« PreviousContinue »
• Turn ye,
and though disregarded in this world, will tell its awful tale, with unutterable poignancy of woe, in the next! Oh listen, listen to the records of truth! The gospel of Christ yet points out the way to holiness and peace. It reveals an almighty Saviour, who can pardon, and an all-purifying Spirit, who can cleanse you from all sin. Consider, I entreat you, the vast importance of religion, the invitations of mercy to faith and repentance, the certainty of death, and the solemn realities of the eternal world ! turn ye, why will ye die"- Now is the accepted time—now is the day of salvation !”
It is with inexpressible pleasure, I address many this evening, whose characters are formed on Christian principles. Most cordially, my young friends, do I congratulate you on the choice you have made, and the high encouragement by which you are animated to go forward in the “ way that leadeth to eternal life." You are persuaded already, that even the sorrows of religion are preferable to the joys of sin ; and you have incurred no sacrifice, either of interest or pleasure, by consecrating the vigour and bloom of youth to the service of the Redeemer. You feel increasing delight in that service. As your minds are expanded to comprehend the sublime discoveries of the Christian system, you rejoice in their harmony, their suitableness, their pure and heavenly tendency. On the ordinances which the authority of Christ has established, you feel it to be your highest privilege and duty to attend. The house of God is the scene of your most sacred joys. There your faith is confirmed, your hopes are enlivened, and your resolutions invigorated. Yet to you would I address the admonition of the text-"Flee youthful lusts.” “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." “ Be not high-minded, but fear.” Subtle, malignant, and powerful, are the enemies which war against the soul.”
You have only just " put on your armour;" boast not as though "you had put it off.” Let godly jealousy and vigilant circumspection mark your conduct. How many are there, who once promised well, and seemed “not far from the kingdom of God!" But their “goodness has been like the morning cloud and the early dew—it has passed away !” Their root has been corruption, and their blossom as dust. The world has withered and blasted, by its fatal influence, the very appearances of religion. As you pass by them, on the wide ocean of life, they lie--shattered wrecks—to warn you of the rocks on which they have split! “I speak these things, my beloved brethren,” not to damp your ardour, or chill your confidence, but to excite
those salutary fears, which shall lead you to feel your own weakness and insufficiency, and impel you to constant, habitual dependance on the strength and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. There, there alone lies your true safety. In the spiritual conflict, mere natural vigour will soon be exhausted. “ Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” “ Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might," and then you will travel on in the “
greatness of your strength.” Remember the promises which are recorded for your comfort and encouragement. Plead them at the throne of grace ; be fervent and persevering in your supplications for divine wisdom to be the guide of your youth ; for divine consolations to support you amidst the trials of this mortal state ; and for all those supplies of strength and influence to be imparted, which the vicissitudes and experience of life may require. Live by faith on an all-sufficient Redeemer, walk humbly with God, and "you shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Some of you are associated together for the great purposes of benevolent exertion and of mutual edification. You “ take sweet counsel together;" and find, that by the interchange of thoughts and feelings, concerning the “good ways of God," your knowledge and holiness are increased. “ A three-fold cord cannot be broken.” The company of your friends often raises you when
you are depressed, and strengthens you when you are weak. You return from your Christian intercourse, confirmed and emboldened to go on your way rejoicing. Forsake not “this assembling of yourselves, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Let the “ unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace,” preserve your holy compact unbroken by separations, undisturbed by divisions. Attend to every ordinance which God has commanded; “live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Finally, call to mind the animating motives to perseverance, which are set before you in the sacred word. You are surrounded with a "great cloud of witnesses.” Angels beheld you with rapturous exultation, when the grace of God first turned your wandering steps to the ways of wisdom and of peace. They behold you still, and exult in your progress. Devils behold you, and would rejoice with infernal triumph in your destruction. The church beholds you with anxious solicitude. With gratitude she exclaimed, when first she saw you, “ These, where had they been, and who hath begotten me these ?"
She prays for you, she regards you as the future pillars of her interest on earth, and rejoices that, “instead of the fathers, there shall be the children.” The “synagogue of Satan,” the assembly of the wicked, behold you; and innumerable are the snares by which they would allure you to forbidden paths, or deter you from the ways of God. But greater is he that is for you, than all that are against you.
God himself beholds you. He is your witness. Go FORWARD, is his encouraging command. “ He will never leave you, nor forsake you." He places before your faith and hope the prize of your high calling; and a voice from heaven exclaims—“TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH WILL I GIVE TO SIT WITH ME IN MY THRONE, As I ALSO OVERCAME, AND AM SET DOWN WITH MY HIS THRONE!"
CHRIST THE HOPE OF GLORY.
BY THOMAS BINNEY.
Col. i. 28.—Christ in you the hope of glory. This is certainly a very remarkable expression. It seems to convey the idea of some intimate and peculiar residence of Christ in the hearts of believers, as the source of their religious expectation and joy :-“ Christ in you the hope of glory.” That there is a sense in which this is true of every Christian, cannot be doubted by any who derive their conceptions of Christianity direct from the New Testament itself, as we shall attempt, by and by, abundantly to establish. Considering, however, the scope and aim of the whole of the apostle's discourse ;-considering the state of the people to whom he was writing, and the position of things and parties among them;—perhaps it may be asserted, without error, that, in the original employment of the phrase, he had a special reference to the aspect of the gospel in relation to the Gentiles, for “ to the Gentiles also had God granted repentance unto life.”
There are two things to be kept in view, in relation to the Jews, if we would rightly understand this and similar expressions in the writings of the apostle. The first is, the feeling of that people with respect to the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles at all ; and the second is, the attempts to which this led to mutilate and corrupt it after it was received. At first, the Jew could not be convinced that that divine regard, with which the chosen nation had so long been distinguished, and which was considered as their exclusive privilege, could be extended to those from whom God himself had miraculously separated them: and then, after he had got over this prejudice,-after he was brought to admit that the Gentiles might be called to the enjoyment of this favour, yet, he could not conceive it possible that their state should be quite secure, unless importance was attached to his peculiar observances, and reliance built upon an assiduous attention to the appointments of Moses as well as upon the work and merit of Messiah. Now, these two things led, on the part of Paul, who combated both, to the employment of two classes of expressions, alluding respectively to each. In consequence of the first, he was in the habit of speaking respecting the admission of the Gentiles into the church, as a mystery—a great and hidden mystery-a thing that was formerly concealed, but which was now made manifest—and which was an animating and delightful truth, however incredible it might appear in the view of the previously favoured people. In consequence of the second, or the attempts of the Jew to unite the institutions of Moses with the faith of the gospel, the apostle was often led to speak of Christ as the proper subject of preaching and the exclusive ground of hope, in a pointed and peculiar manner, which, though significant in itself, and applicable to the ministry in all ages, is still more significant, and possesses, so to speak, a super-added applicability, when viewed in connexion with the temporary errors that then prevailed. If you read the text as having a reference to these errors, you may observe that, by laying the emphasis on different words, both will appear to be adverted to.
It is the same as if the apostle had said, “ Whatever may be the surprise and objection of the Jew, I will make known the mystery committed to my care, which is, that even to you Gentiles there is a hope of glory offered and conveyed; and, however I may be abused and hated, as one who excites opposition to Moses and the law, yet I will maintain that Christ is to you that hope of glory—that He, exclusively and alone, is the procurer of your blessings and the ground of
confidence." The point of the passage may be still further seen, by recollecting that there was another source of error to which the Gentiles were exposed, and by which the gospel was corrupted, and one to which allusion is distinctly made in other parts of this epistle. This was, the influence of their own philosophy, supported and strengthened, indeed, by Jewish superstition. Hence, an abstinence from various meats, “neglecting of the body," and even the infliction of personal suffering, were recommended and enforced as unquestionably meritorious. In addition to this, certain speculative Greeks taught the government of the world by superior beings, similar to the angels believed in by the Jews, and both concurred in strenuously recommending an attention to them—in urging the necessity of obtaining their influence as mediators with God, and of securing that by prayer and worship. In this way, many absurd and per