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who serve the tabernacle, so we are also to adorn it with the proper offerings. We are to offer on it continually the sacrifice of praise, and the fruit of our lips. Praise and thanksgiving constitute one of the great duties of the redeemed. Duty, did I call it? After God has created us, and while utterly undeserving, preserved us, and when ready to sink to perdition, gave his only son to die to redeem us, must it be urged upon men as a duty that they should praise him? Shame, shame to the human heart! Should it not be the natural and spontaneous impulse of the soul? Can any one be so destitute of feeling as to withhold it? Does it not become every one of us to go and sit down with our harps aside of Israel's sweet singer, and say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all thai is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercy; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's? ... Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul."
V. Christians are to cherish a warm benevolence of heart. to do good, and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
I had occasion, in another lecture,' to speak of the duty of christians to give according to their ability for the relief of all sorts of suffering and want. We are ever to be ready to contribute what we may have more than our own actual necessities demand, whenever we see that in so doing we will be able to benefit our fellows, and promote the Divine glory. With the christian, it is not only duty, but it is a luxury to give and do good. It is blessed, more blessed than to receive. It is a feast to the conscience. It makes us feel that we are doing right; and that is a feeling for which kingdoms and worlds have been offered on a dying bed. And then the idea of mingling in the sorrows and joys of others, is a pleasing one. To fill some poor sufferer with bappiness by a liberal contribution, will shed a glow of sweetness over one's own heart that seems like the sunshine of heaven.
By giving, we also show our resemblance to Christ. “ Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”. By giving of our possessions, then, for the welfare of our fellows, we show the spirit of our Savior, and prove ourselves to be his followers.
By giving liberally we also improve our own moral character. “ He that watereth, shall be watered himself.” There is a reflex influence in benevolence which is most desirable. The man who gives, advances himself in virtue. While he is doing good to others, he is doing greater good to himself. He is rising higher and higher above the disease and contagion which is spreading around in those who are miserly and regardless of God's glory. He puts himself in a purer and more heavenly atmosphere. He schools his soul to the discipline of heaven.
Christian liberality is also peculiarly pleasing to God. He is pleased with the sacrifices of prayer and praise, and with the offerings of a broken and contrite heart; but He is “well pleased” --it is his especial pleasure to see us doing good unto others. He thus sees the active operation of his grace. He thus beholds the vine which he planted and cherished with so much care bringing forth the desired fruit. And if we have any real desire to please God, we will be liberal.
And our liberality here is connected with our final reward in another world. Let no one be surprised at this. It is a doctrine of an infallible Teacher. “He who receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward.” “ Whosoever shall give a cup of cold water, only, to a disciple, in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward.” It is said, “Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” “He that showeth no mercy, shall have judgment without mercy.” “ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The Scriptures are full of high rewards for the benevolent, assuring us that those who do good, and forget not to communicate, shall obtain everlasting riches in glory.
VI. Christians are to cultivate submission to their rulers. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” This is christian duty in reference to all rulers. There is nothing in the Scriptures to encourage disloyalty, rebellion, or disobedience to magistrates. It is their strict injunction upon all, “submit
yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God."
Politicians commonly assume that government is a thing of necessity. Men, say they, following their own selfish impulses, soon come to oppress each other, and that organization becomes necessary for mutual protection and general comfort. They seem to think, that God in his institutions for the good of man has had no reference to our political interests, but has left this matter to our own discretion. Noi withstanding that individual character is mostly framed and moulded by the power of political institutions, they would teach us that God in his efforts to improve and educate us for happiness and glory, has yet left those institutions to be framed by the philosophic wit of man. And hence they also claim the right to resist whatever authority they may choose to regard as illegal. But not so are we taught in the Scriptures. Revelation carries us back to the fountain of the race, and there points us to the root—the foundation of all social institutions as it came from the hands of God himself. “God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone.”. This was the motive of government. He ordained the marriage relation; and in that he instituted and conferred political power. That power, thus set afloat upon the stream of time, God has watched with a sleepless eye, and guided by his providential hand, through all the successive ages through which our race has passed. Whatever configurations it has al different times, and among different nations assumed, and to wliatever consequences it has led in the political history of the world, it has always been the creature and instrument of God, and under his immediate control. Hence it is that the Scriptures ascribe to him an active sovereignty over all earthly kings and powers. Hence it is that the Savior has taught us to ascribe unto him “the kingdom, and the power and the glory.” Accordingly we also find it written, “let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou not then be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the min
ister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."
And especially are we to render submission to our spiritual teachers. “For,” says the apostle, “they watch for your souls, as they that must give account.” It is for your own good that ministers occupy their offices; and hence the proper respect should be shown them, and a willing and cheerful subordination in the exercise of the authority which Christ has reposed in their hands. This exhortation does not imply the surrender of the rights of private conscience to the dictation of the clergy. By no means. Every man is personally accountable to God; and this fact for ever settles in favor of every man the right of private judgment, and the liberty of conscience. But there is yet a reverence and submission due to those who fill the offices of the church, the want of which no circumstances can justify. It is God who commands, "obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves."
VII. Finally, the apostle exhorts bis christian brethren, “Pray for us; for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, , that I may be restored to you the sooner.” In this solicitation of the prayers and sympathies of his brethren, Paul puts his claim upon the honesty of his life and the increased service of which he would be were he set at liberty. It appears that he was in prison when he wrote; most likely a prisoner at Rome. At all events, the language is such as we might suppose him to use under such circumstances, and may be of service in deciding upon the authorship of our epistle.
I will dismiss your attention, this morning, then, by affectionately commending to your careful observance these several precepts of the apostle. Have contentment. Remember your teachers. Be stable in the doctrines of the Gospel. Ever give to God the sacrifice of praise. Cherish a warm benevolence of heart. Cultivate the spirit of submission to your rulers. And pray for me. And may the God of peace be with you, now and ever. Amen.
Heb. xiii. 20—25. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our
Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words. Know yo that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen.
In these words we have Paul's conclusion of his epistle to the Hebrews. Its substance and its spirit are in full keeping with what has gone before. Every sentence is full of faith, affection, earnestness, and solemn dignity. He had now gone through with the discussion of the most momentous subject that can engage the attention of man. He was just committing an address to a people to whom he was most intimately related, and which was to serve as the last solemn appeal to their consciences in view of coming judgment. He had traversed with a master's discernment the whole field of Jewish and Christian theology-plied every argument which his powerful mind could suggest--and set forth the truth with all the pathos and eloquence which his fervent soul could dictate. He proceeds, now, to commit his cause into the hands of another, and one far higher : "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
From these words we may observe-1st. The representation wbich he gives of the God to whom he prays; 2nd. The object for which he prays; and 3d. The medium through which he looked to see his prayer answered.
1st. The apostle represents God as “the God of peace.” This may set forth the Deity as the source of all prosperity—the proprietor and sovereign dispenser of all temporal and spiritual good.