« VorigeDoorgaan »
Our Lord, when upon earth, also said the same in reference to the relatives of one of His disciples, “ Jesus said unto him, Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead." St. Paul also declares, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." And St. John, “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” And in another scripture the whole world without Christ is spoken of as “ sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.” Thus we learn that God looks upon all as dead, who either are destitute of communion with Himself, or are living in sin or unfruitfulness in good works. To be separate from Him is to be dead, if there were nothing else. To live in sin or in pleasure is to be dead, and so it is to have a name to live, while our works are unsuitable to our profession and displeasing to God. Again, to be under the consequences of disobedience and rebellion against God, is to be dead. As, when God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” The man fell into that sin, and came under that sentence. So, by Ezekiel, it was declared, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die." And St. Paul says, that “death reigned from Adam to Moses," and it has reigned from his time to ours. We know, then, that the immediate consequence of sin is the wrath of God. That follows instantly, and while we are under His wrath we are in a state called death; a miserable wretched state, a state of degradation and corruption, a state of decay and disgrace; the immortal is become mortal, the powerful weak, the glorious is dishonoured. In the view of justice and the divine law we are legally dead; and also actually so, by losing that favour which alone is life. All this is while the soul is still in the present body. When it leaves the body, if it leaves it unreconciled to God and unsanctified, the full power of death begins; the time of the separation is therefore speeially called death ; that power is completed in what is called the second death afterwards. This is the still fuller and more complete manifestation of sin's destructive power ; when all grace is withdrawn, all the whisperings of the Holy Spirit to the conscience, all good thoughts flown for ever; all amiable qualities towards men, every spark of promise extinguished; the soul lies down under an eternal burden of guilt, full of the evil passions which it has indulged on earth, and void of all love to God or love to others. Thenceforth it is more entirely separated from the Lord than before. No portion of the beams of His glory shine in the state of second death, as they do even to all on earth. There all the evil here is perfected, and all the good is withdrawn. Sin remains, but the pleasures of sin are past. It remains, but it is turned to gall. It lives, but as a serpent. The fruit which tempted Eve, because it seemed good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wise, is no longer there: only the malicious tempter himself, the cunning deceiver, remains at hand, to punish and torment his victims. The bait by which he caught the unwary ones is no sooner tasted than forgotten and unenjoyed; for the hook which lay concealed has now fixed its barb into the palate, and turned the joy into pain, the food into poison, the expected benefit into certain destruction. The vain desire to be made wise, knowing good and evil too, is now signally punished: the good is only known as past and far removed from sight the evil is too truly known in all its bitterness and malignity, known to their everlasting sorrow, branded in letters of fire upon the head, and for ever retained, although for ever lamented. But who can describe the scene of the second death? Who has gone down into the place where it reigns, to bring back a faithful report of all its terrors? Eye has not seen the lake of fire, nor ear heard the weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which Satan hath prepared for them that love sin. Hell has no counterpart in this world; not in its darkest dungeons, not in the sharpest tortures of human invention, not in the severest distresses of the most afflicted lot; for into all these Hope can enter and spread its balmy sweetness : but into that place it cannot enter.
We dwell for a moment on that tremendous subject, for it cannot be too much or too long to think of that abode where all must be for ever, who are not in heaven;
and for which many more are living than they who are living for heaven. We speak of it, that we may flee from it in time, that we may fear it seasonably, and be saved. We have a promise of salvation from it, to proclaim to you who will accept the promise. What are the words with which we commenced ? Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die:"—the words of that Redeemer and that God, who cannot lie nor repent. Death, such as we have first understood it, shall never happen to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Christ has" abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” He makes those who bélieve in Him spiritually alive in their present bodies, and in the midst of a world which is dead in trespass and sins, and when the time arrives which is full of dread and gloominess to those who have no part in the Saviour, their hope having rested on a sure foundation, will not fail them: their souls never see death, but enter into eternal life. And in this manner is to be understood that remarkable saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory." There is death; that which is called so, exists, and takes place, but it no sooner arrives and seems to threaten the Christian with its sting, than it is destroyed and overcome by the presence of Christ, which at once removes all its evil, all its torment, and all its after consequences. Thus Victory swallows it úp, consumes and devours the great enemy and curse of man, and leaves it no power to hurt or even terrify. Thus faithfully does Christ fulfil His promise that he that believeth in Him shall never die.
“ THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONSTRAINETH US."
2 Cor. v. 14. Every one who has attempted in the slightest way to practise what God commands—“ to do his duty in that state of life to which God has called him"-will have experienced the necessity of some governing principle, some certain unchanging motive, which shall strengthen the soul in weakness, and guide it in doubt. This one principle and motive is no other than love—which, like the mariner's needle, trembles always towards one, and
" 165 one only point: rather, it trembles till it has settled in this desired haven, with its unfailing and quiet attraction. God, who alone can give us this love, and satisfy it, has “made us for Himself, and our heart is restless till it resteth in Him." Our duties appear, perhaps, in conflict, and why? because our eye is not single. We desire to reconcile command and interest, when they are opposed to each; to satisfy our evil conscience, and
" follow the devices and desires of our own hearts.” But if the love of Christ did really constrain us, no other constraint would be necessary, no other light, no other happiness. In pleasing one we love, we do in reality please ourselves ; and the more we love, the truer our affection, the less do we feel any difference between us and the object of our love. That principle, when pure and perfect in its nature, towards an earthly friend, makes us one with that friend. How far more pure and perfect must be the union with One who is changeless, infinite, everlasting, perfection, truth, and the only source of love! Christ Himself speaks of this oneness as being the only fountain of strength—" Without me ye can do nothing." He speaks of it as being most close and intimate, and real-“I am the Vine, ye are the branches." Again, as giving efficacy to our prayers—“ If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” The love of Christ constraining us, would set us free from the anxieties we too often feel about worldly blessings; the harassing doubts which sometimes distract us concerning our spiritual state, and the more dreadful deadness, which oftener casts a shade of difficulty and sorrow around us. It would soothe, and comfort, and assure us, in whatever trial may
be our portion, more especially in that which most wounds the noblest spirits-estrangement, hardness, and selfishness, from those they love on earth. But, above all, what an inconceivable brightness and comfort will the love of Christ be to us in the hour of death, which effectually separates us from all the nearest and dearest ties here, leaving us alone with God; and in the day of judgment, when love alone shall be owned by the Judge as marking the sheep from the goats" Inasmuch as ye have done it (alluding to works of mercy and love) unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. These shall
into life eternal.” P. S. L.
In these verses you find the people glorifying the God of Israel for the wonderful works of Jesus which He did to the multitude around Him, and you have an account of a wondrous miracle by which thousands were fed and satisfied from almost nothing. Glorify you the God of Israel for giving you such a good and tender Saviour, and pray that you may love Him as well as fear Him.
Magdala is a country on the eastern coast of the sea of Galilee.
MATTHEW xvi, 1--13. Not content with what they had already seen done by our Blessed Lord, the scribes and Pharisees must have another sign, as if the former miracles had not been proof enough of our Lord's coming from heaven, and particularly in the manner and authority in which He did them. Our Saviour's rebuke will suit you and me, my dear family, as well as them. We can, and do watch for signs in the heavens to sow by and reap by, and gather into our barns, and we make ourselves acquainted with those signs that we may act for our benefit with as much certainty as may be; but we'discern not, neither are so anxious to discern, the things that belong to our peace here and hereafter. These people should have known by the signs of the times, that Jesus was the Christ, that wonderful Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, (Isaiah ix. 6,) of whom the prophets wrote, and with whose descriptions of the promised Saviour our Lord so fully agreed. That which was so perverse about the Jewish teachers' unbelief was this, that they had been for some time expecting the appearance of some extraordinary person, and they knew that other people as well as themselves, had been anxiously looking for the same thing. However,