« AnteriorContinuar »
example. He sets before them the tender care of the Redeemer about him in all his afflictions. He assures them that, even when all men forsook him, the Lord stood by him. He tells them that Christ would be equally tender of all his people to the end. He assures them that under all their sufferings Christ would support and comfort them by his gracious presence, and at last receive them to himself. Whatever their outward man might suffer, he would take care of what they had committed to him against that day.
• This text would admit of a diffusive method, and a large discussion. We only propose to offer some observations to illustrate these precious words, and then subjoin some application. The following observations may be offered.
1. Faith in all its actings ultimately eyes a Person. It fixes upon the Redeemer. The apostle says, I know whom I have believed. Faith may differ in degrees of strength and activity in different persons; but never in its nature. The primary object of faith is the Divine testimony. It believes what God has spoken, and, taken in a large sense, includes an assent to the precepts and threatenings. But as these, strictly speaking, do not belong to the Gospel, the glad tidings of pure revelation, faith chiefly assents to the promises and the glorious doctrines which explain them. Possessed of faith, the soul considers the promises as addressed to sinners without exception, and to itself in particular. As they have the nature of an offer, faith assents to their
veracity, desires the good in them, and is inclined to receive the benefit.
As promises must be made by some person; faith eyes God as making the promises of salvation. As the Gospel knows nothing of God out of Christ; faith never goes beyond the Gospel for its information, and therefore always views him only as in Christ. As God deals with sinners only in Christ, faith never deals with God but in him. It embraces him as the one Mediator. It sees all the promises originally made to him, and ratified by his blood. It perceives him able and willing to accomplish them all, and accordingly receives and rests upon him.
2. No sooner does faith discover Christ, than it commits to him great and important concerns, assured that he, and no other, can be trusted. Faith never sees Christ and continues inactive. Paul got a saving sight of Jesus of Nazareth, and committed his soul to him. It is in the light of faith that men discover the importance of eternal concerns. It looks at the things that are unseen, opens up eternity, and the different abodes in the other world. Believing the Lord's word, the person sees that he is under the curse, deserves hell, and that, unless powerfully delivered, there he must land. He now discovers the vanity of every thing else if the soul be lost. He sees that it is on the brink of destruction, and that instead of losing time he has need to fly for refuge. By faith he is persuaded too that unless Christ interpose and save the soul he is in a desperate situation. God is angry, Satan rages, he can do nothing for
himself, and vain is the help of all the creatures. He can do nothing to remove God's wrath, or procure his favour. All refuge failing, faith solemnly commits the soul as the person's chief concern into the hands of the Lord Jesus. It never did or can do less. Without doing this it would not be faith. It may do it in a more vigorous manner after being long exercised: but still it does it. The first and the last words of faith are the same. In every period it uniformly says, Receive my spirit, or Into thine hand I commit my soul. It may change its accent or tone; but it never changes its language. The manner in which it commits the soul to Christ is worthy of notice. It looks around. Considering the person's condition and danger, it commits from necessity; and considering Christ's ability and willingness, from propriety. Viewing his death and atonement, his loving heart, and his arms of mercy stretched out, faith is persuaded that nothing can be more proper for a perishing soul than to put herself into the hands of a merciful Saviour. It is done. Impressed with this necessity and propriety, the sinner commits himself with vast satisfaction and pleasure. He has a ravishing joy corresponding to what the weary and heavy laden experience when they get rid of their burdens, or the man-slayer when he entered the city of refuge. Having entrusted the soul in the hands of the Redeemer, the believer views his own action with jealous eye, not grudging what he has done, but deeply concerned to know that he has done it in a right manner. Having once done it, and having set his foot on firm ground, he resolves in all time
coming to attempt the same exercise, and avoid the contrary as death and destruction.
3. In committing these important concerns into the hands of the Redeemer, faith has chiefly in its eye the day of death and of judgment. Paul committed his soul against that day. Eternity has the grand and leading influence on religion. The one prospers in proportion as we are impressed with the other. While thoughtless and unconcerned about eternity, we will always be indifferent about Christ. It is no wonder that the last day makes such impression upon the awakened soul as to engross the attention, and make it be spoken of with eminence and emphasis. It is the day when the plans of Providence, and the schemes of creatures, will all be finished. It will never be succeeded by another. In the transactions of that day every rational creature is deeply concerned. His condition will be solemnly and irreversibly decided for eternity. The day of death is of equal importance with that day. At death the state is decided. Then the soul appears before the Judge, and receives sentence. It will be recognized at the last day. It is this consideration which makes death so important. When it approaches, faith rouses itself, collects all its vigour, and loudly cries for mercy. With remarkable ardour it repeats its language, "Receive my soul." Why all these vehement exertions? The day which it always had in view is now at hand, and the prize will be gained, or lost for eternity!
That faith has this day in its eye is evident from its exercise respecting others. The best thing Paul
could do for another was to seek that he might find mercy in that day. Remarkable is that prayer in behalf of Onesiphorus, "The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day." Mercy then is crowning, and all who receive it are everlastingly and infinitely happy. That faith has that day in its eye is also evident from the exercise of believers about themselves. At conversion, being fully persuaded that they must be judged by God, and sensible that they cannot stand on any thing of their own; they put their souls into Christ's hands as a depositum and trust to be kept by him against that day, presented by him in that decisive period, and be kept under his immediate care during the final judgment. Christ receives the trust, and gives the highest evidence at last that he was worthy of it. Well may he address the believer who put his soul into his hand, and say, There is thine own with interest; I have let no ill befall it, I have neither lost it, nor suffered any to pluck it out of my hand: when ready to go astray I brought it back, and never allowed it to wander within the flood-mark of Divine wrath when cited before the Judge I kept it in my hand, and answered myself: now, enter into the joys of thy Lord: heaven and all my fulness are thine! No doubt faith commits the soul for time, and the journey through the wilderness. The believer puts himself into Christ's hand for duty and trial, difficulty and danger; but still with an eye to the day of death and of judgment. His constant language is, "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. My flesh and my heart