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Like Herod that heard John the | vain man, that faith without works
is dead." Jam. ii. 20. With their mouth they might shew much love, Ezek. xxxiii. 31. but how could they love God whilst they did not keep his commandments? John xiv. 15. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his command
Baptist gladly-The Jews were "willing for a season to rejoice in his light," John v. 35. There are some "who only taste of the word of God," Heb. vi. 5. The stony ground hearers " received the word with joy." Luke viii. 13. They are also described as ex-ments: and his commandments pressing their confidence of interest in Christ, appropriating him to themselves, for they call him Lord, Lord. They seem to be very confident that he was their Lord. Jesus intimates that this presump tuous confidence will continue with
are not grievous." 1 John v. 3. Mere verbal professions are but empty sounds which cost men nothing. On the contrary they are often subservient to the worldly interest, character, and pride of men. But practical Christianity requires that a man renounce this earthly life, deny himself, and take up the cross and follow Christ. Whatever, therefore, men may profess, it is all vain without the real self-denied obedience of the gos pel; for it is not the hearer of the word, Jam. i. 22—26.—nor the knower of God's will, that is pronounced happy or blessed, but the doer of it, John xiii. 17. Matt. vii. 24-28.
2. Our Lord in blaming them for not doing the things that he says, means to convince them that they were also destitute of the inward principles of obedience, viz. faith and love. The best works without proper principles are of no estimation in the sight of God.
some until the last. Many shall say unto 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?" But he repels their presumptuous claims, "I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity." Matt. vii. 22, 23. "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." ver. 21. Such presumptuous, proud boasters of their interest in Christ, are, of all others, the least susceptible of a conviction of danger; because they have fortified themselves on every side against the fear of God, and steeled their consciences" against all apprehension of danger, by perverted views of divine grace. The fault which our Lord finds with such professors therefore is not-the heterodoxy of their speculations-nor the want of verbal professions of love and attachment to Christ.-Neither is it their wanted, yet without love it would profit of fearless confidence of the safety him nothing, 1 Cor. xiii. 3. Yet of their state-nor yet their defi- when good works are connected ciency of talk about the gospel. with a scriptural profession of the But he blames them, faith, they are the highest proof to men of the sincerity of that proNotwithstanding their fession. But when a man's prohigh professions, they were alto-fession is not attended with doing gether deficient in practice. They what Christ says, there is no reamight boast of their faith; but son to think that he either really James says, "Wilt thou know, Obelieves or loves what he professes,
1. Fornot doing the things which he says.
Without faith it is impossible to please God." Heb. ii. 6. and this may shew us the falsity of the common saying, that it is of no consequence what a man believes if he acts well. Though a man should give all his goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burn
and the Scripture absolutely denies that he does: "He that saith he knoweth God, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John ii. 4. "He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now." ver. 9. "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" 1 John iii. 17. This question implies a strong negation, however uncharitable it may appear to some, who have connected a profession of Christianity with the love of this present world. When therefore our Lord says, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" he means to show, that men of this stamp are destitute of the inward principles of true faith and love. We may here observe the striking manner in which our Lord distinguishes the false professor from the true. Though he could discern the hearts of men, and discriminate a true and false faith in the soul without any regard to the outward conduct; yet he does not go to work in this manner; nor distinguish a true from a false faith in its essence or nature; but by its visible fruits and effects. The rule he lays down in this case is " By their fruits ye shall know them." Matt. vii. 20. Every tree is known by its fruit." Luke vi. 44. In vain then would we labour to reach conviction to false professors by pointing out something wrong in their faith. Perhaps we cannot mention one article of true faith which they do not profess to believe; but the question is, are they doing the things which Christ says? if not, then, by our Lord's rule, let them profess what they will, here is a visible demonstration that they have not true faith; so that there is no occasion for any nice distinctions upon the nature of faith as subsisting in the
heart. Let professors judge themselves by this rule.
3. When Christ puts the quesWhy call ye me Lord, Lord, &c." he evidently blames them for their inconsistency and hypocrisy-Inconsistency, in acknowledging him to be their Lord and Master, whilst they did not act suitably to this relation, by yielding that obedience which was due to him. They owned their obli gation, but did not discharge it, and so were condemned out of their own mouth. Like Israel who owned God to be their father and master. "If I then be a father (saith the Lord), where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?" Mal. i. 6. He blames their hypocrisy, because their tongue and heart did not agree, as was also the case with Israel, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Isa. xxix. 13. Matt. xv. 8.
4. He blames them in such circumstances for professing his name at all: " Why call ye me Lord, Lord," which amounts to a prohibition, as in Psal. l. 16. "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth? seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee." He also says to the church of Laodicea, "I would thou wert cold or hot.” Rev. iii. 15. i. e. either so cold as to give up the profession altogether, or so hot as to hold it in a proper manner. So here, he would rather that such persons would make no profession of his name at all, whilst they do not the things which he says. Their hypocrisy is an aggravation of their guilt, and more hateful to him than if they made no pretensions. Their conduct gives a false representation of the religion of Jesus, and so becomes a stumbling block to others—a reproach upon the holy profession
and a dishonour to Christ, by lead- | site to the leading sentiments, dis
ing the world to blaspheme his worthy name. Rom. ii. 23, 24. Such professors are the worst enemies of the cross of Christ, notwithstanding all their boast in it; for a treacherous friend is worse than an open enemy. The world in general do not judge of Chistianity by it own merits as exhibited in the New Testament, but by the lives of its professors; and if they see men professing to know Christ whilst by their works they deny him, they will conclude that it is a false religion, when they ought only to infer that such are false pro fessors of it. Christ therefore, would rather have such to give up their pretensions altogether than thus to dishonour his name. Hence we may see what account Christ makes of an empty profession of religion which many have been so zealously propagating in the nations of this world; a religion which consists in a form of godliness without the power, and which admits of a decent conformity to the course of this world in pursuing its pleasures, &c.
positions and course of this world, as light is to darkness. Therefore the world in general, whatever religious form it may assume, must always hate. genuine Christianity, as our Lord hath foretold. If we look into Christ's Sermon on the mount, we shall see how opposite its precepts are to the natural dispositions of men. Hence the generality of professors pay little regard to them, notwithstanding all their speculations about points of faith. Some of them they explain away, and take great pains to shew that our Lord cannot mean what he says, otherwise such and such an absurdity would follow
Others have taken a shorter method to get rid of them altogether, and tell us, they were never given as precepts to be obeyed, but only to convince of sin, and to set forth the perfection of Christ's righteousness; though Christ in every verse strongly urges the practice of them upon his disciples, and tells them that it is not the professor of his name, or the hearer of these sayings, but the 5. But probably some are ready doer of them that shall enter into to say, "We not only call Christ the kingdom of heaven—But to be Lord, but also do the things that a little more particular, on this subhe says. We are no drunkards or ject, let us specify some of our whoremongers-We wrong no man Lord's sayings, to shew the genius in his person or property, but are of his religion, and to reach confair and honest in our dealings-viction to speculative professors. we are true to our word, and bene- Remark then, volent to our neighbours; and also regularly attend divine service like other good Christians." So far you do well; but is this all" that genuine Christianity requires of you? Could not a true Mussulman say as much for himself, and a strict Pharisee much more? Yet our Lord says, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righ teousness of the Scribes and Pha
6. Christ hath said, Luke xiv. 26, 27, 33. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and sister and brother, "and wife and children, and bre"thren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." And again, "Whosoever doth not bear his cross "and come after me, cannot be "my disciple."-To hate here must not be understood in an absolute but comparative sense, as in Mat. x. 37, 38. It imports at least that we should love him su
risees, ye shall in no case enter int the kingdom of heaven." Matt. v. 20. True Christianity is as far above all other religions as the heaven: are above the earth, and as oppo-premely, above every thing that
"know that ye are my disciples," &c. John xiii. 34, 35.-This com mand is given to Christ's disciples in distinction from the world-By their obeying it the world are to distinguish them as his disciples.
The rule and motive of it is Christ's love to them.-This love therefore is not to be in word and in tongue only, but in deed and in truth, 1 John, iii.-Fervent, undissembled, active, beneficial love,not merely prayers and good wishes for them, Jam. ii. 16, but in the self-denied labour of it, even to the laying down of our lives for the brethren, 1 John iii. 15, after the example of Christ, and that because they belong to him. See it described, 1 Cor. xiii.-" If a man "say, I love God, and hateth his 'brother, he is a liar; for he that "loveth not his brother whom he "hath seen, how can he love God "whom he hath not seen?" 1 John iv. 20. How will this agree with that hatred, envy, emulation, strife, evil speaking, &c. which so much among professors? Yet persons presume to call Christ Lord, whilst they do the very opposite of what he says! The labour of this love in ministering to the saints, is preferred to the highest experiences men can boast of. Heb. vi. 4-12, and those who pay no regard to it, but content themselves with faith without these works, (Jam. ii. 14-18.) will be greatly disappointed in the great day of account, Matt. xxv. 41
Iwe hold most dear in life-above
7. Christ says,
" the law and the prophets." Here is a rule of justice and humanity laid down in for our correspondence with mankind, founded on the love of ourselves, and to which the conscience of every man must subscribe. Do we always consult our own breasts what we would wish others to do to us, in such and
circumstances, and do we act towards them accordingly? If we make no conscience of this, why do we call Christ Lord?
9. Christ says, Ye have heard "it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth "But I say unto you that ye resist "not evil; but whosoever shall
AND REASONABLENESS OF RE-
TRUE religion consists in a de-
"smite thee on the right cheek, ON THE NATURE, IMPORTANCE, “turn to him the other also," &c. Matt. v. 31, 39.-If these words mean any thing at all they forbid us to retaliate injuries and affronts, or to render evil for evil, Rom. xii. 17. The apostle explains it, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, "but rather give place unto wrath; "for it is written, vengeance is "mine; I will repay, saith the "Lord." ver. 19. And of this Christ is set forth as an example, "Who when he was reviled, reviled "not again; when he suffered, he threatened not,” 1 Pet. ii. 23.—To recompence evil for evil is to take it out of God's hand to whom it be-proneness to sin, and to an imlongs, instead of committing our cause to him that judgeth righteously, as Christ did, and resting satisfied in his promise to redress all our grievances. Now how do we observe this saying, and follow this example of Christ? Once
Such is the corruption and deadness of the human heart, its
moderate attachment to the present evil world; and so many are the obstacles to our salvation; that, without a clear perception and cordial belief of the pardoning mercy of God, the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and the enjoyment · of reconciliation, the divine favour, and a renewed heart, the duties which we owe to a merciful and gracious God, are utterly impracticable. But when these invaluable blessings are secured, and a pleasing consciousness of them is preserved in the mind, grateful love becomes so influential and permanent a principle, that the service of God will be both practicable, easy and delightful; and afford the soul a satisfaction, which no earthly enjoyments can yield. O that the vast importance of religion were but more seriously and impartially considered, and the great reasonableness of it, with the exquisite pleasure it affords, both in sickness and health, in life and in death, were more clearly and