I. THE POSITION OCCUPIED. "Without." Probably they have no realized pardon, no enjoyment in religion, no future prospects of joy. Life is a dread mystery to them. They are saying, "Who will show us any good?" They may be just awakened spiritually, like the Philippian jailor. They may be under the condemnings of law and conscience, and in dread of the consequences of sin. Those within the true Church know in whom they have believed, and rejoice in forgiveness and the prospect of heaven. They are no longer outside the gates of mercy. We may be in a visible Church without being of Christ's fold. It is penitence, faith, and character that determine our position, and not birth, rank, or ceremonial observances.
II. THE REASONS WHEREFORE MANY RETAIN A POSITION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH.
1. Accustomed to the state, and unwilling to change. They are like the prisoner who, after many years' imprisonment in the Bastile, was liberated, and went forth only to find all his friends gone and himself a mere burden to society. He went back and entreated to be allowed to retain his cell until he should pass out of the world.
2. Many, because they are ignorant of the fullness of Divine mercy.
3. Others, because they think there is so much to be done ere they can be fitted to be received within, and are looking to their own efforts to prepare themselves.
4. Many, because they fear their opportunity of admittance is past.
5. Others, because undecided as to whether they shall give up the pleasures of the world for the privileges of Christian fellowship.
6. Others, because they lack faith in their faith and its power to justify.
7. Many stand outside because they think themselves as secure outside as within. They forget that Christ demands open confession, and that to be united openly, to his Church is one way of confessing his name before men. Let there be a personal and searching inquiry, "Wherefore standest thou without?" The invited guest passed within, and found his highest expectations more than realized, because God "had prospered his journey." - H.
Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way.
I. It is the entreaty of an awakened sinner returning to the Lord. "Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way." A new and living way of salvation invites him. But there are many adversaries. The worldly and careless around him scoff at his fears, and deride his apprehensions. They know not the terrors of an awakened conscience, and they can mock when fear cometh. "Hinder me not," the persecuted penitent replies. "I have seen enough of worldly cheerfulness and mirth. I have seen that the end of that laughter is bitterness. The sorrows of a sinner's death-bed I will not try. The portion of the worldly shall not be mine. He offers me forgiveness, and I will embrace it."
II. The words of our text may be the prayer of the new convert to Christ — the Christian who has just experienced the new creating grace of God; "hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way." The character of God appears to him full of glory, and shining in love. The great salvation which He has offered, seems worthy of all acceptation. His whole heart is arrested and occupied with the objects and excitements of this first love. But there are many hindrances surrounding this infantile state of grace. At one time he meets a sneer from some former companion in folly, at another, a false and unkind construction of the motives by which he is governed in his new determinations. The merely nominal Christian, the cold and carnally minded professor, hates him, as one who assumes a higher standard of religious character than he is pleased with. These various outward trials are severe.
III. But hindrances do not disappear, even when men become old in grace. Our text may, therefore, be the petition of the Christian who is established in the faith; "hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way." Through the whole period of a mortal life, he not only dwells in a laud of enemies, but drags about with himself a weight which is painfully retarding. There arises often around him a cloud of darkness, which hides all his evidences of grace, and conceals the blessed witness which God has given him within himself. Momentary feelings of unbelief intrude themselves into his breast. Occasional coldness and torpidity spreads itself through the members of his spiritual man, threatening permanent paralysis and death. He obtains larger conceptions of the depravity of his own heart; and his soul often sickens over the views which are presented to him, as the Spirit of God carries him still farther into its recesses, and exposes to his observation greater abominations than he has seen before. Then does he exclaim in the language of our text, "Hinder me not, for the Lord hath prospered my way." "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy, though I fall, yet shall I rise again; and though I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. Sin has been pardoned; God has received, and is able to keep me. I have entered into a covenant with Him, from which I will never shrink, to walk before Him, and to be His for ever."
IV. Lastly, I may consider this as the demand of the faithful minister of the Gospel. "Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way." This joy would be vastly increased were there none disposed to hinder his way, and to retard the progress of the word of God.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
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