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precious death upon the cross, he might save us from sin and hell.
But, O! my soul-how great soever the love of God to perishing sinners may be-how rich soever the promises of mercy-how glorious soever the inheritance of the saints; what will all this avail, if thou art destitute of that faith, without which it is impossible to please God; and of that holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord !
I would ask myself with all seriousness, as in the presence of that God, who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins; have I received the Lord Jesus into my heart by a humble, loving faith ?
His name is as ointment poured forth, healing the wounded conscience, and shedding a rich fragrance through the soul. But have I felt the deadly wound, which sin has made ?
Have I with joy received the atonement, and thus obtained peace through believing ?
I may have a knowledge of the way of salvation, but have I been brought into this way by the Spirit of truth, and am I walking therein by faith ?
Do I now experience the power of the cross, in the crucifixion of my lusts, and the mortification of every sinful desire ?
Do I know Christ in the power of his resurrection ; being raised from a death in sin, to a life of righteousness ?
* As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Am I daily led by the Spirit, through the light of the revealed word, into a saving acquaintance with Jesus Christ, as my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption ?
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." Have I experienced a spiritual change in my understanding, will, and affections? Are my views, purposes, motives, desires, inclinations, and pursuits
quite different from what they once were ? Can it be said in the strong language of Scripture, that “I am born again" ? Is the change visible to others ? Is it felt by myself?
Am I devoted to the service of God; ardent in my love to the Saviour, and anxious for the happiness of all around me? Are my religious views and feelings thus influential, pervading, like the hidden sap, all the branches of personal and relative duties ?
The doctrines of the Gospel are practical in their tendency. They at once humble and elevate. Like rays emanating from the sun, they enlighten, warm, cheer, and fructify. Shine then, blessed Saviour, with thy bright beams of grace into my heart. Preserve me from every thing that is false and insincere. Let thy work be deep and abiding.
Nothing can uphold me but thy sustaining grace. Without thee I am like the chaff before the wind; like a withered branch ready to be carried away by every blast.
Abide in me, blessed Lord, that I may abide in thee. Unite me to thyself, and never leave me nor forsake me; then shall I praise thee with unceasing hallelujahs, when my happy spirit shall be transplanted to the Paradise above.
Jesus, thou true and living vine,
Unite my soul to thee;
Too long, alas ! my guilty soul
A fruitless branch hath been;
The slave of lust and sin.
01 may I now through sov'reign grace,
This blessed union know,
And endless glories grow.
Grafted by faith, my joyful heart
Shall be for ever thine;
Will prove the work divine.
Come, Holy Ghost, thou Lord of life,
Make all these blessings mine;
In Christ, the living vine.
XXXVI. ON THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.
The beatitudes with which our Lord begins his sermon on the Mount, most strikingly shew what is the inward state and outward conduct of true believers; as well as the general reception which such characters meet with from the world.
Their inward state is described by poverty of spirit, mourning for sin, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and purity of heart.
Their outward conduct, by meekness—mercifulness and peaceableness.
Their general reception from an unbelieving world, is declared to be persecution, reviling, and slander.
The promises made to the various branches of the Christian character are most encouraging.
The poor in spirit, who are humbled on account of sin, who are emptied of all self-righteousness, and who feel their constant need of Jesus; are made the happy partakers of every Gospel blessing. Receiving Christ into their hearts by faith, they daily grow in grace, and in a meetness for the heavenly inheritance.
The Saviour comforts these mourners in Zion, binds up their broken hearts, and gives them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. While hungering and thirsting after righteousness, the good Shepherd leads them into green pastures, and nourishes their souls unto eternal life. They receive the desire of their hearts, even the presence and image of God in their souls.
Being justified by faith, they are accepted in the beloved ; and being made the temples of the Holy Ghost, they become vessels unto honour, sanctified for the master's use.
Sincerity and uprightness mark their character. Purity of intention, a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness, flowing from that faith which purifies the heart; prepare them for present manifestations of God in Christ, as revealed in the Gospel, and for brighter visions of his glory in the world to come.
With these internal principles and affections, they shew forth by their daily walk and conversation, the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into marvellous light.
They are meek in their words and actions. The law of kindness dwells upon their tongue. They are long-suffering ; forbearing one another in love.
Thus they avoid many troubles which those endure, whose spirits are violent; and whose actions are unkind.
They glide along the stream of life upon the still waters of meekness and gentleness, whilst the contentious and irascible are ever struggling with the rough surges of their own creating. Being firm in purpose as well as mild in spirit, they cannot always escape the storm ; but whilst they “ earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints," when duty calls them so to do; they labour “to possess their souls in patience;” and strive “in meekness to instruct those who oppose themselves.” When they are reviled, they revile not again; when they
suffer, they threaten not: but committing themselves unto him who judgeth righteously, and who will one day vindicate the cause of his people; they are kept “ in perfect peace,” and in the truest sense of the promise “inherit the earth.”
They are merciful, when opportunities offer for the exercise of mercy, whether it be in acts of forgiveness or benevolence. Like their heavenly Fa. ther, they delight in mercy.
Having much forgiven, they are ready to forgive much; considering that the greatest possible injury done to themselves, when compared with their offences against God, is but like the hundred pence to the ten thousand talents. They pray for grace to resemble their beneficent Creator, who maketh his sun to arise on the evil and on the good; and who causeth his rain to descend on the just and on the unjust.
They love to do good unto all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith; remembering that Gospel precept: “Be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good.”
They love peace; and study, as far as is consistent with the truth of the Gospel and a good conscience, to live peaceably with all men.
They delight in pouring the balm of consolation into the troubled breast; and in smoothing the asperities of angry feeling wherever their influence extends.
These are the lineaments of that beautiful character which is formed by the Holy Spirit; and called by our blessed Saviour, " the salt of the earth,” and “the light of the world;" preserving it from universal corruption, and total darkness.
This character is the great preparative for the enjoyment of heavenly glory. And yet, though beloved of God, this is the character which is despised,