« AnteriorContinuar »
ST. MATTHEW xix. 16.
And behold, one came and said unto Jesus, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
In my last lecture, we left our blessed Lord doing an act of kindness, quite of a piece with his character. We left him putting his hands upon little children, and blessing them, "rebuking those who would have kept them from him, and commanding all people to follow their innocency of life." A certain man now came to him, and put a certain question to him. This man was a rich and a great man. He had great possessions, and he was a ruler. This was the question he asked of our
Lord. "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" I know not a more serious question than this. My friends and hearers! to be happy in the next world, is the only happiness which deserves to be called happiness. There is nothing in this world, which can make us altogether happy. Something or other constantly happens, to shew us, that our resting-place is not here: that here, in this world, we are often miserable. We see and feel many things, to make us uncomfortable: and whether comfortable or not, here we cannot stay long. We must all of us die. And when we die, we must all depart to another world. This other world is to last for ever. We are not to die again. Jesus Christ has conquered death! We die in this world. We shall never die in the next; and in the next world we are to be happy or miserable. If happy, infinitely so, without any misery at all; if miserable, infinitely so, without any happiness, any joy at all.
Now, is it not the most serious question you can ask, how you are to be happy for ever, "what good thing you are to do in order to obtain eternal life?" It is my wish and endeavour in all these lectures to shew you how to obtain eternal life. I tell you for this end what you are to believe and do. You are to believe in God and in Jesus Christ, whom God has sent: you are to believe, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, to save all of us from eternal misery. And you are to do all that Jesus Christ commands us to do. You are to observe and do all the commandments of Almighty God. If you have sinned (and you certainly have, every one of you) you are to repent sincerely and to do so no more. You are henceforward to lead a godly, righteous, and sober life, to love God and your Saviour, to do to others as you would have others do to you, and to keep your bodies in temperance, soberness, and chastity, that is, to abstain from drunkenness, and from all
wicked and filthy lusts.
These things if you believe and do, Jesus Christ will give unto you eternal life. "For all power has been given to him both in heaven and in earth" he has a right to punish and a right to reward. God has made him king over all men, over the greatest and the least, over the living and the dead. "Jesus Christ is to rule, till he has put all things under his feet," till he has so overcome both sin and death, that neither the one nor the other will ever be able to trouble his faithful servants.
As soon as the great man we spoke of had asked this question of our Lord, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" our Saviour answered him thus, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." Our Saviour was God as well as man. As God, he was good: as man, though good, he would not call himself so. Yet in him there was no sin:
although he carried a body of flesh with its infirmities about him. It is a great point to make some very faulty people think themselves not good. I have been told by negroes, whom I was endeavouring to convince of the sinfulness and corruption of human nature, that they had done no harm, had never been wicked, in short, that they were good. Such an opinion shews, my friends, that they did not know themselves. What! because they did not steal, they were good: because they did not kill nor murder any one, they were good. They forgot all the bad thoughts, and desires they may at any time have had. They forgot, that, if they were good in some respects, they were bad in others. They forgot, that God must look upon us all as sinners. The fact is, they knew nothing at all of what real Christian goodness is: they had never thought of many sins they indulged in, as Christ has taught us to think of them. They compared themselves with others, who were worse than