« EdellinenJatka »
upon the intimations of conscience and the commands of God. Thus shall you become yourselves willing witnesses of the reasonableness of the demand which Christianity makes upon man.
Prepare, in the next place, for that solemn mysterious act of dedication, in which God has condescended to come down and aid your feeble faith-the communion of the body and hlood of our Lord Christ. This sacrament is the bond of our self-sacrifice; the seal and channel of grace; the accomplishment of our vows; the open profession of our consecrating ourselves to God. Let the young then prepare for this outward and visible sign, appointed by Christ " for the strengthening and refreshing of their souls by the body and blood of Christ, even as our bodies are by the bread and wine.” Nor can we use better words in doing this, than those provided for us by our Reformers in allusion to our text: “ And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and lively sacrifice unto thee.”
Let me next be permitted to remind the impenitent and careless sinner, that if he do not present himself as a sacrifice to God, he will assuredly become the miserable sacrifice and victim of Satan and sin. There is no middle course. A sacrifice you must be, either to almighty God, or to the malicious usurped sovereign of this world. Religion will, in. deed, cost you much; but the want of religion will cost you infinitely more. “ The way of transgressors is hard.” The sacrifices you make to folly, pleasure, pride, ambition, display, lust, are infinitely more painful than any which Christianity calls on you to offer. Health, ease, conscience, reputation, inward peace, are continually sacrificed by the ungodly on the shrine of Satan. God only calls on you to part with that which is injurious both to body and soul ; and offers you his grace to make his "yoke easy and his burden light.” And eternity is at hand. What wages will the service of sin then yield ? Now then, awake to reason, truth, wisdom, consideration, ere it be too late.
Lastly, let us endeavor gently to win over the Heathen and Mohammedans to our reasonable religion, our merciful our mild, our compassionate religion, by our characters, families, and worship of God. Let us take all fit opportunities of pointing out that Hindooism and Mohammedanism are without a single evidence for a rational being to repose on; without any motives adapted to reasonable and immortal creatures ; without any revelation to man of the great matters which he most wants to know; without
any authoritative rule of moral duty; without any order of men for the instruction of the poor and sorrowful; without any holy Sabbath ; without any ritual, pure, edifying, rational. And thus let us wait till God, blessing our labors and those of holy missionaries, “ The gentiles shall come from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit."
EPHESIANS iv. 20.
But ye have not so learned Christ.
We have in these words of the apostle one of those pregnant expressions which are a compendium of the gospel ; which are, on the one hand, so brief that a child may remember them; and which yet, on the other, like a principle in natural science, may be applied to every variety of detail.
In order to enter into it aright, it will only be necessary, as in the case of almost all very brief and comprehensive sentences, to consider well the connection in which it stands.
St. Paul is exhorting his converts at Ephesus, in the first verses of the chapter, to walk worthy of their high vocation, to preserve the unity of the spirit, to conduct themselves suitably towards the ministers of God, to shun novel and strange doctrines, and be“ compacted” more and more into the one body of Christ.
He next proceeds to enforce these rules by cautioning them generally against the imitation of the heathen, in either their spirit or their conduct : “ This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God because of the hardness of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
He then introduces the words of the text, for the purpose of contrasting all this darkness and impurity with the genuine effects of the gospel. And afterwards proceeds to show what that humility and holiness are which follow the real grace of Christ : “ If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus; that yé put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind ; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
He then closes the chapter by urging the parti. cular duties which constitute the “ walking worthy of their vocation;" such as truth,' moderation of anger," integrity, generosity,' purity of conversation, the subjugation of those malignant passions which peculiarly grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and the cultivation of those tender affections which become those who hope that “God for Christ's sake hath forgiven them.”
The full import of the expression of the text is now easily gathered : - Ye have not so learned Christ” as the false professors of Christianity have learned him, which the vices of themselves and their
1 Ver. 25.
4 Ver. 29. 2 Ver. 26.
3 Ver. 28.
7 Ver. 32.
disciples too sadly prove; but ye have learned him in another and better manner, the correspondent fruits of which you are continually producing.
The subject, then, to be now considered is,—The chief marks of distinction between the true and false method of learning the doctrine of Christ; which we shall pursue in the order laid down, as we have seen, by the apostle; in whose words three things are implied-that there is a certain pre-eminent excel. lency in the person and doctrine of Christ; that there is a wrong and inefficient way of learning this great lesson ; whilst there is also an opposite and right manner of acquiring it, so as really to attain the ends proposed therein by God our Savior.
I. The language of the text supposes that there is a certain excellency in Christ. There must indeed be something distinguished, something remarkable in him, or the apostle would never have comprehended the whole of the gospel in this one word. Upon any other supposition, “to learn Christ” would have been an unintelligible form of speech.
For this is not the only place where the word is thus used : “ We preach Christ crucified ;" Put on the Lord Jesus Christ;" “ Ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord ;" “ Christ is all and in all,” are similar expressions.
Passages of this kind must import that there is an excellency in the person and doctrine of our Lord which render it natural to express the whole of Christianity in this summary manner. He is, in fact, the great lesson we have to learn, whether we consider the glory of his person, the extent of his benefits, or the perfection of his example.
1. Christ is to be studied in the glory of his person. We must learn Christ; that is, we must learn all that the Scriptures testify of him; of his divine person,