« AnteriorContinuar »
“ strait gate, for many-shall seek to enter in, and “ shall not be able. When once the master of the “ house is risen up, and hath shut to the door;" it will be for ever in vain for those that stand without, to cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” Now the Saviour pleads with you, in accents of tenderest love; “ how long ye simple ones will ye love sim
plicity, and scorners delight in their scorning, and “ fools hate knowledge? Turn ye at my reproof, "I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make “known my words unto you.” But, ere long, he will frown on the impenitent and unbelieving, and say, “ Because I called and ye refused, I stretched “out my hands and no man regarded ;-therefore “shall ye eat the fruit of your own ways, and be “ filled with your own devices."-"Oh that men
were wise, that they understood these things, “ that they would consider their latter end !•”
But will any of you, with this solemn season of discovery and decision before your eyes, delibesately put the event of it upon the goodness of your hearts and lives? Is there not in your very soul an involuntary shrinking from so strict and awful a scrutiny? Do you not feel a disposition to say,
“Enter not into judgment with thy servant, “ O Lord?" “If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord, who
your immortal souls, do not now insist on any plea, which
feel to be inadmissible in the great day of righteous retribution. Stand not on any distinction between your case and that of your fellow sinners. Seek above all things an interest in the atonement and righteousness of Christ; and count all but loss, that you may win him, and be found in him. Disregard the scorn and reproach of an unbelieving world; anticipating that day, when every eye shall see the despised Redeemer, and his favour be universally allowed of more value than ten thousand worlds. “Let every one,” however, “ that nameth the name of Christ depart from all
iniquity.” “ If we say that we have faith, and “ have not works, will faith save us,” in the day “ when the Lord shall render unto every man ac
cording to his deeds?"-Alas! a dead faith, a
presumptuous hope, and an unsound profession, will only increase the anguish and shame of final condemnation.
Even if we be true believers, negligence and loose walking will cloud our evidence, and weaken our warranted confidence: while the greatest possible encouragement is given to all genuine good works, by that very system, which excludes boasting, and allows none of our services the least share in our justification before God.
“ Not a cup of “cold water given to a disciple, from love to “ Christ, shall lose its reward.” He will accept every kindness to those whom we look upon as his brethren, even as if we had done it to him in person: and while we forgive injuries, love enemies, deny ourselves, endure hardships, of bear any cross, from love to his name, and desire to adorn and recommend his gospel; he notices our poor services, and will applaud and reward them before men and angels.-Nay, if he observe, that we form plans and make attempts to promote his cause and be serviceable to his people; even though he see good to disappoint our endeavours; he will kindly accept the zealous intention, and openly say,
“ Thou didst well that it was in thine “ heart.” “Let us not therefore be weary in well“ doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we “ faint not:” and “may we all find mercy of the " Lord in that day of retribution,” and have an abundant entrance into his kingdom of everlasting glory and felicity.
1 TIMOTHY, vi. 6.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
The desire of gain, in one form or another, is universal : for though no one can seek the true riches for himself, without disinterested love to God and his neighbour; yet love to himself and thirst after happiness cannot be extinguished; being essential to our nature as God originally constituted it, and not superinduced by the entrance of sin. If, however, the apostle's compendious maxim were generally believed, how many vain projects would be superseded! What fatigues, dangers, anxieties, envies, contentions, frauds, oppressions, wars, murders, and mischiefs might be prevented!
The context is worthy of our peculiar attention. The servants in those days were generally slaves; and it frequently happened that Christians were the property of pagans. Such a condition is commonly thought very wretched, and slaves have seldom escaped cruel usage: yet the apostle elsewhere says,
“Art thou called being a servant? care “ not for it.” The Christian slave is Christ's freed man; for, “if the Son make you free, then are ye “ free indeed:” but the ungodly master is in deplorable bondage; “ for he that committeth sin, is “ the servant of sin."
In this view of the subject the apostle says, " Let as many servants, as are under the yoke, “ count their own masters worthy of all honour: " that the name of God and his doctrine be not
blasphemed.” For if Christian servants behaved less respectfully to their masters, than others did; the heathens would blame their religion, as teaching them to violate the duties of their station. “ And they,” says he, “ that have believing mas
ters, let them not despise them, because they are “ brethren; but rather do them service, because
they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the “ benefit.” No doubt the involuntary servitude of those, who have not, by atrocious crimes forfeited their liberty, is inconsistent with the moral law of God; and if real christianity should become universal, slavery must be finally abolished. But the apostles were not legislators or civil magistrates : as ministers of religion, they taught men how to act in their several situations as matters then stood: and when the rulers embraced the gospel, it was proper they too should be taught their duty, and instructed to apply a legal and regular remedy to