Page images

wicked be finally saved, or destroyed.?' And yet, careless as you are of its weal or woc, you presume to appear as ministers of the church, and as pastors over that little flock, for which the good shepherd was content to lay down his life. To rank with the watchful attendants of the fold is an honour, of which you are altogether unworthy; but you may with propriety be counted in the number of those ungrateful hirelings, who care not for the sheep.' TES

7. It is true, you are not without companions, as well ancient as modern. You have Hophni and Phinehas, Gehazi and Balaam, to keep you in countenance; you have the prophets of Jezebel to plead in your favour, and every worldly ecclesiastic of the present day to approve your choice : but apostolical men will resolutely withstand you, like Elisha and his Master, in the cause of deserted truth.

Ye slothful domestics of the most diligent Mas. ter! Ye cruel attendants of the tenderest shepherd ! say, have ye never heard that Master crying out, with the voice of affection, Feed my sheep? Have ye not seen him conducting his flock to an evangelical pas. ture, in the temple, in synagogues, in villages, in houses, in deserts, on the sea-shore, and on the tops of mountains? He anxiously sought out the misera. ble. Truth was the guide of his way, charity accompanied his steps, and his path was marked with blesse ings. His secret efforts were more painful than his public labours : he publicly instructed through the day: but he privately agonized in prayer through the night. His first disciples were anxious to tread in the steps of their adorable Master. They exercised their ministry within sight of torments and death. And will you dare to neglect it, now the cry of persecution is hushed ? Will you equally despise, both the promises and threatenings of the Gospel? Will you haslen the times of antichrist, by an antichristian conduct? And when the Son of man shall come, shall he fud you trampling under foot the Gospel of his

grace ? Or, shall he surprise you distributing cards round the tables of your friends, rather than earnestly inviting those friends to the table of your Lord ?', terasranis ,

Live a O that we could prevail upon you stand in your proper post, and act in conformity to your professional character! While you dream of secu. ‘rity, you are surrounded with the most alarming dangers, “ Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth; having on the breast-plate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the prepara. tion of the Gospel of peace: above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the hel. met of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God : praying always with all prayer, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, and

supplications for all saints," and for the ministers of 'the Gospel in particular, “ that they may open their mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel," and diffuse abroad " the unsearchable riches of Christ." Thus, quitting yourselves like men, in this sacred warfare, after steadily resisting, you shall finally overcome all the strength of the enemy,“ by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left :" Till having weathered out the evik day, continuing faithful unto death, ye shall be rewarded with a crown of everlasting life..

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

1. WHEN we see a number of persons in perilous circumstances, charity constrains us to make our first efforts in favour of those, who appear to be in the most imminent danger. Such are unholy christians. Sinful heathens are doubtless in danger ; obstinate Jews in still greater peril ; but impenitent christians are in a situation abundantly, more lamentable than either ; since they offend against clearer light and knowledge, equally inattentiye to the most gracious promises, on one hand, and the most terrible menaces, on the other. To sin with the new Testament in our hand, and with the sound of the Gospel in our sin with the seal of baptism in our forehead, and the name of Christ in our sin and receive the holy communion ; to ratify and break the most solemn engagements ; what is this, but earnestly labouring out our own damnation, and plunging ourselves into those abysses of wretchedness, which Pagans and Jews are unable to fathom? How eagerly then should every believer attempt to rescue his falling brethren ? and especially, how anxious should they be to arrest those leaders of the blind, who are drawing their followers to the brink of perdition? As this is one. of those arguments, upon which the truth, here pleaded for, must principally rest, we shall consider it in the several points of view, under which it is presented to us in the Gospel..

2. The commission of St. Paul, was particularly directed to the Gentiles : yet, before he visited their benighted nations, he judged it his duty to make a full and free offer of the everlasting Gospel to the people of the Jews. For the conduct of the Apostle in this respect, the following reasons are to be

assigned. First, « The promises pertained” to the Jews in a peculiar manner. Secondly, The chile dren of Abraham, according to the flesh, had a more threatening prospect before them, in case of final impenitence, than any other people upon earth: 66 Tribulation and anguish shall be upon every soul of man, that doth evil, of the Jew FIRST and also of the Gentile.' '. fw. 3. The same reasons, though chiefly the latter, are still to be urged, why the ministers of Christ should principally labour among christians. For if sinners of the circumcision shall be more severely punished-than the ignorant heathen, so the Apostle declares that sinners, who are baptized into the name of Christ, shall be treated with still greater rigour - than impenitent Jews." He that despised Moses' law," saith he, “ died without mercy under two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment,” then, “ suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God ...and hath done despite to the spirit of grace?" If this consideration was accompanied with its due effect, it would fire us with the most unconquerable zeal for the sal. vation of negligent christians. .

4. In one of the last discourses our Lord ad. dressed to the cities of Galilee, we find him reading over them this dreadful' sentence of condemnation. “Woe unto thee Chorazin, woe unto thee Bethsaida! for ifthe mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Si. don at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou Capernaum, which" by thy religious privileges, “ art exalted unto Heaven, shalt," for the non-improvement of them, “ be brought down to Hell. Yea, it shall be more tolerable, in the day of judgment for the land of Sodom,” which has been already consumed with fire from above, “ than for thee."

5. To draw the just consequences from this afe fecting menace, we must recollect, that, when it was pronounced, the inhabitants, of the abovementioned cities had been favoured, but for a very short interval, with the ministry of Christ and his messengers: And if the death and resurrection of Jesus were afterwards published among them, it is more than probable, that these important facts were published only in a desultory and transient way. Nevertheless the sinners of Capurnaum were thought worthy of greater punishment, than the sinners of Sodom. Hence we conclude, that, if the sinners of London, Paris, Rome, and Geneva, have hardened themselves against the truths of the Gospel for a much longer continuance, than the citizens of Capernaum were permitted to do, there is every reason to apprehend, that their sentence will not only be more dreadful than the sentence of Sodom, but abundantly less tolerable than that, which was pronounced upon the inhabitants of Galilee.

6. While we consider the various proportions in which future punishment shall be adminstered to the wicked of different classes, we may turn to those remarkable expressions of St. Peter and St. Paul :.... “ If, afier having escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome ; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For, it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a cer. tain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” These declarations assist us to discover the true ground of that apostolic exhortation, with which we shall close this chapter : « Of some have compassion,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »