« PreviousContinue »
people not as the world giveth, that I mock them not as the world. doth, nor offer them a momentary gratification like that of the world! I will give to him, that overcometh, to eat of the Tree of Life: he shall derive from me wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: he shall sit with me at my table in my kingdom." What hath the sensualist or the hypocrite to hope for, compared with this? Oh, reflect for a moment, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
My Dear Hearers, the moment we set out as Christians, we profess to be armed men-taking unto us the whole armour of God. Let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus: and, when we meet difficult. and rugged road, let us remember the promise To him, that overcometh, will I give to eat of the Tree of Life. “ By the help of God, then," let each of us say, “ I will endeavour to look up, like Jacob, and see a ladder reaching from heaven to earth, that I may climb from earth to heaven: I will endeavour to climb this ladder, taking step by step; and, if I can take but one step this month or this year,
I will remember that it is a step toward glory, honour and immortality.”
May God, of his infinite mercy, enable every one of us to rise from earth, and to reach that blessed world!
And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid
his right-hand upon me, saying unto me, fear not: I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of
hell and of death. BEFORE Christ left the world, he warned his disciples, that, in that world, they should have tribulation; but, be of good cheer, he said, for I have overcome the world, and I will not leave
you comfortless in it. But he did more than encourage them by words: for he appeared unto Stephen, while his enemies were stoning him; he arrested Paul, when he was persecuting: and he visited John, when he was suffering in exile, and probably in slavery. I John, says the Apostle, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day; and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am
Alpha and Omega, the first and the last : and what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the Seven Churches which are in Asia.
From these words I shall discourse ON THE SPECIAL SUPPORT, WHICH A CHRISTIAN MAY EXPECT, IN HIS SUFFERINGS FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.
But who is the Christian? I have often endeavoured in this pulpit to answer the question : but it cannot be too often considered; for, “ If I am not a Christian,” should every man say, “ I am dead in trespasses and sins--I am in darkness even until now, I am an enemy to God-I am a child of the devil: and, as God liveth, and as my soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death eternal.” What an important question then is it, “ Am I a Christian?”
A Christian is a man convinced by the word and Spirit of God, that he has been in the lost state just described; and that, till God awaken him to see and to feel and to confess his condition, and to take hold of the mercy revealed in Christ, he was perishing even as others—in ignorancein enmity-in presumption-and, perhaps, even with the form of Godliness, denying the power, thereof.
Such a man is not now to be told that Christianity is only a change of opinion. He knows that he was blind, and now sees: he knows that he was dead in sin, and now lives by the faith of the Son of God: he knows that he was without bope, and without God in the world : and he now knows, too, that he has a hope full of immortality, built upon nothing less firm than the truth and character of God. Old views, old idols are passed away: behold, all things are become new; for If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.
Consider the Christian as à sufferer. To this man, indeed, are given many great and precious promises; but not one that he shall not suffer tribulation here. He is rather admonished, that, in the world, he shall have tribulation : though, in Christ, he shall have peace. He may, at times, be so overwhelmed with views of himself, or with views of his God and the path in which he leads him, as to be ready, like the Apostle, to fall down dead at his feet. This is a matter of experience. The violent assaults of temptation--the black suggestions of the Evil One-the frightful insinuations of unbelief-the sometimes total deadness and depravity of the heart-force a bitter cry of Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!
The holiness of God-His hatred of sin--His former favour's-His book of remembrance-His judgment-seat-His final sentence, are so impressed on the conscience of an awakened man, that there are moments in which he is led to cry out, My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am VOL. II.
afraid of thy judgments. I fell, says the Apostle, at his feet as dead.
But there is, besides this, the path of God's providential dispensations-dark and mysterious as they sometimes are; which have not only depressed, but even overwhelmed the best of men. Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed in his journey. How did Joshua weep at the success of the men of Ai, and lie upon the earth all night before God! Job knew not where to find him, whether he turned to the right-hand or to the left. David sunk in the deep waters till the billows went over him: and Elijah said, It is enough: take away my life. Nor need a disciple to be sent a slave to Patmos, to sink in the deep waters of suffering: he may sit at home, in outward peace and plenty, and yet have a thorn in his flesh: a messenger of Satan may be sent that shall cause him, like St. Paul, to be urgent at the throne of grace for deliverance.
But why do I talk of these men ? Who are these?--Worms, that might well tremble and sink. Even he, who stood before John, and before whose feet John fell as dead, was himself overwhelmed, and said, Why hast thou forsaken me?
Christians! need I go to cases on record in the Old Testament, or in the New, in opening this subject? What! know ye not what it is to struggle with the powers of darkness? Know ye not,