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类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-08-06 05:26:32

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p. 34But still we read in Scripture of another sacrifice鈥攁 sacrifice which Christian people are called to offer. Thus in this text St. Paul says, 鈥淚 beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.鈥 To this appeal the words in our Communion Service are the Christian鈥檚 reply:鈥斺淎nd here we offer and present unto thee ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.鈥 It clearly remains, therefore, for us to examine the character of this second sacrifice, and also its relationship to the great and perfect sacrifice completed on the cross for sin. This, then, if God permit, shall be our subject this morning. May the Lord dispose our hearts to bring to Him this holy sacrifice, that we, if we live, may live not unto ourselves, but unto Him 鈥渢hat died for us, and rose again!鈥濃淏ut this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.鈥

The second is from the rubric in the service for the Visitation of the Sick, where we read鈥斺淗ere shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter.鈥滲ut the ministry of the word must also have its public character, and the glad tidings of reconciliation must be publicly preached to a ruined world. It was this that appeared to be the prominent idea in the Apostle鈥檚 mind when he spoke of the ministry of reconciliation; for he at once proceeded to give a specimen of it in the great appeal which immediately follows:鈥斺淣ow then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ鈥檚 stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.鈥 (2 Cor. v. 20, 21.)

In that passage it is perfectly clear that our Lord Jesus Christ is said to forgive, and the Church to absolve. The change of words is most remarkable, and clearly proves the doctrine. The Church is said to have power to absolve; and the Lord Jesus Christ is entreated to forgive. The minister, therefore, absolves, and at the same time prays that the Lord may forgive: and who can doubt that, when the troubled heart truly repents and believes in Him, the prayer is answered, the forgiveness granted, and the absolution, or declaration, ratified in heaven?I verily believe that the fact of this Divine appointment of the ministry is too often forgotten; and that thereby God鈥檚 people鈥攁nd more particularly God鈥檚 faithful ministers鈥攐ften miss the great encouragement to be derived from it. There is a tendency in some minds to suppose that God gives a special blessing on irregular efforts, and that the stated ministry of God鈥檚 word in church is not accompanied by the same blessing as the preaching of laymen in town-halls, iron-rooms, and theatres. God forbid that I should speak with the smallest disrespect of these irregular efforts, for I rejoice in the zeal of those who make them, and I firmly believe that in many cases God has greatly blessed them; so that, if only these gentlemen would but be content to act with God鈥檚 appointed p. 51ministry, instead of taking their own course entirely independent of it, I believe we might, with great advantage to ourselves and our people, avail ourselves of their devotedness and power. But it would be a sin to believe that God鈥檚 blessing is limited in any way to that which is irregular; that the only fleece on which the dew fails to distil is that which He Himself has placed to catch it. If He Himself has given us our ministry, if He has made us overseers of the flock, it would be doubting the fundamental principles of Divine fidelity to believe that having called us, having placed us, and having Himself given us our great commission, He would leave us to struggle on alone, untaught, unaided, and unblessed by the presence and power of the Holy Ghost. We may apply to the ministry what St. Paul says to the Christian,鈥斺淔aithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it;鈥 and all of us, whether ministers or people, while we look for great gifts, great blessings, and great results, may rest assured that God is faithful, and will never leave those whom He Himself has appointed for His work.

The second is from the rubric in the service for the Visitation of the Sick, where we read鈥淗ere shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter.鈥The text stands very near the conclusion of a most important argument, in which the Apostle has been drawing the contrast between the Jewish sacrifices under the ceremonial law and the one perfect sacrifice wrought out for us by p. 19the Son of God on the cross. The contrast commences with the 25th verse of the 9th chapter, and extends to the 14th verse of the 10th; after which we are led to the practical application of the whole epistle. Let us, then, first, carefully study the point of contrast, and then the reason of it.

In 1 Cor. x. 17; xi. 26, 27, 28, we are all p. 13said to partake of bread: 鈥淟et a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.鈥滻n that passage it is perfectly clear that our Lord Jesus Christ is said to forgive, and the Church to absolve. The change of words is most remarkable, and clearly proves the doctrine. The Church is said to have power to absolve; and the Lord Jesus Christ is entreated to forgive. The minister, therefore, absolves, and at the same time prays that the Lord may forgive: and who can doubt that, when the troubled heart truly repents and believes in Him, the prayer is answered, the forgiveness granted, and the absolution, or declaration, ratified in heaven?

3. Once more: the sacrifice involves the free gift of money. Money with most men lies very near the heart. Open the heart, and you open the purse. Let the heart become dull, lifeless, cold, and unfeeling, and the purse soon closes. Thus the sacrifice of Self is almost sure to lead to the offering of money. Cold hearts give little; but when the heart is full the offerings flow freely. The men of Macedonia were poor people, but no sooner had they given their own selves to the Lord than 鈥渢he abundance of their joy, and their deep poverty, abounded unto the riches of their liberality.鈥 Now these offerings p. 39are described in the Scriptures as a sacrifice to God. St. Paul alludes to them, in Philip, iv. 18. It is not perfectly clear whether he alludes to a contribution towards his own maintenance, or to the collection in which he took so deep an interest for the poor saints in Jerusalem; but, either way, he describes the offerings as an odour of a sweet smell, a 鈥渟acrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.鈥 This gives a delightful view of contributions in a right spirit for the service of the Lord. It shows that the free and generous giver thereby offers a sacrifice well pleasing to God. It rebukes at the same time the niggardly and parsimonious spirit, the spirit that gives reluctantly, and complains of many calls. Yet I verily believe that to give freely can scarcely be called a sacrifice, for no money gives so much pleasure as that freely offered to the Lord鈥檚 service; and no people enjoy property so much as they do who are free and open-hearted givers. I have not the slightest hesitation, therefore, in appealing to you for free and generous offerings, for I can say as St. Paul said (Philip, iv. 17), 鈥淚 desire fruit that may abound to your account;鈥 and I am thoroughly persuaded, that no person who is induced to give freely will ever repent of p. 40鈥渁 sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God.鈥

I. On the authority of the ministry this text is perfectly clear; for the Apostle traces it to no human source when he says, 鈥淎ll things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.鈥 The ministry, therefore, is a gift from God, and not a plan of human contrivance. It is not an arrangement adopted p. 49by the great Christian society as a means for its own improvement, but it is an institution by the authority of the Founder of that society, God Himself. Both the office and the men are gifts from God. In this passage he speaks of the office, and says, 鈥淕od hath given us the ministry of reconciliation;鈥 and in v. 19, 鈥渉ath committed to us the word of reconciliation.鈥 The men, therefore, received their office from their God. Just so he said to Archippus (Col. iv. 17), 鈥淭ake heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.鈥 But perhaps the most striking passage on this subject is St. Paul鈥檚 address to the elders of the Church of Ephesus, in Acts, xx. 28; for he there teaches not merely that the ministry in general was given to these elders, but that they had been made by the Holy Ghost overseers of that particular people amongst whom they were called to labour. 鈥淭ake heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood.鈥 Now, bear in mind that these persons were not apostles, nor persons holding any extraordinary office, as some did in those early days, but ordinary p. 50clergymen; some, probably, ordained by St. Paul himself, and some by Timothy, appointed to labour together amongst the rapidly increasing church in the large heathen town; and mark well the fact, that the Apostle does not say, 鈥淭o which I appointed you,鈥 or 鈥渢o which Timothy appointed you,鈥 but he regards the appointment as from God Himself, and says, 鈥淲hereof the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.鈥滻I. We may turn, then, to our second subject, the relationship of this sacrifice to the great and perfect sacrifice offered once and for ever on the cross.

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p. 23The point of contrast, therefore, is this, that in the ceremonial law there was a multitude of sacrifices day by day, and year by year, repeated; whereas in the new covenant there was but one, and that one effectual for ever. In the one there was multiplicity, in the other oneness; in the one unceasing repetition, in the other one final act, which set the whole at rest for ever. The contrast stands out so plainly that he may run that readeth it. Nay, more, it is written with that perfect clearness, and often-repeated statement, that I confess myself perfectly unable to comprehend how any person, reading these two chapters, with a real desire to discover the mind of the Spirit, can arrive at the conclusion that there can be any repetition of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ under any form whatever, or any supplementary work of any kind whatever to complete or fill up His one perfect sacrifice for sin.1. The words themselves prove that they are figurative. Turn to 1 Cor. xi. 25, where we read: 鈥淭his cup is the new testament in my blood.鈥 Is there any one blind enough to suppose that the cup was changed into the new testament? The words must mean that the cup was an emblem of the covenant. When our Lord said, 鈥淚 am the vine,鈥 鈥淚 am the door,鈥 鈥淚 am the bread of life,鈥 He did not mean that He was changed into a vine, into a door, or into bread, but that all these things were emblems of His work. So He says of the cup, that it is an emblem of the covenant; and if we would be consistent interpreters, we must believe also of the bread that it was declared to be an emblem of the body.

When I drew your attention to this text on Sunday last, I pointed out the two great subjects contained in it, viz. the work of atonement completed by our blessed Lord on earth, and His present session at the right hand of God. The latter of these we studied on Sunday last, but the former is of such vast importance to every one of us that it would be wrong to leave the passage without devoting this morning to the careful examination of it.

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