« PreviousContinue »
*nifest himself to the world, as the upbe- continued as branches in the tree, lieving world were no lovers of God; but they bore fruit and received succour if any man love me, that is, whosoever and nourishment; if at any time shall love me, generally speaking, and extending the application to every faithful
they are judicially or voluntarily seChristian, shall neither be deprived of my
paraled, as branches that have been presence or favour, and the test of his love lopped or fallen off, the fault is not shall be bis obedience. When this sball in the dresser of the vineyard. This happen, he shall be blessed with the conta subject is justly treated in the coutinual abode of the Father and the Son,
templation ou Jolin xv. 1-3. through the Spirit, in his heart. • We will come unto him and make our abode with “ When our Lord applies the epithet him.' Nor is this surprising, for the word true he means that more valuable avd which ye hear, the Gospel which I preach, spiritual part, which is represented by the the precepts which I deliver, are not mine figure or allusion. The true bread, the exclusively, but are all derived from the true riches, the tine light, are all of this Father, all rest upon bis authority, all in nature as well as the true cine. Figures culcate a practical and universal holiness. of speech thus applied impart considerThus may the world see me, as visibly as able beauty and sublimity to the sentiment my disciples, but it must be a regenerated to be expressed. The mind is led to conworld; . Blessed are the pure in heart, template it io its remote consequences and for they shall see God. Not only shall in its several combinations, which give an they see bim in perfect liappiness here increased energy to the thougbt. The seafter, but according to their several capa paration of the disciples from their master cities, he will impart the abundance of his is represented by the separation of the blessings to them even bere. May I ever branches from the vine. The connection, remember that it is the absence of sin and as well as the argument, is obvions : the the presence of divine grace, that must husbandman plants tbe vine, the vine flouproduce this favourable disposition in my rishes under his nurture, and the branches heart! that if I delight in sin, the sin that which spring from it are healthy and doth most easily beset me, a dark cloud strong, and produce abundant fruits. shall interpose its shadow, and obscure to Every good and every perfect gift coines me the pure light of the Gospel; that from God. What more perfect gift could though it shine as clear as the sun at noon God give to the world than his Son, the day, I shall be as one living in a dungeon author of eternal salvation; and the founand shall not perceive it!
der upon earth of a society or Church, • He that lias light within his own clear
which hy a particular dispensation was to breast
communicate graces, the true frnits of an May sit i’ th'center and enjoy bright day, holy faith. I am the trne vine,' said • But he that hides a dark soul and foul
Jesus. Lord, make us so sensible of all thoughts,
the spiritual benefits, which thou hast Benigbted walks under the mid-day sun; brought to thy Church, that it may flou• Himself is his own dungeon.'
rish in its stock and in its branches! let it Milion's Cumus."
be like the vine of David in the day of its The failure of nominal Christians prosperity, when it liad taken deep root
and filled the land, when the hills were can aloue be attributed to the nego covered with the shadow of it, and the lect of Christian means. God, by boughs thereof were like the goodly cethe institutions of his Church, and darsl return, we leseech thee, O Lord of the powerful aids of his Spirit, has Husts; look down from heaven, behold done and is ready to do all which
and visit this vide, and the vineyard that can be required for the salvation of branch that thou madest so strong for
thy right hand hath planted, and the mankind. He hath united them to thyself. himself by his Son; he hath stiength « This similitudc might be enlarged to ened that union by bis Holy Spirit; a considerable extent. The stock consists and if there be some who derive no
of vile and refuse wood, but is productive benefit from the union, some who
of exquisite and excellent fruit, The Sadeliberately renounce this holy com
viour was represented as a stock out of a munion, and do not the works which unpromising root, on which the Spirit of
dry ground, but a stem grew from this it requires and implies, the fault is the Lord rested. Thé vine was true, and in themselves alone. While they true were all the brauches, and true will
all its branches remain, so long as they heart, and he will be the more precontinue united to the true yine. It is the pared to judge of its power in the vital say, the infusion of the spirit, which
conversion of the world. retains withiu itself the spiritual life, and comniumicates it to others.
• A contemplation on the preaching of “ But heavy tidings remain for those, the word should bring comfort and consowho having been branches of the true vine lation to every Christian heart; it should bear po fruit. Every branch in me,' says do more; it should bring delight and salvaour Lord,' that beareth not fruit,'-—who tion. If I hear and understand, on mine has been united to me as the palm-branch own head be the blame if I do not profit. to the vive, who has been born of Christian If my faith be the faith of the Gospel, it parents, who has been engrafted into the will bring forth abundant fruit; if it be Church by baptism, wbo has resided in a not, what days and years have I to answer Christian country, and has heard the word for, when the word has sounded in my of salvation echoed from a thousand
ears and then vanished with the wind. tongues, and yet who under all these ines But to the serious and devout the imprestimable advantages, has shut his ears sion is strong and lasting : it is written against the word of truth, has lived in with a pen of adamant, and neither tinie Christiau England as in a foreign desart, nor tempest shall destroy it. has wiped the boly cross from bis brow, and " All men are not the immediate disdishonoured those whose parental eyes have ciples of Christ, but all men are called wept for him,--every such branch the
upon to promote his kingdom. We have dresser of the vineyard taketh away. He all a Church within our own breasts; and is deservedly cut off from the benefits of if our piety be there, we never can want that Church, with all its precious gifts and an object of adoration. It will expand graces, which his own unfruitfulness has
with warm interest to all within our reach; defiled :-*every branch which our hea but more particularly to those, to whom venly Father hath not planted, shall be we are bound by nature and affection. rooted up. His Christian profession un When we are converted, let us strengthen supported by Christian conduct, shall no our brethren; and let us lift up our eyes more profit him than the most flourishing in death and pray for our everlasting wel. leaves of an unfruitful tree. • Cut it dowo; fare. The stability of Christ's kingdom why cumbereth it the ground?' But pro. will rise before us in a sublime vision, and fession, blessed be God! is not always up we shall hear the voice of the Comforter successful, for every branch that beareth
in the language of the prophet : ‘no weafruit, be purgeth it, that it may bring forth pon that is formed against thee shall prosmore fruit.' • This strongly suggests,' says per, and every tongue that shall rise against Dr. Doddridge, a very sublime and im- thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. portant thought, namely, that one of the This is the beritage of the servants of the noblest rewards God can bestow on former Lord, and their righteousness is of me, acts of obedience is to make the soul yet saith the Lord.'” P. 202. more boly, and fit for further and more eminent service, though it should be by The mysterious nature and opesuch painful afflictions as resemble the rations of the Holy Spirit are not pruning of a vine.” P. 155.
more wildly perverted by the indisA devout and faithful attention to
cretion of the enthusiast, than by the the preaching of the word of God cold and subtle philosophy of the is the great means of preserving the Socinian in identifying the Spirit faith of individuals , and of enlarging his holy agency to the time of the
with the Father, and in restricting the boundaries and securing the stability of the Church ; and the en
apostles. larged promotion of Christian know
“ We must accommodate ourselves, as ledge peculiar to this day, cannot Christ's disciples did, to the whole will of fail to afford the purest gratification God, ibat we may be enabled to receive to the contemplative Christian, even
bis gifts of the Spirit. if he is most doubtful of the full and
" If the apostles properly rested on this
declaration, if we feel our minds happily rapid success which some are dis- impressed with their tratb, the departure posed to anticipate. Let him first of Jesus from the world will be not only a consider the effect, which the Chris. strong confirmation of our faith, but a tian doctrine produces on his own source of perpetual consolation ; for le
he adds, If, or when, I depart, I will send and atonement be consistently exhim unto you. In the former part of this plained by the admission ? Or if discourse, our Lord speaks of the Com the Deity, Personality, and operaforter, as sent by the Father : in this tions of the Holy Spirit be for a place as sent by himself. As the word of Scripture cannot contradict itself, the di season suppressed by heretical invine union is here clearly expressed. The novations, will all the traces of the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and true doctrine be obliterated ? Will the Son, and is himself a third person of no debateable ground be left on the Godhead, for our Lord says, “I will which the believer may still take his send him unto you.'. I do not presume to stand and challenge the boldest attempt the explanation of so profound a
assaults of a subtle and sceptical mystery: but here it is, and it is consistent with every part of Scripture. It is no philosophy. The doctrines of Scripbar ren speculation, but a solemn declara- ture are so joined together, that no tion, productive of the greatest spiritual act and no force can separate them : benefits. Human reason in arguing upon truth must be held in its purity and this point betrays the weakness of its res integrity, or the man, whu desires to
The general improvement of be consistent must renounce it altohuman science in these days has led the arrogant pretender to practice upon reli. gether. The Christian religion adgion itself. But religion stands upon a
mits of no compromise ; its minutest different basis. Religion was made for parts are of divine origin and auevery age, and the word of revelation be- thority, and may neither be resisted ing established on the veracity of God, is nor resigned, without injury to the like himself unchangeable. The form and whole. The sceptical expositor may manner of divine worship may change, accumulate novelty upon novelty, and error may assume the chair of the in- and heresy upon heresy, till they structor, but truth can never change. • Great is the earth, high is the heaven,
crumble beneath their own weight, swift is the sun in its course, for he com
but when his objections to the prinpasseth the heavens round about, and cipal passages have received the fetcheth his course again to his own place utmost force and strength, which it in one day. Is He not great, that maketh is in his power to give them, the these things. Therefore great is the truth secret and indirect evidence of the and stronger than all things. As for truth it endureth and is always strong; it liveth true faith will still remain unbroken, and conquereth forevermore,'" P. 219.
and his assumed triumph over the
more prominent texts will be coun. It is the boast of the Socinian teracted by the dovetailed connexion system, that it clears away all diffi. of a less explicit argument. The culties, tbat it reduces divine truth whole volume of the Scriptures must to a level with the human under- be exploded before one
revealed standing, and that any little obscu. doctrine can be removed from its rities, which it cannot now develope foundation. A casual and incidenwill eventually yield to the investi- tal expression will contribute to the gations of future philosophers and establishment of the most essential divines. Let it be admitted, and it truth. This is observed by Mr. cannot be denied, that no mysteries Brewster in respect of the resurrecare recognized in the Socinian tion in conteniplating John xvi. scheme: but if the Catholic expo. 17-20. sition of the Scriptures shall ever 6 The demur of the disciples as to the for a time be exploded, will there meaning of their master's words was known be no texts hard to be understood to Christ, though he heard them not. Lord, and incapable of reconciliation with be present also with us, and remove our the doctrine by which it is super. doubts, when under oppression of spirits seded? If the simple humanity of
or dullness of apprehension we do not see Christ be ever received for sound standing, that our faith may never falter,
thy way. Clear the eye of our underand wholesome doctrine, will the
nor our steps to heaven be obstructed passages which assert his divinity either by sin or sorrow!
“ From this little interruption of our only from a prayer thus sinful and detestLord's discourse, an important argumented, but from a prayer so negligent and may be deduced of the truth of Chris- careless as to be unaccompanied by boly tianity as connected with the resurrection desires and sincere affections. In many of Christ, an essential doctrine of the Gos- things we all offend. But in nothing more pel, that no long period shall elapse, before than in negligence in prayer. Grant, O he would again make his appearance among
Lord, that thy heavenly succonr may althem. The event proved that these were ways be ready for ns, that having always not the words of an impostor. A person the Spirit a present Comforter and Counintending to impose upon the world would sellor, we may joy a continual gladness have placed the completion of his prophecy of conscience, thanking and pleasing God at a greater distance of time. The sorrow in every vicissitude of human life." P. 247. of his disciples too he miglit have predicted, but the return of their joy he could
The figurative allusions of the not possibly have foreseen. But our Scriptures, while they exercise the Lord is still more particular. • The world,' best abilities of the modern interhe says,' shall rejoice' at his death. And
preter, were by no means designed what was the conduct of the Jews on that to throw an unnecessary obscurity occasion ? · They that passed by reviled
over sacred truth. They formed the him saying, Thou that destroyest the
familiar language of the oriental temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself.' The reverse of this picture is teacher, and the parables in which equally true : 'then were the disciples our Saviour spake to the multitudes glad when they saw the Lord. At the re were well adapted, not to disappoint appearance of our Saviour after the resur
but to challenge and fix the attenrection, we cannot wonder that the sorrow tion of all who listened with a sinof the disciples was turned into joy."
cere desire of instruction to the graP. 238.
cious words which issued from his It is the high privilege of Chris- mouth. tians to say Abba, Father, and in this relation to offer their
“ The proverbial manner of our Lord's to the Most High. Under this title language throughout the whole histories of
the four Evangelists is peculiarly descripthey are especially taught to address tive of himself
, and in each of these narrahim in the prayer which the Lord tives marks as it were an identity of perhimself hath prescribed for our use, son, and affords a proof of the originality and the relation suggests the most of his character. There was no studied important and interesting reflec- obscurity in this, nor any desire of elevattions.
ing himself at the expence of the ignorant
multitude ; for though his language was “ Our Lord throughout the discourse figurative, it was intended to raise up, racontinues the name of Father ; as if apply. ther than depress the understanding of his ing more particularly to that divine attri- hearers. It is well known, that a figurabute kindness, and above all other parental tive expression well applied, not only gives kindness. In this case there is a peculiar life, but understanding to the simple. In beauty in the allusion, for what can be the eastern countries, it is now, as it was more agreeable or more congenial to a then, a common mode of speech ; and even mind softened by a father's love than to in England, those who are conversant with make a request to a father? For this rea the cultivators of our fields, and other person our Lord says, my Father will deny sons in the uneducated sphere of life, nothing to my friends, who prefer their pe will find in their language the most strik. titions in my name: The propriety of the ing and appropriate figurative allusions. request is implied in the reference to “ My object in making the observation those who are his friends and use his is this : that our Lord does not mean here
For remember, that the prayer, to insinuate, that he had purposely withwhich proceeds from the mouth of one who held from his Disciples, that knowledge is no friend of Christ, who asks not in which he had it in his power to communifaith of the promise of Christ, whose prayer cate, but that from their situation, he is sensual and devilish, will be driven by could only cominunicate what they were the winds far from the Father's throne, able to bear, and what their understandSuch a prayer indeed is blasphemy and ings, under present circumstances, were presumption. Lord ! guard my heart not able to, comprehend. For instance, his
going from them for a short time, his re pray for their constaney runder persecnturning to them for a short time, his leav. tion, for their continuance in faith and. ing them again, the promise of another union with him, wldich were the objects of friend after bis departure, with all the his present petition. On other occasions unusual and importunate circumstances, he prayed for the world with his wonted which were to attend his coming, we may fervency, that they might receive iris word imagine to have been much above the and be converted. How warm is tiris comprehension of the disciples. Yet it supplication : ' ( tiat thon hadst knowii was necessary, that they should be made in this thy day the things that belong unto aeqnainted with all these things; because, thy peace!' And how prayed he for his when the Spirit of God called them to murderers? Father, forgive them. This their remembrance, they became esta.. very prayer includes them all; those who blished proofs of their Master's commani- should believe through his word,--that cation to them, and consequently of the the world might believe, said he, and truth of the whole of his divine mission. know that the Father hath sent me.' These, therefore, are the expressions which “ Far be it from us, O Lord! to ima. gnr Lord calls proverbs, or parables: and gine, that tliy prayer ever was exclasive. in calling them so, he shews them that the Thy affection for the world was too sare, true meaning is not wholly confined to the and thy design too extensive, to allow of expression, and that their imaginations any deductions of thiy love for the whole should be excited to further inquiry. This human race! That many, many have rewas an enconragement to them, as it cer- jected the evidence of the Gospel, or pol. tainly is to us, to search the Seriptures, luted its pure streams, is indeed deeply to pot to make discoveries of strange and ex be lamented, but this affords no argil: traordinary opinions, which have no foun ment that Christ did not come to seek and dation in the Sacred Volume, but to ex. to save that which was lost. pound and to contemplate in the fullest “ The cause of our Lord's preference to and the purest manner all those truths his disciples was most gratifying to them, which are to inform the heart; to dig the and surely must be to us if we tread in quarry not for materials which do not their paths. As if he had said: they are lie beneath the surface, but for that rock, thine, and therefore they are mine, because which will amply repay them for all their they are thine ;' and I am glorified ia labour-for that rock is Christ." P. 250. them. The succession of true believers
which will arise from them is the cause of The prayer of our Lord, recorded
my glorification by them; for wlien I shall be John xvii. is a composition utterly personallyno longer in theworld, and indeed unequalled in sublimity, depth of I am already out of it) these will continne wisdom, affecting earnestness and faithful distributors of thy spiritual gifts; universal benevolence. Mr. Brew- and when I am residing in thy presence, ster's contemplations on this great
and essentially united with thee, when I act of supplication will hardly bę tinue thy designs, and execute thy will.
have come home to heaven, these will conread without improving both the This sentiment of affection excites a stis? heart and the understanding. There brighter spark of devotion, which must alare some petitious, which from their ways be the case, when the words of the intrinsic nature it is not easy to ap mouth and the meditations of the heart prehend, and from which exceptions join in the same harmonious song, · Holy have been collected, inconsistent Father! I cannot pass by a remark on
this warın address. In language adapted with the whole spirit of the interces. sion. Thus it has been observed, petition is excited and promoted by its
to our présent feelings, the holiness of the with a triumph almost profane, that connection with the appellation of Pain this prayer Christ does not pray ther! I should diminish the feeling, if I for the world.
attempted to describe it. The words of
the address are accommodated to the sabi “ From this expression we must not ject of the prayer. In this case the God sappose, that our Lord declined praying of sanctity is implored for a blessing of for the world in the ordinary acceptation sanctification on the immediate or first of the word. It is true, he says, I pray for followers of the Son, that God would keep my selected disciples, and not for the through his own name, preserve by luis world. But why? Because the language own power the precious gift which had of his prayer was wholly inapplicable to proceeded from himself, and maintain that. the wicked and unbeliever. He could not unity of holy principle, which was to be