Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

narily to bless only the truths of his own word. They and they only give light and understanding to the simple. While these truths are clearly spoken, and forcibly and tenderly pressed, “He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,” makes them shine into the hearts of men, “ to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Be it our care, therefore, dear brethren, to preach these truths in simplicity and godly sincerity, unadulterated by any fancies of our own, unmixed with the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness with God : Then may we hope that he will give them an effectual entrance into the understanding of our hearers, and a transforming influence on their hearts.

Especially may we hope for this blessed fruit of our labours, if we accompany faithful gospel preaching with many and earnest supplications for those influences of the Holy Spirit, under which alone, as we well know, the truth itself becomes the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation. If it be, as has been shown, the duty of every reader and hearer of the word, to pray for a blessing on it, both before and after he reads and hears it-how much prayer_fervent effectual prayer-ought every minister of the gospel to offer up to the prayerhearing God, for a divine blessing on every sermon that he prepares and delivers. Luther's maxim was certainly a just one ; that “ to pray well is to study well.” O brethren ! let every text we select for the theme of a sermon be chosen with prayer. Let every sermon we study be mingled with constant prayer. In prayer, let us dedicate and commend it to God, before we preach it: and in prayer, let us cry to God for his blessing on it after we have preached it. In special seasons of prayer, sometimes accompanied with fasting, let us earnestly entreat the Spirit of all grace to seal his own truth on the hearts and consciences of our hearers : and let us do all this in faith and hope, with a deep sense of our own nothingness--remembering that “neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” AMEN:

SERMON XL.

B¥ AUSTIN DICKINSON, A. M.

NEW-YORK.

RIGHT USE OF THE SCRIPTURES.
JOHN v. 39.- Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have

eternal life. WHEN a letter is received from a far distant friend, or from any person of acknowledged excellence, we are sure to open and read it in good earnest. If it bring tidings that some eminent benefactor of our nation and the world has fallen by wicked hands; or that sudden destruction and overwhelming disgrace await our own family; we read it with increasing earnestness. And if it bear every mark of truth and benevolence, our interest is not diminished, though an air of mystery may hang over some parts of it. What language then can express the apathy, not to say the guilt, of those, who acknowledge the Bible, with all its grand announcements and rich provisions, to be from God, and yet treat it with carelessness or neglect? If this book of God was completed nearly eighteen hundred years ago; and if, as would seem from the closing chapter, no further communication is to come forth from Heaven till the consummation of all things,-if this one Volume is to be our only directory through this world of sin and death, and our only passport to life beyond the grave-how immeasurably important is it, that we use this one Volume aright. For it is not every kind of familiarity with the Bible, that is able to make men wise unto salvation. But, on the contrary, it is a most affecting consideration, that a man may be a giant in theology, and may, with its solemn truths, command the breathless attention of sinners like himself, and yet be damned after all. Surely then, it well becomes men to inquire, with what feelings they should consult these Holy Oracles. In considering this inquiry, we remark,

First; Read the Bible under an affecting sense of the goodness of God, in tbus deigning to communicate with you by his written word.

This blessed book, sent down from God out of Heaven, contains all that men know of the true God, of Jesus Christ the Saviour, and of that eternity which stretches before us. This blessed book unfolds our ruined condition, and is the grand charter of all our spiritual rights and privileges, and of all our hopes. If then there be any value in such knowledge and such privileges, while you read, let your gratitude ascend up continually to the Author and Giver of the Bible. In the daily enjoyment of this light of revelation, we are apt, from the commonness of the blessing, to forget our infinite obligations to the Giver ; in the same manner that we fail to appreciate the privilege of that sun which daily moves in grandeur through the heavens. But blot the sun from the firmament, and what would be the condition of our world! So, blot out the Bible, and who can tell the horror of that night, which must hang over the everlasting destinies of us all! Read the Bible, then, with gratitude to its Heavenly Author.

Secondly; Read the Bible under a deep sense of your inability at once to comprehend it.

Though the most essential truths of the Bible are plain ; and though, by prayerful diligence, we may learn enough of the Scriptures to make us wise unto salvation ; still, it must be confessed with humility, that in them are some things hard to be understood, and many things which we cannot yet fully comprehend. Let no one be startled at this, as though it were a vain thing for God to have given us a Bible above our immediate comprehension. Does not the kind parent present his child a book even before he understands its alphabet ? There must be a beginning and a gradual progress of improvement in the Book of divine knowledge, as well as in books of human science. On this point experience confirms what analogy suggests. The student who consults his Bible by day and by night, finds its channels of knowledge widening and deepening the farther he advances. And whatever current of divine truth he pursues, he finds it expanding into a boundless ocean of intelligence. And could he live to the age of Methuselah, and be all the while exploring the Sacred Volume with the penetration of an angel's mind, I apprehend he would still exclaim, with increasing wonder and delight, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! If every passage furnishes a theme for a sermon-or rather for an hundred sermons, had we strength to write them—what mind of man shall be found worthy to open the book and loose all the seals thereof? Takes for instance, one of the most simple passages ; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. The little child can commit it to memory in a moment; and the little child may think he understands it. But what mind of mortal can fully realize what it is to see God ?—what it is to see as we are seen, and know as we are known ?-what it is to look on the glorious countenance of that Being, whose presence fills immensity, and from whose face the earth and the heavens flee away! Take another very simple passage of Scripture ; Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The little child can commit it to memory; and may think he understands it. But what mind of man or angel can comprehend the full amount of blessedness here promised to the poor in spirit ? What tongue of archangel can describe the extent, and majesty, and grandeur, and beauty, of that kingdom of heaven, where Jehovah’s glory is peculiarly displayed—where the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the light thereof and where the thousand thousands who encircle the throne, or who go forth on errands of mercy, are all arrayed in the splendour and likeness of their King! Let us, then, be looking into this holy Volume under a very humbling sense of our inability fully to comprehend it.

Thirdly; Read the Bible with constant self-examination and self-application.

If we would improve our own hearts, as well as heads, we must read and hear for ourselves, and not for another. If then we read, Curs one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them; we should at once inquire, Whether we do not come under that curse ? and how we are likely to escape ? If we read, Honour thy father and mother; we should quickly inquire, Whether we have not often

is every offended Heaven by unkindness to earthly parents? If we read, Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment ; we should solemnly ask, Are we in no danger from the condemnations of the heart-searching Judge? If we read, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; we should pause and consider, Whether we have not a thousand times broken that holy command ? O, my fellowsinners, if we read this holy Book with any degree of faithfulness to our-, selves, we shall find, that in almost every page we are damned for ever ; -unless the great God can be induced to revoke his threatenings—or unless there be some Substitute for the punishment of the transgressors. But the unchanging God never will revoke his threatenings—no, neverthough the foundations of the earth be removed, or though the pillars of heaven be shaken. For heaven and earth shall pass away, but his word. shall not pass away. Not one jot or tittle shall pass from his law, till all be fulfilled. Condemned, then, as we all are, by the eternal law of God, we should anxiously look along the Bible to ascertain, what Substitute there may be for the punishment of the guilty-what escape for sinners from impending wrath. And if we find, that the Lord Jesus Christ has come down from heaven, and died for the chief of sinners—if we find that his blood cleanseth from all sin; we should still ask ourselves, Whether we have accepted an interest in his blood ? whether we have received him into our hearts, with that faith which works by love? For, notwithstanding the stupendous sacrifice of Calvary, we still know, that, without a living faith which purifies the heart, it is impossible to please God. Thus, would we possess that hope which maketh not ashamed, we must read the Scriptures with constant self-examination and self-application.

Fourthly; Read the Bible with fervent supplication for the special influences of the Spirit.

Would you discern spiritual things; there must be an unction from the Holy One. Would you experience renewing grace, and become partakers of that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord; it must be through the instrumentality of divine truth, carried home to the conscience and heart by the agency of God's Spirit. Other means may awaken the sinner : but no other will convert the soul. A terrific burst of thunder may awaken the sinner. The convulsion of an earthquake may awaken the sinner. A blazing meteor of night, crossing the heavens, may awaken the sinner. Or the thrilling voice of a loud preacher may awaken the sinner. But no thunder, no earthquake, no blazing meteor, no thrilling voice, ever wrought conversion in a single soul. This peculiar work is wrought by the Holy Spirit, giving efficacy to the sword of sacred truth. If then you would experience renewing grace, and be fitted to dwell with God, you must read and hear God's truth, with fixed attention, and with self-application, and at the same time with the fervent aspiration, O sanctify me through thy truth; thy word is truth. Finally ; Read the Bible with the solemn and hearty resolution to do the will of God, just as fast as you learn it.

O, it is madness, it is impious mockery, for a poor worm to come near the Holy Oracles with a mind unyielding and disobedient to the heavenly voice. God cannot reasonably be expected to pour his cheering light on such a mind. But if any man WILL DO HIS WILL, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. Let there be first a willing mind, and the word of truth will not fail to illumine every path of duty ; and the Spirit of truth will sanctify every effort. Settle it therefore in your heart, that you will obey, unreservedly. And thus, if you find it written, God now commandeth all men every where to repent ;

then repent now,

for the Judge is at the door. If you find, He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; then believe on the Lord Jesus Christ now, and thou shalt be saved. If you find it written, Wash you ;

make you clean ; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil; learn to do well; then, from this moment, be ye holy, for I am holy, saith the Lord. What less could infinite purity require, or infinite benevolence dictate ? What less could satisfy the soul of an immortal ? Rise then, child of corruption and misery. Grovel in sin no longer. Fix your eye on the throne of the Eternal, on the grandeur of the Eternal, on the felicity of the Eternal : and rest not in any thing short of that perfection, and glory, and blessedness, to which the great God our Saviour invites you. Make the effort at once, and with a willing mind, believing that God, who is reasonable, and sincere, and who worketh in you both to will and to do, will sanctify the effort, and enable you to do what he commands. Thus, in every thing, be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. So shall this pure fountain of truth, which is poison and death to the disobedient, be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

In conclusion, fellow-sinner, let me press the consideration, that though these streams do indeed issue from the sanctuary of Heaven, and are calculated for the healing of the nations, yet if you have no peculiar relish for them, they exert no healing influence on your soul, nor can you ever relish those rivers of pleasure which flow at the right hand of God's throne. It is indeed a most fearful experiment, to have these waters of salvation, these Scriptures of God, round about you, from day to day, and from week to week, and yet give them no cordial reception. It is as though God himself were visibly present, daily inviting you to communion with him, while you continue to say, Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways !

And dare you persevere in such guilt? O, beware how you provoke the Holy One of Israel! For who can stand before his indignation? Who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »