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went astray; but, when afflicted, they turned to | the Lord.
thereof, which is condemnation, cannot be restored again, unless he bring a righteousness to justify the law again; such as may answer both the obedience that it requireth and the punishment that it inflicteth. This righteousness we affirm not to be our own inherent justice, but the obedience of Christ alone, whereby he fulfilled the whole law most perfectly for us... God accepteth the imfic-putation of Christ's obedience to us for the pardon of our sins, and the mak ng of our persons acceptable; as if ourselves had never sinned. That which we do is, believing in Christ,' and so receiving that which God offereth; by both which ac tions, when they meet, namely, God's offering Christ, and our receiving him, the justification of a sinner is formally accomplished. This justification is so far from giving liberty to sin, and excluding a good life, that a good life, and the promises made thereunto, are the forerunners that beget it: yea, of absolute necessity, men must reform themselves before they have it, and persevere in all good works if they will maintain it" (J. White).
My short narrative is ended; and, reader, we must part. But if you listen to me, I can again mention instances, not perhaps of equal sorrow, but certainly of equal mercy. My narratives are correct. And the places, to which you can accompany me in imagination, are exactly such as I shall describe. You will not be amused with titious tales; but you will hear true anecdotes, events of every-day occurrence, though little heeded; and our hearts will glow within us while speaking of the loving-kindness of the Lord. It may be that I shall refer once or twice to past thoughts and feelings, wishful to lead those who live in country places to feel the mercies they enjoy in being surrounded with the beautiful works of him who died to redeem them: to prize the privileges of walking through green lanes and meadows from one cottage to another, instead of hot, dusty, ill-smelling streets and alleys. But, wherever situated, whether in town or country, amid pleasant scenes, or among such as the mind almost shrinks back from contemplating, may we ever remember that all things are naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do; that the most secret thought is known, the lowest whisper heard; that the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, "worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure," and that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
These texts will furnish an important clue to many things which appear of little moment in themselves, though affecting the eternal destination of our fellow-creatures: they will enable us to understand why the going into a wrong house, or the lifting up of a wrong latch, has become the means of saving a family from perishing, or leading a heart to God.
"God be merciful to me, a sinner, and make me to know and to believe in Jesus Christ; for, I see, if his righteousness had not been, or I have not faith in that righteousness, I am utterly cast away. Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and hast ordained that thy Son, Jesus Christ, should be the Saviour of the world; and, morcover, that thou art willing to bestow him upon such a poor sinner as I am; and I am a sinner indeed. Lord, take therefore this opportunity, and magnify thy grace in the salvation of my soul, through thy Son, Jesus Christ. Amen."
THE CHARACTER AND RECOMPENCE OF
An Ordination Sermon*,
BY THE REV. H. J. STEVENSON, M.A., Hon. Canon of Worcester, examining Chaplain to the bishop of Worcester, and Vicar of Grimleycum-Hallow, Worcestershire.
MATT. xxiv. 45, 46.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing."
THE chapter from which these words are sclected contains Christ's solemn declaration of the judgment which awaited the Jewish people. This wonderful prophecy, however, received only a partial fulfilment in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. A future time of perplexity and distress is yet expected, when "the sign of the Son of man shall appear in heaven; and then shall all the
* A copy of this sermon, together with an address, was presented to each candidate at the late ordination, on March 7th. In consequence of its being sccidentally the Sunday, the usual sermon to the candidates was omitted.
tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another." This prophecy unquestionably awaits its fulfilment: the ad monitions accompanying it are addressed to the church in the present day: they belong to our own times, and are intended for the guidance of our own conduct.
I shall not, I imagine, inappropriately employ the present interesting occasion if I direct your attention to the duties enforced in the text-belonging to the church generally, but more especially incumbent upon her mi
And may each of you in his separate station, by watchfulness and prayer, so wait for the coming of the Son of man, that, at what ever period he may arrive, and in however sudden and unexpected a manner he may come to take possession of his kingdom, we may enter with him into glory.
Proceed we, then, to consider the words of the text as containing, in the form of an inquiry, a summary of the duties of the ministerial office; and, in the form of a declaration, its reward.
any indiscretion their "good should be evil spoken of," and endeavouring to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;" faithful to the trust reposed in them, and zealously guarding the sacred deposit which has been committed to their care; above all, remembering that the end of "the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. i. 5).
1. The first qualification required of the minister of Christ is faithfulness.
"It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful." St. Paul, addressing his son Timothy, uses the following impressive language: "Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." The great apostle of the Gentiles also deemed it a ground of thankfulness to "Christ Jesus our Lord, who had enabled him for that he counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry" (1 Tim. i. 12); and, speaking of Tychicus, he calls him a "beloved brother and a faithful minister in the Lord" (Ephes. vi. 21).
Sincerity of intention, purity of heart, diligence, impartiality, and perseverance, are included in ministerial fidelity.
The faithfulness of a servant is his chief
I. The character described appears peculiarly suited to an exemplary minister-" a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath recommendation. Of the men who had made ruler over his household, to give them" the oversight of the house of the Lord" in meat in due season;" or, as it is elsewhere expressed, "an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasures things new and old." That the ministers of Christ should be skilful workmen in God's great moral vineyard, ready scribes of the law of the God of heaven," faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, feeding the babes in "Christ with milk," and the more advanced believer "with meat as they are able to bear it," are duties which in every age have been incumbent on the ministers of Christ.
But there probably never was a period in the history of the church, when the union of faithfulness and wisdom, of zeal tempered with discretion, both in their public and private ministrations, was more requisite than at the present period of excitement and alarm. The path of duty is, however, distinctly marked out to adhere with unshaken affection and deep devotion to the apostolical doctrine, the spiritual worship, and the primitive government of that church of which they are the accredited ministers. Their privilege it is, by consistent teaching and sober piety to recommend the religion of the meek and lowly Jesus; cautiously to take heed lest by
Jerusalem it is recorded that "there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hands, because they dealt faithfully." And the overseers of souls, "feeding the church of God, purchased with Christ's own blood," must "take heed" walking circumspectly, jealous "of themselves with a godly jealousy," lest through carelessness or treachery or personal vanity they should rather seem to "seek their own" ease or interest or glory, than "the things which are Jesus Christ's" (Phil. ii. 21).
Purity and sincerity of purpose, remote from all hypocrisy and worldly-mindedness, is included in ministerial fidelity; and its operation is described by the apostle, when he speaks of it as being a matter of rejoicing to him and to his brethren, that, "in all sincerity and godly simplicity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, they had had their conversation in the world" (2 Cor. i. 12). Required to "watch for souls as those that must give account," knowing the depravity of the human heart, the seductions of an ensnaring world, and the wiles and stratagems of the great enemy of souls, the ministers of Christ must never cease their
labour, their care, their diligence, until they have done all that lieth in them, according to their bounden duty, to bring all such as are committed to their charge unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among them either for error in religion, or for viciousness in life" (Ordination service for priests). The infatuations of religious delirium, and the torpor of lifeless profession, will require constant watchfulness: the armour therefore must be always bright, the weapons of the sanctuary must be always polished.
"I charge thee," says St. Paul with more than the usual fervour of solemnity "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things, without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality" (1 Tim. v. 21). All prejudice, all prepossession, must most cautiously be avoided; and no exclusive bigotry must be allowed to disturb the unity or harass the peace of the church.
Constancy and perseverance, "even unto death," are required from candidates "for the crown of life." Devoted and unflinching zeal is demanded. The warrior desists not until the battle is won: the race is not complete until the goal is reached. Even so ministerial faithfulness must be faithfulness "unto the end," and must include self-denial, sincerity, diligence, impartiality, and stedfastness.
2. The second qualification mentioned in the text is ministerial wisdom and prudence. Discretion as well as faithfulness is required in the Lord's steward-the former quality directing his attention to the right end, the latter suggesting the most proper means.
In that magnificent vision vouchsafed to the beloved disciple, when "a door was opened in heaven," and he was privileged to see its inhabitants, and to witness their occupations, the ministers of Christ are presented under the emblem "full of eyes;" denoting knowledge, wisdom, prudence, and foresight. Reverence, humility, and cheerful expedition characterize their services; and to the courage of the lion, the strength of the ox, and the loftiness of the eagle, is united "the face of a man," implying prudence and discretion (compare Rev. iv. Ezek. i.).
Various and diversified are the uses of prudent wisdom, whether as it respects our fellow-helpers in the sacred calling, or those who separate themselves from the church. To the former it suggests the strictest union of purposes, both privately and in public; Ephraim" in no way "envying Judah,
neither Judah vexing Ephraim," but presenting an unbroken front and an united phalanx, preserving harmony and order. As regards the latter, it suggests a skilful and judicious use of the weapons of the ministerial armoury; providing that the sling of truth shall be wielded by an arm that has "proved" its knowledge of the missile; that inappropriate energy shall not irrelevantly be wasted, but that every weapon shall be sound, and every movement guided by discretion. Faithfully and prudently to expose the sophistries, and to detect the fallacies of the varied enemies of our Zion, demands indeed the wisdom of the serpent combined with the harmlessness of the dove.
As a wise master-builder to lay the foundation, Jesus Christ and him crucified, and thereon to build a superstructure of faith and practice, to preach the leading doctrines of Christianity faithfully and fully, " keeping back nothing that is profitable, but testifying both repentance and faith, preserving the analogy of faith, and declaring the whole counsel of God," is to follow the example of St. Paul, whose "preaching, though it were not with enticing words of man's wisdom, was yet in demonstration of the Spirit and in power;" and in constant attendance at the throne of grace, seeking that the "live coal from the altar" may be permitted to "touch his lips," "a holy seed" is promised as "the substance" of him who is sent by the Lord" (Isa. vi. 6-13).
3. In the union of faith and wisdom" to give meat in due season" is the third qualification of the Christian minister.
Vast indeed is the storehouse, capacious indeed the fountain whence materials must be selected. "Every scribe," saith the Redeemer, "which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder which bringeth forth out of his treasures things new and old" (Matt. xiii. 52)-having first laid up in store a variety of articles for family use, brings them forth as exigencies may demand.
The acquisition of requisite knowledge, and its distribution in suitable proportions, is the duty of the faithful and wise servant.
Of Ezra the scribe it is recorded that "he had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments" (Ezra vii. 10); and it is the declaration of the Lord by the prophet Malachi, "The priest's lips should keep knowledge; and they should seek the law at his mouth" (Mal. ii. 7). And with the bible for his store-house, containing as it does all things necessary to salvation, "profitable as it is for doctrine, for reproof, for
II. The reward of the "faithful and wise" minister is described in the words, "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing." He is blessed in his present work, and he is blessed in his fnture prospect; and thus great encouragement is afforded in the prosecution of his labour and in the recompence of his toil.
correction, for instruction in righteousness," | cient in ourselves, we are sustained by a "the man of God," the Christian minister strength superior to our own; and, "seeing becomes "perfect"-perfectly instructed, we have this ministry, as we have received "throughly furnished to all good works," mercy we faint not" (2 Cor. iv. 1), but go enabled to meet each and every requirement forth to our labour in Christ's strength, and of his ministry. And, when, as in these days, in dependence on divine grace address our"the time" has "come," that, according to selves to the work. the declaration of St. Paul (2 Tim. iv. 3), "men will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and turn away their ears from the truth, and are turned to fables," "the good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine" (1 Tim. iv. 6), will be " ready with all faithful diligence to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's word" (Ord. Serv.); and will "meekly instruct those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2 Tim. ii. 25). Idolatry in every form, superstition in every gaib, profaneness in every shape, will be faithfully exposed; every root of bitterness, each weed of hypocrisy, and each creeper of enthusiasm, marring the beauty and destroying the fruitfulness of the vineyard, will be carefully eradicated, and the seed of divine truth will be laboriously scattered. But, knowing that not "until the end of the world all things that offend are to be gathered out of the kingdom" by the reapers, he will be careful not to invade the province of angels; nor will the Sower of the seed desire other occupation than to provide, with ceaseless diligence, that hereafter he may come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him."
The honourable and holy nature of his employment as an ambassador of God; the advantages he enjoys for the cultivation of personal religion; the sympathy and affection of an attached flock; the daily supplies of grace imparted in fulfilment of the divine promise, Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world"; the privilege, the "joy" of beholding spiritual "children walking in truth," and evidencing by their deportment their growth in grace, these are "the wages in the work," these are recognized as the earnests of future hope.
But it is the prospect of eternity, when "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan. xii. 3), which imparts a promise of most glorious recompence and never-ending blessedness. "What,' asks the apostle of the Thessalonians," what is our hope and joy and crown of rejoicing? are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy" (1 Thess. ii. 19)-his joy in their conversion to Christ by his ministry; and his "crown of rejoicing" redounding to his honour and glory in the day of Christ. And, when presenting to the chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls the spiritual children whom he was permitted on earth to edify, to establish, and to comfort, the blessedness of the "faithful and wise servant" will be complete, as he hears the transporting words, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
Regarded as a well-ordered household, of which the head is Christ, the stewards his ordained ministers, and Christians in general members of the family, how sacred the connexion between a minister and his people! how important is it that the pastors should faithfully feed and govern the flock, and that the people should esteem and "obey those that are over them in the Lord;" for thus the beauty and order of the dwelling may be
best preserved, and "stedfastness of faith" maintained. How applicable to every_minister is the admonition of St. Paul: "Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts xx. 28). How necessary that those who, we trust, will go among the people in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ" (Rom. xv. 29) should stir up the gift of God, which by the putting on of hands will be in them" (2 Tim. i. 6), and by faithful diligence, studious application, and fervent prayer should edify the body of Christ.
And are the household exempt from duties? Are those for whom the gospel banquet is provided by Christ's stewards, and given upon the knees of prayer in due season, to despise or reject it, and through divisions or instability "to hinder the gospel of Christ"? The unprofitableness of the flock is one of the greatest discouragements to the shepherd, and adds materially to the weight of ministerial labours: the prayers and obedience and fruitfulness of the people stimu late to exertion, and are the reward of diligence.
To the whole body of the church, no less than to her ministers, the duty of watchfulness of prayer and diligence cannot be too strongly recommended."
And surely "he that runs may read" the language of expectation and of hope, conveyed by no solitary instance, but traced as with a sunbeam upon the whole surface of the habitable globe; but especially in these "isles of the Gentiles," where, in the providence of God, our lot is cast, and where a "shaking among the dry bones" (Ezek. xxxviii.) indicates the speedy fulfilment of God's purposes of grace and mercy. The tide of years seems to quicken its current as it approaches the abyss in which eventually it will be swallowed up. The stupendous events of Providence seem to hasten the crisis, and proclaim as with a voice of thunder, 66 Watch, therefore; for ye know not at what hour your Lord doth come." Of the time and the manner of his coming it is not for mortal man to speak: "Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but the Father only." Wisely have these "secret things of the Lord" been concealed from mortal ken, that continual watchfulness and earnest prayer may always be maintained.
The church of Christ has ever been an expecting church-praying that it would please
"the Lord shortly to accomplish the number of his elect, and to hasten his kingdom, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ;" comforting herself with the belief that "the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of Godthat the dead in Christ shall rise first, and that then those which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body."
May the spirit of watchfulness and prayer be abundantly poured out! May the Lord send faithful and wise ministers to his household, labouring diligently in their appointed calling! May the people gladly receive and faithfully obey those who are duly sent! And may "the church, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, grow into a holy temple of the Lord, an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephes. ii. 20-22).
THE GUIDE OF CONTROVERSIES. BY THE REV. EMANUEL STRICKLAND, M.A., Perpetual Curate of Horningsham, Wiltshire.
A GUIDE is one who directs another in his way, or in his conduct. Of God, it is said, "He will be our guide, even unto death" (Ps. xlviii. 14). And again Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel" (Ps. lxxiii. 24); that is, with thy word and Spirit. In this passage we have God, and the in and by his word is the guide of which I am agency appointed by him, for our guidance. God about to write. May "the Spirit of truth guide us into all truth" (John xvi. 13); and may be give an obedient Spirit unto all those whom his ministers have to guide (Heb. xiii. 17). May the Saviour's prayer be fulfilled: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John xvii.
It is certain that the simple, plain-hearted people, who saw the miracles of our Lord, believed on him. "Many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?" (John vii. 31). The Pharisees and chief priests were apprehensive that their own influence would of Christ. Hence they sent their officers to take soon end unless they put a stop to the teaching him; but the officers, when they had heard him, became his converts, and said, "Never man spake like this man" (John vii. 46). The chief priests and Pharisees declared that their officers were deceived, and used this short argument to prove their assertion: "The common people, who follow Christ, are ignorant of the law, and therefore cannot be right; but the learned expounders of