網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

they shall not depart from me." I have had many a persuasion which has failed me, because, though the confidence was strong, the foundation was weak. But here the full assurance of faith can never do justice to the certainty of the event. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

SEPTEMBER 1.-"The word of life."

Phil. ii. 16.

THIS is a representation of the Gospel; and it well deserves our notice. All life is valuable; but there are several kinds of it, rising above each other. There is vegetable life-this is superior to mere matter; as a tree is more excellent than a stone. There is animal life-this is superior to vegetable; as a bird excels a tree. There is rational life-this is superior to animal; as a man excels a bird: for man was made a little lower only than the angels; there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding. Yet there is a life superior to rational-It is called the life of God; a life from which we are naturally alienated; but to which all the subjects of divine grace are restored by the Saviour, who came, not only that we might have life, but have it more abundantly. It will be completed in heaven; but it is begun here. The case is this. Man, by transgression, is dead in state; for cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. He is also dead in disposition-or, as the Apostle expresses it, dead in trespasses and sins. But the Christian is passed from death unto lifeHe is no longer exposed to condemnation, for he is

-

justified by faith, and has peace with God. And he is no longer under the power of moral death; for he is quickened, and made to walk in newness of life. "I compare," says he, "my present with my former experience. I was once dead to divine things, for they no more impressed me than sensible things affect a dead corpse. But now, for the very same reason, I hope I am alive; for these very things do affect me; do interest me: do excite in me hope and fear. I am susceptible of spiritual joy and sorrow. I live, for I breathe the breath of prayer. I feel the pulse of sacred passions-I love, and I hate. I have appetite-for I hunger and thirst after righteousness. I walk, and I work-and though all my efforts betray weakness, they evince life."

But what will this life be, when there shall be no more death-when the body shall partake of the immortality of the soul-when both shall be glorified together in a perpetual duration of knowledge, purity, friendship, riches, and glory-This is life eternal!

Now the Gospel is called, the word of this life; and it has four relations to it.-A relation of discovery for it reveals the reality and excellency of this life; the way in which it is obtained; the source from which it flows; and every particle of information we have concerning it.-A relation of conveyance-for it communicates; it produces this life. A relation of support-for it is the means, not only of begetting this life, but of maintaining and increasing it. Therefore it is considered as its food; adapted to all stages of its being-milk, if we are babes; strong meat, if we are men.-A relation of order-it is the rule by which this life is governed, as to doctrine, worship, experience, exertion. this rule all our religion must be brought: and as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, mercy, and and upon the Israel of God."

To

SEPT. 2.-"Holding forth the word of life."

Phil. ii. 16.

THE Apostles did this supernaturally. They received their commission immediately from God; and were preserved from all mistakes in delivering his counsel; and could work miracles in confirmation and in defence of it. Ministers do this officially. They pretend to no original communications from God, no new discoveries-they derive what they publish from the Scriptures; and they call upon you to prove whether these things are so. Yet their preaching is a divine ordinance a work which an angel might covet; the simple design of which is, to hold forth the word of life.

But there are many ways of doing this, common to all Christians; and they are the persons the Apostle here addresses. They may hold it forth by their profession. This is not to be considered as a substitute for experience, but as flowing from it. Experience is a secret thing between God and their own souls: but their religion is to be visible, as well as realThey that are in darkness are to shew themselves: and we are to confess with the mouth, as well as to believe with the heart, unto salvation. They may hold it forth by example-And this must evince the sincerity, and conduce to the efficacy, of your profession. You are required to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called; and to constrain others, by your good works which they behold, to glorify God in the day of visitation. Nothing is so eloquent as the silence of a holy, consistent, and lovely life. Actions speak louder than words; and by these you can cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of, or adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. It is thus all can be "holders forth," whatever be their condition, and without leaving their place and station. This is the way in which servants are to preach to their masters and mistresses,

and children to their parents-Indeed, with regard to all of us,

"Thus shall we best proclaim aloud
"The honours of our Saviour God;
"When the salvation reigns within,
"And grace subdues the pow'r of sin."

This is not, however, to hinder express exertions. By these, when the life is in accordance with them, much may be often done. There are few so situated and limited, as not to have some opportunities and influences by which they may be useful, and in a much greater degree than they are aware of, if they will seize them with simplicity, and diligence, and prayer. The talents of men are various; but the servant who has only one, will be condemned if he wraps it up in a napkin. When we cannot do much individually, we can do something by joining with others, and recommending and aiding those institutions which aim at the diffusion of the cause of Christ. We cannot translate the Scriptures into other tongues; but we can circulate them. We are not at liberty to go abroad ourselves; but we can be fellow-helpers to the truth, by contributing to missions. Silver and gold we have none; but we can apply to those who have. We are not donors; but we can be

collectors.

What should induce us to hold forth the word of life? Interest. The regard we pay to the Gospel, will bless ourselves; for, like its Author, it says, Them that honour me, I will honour. We seldom labour in vain in this work; but if our efforts should prove successless, in some way or other they will return into our own bosom. The most respected, and the most happy Christians, are the unselfish, the active, the fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.

Benevolence. The Gospel is not only wonderful, but all-important-It is the Gospel of our salvation. It is the bread, the water of life. For dying souls,

it is the only remedy. It has done more already for even the public welfare of nations than all the civil institutions of men: and by this alone will the wilderness and solitary place be made glad, and the desert rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Piety. It is thus God's perfections are displayed. It is thus his enemies are to be diminished, and his subjects increased. It is thus his kingdom comes. -And what claims has he not upon us for our service? Whose are we? Who bought us with a price?

Our relation in the Church. Why have we joined ourselves to a religious society, and placed ourselves under the ministry of the Word? Is it only to commune together in privilege, or also to co-operate together in usefulness? Holding forth the word of life, says the text "That I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain."

SEPT. 3.- Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.” 1 Sam. iii. 9.

THIS shews a temper of mind which we should feel on every occasion-But what does He say to us now we are leaving home for a season; and shall in a peculiar sense be for a while strangers and pilgrims on earth?

He requires us, in this excursion, to look to our motives. Surely sin is out of the question. What a dreadful thing would it be to go from home to get opportunities to commit iniquity, without danger of observation and discovery! To such, it might well be said, This journey shall not be to thine honour. But the object is lawful, if it be business; if it be friendship; if it be relative affection; if it

2 B

VOL. II.

« 上一頁繼續 »