« PreviousContinue »
“A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
O how contemptible are all the pursuits of earth when put in competition with the pursuit of an infinite God? How soon does life pass away! How soon do all our enjoyments cease! But here is something which is of infinite value, because of eternal duration. There is another reason ; because no man ever obeyed this command and repented it: one more ; because no man ever disobeyed it and did not repent. Here then is the command.
Now for the promise. My Master is a noble Master; my Lord and Saviour is a noble Lord and Saviour; and he never gives a command without accompanying it with a promise. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness;" and what then? “All these things will be added unto you:” food, raiment, home, all you want in your passage from this world to another. Godliness hath the promise of this life; not of riches, but of a sufficiency of food and raiment—the bread given, and the water made sure. Look at the prophet in the wilderness, more likely to be robbed than fed by the ravens, who live on prey: but when the Lord's people have need, his goodness can find out the way. Oye careful, sorrowful, burdened ones, look at the text, and be ashamed of your unbelief: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Our Lord speaks like one who knows that he can do it. Always read the words under the blessed feeling that he has done it for thousands, and is doing it
But it is not said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;" and then, as your reward, as the blessing, he will give you
this world's goods. No; our Lord takes care, when he speaks of temporal good, to put it in its proper place; and, therefore, the expression deserves to be noticed. “All these things shall be added,” shall be given into the bargain, shall be added (if necessary) to make up what shall be given over and above: the great treasure is a heavenly one; but in addition to that, there will be thrown into the scale just what you want, in your passage from this world to another, of temporal good. What a noble promise! But there is something more noble; and that is, the fulfilment of it. How many a Christian heart, if the decencies of public worship
would permit it, would rise up from this congregation, and testify one after another, “ How surely my blessed Master has kept that promise true!” And another would say the same, and another, and another. I once gave that promise to a suffering widow: I had done what little I could for her, though it was very little; but I gave her
my Master's promise, and told her to present it to her Lord in prayer. I remember meeting her two years afterwards; and upon inquiring how matters stood—“0, sir,” said she, “ that promise has been well paid to me from the day you gave it to me till now.” O try the promise: the more you press upon it, the more you fulfil the command ; and sooner shall heaven and earth pass away than the promise shall fail. These promises are like mighty arches; and we are told in architecture, that the greater the weight upon a good arch, the stronger that arch will stand. Some of you lay no stress upon the promises, you do not believe them, and, therefore, do not enjoy them.
I propose to notice very briefly THE TEST AND CONFIDENCE OF THE CHURCH. You may try what you are by this test; you may know the true church from the false ; you may know the real Christian from the mere pretender by it : Do you habitually seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness? Is it your feelings, when the day begins, “ I have matters of high importance to transact with the King eternal, immortal, invisible ?" Do you endeavour to use the language of good old Richard Baxter-to “ dip your fingers in the oil of God's grace, before you meddle with the bird-lime of the world ?? If ye do; if the grand desire of your soul is, that you may be subjects of the kingdom of God, and be clothed in the righteousness of God at the last day; if in your family arrangements you look first to your children's principles before you look to their property; if you endeavour to bring them up in the fear of the Lord, and the comfort of the Holy Ghost; then you give proof that you“ seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” But if there are any here who know such a description would be a false one—who seek for wealth, for honour, for what this world can give, but who never seek after those things which are infinitely important beyond the grave—such persons are living in the habitual neglect of this command and this promise.
Will any object, and say, “ Sir, we must live in the world; we are called to buy and sell, and get gain ; we are to provide for our children and for old age ?” You have, and do it in the fear of the Lord: but “ seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;" then all the other will be attended to in the fear of God, and will have his blessing. Seek the world first, its riches, and its honours; and then, in your dying moments, when friends and medical attendants tell you you have but few hours to live, “ seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness” last—and what then? Ten thousand to one you will never find it at all; ten thousand to one that you perish in your sins ; ten thousand to one that you lift your eyes to heaven, and ask of God to help you, and God will not help you. He tells you why: “ Because I have called, and ye refused ; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity ; I will mock when your fear cometh."
But I spoke of the matter as exhibiting the confidence of the true church. O ye of little faith (you ought to have more, but thank God
you have got any : a little faith is infinitely better than having none)–O ye of little faith, wherefore do ye doubt? Why cast down? Earthly resources and enjoyments may fail, and the world may in some respects be becoming to you a waste-howling wilderness ; many may be your trials, and those that used to share them with you may either be gone or going: but the Saviour never fails ; he remains with the church ; he continues with his people. Take, then, the promise of the text: “ Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you:” all you want in your pilgrimage from earth to heaven shall be mercifully afforded; and in this confidence learn to say even beforehand, “ He hath done all things well.”
UNSPIRITUALITY, ITS SIGNS, EVILS, AND REMEDY.
REV. S. ROBINS, A.M.
CHRIST'S CHAPEL, NORTHWICK TERRACE, REGENT'S PARK, OCT, 30, 1836.
"God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”.
John, iv. 24.
It was a remarkable instance of the condescension of the Lord Jesus Christ that he should stop in his way to converse with the humblest. Although he had objects of inconceivable importance before him, and although his mind was occupied, and his soul engaged, with things of the loftiest concernment, he was willing to stay and converse with the poor Samaritan woman, who desired to receive instruction from his lips. It is a somewhat remarkable thing, that in this conversation, our Lord declared himself with a clearness and a directness which we do not find that he used upon any other occasion. The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah cometh:” Jesus said unto her, “I that speak unto thee am he.” It seems as if the Lord intended to leave on record a most memorable example of the catholic spirit of his Gospel, and to put to shame all those mean distinctions wherewith men would bind round, and fence in, the freeness of heaven's own mercy.
I need not stay long to remind you of the relative position of the Samaritans and the Jews. They hated each other with a hatred as cordial, as that wherewith the sects of religionists amongst ourselves do hate each other. And the causes of their animosity are very easily discovered. In the first place, the Samaritans did not receive the Scriptures; they admitted the authority only of the five books of Moses; the canonical scriptures amongst them were contained in the pentateuch. In the next place, they had a temple amongst themselves, rival and antagonist to the temple at Jerusalem: it was built (as probably you remember) by Sanballat on mount Gerizim. Now in this conversation, the woman claimed antiquity for the Samaritans: “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain.”
a tradition amongst them that Abraham and Jacob had each had an altar upon this very spot; and that these patriarchs, in this very situation, poured out their prayers, and rendered their offerings before the Lord Most High. And yet we find that antiquity and tradition may sometimes be in the wrong: therefore we would learn a lesson from this part also of this very instructive history.
Our Lord, in the course of his communication with the woman, corrected her erroneous opinions upon two special matters. First, there was a particular error. The woman said, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Our Lord said in reply to her, “ Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.” He shows her the error into which she had fallen, in supposing that salvation would emanate from any other place than that which the Lord had specially chosen. “Salvation is of the Jews ;” because He who was to preach it, and to seal it with his blood, was himself a Jew; and because the means of grace, in all their entireness and extent, were, to this period, circumscribed and limited to the Jewish people.
Our Lord then corrects a more general error into which she had fallen: “ But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” “The hour cometh;" a new dispensation was on its way; something more full, and more complete: the shadows were departing, and the very substance had arrived. “Yea, now is;" for the new dispensation had already begun; and this pure and holy faith was now being proclaimed by its great Author unto the world.
Now on these two points we would fix our thoughtfulness for a moment. We would be thankful to God that salvation is now not any longer restricted within its ancient limits ; that it has gone far beyond that territory which was occupied by the descendants of faithful Abraham ; that it has been borne forth by the wings of every wind; so that upon the people who sat in darkness and the shadow of death hath the light shined. And we would remember, moreover (and it is a matter of exceeding moment to us), that there hath been introduced upon the world an evangelical worship; so that the sacredness of place and of outward things hath in great measure departed. The blessing of the Lord is not confined to localities ; but it extendeth wheresoever his people are gathered,