Imágenes de páginas

of mankind. Nay, as his life is wholly spiritual, he walks about like the ghost of what he was, before he departed the life of sin, the reproach, the aversion, the terror, of all who meet him. But, like other apparitions, he is so seldom seen in the world, is so hidden from the eyes of other men, that it at length becomes doubtful with some, whether there is really any such being or not.

But, how, where, or with whom, is he hid? Can such goodness be lost to God or itself? Is a character so modest, and so exceedingly beautiful, to be seen no more ? No, if he is hid, he is only hid as the gospel itself is, to them that are lost;' in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.' These are too blind to see him, or to look into his hiding place.

All other true believers, because they themselves are there also, know, that his life is hid with Christ, who knows his own sheep, and is known of his. But the world who hath not known his father,' knows neither him nor his sheep; and therefore both are said in the text to be hid, as dead in the opinion of the world, because removed out of their sight.

Long before Christ was born, it was prophesied of him, that he should have no form nor comeliness,' and that men, when they saw him,' should see no beauty in him, that they should desire him;' that he should be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,' and that the men of this world should hide as it were their faces from him.' We may now turn the words of this prophecy into a history, and write it as matter of fact, not only concerning his person, but his gospel also ; and the historian, as well as the prophet, may ask, who hath believed his report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?'

As there was nothing in his person or countenance, and as little in his dress and attendance, to strike the minds of the worldly with any extraordinary degree of love or veneration ; so neither is there in his doctrine or gospel. A wonderful plainness and simplicity, resembling those of his personal appearance, run through the whole, and hide the majesty and power of his religion from every eye that is affected only with pomp and show. It is by the eye of faith alone, and of the Holy Ghost, who inspires that faith, that the otherwise inconceivable grandeur of the divine wisdom, power, and goodness, is discovered under a dress so plain and humble, and infinitely recommended by that dress to the admiration of a truly judicious and well disposed mind.

But farther, as there is nothing here to be relished by a false taste, so there is every thing to offend a proud and corrupt heart. Here is a suffering king to be served ; and a crucified God to be adored. How does this shock his faith, who hath made an idol of his own understanding, or who considers nothing as great, but worldly pomp and power ? Here denying ourselves, mortifying the deeds of the flesh, subduing our inordinate inclinations, bridling even such as are innocent, and dying to sin and the world; are made absolutely necessary to the new life of a Christian. How does it disgust and offend the world to have almost all methods, both of making and enjoying fortunes, condemned and forbidden, as wicked, in pain of eternal damnation !

Now, is it any wonder, the world should hide as it were its face, should turn away its attention, and lock up its heart, from such a teacher, and such doctrine? Here are the reasons, the true and real reasons, why Christ, and all that are firmly united to him, are said to be hid together from the eyes of a vain and sinful world; and why it is affirmed, that the God of this world,' or the devil, hath blinded the eyes of them who believe not, lest the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them. The true Christian sees, and is seen, by that light alone; and they therefore who are blind to that sort of light, cannot possibly see him. They are as deaf too to that sound and voice of the gospel, wherein the real Christian speaks, and is spoken to. He that is of God heareth God's words :' they therefore hear them not, because they are not of God.' So neither this way can these men perceive or apprehend the true Christian.

In this blessed sanctuary, in the bosom of Christ himself, and in a life wholly governed by the gospel or religion of Jesus, is every real Christian hid from the observation of the world, to whom his life is a mystery, never to be acçounted for, or fathomed; and not only hid, but guarded

and defended on all sides against all the allurements, against all the vanity and vexation that is under the sun. From hence he looks not down into the world, but to laugh at its follies, or to pity its miseries. · The armour of God'surrounds him. The helmet of salvation' guards his understanding. • The breast-plate of righteousness' arms his, heart. The shield of faith' defends him against all attacks. And with the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God,' he cuts in sunder, and strikes down all opposers. If the old serpent assaults him, he rouses up his courage with these words of God, resist the devil, and he will fee from you.' If his carnal desires do but begin to undermine his temperance or chastity, he recollects with a trembling heart, the admonitions of God, the minding of the flesh is death; ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. If the world with its customs and fashions bears in upon him, he hears God calling to him from within his own breast, and saying, 'be not conformed to this world.' And if all this is not enough, he hath still an infinitely comfortable assurance in reserve, that the presence of Christ, who hath promised to dwell in him, and to be with him to the end of the world, and the grace of his Holy Spirit, shall be sufficient for him.'

As there is little difference between dying to the world, and living in Christ; between the death unto sin,' and • the new birth unto righteousness,' inasmuch as both are covenanted for in the same baptism, and take place in every true Christian at the same time, so I have treated of them as nearly the same thing. All the difference consists in this, that when we die, in the sense of my text, we

cease to do evil,' and hate it; and when we begin to live in that sense, 'we learn to do good, and to love it. He who does the former on Christian principles, can hardly stop there, but is under a sort of moral necessity of proeeeding farther, and performing the latter. Whosoever on the footing of Christian faith, hath from his soul renounced the world, and emptied his heart of all its vanities and temptations, hath done it only that he may open his heart to God, and to the love of that which is pleasing in the sight of God. At the same time that he removed his affections from things on the earth, he set them,' according to the precept immediately preceding my text,' on things above.' He died to sin and

the world, only, that his life might be hid with Christ; th at his heart might be there purified by the gospel, and fortified by the grace of God; and that he might take sanctuary in the bosom of his Redeemer, from all the otherwise irresistable temptations, and all the otherwise unavoidable miseries to which he lay exposed before, when he was a man of this world.

In this high and comfortable sense it is, that he who is dead to the world, is hid with Christ. Thus it is that the Christian diamond lies concealed and enclosed in the rock of his salvation,' from whence he shall, in God's appointed time, shine forth in all the lustre of him, who is the way, the truth, and the life, who is the light of the world.' By this light of all who truly live in Christ, the hypocritical pretender to Christianity is exposed in his true colours, and beheld as the carcase of a dead man, reanimated only by a fiend ; as 'a dark and black spot in the feasts of charity; as a cloud without water carried about by winds; as a tree whose fruit withereth, twice dead, plucked by up the roots; as a raging wave of the sea, foaming out its own shame; and as a wandering star, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.'

But if the wicked are so exposed by this light, you will ask, how can he that is with Christ be hid in it? Can that which is in the light be hid ? Yes,' God is light, and he who is hid with Christ, 'is hid in God;' hid from a blind and sensual world, which although this glorious · light hath shined in darkness,' where all other lights are most easily perceived, yet comprehendeth it not.' By this day-light of the gospel the moles and bats of infidelity can see nothing; and in this light, which is too strong for the eyes of the world, and which, therefore, no man, who is yet in the world, can approach unto, wherein he dwelleth who hath immortality (to whom be honour and power everlasting),' dwelleth also the good Christian ; for,' thus saith the High and lofty one, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, torevive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.' Hither, into this unapproachable light, no carnal eye can follow him who

[ocr errors]

lives in God, and who is made one with Christ, as he is one with the Father.'

But hid as he is, now in this present time of suffering, while he stoops under the cross of Christ, and the reproaches that fall on his master fall also on him; he knows a day is coming, when, according to the verse immediately following my text, ' Christ, who is his life, shall appear,' and then shall this good Christian, and all that belong to Christ, appear with him also in glory.

Behold the wonderful change of things! This man, so despicable in the esteem of the world, that few or none thought him worth their notice; this Lazarus, who was 'clothed in rags,' who had only dogs for physicians, who lay like a contemptible log at the gates of the wealthy, and * longed for the crumbs that fell from their tables ;' is now comforted in the bosom of Abraham;' while the great ones of this world, in whose eyes he was no better than the dirt they trod on, are tormented in the fire which cannot be quenched.' They had their world, and he hath his.

When the men of this world see this (and see it they must) they shall be troubled,' as we are told in the book of wisdom,' with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for. And they, too late repenting, and grieving for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves; tbis is he whom we had some time in derision, and a proverb of reproach. We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour. How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints. Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the sun of righteousness rose not upon us.

We wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction; yea, we have gone through deserts, where there lay no way; but, as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it. What hath pride profited us? Or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us? The hope of the ungodly is like dust that is blown away by the wind; but the righteous live for evermore : their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High.

« AnteriorContinuar »