Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

dering his ways, and contemplating himself in this faithful mirrour; will soon become acquainted with his own heart and character, and perceive his need of the mercy and grace proposed in the gospel. By persevering in this course of self-examination, without being offended by the discoveries he makes; he will speedily understand that he ought to humble himself before God, for sins more numerous than the hairs of his head: and experience will convince him, that he can neither atone for the least of his former transgressions, nor answer the righteous demands of the divine law; nay, that he cannot truly repent, except by the promised assistance of the Holy Spirit, His daily efforts will bring him more and more ac. quainted with his sins of omission and commission, the defilements of his duties, the hidden eyils of his heart, the strength of his depraved propensities, and the power of habits and temptations. These things will render him weary of attempting to “ establish his own righteousness,” or to change his own nature. He will now be capable of understanding the words of the apostle; “ By the works “ of the law shall no flesh be justified in the sight: “ of God, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." The publican's prayer, “God be merciful to me a “sinner,” he will now most cordially adopt; and the nature, glory, and preciousness of the free salm, vation revealed in the gospel will be more and more

unfolded to his view. Thus he will learn with increasing simplicity to plead the name of Christ in genuine faith; to come to the Father by him, and to rely solely on his righteousness, redemption, and mediation, for acceptance and eternal life.

In this manner the practical student of scripture, being justified by faith, and having peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, will make still further progress in the divine life. The convincing and enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit, through the instruction of the written word, will continually discover to him defects and defilements in his heart and conduct, which he had not before observed. Thus while he presses forward, and aspires after nearer and nearer conformity to his perfect rule; repentance, faith, watchfulness, and fervent prayer, will become more and more habitual, and as it were natural to him. His heart will grow more humble, and his conscience more tender, his dependence on Christ more simple, and his gratitude for redeeming love more abundant, in proportion to the degree of his sanctification. These things will render him likewise more compassionate, tender, forbearing, and forgiving; more patient and self-denying; and more ready to encounter dangers and difficulties, in promoting the cause of Christ among his fellowsinners. And as no absolute perfection can be attained on earth; and as he deems all faulty and deformed, which does not come up to the requirement of the holy law, and the spotless example of the Saviour; 'so no limits can be assigned to his discoveries and progress, during his continu: ance in this world.

This is the character described by the apostle, “ he is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the ". work; and he shall be blessed in his doing.He is made wise unto salvation, and shall “abound “ in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost:" he shall find liberty and pleasure in the ways of God; be made useful to society, and a blessing to his connexions; and he shall “ have an entrance ad" ministered unto him abundantly into the ever

lasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus “ Christ.

No man who duly considers these things can doubt the practical nature and tendency of the gospel. Christ is our sole Foundation: but no one builds on that Foundation, except he hears his sayings, and does them. The practical hearer's faith is living; he is a wise man: and this will appear to all the world; when the folly of those who build upon the sand by a dead faith, by hearing and not doing, will be exposed to universal contempt. Alas, my brethren, how numerous are such nominal Christians; who call Christ, Lord,

yet do not the things that he says !” But unless the design of the gospel be answered in our hearts VOL. I,

I i

and lives, the gospel itself will increase our con. demnation. Are

any of you then sensible, that your hearing has hitherto failed to influence your practice? Let me conjure you, by the love you

bear to your own happiness, not to put off the alarming conviction, by saying, “Go thy way, at this time, when I havo

a convenient opportunity I will call for thee.” It is not yet too late : “Now is the accepted time, “now is the day of salvation:” But you know not how soon the Master of the house may shut to the door; and then it will be too late to begin to say, “Lord, Lord, open to us;” for he will silence every plea, and bid you“ depart as workers “ of iniquity.” But have

you, my brethren, begun seriously to practise what

you know, and to enquire the will of God that you may do it? Blessed be the Lord, for his grace bestowed on you! Go on in this way, my beloved brethren ; and even the most humiliating discoveries you make of yourselves, will serve to endear the gospel of salvation to you. “ Then shall you know, if you follow on to know " the Lord:” “ For the path of the just shineth

more and more to the perfect day.” The practice of duty will prepare your hearts for the reception of truth; by removing those prejudices, with which the prevalence of carnal affections closes the understandings of the disobedient: and every

accession of spiritual knowledge will have a sanctifying and comforting effect upon your hearts.

Finally, were we as desirous of having our souls adorned with holiness, as most persons are of decorating the poor dying body; we should certainly make continual discoveries of our remaining uncomeliness, and be thankful for assistance in such researches: and we should make daily progress in sanctification; by “putting off the old

man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful " lusts, and putting on the new man, which after "God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

« VorigeDoorgaan »