Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

word.' (Isa. Ixvi. 2.] The world may deride you for a supposed weakness of understanding ; but the God of heaven will approve your conduct. The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on and are punished.' [Prov. xxii. 3.]

No sooner did Josiah perceive the importance of the book of God, than he desired to acquaint his subjects with it. He summoned all the elders of the nation, the ministers both of church and state, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and went with them in solemn procession to the temple ; nor was he ashamed to appear as a preacher before them. [2 Kings xxiï. 1, &c.] He read in their ears those awful denunciations of the divine law, which had made so strong an impression on his own heart. There also he bound himself by an express covenant to serve the Lord with a steadfast and unreserved obedience, and required the whole congregation to enter into the same engagement. The greater part, we fear, yielded an hypocritical compliance, yet much good, doubtless, was effected; nor was there any open or gross departure from the Lord, during the sequel of this reign.

It is of as much importance now, as it was in the days of Josiah, that the people be called together to be instructed in the oracles of God, that they be exhorted to dedicate themselves to him, and seal their vows before him. If you love God or your fellow-creatures, you will rejoice, when the glad tidings of salvation are carried from one place to another, and sinners are taught the word of reconciliation.' But do you labour to promote this purpose, and contribute to it by your influence and example? If you wish others to hear the Scriptures read and expounded, you too should be willing to hear them ; and, like Josiah, appear at the head of your family in the house of God, and there publicly declare your resolution, to be · his faithful soldiers and servants unto your life’s end.' You will not be satisfied, that the preachers of the gospel perform their office, but in your respective departments you will • be fellow-helpers to the truth.' You will set up religion in your own habitations, endeavour to acquaint your children and domestics with the book of God, and press them all to join themselves to him in a perpetual covenant.' No difficulties, reproaches, or opposition should discourage you from thus attempting to render yourselves useful in your generation, by an exertion of your best abilities. Nor should you doubt of success: at least, much evil will be prevented, and, perhaps, the hearts of many may be truly engaged to serve the Lord.

We have seen Josiah’s liberality in forwarding the work of God: and shall we decline any necessary duties of piety, merely because they are expensive? It is incumbent upon us to honour the Lord with our substance:' and this may be effected by various methods, though in the worship of the Christian church no costly offerings be required. . Let us not be weary in well-doing.' • The liberal deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand.' (Gal. vi. 9. Isa. xxxii. 8.]

Thus lived and prospered this amiable king, steadfastly persevering in righteousness. He was an extensive blessing in his day; and he seemed to be raised up of God, on purpose that one more solemn warning might be given to the people of Judah, before their entire desolation. They complied with his regulations; and the service of Jehovah continued to be maintained in its purity. But the generality of his subjects practised the basest dissimulation in their religious professions. (Jer. iii. 6. 10.] There was therefore no remedy; for soon afterward the threatened destruction came upon them, and they were carried captive to Babylon. “Be not deceived: God is not mocked. You may assume some fair appearances, and conform to the external rites of devotion; but if you turn unto the Lord feignedly, you will fall under the heavier condemnation.

The character before us was most amiable, and is said to have been unequalled ; not, indeed, in every respect, but in one leading feature. Josiah surpassed all others in his zeal and activity to promote the honour of God. His whole heart was engaged in the work of reformation, and all his strength put forth to accomplish it. It was remarked, also, of his pious ancestor, Hezekiah, that there was none like him for the firmness of his trust and confidence in God. The most eminent saints, though they possess other good qualities, are generally distinguished for some particular excellence, which attracts our notice and admiration. In each of them we perceive the efficacy of the grace of God, and see cause to be ashamed of our own sad deficiencies. May we so contemplate their examples, as not only to commend, but imitate, every thing valuable in them!

Thirteen years after the last-mentioned transactions, Josiah went forth to battle against the king of Egypt, who was passing through his land to attack the Assyrians. He has been warmly censured for undertaking the expedition ; but perhaps we are not sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances, to decide upon his conduct. There might be political reasons, which would justify him as a statesman ; but, probably, he acted without due deliberation, and consulted not the Lord or his prophets. Good men are liable to be betrayed into a wrong spirit; and God may sometimes permit them to follow foolish and evil counsels, in order to punish those with whom they are connected. It was so in the present instance ; as we shall learn from the very awful event. Josiah received a mortal wound in the engagement, and died as they conveyed him from Megiddo to Jerusalem. Doubtless, he was removed in mercy to himself, that he might not behold the approaching desolation of his country; but in judgement to the people, who, notwithstanding the piety of their prince, were ripening for destruction. They were constrained, however, to confess his worth, when he was taken from them: and, while they felt their heavy loss, they mourned for him, throughout all the nation, with expressions of deepest sorrow. It is truly lamentable, that men in general know not the value of their own blessings, till they are deprived, in righteous punishment, for their contempt and abuse of them.

If we censure Josiah's last expedition, we should be warned from it, to watch over our conduct and the tempers of our minds. Though we be established in grace, yet, if at any time we be remiss and negligent, we may be cut down in a way, which will be highly dishonourable to our profession. • Therefore, be ye also ready;' be doing the work of the Lord, that, when he shall call, you may not be surprised or terrified, but cheerfully obey the summons; and, by the strength and ardour of your faith and hope at that solemn season, may instruct and comfort your surviving friends.

But if you are living in an habitual disregard of God and his salvation, in what manner can you meet your dissolution ? Place the awful scene before you: imagine the time of your departure at hand: are you not confounded? What is your support? Can you look at death with composure and confidence, and say, “ I am persuaded, that it shall not be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord ?' Do you not rather tremble in the 'fearful lookingfor of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries ?' O seize the present moment, and flee to him, whose grace can so prepare you for your dismission, and invigorate you in it, that you may even then adopt the apostle's triumph, 0 death, where is thy sting ?—Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' (1 Cor. xv. 55, 57.]

[ROBINSON.]

SERMON CVII.

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.

FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. Gal. v. 22, 23. But the fruit of the Spirit is (1) love, (2) joy, (3) peace,

(4) long-suffering, (5) gentleness, (6) goodness, (7) faith, (8) meekness, (9) temperance; against such there is no law.

[Text taken from the Epistle for the Day.) In this chapter, the Apostle represents to us the different fruits of the flesh, and of the spirit, that we may adopt the one, and avoid the other. These enumerated in the text, are the chief, but not all the fruits of the Spirit : they are sufficient, however, to discover whether the Spirit of God dwells

in us.

Of the fruits of the Spirit, the first here mentioned is (1) ‘Love, which generally imports piety to God, and good-will towards men. But in this passage it seems to be restrained to benevolence and good will towards our fellow-creatures. Indeed, this love of our neighbour is not only the principal, but the source and original of all those other graces, termed 'the fruits of the spirit. Our joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, do all proceed from that spirit of love, which the Christian religion infuses into the minds of its professors. He who seriously considers, that we all have one Lord and master, one faith, one baptism, one hope of arriving at the same haven for our souls, must think it highly reasonable, that we should be of one heart and mind. If we are all travelling to our father's house, why should we fall out by the way, and break that unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, which alone can make us fit inhabitants of heaven? The nature of pure and undefiled religion, is to unite the minds of its disciples, by softening the disorders of their passions. For as God is love, the better we love him, the more shall we resemble him: and we shall the more partake of this divine quality, not only by relieving the poor, but by employing our time and talents to advance God's glory and promote the welfare of our neighbour. And it may be observed, that all the great virtues of the Christian religion are social, such as tend to make people prosper and flourish, by being useful and affectionate to each other. Thus is love the proper and genuine fruit of the Spirit.

I proceed to show, what is meant by (2) joy,'another fruit of the Spirit. This spiritual joy is of the same nature with what is called “joy in the Holy Ghost:' such a joy as hath the Holy Spirit for its author, and can lodge only in a sanctified soul: we are under the influence of this joy, when we are delighted to see men love and serve God, and advance his glory in the world ; when the consideration of God's wonderful goodness incites us to magnify his great name;" when we sympathize with others in the good they receive; and, with the blessed angels in heaven, rejoice at seeing a sinner turn from the evil of his way. This is that spiritual joy, which is opposed to a narrow, selfish temper, when men seek after nothing but their own advantage, and will benefit none but themselves. Or, what is much worse, when men enviously and maliciously hate that others should possess the enjoyments of life, and are well pleased when any affliction happens to their neighbour. This temper of mind assimilates us to those apostate spirits, who make it their business to reduce mankind into the same deplorable state of misery with themselves.

The third fruit of the spirit mentioned in the text is (3) peace;' or a mind studious of preserving peace among men. When men are of a pacific temper, ready to forgive injuries themselves, and to compose the exorbitant passions of other men, this is one of the fairest effects of the Spirit : such peacemakers as these, of so heavenly a disposition of mind, shall certainly be blessed in this world and in the next. But very contrary to this, is the wicked temper of those who take delight

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »