Page images
PDF
EPUB

SERMON XXV.

NEUTRALITY IN RELIGION IMPOSSIBLE.

BY THE REV. JAMES DIXON.

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."

Matt. xii. 30.

The evident doctrine of our text, bre You will say, this is taking high thren, is this ;—that there is no allowed ground:-my dear brethren, the gospel nor authorized religious neutrality :—that does take high ground; and that neutral every man, in a religious point of view, state, to which so many in our day aspire, is for Christ the Saviour, or else against is not possible to be attained. We cannot Christ the Saviour;—and that it is quite be neutral ;—for if we are not decided, we impossible to find a middle state. The are the sport of misery, we are hinderances proposition may be stated in other terms, to the benefit of others, we are a prey to but the meaning is the same. We are temptation, we are the victims of Satan. all here in a religious station, or we are And as, in a neutral state, it will be imnot. We are all here in the train of the possible for us to be happy, so in this gospel, with all its attendant blessings of state it will be impossible for us to be light, and communion, and purity, and saved : for in the last day it will not be peace, and hope ;-or we are in darkness, enough to be almost Christians, or to be misery, impurity,—in an undone, a ruined partly saved; we must be found altogether state. We are either in the state of a on the Lord's side. 6. He that is not with religious man, with his sanctified under- me is against me; and he that gathereth standing, his submissive will, his renewed not with me scattereth abroad."-I obheart, his fervent devotion, his tender serve, charity, his glowing zeal ; or we are still First, THAT THOSE WHO ARE NOT WITH in a state of darkness, carnal, sold under CHRIST IN DISCIPLESHIP, AND IN THE PROsin, having no affection for God, or zeal FESSION OF FAITH, ARE AGAINST CHRIST, for his glory. Either we are children of AS THE DISCIPLES OF ANOTHER MASTER, God, and possessed of the rights, and AND IN THE DISOBEDIENCE OF UNBELIEF. immunities, and expectations of that re There is a very popular phrase in use lation; or else we are aliens from God, among us, and that is, FREE INQUIRY ;outcasts from our Father's house and we all claim for ourselves the right of family. Thus we are either cherishing a free inquiry.Now, if by this you mean principle of devotedness to God; or we the right of every person to exercise his are cherishing principles of unholiness opinion in religious matters, uncoerced and sin. And then, we are either with and unmolested by any human, any civil Christ, in promoting human happiness, power; then I should say that every such and increasing the sum of piety and reli- person has a right to the liberty he claims. gion; or we are against Christ, in the If you mean that every man has a right way of the happiness of men, stunting the to the use of the Scriptures, unrestricted progress of Christianity, and dangerous and unrestrained ;-why, I should say to society wherever we go.

that every man has a right to possess that

book which is to be the directory of his things, that his death was constituted faith, and the foundation of all that is valuable ;—these were but circumstances. right; and that the power which would But that which rendered the atonement of prevent him from using the Scripture is the Saviour infinitely efficacious and an antichristian power, opposed to the available for a world of sinners, is bejust and proper rights of man. Or if by cause that atonement was the atonement free inquiry, or right of judgment, you of the Son of God. It was the touch of understand the right of every man to enter Divinity that rendered it a complete and into such a portion of the Christian church perfect work. . It was the Godhead of the as seems most proper to him ;-then I Saviour that rendered the atonement of should say, he certainly has a right to the Saviour infinitely perfect and infichoose that system of church government nitely powerful. My brethren, there was which he pleases ; he has a right to do an intrinsic value and worth in that atonethis as an Englishman and a Christian; ment of the Saviour, because it was perand to do it without any coercion or mo- formed by a divine person incarnate, lestation whatever. But does it not mean, independent of all the accidental circumsometimes, a right to exercise his own stances, if I may so term them, of his opinion, independently of all authority sufferings and death. I think I can illus.whatever? And is it not evident that trate this :-What is it that makes a sovesuch a man assumes a right to have a reign worth twenty shillings? Not god? And I say that no man has a right merely because the head of the reigning to have any god whatsoever. The man sovereign is stamped upon it; not merely who worships human intellect is an idola- because it is ornamented round the edge: ter; and he who bows not to the authority no; if I understand rightly,—at least this of God is just such a man. Christ says, is my argument,—the sovereign is worth “ He that is not with me is against me:” twenty shillings intrinsically, though it the text evidently puts in for Christ the had no head stamped upon it, though it claim of regal authority and power. Here had no ornament around it,-because it two or three questions must be put. has gold in it to this intrinsic value. Bre

The extent of the Saviour's authority thren ; I say the same as to the atonement must be one of these questions. Examine of our blessed Saviour: his personal worth this in support of the discipleship and gave a value to all his mediatorial acts, obedience of faith which we claim for independently of all the circumstances him. Now, the extent of his authority which took place. This idea is highly will depend on his personal character consolatory: it is consolatory to every and his personal glory. If our Lord be sinner, if the atonement possess such possessed of absolute divinity and glory; value, then there is something to stand if he claim all the perfections of absolute against all the sin and uncleanness of divinity ;-then, I conceive, that divinity which he has been guilty; for, if all the must extend itself to every thing belong-sins which have been, and which will be, ing to him. For instance,

committed, were collected together and It must give to his atonement the claim of put upon one person, there would be infiefficacy. It is not merely because our nitely more merit in the Saviour than Saviour became incarnate-was born in a there would be demerit in the sinner, manger-assumed an humble character, though all this sin rested upon him. had not where to lay his head ;-it is not Consequently, there is in Christ more because he was “ despised and rejected of merit than there can be demerit in every men"-gave himself up to the malice of sinner. This is highly consolatory ; the his foes-was led from tribunal to tribu- merit of Christ is infinite ; and if it be nal, and charged with iniquity ;—it is not infinite, it must be universal. because he was led to Calvary, and there Then, also, the divinity of the Saviour drank the bitter cup, and there was cruci- must extend itself to the kingdom of the Safied on the ignominious tree:-it was not viour. And this will render it stable-it because of any, or because of all these will make it powerful and it will lead it Vol. 1.-30

U 2

to universal triumph. I cannot account the promissory part is stated in the form for the preservation and stability of the of promise; the doctrinal part is stated in system of Christianity, except as I see the form of doctrine; the preceptive part that it rests on the divinity of its author. is stated in the form of precept; and so If its author be divine, and if he have on. The question is, whether there is himself lived in its institutions, and if he any thing binding in all this. Now, if an have stamped his own divinity upon those instrument should come into our possesinstitutions; why, then, they must be sion concerning an estate, would not every preserved, as well as the system with part of that instrument, if it were legally which they are connected. The system stamped, be binding ? There might be has had to encounter innumerable diffi- history in it; as to whether it was purculties ; it has been exposed to many an chased, or whether it was the gift of the alarming storm; and I attribute its pre- king, or whether it was the reward of vaservation amidst all these storms and lour or merit. And there might be descripdifficulties, to the stamp of its own tion in it; the various parts of the estate, divinity which its author has impressed and in what it consisted, and how it was upon it. And this gives, not only sta- bounded. And it might speak of duties ; bility, but efficacy, to all its institutions. of duties which the possessor would have It is intended to enlighten those who are to perform, both in reference to the estate in darkness—to raise those that are dead itself, and to various persons connected —to rectify those that are disordered to with it. And there might be privileges purify the unclean—to restore those who mentioned ; its possessor might be a peer are miserable to a state of felicity. And of the realm, or be entitled to hold some how can you account for the fact that they high office. But whatever parts it might are thus enlightened, and raised, and contain, the whole instrument would be blessed, except in the fact, that the di- law, the possessor would not be allowed vinity of Christ lives in these institutions, to make choice of a part; he must take it and gives them these effects :-And how all, with all its particulars and provisions, shall we account for the extension of reli- or he must renounce it altogether. My gion in the world ? It is said that Christ brethren, we have no real right to make shall have the heathen for his inherit- a selection, as it regards our religion; we ance, and the uttermost parts of the earth must receive it, and receive it entire, if for his possession.” Now, how do you we would preserve the character of honest expect religion to rise above all false sys- men. There is history in the gospel,tems, and to see every thing that is op- the history of the birth, and life, and posed to it levelled in the dust? How, miracles, and sufferings, and death, and except Christ be a divine person, and ex. resurrection of Christ; and there is decept his divinity live in his system ?- scription—adescription of all the excellent The doctrines of religion, to have any and important privileges which belong to influence, must rest on authority of the those who embrace it; and there are dochighest order; and if they be from God, trines; and there are precepts. But the they will have this authority. And though whole is law; and if I neglect to take it it is not the fashion, allow me to say that as such, I am guilty. If God mark out every man is OBLIGED to be a believer in for me a certain course of duty, and I Christ; and that he who is not with Christ neglect to walk in it, I am guilty; and if in the exercise and obedience of faith, is he hold out privileges to me, and I nego against Christ in the exercise of disobe- lect to enjoy them, I am guilty. I am dience and unbelief.

guilty alike of not embracing what is We must be with Christ, as it respects offered, and of not performing what is his claims upon us. Now, the question required; and “he that is not with Christ here is, whether the gospel comes to us in is against him." the form of law? There are various parts You must also examine the nature of the in the gospel, it is true : the historical dispensation under which you live. It is a portion is stated in the form of history ; Iquestion with some, how far this is bind

ing. When Adam was created, he was it is by grace, by grace only, that you can created with gigantic powers of mind. be saved. Neither can we co-operate in When he was placed in paradise, every procuring salvation for others. We can breeze that fanned him, and every object no me

re co-operate with

hrist, in saving by which he was surrounded, tended to the souls of men, than we could be with promote his happiness. Now my argu- God, in forming the creation. When the ment is this,-that Adam was obliged to eternal mind sketched out the plan of render to the Creator a regular and equal creation, no other mind could co-operate service. And what are we? As Chris- with him, for there was no other mind in tians, we live in the midst of an abun- existence: it was God's plan, and his dance of means and privileges; and we alone. When he deigned to create the are bound to see that the state of our ex- heavens and the earth, there was no voliperience, and the state of our obedience, tion of any other will to assist him, for agrees with our state as to privilege. there was no other will to associate. What! am I to be no wiser than the hea- When he determined, in the fulness of then ? no purer than the heathen ? no hap- his benevolence, to make angels happy, pier than the heathen ? Brethren, I am and to make man happy, there was no bound, if I am an honest man, to attain to assistant by him; the benevolence was those higher degrees of experience, of all his own. And when he marched forth happiness, of obedience, to which I am from the silence of his own eternity, and called by the gospel I profess to have said, “Let there be light,” and “ Let embraced, and the dispensation under there be a firmament,” and “Let the which I live. And “ he that is not with earth bring forth," and last of all, “ Let Christ is against him.” He that is not there be man,” and all came at his bidwith Christ in the obedience of faith, is ding; why, there was no person standing against Christ in the disobedience of un- hy to assist and say, “ Yes, let us do so;" belief. I pass on to a

-it was all from himself-it was the Second observation.—THOSE WHO ARE work of divinity alone. And so as to NOT WITH CHRIST IN THE PURPOSE AND redemption: the wondrous scheme was DESIGN OF HIS DEATH, ARE AGAINST CHRIST, the scheme of God alone; the profound IN DEFEATING THE PURPOSE AND DESIGN OF thought, the amazing plan, was of God,

and God alone. When the Saviour gave The first purpose of the death of Christ himself to the mighty task of redeeming was, to make an atonement for our sins; us, he stood alone, and “of the people the second was, to give repentance and par- there was none with him.” don to guilty men; the third was, to make Then, it will be asked, how can we be meet for the glory of heaven. Here it will with Christ, as to the purpose of his be necessary to distinguish between the death? Why, by enjoyment and particiexecutive and meritorious part of our pation. I did not create this earth; but I redemption, and the participation and en- can live upon it. I did not form the joyment of it. It is certain, that in the beauteous landscape which stretches executive part of our redemption, Christ around me; but I can survey it, and enwas alone, and none were with him. joy its beauties. I did not create the There never was, there never will be, fruits with which the earth abounds; but another being who could take part in the I can taste their sweetness, and receive work of atonement. None can be with nourishment from them. I did not create Christ here: none can be with him in his the atmosphere ; but I can breathe and sufferings, none in his merit. You may live in it. I did not create the glorious take all the obedience of your whole lives, sun; but I can walk in its light. So I and lay it upon his cross, and you add did not plan this revelation; but I can nothing to the merit of the cross; it is profit by its discoveries. I did not work infinite, and admits of no addition. With out justification; but I can enter into the respect to the value of the atonement, state of it. I did not prepare the blessing there can be no addition, no co-operation : 1 of adoption; but I can be adopted. I did

HIS DEATH.

not compose the charms of holiness; but nance, a judging, thinking mind : without I can wear all its beauties. I did not these he is not a man. It is accidentat prepare the city which hath foundations ; whether you belong to one sect, or but I can rise to the New Jerusalem. I another; whether you have adopted this did not furnish those mansions of bliss, creed, or another; whether you have enor form those crowns of glory; but, by tered this church or another ;—but love to God's grace and blessing, I can gain an Christ is not an accidental, it is an essenzentrance to those mansions, and triumph tial, of Christianity. Men may differ in that glory. Thus we may be with about many things, but they are not Christ in partaking of all the blessedness Christians if they do not love the Saviour. of his redemption ; and those who are not If a man does not love Christ, he is not a thus “ with" him, in the purpose and de- Christian, be he what he may besides ; sign of his death, are “ against him, in and if he love Christ, he is a Christian, defeating the purpose and design of his be what he may besides. This is an esdeath.

sential principle: he who has it is a good We

may be against Christ in defeating man, and he who has it not is not a good the purpose of his death, in various ways. man. First, By rejecting it altogether, in a spirit We may be " against” Christ either of infidelity. Secondly, By embracing a by enmity or by indifference. Some are system which does not contain any of its against Christ positively :-His name grand principles. Thirdly, By rejecting grates harshly upon their ears, and sinks it in a way of careless unconcern. Infi- heavily upon their hearts. What! that delity rejects the death of Christ alto- name which is the joy of the Christian's gether; regards it as an idle tale, and heart; which lights up his countenance turns into ridicule all that Christianity with rapture ; which is the ground of his connects with it. Some profess to love a hope of bliss for ever? Is there a being system which is full of morality, but in existence, to whom this name is a which has nothing to do with the cross. source of uneasiness and distress? I fear Their system resembles the summers of so; I fear there are many of our species, the North ;—there is light enough in the in whose hearts the very name of Christ hemisphere, but there is not warmth rouses up every bad passion. We may enough in the sun to clothe the fields with be “ against” Christ negatively, by indifverdure and the trees with plenty :-there ference; for coldness of heart is impiety, is light, but there is also sterility. That and stamps the characters of those who system of Christianity which has no are guilty of it as enemies of Christ. cross, no dying Christ in it, may have Finally, THOSE WHO ARE NOT WITH light enough, for aught I know; but it ChrisT IN GATHERING, ARE AGAINST HIM has not in it that heat which melts the IN SCATTERING ABROAD. heart, and causes the profession of Chris Those who are not promoting his cause tianity to be verdant, and prolific in all by religion, are scattering it by irreligion. the fruits of grace. Save me from a Chris- Jesus Christ designed to gather all men tianity that has no cross in it, no bleed to himself; and in this work we may all ing Saviour !

co-operate. Talents of every order, proThirdly, THOSE WHO ARE NOT WITH perty, rank, influence, exertion, may all CHRIST IN THE AFFECTIONS OF THE HEART, be brought into action here; and when ARE AGAINST HIM IN ITS ENMITIES, AND IN Christianity goes on as it should, you

will have talent, and rank, and influence, The affection of the heart is an essen- and exertion, on his side; and all belongtial, and not an accidental, circumstance ing to the church of Christ will be dein true religion. It is an accidental cir- voted to the promotion of his designs, cumstance whether a man be short or tall, and the establishment of his universal white or black, fat or meagre, and so on; empire. but it is essential to his being a man that But, you will say, how does it appear he have an erect form, a human counte- that, if we are not aiming to pronote this

ITS INDIFFERENCE.

« PreviousContinue »