« السابقةمتابعة »
Luke xi, 28. The blessing of good children is perhaps The greatest temporal good; but our Lord shews that it is far inferior to the spiritual good of piety and holiness. Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. Matt. xii, 48-56. Hear again, too, the Apostle JamesThis man (the practical hearer) shall be blessed in his' deed, not merely for it, but in it. The very acts of obedience bring a blessing-in keeping his commandments there is great reward. There is unspeakable peace, tranquillity, and comfort of mind in obedience: the testimony of a good conscience brings infinitely greater joy into the heart, than all worldly things can do: no act of self-denial, holy love, penitence, and obedience is without its accompanying blessing of inward joy, and peace with God. The word of God is thus eminently glorified. When those who attend the word, are the best masters and mistresses, husbands or wives, children or servants; gentle, diligent, meek, obedient, humble, O how it adorns the Gospel. The Apostle presses this on wives, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Let your temper and conversation shew the good you get by hearing sermons. And then look hereafter. Our Lord declares to those duly attending to his words-I know them, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. It is the obedient Christian that will hear those joyful words, Well done, good and faithful servant! All
those who have done the will of God on earth, shal enter his heavenly kingdom, and their works be accepted through that Saviour, by whose grace they were per formed. The more closely his grace enables us to conform to his will here, the more abundantly shall we be blessed by him and with him for ever. Grace is the seed of glory.
Answers to Objections that may be offered against Practical Obedience.
THE subject of the last chapter is very important, and manifestly a main end of all preaching and hearing; yet the obedience there enforced is so opposed to the natural heart, that men ever raise many objections to it. Let us distinctly consider some of those objections.
There are few arguments against a religious life more plausible than this-If I attend, as the Bible requires, to my religious duties, MY WORLDLY INTERESTS WILL SUFFER-I shall displease the friends who are able and willing to assist me-or I shall offend those on whom I am dependent-or I shall lose opportunities of advancing myself in life.
This objection might be met by saying, You will not ordinarily in the result find this to be the fact. Have faith in God, and act a Christian part, whatever apparent loss it may bring; and you will find that godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which
s to come; you will find our Saviour's words fulfilledTe that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
But the whole force of this objection has been met by our Lord on the very ground of the worldly man, on his own surmise, that he shall suffer all that he fears in this world. In these memorable words, our Lord fully answers one of the most plausible arguments that the world presents against religious duties, What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul! or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul!
Let a man have every possible earthly advantage, and no abatement of pain or loss, sickness or uncertainty; let him have all earthly wisdom, all strength, beauty, and riches; let him have universal dominion and universal admiration; let him have all these, with uninterrupted health and prosperity, and that for lengthened days, and let all these be gained by his own skill, wisdom, and industry. No man ever had this; but allow the supposition, and give every advantage that the worldly heart can desire, without any abatement on account of the ordinary disappointments, and daily sorrows, trials, and difficulties, to which the most favoured of men are liable and exposed, and which they have endured-allow only, what must be allowed, that it is a temporal possession, that it is but for a limited season; and to an immortal spirit, as man is, all the glory is at once faded. In the eye of a sound judgment, it is all unsatisfying: it is but vanity and vexation of spirit.
But this is not all the poverty and emptiness of such a choice. The friendship of the world is enmity with God. There is a tremendous loss connected with the gain of the world by the neglect of religion, even the loss of the soul. If it was merely a temporal life that was to be lost--suppose, for instance, a man were to
have the best advantages of this world for a single hour, on the understood condition, that at the end of the hour he was to be capitally executed; what man in his senses would take the temporary good with such condition? Observe the sailor in the tempest; be will cast over the cargo, he will cut down the masts, he will throw away even the provisions, he will spare nothing to escape death, and to save his temporal life for a few short surviving years, it may be, full of trial and sorrow: how much more then may the Christian part with every thing to escape the loss of the soul, and to secure eternal life, through countless ages of never-ending joy and happiness!
When we fear our worldly interests will suffer, let us realise the thought of the soul's immortality. It not only lives in the body, but when the body sinks into the dust, the soul lives, thinks, and feels; is capable of sorrows and joys; yes, of eternal sorrows, or eternal joys. Think then what it is to lose the soul-to be for ever miserable --for ever in darkness and despair, in pain and anguish, after this temporal life is ended! No other evil can be imagined so tremendous, so deplorable. To lose the soul, is to lose, for ever lose, the favour of God, the glory of heaven, the presence of Christ, the company of holy and happy angels, and the blessed spirits aboveit is to lose fulness of joy, and all those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore. To lose the soul,
is to be condemned to associate for ever with accursed spirits, wicked men, and apostate angels--for ever to remain an enemy to God and his servants-and in hopeless rebellion against him, to be punished with ever·lasting destruction-to go away into everlasting punish・ment, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Consider that awful description, They shall
nk of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured without mixture, into the cup of his indignation, d shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the esence of holy angels, and in presence of the Lamb, and e smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, ad they have no rest day nor night.
In the fear of such a danger, where is the objection hich we have noticed? The very ground of that objecion, that your interests will suffer, is the very reason vhy you should attend to the Gospel; your very fear that you shall displease friends who may help you, should, on every principle of sound reason, lead you to repent and turn to God, that you may secure the favour of the most wise, kind, and powerful of all friends; the very loss of temporal good which you dread, should only lead you to give all diligence to escape eternal loss, and to obtain eternal life. By the terrors of the Lord, which shall all be realised to the wicked, we persuade; by the mercies of God, which are now to be obtained, we beseech you, lose not your own souls, destroy not your own eternal happiness.
We have reasoned, hitherto, on the idea that you would gain the whole world by neglecting religion; but you never will, you never can, gain the whole or the greatest part of it'; nay, do not many disregard the Gospel for the most trivial gain, or the most worthless indulgence? O, when it comes at the last to be seen for what it was that men parted with their souls, how weak and absurd will the conduct of the wicked be found to have been! One was afraid of hurting the feelings of his companion; another loved his present ease; and another wished to add a few pounds to his property. One delighted to devote his life to literature; and another desired to gain the favour of a fellow