صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

mercy of God, his unspeakable gift, by which a door of hope is opened to you, an all-sufficient Saviour is presented to you, a free and full salvation is set before you. We are ambassadors for the Saviour, and we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. O that ye would consider your spiritual interests, as much as ye do your temporal interests. O that ye would have respect to an heavenly inheritance, as well as to an earthly one. We do not come to you in our own name, but we open our commission with-Thus saith the Lord: we set before you life and good, and death and evil : we leave you to chuse your own master; but we warn you of the fatal consequences of making an ill choice: we state to you the origin of sin, the disorder it has introduced among the works of God, the confusion it has occasioned in the world, the misery it has entailed upon the posterity of Adam: at the same time, we point you to an efficacious remedy for the troubles and disasters incident to mankind, through the fall: we direct you to a sovereign antidote, we exhibit to you a most skilful physician, even to one who comes without fee or reward: we proclaim to you the insufficiency of your own endeavours to justify you in the sight of God: we testify to you from time to time, that no man can be saved by his own works, nor merit the favour of God: we labour to convince you of

the absurdity of such an idea, of the folly of entertaining such a thought: we enforce the doctrine of divine inspiration, the need you have of the Holy Spirit's assistance to enlighten your understandings, to apprise you of your danger, to beget in you good desires, holy resolutions, virtuous dispositions: we state to you His office, His divine operations, His sanctifying influences: and for all this we have the authority of God's Word, and the testimony of our own Church. Again, we denounce the judgments of heaven against the impenitent and unbelieving; against the negligent and thoughtless; against the unholy and profane: this is a painful duty to perform, this is an unpleasant task assigned us, as it frequently occasions opposition, and excites prejudice in the minds of many against us; but how unreasonable is the conduct of such persons! Is the patient offended with his physician, because he assures him that his disorder is dangerous, and will end in death, unless he has recourse to proper remedies? No, he esteems him his best friend, if he acts a reasonable part; and why then should the ministers of the gospel be accounted enemies when they tell you the truth,when they bring your sins to remembrance, when they alarm and terrify your consciences : is it not to arrest you in a dangerous course; to obstruct your progress in sin; and to prevent your coming to a fearful end? What should

we think of a traveller, who upon enquiring his way to the place of his destination, was informed that he had taken a wrong road and was directed to pursue a different course; what should we think of such a man if, upon hearing his mistake, he should fly into a violent passion and threaten the person with death who had given him this information? Would it not appear to every considerate person that he had acted the part of a madman? Such folly do sinners mannifest when they imbibe prejudices against the heralds of salvation, for shewing them the error of their ways, and pointing out to them the path of duty.

I now proceed to notice the fears which the Apostle entertained respecting these Galatians. 1 am afraid of you, says he, lest I have bestowed labour upon you in vain. Doubtless he saw cause to suspect their sincerity; they had formerly professed great attachment to the Apostle, for says he, in this chapter-I bear you record, that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me; am I therefore, he adds, become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? St. Paul perceived they were declining in their Christian course, and he saw it with concern, it grieved him to the heart; there was a time when he had reason to hope better things of them, and things which accompanied salvation; there was a time when they received his

D

1

word with all readiness of mind, and perhaps adorned their Christian profession by a holy life and consistent deportment; nay, it seems this was actually the case, for in the following chapter he says-Ye did run well, who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? They exercised repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ, they strove for the prize of their high calling, they pressed towards the mark, they contended for the faith, they denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, St. Paul therefore, formerly entertained a good hope respecting the state of these Galatians, but now he was alarmed for their safety, now he informs them he apprehended danger; thus every faithful shepherd is interested in the spiritual welfare of his flock, every true watchman is careful to warn the souls committed to him of approaching dangers, every ambassador of the King of heaven feels himself bound to state clearly and explicitly to the people to whom he is sent the terms of salvation, the covenant of mercy, to set forth the overtures of peace, the conditions of reconciliation in his Master's name. But when these terms are rejected, when they are not as it were subscribed to, when these proposals are merely listened to, but not accepted, what pain does it occasion to the servants of the great King? How deeply are their minds affected to see this wondrous grace spurned at? How greatly are their spirits depressed to behold the Gospel

message treated with indifference and unconcern? They are aware of the dreadful event, they are sensible of the approaching judgments (without a timely repentance), they know that wrath will be inflicted without mercy upon those who have despised mercy; not the wrath of a man that shall die, not the anger of one whose breath is in his nostrils, but the vengeance of Him who liveth for ever and ever, whose is power is unlimited, and whose strength is unimpaired; dreadful beyond all calculation will it be to fall into the hands of this Almighty Being, who doeth whatsoever pleaseth him in the armies above and among the inhabitants of the earth.

I shall now endeavour to make some improvement of the subject we have been considering; and may I not, my brethren, with the strictest propriety, adopt the language of the Apostle and say, I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain; for what change has taken place in your hearts and lives since the Gospel has been dispensed among you? What reformation has been effected in this parish since the introduction of the glad tidings of salvation? Is it not a lawless place? Are not the decrees both of God and man set at nought? Are not the statutes of heaven and the injunctions of earth trifled with? What reverence is paid to the former? Is not the Sabbath with some a day of merchandize; with

« السابقةمتابعة »