Page images

And be ye sure that it shall add mightily to the blessedness of heaven, that there are many around you who learned the way to glory in the church which you assisted to build; many who would have sunk into the lake of fire, had they not been snatched as brands from the burning, through the instrumentality which you provided and sustained.

I can add no more. I pray God to bless what has been spoken in weakness, to the honour of his own great name.



On Sunday, after the morning service, a sermon in aid of the fund for building an additional church was preached in the church of the above parish, by the Rev. Henry Melvill, B.D., and the feeling of the inhabitants may easily be inferred—as to their approval of the object proposed from its crowded state, every part being filled to inconvenience, and many of the most respectable parishioners having been obliged to go away for want even of standing room. The Rev. gentleman took for his text, 1 Peter, ii. 9, “ But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” The Rev. T. Dale, the Vicar, preached in the evening, and took for his text, 1 Chron. xxix. 1, “ The work is great, for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God.” The sums collected were—Morning service, 1011.; subscriptions, 431. ls.; evening collection, 801. 5s. ; subscriptions, 431. ls. 4d.-making together 2671. 78. 4d.; together with about 1,6001. collected in the course of the last three or four days. This is a favourable commencement, and we hope the object will be prosperous.-Standard, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 1836.





" Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ;

cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”—ISAIAH, i. 16–18.

Of the nation to whom these words were immediately addressed, the Lord said by his prophet, in the commencement of this prophecy, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. It was the aggravation of all their sin that they had rebelled against tender mercy and bounty, still rejecting all the goodness of God, and his invitations to them. They had perversely sought, in the independence of their own hearts, a happiness which could not last, and which was as corrupt as it was transient. God had punished them for their wilful transgressions, and their punishment had only proved yet more the obduracy of their minds. Filled with trouble and diminished in the kingdom, their comforts destroyed, and themselves exposed to their enemies, it was said of them, “ Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint."

These judgments, though they had not led them in their hearts to God, had induced them, at the time when the prophet wrote, to multiply their religious observances, fearful of still further chastenings; and in the hope of averting them, led them to a form of repentance when there was no reality. In the multiplication of these religious observances they sought the pardon of their sins ; and it was in this state of mind-seeking pardon and salvation at the hands of God, multiplying their religious observances with that view, and making many prayers—that they received the adınonition in our text : “ Wash you, make you clean ; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil ; learn to do well ; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead

[blocks in formation]

for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Here was, notwithstanding their many sins, the declaration that God was ready to forgive; here was the promise of mercy and of salvation when they sought him in his own way: but, as preliminary to pardon, as contemporaneous with every application for pardon which should be at all successful, the Lord bade them renounce every evil habit. The application in their case was particular, the injunction itself is general. It describes the way in which every sinner must return to God, no less than the command that they were to return. It assures us that the Lord is ready to forgive, really and truly, through the Son of his love: but those who will seek that forgiveness through the cross must, as contemporaneous with every successful application, renounce every evil habit in the sight of God.

“ Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well.”

This one point last mentioned will be enough for our consideration upon the present occasion. Let us observe that the Lord is here intimating to every sinner who would receive his mercy and his blessing in Christ, that he must, in application for that mercy, renounce with all his heart every evil habit. The passage distinctly assures every one who would be a servant of God and an heir of heaven, that it is impossible he should be either, while resolved that he will not renounce his evil ways. He who is resolved to cherish his evil habits, whatever they may be, whether more or less condemned by the world, whether approved and applauded even among men ; he who is not resolved to make the declared, revealed Word of God his rule, and to renounce every evil, is not, never can be, a servant and a child of God.

Not unfrequently, when God, in his own overruling providence, has chastened man for his sin, he is brought to such a dread of the divine displeasure, such a fear of still further chastening, that he will renounce some iniquities: but what the Lord calls for is, the unreserved surrender of them all; and that he is unwilling to make. Further chastenings extort from him yet larger concessions : but the Lord asks for the unreserved surrender of every evil habit; and that the sinner will not make. He will multiply religious observances ; he will make many prayers; he will consent to extensive reform of his outward conduct; but the Lord asks him to surrender, 66 When you

every evil habit, and the stout-hearted transgressor refuses to make the surrender. Herod heard John the Baptist preach gladly, and did many things, but he would not renounce Herodias. When Pharaoh was writhing under the divine chastening, and fearing yet greater punishment, he made one concession after another to the divine will, but the whole of that divine will he would not accomplish: and when at last there was extorted from his own and his subjects' fears, a full acquiescence in the divine commands, his rebellious heart immediately afterwards withdrew the extorted consent; and he would pursue with bis hosts the people whom, at the divine command, he had permitted to escape his hand; and so he perished in his wickedness. And so the Jews, in the case before us, following precisely the same steps with those of the people from whose iron hands they had been delivered, were willing, when God chastened them for their offences, to do many things: but still when they multiplied their prayers, there was this answer given : spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” They could not renounce the oppression, and the injustice, and the gain which had become sweet to them; and though they were ready to consent to do many things in obedience to divine commands, this they could not do.

And while a sinner is found in this state of mind, compelled to relinquish much that is evil, but still unwilling to relinquish all, resolved in some things to transgress, though he dare not in many things in which he formerly indulged; so long he cannot be accepted by the majesty of heaven; and certain it is he never will. Yet when the jailer at Philippi asked what he a sinner must do to be saved, the answer was,

“ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Was there any direction here for washing and making clean, and to put away the evil of his doings, as preliminary to acceptance with Christ? When the multitudes that surrounded our Saviour asked him what they should do that they might do the works of God, he answered, “ This is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent.” Was there any direction to wash them, to make them clean, as preliminary to that? Assuredly there is none: assuredly the sinner who believes on the Saviour shall, in that very act, be welcomed, blessed, and saved ; assuredly he who amidst this assembly shall to-day with his whole heart welcome the Son of God, shall be pardoned, accepted, and saved. But what is it he is called on to believe? In whom is he

« PreviousContinue »