« ПредишнаНапред »
vation. She teaches us all to pray for the “inspiration of the Holy
yea, that we may be "filled with the Holy Ghost.”+ Nay, and every presbyter of hers professes to receive the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands. Therefore to deny any of these, is, in effect, to renounce the church of England, as well as the whole Christian revelation.
10. But “ the wisdom of God” was always “ foolishness with men.” No marvel, then, that the great mystery of the gospel should be now also “hid from the wise and prudent," as well as in the days of old; that it should be almost universally denied, ridiculed, and exploded, as mere frenzy; and that all who dare avow it still, are branded with the names of madmen and enthusiasts! This is that falling away which was to come: that general apostasy of all orders and degrees of men, which we even now find to have overspread the earth. “ Run to and fro in the streets of Jerusalem, and see if ye can find a man,” a man that loveth the Lord his God with all his heart, and serveth him with all his strength. How does our own land mourn (that we look no farther) under the overflowings of ungodliness! What villanies of every kind are committed day by day; yea, too often with impunity, by those who sin with a high hand, and glory in their shame! Who can reckon up the oaths, curses, profaneness, blasphemies; the lying, slandering, evil speaking ; the sabbath breaking, gluttony, drunkenness, revenge; the whoredoms, adulteries, and various uncleanness; the frauds, injustice, oppression, extortion, which overspread our land as a flood ?
11. And even among those who have kept themselves pure from these grosser abominations; how much anger and pride, how much sloth and idleness, how much softness and effeminacy, how much luxury and self-indulgence, how much covetousness and ambition, how much thirst of praise, how love of the world, how much fear of man is to be found! Meanwhile, how little of true religion! For, where is he that loveth either God or his neighbour, as he hath given us commandment ? On the one hand are those who have not so much as the form of godliness ; on the other, those who have the form only: there stands the open, there the painted sepulchre. So that in very deed, whosoever were earnestly to behold any public gathering together of the people, (I fear those in our churches are not to be excepted,) might easily perceive, “ that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees :" the one having almost as little concern about religion, as if there were “no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit;" and the other, making it a mere lifeless form, a dull round of external performances, without either true faith, or the love of God, or joy in the Holy Ghost !
12. Would to God I could except us of this place! “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God, for you is, that ye may be saved”. from this overflowing of ungodliness, and that here may its proud waves be stayed ! But is it so indeed ? God knoweth, yea, and our own consciences, it is not. Ye have not kept yourselves pure. Corrupt are we also and abominable ; and few are there that understand any more; few that worship God in spirit and in truth. We too are" a generation that set not our hearts aright, and whose spirit cleaveth not steadfastly unto God :" he hath appointed us indeed to be “the salt of the earth;
* Collect before the Holy Communion. + Order of Confirmation.
but if the salt hath lost its savour, it is thenceforth good for nothing ; but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
13. And “Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord ? Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this ?" Yea, we know not how soon he may say to the sword, “Sword, go through this land !" He hath given us long space to repent.
He lets us alone this year also: but he warns and awakens us by thunder. His judgments are abroad in the earth. And we have all reason to expect the heaviest of all, even that he “ should come unto us quickly and remove our candlestick out of its place, except we repent and do the first works;" unless we return to the principles of the reformation, the truth and simplicity of the gospel. Perhaps we are now resisting the last effort of divine grace to save us. Perhaps we have well nigh"filled up the measure of our iniquities," by rejecting the counsel of God against ourselves, and casting out his messengers.
14. Oh God, " in the midst of wrath remember mercy!" Be glorified in our reformation, not in our destruction! Let us hear the rod, and him that appointed it! Now that thy "judgments are abroad in the earth, let the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness !" 15. My brethren, it is high time for us to awake out of sleep; before
great trumpet of the Lord be blown," and our land become a field of blood. Oh may we speedily see the things that make for our peace, before they are hid from our eyes ! “Turn thou us, oh good Lord, and let thine anger cease from us. Oh Lord, look down from heaven, behold and visit this vine;" and cause us to know “the time of our visitation." "
Help us, oh God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name! Oh deliver us, and be merciful to our sins, for thy name's sake! And so we will not go back from thee: Oh let us live, and we shall call upon thy name. Turn us again, oh Lord God of hosts! Show the light of thy countenance, and we shall be whole.”
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
SERMON IV.-Scriptural Christianity.
Preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, before the University, on August 24, 1744. “ Whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the
sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head," Ezek. xxxiii, 4.
“ And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,” Acts iv, 31.
1. The same expression occurs in the second chapter, where we read, « When the day of pentecost was fully come, they were all," (the apostles, with the women, and the mother of Jesus, and his brethren,)." with one accord, in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind. And there appeared unto them VOL. I.
cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost :” One immediate effect thereof was, “They began to speak with other tongues;" insomuch, that both the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and the other strangers who together, when this was noised abroad, heard them speak, in their several tongues, the wonderful works of God," Acts ii, 1-6.
2. In this chapter we read, that when the apostles and brethren had been praying, and praising God, “ the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost," Acts iv, 31. Not that we find any visible appearance here, such as had been in the former instance: nor are we informed that the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were then given to all or any of them; such as the “gift of healing, of working other miracles, of prophecy, of discerning spirits, the speaking with divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues," 1 Cor. xii, 9, 10.
3. Whether these gifts of the Holy Ghost were designed to remain in the church throughout all ages, and whether or no they will be restored at the nearer approach of the “restitution of all things,” are questions which it is not needful to decide. But it is needful to observe this, that, even in the infancy of the church, God divided them with a sparing hand. Were all even then prophets? Were all workers of miracles? Had all the gifts of healing? Did all speak with tongues ? No, in no wise. Perhaps not one in a thousand. Probably none but the teachers in the church, and only some of them, 1 Cor. xii, 28-30. It was, therefore, for a more excellent purpose than this, that “ they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.”
4. It was to give them (what none can deny to be essential to all Christians in all ages) the mind which was in Christ, those holy fruits of the Spirit, which whosoever hath not, is none of his ; to fill them with “ love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness," Gal. v, 22-24; to endue them with faith, (perhaps it might be rendered, fidelity,) with meekness and temperance; to enable them to crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts, its passions and desires, and, in consequence of that inward change, to fulfil all outward righteousness, to
walk as Christ also walked," " in the work of faith, in the patience of hope, the labour of love,” i Thess. i, 3.
5. Without busying ourselves then in curious, needless inquiries, touching those extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, let us take a nearer view of these his ordinary fruits, which we are assured will remain throughout all ages ;-of that great work of God among the children of men, which we are used to express by one word, Christianity; not as it implies a set of opinions, a system of doctrines, but as it refers to men's hearts and lives. And this Christianity it may be useful to consider under three distinct views :
I. As beginning to exist in individuals :
I design to close these considerations with a plain practical application.
I. 1. And first, let us consider Christianity in its rise, as beginning to exist in individuals.
Suppose, hen, one of those who heard the apostle Peter preaching
repentance and remission of sins, was pricked to the heart, was convinced of sin, repented, and then believed in Jesus. By this faith of the operation of God, which was the very substance, or subsistence of things hoped for, Heb. xi, 1, the demonstrative evidence of invisible things, he instantly received the spirit of adoption, whereby he now cried, “ Abba, Father," Rom. viii, 15. Now first it was that he could call Jesus Lord, by the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. xii, 3, the Spirit itself bearing witness with his spirit that he was a child of God, Rom. viii
, 15. Now it was that he could truly say, “I live not, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” Gal. ii, 20.
2. This, then, was the very essence of his faith, a divine eleszós (evidence or conviction) of the love of God the Father, through the Son of his love, to him a sinner, now accepted in the Beloved. And," being justified by faith, he had peace with God," Rom. v, 1, yea, “the peace of God ruling in his heart;" a peace, which passing all understanding, (Tavsa v8v, all barely rational conception,) kept his heart and mind from all doubt and fear, through the knowledge of him in whom he had believed. He could not therefore“ be afraid of any evil tidings ;" for his “ heart stood fast believing in the Lord.” He feared not what man could do unto him, knowing the very hairs of his head were all numbered. He feared not all the powers of darkness, whom God was daily bruising under his feet. Least of all was he afraid to die; nay, he des sired to “ depart and to be with Christ,” Phil. 1, 23; who, " through death, had destroyed him that had the power of death, even the devil, and delivered them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime (till then) subject to bondage," Heb. ii, 15.
3. His soul therefore magnified the Lord, and his spirit rejoiced in God his Saviour. “He rejoiced in him with joy unispeakable, who had reconciled him to God, even the Father:" "in whom he had redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” He rejoiced in that witness of God's Spirit with his spirit, that he was a child of God; and more abundantly, “ in hope of the glory of God;" in hope of the glorious image of God, and full renewal of his soul in righteousness and true holiness; and in hope of that crown of glory, that" inheritance, incor ruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
4. “ The love of God was also shed abroad in his heart, by the Holy Ghost, which was given unto him," Rom. v, 5. "Because he was a son, God had sent forth the Spirit of his Son into his heart, crying, Abba, Father!" Gal. iv, 6. And that filial love of God was continually increased by the witness he had in himself (1 John v, 10) of God's pardoning love to him; by“ beholding what manner of love it was, which the Father had bestowed upon him, that he should be called a child of God," 1 John iii, 1. So that God was the desire of his eyes, and the joy of his heart; his portion in time and in eternity.
5. He that thus loved God, could not but love his brother also ; and “not in word only, but in deed and in truth.” “If God," said he, "So loved us, we ought also to love one another," 1 John iv, 11 ; yea, every soul of man, as
the mercy of God is over all his works,” Psa. cxlv, 9. Agreeably hereto, the affection of this lover of God embraced all mankind for his sake; not excepting those whom he had never seen in the fesh, or those of whom he knew nothing more than that they were " the
offspring of God,” for whose souls his Son had died; not excepting the evil and unthankful, and least of all his enemies, those who hated, or persecuted, or despitefully used him for his Master's sake. These had a peculiar place, both in his heart and in his prayers. He loved them even as Christ loved us."
6. And“ love is not puffed up,” i Cor. xiii, 4. It abases to the dust every soul wherein it dwells: accordingly, he was lowly of heart, little, mean, and vile in his own eyes. He neither sought, nor received the praise of men, but that which cometh of God only. He was meek and long suffering, gentle to all, and easy to be entreated. Faithfulness and truth never forsook him; they were " bound about his neck, and wrote on the table of his heart." By the same Spirit he was enabled to be temperate in all things, refraining his soul even as a weaned child.
crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him;" superior to "the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life.” By the same almighty love was he saved, both from passion and pride; from lust and vanity; from ambition and covetousness; and from every temper which was not in Christ.
7. It may easily be believed, he who had this love in his heart, would work no evil to his neighbour. It was impossible for him, knowingly and designedly, to do harm to any man. He was at the greatest distance from cruelty and wrong, from any unjust or unkind action. With the same care did he " set a watch before his mouth, and keep the door of his lips,” lest he should offend in tongue, either against justice, or against mercy or truth. He put away all lying, falsehood, and fraud; neither was guile found in his mouth. He spake evil of no man; nor did an unkind word ever come out of his lips.
8. And, as he was deeply sensible of the truth of that word, "with out me ye can do nothing," and, consequently, of the need he had to be watered of God every moment; so he continued daily in all the ordinances of God, the stated channels of his grace to man: apostles' doctrine,” or teaching, receiving that food of the soul with all readiness of heart; in “ the breaking of bread,” which he found to be the communion of the body of Christ ; and “ in the prayers” and praises offered up by the great congregation. And thus, he daily
grew in grace,” increasing in strength, in the knowledge and love of God.
9. But it did not satisfy him, barely to abstain from doing evil. His soul was athirst to do good. The language of his heart continually was, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” My Lord went about doing good; and shall not I tread in his steps? As he had opportunity, therefore, if he could do no good of a higher kind, he fed the hungry, clothed the naked, helped the fatherless or stranger, visited and assisted them that were sick or in prison. He gave all his goods to feed the poor. He rejoiced to labour or to suffer for them; and wherein soever he might profit another, there especially to "deny himself." He counted nothing too dear to part with for them, as well remembering the word of his Lord, " Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of thcse my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” Matt. xxv, 40.
10. Such was Christianity in its rise. Such was a Christian in ancient days. Such was every one of those, who, when they heard the Wireatenings of the chief priests and elderr, "lifted up their voice to
" in the