« ForrigeFortsæt »
Discourses. By the Rev. R. Nesbit.-Sold at the Church Mission Press, and by Messrs. Thacker and Co.
We have mnch pleasure in recommending to the notice of our readers, Mr. Nesbit's volume of Sermons. They are, as the title-page informs us, chiefly on Doctrinal Subjects,-and these subjects are handled with that earnestness and impressiveness, which all who know the fervent piety and devotedness of the author, might have expected. There are passages in the volume which possess the characteristics of true eloquence; there are many also calculated to awaken the feelings and excite the finer sensibilities of the heart: but the predominant character of the discourses seems to be, a straight-forward declaration of the glad tidings of peace and salvation to sinful men. Many of the author's appeals are searching and powerful, and when addressed to a listening congregation, with the additional impressiveness of a speaker who felt strongly and seriously the great importance of the truths which he was declaring, they surely could not but have been accompanied with salutary effects. We think that the author judged well, when he yielded to the solicitations of his friends, and permitted this volume to come forth into the world; and we unite in his earnest prayers, that the highest hopes of his friends may be fully realized.
We regret that, in bringing before our readers a notice of the volume, we cannot give it all the attention which it fairly deserves; we shall endeavour, however, by selecting some passages, to show that a more intimate acquaintance with the volume, as well as a more minute knowledge of its contents, than we can pretend to give, is desirable.
The subjects selected afford the author opportunity of enlarging, on the surpassing love of God manifested in the Gospel,-on the awful character of divine holiness, and the unworthiness of any approach which fallen man can make to God, save through the mediation of a sinless advocate with the Father, and on the influence of the atoning death of the blessed Saviour, and His power and might to save to the uttermost the very chief of sinners. All these subjects are brought before us, in a manner calculated to impress the mind, with the necessity of giving earnest attention and immediate application to the main business of life. The evil of sin, and the negligence of a merely nominal profession of godliness, are repeatedly and strongly enforced. The unrestricted freeness and complete fulness of Gospel mercy are unfolded, and the presumptuous guilt of remaining heedless
listeners and uninterested spectators, under such a glorious dispensation of mercy and love, is faithfully announced.
Let the man who vainly trusts in his own righteousness, forgetful of the infinite purity of that Almighty Being, before whom he shall stand at the judgment of the great day, peruse the following passage, and then consider how he shall answer for one of many thousands of his transgressions.
"Do you wish to stand alone? Take, then, your place with the angels in heaven, or with Adam in paradise, and keep your place by the maintenance of perfect love and perfect obedience. Alas! no sooner is one moment elapsed than you have fallen! During that moment you have not loved God with all your heart;'-you have not sought his glory with all your desire; you have not promoted it with all your energy. You are found guilty both of disaffection and disobedience; and you must be dealt with accordingly. You are cast down from your heaven;-you are driven out of your paradise. But why should we bid you take your place now? you have taken it, and tried it, and lost it, long ago; and your subsequent conduct has only rendered the more desperate your loss, and the more vast your ruin. Not only moments, but days,-not only days, but years, have witnessed continual deficiency, and never-failing transgression,unconquerable disaffection and unwearied rebellion. These have distinguished your character and conduct from your youth up; and yet you imagine that you have not lost your place in the presence of Jehovah! or, at least, you think you may regain, and retain it, by a worth of your own production and possession! Foolish men! look into your hearts. Are they not like the troubled sea which casts up mire and dirt?' How many evil thoughts, and foul imaginations, and inordinate desires, and unhallowed purposes, find a lodgment within them! See how they reject the holy exercises of meditation and prayer! See how they exclude the idea of God,—not only of his holiness, but of his goodness; not only of his just government, but of his bountiful providence! Mark your conversation; and observe how many idle and unadvised,-how many vain and foolish,how many foul and wicked,-how many profane and blasphemous words escape your lips! Turn your eyes to your conduct, and see how much selfishness and sin,-how much unholiness and impurity,-how much contempt of God and rejection of his authority, characterize all your actions! Look to your whole life; and what is it but a series of sins? Look to yourselves; and what are you, but a mass of guilt? And yet you will present yourselves before a holy God, and point to your past history as recommending you to his favour!" pp. 26, 27.
If sin in all its deformity is presented to the mind, and God in all the awfulness and sublimity of his justice regarded as the avenger of his insulted majesty, where can the self-convicted sinner find repose and peace for his weary soul? Whence can arise the hope of acceptance? Could the sinner stop short in his career of ungodliness; could he, from the very moment of convicted opposition to the righteousness, purity, and perfection of the holy law of God, commence the practice of true righteousness and persevering adherence to the requirements of the Divine precepts?-yet how could he satisfy the claims of justice for the unnumbered errors of his past life? Can any system of human device quiet his fears, or lead him to the means by
which he can expiate his guilt? all human systems are not only inadequate to the effect of "drawing men to God;" but the means they unfold, "legitimately, directly, and infallibly produce the effect of drawing men farther from Him." Hear our author, however, announcing the true remedy, provided for the guilty soul.
"When, however, a pardon, free, full, and irrevocable, is distinctly offered,-when the grounds of that pardon, as resting on the pure, perfect, and everlasting righteousness of a substituted and suffering Saviour, are clearly perceived, and when the sincerity with which this pardon is offered is fully credited, then can the soul give up itself freely to the contemplation of Divine love, and freely experience its influence in exciting love in return: then, also, can it contemplate the Divine holiness and justice, and regard them with gratitude, as well as reverence, and with delight, as well as awe. The veil of terror, which distorted and obscured the Divine character, is taken away; and all its beauty and loveliness, its excellence and glory, burst on the astonished and enraptured view of the beholder."
"Pardon, such as the Saviour offers, both quiets fear, and abashes pride; it excites gratitude, and provokes love; it constrains to obedience, and urges to perseverance in those ways that are pleasing to God. It is the Saviour lifted up upon the cross, that draws all men unto him.' It is the Saviour suffering in the stead of the guilty, that draws all men unto him.' It is the Saviour procuring pardon by the sacrifice of himself, and bestowing pardon in virtue of that sacrifice, that draws all men unto him. It is the Saviour purchasing pardon at the greatest expense to himself, and giving it to us without money and without price,' that 'draws all men unto him.' But for this peculiarity of his work it would be altogether imperfect, and would leave us in a worse condition than if it had never been commenced. But for this we should in vain call him Saviour or Redeemer. But for this we might look upon his dignity, but could not rejoice in it ;-we might look upon his power, but could not trust it ;-we might look upon his love, but could not give up our hearts to be melted by its influence." pp. 41, 42.
We beg to invite the attention of such of our readers, as may possess the volume, and of others who we trust will procure it, to the two sermons on Matt. xi. 21-24; they are well worthy of perusal, and the subject of which they treat is too much lost sight of in this worldly and degenerate age. We also solicit attention to the two sermons on 1 Cor. xv. 34. We, whose lot has been cast in a land where the knowledge of the true God is obscured as it were with a cloud of thickest darkness-where the divine character, in its infinite perfection and supreme grandeur, is not regarded, or is altogether unknown-where superstition, of the darkest and most delusive kind, enslaves unnumbered multitudes of dying men,-we, who see around us the triumphs of idolatry, imposture, and infidelity, have too much cause to exclaim, the true and living God is unknown in the midst of us. One passage may be quoted-it refers to the man who knows about God, but at the same time has no saving knowledge of God.
"This is a most remarkable fact in the moral history of man. Strange it is that he should be able to speak of the truth, to dispute about it, and defend it, and yet continue, with respect to his moral nature in general, as if no such truth existed. Strange it is that he should know that God is holy, and yet not fear and stand in awe of him,-that he should know that he is love,' and yet regard him without affection,-that he should know that he is true and faithful,' and yet neither believe, nor trust in him. The fact is, that he knows of these things only by the hearing of the ear. His mental eye never saw them; and of that knowledge of God and of Christ, which is life eternal, he possesses none." p. 173.
There are two sermons on Cor. v. 21, which merit a careful perusal. Here we are told of the voluntary sufferings and the all-sufficient redemption of Him who purchased peace for us, by being made sin ;-who bore unmerited wrath, that we might be made the sons of God. When we consider Him who was bruised for our transgressions, and bore our sins, may we not derive comfort from the consideration, that our Great Mediator and High Priest has a fellow feeling with all our sorrows, and will aid his people in all their trials? Shall we not then be willing to suffer for his sake? We invite every suffering believer to peruse the concluding paragraph of these two sermons.
"It is no doubt true, that believers are required to conform themselves, and are actually conformed, to the sufferings and death of Christ, as well as to his resurrection and ascension and dominion. It is no doubt true that you must suffer. It is no doubt true that you must be persecuted for his sake. It is no doubt true that you must crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts.' It is no doubt true that you must put to death your members, which are upon the earth,' and become dead to the world and every worldly enjoyment. But these things, although they are unpleasant to the flesh, tend to the health and happiness of the spirit. They form, at most, only a light affliction, which is but for a moment,' while there follows them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. They are sufferings of this present time, which are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed' hereafter.—And, oh! if you are to be conformed to Christ in his exaltation, will you not be conformed to him in his humiliation also? If you are to be like him in his happiness and glory for endless ages, are you not willing to be like him in his shame and suffering for a few years? If in your spirits you have already risen with Christ from the death of sins and trespasses in which you are naturally sunk,—if you already sit with him in heavenly places; and if, in your bodies, you shall rise at last from the grave,—if you shall ascend to heaven, and sit with him for ever on his throne; are you not willing, for his sake, to bear the reproach and disadvantages of a mean birth and low condition ?-For his sake, are you not willing to endure toil and want, and pain and distress?-For his sake, are you not willing to submit to the chastisements of God?-For his sake, are you not willing to suffer the evil thoughts and suspicions, the contradictions and revilings, the accusations and rebukes, the persecutions and assaults, the contempt and derision, of men?-For his sake, are you not willing to meet and to resist the temptations of devils?-For his sake, are you not willing to be crucified ?-For his sake, are you not willing to die?" p. 296.
There are many other passages worthy of remark and perusal, but our limits forbid us to give way to our wishes on this
point. We cannot, however, finish our observations without noticing particularly the four sermons on Prayer. Three of these are an exposition of the Lord's Prayer, and the first is on prayer viewed in connexion with the Divine decrees." The author treats this subject in a sound and practical manner, and gives satisfying replies to the objections which are sometimes brought forward in reference to the sovereign will and immutable determinations of the Creator. The following short paragraph may indicate something of the author's argument.
"It is because God is unchangeable, and preserves unchanged those connexions in the material world which he has once established, that we are encouraged to avail ourselves of them, and are able to do so with success. Were he to change his decrees respecting the material world, so that fire should no longer burn, water no longer drench, and so forth, there would be an end of all our natural exertions. It is, in like manner, because God is unchangeable, and preserves unchanged those connexions in the spiritual world, which he has once established, that we are encouraged to avail ourselves of them, and are able to do so with success. Were he to change his decree respecting prayer, so that the use of it should no longer be followed by the reception of spiritual blessings, there would at once be an end of the exercise. It is because God has established an inseparable connexion between the offering up of prayer, and the obtaining of spiritual blessings; and because he, as an unchanging God, maintains that connexion unchanged, that we are able to approach his footstool with hope and confidence, and are encouraged to pray without ceasing.' 'I am Jehovah; I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.' So far, therefore, from the immutability of God, and the existence of his immutable decrees forming an objection to prayer, they form the very foundation and support of it, and, were it not for them, it would be an idle and hopeless exercise." pp. 63, 64.
The sermon concludes with an earnest exhortation to pray for the blessings promised to all the families of the earth. Many of our readers may fully sympathize with the author in what he enjoins.
"The blessings promised to the house of Israel' are also promised to the whole world. It is not merely the families of Jacob, but it is 'all the families of the earth,' that are to be blessed in Abraham's seed.' Let this promise, then, excite you to prayer: let the belief of its truth, and the feeling of its preciousness, ever press upon your heart, and preserve you from fainting' in the exercise. Do you wish to see a whole world under the happy dominion of the Prince of Peace? Do you wish to see all men loving God, adoring his perfections, praising his name, and doing his will? Do you wish to see all men acknowledging his infinite love in the gift of his Son, and rejoicing in him in consequence of that gift? Do you wish to see all men living in peace and love with each other? Do you wish to see holiness and happiness spread through every part of our now wicked and wretched world? Do you wish to see the glory of Jehovah cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea?' If such is really your desire, let it be cherished till it become like one of the strongest passions of your nature, and continually solicit and prompt to efforts for its own gratification. Let this desire especially prompt to prayer; and let that prayer never cease till Jehovah accomplish that with respect to which he would have the house of Israel to inquire of him, that he may do it for them.'' p. 71.