صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

severing thus in the faith of Christ and in obedience to him, he will enable us to find rest unto our souls: He will teach us the insufficiency of all earthly things, and his own power and willingness to bestow it. Thus we shall enjoy communion with him, and experience a blessed reality in religion, and possess that peace "which the world can neither give nor take away,"




Col. i. 28.

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

THE office of a minister of Christ is highly important, and the relation between him and his flock is of the most intimate kind. It is his office to watch over their souls as one that must give account, and deliver to them the word of God, by which they are to become partakers of eternal life. It is his duty to exhort, to reprove, to warn, to teach, with all patience and longsuffering. Whether, then, we consider the end of his labours or the subject of his discourses, we shall see them to be of the utmost importance, and such as to justify that earnestness and authority in the manner of his preaching, which, were not the nature of his office considered, might appear extravagant and assuming.

In my text the Apostle refers to these three points:

I. The end of a minister's preaching-"To present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."

II. The subject of his preaching, by which this end is to be accomplished-"Whom we preach." And, III. The manner of his preaching-"Warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom."

On each of these points I shall make a few observations, praying that the Holy Spirit, from whose influence only our preaching can derive any real efficacy, would be pleased to render what may be said effectual in producing the great design of that Gospel which is intrusted to us.

I. The end of a minister's preaching is to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

The mission of Christ upon earth, as a Saviour, supposes man to be a fallen and ruined creature: it implies that he is in a corrupt state, a servant of sin; and therefore in need of a Redeemer from its guilt and power. It supposes further, that those who are made partakers of the salvation of Christ are regenerate; have become new creatures in him, and lead a new life. But as this great change is not accomplished in an instantaneous manner, but, like the ordinary operations of the Divine power, gradually and by the use of means; so there are different stages of advancement, according to which a Christian may be said to be in an imperfect or a more perfect state. Thus the Apostle, explaining Christian perfection in his Epistle to the Ephesians, compares it to the state of a man who has attained his full maturity of strength. God has given to the several members of his church various gifts, all of which contribute, in their appointed way, "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till they all come, in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." From this statement,

St. Paul derives the exhortation to his converts, that "thenceforth they be no more children: but that, speaking the truth in love, they should grow up into him in all things which is the Head, even Christ."

We see, then, that the term perfection, as used by the Apostle, does not mean a freedom from all sin, but only a higher degree of knowledge, faith, and grace. It is opposed to the imperfect and weak state of man, when he first receives the Gospel.

Now, though, in this world, a Christian cannot, in the literal meaning of the word, become perfect; that is, complete in knowledge, faith, love, and holiness, any more than a man's bodily strength or his natural wisdom can become infinite: yet there is a degree of maturity and advancement which all real Christians enjoy, fully justifying the sense in which the Apostle has used the word: and it is the office of a minister of the Gospel, by instructing, warning, and exhorting his people, to present them thus perfect in Christ Jesus. This perfection, then, may be considered as opposed to partial, an unstable, or a defective obedience to Christ.

He who is not yet arrived at a degree of maturity and establishment in Christ, is often partial in his obedience. He selects some duties which it is most easy for him to perform, while he omits others which are more difficult and require greater self-denial. He may be kind and compassionate to his fellow-creatures; but he is disposed to a compliance with the sinful habits of the world, and has not risen above the fear of man. He may be strict and just in his dealings; but he is slothful and careless in the improvement of his time. He may be punctual in attending the ordinances of grace, but not sufficiently watchful over his conduct in the management of his family. He may possess in some respects the image of Christ, and yet not the whole image. As the character I am describing is not that of a hypocrite, but of a weak Christian, I do not suppose that he wilfully omits any known

« السابقةمتابعة »