Page images
PDF
EPUB

are peculiarly apostolical. They are a people simple in the highest degree, and I have often read anecdotes with which I have been truly delighted, with respect to the Hottentots in Africa; where persons having attempted to preach to the Hottentots about GOD's attributes, and GoD's moral government, forgot that Jesus Christ was the sum and centre of them all, and they have totally failed; but when they were enabled simply to preach to the Hottentots about the Lord Jesus Christ, and the peace that he bestows upon his people, it had such an effect upon these poor creatures, that their hearts were softened, and they came to the missionaries again and again, and said, "Tell us of that man that died for us tell us more of that man" -so that it is mentioned in the history, the poor missionaries were blessed with success from the moment they began simply to preach Christ, and him crucified. And that, by the way, is a word to us all, that we should never go in a round-about manner preaching the Gospel; but if we wish to do good to the souls of men, we must do it in God's own way. Christ must be the Alpha, and Christ must be the Omega, and like the Moravians preaching to the Hottentots, we must always preach Christ, and him crucified, and him glorified.

There is another strong appeal to many persons in this congregationthe Moravian church is peculiarly Episcopal. Now there are many here who are not Episcopalians, and who do not see the scriptural nature as we do of the established church, and to those we cannot appeal in the same way as we can to members of the church of England. I believe, indeed, that the Moravians enjoy a peculiar Catholic spirit, and therefore, I believe, that Christians of all denominations are bound to support them; but I do say, that the church of England,

in a more special manner, is bound to support this church; because it is a remarkable fact, that in the dark ages of Popery, it was the only church that retained its episcopacy unsullied. Even that illustrious band who testified for Christ so boldly, who were so persecuted by the church of Rome on the Continent-the men who had to hide themselves in the vallies and in the caves, could not have the same claim upon us, inasmuch as they did not retain those forms which we in the church of England do, which, if not essential, are at least both politic and useful. But I say to members of the church of England, the Moravians have a peculiar claim, and therefore I do trust that you will show to-night that you love the Moravians, and wish them good speed in the name of the Lord.

Oh, brethren, it is a very little thing for us to give our money, and to open our purse-strings, and to say, we wish you success-this may be done without a sympathy in their cause, and this may be done while we are yet gratifying self in many things; but of this you may be certain, that except you have felt a desire to aid them in this matter, you have nothing of the missionary spirit. If you cannot go out as missionaries, and if you do not suffer as missionaries, will you not feel that it is the highest privilege that GoD can bestow upon you to take the slightest part in his blessed work, to be permitted to contribute to the treasury of our God. I say, then, it is your privilege, I put it not merely upon the claim of duty, but on your high honour; and of all honours that can be conferred on the immortal soul, the greatest is this, that the zeal of GoD has constrained us to give up ourselves, to give up our property, and to give up our labours to the service of Christ. Now let us implore you, then, to see how far you can uphold the hands of our dear Mo

ravian brethren, and participate in their work both by your prayers and by your contributions this night. May God enlarge your heart; may your heart be filled with joy and peace in Him, and then your soul will be refreshed when you hear of Greenland's icy mountains being gilded with the rays of the Sun of Righteousness, and their inhabitants warmed with the love of Christ. Then you will rejoice when the sons of Africa have found Christ to be a sanc-speaks to you, and you enjoy his peace, your first prayer and desire will be, that the sons of men may be blessed in Jesus, yea, that all nations may call him blessed.

tuary, and to be as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Then you will be happy to hear that, amidst all their toils, and amidst all their sor

rows, the hymn of praise, and the prayer of faith, rise up from these poor, simple, heaven-taught souls, as the fruits of the Redeemer's travail of his soul, and as monuments of his own saving grace, and as the ingatherings of that family that shall reign with him in the day of his coming. Oh, may GoD enlarge your hearts to-night, and then all will be well, for God himself will speak to you; and if GoD

A Sermon

DELIVERED BY THE REV. DR. BUSFEILD.
AT ST. MICHAEL'S CHURCH, WOOD STREET, CHEAFSIDE, MAY 22, 1831.

Matthew, vii. 26, 27.—“ And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house upon the sand : And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Ir any thing can add interest or im- | what he requires of us in order to our salvation. "Whosoever," says the Saviour, "heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I liken to a wise man which built his house upon a rock."

portance to these words, it is the circumstance, that they are the concluding words of our Saviour's sermon on the Mount-a sermon so superior to all others which were ever preached, that it stands alone in sublimity and excellence. I think it best, therefore, to proceed immediately to the view and explanation of them, simply requesting you to give me your fixed attention.

Now, the first thing which strikes us in our text, is the great wisdom and happy consequences which result from our reducing to practice the sermons of the Gospel; not thinking it sufficient to be instructed in our Christian duty, and to talk of it, and admire its excellence, and pretend to much of faith and love to Jesus, unless we heartily set about the performance of

It seems to have been all along the prime art of the Great Enemy of souls, when he was not able to root out the sense of religion from men's hearts, to defeat the design of it upon their lives by his sophistries and delusions. He constantly brought some empty notion or false persuasion to take them off from the main business of their Christian profession, which is duty and obedience, by bribing the conscience to be satisfied with something less. A project, this, extremely suitable to the corrupt nature of man, whose chief, or rather sole quarrel with religion, is

the severity of its precepts and the dif. ficulty of their practice; so that, although it is as natural for man to desire to be happy as it is for him to breathe, yet he had rather miss happiness and lose heaven itself, than seek them in the way of holiness. For this reason nothing speaks a language so welcome to the inmost desires of his carnal, unregenerate soul, as those maxims and opinions which would persuade him that it may be well with him hereafter without the absolute necessity of his living here a chaste and virtuous life; which great mystery of iniquity being carefully managed by the wily skill of the tempter Satan, and greedily embraced by a man's own treacherous affections, lie at the bottom of all false religion, and is a canker at the root of every thing that is true and lovely.

Find we not this, my brethren, in our daily experience, when we see how, in the strength of this delusion, some hope to be saved by believing well, some by meaning well, some by charitable deeds, some by much prayer, and others by shedding a few tears which come from the eyes and not from the heart? These men are willing to make great professions if you call not for practice; they will believe in any thing we teach them if we demand not good works. Ready to sacrifice if we are content to dispense with obedience, they will hear as many sayings of Christ as the Gospel contains, provided they are not required to do them. Now, to silence such shallow pretences, and dash to the ground such hopes as these, the mere fruit of an empty faith, was the grand object of our Saviour's sermon, as must be evident to every one who reads that heavenly discourse with a view to profit by its lessons. Those sacred words of the Son of God were not intended as counsels of perfection only to his Apostles and some select

few of extraordinary abilities, but they were intended by the Divine Preacher -and so we must receive them-as standing monuments of his wisdom, as standing rules for our direction. We must be satisfied, that upon our thinking, and speaking, and acting up to the spirit, and agreeably to the precepts, of that sermon, in sincerity and to the best of our power, and upon this alone, at all times, and upon all occasions, depends our eternal happiness; for it is a compendium of all that is wise, and good, and fruitful of consolation. He that hath faith in the doctrines, and obedience to the rules, of his Saviour's sermon, will be saved but he who either does not believe, or does not practice what Christ therein revealed, hath no chance of finding the gates of eternal life. Hence we are warranted in drawing this important conclusion, that the sermon delivered by our Lord upon the Mount is not hard and rigorous, but mild and reasonable. I mean that what is therein declared, however difficult it may seem to our corrupted nature, and unpleasant to our wild passions, is yet practicable by every sincere lover of God; because we know full well, from the gentle nature of Christ, that if his creatures were not able to reduce his doctrines to practice both by faith and obedience, he loved the world too much to have made them a necessary duty, and that to all without exception, and upon the severest penalties. This is not like the conduct of our merciful, affectionate Redeemer, Christ, who never laid on any man a burden too heavy for him to bear. The bruised reed he never brake, the smoking flax he never quenched. Therefore that Christian, and he only who is so wise as to practice with heart and soul what he hears and knows of the duties of Christianity, has any good grounds to hope for the rewards of it. And it is as vain and

foolish a thing to hope to be saved without Christian obedience, as it is for a man to expect any durable shelter or defence against the injuries of wind and weather, from a house which he hath built without any foundation upon the treacherous sand. A life thus void of vital religion and the fruits of the Spirit, will not bear the pressure of sorrow and affliction. The man who flatters himself with such flimsy hopes hath built a structure which will fall when he most wants its shelter, and bury him in its ruins.

So far, my brethren, our view of the text has been general; let us descend to particulars, carefully following the beautiful parallel which our Saviour draws betwixt the building of an earthly house and the structure of a Christian life; our closest attention will be amply repaid.

And, First-The structure of a Christian life is like the building of a solid house in this respect-they must both be laid upon a good foundation. Without securing this point, as you all know, no builder that is wise has the least expectation of finishing a safe and lasting dwelling. And without the same security the Christian can have as little reasonable hope of completing such a structure of holy living and religious habits as will support him in the day of trial, and survive the wreck of time.

The foundation on which a Christian stands is two-fold: it unites a steadfast faith and an honest purpose. A man must both believe well, and mean well, and act well. Thus to mean, and thus to act, constitutes the honest purpose; and it is of immense consequence to know that such an honest purpose, or, if I may better so call it, conscientious principle, cannot exist without a steadfast faith. Before a Christian sets seriously about building up a holy life, he must believe that he Eas the means of ensuring the success

of his undertaking, otherwise he will neither labour with industry nor persevere unto the end. This, if he will read the Gospel with a humble spirit, (and no other spirit can understand it) he will find he can never accomplish by his own strength, or through his own merits. What is the power of unaided man? Our Church says, man hath no power of himself to help himself: and Christ, the founder of the church, declares its meaning: "Withcut me ye can do nothing." So much for the strength of man. And, if pos sible, his merit stands lower. We pray GoD in our liturgy not to weigh our merits but to pardon our offences, unworthy as we feel ourselves to gather up the crumbs under his table. And our Lord and Saviour hath for ever silenced the haughty pretensions of each proud self-righteous Pharisee by that notable doctrine. After all ye can do, say-We are unprofitable servants.

Here, then, is most evident the necessity of faith as a foundation-stone for Christianity to rest upon. Our faith presents to us Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone, the rock of ages— the foundation that cannot be moved— the first and last-the stability of hope, and the certainty of salvation. Of ourselves we are weak and sinful creatures, helpless, perplexed, and ready to despond. He sends his Spirit in pity and in love, to strengthen, to sanctify, and to comfort us. In ourselves, too, we have no merit. Rebellion is our character, ingratitude our foulest stain. He hath merit sufficient for us all, atonement in his blood to wipe away all our guilt. And he applies the obedience of his own life, and the righteousness of his own death, to justify us, and recommend us to God.

In this view of our restoration, through Christ, from the ruins of our fall to the favour of heaven, and the glories of a redeemed state, faith is well

described as able to remove mountains | by promising glory with himself and

of error, infirmity, and sin. And thus hath been established one and the first foundation on which a Christian builds-a steadfast faith.

his heavenly Father; but threatening us, and what can be more just? with everlasting banishment from him, if we despise his authority, and trample upon his precepts. Thus an honest purpose, connected with steadfast faith, presents itself to us the certain road to heaven and eternal happiness. Espoused in the bridal garments of the church, faith, and works, walk hand in hand. The heavenly host applaud the holy union, and what God hath joined together let not man put asunder. Who can say too much in favour of the honest purpose, the religious zeal, the conscientious principle for which I am now contending? It is this honest purpose which calls forth the vigour and activity of our love to Christ, and our obedience to the laws which he brought from heaven, by telling us, that God himself is well pleased to vouchsafe the best that He can give to the best that we can do.

|

|

The other part, namely, an honest purpose, will be found equally essential to the structure of a Christian life. The first bishop of Jerusalem hath laid down this doctrine, and that great Apostle never wrote more true, "Faith without works is dead, being alone." Thanks to the infinite mercy of GOD, Christ hath set us, that believe, free from the bondage and burden of sin, so that whatever might have been imputed to us on account of original sin, the consequence of the fall of our first parents, is done away by the blood of our crucified Saviour, and the healing waters of baptism. St. Paul sets this matter in the clearest light in several of his epistles, each tending to instruct us, that being born in sin and the children of wrath, we are made the children of grace, and heirs with Christ to the heavenly inheritance.

Yet so strangely prone are we, since the lapse of Adam, to evil, and so averse to what is good and holy, that nothing is more necessary for our guidance and security than good laws, bound upon us with the strongest sanctions, to keep us from utterly forfeiting a second time the favour of GOD, and to train us up for that happiness which the Almighty has designed for us through the intercession of his Son. Therefore it is, that our tender-hearted Saviour, ever watchful for our good, and incessantly mediating for our salvation, hath given us, in his divine discourses, those rules of life which would make us happy while we stay upon earth, if we would sincerely live up to them. And how kind, how gracious it is in that eternal friend, after he hath strictly commanded us to respect and obey his laws, to give us every motive to do so

Be it, then, impressed upon all our minds, that the drift and design of religion is the active part of it. Profession is only the badge. The soldier of Jesus, who fights under the banners of the cross, must not be content with showing the mere badge to the enemies of his salvation-he must come forth a Christian warrior, arrayed in all the armour of GOD, with the sword of the Spirit in his hand, the helmet of righteousness on his head, bearing the shield of faith before him, and having, for his shoes, the preparation of the Gospel of peace-he must fight for victory till he hath subdued the last adversary of his spiritual leader-the world, the flesh, and the devil must lie prostrate at his feet. It is this which translates Christianity from a bare notion into a real business, from useless speculations into substantial duties, and from an idea in the brain into an existence in the life. An upright con

« PreviousContinue »