« 上一页继续 »
THE LOST SINNERS.
"And the flood came, and destroyed them all."-LUKE xvii. 27.
THESE sinners had been warned of their danger by Noah, and warned often, but they would not take warning; and the text refers to the melancholy consequences. They would not believe the truth preached to them, and so went on in sin, and perished in their guilt. And so it was with sinners in the days of Jeremiah, in the days of the Saviour, and so it is with many sinners at the present time-they have no true confidence in the truths of Scripture, they see no danger and fear none, they venture to treat with indifference, if not with contempt, the means employed to save them. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." The Scriptures clearly show that sin is an evil work, and that sentence is gone out against it; but because God is patient, and gives sinners space for repentance, they are foolish enough to conclude that He will never execute the threatened sentence, that He is indifferent to their conduct, or too kind to punish them; but they will in the end discover their mistake, and rue the consequences of their infatuation. God cannot lie. He is sure to fulfil His threatenings, as well as His promises. He is as sure to punish the wicked as He is to reward the righteous. The flood was held back for some years, and Noah sought to bring sinners to repentance; but they turned a deaf ear to the faithful servant of God, and at last "the flood came, and destroyed
them all." And thus the sentence threatened was executed; God kept to His word, and these sinners saw their folly when it was too late to amend their ways and to seek mercy. How dreadful would be their misery when they saw the rains descending, the waters rising, and no place to which they could fly for safety! Then the day of hope was past, and they were filled with the unutterable horrors of despair. How horrible the sight! Mothers flying to the tops of the mountains with their dear babes, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, masters and servants seeking to escape a watery grave, but all in vain. Do they cry for mercy? They are not heard, at least not for temporal deliverance; for the deluge destroyed all, except eight souls. The melancholy case of these sinners is left upon record as a warning to us, not to trifle with the day of grace, the solemn warnings of truth, the claims of God.
"The flood came, and destroyed them all." The Saviour here shows the enormous evils of a worldly spirit. These sinners pursued worldly things until the very moment when the flood came. "They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark." They were indifferent to their coming doom, they were living in self-indulgence, they were absorbed in the things of this present life, until the moment of their destruction. And so it was
in the days of Lot. "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded: But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all." And so it was when God came to destroy Jerusalem by the Roman army. The Saviour foretold the doom of the impenitent Jews, but they would not take warning; they lived as if there was no danger, they gave themselves to the world, and not to repentance, to prayer, and to God. "Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." And so it is with many sinners now. They are found full of unbelief, the world, and contempt of God; and in the midst of their sips they are arrested by death, and hurried into the eternal world. And so it will be when the Saviour comes to judgment. He will find many making no preparation for their last account at His bar.
"And the flood came and destroyed them all." These solemn words remind us that God has warned sinners of His intention to punish them. He warned the antediluvians. He warned the Jews. He warns us. He warns all unbelievers of their danger. He says, by His Son, "He that believeth not shall be damned." Solemn words! All who refuse to believe the Scripture testimony concerning the Saviour are sure to endure the curse of a broken law; they will be excluded from heaven, and be shut up in the prison of hell. There is no other Saviour for them; they have rejected the only remedy, they have set at nought the great
gift of God. He has given them powerful proof of the Divine mission of His Son, the perfection of His sacrifice for sin, His ability and willingness to save sinners; but they would not receive His testimony, and therefore must be punished. He has warned the impenitent of their danger; He has said, by His Son, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Yet many refuse to repent; they will not seek a new heart; they harden themselves against God, and must die. And God has warned the unholy, the disobedient, the indifferent to His claims. The flood of His wrath will overtake all His enemies, and involve them in awful, just, and eternal ruin. This will destroy their false hope, their worldly pleasures, and their peace, and leave them in inexpressible misery. "Upon the wicked God shall rain fire and brimstone; this shall be the portion of their cup." But is there no way of escape from this wrath to come? There is. The Gospel requires and encourages sinners to seek shelter in the ark God has provided. This is the atonement of Christ, the perfect satisfaction He has made for sin, the one offering He presented to the justice of God, by His sufferings and death. He died, the just for the unjust. Here is our hope, our refuge, the ark of safety. This one atonement for sin, made by the Son of God, is sufficient for all who put their trust in it; it is suitable to the circumstances of every penitent sinner; it is Divine in its appointment, ever accessible to faith, and brought near by the Gospel. When we see our danger, feel our sinful
ness, humble ourselves before God for our sins, we gladly welcome the Saviour, we trust in His merits, we plead His sacrifice, we cling to His cross, and in Him find shelter from all the consequences of sin, and acceptance with God. "There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." All their sins are forgiven; God is their friend; He will treat them, for the sake of Christ, as if they had never
But notwithstanding all the means employed to bring sinners into the Gospel ark, many refuse to take warning, and perish in their sins. The Gospel calls upon them to receive the Saviour, to renounce their self-righteousness, to cultivate true repentance for sin, to obey God, to consider their ways, to live for eternity; but they continue in unbelief, impenitence, and worldliness, and at last the Sun of mercy sets, and sets for ever upon them; they leave this world for an eternal world, and their doom is fixed for ever. They hear no more sermons, receive no more calls to the throne of grace, enjoy no more Sabbaths, listen no longer to the joyful sound of the Gospel; they are lost, and lost for ever. They now find that God is true to His word, that Satan has deceived them, that they have trifled away the day of salvation. Then see here the value of the little time that yet may be given you. The ark of mercy is now open, the Saviour is accessible, the Gospel invites you to the source of safety, and if you are wise, you will run to this hope set before you. Then you will be safe, happy, ready for the coming of the Lord. Let us
cultivate the fear of God. This will lead us to be watchful, obedient, earnest in seeking our salvation. H. H.
THE GRATEFUL CONGRE-
"And His praise in the congregation of saints."-PSALM CXlix. 1.
THE eternal God intended from eternity to have saints in this world, whose piety should show forth His glory. He created Adam a saint, or a holy person. "God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them." This was a glorious manifestation of the power, wisdom and goodness of God. Adam was created in a state of great beauty. His body was perfect, and his soul reflected the holiness of his Creator; but, alas! it was soon stained by sin. Satan was successful in defacing this glorious image, and thus displayed his enmity to God and man. He hates the moral image of God, and seeks to destroy it wherever He finds it. He sought to deface it in the spotless soul of the Saviour, but here he failed. Jesus resisted all his temptations, and though he lived amidst scenes of wickedness, was never defiled by evil. Satan seeks to prevent the restoration of this image in the souls of the redeemed, but in vain, for they all put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Millions of renewed souls have put on the new man, and millions more will do so in spite of all opposition, for God is able to restore His own
image. He can give His Spirit to make His truth effectual in their conversion, sanctification, and meetness for heaven. When the image of God is restored in a saved sinner, Satan seeks to destroy it, and would be successful, but for the grace of God. The loss of Adam was great, and he was soon sensible of his loss. The second Adam undertook to restore us to the favour and image of God, and for this purpose visited our world, assumed our nature, suffered for our sake, died to satisfy Divine justice, and is gone to heaven to plead our cause. The moral image of God is restored to penitent sinners in the new birth, by the power of the Holy Ghost. Then sinners become saints. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." This image becomes more visible as we mortify remaining indwelling sin, cultivate the fruits of the Spirit, and seek to grow in grace.
"And His praise in the congregation of saints." These words present a delightful sight for our contemplation, viz., a congregation of persons made holy by the Word and Spirit of God. But there is reason to fear that all persons in our congregations are not saints; none are so by nature. The apostle declares the truth when he says, "There is none righteous, no, not one." Hence all need a radical change in their moral nature, and this is experienced by all the saints of God when the Holy Spirit enters into them, and takes
up His abode in their hearts. Now the saints of God are required to meet together in acts of public and social worship, to hear the Gospel, to sing the new song, and to commemorate the dying love of their Saviour. The Scriptures refer to several interesting occasions when some of the saints met together. The risen Saviour appeared to a congregation of saints. (John xx. 19.)
The Pentecostal shower first descended on a congregation of saints. (Acts ii. 1.) Paul preached in Troas to a congregation of saints. (Acts xx. 7.) The saints of God meet in the sanctuary, at the Lord's table, at the throne of grace, at the church meetings, and they will all meet in heaven. The meeting of the saints for the worship of God is to a spiritual mind a delightful sight. They meet to offer united prayer to the great Father in heaven, to praise Him for His manifold mercies, to listen to the joyful sound of the Gospel, to sing of His loving-kindness, and to acknowledge His just claims. They meet to feed on the true bread from heaven, to drink of the streams from the smitten Rock, to pluck fruit from the tree of life. And think, not only of the purposes for which they meet, but also of the interesting relationship in which they stand to each other. They are the intelligent creatures of the glorious Creator, they are disciples in the school of the Great Teacher, soldiers in the army of the King of kings, sheep in the fold of the Good Shepherd, subjects of the same kingdom of grace. They are the friends of God, children of the redeemed family, heirs of an eternal inheritance. And
think, too, of the wonderful centre in which all the saints of God are united. They are all in union with the Saviour. His love, manifested in His death as an atonement for sin, is the moral magnet which attracts all their souls to Him. They are all one in Christ. They are branches in the same vine, stones in the same building, members in the same body. They have all experienced the new birth, received the Holy Ghost, and are going to the same glorious home. They will all meet in their Father's house, they will all be worshippers in the same temple, they will all sing the song of the Lamb. God takes pleasure in them all, and will enrich them with His blessing; hence a congregation of saints is a delightful sight. He meets with them to refresh them in their way to glory.
"And His praise in the congregation of saints." Now, here observe, the delightful work in which the saints are engaged when they meet in His house. They think of the praise due to God, and render thanks to Him for His mercies. He has given them many occasions for praise. He has done great things for them. He has laid them under vast obligations, and they are sensible of His loving-kindness. They praise Him for the glorious revelation He has made of Himself in His word, for the gift of Christ, for their conversion to God, for the precious promises, for the gracious help He affords them by the way, for the success of His Gospel in the world, for the continuance of their privileges, and the glory of their pros
pects. When they meet for Divine worship, they must not only pray, but also praise. The apostle says, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." The saints must think of their mercies, their magnitude, number, and continuance. They must praise God in concert. This glorifies God, and promotes their piety. Redemption is a sweet song for redeemed sinners. The redemption in Christ is a great, glorious, and eternal redemption. The saints know its worth by happy experience, for it has saved them from immense evils, and secured to them immense blessings. The Gospel publishes its glories. The Scriptures invite us to seek an interest in it. The Holy Spirit disposes us to accept the gracious invitation.
The saints abound in praise in heaven, and begin the delightful work on earth. This is good for the soul, pleasing to God, and a noble example. And it is well to begin in early life. But praise to God ought not to be confined to the sanctuary; we ought also to praise God in the family, in solitude, and in every-day life. His mercies are perpetual; therefore, our obligations must be perpetual. "By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." His saints are a holy priesthood, set apart for the worship of the living and true God, and they will present to Him the offering of praise for ever. The last day will be a glorious day, for then the congregation of saints will be complete. They will all be perfect, and they will see