« AnteriorContinuar »
thirty-second Psalm at the sixth verse, to shew generally how confession of sins must go before forgiveness, and how forgiveness of sins follows after confession-"I said I will confess my sins unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." Our Church, referring to the blessed truth of Scripture, that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ desireth not the death of a sinner,' &c. declares that God hath given power and commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent,' that blessed sentence of the absolution and remission of their sins. The power will appear from 2 Cor. v. 18, Matt. xvi. 18, 19, John xx. 23. The commandment from Matt. xxviii. 18-20. From which passages it appears, as well as from the whole tenour of Scripture and the reason of things, that even as a King gives power to his ambassadors to declare war or promise peace in his master's name; or as when the Master of a family, in his absence, entrusts the management of his concerns to his steward, leaving him authority (without which this office as that of ambassador would be naught) to execute all those acts of management, provision for the want of the household, and government of that household in his name, according to his commission, which he would have done himself, or did do, when he was at home. Thus we find the great Lord of his Church, has been pleased at all times to perform those acts of his care and love in the managing and providing for his Church by means of persons, men indeed of like passions with yourselves, whom he has appointed to act as his ambassadors, or his stewards, in his dealings with men. Thus we find Moses made a God to Pha
raoh, and proclaiming peace or war-the wrath or the mercy of God to him according as he finds his heart hardened or otherwise. Such was the office of the Priests in the Old Testament Church, especially worthy of remark in the case of the supposed or real case of leprosy as referred to by our Lord Matth. viii. 4, according to Leviticus xiv. where you may read that according as the Priest pronounced him clean or unclean he was shut out from, or admitted into the communion of the congregation of Israel; precisely answering to that power of the keys, or of absolving and remitting which Christ has given to the Priests of the New Testament Church, by which, according to the rules laid down for their trying the cases of spiritual leprosy, they are to be pronounced clean or unclean, and to be shut out from or admitted into the congregation of the true Israel of God.
In the New Testament Matt. xvi. 19, Peter's glorious confession in his own name and that of his fellow Apostles-Christ's promise that "the gates of hell shall not prevail," &c. evidently committing to Peter and his fellow apostles, and (as is easily shewn) to all who shall be their successors to the end of the world, power and authority in the management of his Church.
By the "kingdom of heaven,” according to continual use by our Saviour, is meant that kingdom which Christ as a King came to establish in this world.
Inasmuch then as when a Master gives the keys of his house, he gives also power and authority, so we may learn what is here intended, even the Ministerial authority of God's stewards over the house or family of God's Church. As man is bound by the chain of sin,
so also is he bound over unto punishment; the great matter of the gospel therefore is concerning the terms and method of the sinner's release. Whilst then absolute power is in the hands of him "who openeth and no man shutteth," &c. yet here for the wholesome warning and needful punishment of the one, and for the comfort and peace of the other, we find power and promise to his Ministers in the exercise of the trust committed to them, that "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth," such as shutting out from the communion, &c. "shall be bound," that is, ratified, assented to, approved, (as justly done) in my court of heaven. Consequently upon which power of binding follows that of loosing and absolving. Again, see Matth. xiii. 18, the same command, though on a different occasion, but exactly to the point, as to the exercise of this spiritual authority. So also John xx. 21-23. And thrice happy they who, knowing how to distinguish between the Ambassador delivering the king's message and him that runs without being sent, listen to God's Minister in the spirit of our Lord's voice of warning and consolation, Luke x. 16, and Matth. x. 40.
'I AM GOING HOME.'
I WAS returning from my Parish Church one Sabbath morning, after being permitted the privilege of once more joining in the beautiful and impressive Liturgy of our Church, and hearing an excellent discourse on the Missionary cause, and I was accompanied by a friend of the pious minister who preached,
and whom I had observed to appear very languid and weak during the service, I said, 'You do not seem strong, I fear you are ill.' He answered 'O no, I am going fast to the gates of the grave; a very little time will pass and I shall be no more on earth, but,' he added with a smile of rapture at the thought, 'I am going home.' Here was no terror in the thought of death, here was no shrinking from the prospect of eternity, in the calm and sweet manner in which he uttered these words. It was evident indeed that there was but a step between him and death;' and it was evident also, that he had indeed been with Jesus,' and that he had learned of him.' And O, what a halo of glory does the love of Christ shed abroad in the heart, cast around the believer-a light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Perhaps his age might be about thirty; consumption had already paled his cheek, and wasted his frame; but from the tenour of his conversation, I could perceive, that "though the outward man perisheth the inward man was renewed day by day." And the bright beaming smile that glowed over his countenance when the word home passed his lips told, in language not to be misunderstood, that his treasure was in heaven, and that he was looking forward with a holy joy, to the inheritance of that eternal "rest, which remaineth to the people of God" above. am going home.' Oh! that we could more and more realize that thought of home in our daily experience! That our eyes were more intently fixed on "the everlasting hills," the spirit's happy home, where it will sweetly repose from the trials and sorrows of this wilderness world in the Paradise of heaven above!
'Do we not live in clouds below,
And little know the God we love;
Why should we love this twilight so
When 'tis all noon in worlds above?'
"Here we see through a glass darkly," then face to face; here the glories of the eternal world are dimned by the veil of flesh, which interposes between our souls and heaven, while the dark clouds of unbelief would almost hide our Zion from view. But O, let it not be so ! Let us sit looser to the shadows of earth, let us cling closer to the realities of heaven! He who hath promised to be unto his believing people "wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," will give grace sufficient for them to overcome all the hindrances of their salvation. I know that we shall and must meet with many trials and difficulties by adhering to this resolution; many and strong are the links in the chain of love that binds us here; the endearing relations of husband and wife, of parent and child, of sister and of brother, these are often unconsciously among the foremost to lead our affections captive, and to clip our wings to heaven. But it was not so in the case I have mentioned he had also, if it may be so said, every temptation to "set his affections on things on the earth:" there was his own happy home of harmony and love; there was the smile and the tear of friendship, ready to enhance the bliss, or soothe the sorrow, with its own matchless sympathy, there was every inducement to entice him to "set up his tabernacle of rest” here; but he was taught of God that here we have no continuing city," and he also learned in the school of Christ to seek one to come."
Yet his home, and