« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
them to him, whose right to them is so infinitely beyond all room for any contest.. Let us take heed and beware of covet. ousness, and make it our business not to hoard up earthly and corruptible treasures, but first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness ; so shall other things be added for present subsistence; and so shall we lay up in store an incorruptible treasure in heaven, in which we shall be rich and happy, when the riches of this world are consumed with their owners, and the whole fashion of it is passed away.
While these divine maxims are spreading their light about us, let our eye be clear to behold them, and our heart open to receive them: and let us cautiously guard against those deceitful principles of action:whieh would give a wrong bias to all our pursuits, and turn the light which is in us into a fatal and incurable darkness.
Matthew VII. 1—20. Judge not, that ye be not judged : for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again, and rend you.
Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth: and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know bow to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits: Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit: neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
When will the happy time come in which Christians shall form themselves on these important maxims of their great Master ? When shall they be known to be his disciples by the candour of their sentiments, the equity of their conduct, and the beneficence of their actions, as well as by the articles of their faith and the forms of their worship. Let us all apply these charges to ourselves in the dear and awful name of him that gave them.
What can be more dreadful to us than to think of being severely judged by that God, without whose hourly forbearance and gracious indulgence we are all undone? Let us then exercise that mercy which we need : and to form our minds to this most reasonable temper, let us often be thinking of our own many infirmities, and be humbling ourselves before God on account of them.
Animated by the gracious invitations and the precious promises which are here given, with earnest importunity let us make our daily addresses to his throne; asking, that we may receire; speking, that we may find, and knocking, that the door of mercy may be opened to us. And while any of us feel in our hearts the workings of parental tenderness towards our infant offspring, let us consider it as a delightful emblem of yet greater readiness in our heavenly Father to pity and relieve his children.
May universal righteousness and charity be practised by us in the whole of our behaviour, and may we always exercise ourselves herein to have a conscience void of offence, both towards God and towards men. (Acts xxiv. 16.) May we avoid all manner of injustice, and guard against the sallies of a proud and over-bearing temper! May we be upright and benevolent in all our conduct; and make it our constant care to govern our actions by that most equitable rule, Of doing to others as we would reasonably desire they should do to us, on a change of our circumstances and theirs ! Happy those generous souls in whom the bias of self-love is so rectified, that they can, in this instance, hold the balance between themselves and others with an impartial and unwavering hand !
On the whole, let us remember that we ourselves are at last to be tried by the rule by which we are here directed to judge of others, even by the fruits which we produce. May God by his grace make the tree good, that the productions of it may be found to his glory and the refreshment of all around us, that we may not be cut down as cumberers of the ground, and cast into the fire.
The way of life, which our blessed Redeemer has marked out for us in such precepts as these, may indeed to corrupt nature appear rugged and narrow, and the gate strait through which we are to pass : but let us encourage ourselves against all the difficulties, by considering that immortal life and glory to which they infallibly lead. Then shall we, doubtless, prefer the most painful way of piety and virtue, though with yet fewer companions than we might reasonably expect, to all those flowery and frequented paths of vice which go down to the chambers of death.
MATTHEW VII. 21—29. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
And it eame to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes.
How justly may our admiration concur with theirs that heard these sayings of our Lord, while we have the honour and pleasure of attending these discourses as the inspired penmen have recorded them, by the assistance of that Spirit who was to bring all things to their remembrance.
Are we not struck with the authority of this Divine Teacher, so as to bear our witness to the gracious and edifying words that proceeded out of his mouth? (Luke iv. 22.)
Let us not content ourselves with applauding what we have heard, but let us go away and practise it. Shortly will that stormy day arise which must try the foundation of our hopes. God will lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. How thankful should we be that God has laid in Zion for a foundation, a chief Corner-stone, elect and precious; with an assurance, that he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. (Compare Isaiah xxviii. 16, et seq. and i Peter ii. 6.) But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon ; lest the weight of his ruin be proportionable to the height of his hopes. (1 Cor. iii. 10.)
We say unto Christ, Lord, Lord; but let us remember this will not secure our entering into his heavenly kingdom. Whatever be our profession, or whatever our office in his church, the most splendid and honourable of our works will be vain, if we are found workers of iniquity; for our great Master will then disown us as those whom he has never approved. Blessed Jesus, it will then be in vain to fly to thee with the importu
nity of prayer, and to repeat the most earnest addresses. We would now, while yet there is room for it, fall down before thee, entreating thee to add the teachings of thy Spirit to those of thy word, that we may be effectually engaged to do the will of thine heavenly Father, that we may finally be confessed and owned by thee and be admitted into the joy of our Lord.
Matthew viii. 1.- Luke v. 1-11. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
And it came to pass, that as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land ; and he sat down and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes : and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.