صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

THE

CHRISTIAN MAGAZINE.

VOL. III.

SERMON.

JANUARY, 1826.

MARK, X. 22.—And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.. Our Saviour taught as one having authority. His preaching raised the admiration of some, and the curiosity of many. Multitudes of all denominations and classes of men followed him from place to place; some scribes who were teachers, some Pharisees who were sober and strict in their lives, some Sadducees who were lax in their sentiments, some publicans and sinners who were openly vicious in their practice, and some rulers who were the principal men in the nation. Of the

class last mentioned, a young ruler of an amiable appearance and deportment, came to him with this serious and important question, "Good master, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Jesus having directed him to keep the commandments, he promptly replied, "Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, one thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions."

VOL. III.

No. 1.

This declaration of Christ instantaneously stripped the young man of all his fond hopes of future happiness; for he was conscious that he never had, and thought that he never could, exercise that disinierested love, which Christ required as an indispensable condition of salvation. He was grieved, that he could not obtain heavenly treasures, without giving up his worldly possessions. He supposed, that he could never be saved on the condition which Christ proposed. The spirit of the text, therefore, leads us to conclude,

That sinners think it is impossible for them to be saved on the condition of disinterested love. I shall,

I. Show that disinterested love is the condition of salvation.

II. Show that sinners think it is impossible for them to be saved on this condition.

I. I am to show that disinterested love is the condition, upon which salvation is offered to sinners in the word of God. If we look into the Old Testament we shall find, that God requires pure, supreme, disinterested love, as the condition of his peculiar favour both in this life and in that which is to come. Moses having called all the people of God together, says, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord:

1

and then that love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which Icommand thee this day shall be in thine heart." The love which God here requires as the condition of temporal and spiritual faYours, is the same disinterested love, apon which Christ says all the law and prophets do hang. Our Saviour abundantly inculcated disinterested love as the condition of salvation. In his sermon on the mount, he insisted largely upon the nature and necessity of disinterested love. in opposition to the selfish principles and practices of the scribes and Pharisees. “But I say unto you. Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you. And as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also so to them likewise. For if ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to those of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Our Lord also spake a parable, on purpose to show, that no man can be saved upon selfish principles, and consequently, that disinterested love is the only condition of salvation. "The ground," says he, "of a certain rich man

brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do because I have not where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater: and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul thou hast much goeds laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee: then whose shall all those things be which thou has provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." It was one of Christ's common say. ings, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." This was saying in the plainest and strongest terms, that disinterested love is the only condition of salvation. He said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me." When a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?" In answer to this, Christ spake the

And

parable of the good Samaritan, and said to the querist, "Go and do thou likewise;" that is, Go and exercise the same disinterested benevolence, and thou shalt be saved. But that nothing short of disinterested love is the condition of salvation, the Apostle Paul plainly asserts and strikingly illustrates in the thirteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians. Though, says he, I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." By charity the Apostle means that charity which seeketh not her own, or that disinterested love, which stands directly oppo sed to all selfish affections, exercises, and actions. It is true indeed, both Christ and the apostles represent either faith, or repentance, or submission, as entitling any one to salvation. But it is to be remembered, that all those exercises are only so many different modifications and expressions of that love, which is disinterested. So that if we search through the Bible, we shall find that disinterested benevolence, in some form or other, is the only condition, upon which eternal life is offered to sinners. I now proceed to show,

II. That sinners are ready to think it is impossible for them to be saved on this condition. So the young man supposed. At first he thought he was in a fair

way to heaven. But as soon as Christ mentioned disinterested love as the condition of eternal life, his heart and his hopes failed him, he went away grieved and desponding, and supposing it to be impracticable to comply with the terms of salvation which Christ proposed. Nor was he alone in this opinion; for those who stood by and heard the condition, expressed the same sentiment, and with astonishment exclaimed, "Who then can be saved?" When Christ reproved those who followed him for the sake of the loaves, and implicitly told them, that they must exercise disinterested love in order to obtain his favour, "They said, this is a hard saying, who can hear it? And from that time, many of his disciples went back and followed him no more." They felt as though they never could be saved upon the condition of disinterested love. While Paul supposed the divine law required nothing but selfishness, he felt blameless, and entertained high hopes of heaven; but when his mind was enlightened and his conscience awakened to understand the true meaning of the law, he saw his selfishness condemned by it, and despaired of mercy upon the condition of disinterested love.

The single pro

hibition, which says, "Thou shalt not covet," that is, thou shalt not be selfish, carried death to his hope; because he supposed it was impossible for such a selfish creature as he found himself to be, to exercise that disinterested love to which the promise of salvation is made. Such have been the views of all sinners in the same situation. They have found it easy to love themselves supremely, but to love God more than themselves, and to prefer

his glory to their own eternal happiness, they have found to be extremely difficult, even as difficult as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. They have really supposed it to be absolutely impossible for them to exercise that pure, disinterested love, to which the promise of salvation is made to them in the gospel.

But here it may be proper to inquire, why they think it is impossible to be saved on the condition of disinterested benevolence. They must see something in disinterested love, which is totally different from all selfish affections; otherwise they could not imagine it to be so extremely difficult to exercise it. But it is certain, in the first place, that their difficulty in exercising disinterested love, does not arise from its being unreasonable. God is as worthy to be loved as themselves. Christ is as worthy to be loved as themselves. And their fellow-men are as worthy to be loved as themselves. It is, therefore, altogether reasonable, that they should love God supremely, and their fellow-men as themselves. And they always approve of disinterested love, wherever they think they see it acted out. Nor do they ever fail of blaming themselves as well as others, for feeling and expressing selfishness in any form whatever. The young ruler did not presume to object against disinterested affections and actions as unreasonable or absurd. Indeed, it is not in the power of the human mind to discover any thing improper or absurd in universal, impartial, and disinterested benevolence. Reason dictates, that this is the only proper and virtuous affection, that rational creatures can exercise towards their Creator and one another.

If there were any thing inconsistent, improper, or absurd in sinners exercising disinterested benevolence, they might well suppose it is impossible for them. to be saved on this condition. But this is not the case, nor can they consistently pretend this to be the case, for they always approve of others for acting from disinterested motives.

Nor again, do sinners suppose it is impossible for them to be saved on the condition of disinterested benevolence, because there is no need of their having such benevolent affections, in order to be completely and eternally happy. They know the nature of selfishness, which tends to make rational beings miserable, And sometimes they are convinced by their own experience, that with their present feelings it is impossible for them to be happy in this life, or the next. And this is the real truth. No individual, or number of individuals, can be in a state of solid, permanent happiness, without that pure, disinterested love, which the gospel requires. It appears absolutely necessary, therefore, that God should require disinterested love from all the subjects of his holy, happy kingdom. If God means to make his rational creatures happy, he must do it on the principe of disinterested benevolence. This sinners are capable of seeing; and of course they cannot suppose, that God unnecessarily imposes on them the hard condition of disinterested love in order to escape the wrath to come, and enjoy the blessedness of heaven. Though the young ruler was grieved when he heard the condition of salvation, yet Christ was not severe, but kind and compassionate, in pointing out to him the only possible way of inherit

ing eternal life. And he does not appear to blame Christ on this account. Nor can any sinners justly view this condition of salvation, as an unnecessary hardship. Their reason and conscience, notwithstanding the depravity of their hearts, tell them, that disinterested love is not only a reasonable, but a necessary condition of their being freed from all misery, and put into the enjoyment of all good. No other qualification can possibly prepare them for the inheritance of the saints in light.

Nor again, do sinners suppose it is impossible for them to be saved on the condition of disinterested love, because they know themselves to be incapable of exercising such a holy affection. They are conscious of being able to love and hate, choose and refuse; and to exercise benevolent as well as malevolent affections. The amiable young man was possessed of all the rational powers, which were necessary to perform the most benevolent actions. This appears from his own declaration, that he had externally obeyed all the divine commands from his youth. It was completely in his power to comply with the conditions of salvation which Christ proposed. He was able to sell all he had, and convert it to benevolent purposes, and to take up his cross and follow him. For this was soon after actually done, by the primitive christians; and the most worldly-minded, selfish sinners are equally capable of exercising pure, disinterested benevolence.

The question still returns, why do sinners think it is impossible for them to be saved on the condition of disinterested love? After what has been said, there seems to be but one plain, posi

tive, satisfactory answer to be given to this question. Sinners think, it is impossible for them to be saved on the condition of disinterested love, because of the total depravity and selfishness of their hearts. This the young

"He was

man most sensibly felt. very much grieved, because he was very rich, and supremely attached to the world." He could not bear to give up his great possessions for the sake of Christ, or for the sake of the gospel, or for the sake of the salvation of his own soul. It is as hard to the selfish heart of one sinner as to the selfish heart of another; to give up all his earthly treasure, for the sake of having treasure in heaven. Every sinner has a carnal mind, which no motives taken from time or eternity can reconcile to God and to the terms of salvation proposed in the gospel. For while he loves himself supremely, he cannot be willing to give up his present and future happiness, fur the glory of God and the good of the universe; he cannot be willing to lose his life, that he may find it, or to leave it to the wise, holy, and sovereign will of God, to save or destroy him, though he knows this is his duty, and would secure his salvation, if he would only exercise such pure, supreme, disinterested love to God. The entire selfishness of sinners, therefore,convinces them, that it is morally impossible for them to be saved on the condition of disinterested love.

IMPROVEMENT.

1. If it be entirely owing to the selfishness of sinners, that they suppose they cannot be saved on the condition of disinterested love; then their inabili ty to embrace the gospel is alto

« السابقةمتابعة »