« السابقةمتابعة »
And his servants believe and taste his goodness, and, in the happy sense and experience of his love, feed continually upon the word, as new-born babes, for the growth of their Christian life; to keep their lamps burning, to have their faith strengthened, their hope animated, their charity warmed and enlivened, and to fashion them. selves day by day, both outwardly and inwardly, to the holiness of it. This, and nothing but this, is conversion ; this is your only rule, though you turn yourselves into never so many shapes to avoid it; this is the way in which you are to walk with Christ, if you would belong to him, and have any share in his mercies. If you think of getting to heaven in any other, you are miserably deceived ; and must not pretend to take St. Peter, or any of his fellow apostles, for your guides; for they all speak the same things, with one mouth, from the same Spirit, and have no hope, nor message of grace, for any but those who come to the Lord Jesus Christ for it, love him in sincerity, and diligently use all the means of growing up under him to greater measures of faith and holiness.
But, nevertheless, if you have not attained to this, and do not find within yourselves that the words belong to you as believers, still they have a cail and a blessing for you. Let them speak to you as unbelievers, to convince you of your wants and danger. For it is one end of them to stir you up to repentance and calling upon God, and to set his mercies before you, that you may seek after them, and be made partakers of Christ and his benefits. Does St. Peter exhort you to " lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil-speakings ?” and did you never seriously purpose it? Have you no will, no prayer for this? Does he say, “ As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby ?” and is that word nothing to you, either not desired and applied for the pure end of spiritual growth, or totally neglected, and many foolish pleas advanced to excuse your ignorance of it? When you hear that the ground and reason of your readiness to comply with both parts of the exhortation is to be found in your having tasted that the Lord is gracious, have you nothing in your hearts to answer to this? Has Jesus no comfort for you, no power over you, nor place in your affections ? Do you know no more of him, than that you were baptized in his name, and taught to repeat it in your Creed, but have so little sense and belief of your want of him to save you from your sins, to bring you by repentance to faith, and by faith to holiness, that if you were to be baptized now, it would be the last thing you would think of?
If all this is against you, let St. Peter tell you of it now, what blessings you come short of, what grace you despise, and how vainly you pretend to the name and hope of Christians. And, oh! think what you are, and what your condition is now, while I am speaking, that
t you may make haste and escape for your lives; fly to Jesus as your refuge from death, and, having tasted how gracious he is, give all diligence to make your calling and election sure, by “ laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evil-speakings; and as newborn babes, desiring the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” The Lord grant it, for his merey's
. sake! and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore !
To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of
men, but chosen of God, and precious ; Ye, also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, un
holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter, ii. 4, 5.
St. Peter, in the foregoing chapter, puts the Christians, to whom he wrote this epistle, in mind of the great benefits they had by their belief of the Gospel, and of the advantages they enjoyed above all that went before them, by living at a time when the whole counsel of God for the salvation of mankind was fully opened, and all his promises verified in the person and coming of Christ, to the end he might stir them up to live suitably to the mercy they had received, and “ give all diligence to make their calling and election sure.” The Spirit of God was strong upon him, and his heart so full of the glorious subject, that he could not contain his thoughts, but breaks out at once into this devout strain of thanksgiving : 46 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," chap. i. 3 ; which hope, founded chiefly upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, whereby he was declared to be the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, with power, he tells them, was no less than that of “ an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them, and for all who shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto
salvation." “Of which salvation,” he says farther, “ the prophets," who delivered it to the world many ages before, “ inquired” and searched “ diligently;" having an earnest desire to know as much as they could of what · they were inspired by the Holy Ghost to declare ; but not able clearly to understand it, or not with so great advantage as those who saw it in its full manifestation and accomplishment. To which purpose Christ said, speaking to the disciples, “ Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see these things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear these things which ye hear, and have not heard them ;” Matt. xiii. 17. They saw them, indeed, but darkly, and afar off. They had the same faith in Christ, the same promises, and the same hope of deliverance and redemption by Christ, before his coming, that we have now; as it is said of Abraham, in particular, that " he saw the day of Christ, and was glad,” John, viii. 56 ; but then he was revealed to them less perfectly, and the promises of God could not be placed before their eyes in 'so strong a point of light as they were to those who, by seeing him in person, had them confirmed beyond all doubt, and, as it were, put into their hands by actual possession.
May I speak a word to you upon this? Will you hear me? Has God a call and a blessing for the souls in this congregation? Oh! that we might all join our prayers for it with one mouth! Think, my brethren, what cause you have to bless God for appointing your lot, and bringing you into the world at that time when all these things, every thing foretold by the prophets, relating to your salvation by Christ, is fulfilled, done, and past. The Saviour is not now preached to you as he who was to be born of a virgin, and die for our sins; but we know, by infallible testimony, that he did come into the world at the time appointed of the Father, proved himself to be the Son
of God by the miracles he'wrought, suffered upon the cross, rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent down the Holy Ghost to abide with us for ever. We have not, indeed, seen him with our bodily eyes ; but remember what he says, “ Blessed are they that have not
, seen, and yet have believed,” John, xx. 29'; blessed are they who hear and receive what is written of him, preached, and declared to them, “ for there shall be a performance of all that has been told them.” They shall find him in his gracious presence in their hearts, “ turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God," reviving them with a sense of forgiveness, confirming them in the love of holiness, sweeteiring prosperity, and even affliction, to them, making all things work together for their good, and cheering their souls with a blessed hope of seeing him in heaven, and praising God for him to all eternity. I say, know your advantage, be thankful for
your privilege, behold your birthright; for St. Peter writes and speaks to you as much as he did to the Christians of his own time, if you were prepared for it, in these blessed words: “ Whom having not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet, believing, ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls ;” receiving it in part now, in your deliverance from the curse and power of sin; and if you " gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you, at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” when he comes to reward his faithful servants, sure to receive it hereafter, in the fulness of glory at God's right hand. These things, we are told, “ the angels desire to look into.” They did not know them once; they know them now only in the way that we do, as revealed to them by Christ's coming in our flesh; and the mystery of his incarnation and death, the mercy and wisdom of