of knowledge. The first use that is likeness and his image ; and he recommonly made of advancing youth establishes the church in the likeness and increasing years, and powers of of their fathers. So St. Paul reminds doing good or evil, is that which was the Ephesians that this was the effect made by the Prodigal Son, who took of the Gospel on those converted to the the portion of goods belonging to him faith as it is in Jesus, “That they put and went into a far country and wasted off the old man which is corrapt achis substance in riotous living; and as cording to deceitful lusts, which is the the youth begins, so often the man con- likeness of Satan, and that they be retinues. For one prodigal who returns newed in the spirit of their minds ; to his Father's house, how many re- and that they put on the new man, main at a distance, go further off and who, after God, is created in righteousfurther, strangers to Him, and un- ness and true holiness.” To the Coreconciled and unrepenting enemies to lossians he also says, “ Ye have put God through wicked works, and are at off the old man with his deeds, and last aliens from Him because they are have put on the new man, which is wedded to this world, its pursuits, its renewed in knowledge after the image pleasures, or even its cares.

of Him that created him;" “ renewed What, then, is here of the image of in knowledge of God and righteousGod? If we are asked whose is this ness, renewed after the image of Him likeness, what answer must we return? that created him." And what that “ His likeness ye are whose children ye new man is, and how the change of are, whether ye be of sin unto Satan or nature is manifested is shown by St. of righteousness unto God.” Brethren, Paul in the fourth of Phillipians, where it is not needful for me to remind you the church and those that believe in how this change came it is not need. Christ Jesus and walk after the Spirit, ful to tell you what you know already, are described. These are they who that the enemy hath done this. He whatsoever things are true, whatpersuaded man first to disbelieve God, soever things are honest, whatsoever and then to disobey him; and God in things are just, whatsoever things are his justice took away his likeness from pure, whatsoever things are lovely, those so unworthy of it, and the bright- whatsoever things are of good report, ness became faded in the image which if there be any virtue, and if there be he had made. Still in his wrath God any praise, think on these things.” remembered mercy, his loving kindness Let us for a moment turn away our he hath not utterly taken away; he minds from the things that are withstill loved the world which he hath out. Here, in the house of God, let made, and prepared a plan for recover- us forget, or strive to forget, the evil ing it unto himself.

thoughts, and thefts, and adulteries, The image of God which sin hath and excesses, and blasphemies, which defaced, Jesus Christ engaged to re- abound; and let us suppose that men, store. For this very purpose he took instead of walking after their lasts and upon him our nature, and was made unhallowed desires, were to be seeking Hesh that he might restore man back whatsoever things were true, honest, to the God whom he had offended.just, pure, and lovely, should we not Thus he does restore all who receive then appear once more to behold the him, and believe in his name. As St. | image of God in the world ? John expressly says, “To as many as When we contemplate the wicked receive him gives he power to become yielding to the corruption of his nathe sons of God,” to bear to the end his ture, restraining no desire, subduing

[ocr errors]

no appetite, and neither fearing God the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus nor regarding man, when we con- from the dead, can alone quicken the template him for the sake of his own souls of men unto new life, and transpleasure or advantage (and what day form them by the renewing of their is there when those who are concerned minds, that they may behold the with men have not an opportunity of beautiful pattern of holiness, and imiseeing this) when we contemplate bim tate the likeness of God their Saviour. not scrupling to risk the soul or ruin I showed before that those are the fortune of his neighbour ; yea, transformed and made the sons of God when we even contemplate the igno- who receive Jesus Christ and believe rance which knows nothing beyond it on his name. Wego no further than the self and the ground it treads upon,

same passage to learn, that as many as that thinks upon nothing but what do receive him and believe in his name strikes upon its outward senses, we are “born pot of blood, nor of the will cannot say with truth, hardly can we

of the flesh, nor of the will of man, say without blasphemy, that we see but of God.” Is it then to be supposed the image of God. There are no traces that we can do nothing towards this? of such a likeness. But when we behold That grieved as we must be to see another, like in form but different in all men living unworthy of their high naother things, nay, when we behold— ture, and unworthy of their high call. for such wonders are sometimes per- ing, we can do nothing but lament it? mitted to be seen—when we behold No; God forbid that I should deceive the same individual renewed in know- you by such vain reasoning. It is the ledge and righteousness, raised beyond work of the Spirit, but the Spirit works things below, having learnt to see with by means, and we are to use the means. the eye

of faith Him that is invisible; It is the gift of the Spirit; but that having learnt to seek, through the gift may be attained, and we must power of faith, a kingdom which is to labour to attain it. We cannot, income, eternal in the heavens, aspiring deed, always trace the course of the after that holiness which befits an heir Holy Ghost; we cannot always perof immortality, bringing into captivity ceive why he departs from one and every thought to the obedience of remains with another, for those have Christ; then we have indeed some been alike dedicated to Him in infancy; glimpse of the divine image, we per- we cannot always say where the spark ceive that verily there is a spirit in lay hid, why it has been apparently man, and the Almighty hath given him extinguished when it has been kindled understanding, hath made him in His into flame: we hardly guess aright of own form. It is not, indeed, at best, a things that are on earth-how can we pure and perfect image, far, very far unravel heavenly things ? from it; but still the likeness is there, But of all the means discernible by the lineaments remain, and we can man, that from which the blessing of look on to the time when it may be spiritual light may most justly be exmade perfect, and take its place in the pected, that which it is found most presence of its Author.

usually to follow, is Christian instrucBrethren, I have set before you two tion, Christian education, and nurture different images, the image of God in the admonition of the Lord. If broken and defaced—the image of God Adam had retained the Divine image, renewed and restored. What works and sin had not disfigured it, we may the change, that one should thus differ suppose, that his children would have from another? The Spirit of God, grown up naturally in the love and practice of those things which consti- | and sow in hope, both in the field of tute likeness to God; but man has nature and of grace. Where no corn disfigured the image, and therefore, is sown there can be no harvest. man naturally grows up after the like- These are the principles on which I ness of their fallen parent Adam, not of ask you to give to the institution which their all-perfect Creator. They must interests us to-day. It is that you be brought to a form which by nature may restore the likeness of God in they have not, through such means as man, to restore that image in which he we are capable of employing. For was created, but which has been lost this reason the Israelites were ordered and ruined by the effects of sin. There to teach the commandments to the is in Scripture a promise of a time young, and to train up a child in the when they shall not teach every man way he should go, that when he is his neighbour, and every man his broold he may not depart from it; to give ther, saying, “Know the Lord, for to all that knowledge which St. Paul all shall know him from the least to mentions as having especially belonged the greatest.” O, that that time were to Timothy, that he had known the come, that we even might witness the Scriptures from his youth. And for accomplishment of such a prophecy ! this reason all persons are exhorted in but it is for us so far as in us lies to the sacred writings~"to add to their realize it. God has a right to the love, faith knowledge”_"to get wisdom, the fear, the allegiance of his creatures; that is the principalthing”_"to search but how shall they love Him whom the Scriptures”—“to use all diligence, they have never known, or fear Him that they may grow in grace and in the of whom they have never heard, or knowledge of God, and of Christ Jesus obey Him whose laws are strange to whom he hath sent, and not remain them? And how should they know, or children in understanding.”

hear, or learn without a teacher? When That these means may fail we do by instruction in the ways of righteousnot deny, we know that such is the ness we bring a sinner from Satan to corruption of the heart exposed to God, when by inculcating the faith of the temptations of the world, that Christ we train a child in God's serthe child does not always walk in the vice and preserve him from Satan and way he has been formed, but all sin, then are we instruments in restoring those features of meekness, and tem- a soul to that likeness in which it was perance, and honesty, and godliness, created, to the image which it was dewhich we have endeavoured to im- signed to bear. Was it not so, print on him, are sometimes obli. instance, with those Corinthians of terated and lost. But it is not com

whom St. Paul writes—“Some of you monly so, it is not often so. The were adulterers, and thieves, and Spirit usually blesses the labours and drunkards, and revilers, and extorthe prayers of the Christian parent, tioners.” I need not ask what image and the Christian teacher, and the they bear now? We too often find Christian minister, and allows the among those surrounded by Christian fruit of their pains to grow up unto light, many who still remain in heaan harvest. Even if it prove where then darkness. They were of their Christian instruction is given, as it father the devil, and the works of their proves where corn is sown, that all father they did; but now the Apostle does not spring up, and that some proceeds—" but ye are washed, ye are which does spring up, fails of coming sanctified, ye are justified in the name to perfection, still we plough in hope, of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of


[ocr errors][merged small]

our God.” Their Christian teachers, blessed, but how much happier he of had brought them to conformity with whom it is said, “ Son, thou art ever their Maker's likeness, had enlightened with me, and all that I have is thine?” them that they should look beyond And such if they do not throw away things seen, had purified their moral their birthright, such may be the case nature that they should study what- with those children whom you see ever things were honourable and just before you this morning—for whom I and pure and lovely, and of good re- seek your interest. For them you do port. This teaching had given light what you can, when you take them to their souls, had begotten them from the dangers by which they are again to the lively hope of the Gospel, surrounded, and give to them a carehad hidden under the robe of Christ's ful Christian education. You cannot righteousness the multitude of their alter the nature of this fallen world, sins, and reinstated them in the fa- which abounds with temptation, but vour of their Creator.

you do what is in your power, if, beGo then, my brethen, and do like-fore they are involved in temptation, wise. Lay up for yourselves this crown you teach them to resist it—if, before of rejoicing against the great day, and they have yielded to the corruption of this you may do in the most sure and their nature, you teach them that it satisfactory manner by keeping that must be renewed—you do what you soul in the service of Christ which has can, if, before they are led astray by been covenanted and dedicated to him the artifices of Satan, you acqaint in infancy. It is well to reclaim the them with One who is mighty to save, wandering; and happy those who are and by whom it is expressly declared, privileged to do so; but it is far better " that it is not the will of his heavenly to keep them from wandering. It is Father that one of these little ones well to ring back those who have should perish.” Take, therefore, a erred from the way of truth to the part in this good work, and rememknowledge of Him who will lead them to ber who it is that says, “inasmuch as life and happiness. But how far more you have done it unto the least of blessed is it that they should never these my brethren you have done it leave Him to whom baptism has bound unto me.” them? The prodigal who returns is

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

A Sermon


[ocr errors]


Joshua, xxiv. 15.——“ And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day

whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell : but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.


This verse forms part of that address most eminent types of the Lord Jesus which Joshua presented to the tribes Christ to be found in the Old Testaof Israel after he had assembled them ment. It was his peculiar office and at Schechem. Joshua was one of the distinction to conduct the sacred tribes

[ocr errors]

to the land of rest and of promise. day whom you will serve, whether Although Moses brought them forth the gods which your fathers served, out of the land of Egypt and led them that were on the other side of the through the wilderness, yet he was not flood, or the gods of the Amorites in permitted to complete the work which whose land ye dwell: but as for me he first introduced, it failed in his and my house, we will serve the LORD.” hands in consequence of his miscon- There are several observations which duct; and the great honour of settling arise out of the occasion of these words the tribes of Israel, after a successful to which I shall FIRST direct your atseries of wars in the land of Canaan, tention. In the Second place, I shall was allotted to Joshua. In this re- give a brief illustration of what is inspect he bears a great resemblance to cluded in serving the Lord. And the Lord Jesus Christ, who accom- THIRDLY, Refer to the reason why we plished for us what the law could should come to the resolution expressed never effect: he brings us into that by Joshua on the present occasionland of promise, and makes us pos- why we should resolve, that we and our sessors of that eternal inheritance houses will serve the Lord. which was forfeited by our transgres- It is too frequently found that persions. The name that was given to sons in elevated stations, or persons Joshua was given to him for a similar engaged in active secular service, imareason as that which is assigned for gine those things a sufficient reason its being afterwards given to our Sa- for the neglect of personal piety, and viour. Joshua was placed under Mo- still more of any zealous attempts to ses, and the qualities he displayed in promote its general influence. Now that situation marked him for his we see in Joshua a person of the greatfuture elevation. Before he had the est activity and enterprise, and who honour of conducting the tribes to had the secular interests of a great nathe sacred land—before he became tion to uphold, but, instead of nethe ruler of spiritual Israel he sub- glecting religion he makes it his first mitted himself to the very law which concern; and when he meets the sahe himself afterwards administered. tribes, to whom he directs his address, And Jesus Christ in like manner was he proposes no new law, explains first put under the law. It was be- none, lays down no new maxim of cause he loved righteousness and hated government, but keeps his attention iniquity-because in his state of hu- entirely on promoting the fear of miliation, where he appeared as a ser- God, and enforcing on the people the vant executing the will of his hea- service of the Most High. Here he venly Father, he displayed those quali. affords a most noble example to all ties which exalted him above his fel- who call themselves Christians who lows, that God gave him the oil of exercise the authority they do exercise gladness above them.

under Him, who is the King of Kings, But it is our business to consider, and Lord of Lords, and before whose more particularly, the glorious reso-judgment seat they must shortly aplution to which Joshua here arrived. pear. After having laid before Israel the rea- He calls the tribes together at Shesons why they should adhere to his chem, a place distinguished before by service and his worship, he makes the some very remarkable events. It was noble declaration contained in the words the first place at which the Divine first read." And if it seem evil unto Being manifested his favour to them you to serve the Lord, choose ye this after they arrived in the land of Ca

« VorigeDoorgaan »