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broken-hearted one if thou canst, some poor, sad, mourning one, and say, " The Lord hath appeared to thee of old, saying, 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love.' God's mercies have not failed and, therefore, we are not consumed." Go and cheer him. What! aie there no families near you where the head has lately been removed by death? Have you no bereaved friends? have you no poor in your streets, no distressed, no desponding ones? If you have not, then yonder Scripture might be rent out of the Bible, for it would be useless; but because I am sure you have such, I bid you, in God Almighty's name, to go and seek out the needy, the distressed, and the poor, and send them portions of meat. "Comfort Je, comfort ye my people."
III. In the last place. God never gives his children a duty to do without giving them THE MEANS TO DO IT; be never bids them make bricks without straw, and when he tells us to comfort God's people, we may be certain there are many means whereby they may be comforted. Let me just hint at those things in the everlasting gospel which have a tendency to comfort the saints. What, child of God! Art thou at a loss for a topic to comfort the aching heart? Hark thee, then; go tell of the ancient things of former days; whisper in the mourner's ear electing grace, and redeeming mercy, and dying love. When thou findest a troubled one, tell him of the covenant, in all things ordered well, signed, sealed, and ratified; tell him what the Lord hath done in former days, how he cut Rabab and wounded the dragon; tell him the wondrous story of God's dealings with his people. Tell him that God who divided the Red sea can make a highway for his people through the deep waters of affliction; that he who appeared in the burning bush which was not consumed, will support him in the furnace of tribulation. Tell him of the marvellous things which God has wrought for his chosen people: surely there is enough there to comfort him. Tell him that God watcheth the furnace as the goldsmith the refining pot.
“Thy days of trial then,
Are all ordained by heaven;
You ne'er shall have eleven.” If that does not suffice, tell him of his present mercies; tell him that he has much left, though much is gone. Tell him there is “now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus;" tell him that now he is accepted in the beloved; tell him that he is now adopted, and that his standing is safe. Tell him that Jesus is above, wearing the breast-plate, or pleading his cause. Tell him that though earth's pillars shake, God is a refuge for us; tell the mourner that the everlasting God faileth not, neither is weary. Let present facts suffice thee to cheer him.
But if this is not enough, tell him of the future; whisper to him that there is a heaven with pearly gates and golden streets; tell him that
“ A few more rolling suns at most,
Will land him on fair Canaan's coast." and therefore he may well bear his sorrows. Tell him that Christ is coming, and that his sign is in the heavens, his advent is near, he will soon appear to judge the earth with equity, and his people in righteousness. And if that suffice not, tell him all about that God who lived and died. Take him to Calvary; picture to him the bleeding hands, and side, and feet; tell him of the thorn-crowned King of grief; tell him of the mighty Monarch of woe and blood, who wore the scarlet of mockery which was yet the purple of the empire of grief; tell him that he himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree. And if I have not said enough, go to thy Bible, read its pages, bend thy knee and ask for guidance, and then tell him some great and precious promise, that so thou mayest accomplish thy mission, and comfort one of God's people.
I have but a few words to say to some, who I grieve to think want no comfort. They want something else before they can be comforted. Some of my hearers are not God's people; they have never believed in Christ, nor fled to him for refuge. Now I will tell you briefly and plainly the way of salvation. Sinner! know that thou art in God's sight guilty, that God is just and that he will punish thee, for thy sins. Hark thee, then: there is only one way by which thou canst escape, and it is this: Christ must be thy substitute. Either thou must die, or Christ must die for thee. Thy only refuge is faith in Jesus Christ, whereby thuu shalt be assured that Christ did really and actually shed his blood for thee. And if you are able to believe that Christ died for you, I know it will cause you to hate sin, to seek for Christ, and to love and serve him world without end. May God bless us all, forgive us our sins, and accept our souls for Jesus's sake!
BY THE REV. DANIEL ACE, (Curate of St. James's, Clerkenwell; and Member of St. John's College, Cambridge,)
AT ST. JAMES' CHURCH, CLERKENWELL.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession."-Hebrews iv, 14. EVERY candid reader of the Bible will readily admit, that the Epistle to the Hebrews, requires of every one engaged in its perusal more than ordinary attention to understand it fully.
Its arguments are to be weighed, and its expressions compared, that its scope and design may be comprehended. It is so replete with matter, that its points of discussion admit of a variety of illustration and abundant research. It is, therefore, not a matter of surprise or wonder, that the learned John Owen should have written two ponderous volumes of elaborate learning and solid divinity on this very epistle. At the outset, it is obvious that there is something unusual. Its commencement differs from the customary style of other epistles contained in the Sacred Volume. It has no salutation. From internal evidence we are to infer to whom it is addressed. Even to persons who were well acquainted with Jewish phraseology and customs ;-to individuals who had learned Moses' law, and the consequences of despising it;-to those who had need of much patience, through grievous afflictions, and who were in danger of apostatizing from the faith ;-to such as were designated, holy brethren of the author, and were initiated into a new and holy profession.
Now, as to the author's object in writing, it seems to have been with a view to induce the Christian converts from Judaism, to adhere to the Christian faith, and to confirm their practices, by demonstrating that the utility of the Mosaic economy was to bring them to Christ. And further, the writer argues, that the regulations of the said economy were only preparatory, and their signification prefigurative. Indeed, all the rites and ceremonies were but 'a shadow of good things to come. And, also, he evinces, that in the gospel of Christ is to be found the substance of all antecedent institutions ; an economy which admits of no change; and a revelation-the last of which made by God to mankind for their sole benefit-a revelation which is worthy of universal acceptation. It contains the ideal of perfection. Do the Jews read the law and the prophets? Do they trust in Moses? Let them read what the Supreme Being hath spoken to us in these last days about his will, as to man's duty and salvation. Christ is the last and greatest teacher. His dignity is apparent, both in his person and office. He is not a servant, as Moses was, but the Lord of the universe, the brightness of the Father's glory, and the true image of Deity. Was the law ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator, viz., Moses 1 Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. As a being endowed with sovereign power, he is exalted far above the angels; for, “by inheritance he hath obtained a more excellent name than they,” even above that of the highest archangel, as being the object of supreme worship. “And let all the angels of God worship him," is the command of the eternal Father. This last revelation coming from so high an authority is ample for all purposes of salvation.
But it was necessary for so exalted a character in becoming our Mediator and teacher to invest himself with a nature and a form accommodated to a level with our capacities. He, therefore, condescended to ally himself to our humanity, taking not upon himself the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham : becoming not only a man to bring many sons unto glory, to destroy him that hath the power of death, that is to say, the devil, and from experience to be able to succour the tempted and sorrowing sons of la manity ; but took upon him the seed of Abraham, as the promised Messiah and the Lawgiver to supersede Moses,-the Shiloh unto whom the gathering of the people should be,-the Great Teacher from whom grace and trath were to emanate. Thus, the mission of Christ is proved to be far more es. alted, and his teaching much more extensive than that of Moses.
But, admitting that the Jews concur in the previous reasonings respecting the inferiority of him who had been regarded as Israel's chief, what is to be said of their Aaronic priesthood! Is that to be swept away! That very priesthood, in a continuous line, from which their ministers in holy things descended? The answer is, Yes. Why so ! Can such an embargo be laid upon the sacrifices of the temple-worship! If so, the reasons for this proceedure must be obvious, or the hostility of Jewish worshippers will be provoked to madness. The reasons are apparent. The animal sacrifices offered in Jewish services, did of themselves and by their continuance, prore their inefficiency. They never made perfect the worshippers who presented them. And as to the priests themselves, they by necessity of nature must admit of a change and succession. Consequently the Aaronic priesthood must be very imperfect.
What, then, rejoin the objecting Jews, are we to have no tabernacle, DO temple, no altar, no sacrifice, no high priest! Can we accept such an empty dispensation doing violence to all our cherished notions, and time-honoured practices ? The response is given by the author of this Epistle under inspiration. There is a tabernacle, but that is a greater and more perfect one, than one made with hands : it is the true tabernacle which the Great Architect of the heavens drew out—"which the Lord pitched and not man.” We can dispense with a temple; for, when this Mediatorial dispensation shall cease, we shall see God face to face, and his essential Majesty and the beatific vision of his Son will serve in lieu of, and be far greater than the temple of Solomon in all its glory. We have an altar, but it is that of faith. We have a sacrifice, but it is the victim for sin, designated “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”. We have, too, a high priest, of an order more exalted than Aaron's,-after the order of Melchizedek_“ for this man continueth ever, and hath an unchangeable priesthood.". Sach a high priest requires no successors by reason of death. And, what is further to be considered, is, that Jesus, the Christian's Great High Priest "needeth not daily,” as did Aaron and his descendants, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people; he never did, never will, never could offer sacrifice for himself, but for others. “He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." And, when he offered himself, he, once for all, made an effectual offering for mankind. And, if this be the case, what can the author of this Epistle, St. Paul, write more? He pauses, surveys the whole scheme, and recapitulates the whole of his arguments contained in one part of this Epistle, in a single text, exclaiming with an air of holy triumph“Now, of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: we bave such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.". And in the text, exhorting believers to constancy under every trial, he exclaims, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession."
We shall divide our subject into three parts.
III. Consider the exhortation to Christians to hold fast their profession in the head of the church.
May God enable us to comprehend his truth, and profit by our meditations. I. Then, consider the Christian profession.
What is it? The word Homologia in the original, in its primary signification, denotes assent or agreement, speaking the same thing. In the New Testament it signifies to confess publicly, to acknowledge openly, or to profess. We, therefore, read in 1 Timothy vi, 12, 13, that Timothy had "pre
fessed a good profession before many witnesses.” And also a greater than Timothy, one greater than all, our Great High Priest, Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession. We find in 2 Corinthians ix. 13, that it means “a professed subjection to the gospel," or a rendering obedience to its requirements. . In Hebrews x. 23, it is styled the "profession of our faith, or hope, i.e. the Christian religion; in the 3rd chapter and lst verse of this Epistle, the high priest, whom we profess to own as our Master, i.e. Christ Jesus, is said to be the apostle of our profession. In our text, the profession is put for the thing professed, the Christian religion. Such is our definition. Now, many tell us that there is too much profession with the lip, and too little practice of religion in the life. This may be true and the fashion of the world. But we are not to discuss the attributes of the counterfeit, but to describe the characteristic of the reality. A real Christian profession must imply both the act and the performer. Something is done, and to be done, by one who avows his tenets. In the 3rd chapter and lst verse of this Epistle, we read of "holy brethren,”-not sinners, who are partakers of the heavenly calling," and such are exhorted to consider the Apostle and High Priest of their profession, Christ Jesus. It is obvious that such a fraternity must be a pious one, and that every one, whom we may meet with in daily life, does not belong to this community. If a dissolute and degraded character with whom you may come in contact in the streets, were to exclaim in your hearing, “I'am a professor of Christianity,” you would either consider the party insane, or profanely mocking religious subjects. Some one, however, may remark to you, that the individual who has obtruded upon your notice, notwithstanding his strange conduct, is, nevertheless, a nominal Christian. He says of him, “I recollect when he was baptized. In fact, I was a witness at the font.” But what of all that! Does the certainty of the man's admission into the pale of the Christian church prove that he, let his conduct be what it may, is entitled to the denomination of a Christian character? If not, then such profession is vain. It is worse than hypocritical-it is manifest ungodliness. Here is a person openly showing you that the principles which he has inculcated, and by which he is impelled to action, are not derived from the Christian system. As to practical purposes, he might as well have been born in a foreign land where the religion of Jesus is "either unknown or derided. You may, in truth, tell the man that he is a very inconsistent person ; for, the Bible teaches “all that name, the name of Christ to depart from iniquity;" and “that if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." It is plain, however, that either the man is deluded, or, that he is attempting to delude others. And, then, there is another class of men, which, in the walks of public life, must not pass unnoticed. They say, "We make no profession at all, and that is the end of the matter. The religion of Jesus may be a very excellent system of moral truth, for aught that we know to the contrary; but, we do not understand it. And, if we declared we did, and asserted that we were living piously, we should be arrant hypocrites. Our lives are such-and we cannot help it—as not to be in accordance with the requirements of the Christian profession.” Now, it is precisely with such a class of persons that the Christian ministry is called earnestly to deal. With individuals who avow such sentiments, we thus expostulate. If you are not professors of Christianity, it is high time you were, for you are imperceptibly posting your way to eternity. And in your career, notwithstanding your candour, you are somewhat inconsistent ; for, you would not like to be desig. nated as infidels. If so called, you would feel yourselves insulted. Though you say that you do not profess the Christian religion, you dare not deny it. And the fact of the matter is, my brethren, that you are related to your God by a tie of obligation that no power in this universe can dissolve. To be willingly ignorant of his will, when the knowledge of it is essential to your moral nature, is highly criminal; and to be recklessly negligert in Christian duty, when your eternal welfare depends upon its right performance, is with respect to your best and undying interests, virtually suicidal. It is quite right to be transparent in your conduct ; but, unless that conduct be in strict conformity to God's law, remorse of conscience, agony of despair, and irremediable woe, must be your sad portion in the destiny of this universe.
But there are some who think that to live without God in this world is practical infidelity; a debasement, to which no mind but that which is radically bad or perverted, can condescend to stoop. They listen to good advice, and attend on the means of grace; their devotion is comely and externally proper in the sanctuary, and their attention is invited to the expositions of God's faithful minister. They become enlightened. An intimate acquaintance with God's word and men's duty is formed. The Bible is read with interest; a perception into the depravity of the human heart is realized, a consciousness of guilt is felt, and a sense of danger is experienced. They become decided for God and the Christian profession. They resolve to do their duty-to seek deliverance from sin, its guilt, power, and penalty ; to have "their fruit unto holiness; that their end may be everlasting life. Such receive the gospel, “not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance."
Such decision of character may be characterised conversion ; a turning to God with full purpose of heart; a being called out of darkness into God's marvellous light. Prayer is then sincerely offered for mercy and acceptance. Jesus, the Friend of sinners, is sought ; and the merits of his blood are felt to be applied by a believing act through the Holy Spirit, to the earnest seeker for salvation. By this line of conduct, believers are accepted in Christ, and are placed in a salvable state. They are partakers with Christ, of his Spirit, of his love, of his life, of communion with his Father, and himself, and eventually of his resurrection and glory. They are also partakers with one another of the same grace, and common salvation, they live to promote each other's welfare, and to communicate according to each other's necessities. Such is experimental religion which leads to practical ends. They who embrace it, like the believers at Corinth, in St. Paul's days, of whom we read, 2 Corinthians viii. 5, that they “first gave their ownselves to the Lord, and unto” ministers and people“ by the will of God."
Now, the Christian religion is not all feeling; it is holy principle in action. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation ... teacheth us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus ii. 11, 12.
There must be a continuation in exemplifying the Christian character; no fits and starts. No withdrawing into the practice of ungodliness, and then returning with flaming zeal for Christ. "No siuning and repenting. Let there be none of this vaccillation displayed by you. But, show the same diligence” to maintain Christian consistency as at the beginning of your profession and confidence. If there be any lapses, there is comparative failure in the work of personal salvation, and you may fall to rise no more. We desire, says St. Paul, that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end-to the end of life-to the end of your pilgrimage. Do not be laughed out of a Christian profession, understand the grounds of your confidence, the nature of your evidence of personal acceptance with Christ ; study to evince that you have not followed cunningly devised fables ; endeavour to realize in your life the unmistakeable proofs of the Christian's assurance and joy. “Always be ready to give an answer to every man of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Do not let ungodly associates over awe you so as to be induced to compromise or conceal your religion. Be manly, and dare the world. Always declare whose servants ye are. With the mouth and life make confession as in the sight of God to the world--not necessarily to a priest. With the inouth confession is made unto salvation. This is the kind of confession God approves, and unless you make it, you are likely to become devoid of every holy thought and purpose.
“ So let our lips and lives express,
The holy gospel we profess;
And grace destroys the power of sin."