Images de page

prietors, yet much dross is mixed with the ore; the separation of which requires the refiner's skill and labor. Even an Apostle confesses, that when he would do good, evil was present with ' him.'* Assuredly then his younger brethren may adopt the sentiment of the beloved disciple, and confess that if we say that we have no sin, ' we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.' But the true distinction between the converted sinner and the mere formalist, consists in this, that the former desires, prays and labors, that • all his doings may be righteous in God's sight;' while the latter is solicitious only for their fair appearance before men. He knows that there is an essential difference between the righteousness which God accepts, and that which men applaud. To please Him, in whose favor is life, though in opposition to every maxim of a degenerate age, and in defiance of the united opinion of a world in arms against him; to obey His law, whatever difficulties occur in the service, and whatever contempt he may be thought to merit for needless scrupulosity; this is uniformly the Christian's object, aim, and end. Reader, is it your's? While conscious of much remaining infirmity ; while sensible that, as all your sins are pardonable through Christ, all your duties are damnable


* Rom. vii. 21.

without Him,* are you daily endeavouring that all your doings may be righteous in His sight?' The narrow way, between antinomianism and legalism, is a path, which the vulture's eye hath not seen. God the Spirit alone can guide us in it. To renounce our own righteousness altogether with respect to justification before God, and at the same time to be as zealous of good works,' as if our salvation depended on them, is the arduous task of Christianity.

Our doings can only be thus righteous, when they are ordained by God's governance.' It is not enough to produce in a sinner a life of holiness, that he has been converted by grace from the error of his ways. Continual supplies must be received from above, or he cannot take one step aright in the path of duty. The Christian life is therefore represented as maintained by faith, because faith receives from Christ the ability to do and to suffer the will of God. The constant influence of the Spirit of God is as essential to the continuance of life in the soul of man, as an unceasing communication of air is necessary to the life of his body. The effects, produced on animal life under the exhausted receiver of the air pump, prove how indispensable that element is to all vitality and motion. And for this reason the third Person in Jehovah is usually described in

Bishop Beveridge's private thoughts,

the scriptures both of the old and new Testament, by a name, which is also given to the medium of corporeal respiration. Happy is the man, who knows by experience, that all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works proceed from • God.'*

In offering these petitions we implore such great and inestimable blessings, as the consideration of our unworthiness might justly discourage us from aspiring to. But our prayers are presented through Jesus Christ our Lord;' and therefore we may ask with boldness, since He Himself hath given us this comfortable assurance, • whatsoever ye ask the Father IN MY NAME, He ⚫ will give it you.' He still sustains the character of the Lamb that hath been slain. He still liveth to make intercession for all those, who come unto God by Him. With His adorable name on our lips, it is a sin to doubt of a favorable audience,

* Second Collect at Evening Service.





THE wisest of men has declared that a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver; the external part of which, consisting of silver curiously engraved, is beautiful and valuable; but its internal part so far exceeds, that its true excellence cannot be ascertained, till closely examined. Whatever was the precise idea intended by the author of this allusion, the passage affords a striking illustration of the nature of the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though some degree of beauty may be discovered in it by a careless observer, its superlative excellence can only be comprehended by one, who looks through the network of silver to the golden fruit, which is contained within. A man, who would form just notions of Christianity, must

[ocr errors]

draw near and survey the symmetry of its parts; and the effects, which it is designed and calculated to produce on its votaries in every situation and relation, both in the present and the future world. The system of the Bible is not like a whited sepulchre, of which the outside only will bear inspection; but it may be compared to the glorious orb of day, which, though revolving continually on its own axis, presents in every direction a luminous appearance. The works of man are often lovely, when viewed at a distance, or with the naked eye; but the works of God will bear the strictest scrutiny under every advantage, which the eye is capable of receiving. The glorious Gospel of the blessed God' is not only beneficial to the individual, who feels its influence; producing peace in his conscience, mildness in his tempers, and contentment in his bosom, while it changes the ferocious lion of the forest into a gentle and patient lamb: it not only conduces to domestic comfort, making men to be of one mind in a house, and converting the wild uproar of contentious debate into the peaceful language of prayer, praise, and heavenly intercourse; enabling husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, to fill up their several situations with mutual satisfaction and benefit but its influence on society at large is equally benign. If the spirit of Christianity reign in the hearts of Kings and those who are


« PrécédentContinuer »