« AnteriorContinuar »
I believe would be no Gospel if that eye of it were put out-the doctrine of redemption through the sacrifice of the Son of God), and would ask him, for one half-hour of honest self-communion, to cast out from his heart all the repugnance to that truth which rests not upon head at all
, but upon heart. Ob, brother, will you try to discriminate for once, and to get rid of the objections and repugnance, and shrinkings from the Gospel of Christ, which rest on this, the moral, and not the intellectual at all—the objections which are all gathered
up in the one thing, “I will not submit to be nothing; I will not subwit to depend on God's unmerited mercy, and Christ's finished and unagsisted work, for my whole salvation.” If you will only try, you will wonder to find how deep underground the roots of these difficulties run, and how strangely they come up in your heart in the shape of very high-flown, very profound, very philosophical, and very baseles and one-sided objections to the Gospel
, as a system of truth and a revelation of God's will!
But that, I am afraid, you will think is somewhat of a digression : what I wanted
say, was just this one thing, Do you want, do you wish (not having even rieen to the dignity of willing), to enter in ? Oh, listen to the assurance, There is none other door but Christ-Christ alone, Christ for ever, Christ for every man. For salvation
, for peace, for purity, for power, for Jore
, for joy, for everything, Christ is the door
, the way to God, and the path to peace and happiness. And I beg of you, my friend, do not deceive yourself with the notion that you ever can come within sight of the mercy and love of God, except only by this one path, the one
way which God bus appointed, and the one way which hearen approves. Christ has done it all
you, and for me, and for all of us ; Christ has done it perfectly; Christ alone bas done it : « strive to enter in at the And then that doctrine, that Christ is " the way," the only way, the finished and the completed way, flings back a light upon the verse, and the use of tbat word "strive;" for if it be that this Gospel is a Gospel with which a man has nothing to do but just to take it—if it be that Christ's work is finished, and we have nothing to do but just to believe that it is finished, and that we are involved in its benefit and its mercy, -then it is quite clear, without further
talking, that the striving can be no striving to win heaven by anything that we do, and wring out of the hand of a reluctant God a blessing tbat needs to be bought by our service.
Christ has done all, therefore we do not need to strive; Christ has done all, therefore we have to strive ;-but to strive for what? For faith that foreakes all work and all striving.
There is no doctrine of salvation by works here; there is no Gospel that a man is going to get to heaven because he sets to it with might and main; there is no shadow or ghost of the representation that we have got anything to do, co-operativg with the mercy of God for our eternal life; but there is only this, "My heart is all boiling and seething with unbelief, all torn and distracted with contending purposes and desires : the will to accept is a strise ; the passive acceptance is a strife: the exercise of the faith that says, 'I am doing nothing, and I can do nothing, and I cast all upon Christ,' the exercise of that faith is a strife ;" and therefore Christ says, "Strive to enter in;" but lest we should fancy that we can hammer at the gate of heaven, and get the angels inside to open it for our much knocking, he says,
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate;" the very straitness of the gate is the doctrine, man can do nothing; God has done all.
III. And so, lastly, the text draws a third contrast which we may just couch in the words, FUTURE SEEKINGS ARE ALL VAIN; STRIVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION NOW.
Many shall seek to enter in, but shall not be able." I am not going to enlarge upon the dark side of that awful thought; I do not feel-I never do feel—that a pulpit is a place to speak, or that a fellow-sinner is the man to speak, about those dreadful secrets of the ultimate condition of the unbelieving and impenitent. The words that describe them He had a right to use into whose lips grace was poured even in his sternest threatenings; but I, for one, feel that the awful things that lie yonder beyond our ken, and of which we get some frightful and occasional glimpses from out of the darkness, through this book, are too solemn for many words, too dreadful for much description. Only, I am bound to say, there does seem to rise from these words this grim and dark inference, Life is the determining period; eternity is the harvest, not the seed time; t); consequences of our present condition a.e everlasting consequences; the act, or rather the fact,
that determines a man's whole condition, sistency in the unsubdued will and t1 namely his relation to Christ, is an irre- hate of the heart is perfectly compatib versible fact, heavy with eternal weights with the clearest vision of the facts of ti hanging upon it. Brethren, I do not go man’s condition, of the failure of his lit beyond tbe letter of the word about this and of the misery and helplessness of h matter : there are dark places, awful ones, relation to God. And I take it, that tł on each side ; but this I say, Many shall
coalescence of the two things--the unmit seek to enter in, and shall not be able, gated and unsubdued aversion of the wil when once the master of the house has
and the brightened and heightened clea shut to the door.” Will you take that ness of the perception of the condition an and think about it? I do not mean,“many character-do make a mighty part of the will want to believe, will want to repent, awful metaphor (leave it awful in its vagu will want to love, in another world; and ness !) of "a worm that nerer dies, and sball not be able.” The true nature of fire that is never quenched.” They sha belief, repentance, love, makes that impos- “ seek to enter in,” from this place of to sible: wherever any one wants to believe, ment; they sball “seek to enter in," by repent, or love, the wish is the thing itself, cause they know their punishment: the and he does it in the act of desiring it. " shall not be able," because they will no But only this it means--that men yonder love their Lord. Oh, brethren, will have lost all their illusions ; that men the accepted time; now is the day of salva yonder will have ceased to be dazzled by tion”! *Christis waiting for you;
Chris the lights of earth; that men yonder will has done all for you ; Christ has finishe sce wbither their path on earth tended; the work; take bim for your Lord, you that men yonder will know their misery, Saviour, your all; and you shall be hi the sinfulness of sin, and the bitterness of And carry away this one lesson that transgression; and yet that, the heart un- leave with you agrant desires are no changed, and the will unsubdued, the ele- enough, but A SETTLED PURPOSE : Earnest ments of eternal misery are all there, and nees is not enough ; it must be EARNEST will work themselves out accordingly; and NESS IN THE RIGHT WAY: Future seeking that rooted, obstinate, everlasting per- is of no avail; NOW IS THE TIME!
THE RESERVED KINGDOM.
BY THE REV. W. C. JONES.
" An inheritance incorruptible, undefiled,” &c.--1 Peter i. 4, 5. In itself and for itself no created thing is valuable. The sun does not feel his own beam, nor rejoice in his own light. The lightning is blind to its own blaze and the thunder deaf to its own pealing. Spring is not charmed with its ow! beauty, nor is summer proud that her golden fingers weave the wreath that crowns a year of plenty. Created things have but relative values. The sea breeze may fan the air of tropic isles, but if no heat-oppressed resident be there, its grateful breathings will come unwelcomed, and depart unfelt. The clouds surcharged with showers may pour them vainly on the thirsty ground
, if no eye and hand exist to view the pleasing changes, and pluck the ripened fruits. 'Earth’s framework might be of iron, her veins filled with liquid gold, her bosom decked with pearl and gem, yet valueless would her treasures be were not man her lord and denizen. These relative values of either things temporal or spiritual rise, too, in proportion to our conscious need of them or desire for them. The wintry wind, whose close acquaintance the invalid and illclad shudder to make, will find its kisses grateful to the fevered and sunny brow; and the of cold water, insipid to the vitiated palate of the epicure, is as nectar to the dying soldier on the battle-field. It is the position we occupy and the feelings we entertain that render things uninteresting
or pleasing, useless or precious to us. The sick it is who value healing, the captive liberty, the lost salvation. Hence, how glad the tidings to the exile when the powers
that banished summon him home again! How cheering to captive Africans the cannon's boom and shouts of a British crew that predict their speedy liberation from the reeking hold and the tyrant's power! How inspiriting to the hardpressed band to hear the battle cry of gallant comrades who are rushing to their side to throw themselves with heart and weapon upon the foe! And, above all, how cheering to these strangers, scattered abroad as chaff by persecuting storms, to learn that for them whose goods were spoiled, friends alienated; for them who had no homes, nor certain dwelling places, was reserved in heaven an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, Refreshing as evening dew to the fainting flowers must such words have been to their spirits, and sweeter their sound than were the songs of the sanctuary to David, on his return from banishment.
I. Let us notice, first, its distinguishing characteristics. It is "incorruptible," and thus differs in nature from all that ever met the eye of man. The marble palaces of ancient kings, the rude but gigantic temples of an antique age, the monumental memorials of the warrior fame that have seen the tide of conquest ebb and flow upon the stream of time, which, nevertheless, bore victor and vanquished away, have lost the pristine glory which boasted of immortality. The breath of time has mouldered them, the foot of time has trampled them. The blue heavens above us bent, chiefest symbols of purity and permanence, shall decay ; they shall wax old like a garment, and as a vesture shall God change them, and they shall be changed. The worlds that but yesterday were rolled from the Creator's hands shall ripen like fruit with age, weary with the weight of years, and corrupting fall from their several spheres. But this inheritance is incorruptible. The fine gold of its streets will never grow dim, the lustre of its gates of pearl will not wax faint, and the varied tints of the jasper throne will never pale. The water of the river of life will never lose its crystal clearness, nor will there be even dead branches to prune, or wasting worthless fruit to remove from the tree of life upon its banks. The waves of the everlasting ages may roll on to the shores of this inheritance, and bear nothing of wreck with them; they may roll off again, but shall carry nothing that is precious away. Its excellences, all brighter than the summer sun, will be
young when eternity grows old, and radiant with light when all the luminaries of the sky have withdrawn their shining:
Yet, whence the desirability of such an inheritance if the heirs it is reserved for are corruptible? Does not the eye wax dim, and the heart grow old and furrowed with grief as the brow with care? Does not the lithe limb grow stiff and lose its rotund and graceful form, and the being who moved as a thing of light drag itself burdened and tottering over the ground? Do not the sunbright locks of youthful pride sorrow into winter's whiteness, or thin themselves one by one away? Does not death live within us, and the bloom of health and beauty fade beneath one touch of his corrupting finger or withering breath? If in ourselves exist these symptoms of decay, what benefit to such will be an incorruptible inheritance ? None surely! But as decay pertains but to the body, and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, we may further bless him that the souls redeemed by the precious blood of his Son are to enter upon this inheritance, without spot, or wrinkle, or blemish, or any such thing, and be invested with a glorious body that blooms with immortality.
Thus much for the first excellence, and for rarity the second is like unto it. “ Undefiled!” The world may be challenged for its parallel. Crowns, for the most part, are stained with innocent blood, and dynasties established by cruelty. The first broad acres of ancestral lands were frequently the patrimonies of godly and patriotic Naboths, and the streams where ancestral trees struck deep their roots and spread wide their branches were oftener turbid and foul at their source than pure. Such are defiled inheritances. But happiness it is to know that the
heavenly one was gotten not by might but by right. Though to Christians a free bestowment, Christ had to procure it for them. The price, like their redemption, was his own blood, and by the rights of purchase he now holds it for his true followers. It is undefiled. Sin, that like a moral leprosy makes unclean the very walls of the houses in which we dwell--sin, that defiles whatever it touches, as one breath bedims the mirror it falls upon-sin, that lost angels hea. ven and called forth God's brimming wrath to purge the stains their polluted feet had left behind-by decree immutable is banished from this inheritance. It is undefiled now because sin has never entered it. Its virgin purity shall remain unsullied, because there shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, or that worketh abomination, or that loveth a lie, but those only who are written in the Lamb's book of life.
These excellences go on to perfection, for it is not only incorruptible and un. defiled, but it"fadeth not away." Most sweet is that song, The winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, and the time of the singing of birds is come. Yet surely we need a gloomy dirge for their departure. They all fade away, the most beautiful being invariably the most fragile and fleeting for the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat than it withers the herb, and its flower falleth, and the beauty of its appearance perisheth. The fields of living green, unweaved with the parti-coloured flowers of spring, retain their glory little longer than the gorgeous evening cloud. The trees, gay in their vernal pride, soon lose their glossy bloom : the ruthless moth preys upon them, the dust of summer begrims them, the fiery sun scorches them, and whirling one by one, their once green robes leave them as they have appeared to us, head shorn, arms bare, and exposed to the wintry wind and storm. But the beauty of this inheritance never fades away. There everlasting spring abides, and never-withering flowers. No heavy plashing rain-drops bruise and break them. No breath of winter chills them. No hot winds sweep over its smiling plains and scorch them. Ever there are the pastures green, for the river of the water of life raus through them. Never are the trees upon its banks barren of their twelve manner of fruit, nor their branches denuded of those leaves which are for the healing of the nations.
This, though delightful, might excite regret, were the glory of the heirs found to be less during than that of the inheritance. But the truth is the reverse, for the robes of the ransomed which when bestowed are whiter than snow, and their crowns which when given are brighter than the midday sun, shall never be stained while the Redeemer's robes are pure-shall never
grow dim so long as the Mediator's crown gleams the glory of heaven, nor shall their immortality fade while the stamp of immortality is seen upon the Saviour's brow.
II. Thus far the intelligence creates delight, whereas the introduction of one doubt concerning its security is enough to mar any pleasing contemplation of one day possessing it. We not only want to have it in promise but unquestionably confirmed to us. And here I may direct you, in the second place, to contemplate its security. This arises not because its foundations are deep, its walls high, or its gates strong, but that God is its guard and preserver. It is reserved in heaven. It is committed not to the custody of any spirit, however exalted and strong, but to the safe keeping of a faithful Creator. Its safety consists in Christ being its king. The first Adam, to whom was committed the care of the first Paradise, walked but for a little while through its unblighted he fell, that fell, became defiled, and perished from the earth as if ashamed to remain the wreck of its former splendour. But the second Adam, for whom and for the Church, the second Eve, who is yet in the wilderness decking
herself with the ornaments he has given her, waiting to come up therefrom, leaning upon
the arm of her Beloved, -He will preserve this heavenly inheritance for ever and ever.
Hence Satan will never be guilty of the folly of casting a mound against it
and laying siege to it, or of attempting, "armed with hell flames and fury, o'er heaven's high towers to force resistless way." The counsel of his malignant will constrains him to adopt for his purpose a more excellent way. What would it profit him to wither away every flower on its stem, shrivel the ripe fruit upon the bending bough, blacken the greensward with his unhallowed feet, and make all heaven å hell, the inheritance a desolation ? Simply nothing. Even as upon the inmates of the first Paradise were his wiles practised, so against the heirs of this heavenly inheritance are his power and devices directed. It is not God's glory in the firmament, nor in the heaven of heavens, he wants to destroy: it is God's glorious image upon the soul that he seeks to mar and spoil. On which account you are never free from his attendance. He is unseen, and can rush upon you when you least expect an attack. He is a spirit, and you know not the means or extent of his power. As an angel of light, he can address your understanding, and make your intellectual pride contribute to your fall. Subtle as a serpent, he may address your passions, until he rolls round you his fatal coil. Ferocious as a lion, he is prepared, did God permit him, to tear your soul to a thousand pieces. These facts, despite of the safety of the inheritance, might occasion the greatest alarm, were we not
III. In the third place, certified of the safety of the believer ; "kept by the power of God.” Kept as a child by his parent from danger, as a ward by his guardian from avaricious designers, as a young king by his friends from the fatal custody and power of traitors. What a life-giving truth to those whom perils surround, whom dangers threaten because
of their loyalty to Christ! It is exemplified in the history of all the ancient worthies. Joseph, by the power of God, was kept unharmed from the murderous purposes of his brethren, and afterwards from the seduction and rage of the Egyptian. This power proved stronger than the edict of the tyrant, and Moses
was preserved in infancy, and again from the wrath of a subsequent Pharaoh. The hunger-bitten lions became harmless as lambs because the power that made them restrained them from tearing Daniel. View its displays in a wider theatre, and what oversight less than Umniscience, what power less than almighty, could preserve these strangers scattered abroad among those who thirsted for their blood? What shepherd could keep his flock when wolves rush from the south, rage in the north, and bow) in the east and west? What captain can preserve his men, who are scattered soine on the plain, some on the hill, some asleep, others faint, and all unprepared to resist the overwhelming foe? Let the flock be penned in the fold, and the shepherd shall keep the whole pack at bay; let the men have the ramparts round them, and the captain will better withstand the foe; but, scattered abroad
, both flock and men are lost. Now God kept these strangers, and not One of them is lost. And the power that kept them from the rage of ungodly men , and from apostacy
when the sword or fire threatened them, is the same that to preserves believers from the seductive charms of the world, and the maiuuating but not less dangerous influence of Satan. For the Gospel of the Blessed God,-unlike a warrior who turns the tide of battle, gives his life to earn Le victory, and after that can do no more, unless inspire, by his example, tho yoang soldiers who shall rise up after him.-gains its victories and displays its power in one age, and equals them in every other. It lives and never dies. It spirit
, and cannot grow old. It is truth, and cannot decay. It never destroys at it builds. It overcomes, but to give victory to the vanquished. It casts dalf upon the prostrate like the prophet upon the dead child, and reanimates and raises the dead bodies of the slain. Yet it is not so much the Gospel as Christ that is our life. It is not so much the truth as God that is the believer's mfuge and strength. Hence, relative to the believer's safety, Christ says, “I give into them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck hem out of my hand.”