Page images

SERM. bring forth fruit, some a hundred fold, and IV. some sixty fold, and some thirty fold.

For though these words in their strict intention signify the various degrees of righteousness which men may attain, according to the various measures of grace which God may yield; yet they seem also to intimate this doctrine, which is more directly testified in other parts of the gospel, that the higher degree of holiness men attain on earth, the fuller 'measure of happiness shall they receive in heaven.

When such is the method of divine justice of apportioning rewards in another state, when to superior service in the present life is attached a superior recompence in the life to come, what encouragement is this to such as have habituated themselves to the ways of righteousness, that they continue stedfast and unmoveable in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as they know that their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord " !

To encourage us to perseverance and continual growth in grace we may look to the example of the Apostles and first

^ ] Cor, xv. 58.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]


Disciples of Christ, who after they had serm.
long been exercised in the labours of
their spiritual calling, never slackened
or abated in their diligence and zeal,
but continued advancing to the end of
their lives, though nothing but dangers
and difficulties were before them. In
the conduct of the Apostle Paul we be-
hold a representation of that of all his
Brethren. To the Elders of Ephesus
he declared, that while he had been
among them he served the Lord with
all humility and with many tears and
temptations, which befel him by the
lying in wait of the Jews. And now,
continues he, behold I go bound in the
Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the
things that shall befal me there; save that
the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city,
that bonds and afflictions abide me.

none of these things move me, neither count
I my life dear unto myself, so that I might
finish my course with joy, and the ministry
which I have received of the Lord Jesus,
to testify the gospel of the grace of Godo.

Yet with all this patient and strenuous application to his Christian ministry he makes this profession to the Philippians;

• Acts xx. 17, &c.


SERM. Not as though I had already attained, IV. either were already perfect. But I follow

after, if that I may apprehend that, for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do; forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I

press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus P. And the hope of this prize it was, which led him to exclaim in this animated and solemn strain; Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or the sword? -Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us 9.

Hence when the time of his departure was at hand, and he was now ready to be offered up in martyrdom for the cause of Christ, he was supported at the approach of this last great conflict by a hope, which the divine Spirit had ripened into confidence; I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,

Phil. ii. 12, &c.

a Rom. viii. 35, &c.

which the Lord the righteous Judge will serm. give me at that day; and not to me only, IV. but unto ull them also who love his appearing":

And while we contemplate the Apostles as patterns of perseverance in their spiritual task, let us also fix our regard on him, to whom they also looked as a pattern of exemplary conduct, namely to the Son of God, who like a wise Instructor has illustrated his precepts by his example.

If he has required us to be of humble and gentle dispositions, this amiable character is delineated in himself, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart'. If he has required us to be pure both in body and soul, he was himself a Lamb without spot or blemish, holy and acceptable to God'. If he has taught us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our strength, he has himself expressed this love in a life continually devoted to his Father's will. If he has taught us to love our neighbour as ourselves, this love he hath equally expressed both in his life and

+ 2 Tim. iv. 6, &c

• Matt. xi. 29. ti Pet. i. 19.

Serm. in his death: in order to promote our II. peace he submitted to a life of poverty

and toil, to a death of ignominy and pain. Though being invested in glory, and being in the form of God, yet for our sakes he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man: Wherefore, continues the Apostle, God huth highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth und things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father u

Seeing therefore we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses in the Apostles and other primitive Christians, let us lay aside every weight, which we may happen to experience from the vanities, the troubles, and the cares this world; let us more especially lay aside the sin, that most easily besets us, whether from habit or constitution or circumstance of life; and let us run with patience the race that is set before

u Phil. ii. 6, &c.

« PreviousContinue »