Page images
PDF
EPUB

and heavenly way, will find the effect of it, through God's mercy, in their daily walk. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, where he had been forty days and forty nights, his face quite shone and dazzled the people, so that he was obliged to put a veil over it. Such is the effect of God's grace on those who come to Church in faith and love; their mode of acting and talking, their very manner and behaviour, show they have been in God's presence. They are ever sober, cheerful, modest, serious, and earnest. They do not disgrace their profession, they do not take God's Name in vain, they do not use passionate language, they do not lie, they do not jest in an unseemly way, they do not use shameful words, they keep their mouth; they have kept their mouth in Church, and avoided rashness, so they are enabled to keep it at home. They have bright, smiling, pleasant faces. They do not wear a mock gravity, and, like the hypocrites whom Christ speaks of, make themselves sad countenances, but they are easy and natural, and without meaning it cannot help showing in their look, and voice, and manner, that they are God's dear children, and have His

grace

within them. They are civil and obliging, kind and friendly; not envious or jealous, not quarrelsome, not spiteful or resentful, not selfish, not covetous, not niggardly, not lovers of the world, not afraid of the world, not afraid of what man can do against them.

Such are they who worship God in spirit and in truth in Church; they love Him and they fear Him. And, besides those who profess to love without fearing, there are two sorts of persons who fall short; first, and worst, those who neither fear nor love God; and, secondly, those who fear Him, but do not love Him. There are, every where, alas, some bold, proud, discontented persons, who, as far as they dare, speak against religion altogether; they do not come to Church, or if they come, come to see about what is going on, not to worship. These are those who neither love nor fear; but the more common sort of persons are they who have a sort of fear of God without the love of Him, who feel and know that some things are right, and others wrong, yet do not adhere to the right; who are conscious they sin from time to time, and that wilfully, who have an uneasy conscience, who fear to die; who have, indeed, a sort of serious feeling about sacred things, who reverence the Church and its Ordinances, who would be shocked at open impiety, who do not make a mock at Baptism, much less at the Holy Communion, but, still, who have not the heart to love and obey God. This, I fear, my brethren, may be the state of some of you. See to it, that you are clear from the sin of knowing and confessing what is your duty, and yet not doing it. If you be such, and make no effort to become better; if you do not come to Church honestly, for God's grace to make you better, and seriously strive to be better and to do your duty more thoroughly, it will profit you nothing to be ever so reverent in your manner, and ever so regular in coming to Church. God hates the worship of the mere lips; He requires the worship of the heart. A person may bow, and kneel, and look religious, but he is not at all the nearer heaven, unless he tries to obey God in all things, and to do his duty. But if he does honestly strive to obey God, then his outward manner will be reverent also ; decent forms will become natural to him ; holy ordinances, though coming to him from the Church, will at the same time come (as it were) from his heart; they will be part of himself, and he will as little think of dispensing with them as he would dispense with his ordinary apparel, nay, as he could dispense with tongue or hand in speaking or doing. This is the true way of doing devotional service; not to have feelings without acts, or acts without feelings; but both to do and to feel ;-—to see that our hearts and bodies are both sanctified together, and become one; the heart ruling our limbs, and making the whole man serve Him, who has redeemed the whole man, body as well as soul.

SERMON CXLVIII.

DIVINE CALLS.

1 SAMUEL iii. 10.

“And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel.

Then Samuel answered, Speak; for Thy servant heareth."

In the narrative of which these words form part, we have a remarkable instance of a divine call, and the manner in which it is our duty to meet it. Samuel was from a child brought to the house of the LORD; and in due time he was called to a sacred office, and made a prophet. He was called, and he forthwith answered the call. God said, Samuel, Samuel. He did not understand at first who called, and what was meant; but on going to Eli he learned who spoke, and what his answer should be. So when God called again, he said, “ Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Here is prompt obedience.

Very different in its circumstances was St. Paul's call, but resembling Samuel's in this respect, that, when God called, he too promptly obeyed. When St. Paul heard the voice from heaven, he said at once, trembling and astonished, “LORD, what wilt Thou have me to do ??” This same obedient temper of his is stated or implied in the two accounts which he himself gives of his miraculous conversion. In the 22nd chapter he says, I said, What shall I do, Lord?” And in the 26th, after telling King Agrippa what the Divine Speaker said to him, he adds what comes to the same thing, “Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” Such is the account given us in St. Paul's case of that first step in God's gracious dealings with him, which ended in his eternal salvation. “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate?;"-"whom He did predestinate, them He also called "-here was the first act which took place in time—"and whom He called, them HE also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Such is the divine series of mercies; and you see that it was prompt obedience on St. Paul's part which carried on the first act of divine grace into the second, which knit together the first mercy to the second. “Whom He called, them He also justified.” St. Paul was called when Christ appeared to him in the way; he was justified when Ananias came to baptize him: and it was prompt obedience which led him from his call to his baptism. “ LORD, what wilt Thou have me to do?” The answer was, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do 3.” And when he came to Damascus, Ananias was sent to him by the same LORD who had appeared to him; and he reminded St. Paul of this when he came to him. The LORD had appeared for his call; the LORD appeared for his justification.

ri And

1 Acts ix. 6.

This, then, is the lesson taught us by St. Paul's conversion, promptly to obey the call. If we do obey it, to God be the glory, for He it is works in us. If we do not obey, to ourselves be all the shame, for sin and unbelief work in us. Such being the state of the case, let us take care to act accordingly,—being exceedingly alarmed lest we should not obey God's voice when He calls us, yet not taking praise or credit to ourselves if we do obey it. This has been the temper of all saints from the beginning-working out their salvation with fear and trembling, yet ascribing the work to Him who wrought in them to will and do of His good pleasure ; obeying the call, and giving thanks to Him who calls, to Him who fulfils in them their calling. So much on the pattern afforded us by St. Paul.

Very different in its circumstances was Samuel's call, when a child in the temple, yet resembling St. Paul's in this particular,

2 Rom. viii. 29.

3 Acts xxii. 10.

that for our instruction the circumstance of his obedience to it is brought out prominently even in the words put into his mouth by Eli in the text. Eli taught him what to say, when called by the Divine voice. Accordingly, when “the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel, then Samuel answered, Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”

Such, again, is the temper of mind expressed by holy David in the 27th Psalm, “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my

heart said unto Thes, Thy face, LORD, will I seek."

And this temper, which in the above instances is illustrated in words spoken, is in the case of many other Saints in Scripture shown in word and deed; and, on the other hand, is illustrated negatively by being neglected in the case of others therein mentioned, who might have entered into life, and did not.

For instance, we read of the Apostles, that "Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed Him 4." Again; when He saw James and John with their father Zebedee, " He called them; and they immediately left the ship, and their father, and followed Him." And so of St. Matthew at the receipt of custom, “He said unto him, Follow ME; and he left all, rose up, and followed Him.”

Again, we are told in St. John's Gospel, JESUS would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto Him, Follow ME.” Again, “Philip findeth Nathanael," and in like manner says to him, “Come and see.” JEsus saw Nathanael coming unto Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."

On the other hand, the young ruler shrunk from the call, and found it a hard saying, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, and follow ME. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions 5." Others who seemed to waver, or rather who asked for some little delay from human feeling, were rebuked for want

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

4 Matth. iv. 18-20.

5 Ibid. xix. 21, 22.

« PreviousContinue »