صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

in the heart is by faith, and implies a peculiar state of the affections towards him. It presupposes, indeed, an understanding of his natural offices, &c. yet not a mere speculative assent to right notions of him, without a cordial acquiescence in his mediation, and the whole of his redemption. In short, Christ dwells in the heart just as other things dwell there; as money dwells in the heart of the miser; or the child in the heart of the parent; or the bridegroom in the heart of the bride : as David in the heart of Jonathan; as Joseph or Rachel in the heart of Jacob, &c. Only, as Christ is more worthy of his residence than any other object of affection, so he ought to dwell deeper in the heart, and to have it more entirely to himself; so that nothing else should come in but by his leave. It means, for him to be the object of our chief regard, so that we can truly say, He is all in all to us. “ Thou knowest I love thee.” Whom have I in heaven, but thee; and there is none upon earth I desire beside thee." This proof we can give. And it is not merely to say this, but to feel and act accordingly; not occasionally only, but constantly.

SecondLY : How is it by faith that he dwells in the heart?

Not by fancying that he is there, while we do not feel our love to him, as we do to other objects, nor act at all consistently with such a profession; but only believe that he is in us, because we are told that he is in his people, and we choose to reckon that we are such. Or, because we once had some semblance of good affections, and we understand that all who have been united to Christ abide in him, and So we suppose

he must dwell in our hearts. But we believe the doctrines taught by him. We believe the doctrines of scripture relative to him. We find all the doctrines of revelation have a relation to Christ, more directly or remotely. The truth as it is in Jesus. God's being, perfections, claims, all endear the Mediator. Especially, if we believe God's testimony concerning his Son. Christ will possess our affections; dwell in our hearts. So that if we believe the express testimony of God, that Jesus is the only Saviour, that no one else can deliver from eternal ruin, that none but Jesus can do

helpless sinners good; surely we must then give him the chief place in our hearts. If we believe how great the misery was from which Christ has delivered all that believe in his name, and that he delivered us by bearing the penalty due to us, we must surely give him the chief place in our hearts. If we believe all this was justly due to us, it must enhance our affection for him, who so freely interposed, for creatures so very unworthy and guilty. If we believe the law which we have violated to have been perfectly reasonable, equitable and good ; necessary for the good of the universe, as well as for God's glory. If we believe that the God against whom we have sinned is infinitely great and glorious, surely he who has reinstated us in his favour, must have the chief place in our hearts. By faith we realize how fit and suitable this way of salvation is, to glorify God, and secure the highest happiness of those that are interested in his salvation. Christ must dwell in our hearts, if we realize how great a person he is, who is become our Saviour : he who by himself has purged our sins, is the brightness of the Father's glory. Can we believe him to be God's only begotten Son, the Alpha and Omega, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and not love him? If we believe how justly he demands our hearts in return, surely we shall give them to him. If we believe how great is the glory to which he will bring us at last, when he shall come to judge the universe, and receive us to himself, he will dwell in our hearts by faith.

THIRDLY : If Christ does dwell in our hearts, how should we make it appear?

Surely we shall often think of him, and think of him very highly and affectionately. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak of him, especially to his friends, and those who greatly need him : we shall regard others, according to their relation to him, and disposition towards him ; loving all who love him, and feeling shocked at those who hate him without cause. We shall pity those who need him, and yet know him not. As if we had found a physician good to us, and should be anxious for others to make trial of his skill; or as the little maid wished Naaman was with Elisha. How much more our nearest relations and

friends! We shall be willing to be directed by him, how we should show our gratitude towards him. If he has given particular instructions for his friends, shall we not prize them highly? If he has given us rules for our general conduct, shall we not conform to them readily, and punctually? We shall be willing to leave all our concerns to his management, and be disposed to think well of all he does. If Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, we shall live on him for strength as well as righteousness, submit to his authority, imbibe his spirit, and be induced to imitate his example. We shall assuredly long to have him generally known, prized, admired, and highly exalted. We shall long to live with him, that we may behold his glory, and no more go out of his presence; and shall wait with pleasing expectation for his second coming. If Christ dwells thus in his people's hearts, and their love to him is the root and foundation of all their religion, then let us thoroughly examine, if he can be said to have an abiding residence in our hearts.

If it is by faith in the divine testimony that Christ dwells in our hearts, let us be constantly employed in searching the Sacred Scriptures, in which that testimony is contained, that the word of Christ may dwell in us richly, in all wisdom. And let us pray for an increase of faith. Let it be our concern so to act, as to prove that Christ indeed dwells in our hearts, rules in them, purifies them, overcomes the love of the world in them. Surely if he does dwell there, he will cast out his rivals, and subdue his enemies. If Christ dwells in you, you will always have good company. He will grant you sweet communion with himself. He will supply all your need. He will support you under every trial ; will keep your heart in peace; and will adorn the heart. Heaven is begun in the heart where Christ resides. If he now dwells in you, you shall at last dwell with him, and that for ever.

CXVIII.

THE TRUE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST.

Eph. iv. 20.
But
ye

have not so learned Christ. The connexion of this passage will be sufficiently clear, if we only look back to the 17th verse, where the Apostle enjoins the believing Ephesians to regard it as their clear and indispensable duty, as they would show their relation to Christ, their grateful sense of his love, and regard to his authority ; that henceforth they should walk, or conduct themselves, not as other Gentiles. He then describes the sad state of the unconverted heathens; their minds filled with vanity, their understandings darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through ignorance and blindness, or hardness of heart. The dreadful effects of their native depravity, instead of being removed by their false religion, were even encouraged and heightened thereby, through the vile characters of their gods, and the impurity of their idolatrous worship. Whereas true Christianity taught a morality infinitely superior to Pagan mythology, and would be sure to have a sanctifying effect upon all those by whom it was cordially embraced.

The text would admit of a translation a little different, but coming to much the same thing. They work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ.” That is, They who have learned Christ, cannot live in impurity, like ignorant and deluded heathens. This translation would direct our attention principally to the excellence of Christianity, in contrast with paganism. Or, if we follow the common translation, Ye have not so learned Christ; that is, not so as to leave you in bondage to impurity, it will lead us to insist on these ideas. Though a mere speculative acquaintance with Christianity might not deliver from pollution ; or a false view of it might encourage sin ; yet that which is cordial and genuine, will have a different effect. Both these views of the subject are concording and harmonious, and very interesting and important, and

66

therefore I would take it up in each of them; and would,

First, Show that it is the peculiar excellence of the religion of Christ, by which it is eminently distinguished from all false religion, that it has a powerful tendency to promote universal purity of heart and life.

The whole revelation of scripture, but especially the discoveries it contains of Christ as a Mediator, are suited to give us the most exalted ideas of the divine perfections. The God of the Bible is a God of purity, and consummate moral excellence. This is eminently displayed in the cross of Christ. The worshippers of a lustful Jupiter, a wanton Venus, and a thievish Mercury, &c. might well commit uncleanness, and indulge the other scandalous vices for which they might plead the examples of their gods : and so the Hindoos, &c. But not so ye, ye have learned Christ. He has revealed to you a God of infinitely superior character. The doctrine of Christ displays the importance of God's moral government. He who is glorious in holiness, requires his creatures to be so; notices their conduct, will support his authority, and never suffer his rights to be invaded, nor his law to be infringed with impunity. The death of Christ amply confirms this. If then ye have learned Christ, you dare not live as others. Christ has fully taught the infinite evil of sin. That which exposes to eternal punishment must be infinitely evil ; that which required the death of God's own Son. Others may make light of sin, but not so ye.

Christ has given his people a perfect rule of duty. When I say he has given it them, I would by no means imply that others are at liberty to go on in sin. But believers account it a blessing that, though delivered from the penalty of the law, they have the precepts to guide them. Others will violate them, but not so ye; ye have learned Christ.

Christ has set his people a most perfect .example. We do not think this the chief end of his incarnation; but it is one glorious end actually answered by it. If, therefore, others live in sin, yet we hope it may be said, But not

Christ has given us the most powerful motives to purity and obedience. He has confirmed all antecedent

so ye.

« السابقةمتابعة »