« PreviousContinue »
Christ; and they made his life a life, the holiness of God, and, with full of dependance on Christ, of patience convictions of his helplessness and in suffering, of diligence in duty, of ruin, he acknowledged his absolute simple obedience to the will of God, need of Christ. It was faith, then, and a steady desire to give him glory. that brought him to acknowledge
But, my brethren, effects are not it. without a cause. What was it that Believing further, that Christ had thus changed the ordinary selfishness offered a divine sacrifice for sin, he of his nature? What was it that saw all the divine attributes displayed could bring humility out of pride, on the cross, and God's holy hatred and make the ungodly heart seek, as of sin, especially so magnified, that its chief aim, the glory of God, and henceforth God could freely forgive the whole life tend towards the attain- the guilty, without imputation on his ment of celestial happiness? When moral government; and therefore the you have looked at some rapid and atonement made by Christ was comsparkling river, which seems to flow plete, and as Christ, through those on so gloriously to the ocean, from sufferings which originated in a love some mountain summit which had which passes knowledge, had become caught the dews and snows of heaven, an all-sufficient Saviour, for whose and as though the bright sun had sake the worst might be forgiven shone on a thousand rivulets spark- justly, and would be, without doubt, ling from rock to rock, had swelled forgiven, the very instant that he that noble stream, so steadily flowed heartily accepted salvation so freely the current of his habits towards eter- offered-could this persuasion-could nal glory; and, as surely as the river the belief of this surpassing love fail finds its way to the ocean, such habits to quicken his gratitude, or could the have led him to eternal glory. But grateful mind be without contrition ? they existed not without cause. What But, if grateful and contrite too, was it, again I ask you, which gave would he not rejoice to live no longer them their existence and their course? to himself, but to him who had loved IT WAS FAITH ALONE. “Considering him, and died to rescue him? It was the end of their conversation,” says faith, then, that made your minister the apostle, imitate their faith. This contrite, grateful, and devoted. mighty cause is adequate to the for- Again, he believed likewise in the mation of those habits, and nothing work of the Holy Spirit, as sent forth else. The unbelieving world might from God for the sake of Christ, to strive to find their source in the ori- carry on the sanctification of his ginal rectitude of his nature, but such people, and ultimately to make them a rectitude the proud affections of an perfect. Acquainted as he was with ungodly heart have never traced as human depravity, and anxious as he habits to such a source ; on the con- was to triumph over it through grace, trary, how often have you heard him could he fail to welcome such effecfeelingly deplore, in this place, the tual aid ; and when contemplating the mighty depravity of nature, and then truth, that God has designed to make urge you to seek earnestly that anta- the heart of the sinner his temple, gonist course which faith alone sup- and there to effect a work more gloplies. It was to faith, therefore, he rious than the calling forth this beauhimself ascribed his spiritual victories, tiful world from original chaos, could and he was certainly best acquainted he fail to recognize, with a transport with their origin.
of admiration, such Divine condesHis faith, too, was obviously ade- cension? The direct tendency of such quate to accomplish them. He be- belief was to carry still further the lieved the scriptural account of the gratitude and the contrition which Divine perfections, and could there had been previously excited by a sense fore comprehend, in a measure, the of his redeeming love. intensity of God's hatred of evil. He But besides this, let it be rememcould see that it merits all that Scrip- bered, that faith is the means, accordture threatens, he felt, therefore, his ing to God's appointment, by which errors, and therefore humbled under the Holy Spirit is obtained. What
soever ye shall ask of him ye shall | glory beam on the soul like the sun receive. I need not say that grace, on a far seen landscape ; and as well by whatever means it may be con- might you sever, in your thoughts, veyed to the soul, is the real agent of the lovely flowers and fruits of sumour whole sanctification ; thus may mer from the boughs which shont faith lead to the cultivation and at- them forth, as disconnect the Christian tainment of Christian graces, and the life from those great truths, which formation of Christian habits.
thus mould, sanctify, and invigorate But besides these greatest truths, the soul. By this double portion, this which being realized by faith, have so bringing down the gift of the Holy mighty an influence to transform the Ghost, and this bringing truth to dwell heart and to new mould the life, the on the mind, faith is the source of moral glory of God, the merit of the our whole progress in the spiritual Lord Jesus Christ and the power of life. By this the believer can rethe Holy Ghost-there are many other pel temptation, because attracted by truths which, being embraced by faith, higher objects. By this he can bear have no small power to aid the great sorrow, because consoled by the asconsummation of the entire subjec- surance of better joys. By faith he tion of the revolted sinner to God. surmount the world, because Who can believe in heavenly glory heaven becomes dearer to him than as he believed it, and not be power- earth. By faith he can go steadfastly fully moved to seek it? Who can through duty, because assured that it is believe in the promises of God, suited the command of God, of his will, of to every emergency of an eventful his love, of his power to reward, of life, so gracious, so consolatory, so the bitterness of sin ; all which are endearing, and not feel their constant realized by faith, and by faith alone. influence on the heart and conduct It is this which enabled him to triumph animated still to new efforts, and filled over the devil, arming him for every full of refreshing joy? Who can be encounter, and bearing him up through lieve that God is present as a God every snare ; and with this he could who hears and answers prayer, and endure the gloom of that solemn hour, not be awed into deep solemnity, when each must find himself alone quickened into confident expectation, with death, with judgment, and eterand melted into grateful love? Who nity. Who then will persuade us can believe his constant providence that we overvalue faith, unless he can and not learn to bless him for every overvalue the pardon of sin, the saljoy, and every severe dispensation, vation of an immortal soul, the graces patiently submitting to his appoint of the Spirit progressive in improvement, if not cheerfully acquiescing ment through eternity, and peace in it?
amidst all earthly conflicts ? Unless And thus faith, repressing all that we can overvalue active obedience is evil in us, and cherishing all that and contemplative devotion, we canis good, exercises a plastic influence not over-estimate that which is eson every part of our character. Faith sential to the formation of each, and is that which, by God's divine ap- which is adequate to produce them pointment, is essentially connected all. Rightly did St. Peter term it with the gift of the Holy Spirit to the precious faith; and he who denies its soul, and without which those sanc- value, denies it because he knows not tifying influences are in vain. As his own guilt and weakness--nor the well might we separate the superb preciousness of Christ-nor the power motion of the gallant vessel through of Jesus-nor the character of the the ocean, from the wind which fills Gospel-nor the perfections of God its sails, as separate the believer by—but is walking in darkness, and grace in holiness from that influence knoweth not whither he goeth bewhich is its necessary cause.
Faith cause the darkness hath blinded his is that which brings the soul under eyes. the influence of all Divine truth, par- But ye, brethren, are not in darkticularly reveals to us the work and ness; your venerated and beloved character of Christ, thus making his pastor had not so taught you Christ.
You know how he valued faith ; and Jesus Christ so near to our souls that You know, therefore, how he would his glory eclipsing the glory of the have you value it. Are you not then world may give a brightness to the prepared to receive stronger impres- whole of life—may light up the hour sions than before, from the exhorta- of death with a stronger and a lovelier tion in my text, “Remember them radiance, and fill eternity with glory. that have the rule over you, who have Whether we be busy, or whether we spoken unto you the word of God: have much leisure at our command whose faith follow, considering the --whether educated or illiterateend of their conversation: Jesus Christ whether young or old, we must think the same yesterday, and to-day, and much of Christ, we must bring him for ever.”
often to our view, we must walk with IMITATE THEIR FAITH. If faith be, him, we must abide in him if we indeed, of that inestimable value, would imitate the faith of this dethen it may teach Christians to imi- parted saint, or if we would have his tate departed saints in the few par- happy and his glorious end. ticulars involved in this direction. Why should we not, dear brethren, They will believe the same truths,- imitate him? Could he have collected they may and will endeavour to gain you around his dying bed, and summore extended and vivid views of med up all his warm wishes for your Christ and God as may powerfully welfare into one expression, what impress the heart. They may strive would that have been ? But that you to obtain the same belief as their de- might surpass his faith, and that abidparted Christian friends, and to obtain ing in Christ, you might live a happy it in the same, or in a higher degree. life, while still travellers on earth, This is the exhortation which God and then peacefully wing your flight addresses to you by his Apostle. to that heaven, for which your life You well know, my brethren, the had previously prepared you. Seek great truths of faith in which your then from God, I pray you, by prayer pastor passed through life, and met and by steady exhortation, the accomdeath so well—those truths bind to plishment of what was unquestionably your heart as essential to your pre- his wish, while your hearts are yet sent and eternal peace. Beware of bleeding. Also while your memory whatever may unsettle you respecting is yet busy with his virtues, while his them, and of what may displace them voice, so lately heard, seems now alfrom their just pre-eminence. most echoing in your ears, execute
* Be not carried about,” the Apostle what, doubtless, was among the dearadds, “with divers and strange doc- est wishes of his heart. You grieve trines.” Some frivolous notions must at your bereavement; let not that arise in society so intelligent and so precious sorrow be wasted. By that brief as that in this great city; such affection with which you crowded to agitated waters must have some froth his burial—by that look of grief with on their surface; let us not give them which many of you gazed on his bier undue attention. Some mischievous -by those sobs that would not be errors in an era of so much specula- suppressed-by those affecting faretion will scarcely fail to obtain cur- wells which you looked, or sighed, as rency; let us be watchful, as your you passed by his coffin in the court pastor ever was, to repel them. So -by that sincerity of respectful soradhere to those grand truths on row,--and by all those emotions which which depend our sanctification and are now working in your hearts, if our peace--you will so far imitate you would ever meet your venerated his faith.
pastor in glory, if you would honor But his faith was lively and strong, his memory on earth, imitate his fed by frequent meditation, and ma- faith. tured by many spiritual conflicts in Do you not wish to honor his mewhich grace had made him conqueror. mory? By what means can you do it so We too, my brethren, must seek a effectually as by a strength of faith, and vigorous and a conquering faith-we a devotedness of conduct, which shall must seek by faith to bring the Lord mark to the world the power with which God endowed his ministry. joy, ought not to be thought of as an Would you imitate those excellencies inanimate mass of clay. He ought for which you loved bim, when living, not thus to be thought of who has and which make you cherish his me- been, indeed, taken from his people, mory now that he is dead? How can but living in a more exalted being that take place but by putting your- will be the spectator of the welcome selves, in the exercise of faith, under of each among them who dies in the the influence of those truths, which, Lord,—the welcome which each shall through God's grace, made him what have when his time comes also to he was? Does the memory of those soar away to God. You knew him hours in which his habits have drawn energetic and affectionate ; he is more you nearer to God,make you think with energetic and loving now, living an satisfaction that you may yet again intenser existence; and dear as you meet him in happier circumstances, may be to his celestial spirit at this where every infirmity of the flesh moment, and more because he better shall be thrown aside, and every appreciates your trials and conflicts, grace of the Spirit be expanded into yet worlds, I feel convinced, would celestial beauty; then imitate the not bribe him back again to be at faith which alone brought him hither home in the body and absent from --imitate your minister's faith; and, as the Lord. Let not our thoughts and for him, “death is” absolutely “swal-affections dwell in the dark vault lowed up in victory ;” and his humi- which may hold the mortal remains liation, and his pains, are forgotten of him who was once dear to us, in the bliss and glory by which it has but which hold not and never can been succeeded; so may the pain hold the emancipated spirit; because which it has caused to you be alle- if Jesus died and rose again ; even viated and sanctified.
those also, who sleep in Jesus, will He is dead, and those who have the Lord bring with him. Even now been converted by his ministry, or they are present with the Lord, and have since been strengthened and thither we are tending to renew under consoled by it, may feel as though more auspicious circumstances the their loss were irreparable ; but the Christian fellowship which we found truths, which early wrought those so sweet on earth. effects, and of which he was only the And yet these considerations, powermessenger from God to you, still live ful as they are, are not strong enough as vital, as mighty, as transforming to raise the spirit of the dejected, or as when you first heard them from to assure the doubting. We have his lips. Imitate his faith ; and pain- lost him, is the ever recurring thought ful as your loss may be to your feel- we have lost our friend and our ings, the spiritual principle will suffer guide. It is true, my friends ; let no decay.
nature weep, they are sacred tears, He is dead, but if you now improve and they are due to friendship; but those deep and solemn feelings which you remember well who said to those that sudden removal has excited, if who were about to suffer a severer you recall his earliest warnings now loss than yours, “I will not leave you made more affecting to you, because always.” If their desolation who his living voice can be heard no more, lost the personal presence of Christ, the voice which comes so solemnly was more than compensated by the from his grave may be yet more in- spiritual presence given to them fluential, and you may be blessed through the Spirit of God-is not that through the trials which threatened enough for you? This was the grand the greatest injury to your souls. motive by which St. Paul urged the He
But I do wrong to bid you consider brew Christians to “follow" the faith him as dead ; removed in view he is of their pastors; and this above all indeed from us. But one who resting things should encourage you to follow from the earthly conflict is with Christ, it, as “Jesus Christ is the same yesenjoying among congenial spirits all terday, and to day, and for ever.” that the love and power of the Re- Imitate his faith at parting, because deemer, can overflow his spirit with in these blessed words you are asgured that you have the same object | He is so mighty, that those environed of faith, the same aim in living, and with every danger may trust his powthe same reward when your faith shall er. If you realize those perfections terminate in vision.
-if you walk beneath their steady You have been comforted by the lustre, all will be well. Does his interministry you have lost. It is taken cession ever fail ? Is bis merit ever from you, and you apprehend that exhausted? Can his love cease! Is you will suffer loss. Perbaps, bre- not his power immutably perfect? Can thren, you would necessarily suffer it he not bring each one of his followers if you stood alone ; but Jesus Christ, to everlasting glory? And if he, who in whom you believe, who gave to now from the dead beckons you to him his faith, and who is now his follow him to his glory! if he found portion and reward, is the same to that in Christ which could carry him you as he was to him. See then, in through life, and sustain him in death, his victory the pledge of your own! why should not each of you, realizing What if he is taken from you, Christ the adorable perfections of that Sastill remains ! and though you may viour, imitate your minister's faith? suffer much by the loss of your pastor, Besides this, Jesus Christ is immuand without watchfulness you pro- tably the author of faith. Tell me not, bably will, yet you need not. One of then, of the difficulties with which you your lesser aids is removed ; but your have to contend-of the temptations greatest remains immutable-realize by which you are surrounded-of it now in your bereavement-make your habits to break through—and of use of it-lay hold of the blessing your natural infirmities. Cling only offered; “Jesus Christ is the same to Christ; steadily seek his blessing yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." in your prayers, and I ask whether He is the same-immutably the object Christ does not love you enough to of your faith-immutably the author sustain your drooping spirits ? And I and finisher of faith-immutably its ask whether he has not power enough crown and its reward.
to implant the liveliest faith in your Oh, my brethren, whatever the bosom? And I ask whether, if he weak, the guilty, the ignorant, and bestows upon you the Spirit which is the wretched, may want in a Saviour, at his command, he cannot raise you that has been proved demonstrably to a place in the family of God above, to be in Christ; and therefore you and give you grace to adorn the place may find him all-sufficient for your which you hold in that family here? wants. Other graces which, distri- He has prepared a mansion for you buted among our brethren, so partial in the skies, to which those who are in their exercise, look so lovely there departed in his faith have gone. Bein bim harmoniously combined, shin- | lieve in him-believe in him, and ing forth in adorable perfection. then he will bring us safely thither. What may not Christ be to you if Do you want any other motive ? you realize his perfections? He is so Even another is supplied. Jesus merciful, that he will never turn Christ immutably the object of faith, away from the weakest, the most and immutably its source, is likewise guilty, or the most desponding its crown and its reward. Other things suppliant. He is so sympathiz- may pass away, but if we are going ing, that he feels for your every to that place where he shall be with Sorrow. He is so condescending, us for ever all glorious and good, he that the lowest amongst his disciples will never change; and what he is is never overlooked. He is so pa- now to demand, the rapturous homage tient, that reiterated provocation can of the admiring myriads that surround Dever surpass his love.
He is so
his throne, that he will be to you and holy, that he will never love one me when we stand before him, after among his people who is slave to dying, when ages shall have passed a single sin. He is so true, that away, leaving us still immortal in not one of his promises shall fail, blessedness and perfection. Meanhe is so wise, that those most em-while, if other good is transient and barrassed with their affairs may safely mutable, as the aspect of this church commit themselves to his guidance. 'too sadly demonstrates it to be, so