Page images
PDF
EPUB

urged in such a very peculiar style, that we cannot help referring to it again. He plainly and pointedly charged thein to set about the work of repentance without delay, that they might realise and enjoy the inestimable blessing of sins forgiven. And what was the result? Why God owned and blessed bis efforts with His Divine approbation ; testifying by so doing, what must be the character and spirit of that ministry, that will have His sanction, and receive the seal of the Holy Ghost.

Also, through the dispersion of the early Christians, occasioned by the severe persecution that took place at Jerusalem, about one year after the ascension of our Saviour, (that having®“ fallen out rather to the furtberance of the Gospel,”) many new churches were planted in various places, and some of the apostles were deputed occasionally to go and visit, inspect and bless them. And this happened at Samaria ; for Philip, one of the seven deacons who were chosen but a short time previous, to manage some secular affairs in the primitive Church, was led, or rather forced, to fly to the city of Samaria, and he preached Christ to the inhabitants, " and the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John.” And a circumstance turned out in connection with this affair, which afforded Peter a fair opportunity of giving us a specimen how sinners of a peculiar description should be addressed on the important subject we are contending for; and the specimen itself we must regard as an inspired dictation, and therefore it is to be admired the more and imitated with the more undivided and undiminished confidence.

The circumstance we have alluded to, is that of a wizard in the above city, Simon Magus by name, who had been for a long period bewitching the inhabitants of Samaria. Even this man felt some temporary impression on his mind, under the preaching of Philip, and even Simon Magus was superficially worked upon, so as it is said of him, that he also believed, and subsequently was initiated by baptism into the Christian religion—"and he continued with Philip and wondered, behold. ing the miracles and signs which were done." But soon was it found out by Peter that the heart of this individual was not right with God, for he coveted from base and unworthy motives the apostolic gift of the Holy Ghost, and even proffered the unhallowed price of money for it, saying, "Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” But with vehemency and holy indignation, Peter said unto him, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money; thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God:” then notice his peculiar style--" Repent, therefore, of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee; for I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken, come upon me”—(Acts viii. 5—24). Oh! what a specimen of close preaching this is ! What an affecting appeal to the heart ! And what a cogent method of urging home the work of repentance upon even a vile and a wicked sinner, such as Simon Magus ! Will not this sufficiently countenance evangelical ministers in addressing the unconverted in the most earnest manner they are capable of? Will not this spread over the countenances of all Antinomians the deep and modest blush wben they look into the Word of God ? And will not this hush for ever all them that feel anti, and object to exertions being made in humble dependence on the Divine blessing towards reclaiming sinners from the evil of their ways, and leading them to seek faith and genuine repentance? Surely, upon due consideration, if this will not effect the desirable change, we know not what will or what can, within the range of common and revealed means.

Now we come to our next example, the second that we would adduce from among the New Testament preachers : and it is to be borne in mind, that this, as well as the one we have mentioned, wrote under the inspiration of Heaven. Therefore the example of such worthies carries with it an indubitable and a Divine infallibility, at least in the writer's mind; for he esteems every fact recorded in the Book of God to bear evidently upon it the impress and authority of the Lord of Hosts. The preacher to whom an allusion has been made, is James ; who is designated in the commencement of his epistle, as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now this was a faithful and truly zealous minister of “ the glorious Gospel of the blessed God.” His epistle is a very important document, a valuable treasury of heavenly truths, and a very efficient magazine against Antinomian. ism; which will supply any divine with ample ammunition to maintain a successful fight against the above foe. Yes, any that will visit this arsenal to examine its stores, will soon find there a strong shield of operative faith, which is the very best material that can be employed in the construction of such a necessary piece of armour. He will also also find, a fine helmet of salvation, even the hope of glory, honour and immortality. And he will find a sharp two-edged sword, with a well constructed hilt to it, and a blade tempered in the fire that perpetually burns on the uncreated altar above. In fact, this epistle is rich in the doctrines of grace. It is a mine, that will sufficiently remunerate any one for working it. It is a well of salvation, from which we may draw with joy the waters of life. It is a field, where we may find the pearl of great price. And though it is true, that a little of James may be seen in it, there is much of God and much of the pith and spirit of true religion.

However, we would come to our subject. How did he address sinners? This is our point. And we would answer, that James stood on a par in this respect with the rest of the diciples. In fact, they seem as if they endeavoured to rival one another in their appeals to sinners. For their work was the same identically as that of their Master, ** who came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance,” And as their office was to bring, by the blessing of God, a sinful world to Christ, hence they, each and all, were so faithful in their sermons and so pointed in their writings.

Here it will suffice to adduce one passage, as a specimen of the style adopted by the apostle James. Addressing the unconverted he says, “Ye adulterers, and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God. Draw nigh

to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you np.”—(James iv. 4, 8, 9, 10). Now what an exhortation this was to the unconverted! Oh! how he urged upon these black characters, who were, through him, unerringly described and correctly drawn by the pencil of inspiration-how he urged upon them to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord and draw nigh to God; to cleanse their hands and purify their hearts ! Hear it, ye ambassadors of the eternal King ! imbibe his spirit and learn your solemn duty. But we would say, the passage we have just quoted is not irony (as some will presume thus to evade the edge of truth); oh! no; the holy penman was not guilty of tantalising sinners, and trifling with their salvation and their souls. The apostle was sincere and in earnest ; in fact, it was the voice of the Divine Spirit speaking through him; for he spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost. Oh! how this adds a double force to the exhortation, and how it renders it tenfold more influential and more incumbent on the Christian minister to imitate it to the life!

Our next example being the great apostle of the Gentiles, is too prolific for insertion here. We feel compelled, therefore, to defer it till our next. But John the divine may be mentioned, in closing this section. In his apocalyptic visions, he makes use of some peculiar phrases, that must startle Antinomians now and then. But here we would refer more especially to the epistles to the seven Churches, dictated by Jesus Christ Himself, wherein ininisters of the Gospel are represented as stars in the hand of the Saviour. Stars reflect the light they receive; so ministers ought to reflect the rays that proceed from the bright character of the Messiah. And what ray so bright as His compassion for perishing sinners! Then, ye stars in the firmament of the Church, reflect this abundantly; then who knows, but that under your ministry these words will be soon verified—“ The people which sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up-(Matt. iv. 16) ?

Celarus. (To be continued.)

A SERMON, BY THE REV. WILLIAM JAY.

PREACHED AT ARGYLE CHAPEL, BATH, ON BUNDAY EVENING, MARCH 22, 1840.

" For there is no difference."-Romans iii. 22.

Nothing, my brethren, strikes us more, , homely garments and the food of the mower when we first survey mankind, than the under the hedge, while he works freely on, differences which obtain among them. In and says, “ He that touches these, touches country, in complexion, in language, in the apple of my eye.” features, in manners, the differences seem There is also a physical equality. This to be endless. And yet there are some equality is original, and this equality is general resemblances ; and these are the final. He “ has made of one blood all most essential too, and produce a mass of the nations of the earth.” He has derived sameness, so that the apostle says, “ There the human race from the same father, is no difference.” But no difference in Adam,-the same mother, Eve,—the same what ? “ For all have sinned, and come Maker, God. - The rich and the poor short of the glory of God; being justified meet together; the Lord is the Maker of freely by His grace, through the redemp- them all.” They have the same limited tion that is in Christ Jesus."

faculties; they feel the same wants; they You have heard much of the doctrine are subject to the same pains and diseases; of equality. If this equality intends an they are heirs of the same immortality; equality of substance, it is a very foolish they are doorned to the same grave; there and absurd thing. For, in the first place, it " the prisoners rest together, they hear is entirely unattainable. And in the second not the voice of the oppressor: the small place, if it were obtained, it could not be and the great are there; and the servant continued one year, one month, one week, is free of his master.” perhaps not one day. And thirdly, if it There is also, thirdly, a moral and were attained and continued, it would be spiritual equality. Men are in the same far less desirable and useful than the dis state, as men; Christians are in the same tinctions designed by Divine Providence ; state, as Christians. “ There is no differfor it would either preclude or injure the ence, says the apostle. There is no exercise of those virtues, and the perform- difference as to men; for “all have sinned ance of those duties, which are now called and come short of the glory of God.” forth by the various relations and ranks There is no difference as to Christians; in the community,

" being justified freely by His grace Yet there is such a thing as equality : through the redemption that is in Christ and there are three kinds of equality. Jesus. There is, first, a civil equality-an equal Let us therefore (this is our business right to unequal things. That is, a poor this evening,) consider, first, what is the man has as much right to his cottage as a condition of all men; and, secondly, what nobleman has to lis mansion ; a journey- is the condition of all Christians: for man has as much right to his wages as the there is no difference.” master to his service. Lord John Russell remarks how much he was struck some

I. Consider what is the CONDITION OF years ago, when he was passing by a farm all men. “ For there is no difference." then belonging to George the Third, by The apostle here immediately refers to reading on a board over the park gate, Jews and Gentiles. There was a grand “Whoever trespasses on these premises distinction between them; there seemed will be prosecuted according to law;” not an immense difference between them ; according to the pleasure of the sovereign, and as to dispensation, indeed there was.

according to law.” Does law secure As to dispensation, the one are spoken the privileges of the peer? It also goes as nigh," and the other as “ far off; into the field, and takes under its care the one as being " without God in the

but

66

world,” the other as having God's house, the offence of one, judgment came upon and table, and candlestick, and ministers, all to condemnation.” “ By one man sin and His dwelling place ainong them. The entered into the world, and death by sin; Jews were distinguished by miracles and and so death passed upon all men, for that ordinances, and a thousand peculiar pri- all have sinned.” And “all have sinned'in vileges; for to them especially were com- their own persons; in actions, or in words, mitted the oracles of God. But these or in thoughts, or imaginations. Omissions privileges did not prevent their equalling of duty are sins ; for He who forbids also the Gentiles in guilt, and in some respects commands. Ingratitude is a sin; want of even exceeding them; and therefore God love to God is a sin ; and who ever has says, “ You only have I known of all the loved God with all his heart, with all families of the earth; therefore you will I his mind, and with all his strength, and punish.” Hence

says
the apostle,

“What his neighbour as himself? If covetousness then, are we” (we Jews) “ better than be idolatry, if anger be murder, if lust be they” (Gentiles)? “No, in no wise; for adultery, surely all have sinned, all are we have before proved both Jews and transgressors, and, as such, all are under Gentiles, that they are under sin ; as it is the curse; as it is written, “Cursed is written, There is none righteous, no, every one that continueth not in all things not one; there is none that understandeth, which are written in the book of the law there is none that seeketh after God; they to do them." are all gone out of the way, they are And all have “come short of the glory together become unprofitable; there is of God.” God designed His own glory by none that doeth good, no, not one; their man's creation; but all have come short throat is an open sepulchre; with their of this glory. All have come short of the tongues they have used deceit; the poison glory of His law, in not obeying it; all of asps is under their lips; whose mouth have come short of the glory of His image, is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet not resembling it; all have come short are swift to shed blood, destruction and of the glory of His favour, not desiring it; misery are in their ways, and the way of all have come short of the glory of His peace have they not known; there is no presence, not seeking after it. We must fear of God before their eyes. Now we leave these to be enlarged by your own know, that what things soever the law meditation ; only remarking, that it apsaith, it saith to them who are under the pears undeniable that all are in the same law : that every mouth may be stopped, state because all stand in need of the same and all the world may become guilty be- remedy, and the very same remedy is apfore God."

plied to all. If all need the physician, all This so

no difference," therefore, will are sick; if all need to be cleansed, all are apply to all distinctions of other men, when polluted ; if all need to be renewed, all are ever they live, wherever they live, and depraved ; if all need to be pardoned, all whatever be their external condition and are guilty' ; if all need to be redeemed, all circumstances. Not that all transgress in are in a state of vassalage. Yea and Christhe same way.

“ All we,” says Isaiah, tians themselves, whatever their condi“have gone astray;” but“ we have turned tion be now (and we shall soon see what every one to his own way.” The very this is), will be ready to acknowledge same evil may be diversified by a thousand this, for they often look—though not often causes, in a thousand instances. Not enough—"to the rock whence they were that all sins are equal in their heinousness. hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence Our Saviour calls some “ beams” and they were digged.” “We ourselves,” says

motes ;" some "camels,” and the apostle, “ were foolish, disobedient, deothers “gnats ;”. some will be beaten ceived, serving divers lust: and pleasures, with“ few stripes," and some with “many living in malice and envy, hateful, and stripes.” Not that all, therefore, are actu- hating one another : but after the kindally guilty in the same degree before God. ness and love of God our Saviour toward But “ all have sinned" in their Head an man appeared, not by works of righteousrepresentative, Adam : for as in Adam allness which we have done, but according die so in Adam all sinned ; not only are to His mercy He saved us, by the washing mortal, but are of a depraved nature. This of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy is the subject which the apostle labours in Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly the fifth chapter, when he tells us that “ by through Jesus Christ our Saviour ; that

some

IN

WHICH ALL

being justified by His grace, we should be We proceed to observe, made heirs according to the hope of eter- II. THE CONDITION nal life.”-Such is the state of all men; CHRISTIANS ARE. “ For there is no dif“ for there is no difference."

ference." No difference between Jew You see I have not perplexed myself, and Greek, “ for the same Lord over all nor endeavoured to perplex you, with the is rich unto all that call upon Him.” introduction of moral evil. I distinguish “ There is neither Greek nor Jew, neither between the fact and the philosophy of bond nor free ; for we are all one in Christ the fact. The existence of sin and mi- Jesus.” “Being justified freely by His sery in our world is undeniable.

The grace through the redemption which is deist can no more deny it than the Chris- in Christ Jesus :” “ for there is no diffetian : let him not, then, reproach Christi rence.” anity for owning what he himself owns. Let us first contemplate the blessing He admits these to have taken place in itself : “ being justified.” Justification the empire of Him, who, according to his is a forensic, and not a moral term. You views, is only omnipotent goodness. The know how anxious I always am to avoid Christian allows,(for with him “a God all | using learned phrases : I mean, therefore, mercy is a God unjust,”) that it has taken by calling it forensic, that it means a legal place in the empire of a Being, who is also proceeding: and it is of great importance

righteous in all His ways, and holy in to admit this in the case before us. The all His works.” Deism affords no expla- Papists, and the Oxford Tract men (who nation: Christianity throws some little light in some respects are far worse), contend, upon it, for which we should be thankful that to justify means, not to declare a in the absence of fuller communications, man righteous, but to make him so, to and which may serve to tranquilize the constitute him so; that it is not to acquit mind while yet it is not satisfied. But him, but that it is to sanctify bim; and here is the grand difference between that to sanctify a man is to make him Deism and Christianity : Deism not only just. Now this is confounding justificaleaves us without light, but without re- tion and sanctification. Justification is medy too; whereas Christianity comes to always opposed to condemnation. Moses us and

says, “O Israel, thou hast destroy- says, “ Thou shalt not justify the wicked." ed thyself, but in Me is thy help found" By justifying them he does not mean “Look unto Me, and be ye saved; for I am making them righteous, but declaring God, and besides Me there is no Saviour." them to be so. “ Thou shalt not condemn

My brethren, it is your wisdom to attend the righteous.” By condenining the to this. Persons often reason where rea righteous he does not mean making them son can be of no avail ; while submission guilty, but declaring them so.

We and prayer would avail every thing. Sup- readily allow that sanctification and justipose I was passing along a meadow, and fication always go together. They are heard the cry of a fellow

creature in a pit. I combined in the purpose of God and in approach him, and see he is sinking deep. the purchase of the cross. They are found er and deeper in the mire : but I say to united in the experience of every Chrishim, 'Here, take my hand; I will endea- tian; for “if any man be in Christ he is vour to raise you up.' Instead, however, a new creature; old things are passed of his laying hold of me, he begins questi- away ; behold, all things are become oning and cavilling how the pit came to But these blessings are, at the be left there, for what purpose it was made same time, as distinguishable as they are why it was not railed round to keep per- inseparable. The one is without, the sons from falling in, how shameful was other within ; the one is relative, the the owner of it, and so forth. But I say other is personal ; the one is a change of to him, “My friend, you are perishing : state, the other is a state of nature; the this is not the place or the time for inquiry one gives us a title to heaven, the other a or complaint: give me your hand; here meetness for it; the one is a gradual is deliverance ; let me draw you forth; work, the other is complete at once. For and after this escape, you will be able to the justification which all believers possess abide the result of the inquiry, when you in Christ has two properties, you will obhave found that the evil can not only be serve. It is full, extending to all their remedied, bnt that it has been remedied transgressions ; they are “justified from in your case.'

all things, from which they could not be

new.

« PreviousContinue »