Immagini della pagina


"Ye were sometimes darkness," says Paul to the converted Ephesians," but now are ye light in the Lord:" a word, something is to be found in Christ that exactly suits us in every case we can imagine. He hath bread for the hungry, water for the thirsty, wine for the faint, medicine for the sick; or, as the Apostle beautifully expresseth it, "He is made of God unto his people, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." 1 Cor. i. 30.


II. It deserves our notice, that the supply here offered is not only such as we need, but likewise full and complete. A poor man may get an alms to keep him from perishing, a naked creature may get a rag to cover his nakedness, and to screen his body from the inclemency of the weather: but our bountiful Lord doth not deal with his people in such a sparing and niggardly manner. gives them gold to enrich them-not merely to relieve their wants, to answer their pressing necessities-but tơ raise them above poverty. He advances them to a large and opulent estate. The raiment he clothes them with is fair and complete, so that the shame of their nakedness can no more be seen. He covers them from head to foot, spreads his whole satisfaction over them, so that no part is left exposed to the sword of justice. They are made righteous by his righteousness imputed to them, and comely by his comeliness put upon them. And,

III. As this supply is suitable and full, so I farther observed to you, that all the parts of it are perfect in their kind. His gold is the most fine gold, gold tried in the fire, not only precious in itself, but thoroughly purged from all dross or alloy.-His raiment is white, without spot or blemish; not only a covering, but an ornament to the soul. His eye-salve has a sovereign and never-failing virtue. Other medicines may strengthen the eye, or recover a weak sight; but this cures blindness itself, and

gives such vigour to the eye that is anointed with it, that the person can even look within the veil, and read his name written in the Lamb's book of life. And now let me ask you, What think ye of Christ? Is he not a gracious, as well as a faithful Witness? Are not his offers great, inconceivably great? and is not this counsel most kind and obliging?

But what is his counsel, and how does he direct us to obtain this full and all-sufficient supply? Let us hear his own words:

"I counsel thee," says he, " to buy it of me."

I frankly own to you, there is something in this expression which startles one at the first sight; but when we examine it more accurately, the difficulty vanishes. It is evident that the word buy cannot be taken in a strict and literal sense, unless we suppose it to have been said by way of ridicule; for the description of those to whom the advice was addressed, necessarily implies that they had nothing to give. They were in the greatest extremity of misery and wretchedness, not only blind and naked, but poor, without money to buy either clothiing or medicine. Where then could they find a price that bore any proportion to the blessings here spoken of? I think I could challenge the most sanguine advocate for merit to tell me what these people had to give, unless it was selfconceit, of which indeed it appears they had enough, and to spare; for poor and naked as they were, they boasted of great things, saying they were rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. Indeed I am of opinion, that this hint may help us to the meaning of the expression; for the very notion of buying, necessarily includes in it that something must be parted with, and as these Laodiceans had nothing to dispose of but their pride, our Saviour's advice might be intended to intimate this much to them, that in order to their receiving these invaluable blessings, it behoved them to forego their selfconceit in the first place, and then to come to him naked

and empty as they were, under a deep and humble sensé of their poverty and wretchedness, and on their knees to accept those offered mercies, as the free unmerited gifts of his bounty and grace. This accordingly is perfectly agreeable to other passages of Scripture, particularly to that gracious proclamation and call, Isa. lv. 1. to which the counsel here offered has a very near resemblance :"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." Which last expression," without price," seems to have been added, on purpose to guard against any wrong sense that might otherwise have been put upon the word buying. A person who wants money, may have other things of value to trade with, but here they are called to buy, not only without money, but without price; that is, in plain language, to buy and pay nothing, which is only another way of expressing the humble and thankful acceptance of a gift. It is even probable that our Saviour chose this rather than another expression, to signify that their acceptance should not be rash and hasty, but deliberate and well advised; and at the same time to assure them, that upon their acceptance, these invaluable blessings should become as truly and irrevocably theirs, as if they had really bought them, and given a full and adequate price for them.

Thus have I opened the meaning of this counsel or adVice--an advice seasonable at all times, and peculiarly adapted to the occasion of our present meeting. The character of those to whom it was originally addressed, would lead me to speak to proud self-justifiers, who, like the lukewarm Laodiceans, imagine themselves to be rich and increased with goods, and to stand in need of nothing. Might I stay accurately to examine your supposed righteousnesses, I think I could say several things to make you ashamed of them, and to convince you that they are

all but filthy rags. But this would require more time than we have now to spare. All I can do for you is to pray, and beg that others would pray, that God may pity you, and open your eyes.-I hope there are some now hearing me of a different character, to whom I reckon myself more immediately a debtor, I mean those whose éyes are so far opened, as to see that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. It is to you, my dear friends, that our Saviour doth this day address the advice in my text;

"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see."


What have you to object against this advice?-Are not these the very things you need? are they not exactly suited to your state and circumstances ?-Would you not think yourselves bound to bless God eternally, for giving you such a rich and full supply? I think I may reasonably take all this for granted.-What discourages you then? You say you are unworthy. I ask you, Where does Christ speak as if he supposed you to be worthy? Were this a secret known only to yourselves, you might indeed have cause to dread a discovery; but the Lord Jesus knew this before you knew it. Nay, if he had not told you of it, I dare venture to affirm you should never have found it out, I mean in this world, for death and judgment will clear up all mistakes. Why then do you make objections where Christ makes none?-Is his honour dearer to you than to himself?-Does he not know how to dispense his mercy till you have taught him? I charge you to beware of such presumptuous conceits. It is because you are poor, and blind, and naked, that he counsels you to come to him, for the supplies here offer


But does he not speak of buying, and what price can I offer him for such inestimable blessings? I have already told you what I take to be the meaning of that expres sion; but as this objection is of a very deadly nature, and commonly proves one of the strongest bars in men's way to Christ, it is necessary to examine it with some more accuracy. And, first, I must ask those who make the objection, Are you really willing to take these blessings for nothing, if you can get them? Do not answer rashly, for I apprehend there is a secret deceit within you, that you are not aware of.-Say, would it not give you a mighty satisfaction, if you could discover something in yourselves that might entitle you to these blessings, or, at least, that might incline or dispose Christ to bestow them upon you? Would it not give you some courage, if you could shed more penitent tears for sin, if you felt more love for God and the Redeemer, or if you were more exact and blameless in your conduct and behaviour? And are you not secretly displeased with your selves, that you cannot attain to these things before you apply to Christ for his aid? If this is the case, allow me to put your objection in its proper form. It is not, as you apprehend, I have nothing to give to Christ as a price for his benefits; but I have not enough.-My stock is too small to buy such an inheritance; and till it is better improven, it is vain for me to hope that my offer. can be accepted. Alas! my brethren, it is plain from this, that pride is at the root of your objection, though it has artfully put on the form of humility; at the bottom, you are pleased with the notion of buying, and are only vexed that you have not enough to give. You secretly dream that, by diligence and good management, you may at length acquire something that may deserve the favourable regards of the Redeemer; and therefore, once for all, I must tell you, that, notwithstanding your mournful complaints of poverty, you are really far poorer than you

« IndietroContinua »