Imágenes de páginas

despised Hebrew race was Christ to descend, and by identifying himself witl that race alone could Moses seeure a relation to him. This, then, was "th( recompense of the reward" to which he had respect. Favoured with ai enlightened view of the character and kingdom of the Messiah, he preferred taking a part in advancing the process which led to his coming, and securing an interest in the blessings of his reign, to all that Egypt could offer him; and' made his practical choice accordingly.

But, turning now from the particular case of Moses, we may found upon oi text the general observation, that in true religion there is an element of reward,

I. We shall make it our business, in the first place, to lay down this doctrini clearly, with the necessary explanations. We say with the necessary explanations, because we allow that explanations are necessary, and that the language we have employed is liable to be misunderstood.

True religion, then, be it observed, is far from being wholly a matter ol reward. In regard to the primary aspect of religion, our deliverance from ths curse of the law and our acceptance with God, through the mercy of God and the obedience unto death of our Lord Jesus Christ a provision is made, whicl becomes effectual to us by our faith, or by our submission to God's method o justifying us through his Son. No regard is had in this respect to our faith itself, beyond its instrumentality to give efficacy to the mechanism (so to speakj which God has contrived and arranged, and which waits for this act of submission on our part in order to avail for our justification.

But a secondary view may be taken of religion. After the primary questioni of our deliverance from wrath and acceptance with God are settled, and settled once for all, religion is in continuance a life both of self-denial and of service; •and in both these views there may be—there is—attached to it an element reward.

Here let us first make good our position that religion is a life both of sett denial and of service.

And first for self-denial. Our readers will immediately call to remembrance the language of our Lord, in which he declares self-denial, both in the act and the habit, to be among the great features of the Christian life. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and folio* me" (Luke ix. 23). And on another occasion, when "there went great multitudes with him, he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, 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. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke xtf25—27).

It is true, indeed, that the discipleship of Christ was then to be taken up under circumstances of special difficulty and hazard; but the great principle '"s the same in all ages and in all circumstances. In the heart which is given to Jesus all other objects of affection must be subordinated to him. A mans father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, must be loved less than Christ, or he is surely not fitted for the frequent, and sometimes costly, sacrifices which his professed discipleship may require at his hands.

And in the experience of piety we know that it is so. In taking Christ for our Lord, the principle of self-preference and self-pleasing is conscious'.'' exchanged for consecration to him. In spirit we sacrifice everything for hum and few of his disciples pass a life in which the spirit of sacrifice is not called into very sensible practical action. It is still the Christian's necessary calling. t° "take up his cross daily."

And as religion is a life of self-denial, so also it is a life of service. Christ reckons us his servants, and gives "to every man his work." Whether we eu

[ocr errors]

l^fta-1, 1884.] THE CHTiPBfCH. 87"

if ^jdriak, or whatsoever we do, we are to do all to the glory of God. Our t, ...«nple is to shine to his praise. On? conversation is to minister grace to the, ,;[1j jfrers. Oar time, our talents, our property, our domestic and social influence, fer»re to be employed for him. Of all the gifts bestowed on us in his manifold r:r JBity we are stewards, and we shall have to give an account of our employ^pt of them.

Religion being thus a life at once of service and self-denial, we say that an }0nJb»ent of reward is attached to it.

eJrlJn point of fact, such is the express statement of holy Scripture itself. Hear,

Qi example, the words of our Lord: "There is no man that hath left house, or

^"lren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for' my

and the Gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time,

and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with

icutions; and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark x. 29, 30). It is, of

le, not possible to understand this language literally. Its meaning must be

in which it can be fulfilled in destitution, in the dungeon, at the stake; and

"~.ea seems to be that the loss of temporal things shall be largely compen

by the abundance of spiritual joy. We know that in fact it has been so.

at the stake have experienced a triumphant gladness, in which the

iraiB of a whole life may well be conceived to have been concentrated; and

'jbere are sufferers for Christ in modern days, and indirectly known to ourselves,

(Those joy under persecution seems greatly to overbalance its bitterness. And

,if itbe so in the present world, how much more amidst the transcendent glories

"Jit the world to come!

^ And as an element of reward is thus attached to self-denial, so is it also to ^lemee. This is made plain by the parable of the talents, in every form in which t is presented to us. Thus, for example, as we have it in the Gospel by Matthew. "And so he that had received five talents came and brought other 1 Sv&'tpieats, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained Reside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matt. Ev. 20, 21). And this idea was freely taken up by the apostles. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, for example, we have the following language: "For 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 minister" (Heb. vi. ID). The idea entered largely into the experience of apostles themselves, for ■ins speaks the prince of the apostles: "I have fought a good fight, I have pished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a sown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at Bat day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearfcg" (2 Tim. iv. 7, 8).

And, if it needed further illustration, this might be derived from the second Ind third chapters of the book of Revelation, where the addresses to the jthurehes are wound up in every instance with a stimulating appeal of this kind. fLet us take a single specimen: "To him that overcometh will I grant to git Rth me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my lather in his throne" (Rev. iii. 21).

It is thus evident from. Scripture that an element of reward does attach to the 1 Christian life. Let us now endeavour to unfpld this idea by two or three general remarks.

lathe first place, there is in the-Christian life an element fitted to reward: nothing, indeed, by which rewardt can be merited, but something with which reward may be congruous. What we-mean is I«e-; love to-Curist, the- animating principle of tne Chriatisp'e life, whether in respect of self-denial or;of

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

service. We all feel it is a universal dictate of the human heart that every expression of love is entitled to a kindly, if not a grateful acknowledgment; and He that has constituted man's heart thus has surely made it after the pattern of his own. Every expression of love towards him he may fitly mark with some token of his approval and acceptance. Should we go too far if we were to say that it would be unworthy of him not to do so P

In the second place, God is in possession of means by which tokens of love to him may be suitably rewarded. There may not unnaturally be a kind of recoil from the idea of reward under the forms in which it is usually presented to as in the Scriptures—such as that of wearing a crown, or being seated on a throne ; but we should recollect that these, and all other expressions of the same class, are figures of speech, and not descriptions. Through the difficulty, the impossibility rather, of expressing in mortal words celestial things, the most beautiful of earthly objects are used as metaphors; but we should not allow the glitter of the metaphor to hide from us the very dissimilar, but far greater, glory of the reality. The thing which crowns and thrones denote is the love of God, responsive to, and in gracious acceptance of, our love to him; and while this, in its highest expressions, confers an honour infinitely higher than the earthly baubles which are put into comparison with it, it constitutes a recompense which we cannot for a moment despise, but must, on the contrary, most highly appreciate. The love of God is the blessedness not only of angels, but of Christ himself; it is the utmost blessedness of our own hearts, and every degree and every mode in which it may be expressed towards us must be acknowledged to bring new honour and new delight. Our service and self-denial therefore God can reward in a method of which we cannot but intensely feel the value.

And, in the third place, that such reward should be wanting on God's part is a conception not to be entertained. It is not for a moment to be supposed that he will lay himself under unrequited obligation to his creatures, or permit acts of service, often laborious, or acts of self-denial, often severe, to be rendered to him, and not repay them. He rather takes the opportunity of illustrating the boundless riches of his grace by a reward, appropriate indeed, but unspeakably glorious. Not for our sakes, but for his own, he confers reward, and he does it according to his own fulness. Acknowledgments of service on earth correspond with the means of the party making them. The gratitude of the poor may be expressed in words; but the rich return thanks after the measure of their wealth, and princes according to the style of royal bounty. What, then, shall be the magnificence of the rewards conferred by the King of kings P

II. We thus complete the first part of our discourse, in which we proposed to lay down clearly the Christian doctrine of reward, with the necessary explanations. We now, in the second place, propose to show the claim which the doctrine has to a practical regard.

It is evident that the doctrine is not speculative, but adapted to exercise a direct and powerful practical influence. Our religion is a life of service and self-denial, and various motives conspire to sustain us. Duty requires it, gratitude impels it, and love will make it sweet; but more than this, it will have a "recompense of reward." Every token of our love presented to God will be met by a token of his love in return, constituting a reward unutterably precious.

O what a thought it is that our poor fleeting lives may be applied to such a purpose! that we may be continually doing such things as God will kindly accept, and gratefully own! O what a value should this teach us to attach to our moments and opportunities as they pass! Shall we suffer them to slide idly by, when a diligent improvement of them will provide us with inestimable joys for heaven and immortality? How great is the folly of our sloth, by which we lose so much! Hew wise would be a wakeful diligence and an earnest «eal, that should suffer no opportun'ty "o \<e lost, no moment to be void!

« AnteriorContinuar »