Page images
[ocr errors]

Happiness in such a creature as man, and ander such circumstances as man is in, is not to be obtained in any other way. It cannot result from . worldly ease, tranquillity, indifference; it cannot flow from sinful passions and pursuits, however varied. Happiness, from the very nature of the case, mus stand connected with all the interests temporal and eternal of man as a responsible being. When philosophers tell us that happiness is the effect of the great passions excited in a worthy pursuit and crowned with success, they speak truly, if they had only an adequate knowledge of what answers these condi. tions. Christianity alone meets them; and thus ex, hibits that strong and determined tendency to promote the highest interests of man which we have been illustrating in these discourses. Happiness is, in truth, the result of great passions engaged in a worthy pursuit, and crowned with success; but no pursuit is worthy of the name, but the search after glory and honor and immortality" in Christ Jesus no pursuit is worthy of the name, but that of the glory of God in our own salvation and in the ad. vancing the good of our fellow creatures. No other pursuit can moderate, whilst it excites the passions; purify and guide, whilst it raises all the emotions of our nature to the utmost effort. No other pursuit also can pretend to crown us with success, perma. nent, exalted, adequate to the outlay of time and effort. Every other pursuit is deceitful and temporary in its result, as it is subordinate in its object, and vain and momentary in its best success. The Christian, amidst all his obscurity and affliction, is the truly great and benevolent and happy character, as he unites the noblest object of pursuit with the constant stimulus of the most lofty passions, the largest effusions of consolation on his fellow Christians, and the prospect of an eternal and imperishable crown of glory to reward and console him at last.



REVELATION 111. 7, 8.

And to the Angel of the Church of Philadelphia

write ; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth ; and shutteth, and no man openeth ; I know thy works : behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my


AFTER considering the preceding topics connected with the propagation of the Gospel, we proceed to the case, which has not yet specifically come before us of a feeble but faithful Church sustained by the promise of Christ. For the Church of Christ in India, like that of Philadelphia, to which the words of the text were addressed, has but "little strength.” The condescending encouragement, therefore, given by our Lord to this feeble Asiatic Church of old, is peculiarly appropriate to ourselves.

This is then our subject, in considering which three things may naturally be asked ; What are the titles and character which our Lord assumes in giving the encouragement; What the circumstances of those to whom it is addressed; and, What the particulars of the promise on which it rests. The reply to the first question will present to us the names and offices of the Divine Savior--that to the second will point out the feebleness yet fidelity of Churches like that of Phila. delphia ; whilst the answer to the third will assure us of the approbation, favor, and protection of Christ.

I. In considering The names and offices of the Divine Savior, as we find them in the text, we shall have to notice the glorious titles themselves, his authority in the Church connected with them, and his manner of executing his high office.

1. His glorious titles and qualities are thus briefly expressed ; “ These things saith he that is holy, he that is true;" that is, he that claims perfect holiness and invariable truth as necessary and essential to his nature; he that is emphatically, and in a manner which no mere creature can pretend to, “ the holy One and the true One." These are attri

This discourse was delivered in the Church of St. James, Delhi, November 21, 1836, on the occasion of the consecration of that edifice. The Introduction then, stood thus, The consecration of this noble building for the public worship of Almighty God, in the imperial city of Delhi, and under the remarkable circumstances which have attended its erection, is no inconsiderable event. The Church of Christ in India, like that of Philadelphia, to which the words of our text were addressed, has but “ little strength.” Every accession therefore, to the number of her ministers, every increase to her sacred places for the open profession of the name of Christ, is an important step, is a new means of strength and grace, is opening before her another“ door," that she may enter on new fields of labor, honor, and usefulness.

bates exclusively appertaining to the one infinite and self-existing Jehovah. If our Lord were not God as well as man, such a claim would be presumptuous and blasphemous in the highest degree. No patriarch, no prophet, no evangelist, no apostle ever set up such a pretence. No one but “ the onlybegotten of the Father," in whom dwelleth "all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," thus speaks. He is essential holiness and truth. The prophet of old, accordingly, had termed him, THE HOLY ONE,“ Neia ther wilt thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption.” And the angel, announcing his incarnation to the virgin, “Therefore that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

In addressing a feeble but pure Church, like that of Philadelphia, this is the especial title which our Lord assumes.

He delights in holiness and truth. He cannot endure either iniquity or falsehood. He is holy in his nature, and therefore cannot but be true to his word. His salvation is full of holiness and truth. His death upon the Cross was to vindicate the holiness of the divine law and government, and assert the truth of the divine sanctions. His gospel teaches, promotes, requires holiness. His Holy Spirit infuses it into the heart. Christ is in. finitely holy to punish all individuals and Churches that depart from his ways; and he is infinitely true to fulfil all his promises to those who “

keep his word and do not deny his name.”

These divine properties are, therefore, a source of encouragement. Men change, ministers change, prevalent opinions change, degrees of strength in Churches and individuals change, but the rule of Christ's judgment changes not, truth and holiness change not, the Gospel changes not; because Christ, the author of them, is “ He that is holy, and he that is true;" “ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

2. Our Lord's authority and office are next to be

noted, “ He that hath the key of David ;" allud. ing to the Eastern custom of placing a key on the shoulders of princes or nobles when entering upon their office. So the prophet, predicting the reign of Messiah, says, “ the government shall be upon his shoulder;" and speaking of Eliakim, as a type of that Messiah, “ the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder."

Accordingly, “the Lord God gave unto him," at his incarnation, “ the throne of his father David, that he might reign over the house of Jacob for ever;" and the apostle, after his resurrection, thus announced his dominion, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made this same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” And St. Peter, describing his actual glory and authority, says, “Who is gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God ; angels and princi. palities and powers, being made subject unto Him."

Let this, then, sustain the fainting Churches in the days of sorrow, that Christ hath “ the key of David," is heir of all things, has" all power given' him in heaven and earth,” and must“

reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet," and hath accomplished all the purposes of holiness and truth in his great redemption.

3. But the manner in which our Lord executes his office agrees with the description of his authority and of his divine attributes, “He that openeth, and no man shutteth ; and shutteth and no man openeth ;” words which, carrying on the allusion of the key placed on the shoulder of official persons, describe him as opening or shutting the portals of the regal abode with uncontrollable authority. If the key be applied by him and the door thrown open, those invited enter ; but if it be closed, there is no admission. There is accordingly a divine efficacy in Christ's acts as Mediator. When he opens the

« PreviousContinue »