« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
the essence of faith, or the hope of salvation. It is our duty, as a church, to “ let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from us, with all malice ; and to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven us.” It is our duty, as a church “putting away lying, Car speak every man truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another ;” and to follow the things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify another:" that thus, “speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into him in all things, which is the lead, even Christ.” Then shall we regulate our Christian fellowship according to the Apostle's exhortation in the text-"I, therefore, beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called; with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”
Let other churches, if they please, surround themselves by fences unknown to the gospel. Let them, if they please, prescribe conditions of fellowship which neither Christ nor his Apostles ever thought of. Let them put forth their human creeds and confessions of faith ; and pronounce their anathemas, if they please, against all who do not receive them as they do. Let them say, “Stand by thyself: come not near to me; for I am holier than thou." Let them thus shut out of the pale of their communion such as may be sincere, humble, conscientious believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. -But let it ever be our care to regulate the terms of Christian communion by the rule of the Christian scriptures. And whosoever is willing to walk by the she rule ;-whosoever takes the scriptures as his guide in principle and practice; sincerely desirous, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, to understand, believe, and obey them ;whosoever declares his acceptance of eternal life, as “ the gift of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ,”-believing that the Son of God laid down his life for sinners; that he shed his blood for the remission of sin; that he suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God ;-and whosoever is, in consequence, constrained by the love of Christ to live not unto himself, but “unto him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood ;”-in whomsoever these things meet,-let us regard that man as a Christian. Let us take him into the bosom of our affections, as a brother in Christ. Let us look upon him as one with ourselves, and as a member of that body, of which Christ Jesus is the head. Worshipping the same God, through the mediation of the same divine Saviour; being a temple of the same Holy Spirit; seeking the same glorious immor. tality; an heir of the same blessed hope through
Christ, let us feel, that as he was washed in the same baptism; so is he equally entitled to sit down at the same communion table with our selves. Looking upon him as a sincere believer in Christ the Lord, as an humble follower of the Lamb of God-whatever his views may be touching certain doubtful and controverted points of theology, on which the best of Christians have had, and will continue to have, a diversity of sentiment; let us ever stand ready to receive him, “ as Christ hath received us, to the glory of God.” And if such an one desire to cast in his lot among us, and to join with us in the fellowship and communion of the church of Christ, let us say to him, as Laban said to Abraham's servant, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without ?”
If Christians, and Christian churches, could but be persuaded to walk by this rule, what a blessed tendency would it have, not only to give glory to God in the highest, but also to promote the spirit of peace on earth, and good will among men. The church here below would be brought to a nearer resemblance to the general assembly and church of the first born above, wherein universal love, and concord, and joy, shall reign for ever. To that assembly of glorified spirits all the followers of the Lamb shall in due time be united; and there, it may be hoped, attain to that perfect uniformity of knowledge in divine things, which cannot be expected here.
I shall conclude, brethren, with a word of exhortation. Whilst we are careful to rest the principles of our faith exclusively on the gospel of Christ, and to regulate the terms of our Christian fellowship by the same unerring rule, let us ever be careful, through the grace of God, individually and collectively, to adorn the doctrine of our divine Master by a life and conversation becoming the gospel. Let our faith in Christ our blessed Redeemer evidence its truth and reality, in “working by love,” in “purifying the heart," and in “overcoming the world.” Let the true principles of the gospel, love to God, love to one another, be manifest in our general deportment. And, “laying aside every weight, and the sins which so easily beset us, let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
In this course our best interests are safe. In this way we may, it is true, fail to obtain the approbation of frail, perishing man; but we shall infallibly secure the favour of Him, whose love is better than life; and at whose right hand there shall be fulness of joy, and pleasures evermore. Which may God of his mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- SERMON IX.
THE MOTIVES, MEANS, AND END, OF THE
[Preached before the GENERAL SYNOD OF ULSTER, at Armagh,
in June, 1823.)
1 CORINTHIANS, ii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with
excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech, and . my preaching, was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power ; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
From the accounts which have came down to us of the labours and travels of the first teachers of Christianity, it may be collected that the Apostle Paul had resided at Corinth, one of the principal cities of Greece, nearly two years ; and that