« PreviousContinue »
be obligatory on any but his own particular countrymen. If we entrust our funds to an individual, that he may employ them in commercial enterprise, or any profitable business, what can be more reasonable and just, than that he should pay us, in return, a fair consideration for the use of our property? Money is surely as real and proper an article of merchandise, as any other commodity.
But usury, in the common acceptation of the term, is inconsistent with the character of an honest man. How much more, then, with that of a Christian! Indeed, so injurious is this practice to the interests of every well
regulated community, that it is probibited, under severe - penalties, by the civil law. The legal provisions on this
subject, we know, are frequently evaded. But those who are guilty of such evasion, betray a want of principle, and of feeling too, utterly at variance with the precepts and the pervading spirit of the gospel. Christianity has acquired little influence over him, who can take advantage of another's necessities, to extort ten or twenty per cent. for a pecuniary accommodation. As surely as the Bible is the word of God, a heavy retribution is in store for those, whom the trading world familiarly and significantly denominate shavers.
The passage before us may be considered as condemning not only usury, but also that excessive avidity of gain, in which it has origin. The Christian cannot be a covetous or an avaricious man. It is not his supreme desire to add to his stores. Wealth is not the idol before which he falls down and worships. His heart is not devoted to houses and lands, gold and silver, bonds, mortgages, and certificates of stock. The riches on which his thoughts, and affections, and hopes are fixed, are not the fleeting possessions of earth. He lifts his aspiring soul to more splendid and substantial treasures in heaven
---treasures which no possible contingency can wrest from those who once obtain them.
But while we say this, we would not wish to convey to any hearer, the impression, that the Christian must be destitute of a prudent regard to the things of this world. Religion, instead of inculcating the neglect of our temporal avocations, enforces a due degree of attention to them. He who provides not for his own household, according to Paul, has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. It is the indispensable duty of every man, not already possessed of a competency, to pursue some honest calling for the support of himself and his family. The rigid rule of the gospel is, that the individual who refuses to work, is not entitled to eat. The Christian is fully aware, that so long as he is clothed with a material body, he must attend to its necessities. These he has no more right to neglect, than to terminate the cause which produces them by an act of suicide. He accordingly so distributes the several portions of his time, as to realize the position of Solomon, that there is a season for every thing. He has his periods for devotion, and his periods for business. Nor does he allow the one to encroach upon the other. The speaker who now addresses you, would not raise bis feeble voice in behalf of the religion of the New Testament, did he not look upon it as a system eminently adapted to encourage the formation and the growth of those industrious habits and frugal virtues, which constitute honourable and useful members of society.
The Psalmist adds, in conclusion, “He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” Such is the inestimable and glorious privilege of Zion's citizen. The man whose conduct in life is distinguished by those evidences of piety which are here enumerated, shall not be affected by the vicissitudes of present or of future time. His con
tinuance in the path of rectitude-in the way that conducts to glory and honour and immortality—is as certain as the High and Holy One is true. He belongs to the number of those concerning whom the Redeemer has uttered this gracious saying; “ They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” He may rely securely upon the promise of that God who changes not, and who loves the pious with an everlasting love—an affection from the benignant regards of which neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate them. Firm and abiding foundation of the good man's peace and happiness! His present tranquillity and future bliss rest upon a basis which shall stand unimpaired by every coming desolation.
Brethren, the Psalm to which your attention has now been directed, exhibits, as we have said, several important tests, by which you may individually examine yourselves, and ascertain what is your character, and what your prospects as moral and religious beings. We would impress it upon you, that an unfeigned and ardent love to God, displayed in a life of strict and cheerful compliance with his will, is the touch-stone of piety. Let us, then, tell you, that it is vain to make a profession of faith-to assume the mantle of religion—so long as you are devoid of those evidences of real Christianity, which the Scriptures generally, and the passage under review in particular, assign. Believe us, if you lack even one of these evidences, you shall not abide in the tabernacle, nor dwell in the holy hill of the Lord; or, in other words, you will
! never reach heaven. The sincere, consistent follower of the Saviour, is one who walketh uprightly, worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart-who back,
biteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour-in whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but he honoureth them that fear the Lord—who sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not—who putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. Such is the man who shall never be moved. Not the trials of timenot the revolutions of eternity-shall do bim harm. His is a bright and blissful career, to which there shall be no termination. He shall advance, with steady and rapid progress, in knowledge, virtue and happiness, while God himself exists.....May this, dear hearers, be the glorious destiny of us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord !
JOHN XV. 5. (Last Clause.)
To discern the full force and import of these words, we must contemplate them in connexion with the context. Our Lord here represents the relation subsisting between himself and his followers, under the figure of the vine and its branches. Such a metaphor was highly significant to the inhabitants of a country, in which the culture of the vine was one of the most important species of husbandry. It is probable, too, that the figure was suggested to the Saviour, at the moment, by some appropriate circumstance. We know that he and his disciples had just been partaking of the fruit of the vine, at the feast of the Passover; and if we suppose, with some. commentators, that the discourse recorded in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth chapters, was delivered while they were still at the table, we may readily trace the association of thought, by which Jesus, as he looked at the cup before him, and its contents, was led to commence his remarks by the allusion that we have mentioned. And so, if we imagine with other expositors, that this address fell from the lips of Christ, as he and his companions were proceeding from the scene of the paschal supper to the garden of Gethsemane, we shall have no difficulty in perceiving that the impression of the cup, scarcely faded from his mind, would be revived by the view of the first vineyard on his way. In either case, then, it was perfectly natural for him to exclaim to his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and
; every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now, ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Our Lord then goes on, in the fifth verse, to repeat the same general truth: “I am the vine, ye are the branches; be that abideth in me, and 1 in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit;" adding, in the words of our text, “for without me,” or more literally, apart from me, “ye can do nothing."
We observe, then, that the particular passage on which we design to expatiate this morning, is a prosecution of the same train of thought, and, in some measure, a continuation of the same figurative phraseology, which had preceded it. The branch that is severed from the vine,
I in you.