« ПредишнаНапред »
tears of patriotism for the calamities and ruin which the cruci. fixion of Jesus would inevitably bring upon their country ;they were not the tears of friendship, properly tempered with submission and confidence; they were not the tears of gratitude, in the contemplation of his great love; nor were they the". tears of joy, in the anticipation of the blessings to be obtained by his death. When we exhibit a suffering dying Saviour, many weep; but the same effects might be produced by any tragic scene in which they have no interest, and the origin of which, they even know to be fictitious. We shall never “ look upon him whom we have pierced, and mourn, and be in bitterness for him," till the Spirit of grace and of supplications shall be poured down froin on high.
Secondly, Consider the REASONS of this injunction, in their essential application to Jesus himself. “Weep not for me." The love of Jesus, under the influence of which he uttered these words, is sovereign in its origin. It is disinterested in its operations. It is infinite in its degree. The blessings of it are innumerable. In some future period of time, the displays of it shall be universal: and, as it bears an eternal date, it may be safely trusted for its eternal duration. The omnipotence of his love triumphed over all the rage of his enemies, and all his exquisite sufferings. He became insensible of his own woes, in his concern for others. When Jesus said to the daughters of Jerusalem,“ Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children,” he espressed all the tenderness of his sympathy and pity. They wept for him; but he knew there was greater cause of weeping for them *. On this ever-meinorable occasion, he asserted and maintained the dignity of his spotless innocence of. Because he did not suffer for his own sins, he endured the cross, despised the shane, and commanded the women who followed him, to dry up their tears, and cease their lamentations for him. Then also, we behold and admire his wonderful and perfect meekness. Instead of attempting to escape from his barbarous focs, or of struggling against their diabolical power; instead of threatening, upbraiding, or uttering one complaining word, he is silent and passive; feeling nothing but compassion for his murderers, in the view of their impending ruin I. But, with meekness, under the cruehties of men, he united full submission to the will of God $. It is well with the suffering disciple, when, in imitation of his Lord, he can say to his sympathizing friends, “ Weep not for me; this is the will of my heavenly Father; and if le be glorilied, I must rejoice."-'The submission of Jesus to the divine will, was perfected in his firm reliance upon covenant-promises, His work was all before hiin; he knew his own sufficiency for
* Mat. xxxin. 37. Luke xix. 41, 42.
John xii. 27. 28. Mat. xxvi, 39, 42.
Luke xxii. 34.
it; and the certain accomplishment of the promises, made to him by the Father, was the joy set before 'him#. As he was led to Calvary, fainting under the weight of his cross, and covered with disgrace, he animated himself, by anticipating the glory included in such promises. When Jesus said to the daughters of Jerusalem,“ Weep not for me,” he displayed the illustrious magnanimity of his character:-his composure in the hour of trial, and his holdness in the dreadful conflict he was called to sustain. He was superior to shame, to fear, to surrounding danger*. Finally, The text will strikingly illustrate the fortitude of Jesus: the patience with which he endured the pains he was then suffering, from the scourges and blows he had recently re. ceived, from the crown of thorns, and the weight of his cross.
Such was the temper and conduct of Jesus in the immediate view of his crucifixion. Let us, therefore, study his character, trust his faithfulness, imbibe his spirit, and follow his example, in every path of duty and of suffering, as the most indubitable testimonies of gratitude for his infinite condescension and love.
P. || Psalm xxviii. Isaiah xlii. 1-4. * Mark x. 32, 34. John xviii. 4-8. xix. 10, 11,
ON THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE TERM
LEGALIST. The doctrine of justification by free grace, is, of all others, the most consistent with Scripture,- the inost replete with comfort to man, - and the most conducive to the glory of God. Our reformers were convinced of this; and, therefore, instead of insisting upon salvation by works, they thought the best way of doing good to mankind, was to shew the miserable and lost state in which they were by nature ; and direct them to Jesus, as the foundation of their hope, and the only inedium of their acceptance with God. We know the consequence; the truth ran, and was glorified; multitudes. were convinced; and, renouncing their own righteousness, were brought to depend entirely on the merits of Christ for salvation. All this was good; but not long after, a set of men arose, who, fired with indignation at the sentiments of those who expected to be saved by the works of the law, went into the opposite extreme; and, because the law was abolished as a covenant of works, thought, therefore, it was not to be considered as a rule of life. After these men, arose others, who, though not to be ranked with the former, yet, by the expressions they used, and the sentiments they advanced, gave room to
suppose that their doctrines rather tended to relax our obligations to holiness of life than to strengthen them. Now, although these men have been answered and confuted again and again, I am sorry to observe, there is still something of the same spirit in the present day. It is no uncommon thing for those who insist upon the conscientious discharge of the various duties enjoined on them in the word of God, to be called Legalists. By a Legalist, I understand one who acts according to a law or rule ; and, in this sense, every man ought to be a legalist, since he is in duty bound to obey God's sacred word; which is the rule given him for the regulation of his conduct.
Taking the word, however, in the sense generally affixed to it, as denoting one who expects salvation by bis own works, it is certainly a most notorious abuse of the word to apply it to those who, believing in the imputed righteousness of Christ, still contend for good works as evidence of love and obedience. Yet this is too often the case ; for since I have been acquainted with the religious world, I have heard some of the wisest and most evangelical ministers reproached as legalists; and all this, because they have exhorted their hearers, not indeed to save themselves, but to make use of the means which the gospel affords. I have been grieved when I have heard charges of this kind brought against those, who no more believed that man has power to convert himself, than he has to create a world. Besides, if all exhortations, precepts, and means, are to be laid aside, and not to be insisted on, – then a great part of the Bible must be useless; and a minister must not read a chapter in his congregation, nor a master in his family, lest he should meet with exhortations to duty, and thus be termed a Legalist.
But, what is still more affecting is, that a certain fear of being thus branded as a legalist, seemis actually to have taken possession of many evangelical ministers; and hence it is that we can șcarcely go into their places of Worship, but we find them addressing the people as if they were all converted ; attempting to console their ininds, as if they were all convinced of sin ; and exhibiting to them all the promises of the gospel, as if they were all greatly distressed about their state. Where are the just reproofs, the pointed exhortations, the close reasonings, the tender expostulations, and the warm addresses to the conscience, for which our forefathers were distinguished ? When I read the works of an Owen, a Howe, a Charnock, a Bates, a Manton, a Flavel, a Henry, and many others, I blush for inany of the modern race of preachers; and do not wonder in hearing them complain of so few conversions in the present day! Alas, how can they expect any, when even the term application is proscribed anong many of hem? and, to say
any thing to sinners at the end of the sermon, is not considered as preaching the gospel, but as a species of legality.
am persuaded this is an artifice of the great enemy of souls, to hinder the usefulness of ministers, and to promote dissention in churches. Let those who have adopted this practice, ask themselves how they can reconcile it to their consciences, to leave out the preceptive part of God's word, merely because they are afraid of being called Legalists. How can they be said to fulfil their commission, to declare the whole counsel of God, and to acquit themselves of the fear of man? The doctrines of the gospel, indeed, are to be earnestly contended for, and the grand foundation to be built upon; but, as the Bible abounds both with doctrines and precepts, the one are not to be excluded for the sake of the other. Let those who do not love to hear of duties, seriously enquire whether they are following the footsteps of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and saints? whether they do not stand in need of being stirred up to spiritual diligence *; or whether the apostle's exhortation on their system be not legal, when he says, “ Be ye stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord t.”
B. Prov. iv, 18.
to Cor. xv. 56.
El'ANGELICAL TRUTII THE GRAND OBJECT OF ANGELICAL RESEARCH,
À MEDITATION ON I PETER I. 12. IThich things the Angels desire to look into. It is a truth, allowed by all Christians, that the dispensation under which we live, affords us far greater advantages for spirituality and heavenly enjoyment, than any other which preceded it. To us, life and immortality are brought to light. The spirit that properly belongs to it, is not a spirit of bondage, but of adoption ; crying, ubba, fatiier. The happiness attainable under it, approaches near to that of the heavenly world; so near does its land border, as it were, upon it, that believers, in the present state, are said to be“ Come to mount Sion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the innumerable company of angels, to the spirits of the just made perfect,” &c. Yet it is no less true, that ihe greater part of professing Christians Hve as though they stood upon no such ground, and possessed no such opportunities. We possess an Old Testament spirit amidst New Testament advantages. A promise is left us of entering into rest; but we seem, at least, to come short of it. How is this? Is it uot owing, in a great degrec, 10 the neglect of the gospel? Having assented to a systein of doctrines, we fancy we know almost the whole that is to be known upon this subject, and have nothing more to do, but to hold them fast against the errors of the times, and take heed that we do not dishonour them by an inconsistency of conduct. Hence, what is called Religious Conversation, seldom turns upon the gospel, unless any part of it be called in question; bat either upon our own vant of spirituality, or the pleasures that we have forinerly experienced; or, perhaps, upou the talents of this or that popular preacher.
When a company of Christians meet together, and feel a wish for improving conversation, let one of them take a Bible and read; and, as he reads, let himn frequently pause, and let any one that can, make a remark, or ask a serious question, so as, upon the whole, to promote the understanding of what is read. This would draw off the attention from less profitable things; and the blessing of the Lord attending it, would, ere we are aware, produce those holy pleasures which, while pouring over our own barrenness, we shall sigh after in vain.
To comfort the primitive Christians, who, as well as we, were * in heaviness, through manifold temptations,” Peter took no other course than to declare unto thein the glorious truths of the gospel, and the vast advantages which they had over all others of former ages, in possessing the knowledge of them. Three things in particular he holds up to their consideration :1. That the prophets were 10 us ministering servants ;“ Not unto themselves, but to us they did minister things which are now reported." They sowed, that we might reap. — 2. That the things which they foretold, and which we possess, were the objects of their most intense research. “Of which salvation, the prophets have enquired and searched diligently; searching what, and what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify, when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." 3. That, such is the excellence and glory of the gospel, as not only to be the study of prophets, but of angels:
“ Which things the angels desire to look into.".
It is generally supposed, I believe, that the phrase look into *, alludes to the cherubims which were placed bending over the Merey-seat, and looking, as it were. with intenseness at it. Thus Mary stooped, and looked into the sepulchre, in hope of discovering lier Lord; and thus believers are described as looking into the perfect law of liberty, or the gospel of Christ.
in foriner ages, the angels employed their capacious powers on other thenes. At first, the display of the divine perfections, in creation, furnished them with matter for praise and gladness. “ The morning - stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for jeg.” Afterwards, the providence of God, in the
* Ilacuxurtu. to bend, or stood.