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Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1831, by A. Dickinson, in the office of the Clerk of the Southern
District of New York.
SERMON CXLIV.W. NEVINS.
The Solemħ Question Answered
The Conversion of Zacheus
The Holy Spirit's Agency in Regeneration
Purification of the Sacred Ministry
Unsearchable Riches of Christ
Preparation for Meeting God
The Sinner's Ability to Obey God, if he will
The Guilt and Misery attendant on Parental Indulgence
Peculiar Responsibilities of Young Men
Time Measured by Elernity
Solemn Views of Probation
Solemn Rebuke to the Ungrateful and Backsliding .
Causes of a Decline of Revivals
The Loveliness of Christian Love
Union Among Christians
Nature of Intemperance in Eating
The Murder of a Faithful Minister, or the Downward Course of Sin
The Nature and Efficacy of True Prayer
The Consequences of Intemperance in Eating
MATT. V. 14, 15, 16. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick ; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
This passage of Scripture implies that there is a difference between Christians and other men. It is a radical and permanent distinction as regards their principles of action. My object is to show that this difference will manifest itself in the life. This I shall endeavor to do by showing,
I. That this difference will be developed ; and
II. By inquiring what there is in the circumstances of the Christian adapted to bring out his principles.
The first point is that the principles of Christian piety will be in fact developed in the life. By this I mean, that he who is truly a Christian in his heart, will be in his life; that his conduct will be not merely that of a professor, or a moral man, or an amiable and estimable member of his family and the community ; but that he will be a religious man ; that you may know where to find him on any subject pertaining to the kingdom of Christ. Now that this will be the case, it does not require many words to prove. For
1. The nature of the change is such that it cannot but develop itself. Regeneration effects no direct revolution in the intellect, but it does in the heart ; none in the essential stamina of the mind, but it does in the principles of action, and in the volitions, desires, and preferences of the man. Nor is it a slight change. It is so great as to make it proper to apply to it the terms new creation, new birth, and life from the dead. There is no other change in the human mind like it-none so deep, so thorough, so abiding. This is so clear in the Bible as to need no further proof. Now the proper place to manifest suc change is in the life, and such a change if it exist will be manifest there. Neither the nature of mind nor of religion, will, or can, prevent it. Important revolutions in a man's principles on any subject we expect will be exhibited there. Nor have we any evidence that they have occurred until we witness them in a man's deportment.
But the change in a man's religious views and feelings in regeneration, is one that affects him not in any one department of life, but in all. It is not a revo
lution whose effects we expect simply in the church, or in the family; in the external conduct, or in the abandonment of vices; but in all the appropriate circumstances of the man's life. If a revolution like that exist, it will be seen. It will constitute him a new man in Christ Jesus.
2. The same thing is clear from the declaration of the text. It is not, ye ought to be the light of the world, but ye are ; not that Christians should be like a city set on a hill, but an affirmation that they are such. Though exhortations are addressed to Christians in the New Testament urging them to a life of faith, yet they are also addressed as actually putting forth the principles of piety, and as true to their God and Savior. Ye who were some time darkness are light in the Lord. Believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your soul. I thank my God, says Paul to the Romans, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. None of us liveth to himself, and none dieth to himself. It is unnecessary to multiply passages. All know that the New Testament abounds in expressions declaring the matter of fact that the gospel has an ascendency in the minds of its friends. Nor would it be necessary to advert to this circumstance were it not that so many Christians are in the habit of regarding the Bible rather as filled with exhortations and commands, which they are not expected to comply with, than with sober statements of what the gospel actually does accomplish among men. The truth is, God contemplated that the gospel should have effect; and such was, in sober verity, the early effect of the gospel, that Paul could address any church as actually manifesting the mighty change wrought by the spirit of God. Ye are our epistle, said he to the church at Corinth, the living, standing proof at once of the power of the gospel, and of the effect of his ministry. We have fallen on different times. The language addressed to churches is not, ye are, but ye ought to be, the consistent followers of the Lord Jesus. O when shall we be free from that miserable theology which only chills, and paralyzes, and freezes ; that false philosophy which fetters the soul, and binds the energies of the children of God; and that spirit of slumber which compels the ministry, if they would speak the truth to their people, to say, ye ought to be the devoted followers of Christ, and which seals our mouth when we would say, ye are living monuments of the
of God. Let not refuge be attempted here in the plea that the people whom Paul addressed had been heathen, and that therefore the change would be more manifest, and this sort of appeal would be more proper. True, they had been heathen ; and the change was a proof which no infidel has met yet, that the gospel was from God. But the ground of the address to the primitive Christians was not what they had been, so much as what they then were. Besides, is it reserved for us to meet a remark like this, that a people nursed in heathenism, but yesterday degraded to the level of the brute, and sunk in every species of abomination, were to be addressed as actually in advance in Christian principles of the people of our times, and trained from their earliest years in the great principles of the Christian religion? Are we to expect more living demonstrations of the power of piety from the recovered population of Athens, Corinth, and Rome, than from the people of these times; more of its ceaseless energy and heavenly influence on the population of Caffraria, and the Sandwich Islands, and Burmah or Hindoostan, than in the churches of this land ? No, my Christian brethren, the gospel contemplates it as a matter of sober fuct that we can appeal to you and to all Christians and say, ye are—not ye ought to be—the light of the world. We can address the language of obligation and of duty to the most degraded population on the globe; we can approach the profligate, and the profane, and the pagan, with the language, ye ought to be humble followers of God. We can approach true Christians with the language of certainty, and say, ye are the