Page images

life of all Christian graces of all Chris- ments of the world, the flesh, and the tian duties of all Christian ordinances. devil, where Christ is not the life of the

1. Jesus Christ is the life of all Christian soul ? Christians are said to "walk in graces. These all proceed from Christ, newness of life;" and this new life deveand tend to Christ, and determine on lopes itself in all the various acts of godChrist. They have all a value in propor- liness. In this new life and walk is tion as they are connected with Christ, included the right management of the and bring us, at every turn, into contact thoughts and tempers—the proper governwith Christ. Faith-Christ is the life ment of the discourse-due conduct too of this grace. How can it possibly exist, wards God and man. Are Christians in if it have not Christ to rest on? Faith any degree what they ought to be? It is cannot rest on peaceful or joyous feelings because they are made like Jesus Christ. -on regular and consistent conduct; these Is the Christian's conversation holy, and are all the fruits of faith, not the founda- does it minister any portion of benefit to tion. Faith gives life to good works—to those who hear him? It is because there holy tempers—to joyful affections; but is so much of Jesus Christ in it,-in what Christ must first be the life of faith ; then, he is—in what he has done—in what he and then only, faith gives energy to all has suffered—in what he waits to dom the fruits of faith. Faith is called look- and what he expects in gratitude to be ing to an object; the object of faith is done to and for him. Are the actions of Christ. Faith is called the reception of the Christian holy? They are so in virtue a gift; that gift is Christ, and with him of the power of Christ resting upon hi:n. all good. Hope-Christ is the life of Christ is his life and strength; hence, all hope. If we have hope, it is because we he does is directed to the glory of Christ. are quickened together with him. Our 3. Jesus Christ is the life of Christian anchor is cast within the veil, and it is ordinances. Christian graces will not be both sure and steadfast; but if Jesus, our maintained with vigour-Christian duties forerunner, had not entered there first for will not be performed with regularity, if us, all attempts to cast our anchor there we do not continue to implore and enjoy had been altogether in vain. Love- the divine influence, through the medium Jesus Christ is the object of supreme re- of the various means of grace. Of all gard to every genuine Christian; so it has these ordinances, Christ is the life. They been in all ages, however dir the light would be all wells without water, if he the individuals may have enjoyed. Yet, were not conveyed through them in his in proportion to the degree of knowledge spiritual and comforting influences. What which they possessed, they rejoiced in are SACRAments, if Christ be not the life Christ. Simeon, when he embraced the of them? If people are content with the Saviour, seemed to be fully satisfied with outward sign, and do not seek after the life; he had no remaining wish as to this thing signified, they may become the world, and he said, “Lord, now lettest means of spiritual delusion and eternal thou thy servant depart in peace, accord- ruin. What is Baptism, but a figurative ing to thy word; for mine eyes have seen representation of our moral pollution-an thy salvation.” Paul, you well know, ordinance which brings to our very eyes counted all things but loss for Christ; this truth, that unless Christ wash us, we and was ready to suffer the loss of all can have no spiritual part in him—a rite, things, if he might but win Christ, in by the observance of which, we put in winning whom he thought he had won our claim to be acknowledged by him, all. ' Christ was the life and soul of the and to rejoice in the blessings of his love ? joy of these ancient saints.

What is the Sacrament of the Lord's Sup2. Jesus Christ is the life of all Chris- per without Christ? It derives all its tian dutjes. This is another important significance and interest from its bring. branch of practical godliness. But where ing us into the presence-chamber of Christ, will you find these duties attended to, and what is it but the communion of his spite of all the temptations and allure-body and blood ?



What are prayers without Christ? Is and remission of sins.” If we preach not he the chief object of the Christian's morality or holiness, the grand elementary supplication, that we may be more like principle is love to Christ. him—that we may have a deeper interest in him? Jesus Christ is the Great High- The grand morality is love to Thee!"

"Talk they of morals ?-0 thon bleeding love! priest, “having the golden censer, to whom there is given “ much incense, that But it is not merely because he is the he should offer it with the prayers of all principal subject of preaching which saints, upon the golden altar which is makes preaching nothing without him, before the throne."

but because the very commission to preach, What

without is derived immediately from him. He said Christ? Offerings which God will re- originally, and he still continues to say, ject, as he rejected the sacrifice of Cain. “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the Cain presented a thank-offering ; but it gospel to every creature." To every true was accompanied by no recognition of a minister of the gospel it may be said, as Saviour—there was no blood-shedding; it was to the first apostles, “ Ye have not therefore, it was rejected. Cain's was chosen me" -as some men choose physic, the religion of nature, about which some and others law, and others philosophy, and persons make such a mighty fuss! But others trade—all this is quite out of place God rejected it. If sin be not confessed, when applied to the kingdom of Christ, if forgiveness and purity be not suppli- in which Christ claims to be actual and cated, the religion of nature is an abomi- absolute king—“ Ye have not chosen me, nation in the sight of God! The religion but I have chosen you, and ordained you, of sinners, the way of salvation through that ye should go and bring forth fruit, Christ, is the only religion that suits us. and that your fruit should remain.” Our praises and thanksgivings will never From Christ is derived also the power be accepted, but as they are presented in to exercise the ministry with fruitfulness and through Christ.

and effect. And this is another reason And what is PREACHING without Christ? why preaching is nothing without him, Indeed, it is not the gospel that is From him is derived all that unction preached; it is not good news, if Christ which at any time accompanies our mibe not the subject of it. He is the princi- nistrations. As the clouds from which pal theme of all evangelical ministrations the rain descends have not that rain in -“We preach not ourselves, but Christ themselves, but derive it from the sea and Jesus, the Lord”-we declare " the un- various moist places of the earth, and searchable riches of Christ.” There may having thus received, are able to disperse be a great difference as to the form in abroad ; so all the efficacy of the gospel which these truths are presented; yet which is preached, is derived from Jesus Christ must ever be the centre in which Christ, who is the overflowing fountain all the lines of truth meet. If we preach of all that is good and holy. But, “ Christ the law, it is to show you your need of is our life.” Christ; for by the deeds of the law shall Thirdly, As IT RESPECTS THE PROMISED no flesh living be justified.” If we preach RESURRECTION AND GLORIFICATION OF THE the torments of hell, it is to induce you to BODY, AND THE FINAL EXALTATION OF THE make haste to Christ, lest those torments BODIES AND SOULS OF HIS PEOPLE TO ENDovertake you. If we preach the joys of LESS BLESSEDNESS. Even when Christ hearen, it is to encourage you to come to has become our life relatively, as it reChrist, that he may give you a title and a spects our justification, and our life really, meetness for those joys. If we preach as it respects our sanctification, it is still faith, it is a faith of which Christ is the an awful fact, that “ the body is dead beobject, the author, and the perfecter. If we cause of sin.” Though when the soul is preach repentance, it is that you may go restored to spiritual life, the body becomes to Christ, whom “God hath exalted as a a temple of the Holy Ghost, it is neverPrince and a Saviour, to give repentance theless dead; and, so far, remains for a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

time under the divine displeasure, on ac

In assurance of hope, count of sin. This is God's badge,

We to Jesus look up, which he has attached to transgression.

Till his banner, unsurl'd in the air, He who carries a body about with him,

From our graves we shall see, carries about with him a proof that the

And cry out, “ It is he!" Lord is righteous, and that he will not let

And fly up to acknowledge him there. sin go unpunished. “ The body is dead,” Further-In reference to that eternai at present, “because of sin ;” but that glory to which we shall finally be exaltedsame body has the assurance of life here- Christ is the life of this also. He is the after: for it is to the whole man that the Lord of heaven." “ All power is given promise of eternal life is made. Jesus to him in heaven". _" Angels and princiChrist has promised that he will restore palities are made subject to him”_" he it to vigour and immortal youth. Christ has the keys of death and of hades"is the author of this life,

"he both died and rose again, that he 1. As his power is the agent to effect this. might be Lord both of the dead and of He himself will perform this miracle ; for the living." As the king of heaven it is it is a miracle. It is not because there his prerogative to admit others into that remains in the body some latent principle world. Hence we find that the dying of life to be wrought upon; Scripture con- Stephen said, “ Lord Jesus, receive my tradicts this philosophic notion. They spirit.” There was no admission even tell us plainly, that it will be a miracle— for a dying martyr into heaven but a miracle resembling that of the resurrec- through Jesus Christ. Christ must fortion of Christ himself. Now, if the re- mally agree to the admission of his peosurrection of Christ was a mere vegetative ple before that admission can take place. resurrection, Christ was not really dead, It is his to assign to each of his saints and his resurrection is no proof of his their proper place and occupation in heaven. divinity. In order to prove the divinity “In my Father's house are many manof that operation, we must admit his real sions: I go to prepare a place for you." and absolute death. When the soul is From this it is clear that the kingdom of separated from the body, no life remains; Christ extends to heaven; and all that is and no life will ever come into it, but connected with the bliss and glory of what Christ puts into it" who shall heaven will be dispensed by him. change our vile body, according to the His presence mainly constitutes the bliss working whereby he is able even to sub- of heaven. It is by him, and through him, due all things unto himself.” There is, that all the glory of heaven is made therefore, no latent principle of life to as- known. All the saints will shine by a sist the operation; it is the effect of Al- reflection of his glory: their union to mighty power, and that power put forth Christ will be the instrument of their by Christ.

realizing the promised bliss; and it is 2. Because his raised and glorified body through this medium alone that they can will be the model to which the bodies of his enjoy the vision of God. Paul knew this; people will be conformed. • He will hence he said, “I have a desire to depart change our vile bodies, and fashion them and to be with Christ, which is far better." like unto his own glorious body.” To be by Christ in heaven he esteemed to

3. Inasmuch as his appearance the be far better than to be in Christ on earth, second time in the clouds with glory will be even under the most favourable circumthe signal for our resurrection. He will stances. appear again in power and great glory, We have good reason to think that the and at this his coming we shall live; we degrees of heavenly glory will be regulated shall then all be summoned from our by the degrees of nearness and intimacy to dusty-beds, “ meet the Lord in the air, Christ to which we may have been preand so shall we be for ever with the viously exalted. It is true, that on this Lord.”

subject the Scriptures speak but little;

more by hints than in detail. But this you following Christ in the way of holimuch we may learn, that there will be ness? Oh! if Christ be only your light degrees in glory—“One star differeth and not your life, you have heard and read from another star in glory; so also is the in vain. The first thing you have to do resurrection of the dead.” The saints, is to come to God, and confess your we are told, will be made like angels, and wicked waste of former opportunities; amongst these we know there are degrees; you must obtain pardon for the past, bewe read of “thrones, dominions, princi- fore you can hope for future good. There palities, and powers.

." There is a supe are many who go to hell after hearing the riority, and of course there is also a rela- gospel for years. It were better to go to tive inferiority. The chimerical equality hell from the grossest darkness of paganfor which some so foolishly and zealously ism, than thus turn your knowledge to no contend, in the world and in the church, account! This hearing, this knowledge has no place even in heaven. We may is a talent which you are required to ocreasonably infer, that in proportion as we cupy. If you neglect to improve this are like Christ, and near to him, we shall light, or if you resist it by the indulgence shine. All the stars of heaven shall of worldly tempers, or vain and foolish shine with great lustre, but those will conversation and conduct, it will greatly shine the most brightly who most resem- aggravate your doom that you have had ble Christ, and who are most near to him light. Wo unto them who have the key who is the Sun of righteousness. of knowledge, and do not use it to open

Thus have we illustrated and proved the door of truth! There are many among this great gospel axiom, that Christ is all our congregations, who, when the gosthe life of his people.

pel is put into their hands, that they may 1. This subject addresses itself most pow. open the door to pardon and salvation, erfully to the hearers of the gospel. We turn the key the wrong way, and actually learn from it what is the design of the lock themselves out. What madness can various exhibitions of Christ in the equal this? To hear the word of life, and preaching of the gospel. Christ is run on to death, without pardon, without preached, to the end that he may be your any effort to obtain salvation! O! be life. Preachers labour in vain, hearers careful not to make this perverted use of listen in vain, if there be no communica- the gospel! Let not that bring you down tion of life. When a man of common to hell which was designed to raise you understanding listens to a plain, faithful to heaven and holiness. So it will be if preacher, if he be not grossly inattentive, you do not connect faith with your hearhe must derive some light; his under- ing, and if obedience do not prove the sinstanding must be informed. But this ac- cerity of your faith. cession of knowledge does by no means 2. To earnest seekers of salvation this answer the end of preaching. This ordi- subject affords much encouragement. nance is not intended to make you perfect When you think of your numerous theologians. You may be able to defend wants, you feel shocked, and are ready every article of the Christian faith; there to say, may not be a speck in your orthodoxy,

“I want-alas! what want I not ?" and yet the great end of preaching remains unaccomplished; for Christ is life as well You want pardon-you want purityas light. What effect has been produced you want strength-you want a lively by your former hearing ? Has Christ be- hope of glory--and all this is in Christ. come your life? Is the sentence of death Secure Christ for your life, and


will reversed, or does the wrath of God still have all. And Christ is every sinner's abide upon you, because you have not right; Christ is God's gift to the worldfled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set the world which was the object of his before you? And has Christ become pity, shared the effects of his pity. Christ your real as well as your relative life? is therefore every sinner's right ; and if Do you rejoice in purity of heart ? and are l you receive him, you have all that can


to you.

conduce to your present safety and eternal life. Be careful that you use Christ In the discharge of parochial duties for all the purposes for which he is offered the sick and afflicted will have the strong

est claims upon your time and attention. 3. Let Christians learn a lesson from this Let these claims always be held saered. subject. BE GRATEFUL. You see how Wait not to be sent for. Hasten to them much you owe to him; you cannot be as soon as you know that they are in disChristians without him. He gave you tress. And while on your way to the life, but he gave it you at a great cost! sick chamber, or the house of mourning. It is by his stripes that you are healed lift up your soul in prayer to God, that he he died that you might live. O what will put thoughts into your heart, and thanks then are due to him.

words into your mouth; that he will ena

ble you to be faithful, and bless your visit. “Too much to thee I cannot give,

If the sickness be severe, let your remarks Too much I cannot do for thee;

be few and direct, and your prayers comLet all thy love and all thy grief Grav'n on my heart for ever be!"

monly short; but let your calls be fre

quent. When there is imminent danger BE CONSISTENT as well as grateful. in the case, study not to conceal it; but Live to Christ. “Glorify him in your urge upon the sick man the infinite imbodies and in your spirits which are his. portance of immediate preparation for You must identify yourselves with all death. If it is one of the sheep, or one that belongs to him; his cause must be of the lambs of Christ's flock, who is yours, his people yours. You are re about to be called home, and is rejoicing quired, as Christians, not only to live in the prospect; talk of heaven, of deliveto Christ, but to live like him, to live the rance from sin, of the excellence of Christ, Jife of Christ. We do not sufficiently of the glory of God, and of the songs of consider the height of our calling; we are the redeemed. not careful to live up to the standard. As If it is the dying bed of an impenitent Christians, we ought to live the life of sinner to which you are called, and he is Christ over again: the removal of his stupid ; 0, if it be possible, sound a note bodily presence was no doubt a great loss of alarm so deep, that it shall awake his to the world; but mark how the gospel slumbering conscience; and at the same repairs this loss. Christians are to be time so affectionate, that he shall thank made like Christ, that they may be his and love you for your faithfulness. Hold substitutes, and become to the world what no fellowship with that cruel affection he would be were he still upon earth. which conceals from a dying friend his We are called to be his visible represen- danger, or which cries, “ Peace, when tatives; every Christian is a sort of Christ, there is no peace.” If the dying sinner resembling him, going about doing good, is alarmed, and his transgressions are at strengthening the weak and defenceless; least set in order before him, beware that bearing testimony meekly and mildly you do not comfort him too soon. Many, against evil, doing good in every possible I fear, have been destroyed in this way. way. Then will it be seen that Christ The law was doing its work, and would is indeed our life. Let us set about this have brought them to the cross of Christ, work immediately in our families and in but for the pains which were prematurely our neighbourhoods, with more prayer taken to convince them that their sins than we have ever yet done, and there were forgiven, and that all was safe. Refore with more success.

joice in it, if you have good evidence that BE USEFUL. You may have to contend a sinner has been plucked as a brand from with difficulties, to encounter enemies, to the burning at the very close of life; but make struggles, but you shall be ulti- in your preaching and conversation lay mately successful. May God grant you very little stress upon a death-bed repent

ance. Dr. Humphreys.

this grace.

« PreviousContinue »