« ZurückWeiter »
Now, you must notice that in the text the Prophet Elijah, before this miracle was wrought, warns the people against the danger of not profiting by so remarkable a display of Divine power, about to take place before their eyes. Ho commences, How long halt ye between two opinions ?” You are going to see something which ought to decide you, something which ought to make you to a man desert the cause of Baal and of false gods, and to acknowledge Jehovah, the only and the true God. “How long halt ye between two opinions ?” “Will it be much longer p" “Will you halt after what you will see soon ?" Yes ; it was so. They did not use the advantage, notwithstanding they had it afforded them. They said, “ Jehovah, he is God;" but still they went on in their wickedness, and still they served Baal. Some people might think it extraordinary; but there is a very large class of persons to be found in this metropolis, who are, I am sorry to say, like unto those same Israelites; very like them in this, that they are convinced in their intellects, and in some measure touched and awakened in their consciences, and yet are so "tied and bound by the chain of their sins,” that they will follow the Devil, and the lasts of the flesh, and the world and its vanities. There are many who hear faithful evangelical preaching, who feel and own it to be God's truth, and acknowledge that there is a certain power accompanying it which does not accom. pany other teaching ; yet, the effects soon subside, and though they may, perhaps, have formed some hasty resolutions, they go back, like the sow which has been washed, to the mire, or like the dog to its vomit again.
I preached from this text twenty years ago, and I printed that sermon; and I really do not know that i all those years anything has occurred which should lead me to change the line of thought which I then adopted. I suggested two heads ; first, nothing but decided holiness is of any value in religion; and, second, the folly of hope while living a worldly life. Let us endeavour to speak plainly and briefly to these two points.
1. We say, in the first place, that nothing but decided holiness will avail in the matter of religion. Not a little is meant when we say this. It is a strange thing that worldly men—that is, unconverted men—when they are speaking of religious doctrine, almost invariably set themselves against the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. They praise good works; they talk about good works ; and they affirm that it is a wrong thing to teach that persons are to be saved and justified before God by the imputed righteousness of another, and that their own works are to have no part whatever in the justification or salvation of the sinner. They say that this is most objectionable. Well, when we examine their doings, we are much surprised to find that, whatever they say about works, they do not take care to have plenty of them. It is a strange thing that a man who says he is no saint, and would not look for salvation by faith alone, but thinks it far better that men should trust in good works—it is strange that men who think so do not take pains to have these good works. Is it the case that men are not particular about doctrine, but rather have a distaste for it, who say, "I do not so much care about faith, and doctrine, and religious ordinances; I think God is holy, good, and pure, and that he is more pleased with goodness than anything else " Is it the case, I ask, that such persons are more given to goodness than other people ? I do not find my experience affirms that. Do we find that rich, worldly-ininded men, spare as much money, as they possibly can, from their large incomes, in order to give to the poor? I do not think the poor find much of their relief comes from that quarter. Is it true that men who cry up good works, as being pleasing to God, will give up their luxuries and wastefui expenditure, in order to have more to expend on good works -as, for instance, the spread of Christianity, the support of hospitals, or such things as contribute to the well-being of the poor? Why, no; I have not seen much proof of it, but I have seen and heard much to the contrary. So that if it were granted, what they say, that good works do something for the salvation of the soul, they would be no better off, for they have not the works which they praise
so much. They would come nearer the truth, if-instead of saying, men will be : justified by their works, in part at least-if they were to say, none but those who
do good works will be saved,” we should agree with them exactly, because the Inspired Word of God says the same. It is what we say, in the first head of our discourse, that nothing but decided holiness is of any value in religion. We say, as a matter of doctrine, that no man will be saved from the wrath to come unless his sins be pardoned through faith in Christ, "whose blood cleanseth from all sin ;" nor his person be justified except through the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is the truth.--"Ho that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be danned.” Without faith it is impossible a man can be pardoned, or
justified, and therefore saved. With faith any man may be saved ; without faith no man will be saved.
We say farther, wbile we teach faith, we teach works also. By the Holy Ghost's teaching, we learn from the mouth of the Apostle James, "Faith without works is dead, being alone.” Where faith is, there works will be too. As soon may you expect to have coldness and darkness where the rays of the sun appear, as to have no works where there is faith. Both must, and both will come together. As the tree may be known by its fruits, so, as saith our article, may faith be known by its works. We have nothing to say against works; it is the subject in hand, the very thing we are talking about—that men ought to do good works, and that men will be damned if they do not good works. But, at the same time, let them come in their proper place; Faith, first, as the means of salvation; Works, next, as the proof of faith. We say that, and so saith the Scripture.
There seems, therefore, not the least hope of salvation to any man who is not living a life of holiness. It matters not what a man says he believes, if he does not lead a holy life, he is a dead sinner. It does not matter what he says about election, or justification, or sanctification, or any other doctrine, if that man is not living a holy life, he is not a saved man, but he is still in his sins. My brethren, the Bible is the only acknowledged source of Divine teaching; and the same Bible that teaches the Antinomian that a man is saved by faith without works, ought to teach him also that if he has faith he hath works. The Bible is to be our guide, and nothing else. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to that Word, it is because there is no light in them.” We do not want a church to come and interfere between us and God's inspired Word. Let the church do, as the Church of England does, take the Bible for its guide, and give all its teaching in subserviency and in submission to God's Word. We do not want a concurrent, or co-equal testimony from the church; nothing of the kind. We want God's Word set before us; and if it is to be expounded in any place, we wish it to be expounded in accordance with itself. Not one part set to contradict another, as sometimes is done not one part set to undermine another; but we wish the Bible, the whole Bible to be the foundation of our religion; it is so in the Church of England. Our sixth article says :-"Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation : so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an Article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the Name of the Holy Scrip. ture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.” I wish every child in England knew the articles by heart; I wish every man and woman knew them. Now, we say that if a man professes to believe the Gospel, and does not live a holy life, he is either a fanatic or he is a hypocrite, he is either a liar or a fool. A fool you know is the Scripture word for an unconverted sinner. He either thinks that the way of salvation, and in that case he is deluded, and is a fool; or he knows it is not, and pretends to think it is so, and in that case he is a hypocrite. I say the Bible is to be our guide. When you read the Bible, would you believe a man if he were to tell you that holiness is not to be the test of a Christian ! Suppose you were on board ship, under the guidance of one who professed to have a chart to the desired haven, what would you think of that man if, when the chart said east, he went west, or, if when the chart said north, he went south ? What would you think of that man? One of these things : either this man does not want to go to the place which he is professing to seek, or he does not believe that chart, or else he is a madman. What else could you think? You could not think him honestly desiring to find the place, if he had confidence in the chart, and was in his right senses. Well, there is the picture of every man who, having the Bible in his hand, talks about faith saving him, and yet does not lead a holy life. The Bible is the Christian's chart. He is passing over the waves of this troublesome world, and he hopes to reach the haven of rest. The Bible says, there must be holiness as well as faith, not in order to salvation, but to prove that a man is saved.
Mark, it is not morality that I am speaking about; I am speaking of holinessa very large, comprebensive, full expression; it includes much that is negative, and much that is positive. Look here :-"Whoso forsaketh not father and mother, and hateth not his own life cannot be my disciple.” “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” How strong these words are! I might pick out many more like them. Whose words are they ? They are the words of Christ himself. See what he says. Religion, if it be anything, is all-absorbing ; it carries all before it; it sweeps every thing that stands in its path. It is first, it is last, it is every thing at all times. This or nothing. It will allow nothing to interfere with its habitual acting. It will take the entire command of the heart; it will take the entire rule of the life. Whether it be worldly gain, whether it be the lusts of the flesh, or whether it be the pride of life, or whatever else it be, all is swept away before the authoritative claims of true religion, if a man be holy. Now, you notice Christ's strong words. He preached that a man must go so far, if it be necessary, as to hate his life. We know that Paul did this: he counted all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A man must be the same, if he would have Paul's crown, and must have the same spirit, and lead the same kind of life. I pick these out as Christ's words, and I will tell you why. From their very strength. “He that loveth father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me." Suppose your father says, “ break the commandment.” I cannot do it; I must honour my father and mother, but I cannot "break a plain commandment for any man on earth.” “He that does not hate his own life cannot be my disciple." Ab, my brethren, it is one thing to hear it, and another thing to practice it. Do you think you and I could do as Hooper did, and Ridley, and Latimer, and Cranmer, and that other godly bishop who made one of the five ? whose names shall be handed down to the latest posterity, as men who loved not their lives unto the death, and were ready to seal with blood their testimony against the accursed errors of Popery? Those men were barned alive at the stake, rather than deny their God, or own the blasphemous idolatries of Satan in the Church of Rome. These men took Christ at his word.
Now, these are Christ's words. I dwell on that, because many ignorant people and there are many people very ignorant where a knowledge of the Bible is concerned ; they may know other things very well; they may know their trade far better than I can tell them; they may know more of commercial and political matters, and of science; but as to the Bible, the ignorance of many people---indeed I may say of most people--is absolutely astonishing. Well, in speaking of Jesus and his words, many ignorant people speak of them as though they were kinder and gentler than all other parts of Scripture. Not only so, but they will take his picked words; as, for instance, " Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy Jaden, and I will give you rest.” Very sweet words ! “Oh, that thou hadst known (blood-thirsty Jerusalem !) the things that belong to thy peace.” Very beautiful, indeed! Who would think that these very people were going to crucify him? Who would have expected the tenderness of heart shown in that address ? Very many more passages might be quoted, showing that Christ had a tender heart; but he had also a truthful tongue. He said not only very kind things, but he said also very severe things. There are some who say, Look at the words of our Saviour! how harsh you are ! how severe you are! Look at Jesus—he was all humility, all gentleness! No, he was not. He was gentle on proper occasions ; but no man on earth ever said severer things than Christ. If you look at the Bible, you will find that it is so. Now, there are some who would set Jesus' words against all other parts of the Bible. Some say, “I do not care what Paul says; I take what Jesus says.” What an impious thing is this ! Do we not know that the same Holy Ghost wrote the whole of the Bible—that every man who wrote the Bible was inspired by the Holy Ghost ? Wbere is the difference, then, between one part of the Bible and another ? Can there be a contradiction between one part and another? No. The Holy Ghost is the same God as Christ, and the same God as the Father; there is but one God. We know there are three Persons, and that each by himself is God. We do not profess to understand the mystery; but we believe it because God has said that it is so. The whole Bible is the Word of God. If men would but bear that in mind, that the whole Bible is the Word of God, they would neither neglect doctrine, nor would they neglect practice; they would take them both together. They would believe that salvation is by faith; but, at the same time, they would acknowledge that there is no faith where there are no works. But vain man would be wise. It was the desire of wisdom that brought sin into the world. Do you not remember that the Devil, in the form of a serpent, told Eve, “ If you eat this fruit you will be as God p” Then, there are some who will deny hell itself. What think you of a wise man denying the existence of hell ? and when the text is put before him, “The wicked shall be turned into bell”—sooner than believe the plain word of God, because his wisdom will not acknowledge that a just and good God would make such a place as hellhe says, “that notion of hell fire is a mistako; instead of being a place of torment, wby, it is the very depth of God's love ! Such talking would almost make & man laugh, if he dare laugh at such profane stuff. What! hell the depth of the love of God ? the hell that is prepared for the Devil and his angels ? Monstrous, that any man could believe it himself, and expect other people to believe it! There are men who have said such things, and printed them. Alas! and it is true that, in our day, there are those who believe in imputed sanctification, and deny growth in grace. What is imputed sanctification ? I do not believe in it, and I hope none of you erer will. What is that but teaching salvation in the Antinomian fashion? It means opposition to the law; It means making the law of none effect; because Christ has fulfilled it once, you and I need not obey it. So they siy, sanctification is imputed as well as righteousness; and they deny the growing in grace. Sanctification, they say, is complete the moment a man believes. But what saith the Scripture ? Through the whole tenour of the Bible you will find these things taught :- Sanctification is in a man, and makes him a different man from what he was before he was sanctified ; sanctification is in him ; justification is out of him. When we speak of justification, the idea of making a sinner absolutely righteous, of course, is a contradiction in terms. How can a man be righteous when every day he confesses himself a sinner ? Righteousness is freedom from all sin ; and to talk of a sinner being free from all sin is nonsense. I say, every sinner is righteous who believes; but then, it is by imputation he is accounted righteous-believing in Christ, he is accounted to be a righteous man. That is rational and intelligible. Sanctification is in him, while imputation of righteousness is God's work, clothing the believer in the robe of the righteousness of his Son. Sanctification is the work of the Spirit in the heart of the believer, moulding his life and temper to the holy, pure, and perfect law of God.
“Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." I must notice, that in holiness I include religious duties. Do not confound holiness with morality. We give overy one their due. It is not right to say that men who are not Christians are not moral. I believe the Socinian is no Christian, no moro a Christian than Nana Sabib himself; nevertheless, Socinians may be moral in their way; they may be truthful and honest, amiable and industrious, and have many plensing qualities, according to the letter of the law; but still they can have no holiness. Therefore, I say, holiness combines the two; it hath certain religious elements and certain moral elements. For instance, a Sabbath-breaker cannot be a holy man. Many Socinians do not think so much of keeping the Sabbath holy as we do; in fact, they have very little notion of holiness. A holy Sabbath to them is a pleasant Sabbath; a self-indulgent, comfortable, worldly-spent day would make a very holy Sabbath with most Socinians. But it is not the way in which we would say the Sabbath should be kept. Many Socinians take a leading part in promoting the Sunday bands in the parks. They and the Papists were the principal advocates of it; and they are now the principal supporters of the Anti-Sabbath League. They are the enemies of the Lord's-day. These Sunday bands were by many persons thought proper, and no harm at all, nothing inconsistent with the spirit of the day, but rather in accordance with it. To go into the park, and stand in the midst of 50,000 people of all descriptions, and
hear light and play-house music, they think that very pleasant, and proper in the eyes of God. I was glad to see, when these men got only the paltry sum of £20 by their Sabbath pollution, that when they went to some charitable society and asked if they would have the money, the reply was, no, they would have nothing to do with it. They went to another" Here's money for your charity.” “We will not have iti You see they would not contaminate themselves with money got in that way. They went to a third party (I need not mention names), and that third party took it, with this curious observation, “We don't at all see why we should refuse money which is honestly got.” Men have their own notions of money honestly got. But I do not think it was honestly got; I consider it was dishonestly got, when you consider the word dishonest in its right sense. If it is got by breaking the fourth commandment, I say the money is not more honestly got than if it is got by breaking the eighth commandment. I am glad there were some who would not pollute their coffers by accepting such badly got money. Why, the Jews to whom Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, did better than that. You remember, when Judas sold our Lord, and afterwards hanged himself, that the chief priests took the thirty pieces of silver, and said, “It is not lawful for us to put it into the treasury, because it is the price of blood; we have bought the blood of Jesus with the money, it will never do to put it in a holy place, or apply it to a pious use.” What was to be done with it?“ Ob," they said, "we will buy a field to bury strangers in;" and they called it Aceldama, the place of blood. It was an accursed place; they had no respect for strangers, and thought that would be an appropriate place for the money. It was accursed money; and it was to buy an accursed place, to bury accursed people in. I really think, if these people wanted to make use of the money raised by the Eunday bands, they had better have done something of the same sort-bought a sort of cemetery, a place to bury infidels in; then the money would have been laid out appropriately.
Every man, I say, who is holy will keep the Sabbath holy. Of course, he will attend the sacrament, he will be a man of prayer, he will be separated from the world, from its habits, maxims, and fashions; and known of men to be such. Observe, he must be known to be so. It must be seen in his history, and felt among his cquaintance that he is a holy man. Some say in answer to this, that they are too busy to be holy. "It may be well,” they say, " for ministers whose trade it is, it may be well for rich people who have nothing else to do, it may be well for old people and little children, to be religious, and give their time to these things, such as church going, psalm singing, and reading religious books—it may be all very well for them ; but as for me," says one, “I am too busy, the stern realities of life interfere too much to permit my giving attention to these things." Well, if that is so, we have but one answer--that they are too busy to be saved. It comes to this, if a man says plainly, "the fact is, if I attempt to be a holy man, I shall be a ruined man." What is the answer to that ? “Be a ruined man, or you will be a damned man." There is no alternative. “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world” by his busy activity, and be for ever in hell? What a foolish conclusion to come to--“I am too busy to be religious!" However, it is merely an excuse. The fact is, in almost all cases the strictest attention to religion does not prevent a man getting an honest livelihood. I do admit that it does prevent a man getting on so well as he otherwise would. In shops, counting-houses, in buying and selling, no matter what it is, if a man is religious, it is upon the whole rather against him in a worldly point of view. It is false teaching to say, "if you will be religious you will prosper in both worlds, and you will make the best of both worlds.” On the contrary, religion does prevent a man getting on in the world. But if a man can get food and raiment, provided he can have cternal bappiness in the world to come, he had far better be a poor man, and be able to say, “ silver and gold have 1 none, but I have unsearchable riches for ever in the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour.” So that, although we admit that religion hinders a man in temporal prosperity, we do not admit the excuse.
A man may live, and live well, and yet be a holy man.
There are some, indeed, who attend church, and are very particular about ordinances, and even family duties, but who are, nevertheless, wanting in the practical every day exhibitions of the Christian character-in the moral duties which they ought to observe at home. Some people are ill-tempered with all their religion; some people waste their time. I often wonder what some people, who call themselves saints, and can sit in judgment on a sermon or a preacher, and who can give you to a nicety the degree of merit in both, I often wonder what they think they were called into the world to do. Surely, not merely to talk about religion ! That is something, if a man can speak of Christ; still, he must do something else. It is not enough to talk about Christ; a man must copy the example of Christ, and be like him. Again, a man must be pre-eminently truthful, if he would be taken for a holy man; and he must have a forgiving spirit. Ob, how unforgiving some religious men are ! They will bear malice, and yet talk about justification, and sanctification and all these things. No, this will not do; there must be both; there must be holiness and moral duties.
II. I must be brief on our second head—the folly of hope while living a worldly life. This has been shown. When I have shown that a holy life is required, it comes as a natural inference that it is a foolish thing for a man to hope he can be saved when he is not living that life. If what we have said is plain, then the folly of a worldly man hoping to be saved must be plain also. Yet, there is many a moral man who will try to crush fears that rise in his mind. I do not say that such a man is openly vicious ; I will admit him to be as virtuous a man as an unconverted man can be. I say that man is foolish if he hopes to be saved, and still more foolish if there rise in his mind doubts and fears, while he is neglecting the spiritual part of religion. He thinks, perhaps, it is not all right; I see my wife is a holy woman ; I see my daughter is pious; what if these people should be right after all ? Now, when these thoughts rise, as rise they do in the hearts of thousands, and I have no doubt they have risen in the hearts of many here to-night, what shall I say to describe