Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ciled Father in Christ Jesus. And in this passage, the eternal Son of God recognizes that relation between God and man. In fact, thc Redeemer almost invariably speaks of God as our Father-our heavenly Father. Now, upon the fact of this endcaring relation, the Saviour grounds another powerful argument to encourage us to prayer. Ile refers to the feelings of an earthly parent, towards his own offspring. He appeals to the strong innate principle of affection in a father, towards those to whom, in a subordinate sense only, he has given life. And he says, "What man is there among you, who, if his son asked bread of him, would give him a stone; or if he asked a fish, would give him a scrpent," and mock the wants of a famishing child, with that which was useless or pernicious? The testimony of almost universal experience is against the probability of such an act.There may be such cases, but surely they are unnatural and uncommon; and most unquestionably the last benevolent fceling that leaves the heart of a bad man, is the love of a father to his child. This affection predominates, notwithstanding the fact that man, as a sinful being, is liable to the strong bias of prejudice and passion.

Now, the argument of the Redeemer is built upon the real character of the Almighty God as the father of his crcature's soul, and on his immeasurable goodness and mercy. “If ye being evil,"— blinded in judgment, and defective in moral purity stiil know well how to treat your children kindly, and carefully to discriminate for their sakes, between the evil and the good; “ how much more shall your father which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him;" how much more shall he who is infinitely good and kind at all times and under all circumstances, and who changes not, listen to the pleading of his children on the earth, the souls that he hath made, and when they turn to him in penitence, and plead with him for spiritual blessings, hear and answer them? The encouragenent then is, that whatever freedom of access a son has to an earthly father, to ask for the necessaries of life, the children of God, in applying to him for spititual blessings, have more; because their wants are greater; because he who gives is wiser and better, and more willing to bestow; because he has pledged himself by the word of his promise; and because the very circumstances of the several natures of God and man, in their relation to cach other, create the moral necessity for God to

[ocr errors]

ncss.

give; for if an earthly parent answers the cravings of an earthly child, much more will it be the case, that, when a finite being, bowed down with a sense of want and weakness, and guilt, comes before his heavenly father, and asks those good gists which his direful necessity demands, much more will he answer. It cannot be, that the perishing soul of man should plead for pardoning and renewing grace, and infinite goodness refuse to give. What an earthly father will scarcely ever fail to do, though he is evil, God will never fail to do, because he is good.

And now, brethren, surely what we have heard is most encouraging. It is full of the most wonderful condescension and kind

Believing these words which we have considered, to be the words of the living God, speaking to us by his Son, we can only stand amazed ai the mercy by which they were dictated. Instead of our being left in the darkness of our natural state on this important point, we have the most distinct instruction, and the fullest encouragement. Language, consistent with the Divine dignity, could scarcely add to this encouragement to prayer. Then, brethren, how have we used the privilege? how far have we obcyed the injunction? how far have we ventured on the credit of the promise? what is your secret history? what is the witness of your closet?

Is it possible, that any one can really believe these words to have come from God, and not pray? Alas! it is to be feared greatly, that many who are called Christians, live without prayer, and that their prayerless habits are a proof of their unbelief.With such persons, the evil lies deeper than the neglectfof prayer, it is the practical rejection of the testimony of God. God has spoken, and you will not hear; Fie commands, and you resolutely disobey.

But are there not many who avow their belief in the testimony of God by his Son, and who recognize the duty of prayer, yet who still sadly neglect it. It is unfrequent and irregular. It is cold and heartless. It is the form, without the power of prayer. If this is the casc, brethren, your guilt is great. It cannot be that God should invite his rebellious and wandering child to renewed communion with him, and he refuse to hear, or neglect to comc, without adding to his guilt. Look, then, to the character of your private hours. Examine the habits of your mind as to the sincerity and earnestness of your calling upon God; and if

you find that your prayers wear nothing of that distinct character marked out in the text-nothing of earnest craving, of diligent scarch, of pressing importunity; then be assured, that in some important respect or other, you are in crror; and you have need

, ; seriously to consider the grounds of your religious confidence, lest you deceive and ruin your own soul. There can not be a prayerless Christian.

And if there are any who feel disheartened and discouraged in prayer, and hesitate to ask largely at the throne of Grace for spiritual blessings; if you have looked rather at your own unworthiness, than at the fullness of the Divine benevolence; and have doubted the willingness of God to give to one so fallen and so unholy; do not henceforth be deceived by such a false view of your case.

It is not your riches, but your poverty that makes you the fit object of Divine compassion. God does not require of you a moral qualification to ask mercy at his hands, but he looks to your want and helplessness as a sinner, and in the sovereignty of His grace, he says, “ Ask, and shall receive, seek, and

ye

shall find.” Do not, then, suffer yourself to be kept back by the desponding contemplation of your unlitness to come to God; but come to him at once, as able and willing to save. Consider the depth of your necessities. Consider the infinite merits of Christ, , which are given to you as your plea before God. Consider the gracious, the pressing invitation of your heavenly Father. Consider the clear, specific, unfettcrcd language of his promise; and never hesitate to ask, and to ask largely, while he is so willing to give.

SERMON XXXV.

THE ENDURING OBLIGATION OF THE SABBATH.

By the Rt. Rev. W. S. GILLY, D. D.,

Prebendary of Durham.

Exodus xxxi. 17. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the

Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.

The Sabbath question has been agitated with unusual earnestness lately; and well it may, for with it religion and happiness, those two inscparables, are at stake. As individuals and as a nation, as masters and as servants, we are decply and equally interested in this question. Be our station in society what it may, we are interested in it. Whether we look to carth or heaven, whether we consult God's glory, or peace on earth and good will towards men, whether we would mitigate the heavy burden of the first curse, or whether we would inherit the blessing of the first promise, we have the same interest in it. It is for this reason that religious men have taken it up, and learned men have takea it

up, and the legislature has taken it up; it is for this reason that it has been argued not only in our churches, but also in the great council of the nation.

It is for this reason too, becausc bappiness and religion are involved in it, that the enemies of religious happiness have been busying themselves to heap obloquy and scorn on those who would sanctify the Sabbath, as God commanded it to be sanctified; and above all, that the great adversary bimself is now putting all the powers of darkness in force, to silence those who are on the Lord's side, and who lift up their voices with the patriarchs, and prophets, and Evangelists, and with the saints of every generation

seven.

from the foundation of the world, in honor of the one day in

God's sign is the sanctification of the Sabbath-the sign of the times is the desecration of the Sabbath,—the systematical desecration of it. God's sign is a covenant of mercy, to remind us of the happy rest which man enjoyed before Paradise was lost, before sin and sorrow entered into the world, and of the more blesscd rest still, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and when Paradise shall be regained, and when tears shall be wiped away from all faces, and when there shall be no more afflictions of sin or sorrow. The sign of the times is a desperate effort on the part of the wicked to make it clcan forgotten, that there once existed innocence, and that there inay yet be reconciliation and redemption for fallen man.

Our Father, which is in heaven; our merciful, compassionate, and gracious God, who wills the happiness of all his crcatures, and who, in His wisdorn, knows best wbat will promote that happiness, has given us that which he was benignly plcased to call IIis Sabbaths. Of these, Satan, the father of lies, the murderer from the beginning, would deprive us. By the very same means that he deprived our first parents of Paradise, of their peaceful rest of every day, namely, by sophistry, by false rcasoning, and by false prospects of enjoyment, he would now deprive us of our rest on the seventh day, and so deprive us finally of the everlasting rest into which Christ invites us to cntcr.

He never was more busy at his work of mischief than he is now; and what Bishop Latimer, the good old reformer, and one of the fathers of our Protestant church, said of this evil one, three hundred years ago, may, with a very few words of alteration, be applied io him now. Singularly enough, the enemy of our salvation then instigated men to argue, that it was no violation of God's second command to worship the graven images of dead men and saints; now, he is teaching men to reason in like manner, and to maintain that it is no violation of God's fourth commandment to unsanctify the Sabbath. “Satan's delight and office" said Latimer, " are to hiuder religion, to mar human happiness, and to set up the service of any thing rather than the service of God. IIe is rcady to devise as many ways as can be to deface iind obscure God's glory. When he is at work, away with picty, away with Sabbaths, away with the Bible, away with the light of the Gospel; and substitute the light of man's understanding, as if man

66

« AnteriorContinuar »