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have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy nameh." Into the name of Christ they have been baptized; and to his service have they willingly devoted themselves; engaging to fulfil his will, and even to lay down their lives, if need be, for his sake.]
2. As that which they are to inherit
[All the blessings of it are theirs: and it is administered altogether for their good. The King himself has their interest in view, as much as if he had not another subject in his realm to occupy his attention. Their enemies are all restrained, and shall all, not excepting Satan himself, ere long be bruised under their feet. All the protection which they can need, and all the provision which their souls can desire, are secured to them: "they dwell on high; their place of defence is the munition of rocks: their bread is daily given them, and their water is sure." Nor can these be moved, any more than the kingdom itself can. Neither time nor chance can impair the blessings themselves, or rob them of the enjoyment of them. The pardon, the peace, the holiness, the glory, are theirs, not for time only, but for eternity- And this is the portion, not of some few favoured individuals only, as Prophets and Apostles, but of every believer, however poor, however unworthy. To the whole body of believers, without exception, it is said, "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Hear this, ye who are poor in this world; and survey the riches to which God has chosen you': in respect of your earthly state, ye may be said to be "upon a dunghill: but God has taken you thence, to set you among the princes"." "Ye have received a kingdom:" "Christ has appointed to you a kingdom, even as his Father has appointed unto him a kingdom";" and has ordained that you shall sit with him upon his throne, as he sitteth on his Father's throne":" ye may be "beggars," as it respects temporal possessions; but ye are "kings:" and respecting all of you, Jehovah himself says, " I know your poverty; but ye are rich."]
Let not any, however, be so elated with their privilege as to overlook,
II Their duty as connected with it
"We must serve God with reverence and godly fear"
h Isai. xxvi. 13. 1 Jam. ii. 5.
• Rev. iii. 21.
i Isai. xxxiii. 16.
m 1 Sam. ii. 8.
P Rev. i. 6.
k Luke xii. 32.
[Privilege and duty are so connected, that they can never under any circumstances be separated from each other; and any attempt to separate them will infallibly issue in our ruin. A kingdom has been given us, it is true: and "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." But ye must "serve God," and serve him too " with reverence and godly fear." We must not presume upon his mercy, or take occasion from it to indulge in carelessness and supineness. We must never forget with what a God we have to do. "He is a great God, and greatly to be feared." Though his dispensations are altered, he himself is not altered: "He is a consuming fire" now, as much as he was in the day that he proclaimed his law from Mount Sinai and he must still "be had in reverence of all them that are round about him." True, indeed, we are not now to "fear and quake before him," as the Israelites, and Moses himself, then did: for " he has not given us the spirit of bondage again to fear, but a Spirit of adoption, whereby we may cry, Abba, Fathers :" but still we must "stand in awe of him," and fear to offend him, knowing that "he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity without the utmost abhorrence of it"." In whomsoever wilful sin is found, he will visit it with fiery indignation; and most of all in those who profess themselves his servants*. "If we regard iniquity in our hearts, he will not hear us," or acknowledge us. We must seek to "be holy, as he is holy;" and "perfect, as he is perfect:" and the circumstance of our having been "sealed by him unto the day of redemption," is a reason why we should be more than ever careful, not either by word or deed, and, if possible, not even by a thought, to "grieve his holy Spirit"." Our labour should be to have" our every thought brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ"." It is in this way alone that we can serve God "acceptably:" and in this way alone that we can prove our title to the kingdom which we profess to have received.]
For strength to do this, we must seek his grace from day to day
[We have no strength in ourselves even for a good thought": "Without Christ we can do nothing"." But there is a fulness of grace treasured up in him; and out of his fulness must we continually receive those supplies of grace which we stand in need of. We must not be satisfied with such a measure of grace as may suffice to bring us to God: but must labour for
such a measure as may enable us to serve him, and to "serve him acceptably" to the latest hour of our lives. Especially must we seek a meekness of spirit, an humility of mind, a tenderness of conscience, a purity of heart, an hatred of sin, an abhorrence of ourselves on account of sin, a holy desire to please God, a love to his will, a delight in his service, and an utter contempt even of life itself in comparison of his honour and glory. But these are attainments which he alone can give therefore we must cry day and night unto him for more and more grace, and must labour for them only in a dependence on his good Spirit.
To this state of mind we must be brought by the consideration of the unbounded mercies bestowed upon us: "Having received a kingdom," we must thus seek his grace, and thus labour joyfully to fulfil his will: for so the Apostle elsewhere teaches us: "I beseech you by the mercies of God that ye present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, as your reasonable serviced."]
The CONCLUDING DECLARATION in our text deserving more especial notice, I will draw your attention to it,
1. To augment your thankfulness for the Gospel of Christ
[We see how terrible the presence of God was when he appeared as a consuming fire upon Mount Sinai. But, how much more terrible is it in that world where he is inflicting vengeance both on men and devils as the monuments of his wrath! Yet that is the view of him which we should have had to all eternity, if the Lord Jesus Christ had not interposed to effect our reconciliation with him, and to restore us to his favour Can we reflect on this, and not adore that blessed Saviour, who "bore our sins in his own body on the tree," and "died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God?" Think for a moment of that place which he has "ordained of old, the pile whereof is fire and much wood, and the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle ite." Think of the state of the souls which are confined there, all of them drinking " of the wine of God's wrath, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and tormented with fire and brimstone, having no rest, and the smoke of their torment ascending up for ever and ever':" and then let us ask ourselves, "Who amongst us can dwell with the devouring fire? Who amongst us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" Verily, if we would more habituate ourselves
d Rom. xii. 1.
e Isai. xxx. 33.
to consider the justice, and holiness, and majesty of our God, we should know no bounds to our gratitude for the work of redemption: our every thought would be thankfulness; and our every word be praise —
2. To preserve upon your minds a holy dread of
[Still must it be said, as in the days of old, "The Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God":" and we should never for a moment lose sight of him under that character. It is fit that he should be jealous, and suffer no rival in our hearts. In harbouring any unhallowed lust, we are as great enemies to our own happiness as we are to his glory: and he would have loved us less, if he had given us any reason to hope for impunity in the ways of sin. Be ye then jealous over yourselves with a godly jealousy, lest there be found in you any thing which is displeasing in his sight. Let your conscience be tender even as the apple of your eye: and if but a mote come upon it, let it not abide there for a moment; but weep it away with tears of penitential sorrow, and wash it away with the blood of Christ, which alone can cleanse you even from the smallest sin. Bear in mind, that what ye are in respect of holiness, that ye are in the sight of God: and recollecting, that "his eyes are as a flame of fire," and that "he weighs, not your actions" only, but even your spirits" also, "be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless."]
h Deut. iv. 24.
i 2 Pet. iii. 14.
COMPASSION TO THE DISTRESSED INCULCATED.
Heb. xiii. 3. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
IN the first ages of Christianity persecution raged to a degree that we at this time have little conception of: bonds and imprisonment were no uncommon lot, especially amongst those who were active in the service of their Lord. The loss of all things was also not unfrequently added to the other trials of the saints; so that their afflictions were greatly multiplied and exceeding heavy. At such a season, it was incumbent on every member of the Church to
compassionate the distresses of his afflicted brethren, and by a participation of their burthens to lighten their pressure, and to alleviate the sorrows occasioned by them. To this they might well be stimulated by the consideration that they themselves were constantly exposed to the same trials, and might soon need the same relief which they were administering to others. Through the goodness of God we know but little of these trials. The persecutions of the present day amount to little more than contempt and hatred, and in some few instances a little outward opposition to our worldly interests. Still however there are afflictions of other kinds in abundance to which we all are subject; and under which it becomes us all to manifest the tenderest compassion towards each other, not knowing how soon it may become our own lot to need the sympathy which we ourselves have exercised. In this view, the exhortation in our text deserves the attention of every child of man. Let us notice in it,
I. The duty inculcated
Compassion towards our suffering fellow-creatures is a duty universally acknowledged. If the household of faith are entitled to a preference in our regards, as certainly they are, our benevolence is not to be restricted to them: it is to be exercised generally towards all the sons and daughters of affliction; and that too in a way of,
1. Tender sympathy
[We should "remember them that are in bonds" or afflictions of any kind, not with a transient sigh, or a few customary expressions of condolence, but "as actually bound with them,' and as being ourselves partakers of their sorrows. We can read of the desolations and ravages of war, or of the miseries occasioned by storms and tempests, and pass them over almost without any emotion, and in a few minutes utterly forget them. But, if we felt aright, we should enter into all the troubles of the sufferers, just as if we ourselves were in their very state and condition. Paint to yourselves the anguish of shipwrecked mariners, expecting every moment to be their last: or, if their
a Gal. vi. 10.