Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

unto life, because we love the brethren." Compliance with these exhortations, is always imperative, especially imperative in seasons of nationa danger. Everything that is ominous, everything that is solemn, everything that is portentous around us, must be regarded as an earnest call to Christians to live together in love. This love is to be cherished everywhere, to be cherished toward those who are members of the same section of the universal church. Here, of course, there should be no orphan's heart. Here, all should feel themselves members of a commonwealth. There should be a rejoicing with those that do rejoice, and a weeping with those that weep; and, as by electric fire, the wants and the wishes of the one should be communicated to and acknowledged by the whole. But it should not only be cherished in our own communion, but toward all who hold “the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.” Wherever Christ is acknowledged, his grace magnified, his crown vindicated, his law made honourable, wherever the service of Christ is the aim, and the glory of Christ is the purpose, there the church should know as Christian and should hail as brethren. This duty is one that has been scandalously neglected in the times in which we live, and that neglect has darkened the aspect and augmented the perils of the times. Brethren, we must all amend if we would not betray. And when the church of Christ shall combine in heart as in spirit one, then shall the great building of the universe progress. God shall smile upon the workmen, “the glory of the latter house shall exceed the glory of the former," and the whole “ building fitly framed together shall grow up into a holy temple of the Lord.”

Then, fourthly, if we would be pious men as God estimates piety, we must be zealous in endeavour for the spread of the gospel, and for the conversion of the world. The errors and the crimes of which we have spoken render this essential. We have but to gather into our minds the contemplation of guilt so henious, so offensive that it rises up in the presence of the Holy One, and calls for vengeance as he is seated upon his throne; then, we have but to remember the consequences of that guilt everywhere producing misery, everywhere drying up the sources of spiritual affluence, everywhere exposing to the unending perditions of hell. Now, brethren, nothing—and I would speak as one member of the army summoning others to the battle fieldnothing will avail but the combined, and devoted, and persevering exertions of the members of the church below. How else shall we attempt to grasp with the depravity around us ? Parliamentary enactments—what can they do ? Threats to affright, or bribes to seduce, what can they do ? Patronage in all its prestige and all its power, all that can be possibly brought out of state treasury or of state influence-what are they? Availless utterly without the power and Spirit of God. No; there must be a band of faithful men who are thus renovated and redeemed going forth in the name of the Lord, They must sustain the ministry in existing pastorates, and spread it whereever it has never been established. They must support institutions for the education of the entire man, institutions based upon the word of God. They must become themselves preachers of “the truth as it is in Jesus ;" by prayer, by influence, by example, by effort, they must display all the grace which has redeemed them; and especially they must all in earnest, repeated, importunate supplications besiege the throne of grace in prayer. This is another summons, the last I shall give you on this matter to-night, and you are now to answer it with intense energy, with intense zeal. Coldness here is irrational. Ardour here is reason. Indifference here is foolishness. Earnestness, or if you will, enthusiasm here is the highest and sublimest wisdom.

If you would be pious men, therefore, as God estimates piety, you are to come out from the world and to be separated from it ; you are to hold fast the doctrines you have received ; you are to cultivate to each other the tenderest brotherly love ; and you are to be energetic in heart for the conversion of the world.

II. I come now, secondly and briefly, to notice the effects which we are warranted in expecting such conduct as this to ensure. This is the doctrine of the text, that Sodom would have been spared if the ten righteous men had been there. Pious men are presented to us, therefore, as the safety of the nation in which they live. This is very beautifully presented in several other parts of Scripture. You have it for instance in the prophecy of Isaiah, Ixv. 8, 9 :-" Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains : and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.” Then, again in the prophecy of Malachi, iii. 10, 11 :-“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground ; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the

field, saith the Lord of hosts." We see here the development of the general principle for which we contend, that God preserves nations for the sake of pious men. The annals of the past show how very frequently he has put to nought statesmanship, fleets, and armies, and has rendered honour to truth, meekness, and righteousness. This I do solemnly believe to be the case in our own land in this crisis of its affairs, and I am bold to affirm my conviction, that the destinies of England and of the British Empire are at this moment in the hands of its pious men. If they be faithful to their high trust and to the vocation to which they are eminently and signally called, nothing can harm us ; no weapon that is formed against us shall ever be able to prosper. I think this might be made out from the history of the past both as to tem. poral and spiritual matters. I appeal to you whether it is not manifest that the temporal interests of a nation are bound up in its piety! Let pious men prevail in a land, let the population become imbued with the spirit and with the leaven of evangelical godliness, what is the consequence Order is at once preserved. As their holiness spreads, as their unworldly yet earnest example manifests itself and begins to be felt, sounder views prevail. The moral is felt to exert a supremacy over the secular; the political agitator the infidel demagogue, the philosophic theorist are scouted as physicians of no value ; and men everywhere learn to submit to the orderly restraints and the well-regulated government of law. Let pious men prevail, and they will keep up the freedom of a land. I do not mean that crouching emasculation on the one hand, nor that ribald licentiousness on the other hand, which have both been dignified by the name by extreme political parties; but I mean well-ordered and rational liberty-liberty which respects the rights of other people at the same time that it asserts and vindicates its own- liberty which with one hand renders to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and with the other hand takes care to render to God the things that are God's-liberty which honours men as men, just because the Divine command tells it to * honour all men,” and because all the world over there is nothing so royal as a man. That liberty will be preserved wherever pious men are found, and wherever the example of these pious men begins to spread itself amongst people.

And, then, pious men will preserve the prosperity of a land. There is a false prosperity, which must be abandoned; there is a false honour which must be speedily foresworn; but that prosperity which is substantial and abiding will remain under the influences of piety, Art will minister then

not to luxury but to truth; science will minister then not to infidelity but to truth; commerce will minister then not to selfishness but to benevolence; and other realms shall render to us their unbought and unpurchaseable homage, and the sons of our country, in their not unholy pride, may wave their banner to the wind, with the motto on it,

"He is the free man whom the truth makes free,

And all are slaves besides." Yes, brethren, it is Britain's altar and not Britain's throne, Britain's Bible and not Britain's statute book, that is the great, and deep, and strong source of her national prosperity and renown. Do away with this, suffer that fidelity with which, in some humble measure, we have borne witness for God, to be relaxed, let our Sabbaths be sinned away at the bidding of unholy or mistaken mobs; let us enter into adulterous and unworthy alliance with the man of sin ; let us be traitors to the trust with which God has invested us, to take care of the ark of the Lord, and the crown will lose its lustre, the peerage its nobility, and the senate its command; all the phases of social rank and order will be disjointed and disorganized ; a lava tide ot desolation will overwhelm all that is consecrated and noble, and angels may sing the dirge over a once great, but now hopelessly fallen people, " the glory is departed from Israel, because the ark of God is taken." Keep fast by that ark, hold it; hold your attachment to it as the strongest element of being, and there shall be no bounds to the sacred magnificence of our nation, but the fires of the last day, when they consume all that is perishable and drossy, may see us with the light of the Divine presence gleaming harmlessly around our brow, and in our hand the open law for all the nations of mankind.

Those are temporal benefits. And, then, let there be pious men in the land, and spiritual benefits will also be secured. There will, for instance, be the defeat of erroneous opinions. Truth, when the spirit inspires it not, abstract truth, is weak and powerless. Truth, with the spirit in it is mighty, and will prevail. There can be no fear as to the result, because the world has never been left, and will never be left without the active spirit of God. Falsehood breaks out impetuously, just like one of those torrents that leap and rattle over the summit of the mountain after the thunder storm, overwhelming in the first outbreak, but dying away into insignificance and silence by and by; truth is the little spring that rises up imperceptibly and gently and flows on, unostentatious and noiseless, until at last navíes are wafted on its bosom, and it pours its full volume of triumphant waters into the rejoicing sea. So it will be with truth; wealth cannot bribe it, talent cannot dazzle it, sophistry cannot overreach it, anthority cannot please it—they all, like Felix, tremble in its majestic presence. Let pious men increase, and each one of them will become a centre of holiness ; apostates will be brought back to the church, poor backsliders will be reclaimed into new found liberty and new created privilege, and there will be a cry like that on the summit of Carmel after the controversy was over, and had issued in the discomfiture of Baal-" The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

And, then, better than all that, salvation of souls will be secured. The conversion of a soul is an infinitely greater triumph than the eradication of a false opinion. A false opinion may be crushed, and the man that holds it may be in imminent spiritual peril ; convert the man's soul, and his opinions will come right by and by. Oh, if as you go from this place to.night, you were to behold the crowds of tempters and temptresses to evil that will cross your path as you travel homeward, if you think of their activity, of their earnestness to proselytize in the grand diabolical army, and to make sevenfold more the children of hell than they are themselves, and if you think of the apathy of the faithful, of the scantiness of effort, of the failure of faith, of the depression of endeavour, of the laxity of attachment on the part of believers in Jesus, surely there is enough to make you abashed and confounded. Brethren, I should like, if I could, to bring before you one solitary soul, to fasten your attention upon that soul, to transfix it as with a lightning glance before you, so that you might trace it in its downward path, see it as habit crusts it over, and selfishness rejoices over it, and the foul fiend gloats upon it in mockery, and disease, prematurely induced, comes upon it, and death waits for his prey, and hell is moved from beneath to meet it at its coming, and that you should follow it down into those dark and dread abodes, which man's pencil painteth not, and of which man's imagination, thank God, cannot conceive! Oh! draw the curtain over that ; .we cannot bear the sight! But as you think of the real spiritual peril in which not one-not a family-oh! if there were but a family, all London would be awake for its deliverance, but there is a world in danger-not one, not a family, not a island, not a conti. nent, but a world—if I could only fasten that upon your consciences to-night, each one of you would surely go away with tearful eye and glad heart, glad that you were able to do anything for God, and would not rest without saying, “For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake, I will not rest until the righteousness thereof go forth as the brightness, and the salvation thereof as the lamp that burneth."

Just one parting word. If you would do all this, you must be pious yourselves ; but do not be amongst the number of those who busy themselves in the externalisms of godliness, and are in some measure active in connection with the church of God, but are out of Christ, aliens themselves from the commonwealth of Israel. If you are not personally pious, you will be accomplices in drawing down the thunderbolt, and chargeable to that extent with your country's ruin, aud the ruin of souls. Come to Christ now; let all your past iniquity be forgotten and forgiven as you bow before him in humiliation and in tears; he will not refuse you ; he will not cast you out. Then enter upon a life of piety in spite of all that scoffers say. Ah! religion is not so mean a thing as infidels represent it to be! They curl the lip of scorn at us, and we can bear that; they ilash the eye of hate at us, and we can bear that, as long as God looks upon us with complacency, as long as he has promised to crown us as conquerors in heaven, for which, by our spiritual conflicts and victories, we shall have come prepared. Oh, it is no mean thing. The saint, the righteous man, the pious believer in Jesus, is a patriot as well as a saint. The worldling may sneer and scorn, but we have a noble revenge, for it is pious men that have kept the conflagrating elements away from this long doomed world up to the present moment of its history; and if the ten righteous had not been in this enormous Sodom, long ere now would the fire-brand of destruction have struck it that it might be consumed in its deserved ruin. Thank God, there is hope for the world yet. When the prophet in depression and in sorrow was saying, “ I even I, only am left, the prophet of the Lord,” God pointed him to seven thousand that had never bowed the knee to Baal ; and there are faithful ones in the secret places of the world yet-palm-tree-Christians growing up in unexpected places amid sandy soil, and with no companion. ship, who are flourishing in godly vigour and earnest in persevering prayer, There is hope for the world yet.' Oh, for the increase of these pious men! Be you of the number of this unostentatious but valiant host. Do you pant for fame? You can find it here. Young men, there are some of you in the presence of God that have ambition high bounding in your hearts, who feel the elasticity of youth within you, who feel that the flight of your soaring spirit is not the flight of the flagging or the breathless ; that there is something still within you that pants for a distinction other than you have yet attained-oh come to Christ, enlist yourselves in his service, be soldiers of the cross, fight moral battles, and your's shall be the victory. To you the church is looking ; your fathers, worn out with labour, exhausted with the vicissitudes and the victories of years, are passing rapidly away, and they are wondering where their successors are. They have gone from us; just when we were expecting for them higher fields and wider triumphs, the fiery chariot came and they were not, and nothing was left for us but to cry as we fol. lowed the track of the cavalcade, in our hopelessness, almost in our agony

My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof." Oh! thank God, they have fung their mantles down, and it is for you to catch them, to robe yourselves to-day in the garments of the holy departed, and like them, to do and die.

« THE ONLY LIBERTY.”

2 Sermon

PREACHED ON TUESDAY EVENING, JULY 15TH, 1856,

BY THE REV. J. J. WEST, M.A.,

(Rector of Winchelsea, Sussex),

AT THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY SOMERSET, THAMES STREET,

LONDON

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."-John viii. 32.

[ocr errors]

THERE have been three or four other verses in the Bible on my mind since I have been in the church to-night, and I have been exercised to know which verse to take as a text. One is in the Book of Ecclesiastes—" where the word of the King is there is power,”—and this, as well as the text I am preaching on, equally sets forth the great and essential doctrine of the SoveREIGNTY OF JEHOVAH, in the declaration of his designs, and purposes, and mercies, to “ His own elect." “ Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you

free." May His doctrine “drop as the rain-distil as the dew." May a word in season be spoken to weary souls, and my ministry be blest with power and unction-may your hearts be touched and God exalted amongst us. May the Lord the Spirit bless these words to you, and make me rightly to divide the Word of TRUTH ;-may the poor be comforted, and the needy edified and blest. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Now, first, observe how unmistakeably and absolutely this text sets forth the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD! and destroys the very root of Arminianism and creature merit-proclaiming the power of HIM “who hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords”-and in the rightful exercise of that power, He (if it be now a time of favour) whose vesture and whose thigh is so engraven, is now proclaiming through his unworthy servant before you the positive and FREE GRACE statement, that all His people “SHALL know the TRUTH," and that the effect of that truth when really known, shall be liberty and freedom! "the TRUTH shall make

you free."

« ZurückWeiter »