صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." "To the principalities and powers in the heavenly places is made known by the church"-by the whole scheme of redemption, from its commencement to its completion-" the manifold wisdom of God."+"These things the angels desire to look into." Heaven takes an interest in earth; for it is from earth that heaven is peopled. There was a time, when there was only one redeemed soul in heaven. Righte ous Abel was there alone-the first fruits unto God and the Lamb. Since then, sinners in every succeeding generation have been passing, first from the world to the church on earth, and then from the church on earth to the church in heaven. In proportion as the church on earth enlarges, the population of heaven increases. And, when the church shall have passed through the glory of the latter dayswhen the mystery of God shall be finished"-when "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living shall be changed;-there shall "stand before the throue, and before the Lamb, a multitude which no one can number, of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, with the white robes of purity and gladness, and the palms' of victory and triumph, and shall sing with a loud voice, Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." Let me ask you then, my hearers, does the prospect of this blessed consummation stir your spirits within you? Or, can you hear of the progress of the Redeemer's cause,- of the conversion of sinners at home and abroad,―of the overthrow of pagan idolatry,-the declension of Mahometan delusion, the slackening of the yoke of anti-Christian bondage, and all the indications of a coming millennium,with an unmoved and stagnant mind? When you hear of a sinner that repenteth," does no pulse of pleasure beat? Does no springing tear find its way to your eye? Is no silent aspiration of praise breathed from your heart to God? If not, surely you have not the mind of

[ocr errors]

* Luke, xv. 7. 10.

† Eph. iii. 10.

1 Pet. i. 12.


Paul-surely you are yet a stranger to the spirit of heaven. The interest that is felt and manifested in the spread and success of the gospel, is one of those pulses of the soul by which the state of his spiritual health may be most surely ascertained. He certainly has no right impressions of his obligations to God, who can view without emotion a revolted world, a world "given to idolatry ;"-he, surely, has never felt the value of salvation to himself, who feels no anxious desire to impart the knowledge of it to others. Must not he, think you, be a stranger to the love of Christ, who participates not in his "satisfaction," when he “sees of the travail of bis soul;"*-who feels no sympathy with the gladness of "the good Shepherd," when he brings the stray sheep, home to his fold, and says, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost?" Try yourselves by this test. I say not that a practical and liberal interest about the cause of missions is, by itself, unattended with other evidences, a certainly conclusive proof of genuine Christianity-but I am very sure, that the entire want of such an interest is a sadly satisfying proof of the contrary, of the absence of the religion of Jesus from the heart. 4thly. The guilt of idolatry. it is to be feared, attaches to many who little imagine that they are at all chargeable with any thing of the kind.

Yes there are many who may even, in contemplating the idolatries of the heathen, condemn, and wonder, and pity, without at all reflecting on the possibility of their being themselves in the same condemnation. You are not worshipping the host of heaven;-you are not adoring deified men; you are not falling down to stocks and stones;you are not making to yourselves graven images, likenesses of things in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth;-and you conclude you are not idolaters. But what is the spirit of idolatry? Is it not the alienation of the heart from God? Is it not the withholding from him, and the giving to other objects, whatever they may be, that homage and those affections,

Isaiah, liii, 11..

† Luke, xv. 6.

to which he alone is entitled? Every man's idol is that on which his heart is supremely set; and every heart in which Jehovah is not enthroned, is an idol's temple. Is there present in this assembly any man of ambition, who is pursuing, with the full ardour of his mind, "the honour that cometh from man ;"-whose spirit is panting for power, and station, and influence, and present or posthumous fame,→ and whose thoughts, and schemes, and anxieties, and efforts are expended for their attainment? His heart is withheld from God; he is "given up to idolatry."-Is there in this assembly a man of this world, whose mind, whose time, whose exertions are devoted to the acquisition of its wealth;-who, for the attainment of this, "rises early, and sits up late, and eats the bread of carefulness, and, immersed in the projection and execution of plans of worldly emolument, is thoughtless of his soul, of eternity, and of God?Whether that man hoards up his stores with the avarice of a miser, or expends them on the gratification of the "lust of the eye and the pride of life,"→ his heart is not God's; he has in him the spirit of idolatry. He may not have Deities whom he names Plutus or Mammon; but he might have both, and be little more an idolater than he already is.-Is there in this assembly a man whom Providence has blessed with a fulness of domestic joys;who, in the bosom of a lovely family, finds the ample gratification of his desire for happiness-who smiles through tears of delight on the objects of his fond affection, and, because it is right he should love them, fancies that his enjoyment is more than innocent,-that it is virtuous and praiseworthy?—I would, in the spirit of kindness, remind such a man, that there is one higher than father and mother, and wife and children, and that if HE has not the first place in our hearts, even the exercise of natural affection becomes idolatry. Let these affections be hallowed by faith and piety;-let an altar be reared in your household to "the God of the families of Israel." Till this is done, your family is your idol;-it estranges your heart from God:-the object of your attachment is lawful, but your attachment itself is idolatrous.-Is there in this assembly a man of

science, who employs his time and his powers in the researches of philosophy, in one or in all of its diversified departments?-His employment is rational, manly, honourable. But, oh! let him listen to the voice of friendly warning. Science may be the god of his idolatry. He may study nature, without a single thought of " Nature's God." He may explore the wonders of creation, without one rising sentiment of devotion to the "Maker omnipotent." Or, if he pay a passing compliment to his power and his skill, he may view him only as a wonderful Artist; he may be blind and insensible to the beauties of his moral perfections;these may be unheeded, unadmired, unadored. The authority of God may not be his rule, nor the fear and love of God his springs of action; nor the glory of God his end. He may trifle with the claims of the Bible. wilful ignorance of the God of salvation. but if it exclude God, it is science falsely so called. The sun, moon, and stars may as effectually take away a man's heart from God, as if he were a professed worshipper of the "host of heaven;"-and many a one whom

"Science never taught to stray

He may live in Science is good;

Far as the solar walk, or milky way,"

shall stand accepted at last as an humble believer, a lover, and a worshipper of "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; whilst the philosopher of this world, who lived and died" without Christ and without God," shall be rejected as an idolater of science and of self, and shall present an affecting illustration of the Saviour's words, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes!"-Lastly: Is there in this assembly any one who presumes to offer his worship to God under any other view of his character than that which is presented in the gospel; or in any other way than that which the gospel prescribes? Let such recollect, that there is but one God; that this one God has one immutable cha

Matt. xi. 25.

racter; that this character is essential to his very being; that the God of the Bible is this one God; and that if he is not worshipped as he is there made known, it is not God that is worshipped, but an idol,-a creature of our own imagination. We may, in our minds, divest God of some of his essential perfections; and then we may fall down and worship him in our own way. But this is idolatry, both in the spirit and in the letter.-Is there in this assembly any self-ignorant and deluded soul, that will presume to come to God in the relation of a creature, while he refuses that prostration of a "broken and contrite heart," which becomes him as a sinner ;-who will venture before the throne of purity and justice in his own name, and on the ground of his own doings, and not in the name and through the obedience and sacrifice of the blessed Redeemer?-Were I to say, that such worship could be accepted of God, I should be using my influence to deceive his soul, and to bring his blood upon my own head. The gospel addresses us in the character of sinners. In this character, it invites us to return to God. And how, then, should sinners return to God,-return to their justly-offended Sovereign? Surely, with the feelings and the language of humble broken-hearted petitioners for mercy; deeply feeling, and freely owning, the righteousness of the sentence that has condemned them; -sensible of their entire unworthiness of a favourable reception; and relying for acceptance on "grace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord."-It is indispensably necessary to the acceptable approach of any sinner to God, that his spirit be brought down to his situation; that he take the low ground, as to himself, which the gospel of Christ assigns him. As a sinner, he must come to God pleading the blood of the Saviour's atonement, and the merits of his perfect righteousness;—as a sinner, he must continue to worship, presenting all his services, of every description, in the name of Jesus;-adopting, as the expression of his faith and his feelings, the language of the dying martyr, "None but Christ, none but Christ;" making Him "all his salvation, and all his desire."-"To whom coming, as unto a living

« السابقةمتابعة »