« ForrigeFortsæt »
of God's world, will not only afford satisfaction in our dying moments; but will, I believe, be matter of joy in Heaven, when we shall see Christ, and know Him as he is.
The following Paragraph was written at the Rev. Rowland Hill's house on the morning of the service, but not pronounced from the Pulpit.
But, O ye servants of Jesus! if the reverse of this be your conduct; if attachment to houses and lands, and home and kindred; or the fear of man, or the love of ease, keep us back from the Saviour's work, where labourers are most required; will it not fill us with shame, even if we should be, through infinite mercy, admitted to the realms of bliss? We thank God that he has poured out, in this our day, a spirit of mutual love, and an ardent desire to diffuse the knowledge of Christ to the ends of the earth. But we long to see a still higher degree of affection, and reciprocal confidence, and brotherly love, existing between the evangelists abroad and the churches at home. We think the churches should thrust forth to the most arduous duties some of the men whom they most esteem and love; and not by a spirit of selfishness, hinder the Gospel of Christ. The churches should, I conceive, call men to their Lord's work among the heathen; and so dissipate the doubts of those who cannot see their way clear, and put to shame those who desire an excuse. On the collective feeling and opinion of the churches, much depends, in this great work. They must make sacrifices as well as individuals. And when this shall be the case, when all hearts and all hands join in the use of appointed means, a blessing from on high, the Holy Spirit, will be poured out, and the knowledge of Christ fill every region of the habitable globe.
DELIVERED AT THE REV. JOS. FLETCHER'S CHAPEL, STEPNEY,
WATCHFULNESS DURING THE LORD'S
MARK, XIII. 35.
"Watch, therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh;" or, according to St. Matthew, "what hour your Lord doth come."
THE kingdom of heaven, or the administration of Divine Providence, under the Christian dispensation, is compared by our Saviour to the state of a household whose master is absent, having gone a long journey from home. The members of a household, or family, under such circumstances, are very liable to become remiss in the performance of their several and respective duties, and even to fall into gross irregularities. Those who have been left with a deputed authority, as stewards or overseers, often neglect their duty; and then children and servants avail themselves of this, to neglect what is incumbent on them; or, it may be, that the superiors mal-treat and oppress the inferior branches of the family. It is, however, supposed in the parable, that the master of the house may return suddenly, and unexpectedly; and on this supposition,
should he find his household in disorder, he would cer tainly punish those who had abused his confidence, and violated their acknowledged duty; or the specific commands which he had, at his departure, given them. Under such circumstances, the best advice that could be given to a family, would be that which is contained in the words of our text, Watch; be careful and attentive to your proper work, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
It is generally thought that our Lord, in the discourse addressed to his disciples, in connexion with the sentence which I have read, referred to four events: to the destruction of Jerusalem; to the termination of the then existing state of the Jewish church; to the death of individual men, and to the final judgment of all mankind. Indeed, its application to the general judgment, could be no otherwise appropriate, than by considering the death of each individual as introducing him to that state of existence in which he shall be judged. I will not this day refer to the awful calamities which befel the Jews, when Jerusalem was overthrown by the conquering Romans, in which transactions an immense number of human beings perished; but shall direct my discourse to two general topics: first, Man's relative situation; and, secondly, Man's obligation to watchfulness; and whilst discoursing on these two leading ideas, I shall consider man both as a creature and a Christian.
I. Man is not his own maker, nor was the world he inhabits produced by his power; his being is derived, the supply of his wants is from another, and therefore man is not his own master; he may not do what he pleases, either with himself or with what he possesses. Man owes his existence, and the sustentation of his being, to a supreme Lord, who is the great and glorious Creator of the universe. To him man owes life, and breath, and every good. If a fellow-creature, who affords any one the means of daily support, is entitled, by general consent, to a certain portion of service, to be performed with perfect good faith and good will, how much more ought man to acknowledge that the great Creator and Lord of the universe is entitled
to his service? But holy Scripture not only represents the relation of the Almighty towards man as that of a sovereign, a king, a lord and master, but also graciously blends with these, the softened, though not less just authority, of a Father, and the gracious and condescending claims of a Saviour. It is useful for us, I conceive, to cherish in our minds the same comprehensive regard to the whole character of the divine Being that Scripture warrants us to do; for by this means we shall have the benefit of motives addressed both to our intellect and to our affections; and an acknowledgment of simple duty will be aided by a sense of gratitude; thus we shall be drawn to the performance of duty by affection and love. Indeed, I do not think it useful to detain our minds in the contemplation of the relation between the great Creator and man as an innocent creature, since that relation does not now exist; but rather view man's relation to the divine Being as that relation is revealed by the Saviour. The Saviour, or God in Christ, is now, in relation to human beings, the great Lord of all. It is Jesus who has all power in heaven and in earth; he is our Lord, and it is with him that we have to do, and not with the Almighty, simply as Creator, Preserver, and final Judge. And all persons, whether the as yet impenitent sinner, or the sinner who has repented, returned to God, and been sanctified-all classes of persons should view God our Saviour as their supreme Lord, who has prescribed to every one the work proper for him to perform. For all characters, all ranks, all ages, and all conditions of men and of women, there are appropriate duties, to which the Master hath commanded them to attend. It is not practicable to enter now into a minute specification of those duties in every case. The duty of each will appear from briefly viewing the relations in which men stand to God, either
Simply, as creatures,
Or as sinners,
Or as saints.
All are creatures, all are sinners, but it cannot be said that all are saints.
And duties will further appear from an attention to the place which each person holds in the great family or household. Some are entrusted with certain offices, intended to promote the well-being of the whole, such as princes and magistrates, in the state; fathers, and mothers, and teachers, in families; bishops, or pastors, and deacons, in the church. These should be faithful and wise servants of their Lord, and give to his household their meat in due season. Blessed is the servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing!
But duty is not confined to these rulers of the household; there are also duties binding on those who are under authority, and the younger branches of the great family. Duties owing by the people towards princes and magistrates; by children and scholars, towards parents and teachers, and by members of churches towards their pastors and deacons. And all these relative duties among men should be performed with a supreme regard to the great Lord of all. His will is man's law; and pains should be taken to ascertain his will, according to the means which he may have put in our power; and moreover, the different branches of this great family, or, in other words, the different nations and tribes of men, should kindly communicate whatever they know regarding their Lord's will to each other. Those who, like the Jews and Christians, have had superior means of knowing their Lord's will, were made keepers of the oracles of God, not solely for their own use, but for the benefit of all mankind. It is not less a duty in those who know their Lord's will to instruct others, than it is a duty in the uninformed to exert themselves to ascertain it.
Let us, in this part of our discourse, stop a while to consider the character of the Lord or Master of the household, as made known to us in the inspired history of Divine Providence, which constitutes the records of the family.
In the beginning he reared a magnificent mansion for the accommodation of the family, and stored it with all that could contribute to the happiness and delight of its inmates; and in so doing, displayed his power and his goodness, both of which are infinite. He was not a hard nor a tyrannical