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gone in such a course! Suppose they gain the empty encomiums of the flatterer and the fool-will they be worth the having? Can they ease the anguish of the heart in the day of distress and death? Besides, an affectation of religion and charity, being for the most part overacted, generally fails in the attainment of its object, and disgusts, rather than recommends itself to those who behold it. Sycophants may flatter, an host of venal parasites and fawning beggars may pour luscious expressions into the ear, and burn the incense of adulation to the vanity of the heart ;-but the wise and discerning, the judicious and the good, will detect the intention, and pity the individual who can be guilty of such folly. Be it, therefore, your constant ambition, my brethren, to seek a nobler recompense than the smiles of a deceitful and capricious world even the “ inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away.” For observe,
Secondly. The promise annexed to their right performance. “Thy Father which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.” However your alms may be performed in secret, you shall incur no loss by the concealment: your Father's omniscient eye marks the unuttered desire—the unknown transaction—the unpublished effort to alleviate the woes of a fellow-creature—and he will make it public. Service done for God is generally requited in some way or other, even in this life. “ The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”* But whatever may be the case in this respect now, we are assured that he will “ reward it openly” another day. Many forget their servants and friends—“ but God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do
. l'rov. xi, 25.
minister."* Thus, also, the Son of God pourtrays the scenes of the final judgment: “ Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world : for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked; and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. -Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”+ With such a prospect, who does not desire to cherish a spirit of generous liberality? But I must close.
First. Let the humble Christian receive the consolation which the subject affords. There is One who knows his secret intercessions, his hidden endeavours, his earnest and unostentatious prayer for the welfare of his fellowmen, and the extension of the kingdom of Christ. All shall be finally revealed,—and, however his efforts may have failed of the accomplishment of his benevolent intention, yet they shall be acknowledged before the collected universe, and then shall be be invested with distinctions which he never desired in the present world.
Secondly. How jealous should we be of the principle from which we act. It is, indeed, most gratifying to think of the thousands of gold and silver which are every year poured into the treasury of mercy,
for the relief of indigence and the diffusion of knowledge;—but may we not fear, that many deductions from these princely sums must be made on the score of motive. Should we not overstate the if we were to announce the whole as the genuine expression of love to Christ? May not the power of vanity -the force of example—the love of admiration—and the influence of excited feeling, in many instances, contribute
• Heb. vi. 10.
Matt. xxv. 34-36, 40.
largely to swell the amount? Then let us “ take heed" to our spirit in these deeds of charity and religion.
And, finally, never presume on eternal life from the works of the law. None of us can be saved by the doctrine of the text. However the condescension of the Father of Mercies may regard with approbation the services of his children, salvation will be still of grace. Renounce, therefore, every foundation but that which God has laid in Zion. Be godly-but build not on godliness for life. Place no dependence—no, not the slightest, on the best duty you have ever done. Live like saints; but die with the prayer of the publican on your lips, “ God be merciful to me a sinner." Amen.
MATTHEW vi. 5, 6.
" AND WHEN THOU PRAYEST, THOU SHALT NOT BE AS THE
HYPOCRITES ARE: FOR THEY LOVE TO PRAY STANDING IN THE SYNAGOGUES, AND IN THE CORNERS OF THE STREETS, THAT THEY MAY BE SEEN OF MEN. VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THEY HAVE THEIR REWARD. BUT THOU, WHEN THOU PRAYEST, ENTER INTO THY CLOSET, AND WHEN THOU HAST SHUT THY DOOR, PRAY TO THY FATHER, WHICH IS IN SECRET ; AND THY FATHER WHICH SEETH IN SECRET SHALL REWARD THEE OPENLY.
PRAYER is twofold_social and secret; both are essential to personal religion, but these words refer exclusively to the latter. Having animadverted on the sinful manner in which the Pharisees performed their alms, the Saviour proceeds to expose the improper mode in which they attended to their devotions; gives us a model on which our supplications, whether public or private, are to be constructed ; and closes this branch of his discourse with some remarks on the rigid austerities which these pompous professors of religion appeared to practice. And inasmuch as there are no acts of piety more likely to secure to man the reputation of being religious than those of charity, devotion, and the mortification of natural appetites, the propriety of our Lord's selection of these points, that He
might correct the popular errors which prevailed concerning them, becomes unquestionable.
Every man who makes the slightest pretensions to religion, however absurd and idolatrous his opinions may be, admits the principle assumed in the passage now to be considered. The heathen bow before their idols - the work of their own hands, as well as the Christian before his Creator-“ the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We do not, therefore, find any distinct precept in the directions which are here given, as to the necessity of this duty; but we have a clear and concise description of the way in which we must discharge it, from which our obligation to it becomes imperative. I therefore request your attention to
THE IMPROPER MANNER IN WHICH THE PHARISEES PERFORMED IT,—THE OPPOSITE MODE WE ARE COMMANDED TO ADOPT, MAND A FEW CONSIDBRATIONS TO THE PRACTICE OF THE DUTY ITSELF.
I. LET US NOTICE THE IMPROPER MANNER IN WHICH THE PHARISEES PRESENTED THEIR SUPPLICATION TO God.
“ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are : for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” As the Saviour uses the same phraseology as in the preceding passage, I have little occasion to enlarge on this particular. Like their deeds of charity, their prayers were improper as to the place where they were offered ;sinful in their object,—and totally worthless as to their issue.
First. They were presented in an improper place.
They love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets.” Now, with regard to the first