Page images
PDF
EPUB

who hold the truth in unrighteousness; who hope they shall be admitted to the celestial festival of their Lord in his kingdom on high, though they are destitute of the wedding garment, the righteousness of the saints; who found their title to heaven on their being called by the name of Christ, and on their calling him, Lord, Lord, while they are destitute of his spirit, his meek and holy graces, and neglect to do the things which he commands. Nominal professors of Christianity! you may read your destiny in the doom pronounced on the man in the parable, who appeared at the marriage supper, not having on the wedding garment—“Cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."* This will be the destiny of the unholy professors of the Christian name; excluded from the light, and peace, and glory of heaven, and consigned to darkness everlasting. Oh! that unsound and nominal Christians, alarmed by the consideration of the tremendous destiny which awaits them, would instantly renounce their false hopes, and not give rest to their souls, until, by prayer and watchfulness, and the faithful use of the means of grace, they are adorned with that evangelical righteousness which only can make them acceptable guests at the heavenly supper of their Lord.

Finally, Christian brethren, the concluding moral of this interesting parable should sink deep into our hearts.

“ Many are called, but few are chosen.”+

Many are called by the word, the Spirit, and the providence of God, by the ministry and ordinances

[ocr errors]

* Matt. xxii. 13.

+ Matt. xxii. 14.

of his holy church, to the privileges and blessings of the Gospel. But, alas! few, comparatively few, walk worthy of their holy vocation-comparatively few improve the grace freely given to them, to the renewal of their minds, to their establishment in holiness and virtue, to their living righteously, sobérly, and godly in the world. And therefore, though

many be called” to the marriage supper of the Lamb, though many are admitted to the privileges of Christ's church on earth, “ few are chosen” to sit down with him at this holy and blissful festival: and banished from the presence of their Lord, with whom is light, and peace, and felicity, their portion is in outer darkness-darkness for ever the darkness of despair.

My brethren, let it be our supreme care to avoid this tremendous destiny. Let us earnestly implore him who is the Lord of all power and might, to endue our souls with that righteousness which only can render us meet for his presence. And to our earnest supplications let us add our zealous and unremitting endeavours to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; so that when our Lord cometh to unite to himself, in the ties of celestial and endless fellowship, the church of the redeemed; when the awakening invitation is heard from the host of heaven—"Be glad and rejoice, for the marriage of the Lamb is come;". we shall be found worthy to enter in and celebrate with him the everlasting festival of love and of joy.

[ocr errors]

SERMON X.

THE RULE OF FINAL JUDGMENT.

Acts x. 34, 35.

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that

God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

AFTER that lamentable event " which brought death into the world and all our wo,” all flesh corrupted their way before God. The sinful propensities of our fallen nature overcoming the feeble dictates of reason, there was danger that the knowledge and fear of the great Creator and Governor of the universe would be totally extinguished in the earth. To restore men from this moral degradation, and to preserve among them his name, his worship, and service, it pleased God, at sundry times, to reveal himself to the patriarchs, and finally more fully to his chosen people Israel. In the midst of the darkness of idolatry which overspread the nation, they were selected to preserve the knowledge of the one living and true God, until the fulness of time came, when he should send forth his Son to proclaim his salvation to all the ends of the earth.

But, as was natural, from the pride of human nature, the Jews became elạted with their spiritual. distinctions, and they fancied that their law should last for ever. It was indeed to be continued in that spiritual dispensation which was to be the fulfilling

both of the law and the prophets, and to the blessings of which the Gentiles should be admitted; but they supposed it was to be perpetuated in those ceremonial institutions which confined God's covenant favour to their own nation. This restrictive idea of the nature and extent of God's mercy in the promised Messiah, was contrary to the original promise to Abraham, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed; it was contrary to the voice of the prophets, declaring that all the ends of the earth should see the salvation of God; yet it was rigidly cherished by the Jews. Even the apostles of him who came to give his life a ransom for all, were influenced by its contracted spirit; they supposed that redemption should extend only to Israel, and that the fold of the Messiah was inaccessible except through the narrow door of legal ceremonies.

This opinion swayed the apostles even after their Master had commissioned them to preach the Gospel to all nations. To correct an error so fundamentally opposed to the design of the Gospel, a miraculous vision was vouchsafed to Peter. In this vision, under an emblematic representation of a sheet let down from heaven containing various animals, some of which, according to the Jewish law, were unclean, but which Peter was directed to eat, he was taught that the ceremonial distinctions of the Jewish law were abolished, and that the church of God was thenceforward opened to all nations. As an evidence of this, he was commanded to attend some messengers sent to him from Cornelius, a devout Gentile, who desired to be taught the things belonging to the kingdom of God. Thus miraculously instructed in God's gracious purpose to grant to the Gentiles repentance unto life, Peter opened his discourse with Cornelius in the words of my text—“Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."

Here then, brethren, we behold the important character in which God will judge mankind, and the impartial rule by which he will determine his favour to them.

The statement of the doctrine contained in the text, the proof of it, and the inferences deducible from it, must be particulars interesting to us all, and shall be the object of the following discourse.

The text declares the general truth, that God is no respecter of persons; but that he accepts men according to the fear and service which they render him. This principle may be considered in its application to those destitute of the light of the Gospel, and to those who enjoy its light.

"God is no respecter of persons." All men deriving their being from him, and equally dependent upon him, he considers them as equally his children, and deals with them all by an impartial rule-the fear and service which they render him. No external qualifications or advantages which men possess, in any degree influence the decisions of the holy and just Governor of the universe concerning their spiritual state.

No descent from any particular nation, however distinguished by his temporal favours, on which descent the Jews prided themselves, will affect his just determination concerning their spiritual character. Nor does he regulate his final favour to mankind merely by his arbitrary

« PreviousContinue »