صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

tional endowinents? But whatever it is, as long as he stands off from the cross, as long as he is satisfied to be anywhere and everywhere, rather than at the teet of Christ, he is glorying in his shame; he is minding earthly things. Nature is the vast receptacle of all impurity, as grace is of all loveliness and beauty. It feeds the lust of the eve and the pride of life, and keeps the whole soul chained down under the beggariy elements of the woria. It is only when the love of a sinner is drawn off from these waters of corruption, and attracted to the clear imperishable spring of life and immortality, that he ceases to make any creature of earth his glory.

First, then, every one who suffers with Christ, must be emptied of himself. Self is our king, our counsellor, our great carnal refuge in the storms, and winds, and heavings of the bosom of life. But this is the very chiefest of those idols that must be cast to the moles and to the bats. Whilst an unsubdued, an unholy, an unregenerate self keeps its ground in the soul, the earth under our feet is loose and trembling; the heavens above are covered with blackness; a thousand weapons are pointed at our unguarded and defenceless hearts; and thus we stand in jeopardy every hour. There is no evil that our humanity can experience, which is not either immediately or remotely connected with an indulgence of self; and there is no truth that we are less disposed to embrace. Well, if Christ is to be honoured, this must be dishonoured; if Christ is to reign, this must be dethroned; if Christ is to be heartily loved, this must be thoroughly abased. There can be no concord between slavery and freedombetween oppressive tyranny, and the dominion of love. There is, it is true, a serious conflict in the accomplishment of these things; but is it any new or strange matter for a spiritual soldier to be exercised in a spiritual warfare? I kuow not what the believer has to do in the world, but to fight under the conquering banner of Christ, and to glory in the Captain of his salvation. It is a conflict of suffering ; but what then? Had not Christ the endurance of it? He spared not either tvil, or strength, or blood; and He threw himself alone into the camp of principalities and powers, and fought his way through them all to the baptism wherewith he desired to be baptized. He suffered as the elect Head; and we, as members, must suffer with Christ.

Again, we must be emptied of our natural delight of those low joys that steal away the affections from God. The joy of the world—judge, dear brethren, what it is worth, by the thing with which it is compared. There is scarcely any thing so brief, so poor, so swiftly passing a sound, as the crackling of thorns under a pot. This is the comparison. To rest upon such a bubble, and call it joy, is just to fall into the delirium of men who all their lives live upon the barrenness of the ceremonial law, and call it Gospel Christianity; who hear the preaching of the cross, and call it foolishness. But shall I, therefore, bid you become strangers to all joy? Shall I fix upon Christ's people the badges of mourning, and say, “ Be ye henceforth men of a sad countenance ?" No; I would rather speak the Apostle's language ; “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Mourn, brethren, for your sins demand it; but be not mourners without hope. Remember, you may lift up your heads in the darkest moinents, for the Bridegroom is with you. Still there will be a roughriess and a steepness in your paths ; but you will find them easier at every step, by keeping a steady eye upon Christ, who was not to be beaten out of his course by suffering, but " for the joy that was set before him,” the joy, not of wearing a brighter crown, but of snatching brands out of the burning, “ endured the cross, despised the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of God."

But we must be farther emptied of our own righteousness. Observe, the spirit of holiness is to be worked in us; but the righteousness which is of faith is to be worked for us. Holiness, as the fruit of a sanctifying Christ, is that which of all other things you should desire; but the justifying righteousness which worked salvation for the sinner, is the exclusive property of the Son of God. To touch the ark of this glory is death. If God, brethren, has given you wisdom, or spiritual proficiency, or spiritual illumination, above your fellows, take good heed that you do not anchor your trust upon either of these, or think they can plead before God for you as saviours: you may be thankful for the gift, but to assume that the gift, wonderful as it is, has the merit of the Giver, in ever so small a degree, is to trespass upon the sovereignty of God, and secretly to cherish the lie that salvation is of works. It is no easy thing to be drawn off from our own conceits, to tread the depths of his mercy, to be driven off from our own fulness, to live upon the fulness of Christ : and, indeed, 60 averse are we to the task of doing what is contrary to nature, that it takes many hard stripes to bring us to it. But this is the believer's trial: thus it becometh him to “ suffer with Christ."


I have now, in the last place, to consider whAT 18 MEANT BY THE Saviour

Brethren, the meaning of this great mystery may be told you in the letter of Scripture; but the spiritual privilege who shall tell you! The glorification of a sinner is for eternity, and


, not for time; it is the all-important, all-blessed, and all-sufficient result of the bringing in an everlasting righteousness by Jesus Christ our Lord; and the glory to be received and possessed is 80 entirely and exclusively his own, that none others but those whom he has adopted in covenant love as his children, can be sharers in it. The brightness and the radiance of the redeemed will not be owing to the bright lights of heaven; or to the refulgence that may be thrown around them from the crystal wells of the eternal city: but they shine from their high union with the Son of God. They are not lesser suns in a lower firmament, whilst He is a distinct Sun, and immensely above them; but in this way I may, perhaps, by a feeble similitude, express my thought: He is

I the only Sun transcendantly glorious; they are the poured-out beams of it; and so, from their mystical oneness with him, transcendantly happy. Yes, brethren, if our lives shall be hid in him, we shall live as he lives, and be holy as he is holy; and the crown on our heads will be as unfading as it is on His.

The whole force of this concluding Scripture rests on that one word “ together.” Once apprehend what it is to suffer with Christ, and thou wilt readily perceive, that the principle which attaches every suffering believer to his Lord, will be the same unbroken bond in their glorification. It is on both sides a union of love. From God-man it is love freely given; from the ransomed sinner the same love freely restored. He loved the chosen flock of his pasture, because it was his sovereign pleasure to do it: we love him because he first loved us; and it is not only declarations of abounding grace that we have heard from his lips, but his gracious purpose towards ns in respect to glory.


Thus he speaks in John, xvii. ; and thus he pleads for the lovers of his cross mightily with the Father : “Sanctify them through thy truth ; that they may be one as thou Father art in me and I in thee, that they may be one in us. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them." And then he ascends from earthly to heavenly privileges, and shows what a vast field of blessings lie has in store for them that shall believe on his name: “ Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” And here is the word of Jesus, and that word pledged to you, that if you are children you shall be heirs with him, in a close and indissoluble union; fellow-sufferers in a weak humanity, and glorified together in the strength of those covenant bonds, which are immutable and eternal.

This state of yet unseen, untasted, and perhaps unwished-for blessedness, may be ours. The vilest, the weakest, the most despairing, are not too low for i'. But you have heard, what the necessary step is, to arrive at it. “ If so be that we suffer with Christ, that we may be also glorified together.” Ah! brethren, how many are there whom we dearly love, for whose souls we are wrestling in prayer daily, who dream of this glory, but who have never realized the suffering ; who are ready to seize upon mercy, but who hate the way that points to it. It is sad to measure the Christianity of such as these, to know how largely they are in need of every thing, and to see how recklessly they imagine that they are in need of nothing; who cannot fix upon one point wherein Christ is a precious Saviour, or tell in what one way they are distinguished from an ungodly world. This is poor knowledge, miserable wisdom, for dying sinners. I never yet read a Scripture which told me, “ Whatever thou art, be at ease, O creature of sense; poor in spirit, or high-minded-deep in the world, or crucified to its power-thou shalt, in any case, have your portion in glory.” But thus runs the word of the everlasting Gospel: If ye be dead with Christ, ye shall also live with him—“ If so be that ye suffer with him, ye shall be glorified together."




[ocr errors]


" And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him

in the ark; and God made a wind to pass over the earth and the waters asswaged. And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”—Genesis, viii. 1 and 20.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

This passage introduces us to a new world. A period of sixteen hundred and fifty years had now elapsed since the creation. During that space the great scheme of infinite mercy, based upon the covenant of grace, was gradually unfolded. The Redeemer, “whose goings forth were of old from everlasting," had commenced his mediatorial work. The Holy Spirit, although not yet beheld under any visible symbol, sustained his condescending office in the regeneration of the soul. A Church, consisting of true believers in “ the Lamb slain from the foundation of the orld," was formed. Sacrifices were instituted, as a significant part of religious worship, as an expressive act of faith in the great doctrine of the atonement, on the part of those who presented thero, and an instructive system of appropriate types of the future coming of Christ, who was “ to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Abel was gone to glory as the first martyr to the truth. “ Enoch was translated that he should not see death." And many a saint, though less distinguished, but not less known to Him“ who is the head of his body the Church,” had entered into rest, having been “ redeemed from aniong men, as the first fruits unto God and the Lamb." But whilst the antediluvian Church was thus gradually rising under the agency of the Son of God, and of the Spirit of God, by the accession of converted persons, principally among the descendants of Seth, the ungodly race of Cain were rapidly multiplying in numbers and increasing in sin, till at length the earth was overspread with infidelity and licentiousness, groaned under the accumulated burden of human guilt, and was ripe for the sickle of destruction. To accelerate this fatal crisis, the professed believers in the promised Saviour, called “ the sons of God" in a former chapter, instead of maintaining their integrity by an unflinching adherence to their religious principles, thereby exhibiting a bold and determined front against the corruptions of the age, 80 far declined in the tone of their piety as to form matrimonial alliances with these licentious pagans, termed “the daughters of men." The consequences of such delinquency were, a total departure from the faith and practice of tneir pious forefathers—an awful amalgamation of the Church with the world—the abolition of the worship of God—the disappearance of true religion centering in

the sacrifice of Christ, and formed by the Divine Spirit, and, with the solitary exception of Noah and his family, a total abandonment of piety and morality to the unbridled sway of corrupt passions and appetites.

The effect of such reckless depravity was tremendous. The Spirit of God was insulted and grieved Mercy, long slighted and contemned, threw down the olive branch, and retired. Justice, fearlessly defied, came forth to the vacant seat of divine administration. The ark, designed as a refuge for the faithful Noah, being completed, the favoured family, headed by the venerable patriarch, and accompanied by a chosen number of all the diversified classes of the animal creation, entered it; and the judgments of the Lord begun. “ The windows of heaven" are opened, and the skies, forty days and forty nights, pour forth an unabating torrent. The fountains of the great deep, hitherto restrained, are unsealed; and the sea, bursting its embankment, deluges the plains, and gains upon the highest hills. The beasts of the field and creeping things of the earth run to and fro in wild confusion, seeking in vain for a shelter. The strong and healthy among men, in a phrenzy of despair, flee to the mountains, leaving the aged and infirm to the incursions of the flood. Parents, with their children clinging to them, in terror pursue the same course, drenched by the pitiless storm ; some failing in the attempt, others gaining soine neighbouring height, but only to perish there. Still the rain descends : the flood rises ; provisions fail; one spot of elevated land after another disappears, till at last every refuge is destroyed-every creature is engulphed—and all, all is silent, but the hoarse triumph of the storm. Thus you perceive, my dear hearers, that God has judgments as well as mercies, and is faithful to his threatenings as well as to his promises. “ Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished.” Though the Great Eternal bear long, he will not bear always. Where now was the arrogant boasting of these impenitent sinners ? Where was their security from danger who thought of concealment amid the masses of an ungodly world and who perhaps said, when expostulated with, as many sneeringly reply in the present day, “ We shall be as well off as our neighbours ?"

Thus the old world was destroyed by a deluge; a solemn type of its final destruction by a sea of fire at the last day; when “the earth and all that is therein shall be burnt up." The Church, now reduced to one family, was delivered from its scoffing enemies. The works and servants of Satan, hitherto triumphant, were overthrown, and brought to nought; thereby proving the truth of the promise, that “the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent,” whilst the grace, faithfulness, and power of the Redeemer, were strikingly displayed in the preservation of Noah; which shews us that however few in number, exposed, despised, unpopular, " the Lord knoweth them that are his."

Whilst the eye, traversing this watery waste, thus surveys the justice and mercy of the Most High, there is one object in particular, and only one, which remains untouched by the destroying angel—uninjured by the storm from above, or the waves frora beneath ; it is the ark, fit emblem of the Church in the world. By whom was it planned ? By Him who is the author of salvation How was it formed ? Like the great cause of religion, by human instrumentality under divine superintendency. What did it contain ? The family of God--the servants of the Redeemer—the holy seed--the only link by which the old and

« السابقةمتابعة »