Sivut kuvina

proceedings. Surely, if the true character of God's people be, that they are “the quiet in the land P,” these persons would do well to consider whether they are not carried by a partyspirit beyond what Christ or his Apostles ever practised, or ever sanctioned, and whether they would not honour their profession more by attending to the caution given them in my text. And I the rather say this, because religion has of late been grievously scandalized by the departure of multitudes from Christian duty in this particular.]

2. With an harmonious attention to all other duties

[In all Christian duties there is a perfect harmony: no one of them is in any degree opposed to any other. In the pursuits of earthly men, it is necessary to check one propensity, in order to indulge another. A man who is ambitious, and yet covetous, must sacrifice, in a measure, his love either of honour or of wealth; because the line he must pursue in the prosecution of the one, must impede him in the pursuit of the other. But the Christian, in the performance of his duties, finds no such counteracting influence: he may serve God in the utmost perfection, and yet not be defective in any duty which he owes to man. Let no duty then be neglected: but, as all are compatible with submission to civil government, so, if performed in their proper manner, they will all contribute to advance, rather than obstruct, the best possible execution of our social obligations.

“ Honour all men." There is no man who does not claim at our hands a measure of respect. Those who excel in wisdom and goodness are doubtless entitled to a larger share. But even the most unworthy object is not to be despised; forasmuch as he made after the similitude of God," and has been redeemed by the blood of God's only dear Son, and may, for aught that we know, become a child of God, and an heir of his eternal glory.

Yet, doubtless, we must with a more especial affection “ love the brotherhood." The saints, to whatever nation or sect they belong, ought to be dear to us : for with God there is no respect of persons: there is neither Jew, nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free; but all are regarded as one in Christ Jesus?." They are all members of his mystical body, yea, "members one of anothers:" and though we are to “ do good unto all men,” there is a special obligation upon us to do good unto “ them that are of the household of faith." Towards the world we should feel a love of benevolence: but p Ps. xxxv. 20.

q Jam. iii. 9. r Gal. iii. 28. Col. ii. 11. $ 1 Cor. xii. 12. Eph. iv. 25 t Gal. vi. 10.


towards the saints, a love of complacency. We are united to them in the closest bonds; and should " love them with a pure heart, fervently" and intensely u.

We must “ fear God” also. Our regards must not be confined to man: they must soar upwards to God; and be fixed on him supremely. We must love man; but not fear him : whereas God must be the object both of love and fear. NOthing under heaven must induce us to displease him. All the creatures in the universe are to be withstood, if they enjoin what is contrary to his revealed will: for his commands are of paramount obligation; and life itself must be sacrificed rather than the least of them be violated by us. If, however, so painful a necessity arise as that of disobedience to an earthly governor, we must shew clearly, in the whole of our conduct, that our opposition is the offspring, not of a contentious mind, but of a pious regard to superior authority.

Together with all this, we must “honour the king." Whatever is good in him, we must delight to applaud: and, if there be any thing in him of human infirmity, we must readily cast a veil over it, and make due allowance for the temptations with which he is surrounded, and for the weaknesses of our common nature. Viewing him as God's representative, we must honour him in our hearts; and be ready to shield him against every adversary, and to concur with him in all his endeavours for the welfare of his people. If he appear disposed to exceed the powers which are assigned to him by law, we are not to indulge in strains of querulous invective: for even

against the devil himself would not Michael bring a railing accusation ; but temperately said, The Lord rebuke theex." And, if an archangel so restrained the emotions of his mind, much more should we, who are expressly enjoined “not to despise dominion, or to speak evil of dignities." Whatever methods of redress the constitution prescribes, we may certainly use: but we should use them, not in a spirit of clamourous opposition, but in the spirit of Him “ who, when he was reviled, reviled not again ; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteouslyy."

In a word, we are to maintain an harmonious regard to all our duties; compromising none, forgetting none.

We must be conscientiously intent on all; “ rendering unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things which are God'sz."] I cannot close this subject better than by desiring

you all devoutly to unite with me in the following prayeru 1 Pet. i. 22. the Greek. * Jude, ver. 8, 9. y 1 Pet. ii. 23.

2 Matt. xxii. 21.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Almighty God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and power infinite, have mercy upon the whole Church; and so rule the heart of thy chosen servant

our king and governor, that he, knowing whose minister he is, may above all things seek thy honour and glory : and that we, and all his subjects, duly considering whose authority he hath, may faithfully serve, honour, and obey him, in thee, and for thee, according to thy blessed word and ordinance, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”



1 Pet. ii. 19—23. This is thankworthy, if a man for con

science toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently ? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called : because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth : who, when he was reviled, reviled not again ; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.

THE practical nature of the Gospel meets us through every part of the New Testament, from the beginning to the end. Our Lord's sermon on the mount was wholly of this character; as are also his addresses to the seven Churches of Asia, in the book of Revelations. Nor are the epistles, which were written by different Apostles, at all different in their scope and tendency: they do indeed insist more on doctrines: but yet the preceptive parts of them are singularly minute and full; and are distinctly addressed to persons in every situation and relation of life. The passage before us is a peculiar address to servants, to shew them how they are to conduct themselves towards their masters, who shall be embittered against them for embracing the Gospel of Christ.

But the Apostle did not intend this instruction to be limited to servants; for, in the close of the chapter, he extends it to all, who “like sheep have gone astray, but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls.”

His words suggest, 1. A precept for our observance

It is here taken for granted that persons in every age will be persecuted for righteousness' sake

[And the whole history of mankind fully justifies this assumption : for from the time of Abel to the present hour it has been verified. The lovers of darkness hate the light; and will endeavour, when it lies in their power, to extinguish ita. The whole life of David tends to illustrate this: “They that render evil for good are mine adversaries," says he ; “because I follow the thing that good isb." And what shall I say of him who was greater than David, even the Son of God himself ? Surely his wisdom precluded a possibility of any fault being found with him ; whilst his goodness suppressed, in every bosom, a disposition to find fault. But this was by no means the case : on the contrary, in proportion to his superiority above all the sons of men, was the inveteracy of the carnal mind against him. Can we, then, hope to escape their malignity? No; “The disciple cannot be above his Master, or the servant above his Lord: if they have hated him, they will hate us alsoc :" we, like him, must have our cross to beard: and" " all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecutione."]

But, whatever be our trials, and however undeserved, we must “take them patiently”

[“ We are called to them" by God himself; who has wisely and graciously “ appointed'," that, by means of them, our graces should be both elicited and improved, and our fidelity to him be placed beyond a doubt. He has ordained too, that by means of these trials, glory shall accrue to him, and everlasting good to our own souls. They give to us an opportunity of shewing how highly we regard his favour, when, for his sake, we are willing to endure all that men or devils can inflict upon us. They display, at the same time, the power of his grace, which can uphold us under such circumstances; and the excellency of his religion, which shines so bright in contrast with the spirit and conduct of our ungodly persecutors. They are the means, too, of augmenting our happiness in the eternal world ; since there is not a sacrifice which we are called to make, or a suffering to endure, which shall not be richly recompensed at the resurrection of the justk.

a John iii. 19.
c Matt. x. 24. John xy. 18.
e 2 Tim. iii. 12.

b Ps. xxxviii. 20.
d Luke xiv. 26, 27.
f 1 Thess. iii. 3.

If it be said, that it is an intolerable hardship to suffer, when we have given no occasion whatever for man's displeasure; I answer, your innocence should operate rather to lighten, than to aggravate, your affliction ; since it administers sweet consolation to your own soul, and serves as a testimony in your behalf before God. If your punishment were merited, you would have no ground for approbation, either before God, or in your own minds, for submitting patiently to it: but, if you suffer patiently for well-doing, you evince a truly gracious disposition, and render an acceptable service to your God.

This, then, we are to consider as a precept given to us, under whatever injuries we may be called to sustain: we must “possess our souls in patienceh;" and " let patience have its perfect work, that we may be perfect and entire, lacking nothingi.”]

To this precept the Apostle adds, II. An example for our imitation

Not one of all the children of men was ever so blameless as our Lord Jesus Christ

[" In him was no sink;" nor was any guile found in his mouth'.” He appealed even to his bitterest enemies; “ which of you convinceth me of sin m?" With all the disposition to criminate him that the most inveterate malignity could cherish, his accusers were all put to shame, and his judge proclaimed his innocence"] Yet, never was man so evil-entreated as he

[Scarcely was he come into the world, before his life was sought; and for the sake of securing, at all events, his destruction, thousands of poor innocents were slain. During the four years of his ministry, there was nothing too malignant for his enemies to say concerning him : “He was a deceivero :" He a devil, and was madp.” The efforts made to take away his life were continual : and the more good works he did, the fiercer was men's rage against him: nor did his enemies rest, till they had attained their end, and nailed him to the accursed tree.]


i Jam. i. 3, 4. m John viii. 46.

8 1 Pet. iv. 12-16. h Luke xxi. 19. k 1 John iii. 5.

i Isai. liii. 9. n Luke xxiii. 4. • Matt. xxvii. 63. P John vii. 20. vii. 48. and x. 20.

« EdellinenJatka »