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godly;" to sanctify the unholy; to give life to the dead, strength to the helpless, liberty to the captive, and felicity to the wretched. He invites all who are athirst, yea, all that are willing, to come and buy of him the blessings of salvation, "without money and without price.". "Him that "cometh unto me," saith the Saviour, “I will in "no wise cast out."-" Behold then the Lamb of "God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" He is "the author and finisher of faith ;" and he hath pointed out to you the proper way of seeking peace and salvation, in these most instructive and encouraging words: "Ask and it shall be given • you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall "be opened unto you: " for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to "him that knocketh it shall be opened."
But some hearers of the gospel are sufficiently confident that their sins are forgiven, and that they have experienced that change which is described in the scripture: yet they are not disposed to say, "Here I am, Lord, send me." They shew no zeal for the honour of God; no readiness for self-denying services; no tokens of being constrained by the love of Christ to live as his devoted servants. It does not appear that their terrors were accompanied by humiliation and hatred of sin, or their comforts by "the sanctification of the "Spirit unto obedience." But let us all beware of this delusion; "for every tree that bringeth "not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into "the fire."
'Matt. vii. 7, 8.
SERMON III: ISAIAH VI. 5—8.
Finally, my Christian brethren, I beseech you "by the mercies of God," to desire an increase of that spiritual knowledge which produces humility; but at the same time to watch against discouraging fears, while conscious of integrity in your professed faith and love, and in your desire to honour the Lord by thankful obedience. For these indulged and needless apprehensions render the mind too feeble for active service or patient suffering; and they give religion a forbidding and unamiable aspect. Let us therefore unite all our contemplations on other subjects with frequent meditations on the mercy and grace of God our Saviour; be very careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit by evil tempers or a selfish behaviour; and be diligent in every means of grace. Above all, let us pray without ceasing for such a sweet sense of the Lord's pardoning mercy and abundant grace, as may animate all our endeavours to shew the holy tendency of our principles, and to make those "ashamed who would falsely accuse our good "conversation in Christ."
1 JOHN IV. 8.
God is love.
THE sacred writers do not enforce practical religion by such inducements as are commonly suggested by moralists and philosophers. The beauty of virtue, its utility to mankind, and its benign effects on the health, peace, interest, and reputation of the possessor, may be mentioned with propriety as subordinate recommendations; but the authority, command, example, and glory of God, constitute the primary motives and ultimate object of genuine holiness; and every duty is inculcated in the New Testament by the encouragements and obligations of the gospel. "Beloved," says the aged apostle, "let us love one "another, for love is of God, and every one that "loveth is born of God, and knoweth God: he "that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS "LOVE.-In this was manifested the love of God "towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live "through him."
Let us then,
I. Inquire how such compendious propositions as this in the text should be understood:
II. Illustrate the truth and importance of it from
the dealings of God with his creatures, especially with mankind:
III. Point out certain perverse inferences which are frequently deduced from it:
IV. And lastly, make some practical use of the subject.
I. In what manner ought we to understand such compendious propositions as this in the text?
There is a peculiar curse, as it were, connected with indolence and levity in the grand concerns of religion. If a man will trifle in matters of the last importance, and if, instead of carefully examining the meaning of an expression, as it stands in the context and forms a part of a consistent revelation, he only attend to the mere sound of the words, allowing his prejudices and passions to interpret them; he will surely be taken in a snare, and perhaps left "to wrest the scriptures to his
own destruction." The diligent and faithful servant will not only consider a few words of the commands or directions of his master; but he will observe the whole of them, weigh their import, and endeavour fully to understand them. This is the proper use of reason in respect of divine revelation. We are neither authorized nor qualified to sit in judgment on the testimony of God, to reject any part of it as useless or injurious, to propose alterations, or to make additions. All such attempts are both absurd and presumptuous in the extreme. But our rational powers are the gift of God, to whom we are accountable for our use of them: and, as we should soberly examine what ground we have to believe the scriptures to be a divine
revelation, so we ought to study them with diligence and teachableness; and, depending on the promised assistance of the Holy Spirit, endeavour to find out the real meaning of every proposition contained in them.
We meet with several comprehensive declarations in the sacred oracles; which must always be explained by comparing them with such passages as more fully state and unfold the doctrines of Christianity. The apostle John in another place, says, that "God is Light:" James affirms that "He is "the Father of lights, with whom is no variable"ness or shadow of turning:" and Paul declares, that "our God is a consuming fire." Now a man would not think of inferring from this last expression, that the Lord cannot exercise mercy, but must punish and destroy all sinners without exception: and this apparent limitation is also implied when it is said that GOD IS LOVE.
"Thus saith the high and lofty One, that inha"biteth eternity, whose name is Holy:" if then the Lord's name be Holy, he is holiness, as certainly as he is love. The same might be shewn in respect of all his perfections; except that love takes the lead, as it were, in the display which he makes of his glorious character.
We discourse indeed on such subjects like children: we are wholly incapable of conceiving aright of the divine nature: the attributes of the Deity doubtless exist and operate with a simplicity that we cannot explain, and probably there is not that entire distinction between the effects of mercy, justice, truth, and holiness, in the divine nature