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and no profit can come from it. Could you not avoid it in future?” The check was thankfully received; the gentleman bowed his acknowledgments; he confessed that it was the fault of his early education, and he trusted that the rebuke might do him good. Do you not think that very often we lose an opportuuity of showing our hatred of evil by not endeavouring privately to speak to those whom we discover indulging in sin? Never let slip an opportunity of having a shot at the devil, be it where it may; always let fly at him whenever you see him. If you cannot do it in public, yet if you see a man doing evil, rebuke him in private for his sin.

And yet another thing. If you hate evil, do not get into it yourself, because it is of no use your talking to others about evil unless your own life be blameless. They that live in glass houses must not throw stones. Get out of your own glass house, and then throw as many as you like. Speak to other people, when you have first of all endeavoured to set your own life according to the compass of the Gospel.

And now, beloved fellow-men, all of you who love the Saviour, are exhorted this morning to hate evil; and I will just enlarge once more upon this exhortation. Join heart and hand in the hatred of evil, with all men who seek to put it down. Wherever you see a society endeavouring to do good, encourage it. Let this be your doctrine-preach nothing up but Christ, and nothing down but evil. Help all those that are for the spread of the Redeemer's kingdom. There is nothing else that can put evil away so quickly as the proclamation of right. Help the minister of the Gospel; pray for him; hold up his hands; endeavour to strengthen him. As for yourself, become a tract distributor, a Sunday-school teacher, or a village preacher. Show your hatred to evil by active efforts in putting it down. Distribute Bibles, scatter the Word of God broadcast over the land. Send your missionaries to foreign parts, and let them penetrate the dens and alleys of London. Go among the rags and filth of our own population, and seek to bring some one or two of the Lord's precious jewels who are hidden in the dunghills of the metropolis. Thus, let the Lord Jesus Christ by your means get the victory, and let the evil of this world be cast out. How shall that be done, but by the combined exertions of all Christ's church? In these days we have a great many men to fight Christ's battles, if they would but fight. Our churches are increasing at a great rate. There are an immense number of Christians now alive; but I think I would rather have the one hundred and twenty men that were in the upper chamber at the day of Pentecost, than I would have the whole lot of you. I do think those one hundred and twenty men had got more blood in them, more divine Christian blood and zeal, than as many millions of such poor creatures as we are. Why, in those days every member of the church was a missionary. The women did not preach, it is true; but they did what is better than preaching, they lived out the Gospel; and all the men had something to say. They did not leave it as you do to your minister, serving God by proxy; they did not set deacons up, and leave them to do all God's work while they folded their arms. Oh! no; all Christ's soldiers went to battle. There was no drafting out one or two of them, and then leaving the others to tarry at home and share the spoil. No; every one fought, and great was the victory. Now, beloved Christians, all of you, at it, and always at it. O Spirit of the living God, descend on every heart, and bid every one of thy soldiers take his sword in his hand, and go straightway up to the victory. For when Zion's children shall feel their individual responsibility, then shall come the day of her triumph. Then shall the walls of Jericho fall flat to the ground, and every soldier of the living God shall be crowned a conqueror. “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil,” henceforth and for ever.

The Preacher .

No. XLIX.

ACCEPTABLE FASTING.

a Sermon

PREACHED ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 4, 1857,

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IN THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. PAUL, LONDON.

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen ? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed ge free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.”—Isaiah lviii. 6, 7.

We gather from these words, my brethren, that it is not every fast that the Lord God hath chosen ; nay, it is not every fast ordained by an earthly sovereign that is appointed and accredited by the King of kings. Much depends on the purpose for which such a solemnity is appointed, and much also on the manner in which it is observed. A solemn fast was once proclaimed in the name of the king of Israel ; but it was designed to cloak hypocrisy and iniquity, it was designed to condemn an innocent man as a blasphemer of his God, and a traitor to his king-whose sole offence was the possession of a vineyard which the rapacious monarch coveted as his own. “ They proclaimed a fast,” says the sacred historian, “among the people.” “ But wilt thou call this an acceptable day unto the Lord ?" Again, in our Lord's own generation there were men who habitually made a parade of abstinence and humiliation; practising, or professing to practise privations and austerities, not with a view to sanctify the soul and subdue the flesh, but to obtain for themselves credit among men ; disfiguring their faces that they might appear unto men to fast. And while they thus paid " tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin,” the minor observances of the law, they depreciated its weightier matters, judgment, and mercy, and faith. “But wilt thou call this a fast and an acceptable day unto the Lord ?” My brethren, the mortification and amiction of the body profiteth nothing unless it be accompanied with the prostration of the heart. Nay, the duties and obliga. tions of such solemnity as that for which we are now called upon to prepare, are not only negative but positive; they involve the practice of bene volence, the expression of sympathy as well as the abasement of self, as well as the abandonment of sin. “ Is not this the fast I have chosen ? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house! #hea thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward."

Two things, then, are most important to be considered by us in our common relation as loyal subjects, true patriots, and professing Christians. First, the reasons for which a solemn fast has been enjoined upon us, and then the manner in which it ought to be solemnized and kept by ourselves. May God in his mercy enable us all so to perform the duty that we may be also partakers of the blessing through Jesus Christ.

1. First, then, we are to consider the reasons for which, on the part of our rulers, the solemn fast has been proclaimed. And we will take the first of these reasons--and it is a high privilege that we can take the first-from the declared principle and purpose of our Sovereign. “He that ruleth over men should be just,” were the dying words of David, "ruling in the fear of God.” And those who know not how to use flattering titles, and who are conscious that in so doing their Maker would soon take them away, may yet safely congratulate themselves and others, that they behold in their Sovereign very much of what the expiring David desired to see in his son and successor, Solomon-so much of impartial justice, so much of discriminating benevolence, so much of sympathetic mercy, so much of fear of the Lord. We take the document, therefore, which is put forth by the special command of our anointed and beloved Sovereign, to indicate, literally and precisely, what the terms of it convey: “That we and our people"—those are the royal words—"together humble ourselves before Almighty God in order to obtain pardon of our sins; and, in the most devout and solemn manner, offer up our prayers and supplications to the Divine Majesty imploring his blessing and assistance on our arms for the restoration of tranquility.” Now, this is both reasonable and scriptural. We are to ask not for triumphs over our enemies, not for vengeance on mutineers and homicides, but for the pardon of our sins; we are to implore at the Lord's hands, not the trophies of victory, still less the extension of empire, but the restoration of peace. Our Sovereign thus avows a belief--she calls upon all her subjects to adopt it for their own, that the Most High ruleth over the kings of men and dis. poses of them at his will ; that nothing can be done upon earth, but he is the doer of it; that evil prevails through his permiting, as good returus from his relenting; and that where the visitation, be it sword, or famine, or pestilence, is from him, we can have no other resource or refuge but to humble ourselves individually and collectively under his Almighty hand. He is the Lord our God, his judgments are in all the earth. And now that his judgments are abroad upon ourselves, it is fitting that we should learn righteousness. Ours, indeed, are foreign foes, far less formidable than intestine discords—but in both one and the other, there is a single way of escape, and you may learn it, as you may learn everything else that is spiritual and good, from the teaching of your mother the church, who hath taught you to pray—“Give peace in our time, O Lord, because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou O God.” We may assume, therefore, that a solemn act of national humiliation, like that which is now announced, if it be rightly ordained-which none can question-and as far as it is rightly observed, may safely be counted, “ A fast and an acceptable day unto the Lord,” one which he will be graciously pleased to choose and approve.

But we may be confirmed in this view ; and find a second reason for the solemn observance of the day, from the testimony of Holy Scripture-that on every recorded occasion of a solemn national fast, the direct and immediate result has been a national deliverance. Thus Joshua and all Israel fasted on account of their disasters and unexpected discomfiture at Ai; and that they were directed to the discovery of that accursed thing, which hung like a dead weight on the warrior's palsied arm, and made the heart of the strong man weak as the smoking flax or the bruised reed. When the multitude came out against Jehoshaphat and overspread the face of the earth, threatening the extinction and the annihilation of God's people,” the king set his face to seek the Lord, and all his people with their little ones and their wives—for this is expressly marked—“fasted and prayed and were heard in that they feared." The wicked fled when no mau pursued ; the embattled host breathing out threatenings and slaughter, and intent only upon plunder and prey, were discomfited without a single arm of flesh being raised against them! Their carcases laid upon the very plain they thought to desolate, and they of the household divided the spoil. Nay, as if to anticipate an objection, which might in after ages be raised, by men of little faith, that these deliverances were vouchsafed to the chosen people of God, to whom he was bound by covenant promises which had endured through many ages—we have an example of a fast which was “an acceptable day unto the Lord,” in the instance of a nation who had sinned with a high hand, and on whose behalf it would seem that Mercy herself would scarcely interpose a plea; yet, no sooner was the warning voice uplifted in the midst of the men of Nineveh, though he who uttered it was a stranger from a far country, arrayed, it may be, in the prophet's coarse apparel, and declaring only the coming overthrow, without pointing to any way of escape, than they hearkened, and trembled, and believed, and turned to God. They sanctified a fast, and called a solemn assembly, the king himself descended from his throne and laid prostrate in sackcloth and ashes, thus exemplifying the very language and the spirit of the proclamation that has been made to ourselves. In Nineveh-as I trust it will be in our own metropolis-all, from the highest to the lowest vied with each other in deep humiliation before God. Even in profligate Nineveh, this was a fast indeed, this was “an acceptable day unto the Lord.” God saw their work, and heard their prayer; he repented of the evil he said he would do unto them, and did it not. Is not this, then, my brethren, recorded for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come? Will not the same merciful God, who did not despise or reject the humiliation of Nineveh accept that of Britain also ? And if the sceptical inind should still advance the plausible but fallacious inquiry, is then God like man that he should repent? Is prayer endowed with power to control

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