« ZurückWeiter »
charity one towards another. This doctrine Paul also inculcates at some length in the epistle to the Colossians : “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering ; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any : even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” In short, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, implieth the same things as to put on the armour of light; to do the works of faith, and to walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit; for Paul saith, Gal. v. “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
And make not provisions for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. The apostle doth not here forbid us to provide food and clothing, and such things as are necessary to the sustenance and preservation of our bodies. It is indeed expedient and lawful, that we make such provision, provided we do not suffer our minds to be engrossed therewith, to the exclusion of spiritual things. But what the apostle here forbiddeth is, the making provision to gratify the lusts of the body; such provision is always connected with sin, and engendereth the works of darkness. Our bodies are to be sustained—not pampered, but rather chastened and kept in subjection, that they may be obedient to the spirit.
But so prone are we to indulge our sensual appetites, that many, professing to be christians, do, under a pretence of necessity, pamper their bodies, and gratify every inordinate craving thereof, to the manifest injury of both their temporal and spiritual welfare. We cannot therefore, be too much upon our
guard against yielding to the dictates of our carnal propensities.
There is, however, another class of men, who as widely err on the contrary extreme. These are those blind devotees, who, as if the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, consisted in meat and drink, do often fast until their bodies become infirm and emaciated; and then they think they have been marvellously holy, and have wrought exceeding good works. But Paul saith, “ Meat commendeth us not to God : for neither if we eat are we the better ; neither if we eat not are we the worse.” And again, Col. i. he saith ; "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy-day, or of the new-moon, or of the sabbathdays : which are a shadow of things to come.”
Thus we see that the popish ordinances, which forbid the eating of flesh, and enjoin the observance of certain days wherein to fast to certain saints, are quite contrary to the Gospel. But that such things should come, Paul bath plainly foretold in 1 Tim. iv. “ Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” It is sufficiently evident, that the doctrine which Paul taught, is in direct opposition to that of the order of monks and sacrificing priests, who command the abstaining from meats, the observance of particular days of fasting, and prohibit marriage to certain orders of men. True religion has no respect to meats and days : but the whole life of a christian, should be a life of temperance, sobriety, and Godliness. But these doting holy ones, eat one day nothing but bread and wa
ter, and for three whole months afterwards they will eat to excess, and drink every day until they be drunken. Now the cause of these abominations is, that men have regard to the work, and not to the use of the work. Hence they are like unto him who carried a sword, merely to look upon it, without knowing how to use it when he was assaulted. Thus much may suffice for the exposition of this text.
LUKE, Chap. vi. From the 36th to the 42d verses, inclusive.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye
shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed
down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete,
withal it shall be measured to you again. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the
blind ? shall they not both fall into the ditch ? 40 The disciple is not above his master : but every one that is
perfect shall be as his master. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye,
but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 12 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull
out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
In this text, we have described the works of forgiveness, charity, and forbearance; which we should exercise one toward another. To this point the Lord hath also spoken before, in the same chapter : “ Love your enemies, do good unto them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you :" all of which he hath briefly comprehended in these words : “ Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” Here we have set before us, in a very brief manner,
the rule of conduct which should govern us in our dealings toward our neighbour, and toward our fellow creatures in general; which if we carefully observe, and endeavour to follow, we shall do well.
Ye have often been taught, that God needeth not our good works, as he can neither be strengthened nor enriched thereby; but that they are to be directed toward our neighbour, who alone can be benefited by them. This therefore ye should bear in mind; to exercise your good works toward man, and to deal with God by faith alone. We should place our trust and confidence in him alone, for whatsoever things we need; for we enjoy no blessing, either temporal or spiritual, that doth not proceed from his bounteous grace and goodness.
But there are some who place confidence in themselves, and in other men ; who rest upon their traditions, and put their trust in things that some great man hath invented. Of such God speaketh in Jeremiah ii. 13: "For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water; and have hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
In the same manner, the papists of the present time, forsaking the way of life, which is faith in Christ, look for salvation through their own works, such as their fastings and formal prayers, and the celebration of masses which they have instituted.
This religion of rites and forms, though it may appear to them a living fountain, is nevertheless, a broken cistern, capable of holding no water. Of such as these, God hath elsewhere said, “They presume to contepd with me, bringing their own works into account, and pleading therefrom their own justification. Behold, they go about to defend their own works, which is another sin.” Whereupon the Lord again saith : “I will contend with thee in judgement:
I will show how thou goest hither and thither to change thy ways."
Thus we see, that we must place our trust in God alone ; that we must apply to him in faith for whatever things we need, whether they be temporal or spiritual; and that we must ask them as the gift of his divine grace, and not as a recompense which our works have merited. And so likewise, when we do a benevolent work toward our neighbour, it should be done with humility, as a duty we ought to discharge without expecting a reward. When we go to God for his blessings, we must not bring our good deeds into account; but as Abraham, when in the country of Moriah, left his servants and asses at the foot of the mountain, and took only Isaac with him ; so must we, if we will ascend to God, leave behind us those servants and asses, our own works, and take with us only the Isaac of faith.
Thus far we have endeavoured to explain the true offices of faith, and works. We have shown that true faith worketh inwardly, and is directed toward God; but that works proceed outwardly, and are wrought toward our neighbours ; and if we attend to what is here inculcated, we shall be accounted righteous, not only before God, but also before the world. Thus much may suffice for the introduction of this sermon : we will now attend to the words of the text in order.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Let us then inquire, how, or wherein our heavenly Father is merciful ? The answer will be, that he bestoweth upon us all things of which we stand in need : that he giveth us rest if we be weary; that he clothes us when we are naked ; that he provideth us food if we be hungry, and affordeth us. drink if we be thirsty. If we are sick and in trouble, he healeth, and giveth us consolation. And, what is still more important, when we are on the brink