« السابقةمتابعة »
ware of seemingly slight aberrations from the truth. Let us "hold fast the form of sound words which we have received." Let us understand the faith once delivered to the saints," and contend earnestly for it, and let no part of it be flattered or wrested from us; knowing that the beginnings of error, like the beginnings of strife, are as when one letteth out water; first a rill, then a river, then a roaring and resistless torrent.
2. Let us beware of seemingly slight departures from the ways of holiness and virtue. Great and fatal declensions commence, as we have seen, in the indulgence of little sins. This is true of spiritual declensions, and it is equally true of moral declensions. No one ever ruined himself
, spiritually or morally, by one single, outrageous act of wickedness. No one ever commits such an act, till he has been through a process of preparation for it. Those who now hear me are not in great danger, I trust, of becoming
I thieves and murderers and adulterers at once; but we are all in danger of sliding into courses of sinful indulgence, which shall lead us insensibly along to the perpetration of the most outrageous wickedness -- any thing, to which we may have a strong temptation.
I repeat then, let us beware of seemingly slight departures from the ways of holiness and virtue. Let us beware of the sinful thought and the sinful desire, which, if indulged, will soon ripen into the sinful purpose. Let us beware of what are sometimes (though improperly) called little sins. It is these little foxes that spoil the vines. It is these little sins, as they are called, to which we shall be most strongly tempted. It is these into which we shall be the most likely to fall. These are the snares which the great adversary of the soul has most cunningly laid for us. If we escape these, we shall probably escape the rest. If, by Divine grace, we resist and overcome these, we may hope to go on, in a straight and sure path, to the end of our pilgrimage, and the consummation of our hopes.
Finally, it becomes those who are already entangled in the meshes of sin, to make their escape without delay; and this is, more or less, the case with us all. It is especially the case with the impenitent, unconverted part of this assembly. Such are not to regard themselves as already pure—having nothing to do but to preserve themselves in a state of moral purity. But you are already sinners—entangled in the fatal net; and the question of greatest interest to you is, How shall we get out of it? And on this point, as you know, the gospel authorizes but a single answer: “Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die.” Go on as you are, my impenitent hearers, and your ruin is certain. Parley, and delay, and daub with untempered mortar, and satisfy yourselves with
slight and insufficient remedies, and your ruin is certain. Your only safety is to turn right about, forsake the destructive paths of sin, enter the strait gate, and keep the narrow way of life; and though it may lead you over hills of difficulty, and amid scenes of trial, and through the dark valley of the shadow of death, it will surely bring you to a glorious end. It will lead you up to those heavenly hills, where Jesus has gone, and is waiting for you. Having finally overcome, you shall be permitted to sit with him on his throne, as he has overcome, and is seated on his Father's throne.
A CHRISTIAN is born of God, engrafted into Christ, and a babitation for the Holy Spirit. His nature is renewed, his mind
, illuminated, his spirit changed. He is not what he was, for grace hath made a difference; he is not what he desires to be, for grace is not yet perfected; he is not what he shall be, for grace shall be consummated in glory. The knowledge of Christ is his treasury; the mind of Christ his evidence; the love of Christ his song; conformity to Christ his life; to be with Christ his preeminent desire. By faith he rests on Christ, receives Christ, and looks to Christ. He hears Christ's words, treads in Christ's steps, and seeks Christ's approbation. He speaks the language of Christ's kingdom, reveres Christ's laws, obeys his ordinances, wears his costume, and lives to his glory. The life of Christ within him is the principle of his being; and because Christ lives, he shall live also. In the Christian, Christ lives and speaks and acts. He is Christ's representative on earth, his witness before men, and his follower before God. The Christian hearkens to Christ's teachings, rests on Christ's sacrifice, avails himself of Christ's mediation, and cheerfully obeys Christ's laws. He inquires, What would Christ have me know, what do, and what enjoy ? To know Christ, is Christianity intellectual; to obey Christ, Christianity practical; to enjoy Christ, Christianity experimental ; and to be like Christ, Christianity perfected. As bread to the hungry, as water to the thirsty, as the rock in the sultry day, is Christ to the Christian.
The Christian is in the world, but not of it; among the world, but yet separate from it; passing through the world, without attachment to it. The idolater boasts in his idols, the Mahometan in his false prophet, and the Romanist in the Virgin Mary; but the Christian glories only in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christian is a man, and may err; an imperfect man, and may sin; but a renewed man, and shall have his fruit unto life eternal. The Christian is a warrior, and must fight; but he is a conqueror, and must prevail. The Christian sojourns on earth, but dwells in heaven; he is a pilgrim in the desert, but an enrolled denizen of the skies. The Christian is the impress of Christ, the reflection of the Father, and the temple of the Holy Ghost. Contrast him with the infidel in his faith; with the profligate in his life; with the merely moral man in his heart, and with the Pharisee in his spirit. His pedigree is from Jehovah, his nature from heaven, and his name from Antioch. O Christian! great is thy dignity, refulgent is thy glory, interminable thy blessed hope. All things are thine; thou are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?
If so, you are clothed with humility; you have a deep and habitual sense of your sinfulness; you abhor yourself for your forgetfulness of God, ingratitude, pride of heart, unworthy indulgences of appetite and passion, and a thousand failures in duty, known only to God and yourself: "Behold, I am vile!" is the frequent language of your lips, and the pervading sentiment of your heart; though you dwell little on the infirmities and sins of which you are conscious, in conversation with others, they are constantly before your eyes, and constrain you to lie low, infinitely low before God, and heartily to acknowledge your desert of all the wrath denounced against the sinner, and that “on grace alone your hope relies,”
If so, you forget the things that are behind; such as the convictions of sin, righteousness, and judgment you once felt; the appar. ent change of moral feeling to which you attained; and the obedience you thought to render to the Divine command; and you look to the things that are before, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God: not that you never recall the day of your hopeful espousals
, nor remember the lovingkindness of the Lord in the hours of darkness, nor speak of what he hath done for your soul, in praise of his mercy; for to all this you are invited and bound; but your oft-violated vows will rise before you, your daily repentings and sinnings, your strong resolutions and inexcusable failures, will upbraid you, and mock your aspirings for assured hope, unless they drive you to renewed actings of faith, and the fresh dedication of your all to God, in sole dependence on that grace which saveth to the uttermost. Past experience will comfort you no further than it is sustained by present devotedness and earnest effort for perfect conformity to God.
If so, you are actively employed for Christ; you love his service; it is your meat and drink to do his will; to glorify and enjoy God is the highest end of your being; you have your own salvation in view, and work it out with fear and trembling; you have your eye open on the salvation of your family and your neighbors; you defend the truth of God when it is assailed, and vindicate his honor from the aspersions of his enemies; to do all this, you search the Scriptures, commune with God in your closet, exemplify religion in your daily conversation, attend diligently on the means of grace, and persuade others neither to neglect the Bible, nor contemn the ordinances of God, nor walk in the way of the ungodly, nor sit in the seat of the scornful; you neglect none of the ordinary duties of life, but provide conscientiously for your family, and promptly meet the claims of society, and in all things aim to keep a conscience void of offense.
If so, you love the prosperity of Zion and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Christ's errand into the world was to save it; if you are Christ's you have the same mind that was in him, and not only rejoice in all the triumphs of the cross, but labor to multiply and extend them. Millions are in the way to perdition; they are still within the reach of prayer, and the arm that is mighty to save, God has commissioned you to be laborers together with him in saving them; and, if faithful in executing the commission, his grace will be found sufficient for you in life, in death, in eternity. If these things be so, the question is settled ; you are a Christian. Congregationalist.
THE GOSPEL INVITATION.
“Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."-JOHN 6; 37.
In no wise! How broad is the door of welcome! says a holy writer, " is like one on his knees, with tears in his eyes and extreme fervor in his soul, beseeching the sinner to be saved.” He met the prodigal son half way. Ere the ungrateful wanderer could stammer forth, through penitential tears, the confession of his sins, the arms of mercy were around him. The prodigal thought of no more than the menial's place; the father had in readiness the best robe and the fatted calf. "There is no such argument,” says Bishop Reynolds, "for our turning to God, as his turning to us." He has the first word in the overtures of mercy. He refuses none, he welcomes all; the poor, the wretched, the blind, the naked, the burdened, the heavy-laden; the hardened sinner, the aged sinner, the daring sinner, the dying sinner-all are invited to the conference: “Come now, and let us reason together.” The most parched tongue, that laps the streams from
. the smitten rock, has everlasting life. “When we forgive, it costs us an effort; when God forgives, it is his delight." From the battlements of heaven he is calling after us: “Turn ye! turn ye! Why will ye die ?" He seems to wonder if sinners have pleasure in their own death. He declares, “I have none."
My soul, hast thou yet closed with the gospel's free invitations? Have you gone, just as you are, with all the raggedness of nature's garments, standing in your own nothingness, feeling that you are insolvent, that you have "nothing to pay,” already a bankrupt, and the debt always increasing? Have you taken hold of that blessed assurance,
“He is able to save unto the uttermost?" Are you resting your eternal all on him who has done all and suffered all for you ; leaving you, " without money and without price, " a free, full, unconditional offer of a great salvation? Say not your sins are too many, the crimson dye too deep. It is because you are a great sinner, and have great sins, that you need a great Saviour. “Of whom I am chief," is a golden postscript to the "faithful saying." Do not dishonor God by casting doubts on his ability or willing
sins are beinous, you will be all the greater monument of grace. You may be the weakest and unworthiest of vessels; but remember there was a niche in the temple for great and for small, for “vessels of cups” as well as for “vessels of flagons." Ay, and the smallest vessel glorifies Christ.
Arise, then, and call upon thy God! We cannot say with the king of Ninevab, “Who can tell if God will turn ?" He is “turning” now; importunately pleading, and averring, on his own immutable word, that he "will in no wise cast out.”
" Though ye have lain among the pots, ye shall be as doves, whose wings are covered with silver, and their feathers with yellow gold.” Close without delay with these precious invitations, that so, looking up to a reconciled God and Father in heaven, you may even this night say, “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety."