Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

V. Can the success of Christianity be explained on the ground of the eloquence which it has called forth? I know the power of eloquence is tremendous. Under its influ ence we behold multitudes at one time wrought up tơ frenzy, and at another melted into tears. Sometimes, like the mountain torrent, it seems to break down every opposing obstacle; and sometimes, like the purling rivulet, it winds itself into all the corners of the heart. If there be any thing in this world, aside from religion, to which I would bow down in humble and implicit obedience, it is eloquence. I would live upon the words of the orator, could I not live upon the words of the Saviour, and receive from his lips that bread of life, which if any man eat, he shall live for ever. But eloquence, like knowledge, cannot convert or save one sinner, and cannot therefore account for the success of Christianity. It cannot break the sinner's stubborn will, else it would long since have been broken; for it is heard throughout all nature, it is reiterated by conscience, it is echoed from every page of Holy Writ. It cannot give the falling tear that magic power which causes it to melt away all the chains of sin, and all the bars of unbelief. The Bible does indeed abound in eloquence, and its subjects are such as to call it into exercise. Men are often eloquent about the veriest trifles of time, and should not those holy men be eloquent who "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," when discoursing on the solemn realities of judgment and eternity? What other lips ever glowed with the eloquence of Isaiah and David, of Stephen and Paul? And to what did they owe their eloquence? To inspiration. What caused it to affect the hearts of men? The Holy Ghost. When Peter preached so eloquently on the day of Pentecost, it was not Peter who added so many to the church, but "the Lord added daily such as should be saved." God was pleased to use Peter with all his elo

quence as an instrument in his cause; but, to fit him for his work, filled him with the Holy Ghost. Thus must it always be. Ministers must consecrate their eloquence, if they would have it instrumental in carrying on the triumphs of the cross. But the Spirit of God alone can consecrate it; and hence again we see that it is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts.

From this subject we see,

1. The necessity of a pious ministry. He who ventures upon the sacred office, and stands up as an ambassador for God, without being called by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, cannot expect that Spirit to follow his words to the hearts, and apply them to the consciences, of his hearers. He who preaches for God, and yet in his life and conduct grieves the Spirit of God, cannot expect that Spirit to return to him when he ascends the sacred desk. God does generally work by human means to carry on his cause, but rarely does he use wicked men to carry it on: he is near to them who are of "an humble and contrite heart,' ," "but he knoweth the proud afar off." Ministers must be men "full of the Holy Ghost." "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”

2. The necessity of a pious church. Both ministers and people must be co-workers with God. The church must sustain its ministers in the arms of their faith and prayer. When Moses, the minister of the Lord, held up his hand, Israel prevailed against Amalek; but when his hand fell, Amalek prevailed against Israel. But the hands of Moses were heavy, therefore Aaron and Hur held them up, and Israel triumphed. The minister's duty must always be arduous, and the church must assist him with their faithful labours; his hands must often grow heavy, and the church must hold them up. But unless the church is pious, humble, and godly, she cannot do this; for her sufficiency is of God alone. And if the minister's hands

fall, what will be the consequence? When Moses' hands fell, Amalek prevailed! O Almighty God! suffer not the hands of thy ministers to fall for want of pious brethren to sustain them. I pray God to apply these solemn truths to my heart, and to the hearts of all my brethren. Let me entreat you to work for God. As you enter this sanctuary, pray for the Spirit of the Lord of hosts to enter with you; as you sit here, pray that the Spirit may sit as a refiner's fire on every heart; as you leave this place, pray that the Spirit may accompany you and all the congregation, and soften, change, and sanctify us all. Then shall Israel triumph over Amalek, heaven over hell. "NOT BY MIGHT, NOR BY POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS."

SERMON IV.

IF THOU SINNEST, WHAT DOEST THOU AGAINST HIM? OR IF THY TRANSGRESSIONS BE MULTIPLied, what doeST THOU UNTO HIM?—Job Xxxv, 6.

OUR ideas of the Deity are imperfect, and sometimes erroneous. Their imperfection is the result of our inability to comprehend his glorious character. This inability will continue to exist, in a greater or less degree, till we shall be admitted into his immediate presence, and 66 see him as he is." Then, disencumbered of these earthly tabernacles, we shall see with a spiritual vision, while eternity shall throw its clear and unbroken light upon the great Jehovah, and reveal to our enraptured sight his attributes, perfections, and glories.

The erroneousness of our ideas respecting the Deity results from our ignorance, which is sometimes voluntary and wilful. With the Bible before us, we need not greatly err. And yet there are individuals, even at the present day, who, notwithstanding all the light which nature and

revelation have shed around them, entertain notions of God more degrading than those of the ancient heathen philosophers. Some seem to think that he possesses but limited powers, and is, therefore, incapable of governing the wide universe, and submits it to the guidance of chance; that he cannot carry into full and perfect execution the laws which he hath made, nor exercise his sovereignty over the beings whom he hath created. Others suppose that he possesses passions like men. Because he has made use of earthly language, in the descriptions of his character which he has condescended to give us, in order that these descriptions might be adapted to our imperfect nature, they infer that he cannot love without passion, hate without malice, repent without change. Others assert that he does not hate sin with that intensity with which Christians declare he hates it: the ground of this assertion is, that sin, in their opinion, is a trifle unworthy the notice of the Creator of the universe, and that he shows indifference to their actions: "for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." But, O! what presumption to measure the Creator by the creature-the infinitely holy God by an abject sinner! "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." Others appear to believe that sin is a positive injury to God, that their transgressions actually harm him, and that this is the reason of his strong desires for their repentance and obedience. And perhaps some have embraced this opinion, from the fact that ministers of the gospel, in persuading men to lead holy lives, urge, as an inducement, that sin is hateful to God, and holiness pleasing in his sight. In doing this, however, we by no means inculcate the sentiment that sin is an injury to the Deity. If you

have gathered it from any of our discourses, we disclaim it; it is your own illogical inference. We urge these high and holy reasons, not to deceive you with regard to the character of our Master, but because in them are con tained the strongest, the loftiest motives which can act upon the human will. We know that in labouring to please God, you act most in conformity with that reasonable nature with which he has endowed you, and add to your own character its highest dignity and brightest lustré ; that your dearest interests for time and for eternity depend upon averting his wrath, and securing his favour. We have no reason to fear for God. Sin as much as you will, what injury can you do him? " If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?" In discoursing upon these words I propose, with divine assistance, to show you that sin cannot lessen the power, disturb the happiness, not impair the glory of God.

I. Sin cannot lessen the power of God. God is a selfexistent and independent being. He is also omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Such is the description of himself which he has given us in his own word. He beholds not only the actions of men, but also of individuals; he witnesses not only the outward acts, but also the motives which cause them; he gazes not only upon the countenance, but also upon the heart; entering even into the secret chambers of the soul, beholding all its passions and emotions, and reading all its thoughts: "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." He is not only in the heavens above, but also in the earth beneath : "Whither shall I flee from thy presence?" He has all power in heaven and in earth: "He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" No

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »