Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

identified with Omnipotence to insure | Author, who is the same yesterday, today, and for ever, its virtues is a perpetual efficacy, and its provisions of mercy stretch down to the dearest forms of suffering, of ingratitude, and of sin. This Gospel is precious to GOD, and the ministration of it, properly conducted, is to GOD a sweet savour of Christ. It displays alike the perfections of GOD, and the guilt and calamity of man. But with what gracious beneficence it exhibits this calamity! It does it precisely as the mariner might use the darkness, to contrast the value of the light-house. In every case, the design is one of mercy. Where it saves the soul alive, it increases joy amid the angels of GOD; where it fails to save, through the unbelief and the pride of man, it still marks out the nature of its Author, by the emphasis of the disappointment which it records, "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy GOD which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea."

success-if the interests it involves be so gigantic in their dimensions, so eternal in their duration, who of the sons of men is adequate to wield this weapon, and thus to secure those interests? Can man the sinner-safe though he be by grace-address himself to this conflict, in the strength of his own convictions, in the keenness of his own sagacity, and in the constancy of his own resolves? Can he go forth single-handed, buoyant as may be to-day the emotion of his breast to endure this conflict with the pride, the hostility, the wickedness, and the hardheartedness of man? Who is sufficient for these things? The Apostle knew well his sufficiency could alone be of GOD: in this spiritual warfare he would ever exclaim, "I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me." "Blessed be GOD, who teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." "By the grace of GoD I am what I am." "GOD forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." "Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but it is GOD who giveth the increase."

My brethren, the application of this subject belongs to one sanctuary as to another; to one Christian nation as to another; to one Christian community as to another; to one Christian congregation as to another. With respect to the Gospel, the lapse of years makes no change whatever in its authority, its design, or its effects. In every church and clime, and country, the Gospel is still the revelation of God's will to man, the illustration of his character, the charter of his grace, and the source of human hope, and happiness, and strength. It is still the blessed light which sheds its beams upon this dark wilderness, and either illuminates to blessedness, or blinds to destruction. Like its great

But if this statement be true, the application of the subject, my brethren, is yet more limited, and it connects our individual responsibility with the ministry of the truth in this very place, in this very sanctuary. Oh! this Gospel must have its eternal results amidst ourselves, and its influence at this moment is to each of us, either the savour of death unto death, or of life unto life! "Who is sufficient for these things?" If ever I have felt the importance of the Gospel, and my own utter unworthiness as a minister of Christ, surely I am conscious of it at this hour. I meditate upon the influence of the Gospel; I know its results to be life or deathlife eternal or death eternal. I stand

|

in the presence of God; beneath the sanctity of that presence, I look back upon the period, during which it has been entrusted to me to proclaim the truth of GOD, in the midst of this congregation. Alas! what reasons to my own heart for humiliation, contrition, and shame, do I find in that service! -what omissions of duty!-what neglect of opportunity!-what langour of zeal!-what intermissions! what deadness to the honour of a holy GOD rise up to my sad rebuke! Yet, what ground also for adoring gratitude, and joyous thanksgiving! It has been my privilege to speak in the name of Christ, to keep back nothing of the counsel of GOD, which at least was evident to my own mind. It has been my privilege to proclaim to you the doctrines of a free salvation, of the grace of GOD in Christ Jesus, and of the power of the Holy Ghost to convert the soul. It has been my privilege to invite you, by the agonies of Gethsemane, and by the death of the cross, to seek your eternal shelter where the storm of righteous wrath can never be felt. Joy, deep and solemn joy, has often filled my soul in this ministration of the sanctuary. I have felt the Gospel to be all that man could need-not a cunningly devised fable." I have felt the Gospel when I have proclaimed its truths among you to be the very "power of GOD unto salvation, to every one that believeth." These doctrines, once more brethren, I would urge upon your regard. "I believe, and therefore would I speak." Seven more years of trial, and of scrutiny, have added depth to my conviction, that these doctrines are the doctrines of GOD-the doctrines of salvation. They are not fanaticism; they are not folly. "Religion, the religion of the Bible," | emphatically exclaims a noble writer, now passed from our world, religion is our final centre-it shows the goal to which all things tend-it gives

66

66

to time all its importance, to eternity all its glory, apart from which man is a shadow, his very existence a shadow, and the stupendous scenes which surround him, as unmeaning as the leaves which the forest scatters to the winds."

My brethren, all this is true. Once | again, then, would I point you to the cross. Oh! I would point once more, each fellow and kindred soul before me, to the cross, and I would say, with all the feelings of my soul, “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world."

But the subject is of necessity associated with your responsibility as well as mine. This Gospel is at this moment to you, either the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death! O, my friends, tell me which is the alternative to you! Are there any here who are still unaffected by all the wondrous history of redeeming love, to whom the world has hitherto been their element and their joy? Would that each might now, even now, awaken from the dream of death, and find the path of life. Are there any who are halting between two opinions, who are sometimes half persuaded to take part with the friends of God, who are still afraid of the scorn of former associates; Oh, by all the arguments of God's compassion, and by all their hopes of eternity, I beseech such to bring their hearts and their prayers to GOD, and at length to have a fixed resolve for GOD! Yet a little while, and the scorn of associates, and the applause of the world, will be as the dew-drop before the wintry storm. Yet a little while, and the cross shall be the single refuge to which you may fly. But, adored be the name of the Lord, there are many here to whom the Gospel message has long been a sweet and welcome theme. To these the name of Christ is more precious than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. Dear, very dear friends, oh! I bid you go on in the strength and

power of your GOD. Yet a little while, and to you also the Glory of GOD shall be revealed. "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, Christ has overcome the world."

And now, my brethren, FAREWELL, for my feelings I dare not trust myself to express. I commend you to GOD, and to the word of his grace. I must

here be brief, for my heart is full. The kindness I have received at your hands, no event of life can erase. The memorials of it will be as the Sabbathbell to my soul. Long may the sound of salvation be heard within these walls, and rich and deep may be the blessings which rest upon those who henceforth shall come to you, in the name of the Lord-Amen.

A Sermon

DELIVERED BY THE REV. GERARD NOEL, AT ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD ROW, NOVEMBER 4, 1832.

John xiii. 1.—“ Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come, that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."

Oh, my brethren, may it please GOD by the power of his Holy Spirit, to open to our view something of the extent and character of that love wherewith Christ hath loved his people— may he be present in the midst of us, to refresh our hearts by the declarations of his kindness, and to cheer us by the bright prospects that he has

THERE is a generosity in the charac- | in rescuing them from everlasting cater of Christ, which we may well con- lamity, "he endured the cross, and template with admiration and delight. gladly despised the shame." He was now approaching the scene of his final suffering-that hour in which his soul was to be yet more sorrowful than it had been-that hour in which the consolations of his Father's love were to be, for a time, withdrawn from him, in which he was to stand like a lone rock amidst the billows of the ocean, and at this moment, when nature might have shuddered in the ex-presented to the eye of faith; may he tremeness of despair, we find that he forgot himself in his deep remembrance of his people's welfare, and the very consciousness that he had of these approaching sufferings, led him to a more emphatic recollection of this condition of his people. When our hearts are oppressed, sweet it is to remember Christ-when his heart was oppressed, sweet it appeared to him to remember the welfare of his people, "for the joy that was set before him"

enable me so to speak, and you to hear, that this word may be blessed to our souls, that we may gather fresh strength and confidence to pursue our progressive path, waiting for the glory which, in due time, shall be given to us, knowing that we are led along, by a right path, to that city of habitation, whose builder and maker is GOD.

I would consider, for a moment, The objects of the love of Christ. The description given of the objects of his

|

love, in the passage before us, is very brief. "Having loved his own." That single word "own" describes the character of the objects of his love. Unquestionably he had an immediate reference to the Apostles who had followed him in his eventful course, who had been the companions of his solitude and of his public life. These were peculiarly dear to his heart, but he is merely here stating to us some general principles which apply not only to these favoured companions of his earthly course, but to others. Indeed, in that intercessory prayer, with which he closed his affecting ministry, he declared to his Heavenly Father, that he not only prayed for those who had been thus his companions, but that he prayed for all those who should hereafter believe on him through their word. His prayer stretches along the line of time, and in this our distant day, while eighteen centuries have passed by, that prayer refers, in all the living freshness of its kindness and in all the efficacy of its intercession, "to us who believe in his name. And if the word "own" characterized the objects of his love when he actually dwelt upon earth," All that the Father giveth shall that word characterizes still all who believe on his name and trust in his salvation.

But I apprehend, that when our Saviour speaks of his "own" on this occasion, he has a more distinct reference to that blood-bought heritage which his Father hath given to him. He speaks of those who are not only dear to him as the objects of creation, and the objects of compassion, and the objects towards whom he had manifested very great interest in supplying them with all those means of mercy which, if used, would ensure that mercy, which would bless them to eternity; but he here speaks of that peculiar love wherewith he loves those who are given to him of his Father.

My brethren, the terms under which Scripture presents to us the relationship into which God has brought his people, are very brief oftentimes, but, surely, they are very significant. That word "own," is a word which expresses with emphasis the very nature of that mind with which Jesus Christ contemplates his people. We are accustomed to connect with the term "own" very, very interesting particulars. When a man thinks of his own," ," he thinks of a scene where the objects are more immediately and emphatically his own. Our blessed Saviour here, refers to the property that he had in his people. "Ye are

66

not your own, but ye are bought with a price :" the price of his blood hath been paid for this property. Our blessed Saviour, unquestionably, is the proprietor of all things, and he claims a dominion over all, and he has a love toward all his properties. Oh, when he looked upon those enemies who thirsted for his blood, he shed bitter tears of kindness and disappointment over them: his mercies are over all his works, and there goes forth a yearning compassion over every being in this world.

come unto me."-"I know my sheep, and am known of mine. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my Fathers's hand." Our Lord accounts these persons as peculiarly his "own." They are his property with that weight and interest with which a person looks upon that which is peculiarly his possession-he attaches delight and value to this possession. When a person of great power, and of great wisdom, and of great kindness should emphatically declare of aught that it is his "own,' he would mean to imply that he set a great value on that property-that he had much delight in it-that it was an object which he contemplatedthat it was an object towards which

[ocr errors]

with that earth where the curse lies heavily; nevertheless he knows their path, for he has tracked it before them, and where they find the print of his feet they are to set their feet also. They are now, like their master, encircled by foes, surrounded by sinners, acquainted with calamity and sorrow. They have important lessons to learn-they are not yet at homethey are pursuing their way through a desert land. Many are the rugged paths along which they are to passmany are the obstacles which they have to surmount-many are the tears which they have to shed-many are the conflicts which they have to encounter. But though their condition be now a condition of trial and of sorrow, though they are in this world, yet they are not always to be found among the inhabitants of this world. The place that now knows them, and painfully knows them, will know them here no more; they will pass onward and pass upward; their lot is to be a counterpart of the lot of their Master.

his anxieties, and his sympathies, and his affections went continually forth. "He that touches you, touches the apple of my eye;" and when he claims these as his "own," who is gifted with all power in Heaven and in earth, he refers to that power, to that security under which his property reposes. The broad shield of Almighty power is stretched over this heritage. In one single word, then, my brethren, what a noble declaration is this respecting the people of GOD. They are Christ's "own;" he marks them as such—he knows them by a contradistinction from other portions of the creation-his eye rests with peculiar complacency upon them-he loves them with an exceeding great love.

But we have presented to us in this passage, The condition of these persons who are the objects of Christ's love. He loves his "own" who were of the world. It might be thought a strange place wherein to seek the property of Christ; for Satan is called the prince of this world—his principles prevailhis maxims find applause-and the varied objects of this world's pursuits, are characterized by sin and folly. But in the midst of this wilderness, and amidst the varied objects of evil which this world presents, the people of Christ are yet to be found. They are to the eye of Christ, bright sunny spots upon this world's waste, which he has lit up with the beams of his own grace; and these persons are those with whom he continually carries on a holy and delightful intercourse. They know him, and he knows them; and their condition in this world is precisely that reason which calls forth in his mind the greatest possible anxiety for their wel-ings. fare. He prayed for these persons, and he prayed not, "that Thou should'st take them out of the world, but that Thou should'st keep them from evil." Their condition is, at present, one connected with time, and

"Made like him, like him we rise,
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies."

He knew that his hour was now come in which he was to depart out of this world unto the Father, and he declared, after he had burst from the bonds of the grave, "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, unto my GOD and your GOD." Hence the expression respecting Christ that he was now to depart out of this world to his Father, is descriptive of that condition which is yet future to his people, but which is ascertained to them by the sure word of his promise. They are likewise to terminate their wander

This path, along which they are moving by GoD's direction, is the right way which leads to a city of habitation. It has a definite aim, a definite period, and limit. They are not to be wanderers for ever; their Father knows the duration of their course;

« AnteriorContinuar »