed Lord describes farther in the following verses : O that they were engraven upon our hearts ! " Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and bate thy enemy:" (ver. 13, &c. :) God indeed had said only the former part, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour ;” the children of the Devil had added the latter, “and hate thy enemy: I

say unto you,'' 1,“ Love your chemies : ” See that you bear a tender good will to those who are most bitter of spirit against you; who wish you all manner of evil. 2, “Bless them that curse." Are there any whose bitterness of spirit breaks forth in bitter words? who are continually cursing and reproaching you when you are present, and "saying all evil against you when absent? So much the rather do you bless : in conversing with them, use all mildness and softness of language. Reprove them, by repeating a better lesson before them; by showing them how they ought to have spoken. And in speaking of them, say all the good you can, without violating the rules of truth and justice. 3, “Do good to them that hate

Let

your actions show, that you are as real in love as they in hatred. Return good for cvil.

" Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” 4, If you can do nothing more, at least “ Pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” You can never be disabled from doing this;

« But

you:

nor can all their malice or violence hinder you. . Pour out your souls to God, not only for those who did this once, but now repent :this is a little thing: “If thy brother, seven times a day, turn and say unto thee, I repent;” (Luke xvii. 3;) that is, if, after ever so many relapscs, he give thec rcáson . to believe, that he is really and thoroughly changed.; then thou shalt forgive him, so as to trust him, to put him in thy bosom, as if he had never sinned against thee at all. But pray for, wrestle with God for those that do not repent, that now dest pitefully use thee and persecute thee. Thus far forgive thçmı, “pot until seven times only, but until seventy times seven." (Matt. xviii. 22.) Whether they repent or no, yea, though they appear farther and farther from it, yet show them this instance of kindness : “ That ye may be the children,” that ye may approve yourselves the genuine children, “ of your Father which is in heaven;" who shows his goodness by giving such blessings as they are capable of, even to his stubbornest encmies; “ who maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the Publicans the same?” (Matt. v. 46 ;)-who pretend to no religion; whom ye yourselves acknowledge to be without God in the world. And if ye salute,” show kindpess in word or dced to, your brethren,” your friends or kinsfolk, “only; what do ye more than others ?”_than those who have no religion at all ? “ Do not even the Publicans so?” Nay, but follow ye a better pattern than them. In patience, in longsuffering, in mercy, in beneficence of

every kind, to all, even to your bitterest persecutors; “ Be ye (Christians) perfect, [in kind, though not in degree,] even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect.” (Ver. 48.)

III. Behold Christianity in its native form, as delivered by its great Author! This is the genuine Religion of Jesus Christ! Such be presents it to him whose eyes are opened. See a picture of God, so far as he is imitable by man! A picture drawn by God's own hand : “ Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish!” Or rather, wonder and adore ! Rather cry out, Is this the Religion of Jesus of Nazareth? The Religion which I persecuted ? Let me no more be found even to fight against God. Lord, what wouldest thou have me to do ? What beauty appears in the whole! How just a symmetry ! What exact proportion in every part! How desirable is the happiness here described ! How venerable, how lovely the holiness! This is the spirit of religion ; the quintessence of it. These are indeed the fundamentals of Christianity. O that we may not be hearers of it only !--"like a man beholding his own face in a glass, who gocth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” Nay, but let us steadily “look into this perfect law of liberty, and continue therein." Let us not rest, until every line thereof is transcribed into our own hearts. Let us watch, and pray, and believe, and love, and “strive for the mastery,” till cvery part of it shall appear in our soul, graven there by the finger of God; till we are “holy as He which hath called us is holy, perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect!"

SERMON XXIV.

UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE

MOUNT.

DISCOURSE IV.

“ Ye are the salt of the earth : but if the salt have lost his

savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth
good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden

under foot of men.
“ Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill

cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel,

but on a candlestick ; and it giveth light unto all that

are th the house.
Let your light 80 shine before men, that they may see your

good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matt. v. 13-16.

1. Tak beauty of holiness, of that inward man of the heart which is renewed after the image of God, cannot but strike every eye which God hath opened, every enlightened understanding. The ornament of a meek, humble, loving spirit, will at least excite the approbation of all those who are capable, in any degree, of discerning spiritual good and evil. From the hour men begin to emerge out of the darkness which covers the giddy, unthinking world, they cannot but perceive bow desirable a thing it is to be thus transformed into the likeness of Him that created us. This inward Religion bears the shape of God so visibly impressed upon it, that a soul must be wholly immersed in flesh and blood, when he can doubt of its divine original. We may say of this, in a secondary sense, even as of the Son of God himself, that it is the "brightness of his glory, the express image of his person;

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »