« PreviousContinue »
gospel.” Wherever the truth is not heard it cannot be received ; where the belief of the truth is not received, there is no sanctification by the Spirit in the heart; and where there is no sanctification by the Spirit in the heart, there is no election from before the foundation of the world unto eternal life. But this call here is what the old Scotch divines defined effectual calling. It does not mean that invitation addressed to all which a handful only believe ; but that personal address to each in secresy and in silence, which each rises up and with all his heart and nature obeys. It is, to use the beautiful language of the Song of Solomon, “the voice of my beloved ;" it is the voice of the Saviour, whispering to each individual in the silence and sequestration of his own heart,“ Open unto me, and I will come in and sup with thee, and thou shalt sup with me;" and then the individual thus spoken to in silence and in secresy, --but with no less efficacy and effect on that account,exclaims from the very depths of his heart's convictions, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord. Lord, to whom can we go but unto thee? thou hast the words of eternal life.”
See, then, the nature of this election. What a wondrous phenomenon is this; that the God who made all the stars, who holds the ocean in the hollow of his hand, who gives the suu his commission, and conducts the moon with beautiful precision along her silvery way—that He should look along thousands of years, amid the intricate machinery of the mighty universe, amid the infinite concerns that constantly come before him ; and should fasten his affections and his love upon some poor, unworthy, ruined, miserable sinner; and should purpose from everlasting ages to make that victim of Satan an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ.
After the apostle has told us all this, he says, “Stand fast, and hold the traditions.” Now how strange that he should bid people who are fixed stand fast ; that he should bid those who he tells you never can fall, hold, and take care of, and maintain their footing. What is that the evidence of? That the highest and most abstract truth is connected with personal and practical religion ; and that the moment we say we are chosen to eternal life, but are dishonest, and drunken, and covetous, and ambitious, we are really misapprehending the very nature of the doctrine ; for, like every doctrine in the Bible, it is a doctrine according to godliness ; and therefore the apostle says, “Stand fast, and hold the traditions.” Stand fast in the profession of the truth,-stand fast in the maintenance of the truth,– stand fast in the practice of the truth. And then he says, “Hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” Does that mean what are called unwritten traditions ? No: but he says, “Hold the traditions." What are the traditions ? The word simply means something given, or spoken, or handed down from one person to another. Well, now, if the Church of Rome say that she has traditions which contain truths that we do not know ; first, it would be her duty to make them known ; secondly, if they be apostolic traditions, she must be in a position to prove them to be so ; and if any priest can produce a single sentence which he can prove to me was written or spoken by an apostle, I will receive that sentence with the same reverence with which I receive the New Testament itself. We only object to that being called
nspired and true which cannot be traced to any one within three hundred years of an apostle, and therefore cannot be the word of God. And then we object to those oral traditions on another ground; that tradition, wherever it has existed, has invariably become corrupt.
We see the fountain of our salvation ; the process through which we reach the end of it, the glorious end of it-salvation ; and our duty to hold fast the truth in the face of all tradition, to practise the truth in the face of all diverging influences ; the highest doctrines of the highest grace leading to the holiest duties in every-day walk and conversation in the world.
PRAYER DESIRED-GOD'S WORD-TRUTH IN LOVE-GOD'S LOVE
TO US — TRADITIONS — PASTORAL PRECEDENT - WORKMEN — BUSY-BODIES-WEARY IN WELL-DOING.
In the last chapter we had that most graphic portrait of the great mystery of iniquity, and of him in whom it was to be represented and embodied, and whose doom is declared to be consumption by the spirit of God's mouth, and destruction by the brightness of his personal appearing. In this chapter, which immediately succeeds it, he speaks of those privileges, duties, and expectations which Christ's own people, in contrast to those that have received strong delusion and believed a lie, are called upon to enjoy. First of all he says, “ Brethren, pray for us." An apostle asks the prayers of his people; an inspired teacher begs of the uninspired to pray for him, feeling that his strength was in God, and that prayer, which moves the arm that moves the universe, would draw down upon that inspired teacher and preacher blessings needed for his office, and for the special circumstances of trial in which he was then placed. But you will notice that while he says, "Brethren, pray for us,” it is not added, “that we may be prosperous, strong, happy, or safe,” but, merging all that is personal in what is universally good, he says, “ Pray for us, not that we may have the advantage, but that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified.”
“Most eminent Christians for gifts and graces are
usually most sensible of their own wants, and so far from undervaluing others, being compared with themselves, that they highly prize what worth is in them, and can pleasantly stoop to receive some spiritual benefit and advantage from them; for though Paul did exceed them all in spiritual endowments, yet he most affectionately seeketh the help of their prayers : * Finally, brethren, pray for us.'
“Ministers should so lay out and employ what stock of gifts and graces they already have for the good of the Lord's people, as that they jointly endeavour by all means, of reading, meditation (1 Tim. iv. 13, 15), and of prayer by themselves (2 Cor. vii. 5), and of others, to acquire a new supply of strength and furniture for enabling them to their work, lest otherwise they run dry, and have little or nothing to say unto any good purpose (1 Tim. iv. 15); for Paul, having instructed them, and prayed for them in the former part of this epistle, doth now beseech them to deal with God, for a new recruit of furniture for him : ‘Pray for us.'
“ As it is the duty of Christian brethren mutually to pray for, and to require the performance of this duty from one another, so the most effectual way for engaging others to pray for us is to make them know we pray for them, and that we esteem of them as such whose prayers are somewhat worth ; for Paul being to crave the help of their prayers, did show (chap. ii. ver. 16), that he prayed for them, and doth here show he esteemed them as “brethren,' that hereby he may engage them: “Brethren, pray for us.'
“The great care of a faithful minister, and that which lieth nearest to his heart, and which of any other thing he recommendeth most to the care of others, is not so