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0, blessed Jesus, thou mighty Conqueror of
soul, shield me by thy grace; arm me with thy power, and enable me to resist and overcome this dreadful foe. Lord, I am helplessness itself. Undertake for me. I am nothing but guilt and misery, save me, for thy mercy's sake.
XXXI.-THE BURDEN OF SIN DEPLORED.
“ We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened."
2 Cor. v. 4.
The worldly-minded professor and the formalist, are alike insensible to the evil of sin. With their lips, indeed, they can say, “ We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings. The remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable,” while they neither feel sorrow for sin, nor groan under the weight of it. From the table of the Lord, the one can pursue his pleasures, and the other his covetous desires. The one clothes his vices with specious names ; the other covers the evil of his heart with a punctilious observance of outward duties. Both stand on the same level in the sight of God, though each despises the other. The formalist considers the worldling as profane; the worldling views the formalist as hypocritical. Pride reigns in both. The love of God dwells in neither.
If we calmly survey what passes around us, we cannot but be pained, if taught of God, to see what trouble people take to impose upon themselves. Every one has some excuse to make for what he does. If you speak to a man of the world, he will soon tell you, that it will not do to be singular; that we must conform to the maxims, customs, and fashions of the world, if we would avoid the odious name of saint. If you converse with the formalist,
extol, as of the first importance, the rites and ceremonies of his Church, while he sneers at experimental religion, the religion of the heart, as being enthusiastic, and carrying things too far. Even amongst real Christians, those, whose hearts have been converted to God, but differing from each other on some points of church discipline and government, we too often see a lamentable want of that charity, which is the bond of perfectness. This is truly a mournful sight! Oh! that the enemies of the Gospel could say
of us, as the persecutors of the Church once did, “See how these Christians love one another."
Few, alas ! in this evil day, when divisions distract the Church of Christ, are able, in a spirit of brotherly love, and Christian fellowship, to unite with St. Paul in his Catholic prayer: “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.** The extreme of all parties seize upon the keys in a spirit of Popedom, and open or close the door of admission into the Church, as they think proper. There is a Pope in every heart. How many are unchristianised, whom Christ will own when he makes up his jewels. Oh! what an unspeakable blessing it is to know, and to feel assured, upon the inspired truth of God, that Christ alone holds the keys of Sovereign Authority and Power. power,” said he, “is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”+ “I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen ; and have the keys of hell and
“ These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth."
It may be replied: Did not our Lord say to Peter—“I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven ; and whatsoever thou shalt * Eph. vi. 24. + Matt. xxviii. 18. # Rev. i. 17, 18.
S Rev. iii. 7.
loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven."* He did, and Peter was peculiarly honoured in being the first to open the door into the Christian Church, both to Jews and Gentiles. On the day of Pentecost, through his preaching, three thousand souls were added to the Church, from among the assembled Jews at Jerusalem. And, in the house of Cornelius, the Holy Ghost was imparted, and repentance unto life was granted, to the Gentile company, who also heard from the lips of Peter the words of eternal life.
Peter, in common with the other Apostles, was inspired to declare the will of God, which should be binding on the Church in every age. To him, as well as to the rest of the Apostles, was given power to exercise a salutary discipline in the Church, and to separate from it, heinous offenders. This being done, according to the revealed Will of God, would be ratified in heaven. +
St. Paul, “ called to be an Apostle,”though, as he expresses it, “as one born out of due time, had an equal commission with the twelve. He used this apostolic authority in the Church of Corinth, by cutting off, for a time, an offending member. Also in the Church of Thessalonica.** The same discipline he exercised over Hymeneus and Alexander.tt.
The power thus delegated by our Lord, as Head of his Church, was not for destruction, but for edification. Peter, therefore, writes, “ Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”+1 So also writes St. Paul: “To spare you, I came not as yet unto Corinth. Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy."SS" Though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed."'*
+ See Matt. xviii. 15—20. * Rom. i. 1. § 1 Cor. xv. 8. || 1 Cor. v. 4, 5. 2 Thess. iii. 14, 15. ++ 1 Tim. i. 19, 20. I* 1 Pet. v. 2, 3. SS 2 Cor. i. 23, 24.
* Matt. xvi. 19.
These passages clearly show how the Apostles used the keys of authority in the Church, and expose the arrogant pretensions of the Church of Rome, as if she were the sole proprietress of the keys, the mother and mistress of all churches, and the Pope, the successor of Peter, and the Sovereign Pontiff,'to open and shut the kingdom of heaven as he pleases. Instead of employing ecclesiastical authority for the edification of the Church, the Papal Hierarchy employ it for the sole purpose of establishing their own power, of filling their own coffers, and of persecuting even unto death (when able so to do) the saints of the Most High, who dare not conform to their idolatrous rites, nor receive their antichristian dogmas.
Instead of teaching her sinful members to look unto Jesus for pardon and peace, and to trust only in the merits of his blood for acceptance with God, who fulfilled all the righteousness of the law for us ; she sends them to the Priest, who, at the confessional, puts himself in the place of God, and then absolves them in the plenitude of his power. They return pacified in their consciences, by this priestly quietus, regardless of the One Atonement which Christ made for sin. Instead of directing her members to the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who ever liveth to make intercession for us, and whose intercession alone can prevail with God; this Apostate Church, sends her blinded votaries to the Virgin Mary, as
- the Mother of divine grace," Queen of all saints,” thus lowering the majesty and glory of the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. And, as if this did not sufficiently eclipse the Sun of Righteousness, she multiplies her intercessors, and fills her sanctuaries with the images of her idol saints !
Happy would it be, if many in the Protestant Church did not tread so near the multiplied errors of
* 2 Cor. x. 8.
66 the of
the Church of Rome. We are ever prone to extremes. There is a danger of undervaluing the blessed instituted sacraments of our Lord; and there is also a danger of unduly exalting them, beyond the design for which they were appointed. The only fountain
grace is God in Christ. All grace flows down to us from the ever adorable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Neither creatures nor sacraments have any inherent virtue in themselves to confer grace. They are not the fountain, but channels or golden pipes, through which the golden oil of grace is conveyed to the believing soul, through the power of the Holy Ghost.* Without faith in the heart of the recipient the Holy Communion of the body and blood of Christ, will be but an empty channel, through which no living water will pass to the soul.
Oh! what a blessing it is to be a BIBLE CHRISTIAN, to bear the Image of Christ, to be a temple of the Holy Ghost. Without this, no forms of religion, however excellent, no Church, however pure, to which we may have nominally belonged, can help us when Christ cometh to judgment. We may then say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? ......and in thy name done many wonderful works ?” but the Great Searcher of hearts will answer,—“I never knew you : depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”f We may now loftily exclaim, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we, but, at the righteous revelation of God, we shall be found to be no better than heathen temples, in which the idols of self-righteousness, pride, and persecuting zeal have had the homage of our hearts.
Oh! my soul, in the midst of abounding iniquity, in the midst of errors and heresies, keep near to thy Almighty Saviour. I groan, being burdened with a body of sin and death. How long shall vain thoughts lodge within me? Oh! that they may be for ever removed. I trust I can say—“I hate vain thoughts,” and yet, alas ! how they swarm, at times,
+ Matt. vii. 22, 23.
Zech. iv. 12.