« AnteriorContinuar »
vanced. The Apostle, therefore, with great reason, advises us" to let no corrupt communication proceed out of our mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers"."
3. Let our actions and general conduct glorify God, who made us. In order to act conformably to the will of God, we must avoid doing any thing impious and wicked, because it dishonours him; and refrain from injuring others, either in their property or persons. But this negative goodness does not come up to the requirements of the Law; which enjoins us, whilst we abstain from iniquity, to practise universal righteousness. Let us do what we can to honour God, by studying to obey his will, and to walk in his ways with sincerity and delight. Nor let us forget, when we pray, "that His kingdom may come, and His will be done in earth as it is in heaven;" that it is a duty incumbent on us to exert ourselves, as much as possible, to spread the savour of his knowledge amongst all men, in order that they may understand what they are to believe, and to do, to be saved.
4. It is a sense of duty and regard to God which ought to stimulate us thus to honour him. It is the temper of mind in which a thing is done, that stamps a réal value on the action. When, therefore, a Christian tries to discharge the particular duties which he owes to God and men, in the sphere wherein he moves, whether as a master, husband, father, son, or servant, he wishes it to be understood, that he is conscientious in his practice, not to gain the applause and commendation of his neighbours, but to please God, by a sincere devotion to his will. aa Ephes. iv. 29.
It is such a pious disposition that consecrates his whole behaviour, and makes it so pleasing to the Lord'.
Let it be our uniform desire and endeavour thus to shew our obedience to God's commands, by an habitual fear and love of his name: then shall we honour him in the sight of men; and our conduct will be sure to attract his favourable notice and regard.
5. Let not those, whose hearts are engrossed with the pleasures and vanities of the world, who pay a slavish deference to its sinful maxims and practiceslet not those, who walk after the vain imaginations of their own minds, and exclude God as much as they can from their thoughts-let not those, who live either in open or secret transgression, in the omission of known duties, or in the commission of wilful deliberate offences-in a word, let none of those who despise the Gospel, and refuse to obey its precepts, conceive that their conduct passes unnoticed. God's eye is upon all their ways. He sees their devotion-that it is to sin and folly,and not unto him. They consecrate their talents; but it is to the service of the Devil, who will give them a recompence, according to their deserts.
But is it no crime, and does no punishment await men's refusal "to glorify God, in whose hand their breath is, and whose are all their ways"?" Yes; to withhold the honour due to His name, and to keep back our best service from him, is an act of robbery and rebellion and treason and ingratitude, of which creatures, bound by so many obligations to him, should blush to be guilty.
And if, in defiance to his threatening, we persist in desecrating and polluting our souls by acts of impiety, and by a neglect of our duty to God, we shall b Ephes. vi. 5-9.
bb Dan. v.
experience, at last, a tragical end: instead of that honour which he will confer on his servants, we shall be consigned to remediless woe. "What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy"
6. The happiness which a life of saretity and devotion to God affords, may well stimulate every one to enter sincerely upon it. The tranquil hopes and joys and pleasures of a good conscience, which attend the godly man, even in this disturbed state, and the rapturous felicity which he will attain on his dismission from the world, render his privileges and condition truly enviable.
To animate their faith and hope, to preserve them in a patient continuance in well-doing, the Lord makes this gracious promise to THEM that glorify him:-"Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble: I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation"."
1 Cor. iii. 16, 17.
Psalm xci. 14-16.
ON IMITATING CHRIST.
Mat. ix. 9. And Jesus saith unto him, Follow me. GOD is, in himself, the source of all moral and underived goodness. In him every excellence resides, without any defect. He is, therefore, the proper object of imitation, as well as of worship and love. When Christ was manifested in the flesh, he exhi
bited a holy example, which his people will do well to mark and copy; for what he shewed himself to be, in the character of our Mediator, we must be in some measure, if indeed we would be his disciples, and obtain a share of the honours of his kingdom.
1. A care, then, to imitate the example of Christ, is a principle trait in the character of a Christian.
Upon him, as upon a perfect model, he fixes his eyes; just as a limner looks stedfastly on a beautiful original, which he wishes to copy with the greatest exactness; and whose likeness and spirit, by persevering attention, are transfused into his own soul. It is the business of a Christian to place before him, every day, Jesus Christ-his bright, all-glorious, and holy exemplar; that, by a devout study of His walk and behaviour in the world, he may know how to regulate his own conduct before God and men.
2. Think, then, of the varied excellencies which: shone forth so illustriously in your Lord and Saviour. Remember his unfeigned love of righteousness, shewn in all his endeavours to glorify his Father, to conform to the Law, and to instruct his hearers. Call to mind his unconquerable hatred to sin, evinced by all he said and did. Recollect the constellation of graces visible, in him, whilst he tabernacled on earth; his self-denial and patience, and resignation to the will of Heaven on the most trying occasions; his forbearance and meekness, under all the insults of his enemies; his readiness to forgive injuries, and, instead of retaliation, to render good for evil, and blessing for railing.
Now Christians are expressly commanded to tread in the steps of their Lord, by Him whom they wish to obey. "Ye call me Master and Lord and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one
another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you "."
Such an injunction should make every temper which is contrary to the mind of Christ, appear, to a believer, deformed and criminal. He should hate the hypocrisy of professing to be a follower of Christ, without conformity to his image; which manifests itself by a degree of every grace which He exemplified, and in hatred, not of one evil disposition, but of every iniquitous practice and temper and desire.
3. The holiness of a Christian cannot be carried to too great a length; for it is expected that every member of Christ's mystical body should shine as much as possible, in a striking resemblance of His moral excellency." Be ye perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect"" And the Apostle declares, that a believing contemplation of the Lord Jesus, in his person and character, has a transforming effect on the mind. "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
4. This imitation of Christ becomes more easy from the love which his real disciples bear towards him : for we have much pleasure in imitating the manners of those whom we admire, especially if, in addition to their virtues, their generosity and kindness to us have been remarkable. "If this be the case between creatures whose best favours are but of small value, and amongst whom the brightest characters are very imperfect, how much more powerfully ought a Christian's heart to be affected, in pondering the riches of a Saviour's unspeakable love and kindness!" He should be drawn, by a holy attraction, to imitate John xiii. 13-16. b Matt. v. 48.
2 Cor. iii. 18.