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withdraw himself from the society and service of his fellow-creatures, cannot breathe the real spirit of religion. Nor in fact is it the spirit, which Christianity ever' sanctions. The spirit, which the Gospel inculcates, is this; - Be active in shewing kindness and doing good'; work the work of Him, that sent you, while it is day;." look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith ; " " who left an example, that ye
should follow His steps.” « Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report ;—do.” 6
Here then is a limit put to the very strong desire, which a true Christian would otherwise feel to be with Christ ; namely, the service he can render to others; and the improvement he may himself make in Christian graces, by a longer continuance in the world. This is the motive, that checked the Apostle's desire to be with Christ; and it will moderate the wish, which every true Christian, like him, must occasionally feel, to exchange the uncertainties of a corruptible world for the glory of an incorruptible. « Nevertheless," says the Apostle' to his converts, abide in the flesh is more useful for you.” The tie, by which St. Paul was bound to this earth, was the religious improvement of his converted brethren; the advancement of the Christian cause. That he might be the better enabled to fulfil these duties, he restrained his wish to be with Christ." He resigned himself cheerfully to the will of his heavenly Father : that he should remain longer imprisoned, as it were,
à 1 Pet. ii. 21.
Philipp. iv. 8, 9.
in his earthly tabernacle of flesh ; because he felt that, by his continuance in it, he was administering to the spiritual wants, and promoting the everlasting salvation, of his earthly brethren. In like manner, every Christian now has some peculiar tie, that binds, or ought to bind, him to this life; the duties of his profession, duties to his family, duty to his country and to mankind. So far as he has opportunity given for performing these duties, so far he will give his time and thoughts to this earth ; nor will he repine, if his abode be made in some respects to appear an abode of inconvenience or disappointment, of vexation or affliction. Of these he will make but little account, knowing that these afflictions are but for a moment; and that his patient endurance of them will, through the merits of his Redeemer, obtain for him “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” But when the period of his duty and his trouble is past; when his work on earth is done, and it pleases his Heavenly Father to summon him hence; with trembling hope he quits this chequered scene, and anticipates the welcome summons to “ enter into the joy of his Lord.”
Such are the feelings in regard to this life, and such the hopes respecting another, which true religion authorizes and even inspires,—making the discharge of our appointed duties instrumental to the good of others and of ourselves; and thus at once providing for our usefulness here and our happiness hereafter. May all, who hear me, learn to imitate the Apostle's example, and possess themselves of his feelings ! May they become so firm in faith, and so reasonably con
scious of an endeavour to conform to it in their lives, as to entertain with him an ardent desire “to be with Christ”! Yet, bounding that desire by a clear and conscientious view of the obligations imposed by the Gospel, may they be contented still to abide in life, in order to make themselves more and more useful to others; so that, continuing their progress towards Christian perfection, they may “lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come,” and finally, “lay hold on eternal life!"
a 1 Tim. vi. 19.
EXPLANATION OF THE FIRST SIX VERSES OF THE
SIXTH CHAPTER OF HEBREWS.
HEB, VI. 1-6.
THEREFORE LEAVING THE PRINCIPLES OF THE DOCTRINE
OF CHRIST, LET US GO ON UNTO PERFECTION; NOT LAYING AGAIN THE FOUNDATION OF REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS, AND OF FAITH TOWARDS GOD, OF THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS, AND OF LAYING ON OF HANDS, AND OF RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, AND OF ETERNAL JUDGEMENT. AND THIS WILL WE DO, IF GOD PERMIT. FOR
LIGHTENED, AND HAVE TASTED OF THE HEAVENLY GIFT, AND WERE MADE PARTAKERS OF THE HOLY GHOST, AND HAVE TASTED THE GOOD WORD OF GOD, AND THE POWERS OF THE WORLD TO COME,MIF THEY SHALL FALL AWAY, TO RENEW THEM AGAIN UNTO REPENTANCE; SEEING THEY CRUCIFY TO THEMSELVES THE SON OF GOD AFRESH, AND PUT HIM TO AN OPEN SHAME.
I have drawn your attention to this striking passage, because it affords so wide a scope, not only for the interpretation of Scriptural language, but for the explanation of Scriptural doctrine. The turn of expression throughout the whole abounds with difficulties to such, as are unacquainted with the original, and have not accustomed themselves to consult some one or more skilful Expositors; while the doctrine laid down at the close requires to be carefully sifted, in order that it may not be strained beyond the real meaning and intention of the Sacred Writer.
I shall then, in the first place, proceed to examine and explain the several parts of that peculiar phraseology, which is so conspicuous in the verses which compose our text; and if any one shall think me unnecessarily minute, he must remember, that from minuteness in small matters arises accuracy in larger ; and that it is only by nicely weighing and adjusting the component parts, he can hope to arrive at the full understanding of any complicated whole.
The human mind, sometimes, is too impatient of labour to bestow the time and attention necessary for fathoming the depths of any branch of knowledge. It is at the same time so greedy of novelty, as readily to quit a subject, or part of a subject, before it be thoroughly digested ; in order to catch at some other provision for its insatiable appetite.
Hence arise those crude concoctions and superficial views, which are harmless enough, if they lead only to a groundless display before the ignorant, or to an assumption of superiority over an humble but better-informed dependant; but when they are connected with action, or the principles of action, as in the science of politics, or the more awful subject of religion, the mischief that may be produced is extreme. Never can any audience be reminded too often, that of all the questions, to which the attention of man can be turned, none requires to be approached with so much humility and patience, as religion. There is none, which calls upon us in terms so urgent to lay aside every feeling of presumption; all im