« VorigeDoorgaan »
end. Granting then that it is one means “Master,” in words acknowledge him, of conversion, it cannot be necessary but in deeds deny him. He cannot that this change should be completely brook the mock service of impure worwrought in us before we have comme- shippers, who with their lips approach morated our Saviour's death, for that him, while their hearts are far from him; would be to suppose the end obtained who claim him as their Sovereign, but before ever we have adopted the means. would fain be exempt from his domi
Men are not called upon to abstain nion. Nay, my brethren, if through from the sacrament altogether, till they a love of sin it be that you forswear be sensibly assured, that they are in a the sacrament, even lay aside your state of grace, established in God's fa- whole Christian profession, renounce vour, and emancipated from sin beyond your baptism, (it is nothing more than the possibility of a relapse, 'tis enough your baptismal vows which you are that they heartily and sincerely re- called upon to repeat at the altar-it solve against their known and beset- is no new engagement, but only a reting sins ; that they be willing and de- pewal of that which you entered into sirous to use all means for becoming in childhood,) therefore, I say renounce better ; and if, thus disposed, they ap- your baptism openly; you do so taproach the Lord's table, I doubt not citly when you refuse to renew its obthey will find it the most effectual ligations at the sacramental table ; method for enabling them to renounce deny your Saviour and disown his retheir past sins, and improve their fu- ligion, for that is the safest course, ture life. It is not men's unworthiness, whilst you resolve to continue in sin but their determination to continue in and disobedience. And as absentees that state, which disqualifies them for from the altar, 'tis but too certain you attending the sacrament.
will remain habitual sinners; since If, therefore, by your alleged unwor- how should you attend to your Saviour's thiness, you mean that you are living in living precepts or example, when you sin, and are resolved to do so, and, as a slight his dying exhortation ; “ Do
this in remembrance of me."
the sacrament, for fear you should fur- | Christians do not sufficiently consider
ther provoke Almighty God, I answer, that in absenting themselves from the that herein you show your wariness Lord'stable, they violate a most positive and prudence; but then I would advise commandment! If, indeed, the receivyou, for the same reason, and on the ing of this sacrament were an indifferent same account, to leave off all their du
rite or ceremony, that might be perties of religion as well as this. If you formed or omitte at pleasure, and would act consistently, you ought to much I fear that some of you have reckon it the safest way never to pray hitherto regarded it as such, why then to God any more, never to appear again the danger there is in receiving it un. in any of our religious assemblies, nor worthily might, in some degree, justify take any part in the solemnity of divine your omission of it. But what if the worship; for, of the two, God hath de- danger be as great, and the hazard clared, that he does more abhor, and equal, of not receiving it at all, as of will more severely punish, the formal receiving it unworthily ? Where then hypocrite, than the bold and open con- is your prudence and safety, when to temner of his authority. “The prayer avoid one danger, you run into anof the wicked man is an abomination other every whit as great; when for to the Lord.” He hates the addresses fear of displeasing God, you disobey a of those who call him “ Father” and plain command; and, through dread of his judgment, commit an unjustifi- to be deplored, the thought struck me able sin ; for I can term it no less to that some groundless fear or appre. live in the neglect and disregard of hension might be at the bottom of this this holy ordinance. But, my brethren, evil, and I determined, if possible, to I have done. If in the course of what obviate it. You have seen then, in the I have said, a more than usual warmth foregoing discourse, that a sense of un. or earnestness be apparent, impute it worthiness, if accompanied by a hearty to the proper cause. Of all the duties repentance and a sincere desire to which attach to me as your minister amend, so far from withholding you, and spiritual guide, that which I have ought to bring you the oftener unto the endeavoured to acquit myself of to- altar. 'Tis there that our blessed Sa. day, lies nearest my heart; and, alas! viour communicates to his followers it is in vain to disguise the truth, it is all the benefits of his death and pasthe one in which I have hitherto least sion, insomuch, that by a due and fresucceeded. You come to church each quent receiving of this holy sacrament, sabbath day (none so regular) —your our souls would be strengthened and devotion in the prayers and attention refreshed by the body and blood of during the sermon are most exemplary, Christ, just as our bodies are by bread so much so as to have attracted the and wine. And such the supplies of observation of strangers who have oc- grace and virtue we should derive from casionally visited this church, and I him, as to be enabled not only to avoid bless God who has given me these the sins and follies of this lower world, earnests of a not quite unsuccessful but to live in a manner above it, and ministry. But I remember the words have our conversation in heaven. of a pious bishop, and am humbled, Thus conversing with our blessed Lord, nay dispirited. “Shew me,” said he, as guests at his table here below, we “the young clergyman who draws shall be ready at a moment to go meet most communicants to the altar, and I him, and converse with him in his will tell you whom I esteem the most kingdom above; where there will be useful.” Apply this criterion to the no need of sacraments to call him to present audience, and there is perhaps our remembrance, or remind him of more cause for sorrow than rejoicing. our duties; but we shall see him face
Wherefore is it the case ? While to face, and laud while we imitate his musing thus on a circumstance so much perfections for evermore!
London : Published for the Proprietors, by T. GRIFFITHS, Wellington Street, Strand;
and Sold by all Booksellers in Town and Country.
Printed by Lowndes and White, Crane Court, Fleet Street.
SERMON BY THE REV. H. MELVILL.
THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 1831.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. H. MELVILL, A. M.
AT ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD-ROW, FOR THE RELIEF OF THE DISTRESS IN IRELAND,
JUNE 13, 1831.
Romans, v. 8.-" But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The manifestations of the Almighty's mightier destiny, I am necessarily loving kindness towards this fallen conscious that infinite love presided creation are many and various. If I originally over his formation, and that, look forth upon a glorious develope- inasmuch as the Omnipotent had ment of scenery, and mark with how within himself all the well-springs of much of the grand and the beautiful happiness, nothing but his unbounded the earth is yet mantled, I cannot but benevolence could have moved him to feel that God displays his love in the throw off sparks of his immortality, dwelling-place which he hath given to and summon the human race into the children of men. If, again, I con- being. And, if I yet further rememtemplate the succession of seasons, and ber that man, whose creation had thus observe how the sun-beam and the been dictated by love, returned despite shower unite in the production of sus- and scorn for the richness of benevotenance for the tribes of animated na- lence, and starting aside from the ture, the spirit must be dull, and the pathway of obedience, won to himself heart must be callous, if I recognize an heritage of shame and pollution, I not love in the workings of God's pro- might marvel, if I did not know that vidence. And, if I pass on to higher with God there is nothing of variablemusings, and remember that this crea- ness, at perceiving that love rose supetion is a redeemed creation, so that rior to outrage, and, in place of forall the splendour with which I behold saking the alien, suggested on his beit adorned are literally reprieved things, half the wondrous scheme of redempthings which were forfeited by dis. tion. obedience and spared to us only We may lay it down as an inconthrough the interferences of the Me- trovertable position, that God hath at diator, then, love becomes stamped on all times loved man equally ; there every thing about me with a vividness being no greater mistake in theology of impress which could never be pre. than the imagining that Christ's inter. sented to a mere philosophical survey. ference procured God's love to the
Thus also, if I think upon man, the sinner, whereas the reverse is the creature of mighty capacity, but of truth, and God's love to the sin
ner procured Christ's interference. so have gathered about himself the afWhen, therefore, we speak of greater fections and sympathies of his fellows, or of lesser manifestations of love, it is that in the moment of his peril a submost strictly in the manifestation, and stitute would start forward, and friendnot in the thing itself that we imagine ship be found bold enough, and undegrees, the love which prompted re- Alinching enough to mount the scaffold, demption having been in every respect and save, by voluntary self-sacrifice, the same love which prompted crea- the general benefactor of his species. tion, though the display in the one And if such an instance should occur, case be more touching and more over- then it would live for ever in the an. whelming than that which is put nals of history, and poetry would pour forth in the other. So soon, however, forth its most harmonious numbers on as this truth is distinctly recognized— its celebration, and the canvass would and any failure in its recognition in- glow, and the marble breathe, with the volves some impeachment of the im- giant achievement of heroism. Yet, mutability of God—we may safely go without detracting from the greatness on to use degrees of comparison when of the love which would thus be exspeaking of the Creator's love towards hibited, let it only be put, side by side, man. We may ascend, by the steps with the love of God in redemption, which I have already indicated, from and it shall seem instantly insignifithe platform of this material system cant, just because those very circumto the starry eminences which the re- stances, which produced the act in the deemed are appointed to tread, and one case, are all wanting in the other. observe, at each successive stage, how He who would even dare to die for a the love which is leading us seems to good man, is nerved to the sacrifice by heighten in intenseness.
the goodness of the being whom he Thus, even when our thoughts are thus saves from destruction ; and had concentrated on the scheme and work not this goodness been incontroverti. of redemption, certain points of view bly demonstrated, so that a whole there will be under which love shines kingdom, it may be, would suffer by out pre-eminently conspicuous, and his loss; or had it not at the least atcertain considerations may be suggest
st- tached,'by vast benefits, him who ed, which will greatly enlarge our ap- stands as the substitute to him whose prehensions of that which we already days are in peril, the case could never know to be nothing short of infinite. have existence, of one man dying In our text, for example, the Apostle voluntarily in the stead of another. speaks of God's commending his love “But GOD commendeth his love totowards us, setting it off, as it were, wards us, in that, while we were yet to the greatest possible advantage, sinners, Christ died for us.” The and causing it to appear under an as- points of inducement, if I may so pect more than commonly calculated speak, are all taken away; goodness to win our admiration. He had just there is none, excellence there is none, been stating that, “ peradventure for a on the part of those who are lying good man some would even dare to die.” | under condemnation. And is it not a The case, though of necessity rare, surprising demonstration of love, and was not altogether insupposable ; and may it not be well said that “GOD even amid a race of apostate and sel- commendeth his love," when humiliafish beings, a man might so have en- tion is undergone, and toil, and ignodeared himself to others by his disin-miny, and death, and all for the sake terestedness and philanthropy, he might of the rebellious and the profligate ;
and when the very heavens are bowed the main object of this our assembliog, down, and Deity enters into the alien may at once be readily discerned, ated nature, and wrestles in it against We
propose, then, to examine briefly Satan, and presents it in sacrifice, into the truth, that the circumstance while all the while the beings over of our having been sinners when Christ whom his compassions are yearning, died for us, commendeth, or pre-emilaugh his mercies to scorn, and spurn nently displayeth the love of God tohim from their dwellings?
With this view I shall ad. I think, brethren, there can be no dress you under two heads of disfitter introduction to the appeal, which course, showing you, in the First I would this night make, on behalf of place, how Christ's sufferings were a suffering and degraded population, aggravated by the sinfulness of those than a brief meditation on God's thus amongst whom he suffered ; and recommending his love towards us. I marking, in the Second place, how would desire that the whole drift of completely these sufferings were irmy discourse should bear upon that respective of all claim on the part of false persuasion which is abroad those for whom they were endured. amongst us, namely, that by their law. It will be easy to gather from both lessness and their profligacy, the Irish considerations that commendation of peasantry have rendered themselves God's love of which we are in search, unworthy of succour, and that we whilst from this commendation will should deal fairly with them, and naturally flow motives to that benevojustly with them, if we left them to lence which I desire, under God, now writhe under the bitter chastisement to rouse into action. which their own conduct may have AND FIRST, WITH REGARD TO THAT partially drawn down. Before we ap- AGGRAVATION OF SUFFERING WHICH ply such a principle to others, let us at the least remember, that had it been OF THOSE AMONGST WHOM IT WAS ENapplied to ourselves, an instant arrest
There appears to me to be must have been put on all God's pur- an emphasis belonging to the word poses of loving kindness towards our “yet” in our text, which it behoves us race; and that if unworthiness could not wholly to overlook. Christ died have sufficed to bind up the sympa- for us while we were yet sinners. I thies of infinite benevolence, then the cannot but think that there is a referspot in the creation over which the ence to that multitude which had been cloud would have been the thickest, justified by a prospective faith, living and the hurricane the fiercest, must before the Incarnation, and looking just have been the globe which we in- forwards to that event as involving the habit; and that if beings who deserved salvation of their souls. It could not to perish, had been left to perish, men be said of those who had previously would have arisen in their successive passed through death into glory, that generations only to curse the day of they were sinners at the period when their birth, and then to sink down, with Christ Jesus died. The atonement a sullen or a wild despair, into the had been in their case, as it were, anprison-house of perdition. I shall, in ticipated ; and by virtue of the covethe conclusion of my discourse, strive nant into which the second person in to press this argument more power- the Trinity had entered, binding him. fully upon you; for the present it suf- self, in the fulness of times, to be made fices to throw out the suggestion, in flesh, and to dwell upon the earth, order that the bearings of our text, on their transgressions had been as ac
WAS PRODUCED BY