« PreviousContinue »
to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to
bope in him, and to love him, are true and genuine acts of religious worship. This might be easily proyed, but it will not be denied : let us then enquire whether we are bound to believe, to trust, to hope in Jesus, and to love him as our God. And, first, with regard to faith, it is our duty to believe in Christ, which signifies more than to believe him. It is our duty to believe the prophets, evangelists, and apostles, but we are not said to believe in them. It is our duty to believe Jesus, the great prophet, and moreover it is our duty to believe in him : “ye believe in God,” says Christ; “believe also in me.”. Here the disciples are commanded to believe in the Son of God, which they would not have been commanded to do if he was not the object of Divine faith. This expression, to believe in him, is used in the old Testament to signify that faith which the servants of God exercised in him, and towards him; that faith which the servants of God had in their Redeemer, and that faith which believers in future ages should have in him. “Hear me, O Judah !" says Jehoshaphat, “and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established.” The prophet was delivered from the Lion's den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. And thus saith the Lord ; 6 behold I lay in Sion a stumbling stone, and a rock of offence, and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” We are commanded to believe in Jesus, to believe on him, and to believe on his name. Eternal life is promised, yea, Christ himself promised it to them that believe in him : “ He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life:" and again, “whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” God hath commanded us to believe on the name of his Son, and he gave his only begotten Son that whesoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. But the nature of this faith in Christ shows us that it is Divine, and has a Divine person, even God, for its object. It is a justifying faith, a.
saving faith, a faith by which Christians overcome the world, and a faith by which they live." The life which I live in the flesh,” says the apostle, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Without this faith we cannot be saved; without this faith we cannot please God, we cannot approach unto him as a reconciled God, we cannot glorify him. Without this faith we can do nothing; for without it we do not abide in Christ; and he hath assured us that we cannot bring forth the fruits of holiness, unless we abide in him : “ without me," says he, “ye can do nothing." By this faith believers rest upon the Lord Jesus for salvation; they believe in him, as the Lord their righteousness, their all-sufficient Saviour, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. In the exercise of faith believers trust in the Lord Jesus, and commit their dearest and most important concerns to his care: “I know,” says the apostle, “ in whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” The martyr Stephen was stoned, is calling upon God, saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit !"*-Acts, vii. 60. And David committed his soul and keeping of it to his God: “into thine hand I commit my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” And the blessed Jesus himself, considered as man, committed his soul to God: “ Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” What shall we say then to these things? Did not the martyr and the apostle commit their souls to the Lord Jesus Christ? Did not David commit his soul to his Re.. deemer? and does he not call him the Lord God of truth? Is it not sinful to trust in any creature whatever? Can we lawfully trust and commit our souls to the care and keeping of any creature? It is the Divine prerogative to keep the soul. He that truste.
* In this text the word God is not in the original; but the pas. sage is as strong a proof of Christ's divinity without the word.
ed on record, is unto a faring of theiording
eth in man, and maketh the arm of flesh his confidence, is pronounced accursed; but it is a duty to trust in God for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. It is a fact upon record, that the apostle and the martyr committed the care and keeping of their souls to the Lord Jesus Christ; was it their duty to do so ? Is it our duty to imitate their example? If it is, then we must acknowledge him to be the object of religious worship. Why is Jesus called the shepherd and the bishop of our souls? Why was it foretold that the root of Jesse should be for an ensign to the people that the Gentiles should seek to it, and that his rest should be glorious ? and what is the meaning of this prediction ? The apostle informs us, that to seek to Christ is to trust in bim : “in him shall the Gentiles trust." Can there be any reason given why we should not trust in him ? He is the author and finisher of our faith: he is able to save, even to the uttermost: he is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. It is our duty to keep ourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life; and what kind of trust are believers to exercise towards him by whose mercy they are to obtain eternal life, and by whose grace they are saved ? How are we to trust in and rest upon that Lord and Saviour whose grace is sufficient for us, whose strength is perfected in weakness, who giveth unto his sheep everlasting life, and assures them that they shall never perish? It is a divine, holy, and religious trust, that is to be reposed in him unto whom we commit our precious and immortal souls, and in whom we trust for salvation through his mercy. The apostle trusted in Christ that he would providentially order and over-rule events relative to the edification of the church : “I trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timotheus shortly unto you:"-"I trust in the Lord that I also
myself shall coine shortly." This is an acknowledge ment of his providential government.
I have had occasion, in a former discourse, to say something concerning our hope in Christ. I refer you to what has been there said concerning the God of hope, the hope of Israel, the hope of glory, and the hope that we have in Christ, who is called our hope. * We proceed to show that to love the Lord Jesus, as we are commanded to do, is an act of religious worship. It will not be denied that it is our duty to love the Lord Jesus Christ; the only question is this, how are we to love him ? I answer, we are to love him more than we love our neighbour, more than we love our nearest and dearest relations, more than we love ourselves, more than we love our lives. To show the greatness of this love to Christ it is even called an hating of all our nearest relatives and of our own lives. The words are figurative, indeed, but they are very expressive of the intensity of that love with which we should love our Lord and Saviour: “ If any man come to me,” saith Christ, “and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." What manner of love is this? If a disciple must thus love Christ, if he must love him more than all his nearest and dearest relations, then he must love him with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind. But this is that love which is required in the first and great commandment: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
mind.” Thus it is that we are to love God; and we - are to love our neighbour as curselves. The dis
tinction between our love to God and our love to our neighbour is very obvious. It is not our duty to love any being but our God more than we love our neighbour, our nearest and dearest relations, and even our own lives; but thus it is our duty to love the Lord Jesụs. For his sake it is our duty to lay down our · lives, if in the course of Divine providence we should