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souls; more knowledge and wisdom ; more meekness and forbearance; yea, more of every grace which will enable me to adorn thy Gospel, and glo rify thy holy name.
How awful is the state of the self-deceiving and self-righteous professor. He builds upon a false foundation; buoys himself up with false hopes ; and lulls his conscience to sleep with a false peace. He trusts to an arm of flesh-and his heart departeth from the Lord. He cannot brook the thought of being altogether indebted to another, even Jesus, the eternal Son of God, for a free justification; and therefore uses the Saviour's merits, only as a makeweight in the scale of his own virtues, to counterbalance the weaknesses and failings incident to human nature.
“ But Christ will sooner abdicate his own, “ Than stoop from heaven to give the proud a throne." How different are the views and feelings of the convinced sinner. He sees himself ruined and undone, lying under the curse of a broken law, without strength, without righteousness and without hope. He feels the weight of the burden of his sins. He sinks under the ponderous load, and finds no help from men or angels. When he views God, through the medium of a broken law, he beholds him as an offended Judge, whose uplifted arm is ready to execute the awful sentence. He dreads to think
upon God; a slavish fear fills his heart; and horror seizes upon his frame. He looks to the right hand, but finds no rest; and to the left, but obtains no deliverance. In some highly favoured hour, some precious moment, grace, like a stream of light, darts upon his benighted soul. The clouds of despondency begin to break. The thunders of Sinai cease
He hears a still small voice speaking pardon and peace through the blood of Jesus. He
listens-he can scarcely believe the sound, which in an inward, yet powerful manner, reaches his trembling soul. But he is not deceived. The light gradually increases. The divine Spirit, through the written or preached word, reveals to his now prepared mind, the adorable crucified Jesus, in all the glories of redeeming love. He now views the Almighty in a new, endearing aspect. He sees him as a tender, reconciled Father in Jesus Christ, infinitely just and holy, yet forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. He flies to the hope set before him in the Gospel, and seeks refuge from the storms of wrath in the wounded side of Jesus.
“Rock of ages ! cleft for me,
“Let me hide myself in thee,” is the earnest prayer of his heart. By faith he is clothed in the Saviour's righteousness; armed with strength for the spiritual combat, and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Joy and peace now fill his soul; love constrains him to obedience; and childlike confidence in the promises supports him under every trial. He seeks the glory of his Redeemer ; loves his cause and people; pleads nothing but his merits before the throne; and counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. He hates and resists those sins which once he loved, and renounces that world which so much enamoured him. Thus by a progressive sanctification he goes on from strength to strength, till he finally appears before God in Zion.
Such are the blessed effects of the Gospel, when it comes with power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. It invariably produces works of faith, labours of love, and patience of hope. It brings glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good-will towards men. It turns the lion into the lamb; the desert into the garden of the Lord.
It converts the impure and savage heart into a habitation, meet for the mild and holy Dove.
Old things pass away—and behold-all things become new.
How divinely glorious then is the religion of Jesus. It restores the sinner to the divine favour; it renews him after the divine image; it redeems him from the depths of hell; and raises him to the highest seats in glory.
What tongue can speak, or what heart conceive the richness and extent of human redemption.
How cheering is this soul-enlivening truth : that, “all are welcome to these blessings, to whom these blessings are welcome.”
Lord, make me willing in the day of thy power. Seal this great salvation to my heart, and make me thine henceforth for ever.
Come, Holy Spirit, from above,
Subdue each rebel inbred foe,
Take from me unbelief and pride,
Come, Holy Spirit, from above,
Through all my journeyings here below,
XLVI. ON LUKEWARMNESS.
The path of the true Christian lies remote from unbelief and lukewarmness. Thousands who profess to believe the Gospel, are indifferent to its precepts and promises; and tens of thousands, though nominally Christian, are opposed to it through unbelief. Hence the zeal of the true believer is reviled by the infidel as fanaticism, and by the lukewarm professor as enthusiasm.
No state of heart is more revolting to a God of love, than a state of spiritual lukewarmness. Bodily sickness, and earthly privations are slight evils when compared with this spiritual distemper.
It is most offensive to that gracious Being, who unrobed himself of his glories, who condescended to become a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that we hell-deserving sinners might be rescued from the burning wrath, and be received into heavenly glory.
Outward prosperity, the admiration of friends, self-love, and the gradual omission of watchfulness and prayer, lead us insensibly towards this dangerous precipice, down which thousands have fallen, and from which nothing but sovereign grace can preserve us.
The natural inclination of the heart is from God; and even when renewed in righteousness, it feels the force of this evil inclination, the moment it relaxes in the exercise of faith and prayer.
Believers in Jesus should therefore dread nothing so much as leaving their first love, and backsliding in heart. All declensions begin in the heart and in the closet; and though slow at first, yet they increase with awful rapidity, as the principle of grace is weakened through the indulgence of sin.
If reason and experience tell us, that the surest preservative against falling down a precipice, is to keep at a distance from its edge ; surely that must be the safest path for a Christian, which lies the most remote from spiritual declension.
Those impressions which are made merely upon the passions, soon degenerate into lukewarmness, when the novelty ceases, or when persecution ariseth because of the word. This lukewarmness is rapidly succeeded by coldness, and coldness by contempt; for “evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”
But what is painfully true, must not be withheld. Even real Christians may grow lukewarm for a season, through the power of temptation, the force of indwelling sin, the fear of man, or the blandishments of the world. They may fall asleep in the arbour of carnal ease, or the soft couch of worldly prosperity; and by thus grieving and quenching the Spirit, lose for a time the sensible enjoyment of divine love, as well as the evidence of their adoption into the family of God. Awful state ! most seriously to be dreaded. No eclipse is so dark, as the hidings of the divine countenance.
For this they shall be made to smart and mourn ; for this they shall go heavily, “as one that mourneth for his mother;" when they are awakened by the voice of mercy, and called to look upon him whom they have pierced by their ingratitude and declension.
This sinful wandering from God does not destroy their sonship, for the word of truth declares, that