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natural feelings of compassion came over him, when in his desire of popular approbation, he released Barabbas to the multitude, but “delivered Jesus to their will.” But with respect to all the rest, their conduct towards our blessed LORD seems to be marked with nothing but cruelty and insult, of what may be almost called a savage and ferocious kind, of which a good many instances are recorded in the inspired histories.

It never entered their thoughts that for this they must at last be called to account; and called to account by Him whom they had bound before them, as the most abject of slaves and criminals.

But why, it may be asked, should they be answerable for this? How could they possibly know that the despised Jesus of Galilee was indeed no other than the Christ, the Saviour of the world, the incarnate Son of God, HIMSELF over all, God blessed for ever ?

We reply, they might not, or perhaps could not, at once have known the whole of this great mysterious truth; but they might have had the mind and disposition to know it, if it were indeed the truth.

They might have known, if they would have taken the trouble to inquire, that His life was uniformly spotless, innocent, and holy; that His actions were of so remarkable a kind, that any one who considered them at all candidly, must at once acknowledge Him, at the least, “a teacher coine from God, for no man could do the miracles which He did, unless God were with Him;" and yet, wonderful as these actions were, as being out of the common way and order of things, i. e. as miracles, they were scarcely less wonderful as evidences of the tenderest sympathy and compassion for human suffering in every form and degree. Moreover, these same Jews might, and must have known, that the doctrine taught by the despised Jesus of Nazareth was always such as tended to encourage His hearers in all good and holy practice, that He ever appealed to their Scriptures, and desired them to search them, for they (said He) testify of me."

In short, whether they looked to His words, or His conduct, or to the circumstances of His history altogether, the more they examined and inquired with humility and reverence, the more reason would they have found to acknowledge, with the zealous Apostle, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” But the Jews did nothing of all this; they neither knew the truth, nor wished to know it. Having no thought or intention of becoming disciples of such a Master, their only anxiety was for some specious pretences to get rid of Him. And this, so far as lay in their power, they accomplished. But we know that He whom they so unrighteously condemned, shall Himself (as He told them) come to be their Judge; every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him;" every knee shall bow to Him, and among them, those which were bent to Him in mockery, in the hour of His shame and agony; the day will come, when they shall again bow, in terror and remorse.

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Thus you see the Jews of old time, though so careless and insensible about the value of God's truth, shall at last be brought to confess its infinite importance. And does not the same rule apply to Christians ? If we are careless and indifferent about the knowledge of divine things, are we so certain that we shall escape for this our negligence, wilful and inexcusable as it too often is ? shall we not be called to account for it? shall not every knee bow before that Name which is above every name? shall not every tongue confess to that Truth, to which the eternal Son of God came into the world to bear witness ? This is a point to be considered.

A good many persons there are, and the number is probably increasing, who, almost unknown to themselves, as I may say, are withdrawing themselves altogether from the obligations of the Christian covenant; and, I may say, almost from the profession and name of Christians. But, as I said, they are not aware of their condition in this respect.

We all know that people talk and act as if in religion they had a right to choose for themselves ; or, rather, as if they should not be called to account for the choice they make.

They forget that human laws and divine laws are not of necessity the same: that sometimes man may condemn, where God approves ;, and again, at other times, the AlmighTY

may be greatly displeased, where man approves, or even rewards.

One consequence of this is, that persons, not being answerable to human authority for their behaviour on many occasions of very serious importance, are disposed to be very easy and quiet in their consciences on such occasions; it never enters their thoughts that they have any reason to blame themselves.

Thus, to instance in two or three cases of very common occur

rence

There are not many persons who like to set themselves up for infidels or absolute unbelievers, for reasons which may be easily imagined. Some of these reasons relate to matters of worldly interest; but, besides this, there is in the human heart, even perhaps when most hardened, a secret consciousness of the presence of an all-seeing God, and of a judgment to come; at least the people of this country have never as yet been given over to that open, blasphemous renunciation of Almighty God and His truth, which prevailed in a neighbouring country some years ago, the effects of which, having spread far and wide, are sadly felt to this very day.

Whether in God's just judgment such an antichristian spirit shall be suffered to gain the ascendancy in this nation, is more than the wisest of men can pronounce. “Not for our righteousness, or for the uprightness of our hearts,” shall so terrible a calamity be averted from us.

But this we may say of too many persons in Christian England, if they are not infidels and unbelievers, what are they?

If they were asked whether their cares and thoughts were directed to things eternal, rather than to things temporal, they would themselves at once answer, No; for they were no hypocrites. If they were asked whether they attend at the LORD's consecrated House, the Church; or even at a meeting-house occasionally, the answer must be, No; nowhere, except now and then, by chance, at a funeral, &c.

If they were asked whether they were in the custom of having family prayers, they must say they never thought, nor dreamt of any thing of the kind, nor ever mean to.

If, again, they were asked whether they are in the habit of using private prayer, they must say they never do. In their childhood, perhaps, their mother taught them to say the Lord's Prayer, and the Belief; but they have forgotten both long ago.

If they were asked how they are in the habit of spending Sunday, they would or must answer, partly in settling matters of accounts, or other business, partly in discussing matters of politics, and reading newspapers, partly in idle gossiping conversation : not unfrequently, perhaps, in sins against soberness, temperance, and chastity.

To other similar questions like answers must be returned. Yet persons who go on for years in this kind of way profess and call themselves Christians. Nevertheless, the question may be asked, If they are not infidels, what are they? Human laws do not touch them. Whether they are in high station or low, they have a respectable place in society, at least, not the less respectable for their want of religion ; and when they come to die, though good people may silently deplore their worse than infidel lives, the world passes them off with phrases of approbation, as persons free from bigotry, kind-hearted, liberal, and other words, which, if they mean any thing, mean that a person has lived a free life, free from the restraints of the Gospel of CHRIST.

Nevertheless, “ As I live, saith the LORD, every knee shall bow to ME." He who now shelters himself under the name of a Christian, and yet honours not the house, the name, nor the ordinances of Christ, shall find in that day, that God will not be mocked with impunity, that an account shall surely be demanded for all such presumptuous and wilful negligence of Divine truth.

In like manner,

when

persons profess themselves to be religious, and yet, at the same time, to be indifferent about religious Truthto “have no objection (as the expression is) to the most sacred doctrines or ordinances, and yet to have no deep reverence for them, as founded in Divine truth; to approve of one form of worship or system of faith as much as of another; to take no pains to obtain a right understanding of God's Holy Word, and of the ancient rules and formularies of the Christian Church ;all these things are indications of a light trifling temper, of a want of seriousness on the most important of all subjects.

These things show that the heart is not yet by any means brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. The fear of the world is still too strong in it; the fear of being scorned, and disliked, and shunned as bigots, high church, papists, and many more such names, such as all sincere Christians must be content

VOL. IV,

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to wear quietly and contentedly, if need be. The truth is, in the religious liberty we enjoy in this country, and for which, in some respects, we have great cause to be thankful, there is, however, this danger to us all, whether Church people or dissenters, there is, I say, this danger: that people do not endeavour to live up strictly to their professions, whatever they may be. They are too much inclined to shift and change about, to mind what other people do, to be satisfied if they can get on without being laughed at as singular, over-strict, bigoted, &c.; forgetting all the while, that whatever our profession may be, it ought to be consistent with what in conscience we believe to be true; and what in conscience we believe to be true, we ought most earnestly to endeavour to act up to.

The world, indeed, will let us off on much easier terms; for the world is, and ever was, opposed to the doctrine of the Cross, the necessity of a life of holy self-denial, and self-renunciation. But it is not to the world to whom our last account must be rendered. “To Me, saith the LORD, every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”

In conclusion, then, we may only entreat all seriously-disposed persons to put it to their consciences, of what importance it is that all our thoughts and views of religious truth should be taken up with reverence, and as in the presence of our Judge.

If the Jews and Romans had attended to this rule, they would not have brought on themselves the heavy guilt of crucifying the LORD of Glory.

If Christians in various ages since had approached God's truth in this serious and reverential frame of mind, the Church of CHRIST would not have suffered, as it has and does suffer, from false doctrine, heresy, and schism, in so unnumbered forms and degrees.

In our thoughts of religion, as well as in our words and deeds relating to it, we should look on to the time, when

every

knee, willing or unwilling, shall bow to the LORD JESUS, every tongue shall confess Him: when we, too, shall look on Him, Whom, alas! we have too often pierced by our sins, negligences, and wilful ignorances. We ought not to consider religious subjects as matters of tem

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