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grace, those instruments, if I may so speak, of God's overflowing bounty to man, whereby we draw near to our Maker's throne, and lay hold, like Esther in the Jewish annals, on the golden sceptre of His pardon, His support and favour. It is needful not only to believe in Christ with our hearts, but to confess him with our lips unto salvation; not only to endeavour to glorify Him in our lives, but devoutly to seek, through the channels of prayer, of hearing the word and of study of the Scripture, and through the ordinances, which He has left behind, that help from on High by which alone we are more than conquerors. To such of you as have not yet renewed, in your own persons, that solemn and blessed covenant, which in your infancy was contracted for you by your sureties, an opportunity will be on Thursday next held out both to profess before men, in express and solemn terms, your faith in your crucified Saviour, and to solicit for His sake, and in the manner which His holy apostles have appointed, the gift of the Holy Ghost the Comforter.
And all who are religiously and devoutly disposed, all who feel the burden of their sins, and desire in future to live less unworthy of their calling, all who seek for help and life through the blood of Christ alone, and all who are in charity with their neighbours, forgiving those who have done them wrong, and desirous to make amends, so far as their power shall reach, to all those, if such there are, whom they have injured, all such are invited on the next Lord's Day, to partake with us in the solemn commemoration of the greatest and saddest mercy which ever was shown to man, and to draw forth life and health to their souls from the body and blood of their broken and bleeding Saviour.
May the days which intervene be to all of you, my brethren, a period of diligent self-examination, of frequent study of the Scriptures, of frequent and earnest prayer. And not for yourselves only let those holy prayers be offered; but for us who watch for your salvation; for those young plants, of faith whom we are seeking to train up in the ways of peace and pardon; and for those heathen multitudes, whose eyes are bent on us for good or evil, in all the dealings of our lives, and all the ceremonies of our religion, and of whose
souls one day a strict account must be rendered by all whose example has made the way of truth be evil spoken of, and all who have not employed to the good of their fellow men, and to the glory of the Most High, the abilities, the influence, the leisure, and the abundance which the wise and good God has entrusted to them.
ON THE LOVE OF GOD.
[Preached at Cawnpoor, October 11, 1824.]
ST. MATT. xxii. 37–40.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
THIS beautiful summary of duty, even before the time of Christ, appears to have been proverbial among the Jews, as the statement of those objects which the law of Moses was intended to secure and illustrate. But whoever was its original author, (something like it, though not the very words themselves, may be found in the Psalms, and in the prophet Micah a still nearer approach to its import*) yet as thus solemnly adopted by Christ it becomes entitled to the acceptance and obedience of every Christian, and an adherence to its rule as among the surest pledges which any Christian can offer of his continuance in the faith, and that his faith is such as may hereafter profit him. A sense, indeed, of God's goodness, and a desire to render ourselves acceptable to Him, is the only principle of action which a wise and gracious God can be supposed to regard with
• Micah vi. 8.
pleasure. We are God's children, not His slaves; and it is our love which He requires, as much as, and still more than, our obedience. If this last were all which He sought for, He might have compelled it by an overruling necessity, or have accompanied His commands with such resistless and miraculous influence, as should prevent even the possibility of a rebellion. But He demands a reasonable service, a warm and affectionate energy which shall urge us, not only to fly from hell, but to evince our gratitude for the hopes of Heaven; by kindness, therefore, and long suffering, He endeavours to excite our love; and even when His menaces or His judgments rouse us to a necessary perception of our weakness, our guilt and our danger, His assurances of mercy never fail to accompany His terms.
Accordingly, though in the nature of the Mosaic law, and in the leading circumstances of its promulgation, His immediate purpose was rather to display His justice than His mercy; to set forth in fiery characters His anger against sin; and, by a wholesome and searching severity, to prepare men's hearts for the healing dispensation of the Gospel; yet, even here we find, through the Scriptures of the elder covenant, the mercy of God more frequently insisted on than either His justice, His might, or His majesty. We find ourselves invited to "praise the Lord for His goodness ;" to taste and see how good the Lord is, and how great are His tender mercies on them that call upon Him."* Jehovah too sometimes condescends to reason with His unthankful people, and to appeal to the men of Judah themselves, whether more could have been done than He had done for His vineyard?† And in that dreadful moment when God Himself came down to give forth His laws to men, and by a discovery of that holiness which He requires from His servants, to open men's eyes to their own guilt and their need of the promised Intercessor; even then, from the midst of thunderings and darkness, and surrounded with every circumstance of majesty and terror, the Almighty makes His strongest appeal to their love, and not to their weakness, and He lays claim to their obedi
• Psalm cvii. 8. xxxiv. 8.
† Isaiah v. 3, 4.
ence as their Deliverer and their Friend, "the God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."*
And since, by the Jews themselves, the principle of love and thankfulness, the love of God, and, for God's sake, the love of our neighbour, were recognised as the sum and substance of the law; since these were the two commandments which its other precepts, and its external ceremonies, served only to defend and illustrate; and since these were in a still more conspicuous manner enforced and confirmed by the Messiah, we might, perhaps, from this admitted truth alone, establish the truth of our Lord's declaration, that He came to fulfil and not to change the precepts of the ancient covenant; to make its promises more blessed and its duties more easy by a clearer discovery of those hopes and privileges which were dimly shadowed out before; and by replacing with stronger motives and more powerful spiritual assistance, those sacrifices and ceremonies on which the ancient Israelite relied for the expiation of his sins, and the constant recollection of his duties. Yet still, and now more than ever, the claims of God are founded on our love and thankfulness. He expects them, indeed, no longer from a single favoured race, as the God who had broken their chains, who had led them from a land of slavery, and loaded them with many temporal advantages; but He has laid on all the nations of mankind a more precious and extensive obligation, as their Maker, their Redeemer, and their Sanctifier, their Deliverer from that fear of death under which all nature, till His coming, had languished; and from that bondage of sin which is ten thousand fold more terrible than the fetters of an earthly tyrant.
It is thus that the message which the Only Begotten brought into the world was proclaimed both by Himself and His angels to be "good tidings of great joy." It is thus that the nature of the Almighty is described in the New Testament as love, in its fountain and original; and that we are called on to behold and return that regard
Exod. xix. 16-19. xx. 2.
† St. Luke xi. 10.