صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

of misery in the world-fervent in devotion, strong in faith, and believing the promises of God, abounding in hope, and fervent in good-will towards his fellow-creatures, how can he but be happy? Examine any one of these particulars singly, you will find it sufficient to fill the heart with tranquillity. Benevolence towards our fellow-creatures will produce it by depriving the heart of every angry passion, and leading us to sympathize in all the happiness of our fellow-creatures. The hope of glory will gild every prospect in life, and render all is afflictions light. Trust in God will impart abiding comfort to us, "for God will keep him in perfect peace who trusteth in him." Above all, the love of God is an unceasing source of happiness; for this will make us satisfied with every dispensation of our Heavenly Father, and gladden our hearts in the view of his infinite goodness. But in the true servant of Christ all these means of tranquillity are united; every powerful motive to contentment; every source of pure and real enjoyment, added to the brightest hope of glory,

Alas! why are we so unmindful of the character and privileges of a real Christian? Why do we so little enjoy the peace of God? The answer is obvious: "We are deserting Him who is the fountain of living water, and hewing out to ourselves broken cisterns which will hold no water." We seek for happiness in the world; we are not solicitous to have the kingdom of God established with power in our hearts, we are not true believers in Christ, and therefore we enjoy not the consolations of the righteous. But there is a peace which passeth all understanding. There is a joy in the Holy Ghost unspeakable and full of glory; and it is the shame of men, as well as their misfortune, that they know so little of this joy, and desire so little to obtain it.

In conclusion, let us learn to beware of narrow and defective views of religion. It is a subject which requires our loftiest conceptions. It is worthy of God, from whom it proceeds: it is most honourable to man,

whom it raises to be partaker of the Divine nature. How has it been degraded, and its glory obscured! What various parties and sects have singled out some minute part of it, and magnified that part to the disparagement of the rest, as if the truth of God wholly consisted in a form or ceremony, or a peculiar mode of worship. Let religion be taken in its full and proper sense, and all objections to it are obviated: it includes equally faith and practice, worship and holiness; love to God and love to man, duty to God, and duty to our neighbour; peace and purity of soul. It comprehends "whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is lovely, whatsoever is of good report." Let us not injure it by substituting a part, however excellent that part may be, for the whole of this Divine and glorious system. Christ, the Author of our religion, and the Pattern of all that are righteous, contained in himself and communicates to his people, the highest degree of excellence of every kind. His religion is a constant progress to perfection: it is at once the resemblance of that better state above, and a continued preparation for it.



Col. i. 18, 19.

That in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.

THE salvation of our souls is of such infinite importance, that we cannot be too solicitous as to the means of securing it. And when we are told that it must be effected, solely by the power and at the intercession of One who seemed in most respects a man like ourselves, and suffered an ignominious death, it is both natural and reasonable to inquire what extraordinary virtue he possessed, or whence he derived the wonderful power of arresting the arm of Divine Justice, and bestowing pardon for offences against God; of bidding the despairing sinner hope, and of promising to wretched mortals eternal life and the happiness of heaven. An answer to this inquiry is given in the words of which my text is a part: "We have redemption," says the Apostle, "through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." And to satisfy us, that the blood of Christ may

possess an efficacy to which no other atonement could pretend, the extraordinary dignity and glory of his nature are plainly revealed. "He is the image of the invisible God;" an image or likeness such as a mirror represents; an exact copy of the Divine original, resembling him in glory, in attributes, in dominion. "The first-born of every creature;" first born, not as being himself a creature, and merely the first of created beings, but as Heir or Lord of the universe-expressions which, as we learn from Justinian, were anciently synonimous with each other. This passage therefore corresponds with another of the same Apostle, in which Christ is styled "the Heir of all things, for," or because, "by him all things were created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible," as the lights of the firmament and all this lower world, "and invisible," as the whole host of spiritual beings, "whether they be" styled "thrones or dominions, principalities or powers, all things were created by him" as the agent, "and for him" as the end of their creation. "And he is before all things," in respect to his eternal existence, "and by him," by the constant exertion of his power and providence, "all things consist." And as he is thus the Lord of the universe by creation, so is he likewise by redemption the Lord of the church. "He is the Head of the body the church, who is the beginning;" the author of the Christian dispensation; the first born from the dead," rising as the first fruits of that resurrection to life and immortality in which his redeemed shall have part through him, and thus Lord of the church above, "that in all things he might have the pre-eminence; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;" all fulness of power to create, to redeem, to preserve, to govern, to save his people.

Here, then, we have the ground explained on which we may safely trust in Christ as an all-sufficient Saviour. It is Him, who is the image of the invisible God, and Lord of all things in heaven and earth, on whose atonement we are required to rely. It is to Him,

who is ordained to be head over all things to the church, that we are directed to look for victory over all our spiritual enemies. And indeed there is an obvious propriety in the appointment, that the same illustrious person who was the Creator of the world, should also be its Redeemer that he who gave it life should be the restorer of that life when it was forfeited-that he who will judge the world at the last day should be the same person who both formed it by his power and redeemed it by his blood; "For if Christ was the immediate Creator and Governor of the world, what reason can be imagined why God should ever take this authority out of the hands of his Son, or set up another to have dominion over any part of the creation which by natural right belonged to him who made all things. Were we to consider one person in the Holy Trinity as our Creator, and another as our Redeemer, it would be extremely to the diminution of the honour and regard due to the Creator; for the blessing of redemption would greatly outweigh the benefit of creation, and it would be natural for us to prefer the love that delivered us from the evils and miseries of the world, to that which placed us in them."* But now we see all those things which bear any relation to man, and call for his confidence, his gratitude, and his love centering in the same perThat Divine Being who breathed into us the breath of life, who has been our constant Preserver and our bountiful Benefactor; to whom we owe every blessing which renders life desirable; he it is who took upon him our nature, and redeemed us by his blood; he it is who intercedes in our behalf at the right hand of the Father; he it is who sends the holy influence of the Spirit to sanctify our corrupt nature; his presence is ever with us to defend and bless us; by his word we are instructed, by his ordinances edified, by his promises comforted and supported. Into his hands we commend our parting spirit; he receives them in the realm of glory; he shall raise our vile bodies and fashion them like unto


• Sherlock, vol .1. p. 48.

« السابقةمتابعة »