صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


linked his divinity to human nature. We read in Psalm ii. of “ the decree" by which the world he had formed was to be subject to his power.

Christ to be a king, enthroned upon his holy hill of Zion, and hence he was to exercise his sway over his subjects. But he was to obtain them in the way of intercession : “ Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." King though he was, yet, at his Father's command, by intercession on the ground of his conquest over death, and sin, and hell, was Christ to obtain his subjects. And therefore, when any one is willing to submit himself to Christ's sway, and to own him as his Lord and Saviour, he may derive comfort from believing that he has been given to Christ in answer to his own request, and that he is willing to receive Christ because he has been made so in the day of Christ's power.

Then again, Christ lives as an Intercessor, to secure to those he loves the possession of the graces and glory he has purchased by his blood. He commits their cause not into their hands, but retains it in his own, and acts as the administrator of the testament which at death he bequeathed. Is there any gift or grace which any of his people stand in need of? As the purchase of his blood Christ claims it at the Father's hand, and himself bestows it upon his waiting people. And the doctrine is to bring us to his footstool, in anxious and believing expectation. What good thing do any of us stand in need of? It is Christ who will give it, in virtue of his intercession: he has already asked and secured it for us : and should we not apply for it, and expect it at his hand ? On the ground of what Christ has asked and has obtained, the language of invitation is addressed to every one of us, “ Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find.” “ Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.” For Christ lives and intercedes with the Father, that he may execute his own will and testament, that whatever he bequeathed at his death for those for whom he lived and died, they may receive. He lives to execute what he died to enforce.

Then, lastly, Christ lives as an Intercessor to maintain his people's cause, and to answer the indictments which may be preferred against them before the supreme judicature of the Almighty. Many are the accusations brought against Christ's people before that high tribunal, for not one of which they themselves could render an excuse. For there is the great Accuser of the brethren preferring perpetual allegations : carrying his records of every sin and every frailty, and pleading hard for a verdict against them. And there is an inexorable enemy arraigning us for every idle word and every wayward wish, and every obliquity of thought or deed. And there is conscience, with all the light which Gospel truth has given it into the evil of sin, perpetually arraigning us of high treason against our acknowledged King and Head. And we can have no excuse to urge in arrest of judgment, but ourselves must needs stand convicted. And therefore, were it not for one who will appear as Advocate, and take upon him to answer for us, and to quash all these indictments, it is clear that they would sink the very holiest person amongst us to the lowest hell. But Christ stands at the right hand of severe justice, and to quash the allegations as they are preferred. “For if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins.” He speaks not only to the general indictment, but to every single plea as it arises. Daily and hourly does Christ appeal, when ever and anon as they are overtaken with a fault. the great aceuser spreads his dragon wings, and flies



to inform against us, and endeavour to cast us out of favour with our God: but there to meet and discomfit Satan stands Jesus as the Lamb that has been slain, the accredited advocate and agent of his people; and at each charge he meekly points to his crimson wounds, and to the snowy vesture he wrought out to cover our sins : and his plea is accepted, and the Accuser of the brethren driven away

foiled, and a verdict of acquittal pronounced amidst the plaudits of the angelic auditory.

Now I need not urge that both the argument of Christ's resurrection as attesting the completion and acceptance of his work as Mediator, and the argument of Christ's intercession as exhibiting his watchful advocacy on our behalf, suggest appeals for grateful confidence in Christ. They shew how his work as Surety is brought to bear upon the exigences of his people ; how what he did and suffered are made available to their salvation ; and how ready and effectual is the help which he is empowered and willing to bestow.

In conclusion, I would ask, how far we have reason for thinking that we are interested in the fruits of Christ's resurrection, and are the subjects of his prevailing advocacy? Do we feel that there is an inward witness which testifies to our fellowship with Christ as they who have been quickened, justified, and regenerated, and in some measure sanctified with him? Can we call Christ Lord, and King, and Saviour, God our heavenly Father, the Spirit our guide, and appeal to the testimony of the last mentioned witness in proof that we are risen with Christ from sin, and desire to seek those things which are above ? Are our hearts conversant with the scenes where Jesus this day reposes his glorified humanity? If we had the wings of the dove, would we speed away to the shadows of his throne, and the refuge of his bosom? Do we desire to be found in Christ, to be associated with him in holiness, as well as in glory?' Are we willing that sin should be mortified in our mortal bodies, that we may escape its blandishments and its transitory joys, as well as its sting and its panishment ? Is it our wish in life and in death to be only the Lord's? If so, we are to look above in hope ; for there dwells that risen form which is the pledge of our own resurrection and life; there intercedes that prevailing Ad-. vocate whose appeal never was neglected, and who is this day urging appeals on our behalf. Our cause is in the hands of one who shall not fail, one who will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax, who will yet bring forth judgment unto truth. And, remember, brethren, that he intercedes for grace that sanctifies, as well as for grace that pardons and accepts you; that your sanctification is a plea with Christ to-day, that the gifts for which he asks he is himself both able and willing to bestow. Therefore let your expectations keep pace with your wishes, and let

your prayers go hand in hand with your hopes. The more you wish for, the more you may expect; the more you expect, the more you should



your expectations be based upon Christ's promises and sufficiency, and your prayers be inflamed by Christ's intercession. Because you need great things, expect great things; and because you are encouraged to expect great things, be sure to ask for them. You are to pray because Christ prays. And when you have infinitè love, seconded by infinite power, and backed by infinite faithfulness what is there that you are not warranted to expect ? May God bless his word Amen.

judgments." Again : “ Seven times a day"—not involving the particular an] precise number, seven; but using the term as the mystic figure for continuity and frequency—“seven times a day do I praise thee.” You may refer again to the well-known case of Daniel, with regard to whom we are informed, that his adversaries could find nothing against him, excepting with regard to the law of his God; and knowing his habits of prayer, they caused the passing of an edict, that no man was to offer a prayer for the space of thirty days, except to the king of Persia. “ Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God."

But without referring you, as we might, at large to the example of prophets and apostles, turn to the history of that Jesus, who became incarnate in human nature, not merely as our sacrifice, but as our example. He was emphatically a man of prayer; and prayer constituted the grand resort and the one chosen refuge of his soul; that by its energy he might be fully prepared for the work that was given him to do.

Assigning, my brethren, to these various considerations their just and legiti. mate weight, it will then be perceivedl at once, that all persons who engage in the holy employment of supplication but fitfully, and occasionally, and at infrequent and distant intervals of time, are substantially guilty of dishonouring and restraining it before God. The various reasons which are alleged for infrequent exercise in this vocation, are all impertinent, frivolous, and inadmissible. Let them be examined impartially, as they are presented by men in various forms; and it will always be discovered ultimately that they proceed, and that they arise, from the indisposition of the mind to prayer; so that whatever inay be alleged in apology, does only seal and aggravate the guilt. In the case, my hearers, of your own personal inattention (and I speak to none who would not plead before God guilty to the charge of inattention), I am persuaded, that strict integrity will compel you to acknowledge the insincerity of any palliating or extenuating plea; and to confess, that your neglect in this matter has arisen because the likings of your passions have been at the time elsewhere than in communion with God and at the throne of grace. I beseech you, my friends, do not strive to deceive yourselves ; strive not to deceive your fellow men; strive not, especially, to deceive that God who searcheth the heart, and who declares that he will not be mocked. Remember that his command is paramount; and that, whatever else be overlooked and forgotten, he will have no neglect and no avoidance in prayer.

Thirdly, he is guilty of restraining prayer before God, who excludes from his supplications the matters which are properly the objects of prayer. Surely, my brethren, the exclusion of those matters in the exercise of this holy employment which God has oft-times commanded, must properly come within the range and circuit of the allegation now before us. Whilst the exclusiveness of a spirit of narrowness and contraction are most solemnly and deeply to be deprecated and condemned, permit me just to mention some of those various objects which men are apt to exclude in their professed devotions, and in the exclusion of which we affirm and aver that there is sin

There is, for instance, the exclusion of petitions for those spiritual blessings, which are specially required by our own personal, besetting weaknesses and sins. Now these, in consequence of the want of self-examination, or vanity, or pride, we do not adequately acknowledge. There is the exclusion of petitions for the well-being of our families, our partners, our parents, our children, our brethren, and others, who are bound to us by the associations of kindred and of love. There is again the exclusion of petitions for the interests of those whom we call our friends, and who, though not partakers of our kindred and our blood, are yet bound to us by the ties of voluntary engagement and regard. There is the exclusion of petitions on behalf of the house of God where we are accustomed to assemble and to worship : for its pastor, that he may be rendered, and continue an example to the flock; that he may be enabled to declare faithfully the whole counsel of God, and may be the means of saving many souls ; for its saints, that they may adorn the doctrine of their Saviour in all things, and shine as lights in the world; for his unconverted hearers, that they may become pricked in their hearts, and, through the energy of the truth of God, may have their eyes opened, and be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto himself. There is the exclusion of petitions for the church generally; that they may be united in the spirit of love, and in the spirit of holiness, and in the spirit of light; and that, walking in the fear of the Lord, they may possess the comforts of the Lord, and be greatly multiplied. There is the exclusion of petitions for the unconverted world; that the means which are set in operation by your individual exertions, or public institutions, may be blessed by Him to whom belongs the residue of the Spirit; that great and effectual doors may every where be opened, and that the power of the truth of the gospel may take its flight from realm to realm, and from continent to continent, until the end shall come, when shall be heard the reverberation of the seventh angel's trumpet, and when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of God, and of his Christ, that he may reign for ever and for ever.

Now, my dear hearers, whenever there is the habitual neglect, or the cold and the occasional remembrance of any of the various interests to which we have referred, there is really the guilt of restraining prayer before God. You who are numbered among the professing people of the Lord Jesus Christ, have probably, in not a few instances, to confess your own forgetfulness, your own cold and imperfect remembrance. You have been swallowed up too much in the contemplation of self; you have cherished too little of charity and benevolence for the perishing world in which you live; you have too seldom looked beyond the narrow enclosure of your own families upon the broad and desolate waste which is lying scathed and blasted around you. You are, therefore, called upon, my hearers, to cultivate the high employment by which you may be enabled to correct, and reform; determined to carry all the interests of your families, your ministers, your fellow saints, and the unconverted world, habitually, and regularly, and earnestly, before the throne of the heavenly grace, and to see whether God will not command his blessing out of Zion, even life for ever more.

But, fourthly, it will be observed, he restrains prayer before God, who does not cherish the spirit of importunity in prayer. Importunity, or intense earnestness, is an attribute essentially appertaining to the exercise of suppli


the motto of your great Redeemer—"I delight to do thy will, O God." Such

" is the spirit which Christianity naturally recognizes. We therefore entreat you, with respect to the divine commandment, to “ do all things without murmuring ;" to obey the injunction which has been offered, if there be any thing in it adapted to you, either in the claims of gratitude, the honour of religion,

in the prospect of heaven.

You will observe again, there is in these words an example as to the spirit which Christians are to cherish towards other men. While they are to “do all things without murmuring,” or to obey with evangelical readiness the moral commandments of God, they are to “ do all things without disputings." They are not to permit the sphere of their duties to be interfered with by the spirit of contention, and quarrels with other men, especially with those who call upon “the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours." The spirit of contention and discord, as many are too practically aware, is in itself most pernicious alike to the individual and the public interests of the truth, as the history of the Gospel can present a mournful record. And for this reason it is condemned in the institutes of Christianity, in a manner that is perfectly conclusive and overwhelming. Take such examples, as testimonies against disputings and discords, as are to be found in the following exhortations: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Again: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another." “For if it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." “ Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice : and de ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children, and walk in love." “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” Such, my brethren, are the oracles of that religion which emanated from the breast of Infinite Benevolence, and which is, by means of this peculiar distinction, the glory of religion, of peace, and of love.

Professing Christians, there is reason to fear, in our own day, render but a Tery inadequate and imperfect compliance with the exhortation which is now before us, to do all things without disputings. Oftentimes is there a grievous want of harmony in those who constitute the same community; and oftentimes do men fail in their performance of those high and imperative obligations imposed on them by God, to indulge in a spirit of wrath and revenge among their brethren. Amongst the various denominations, also, in which the Christian Church is at present divided, there is the exhibition of an angry spirit of controversy and bitterness, with respect to which no feeling of reprehension can be too strong, and no language of regret can be too pungent, hostile as it is to the Gospel, and destructive as it is of the true welfare of our common faith.

*The reasons, my hearers, are cogent, indeed, on every hand, for unity. I would charge you, that in your own individual communities, you would pray, and

« السابقةمتابعة »