Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

from every other religious system. It has a Mediator, an Atonement, a Saviour. It does not merely inculcate the practice of moral duties; it points out one "able to save, even to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him." This Divine Saviour sends his Spirit into the hearts of Christians, and thus, by his abiding influence, may be said to dwell or to abide in them. Hence the Apostle uses such terms as these: "I live,” "yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me." "I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.". And he thus warns the Corinthians: "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" St. John encourages the disciples in similar language: "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." And our Saviour promises, “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

All these scriptural declarations, when stripped of their figurative language, must surely amount at least to this, that Christ will influence the hearts of those that believe on him; that he will assist them in their obedience, and impart to them a degree of peace and comfort which they could only obtain from his peculiar favour.

And is it indeed one of the principal articles of the Christian faith, that there is a Saviour by whose strength our weakness is to be supported? Then it is evident that a new direction must be given to our endeavours: they must not be less earnest, but they must be in some measure turned into a different channel. It must be our principal object to be made partakers of Christ, to receive strength from him, to glorify and praise him for all the grace we enjoy, to exercise dependence upon him, and to rejoice in his mercy and power. Bebold here the principle, by which we may understand all the strong expressions of love and gratitude

which the Apostle felt: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." "That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." "The love of Christ constraineth us." Such language evinces something more than the reverence due to the character of a Teacher; it argues a mind labouring to express the warmest feelings of gratitude to the Highest of benefactors. It exhibits the feelings of a heart which contemplated God, as the Guide and Supporter of man, as a Redeemer and an Intercessor.

Let us apply, then, the doctrine which has been delivered.

1. Let it awaken those who excuse their slothfulness, or their love of sin, under the plea of their own inability. Be persuaded either that you mistake the Gospel, or or that you pervert it. You may wait, as you think, for the grace of God, and in the mean time hope you are excusable, though you gain not the victory over sin; or you may go still farther, and satisfy yourself with occasional prayers for the mercy and grace of God: but be assured, that at the great day of judgment these excuses will not justify you in his sight. Place yourselves in imagination at that solemn bar, before which you must one day stand. Will you dare, then, to plead as an excuse for your sins, that you could not convert yourself? Would such a plea be admitted by that righteous Judge? Your consciences will answer that question. Man is a responsible creature, and the doctrines of the Gospel must not be so interpreted as to destroy his reponsibility. Be assured that our guilt will not be removed, nor the awful sentence of condemnation suspended by a metaphysical subtlety. Arise,

then, and shake off your lethargy: consider yourself as a sinner on the brink of perdition. Know your danger, and let the knowledge of it influence your conduct. Who, in the instant of peril, stays to reason upon the difficulty of avoiding it, or on natural and moral impossibility? It is a moment in which every faculty is called into exercise, when we cease to speculate and begin to act. Be this your example. Call upon God. Use the means of grace without embarrassing yourself by inquiring into subtle questions which none can thoroughly understand. Thus, and thus only, can you escape the wrath to come. But if you persist in attempting nothing, because nothing can be accomplished but by the power of God, what can you expect but to perish, as despisers of the grace which has been offered through Jesus Christ?

2. Let this doctrine teach us humility and dependence upon Christ.-Far be it from me, to minister to the pride of our corrupt nature by an exaggerated representation of our own strength. All power is from God; and our conviction of this truth should be evident by our earnestness in seeking the Divine assistance. Beware of entertaining high thoughts of yourself, or of expecting to do any thing acceptable to God; but by his especial grace working in you to will and to do. Prove that you believe the doctrine of man's inability by the disposition in which you enter upon any good work. Let it be with fervent prayer to God for ability. Proceed in the execution of it, with a constant dependence upon the grace of Christ, and with deep humility of spirit. And when you look back upon any act of holy obedience, see that you do not cherish pride and self-exaltation; but with all lowliness of mind, render your thanksgiving to God, whose grace has enabled the unworthiest and weakest of his servants to glorify his Name.

3. Let us derive from this subject encouragement in seeking to know God; and in endeavouring to serve him. The legitimate knowledge of our own weakness

er.

is given by God. He imparts it to those who faithfully strive against sin, who read the Scriptures with diligence, and stedfastly use the means of grace. I say the legitimate knowledge; for there is a spurious knowledge of our own inability, which arises merely from the indulgence of our corrupt propensities. Such is his knowledge, who yields to his sins because he loves them, who neither strives for victory over his depraved nature nor seriously wishes to be delivered from its powThis kind of knowledge can produce no salutary effect. It generates only inactivity and self-indulgence. But the legitimate knowledge of our inability, though it is given to humble man, yet is given to encourage him also: to encourage him to apply to a gracious God, who has sent his Son to redeem us, and his Spirit to help our infirmities. Be emboldened then, notwithstanding the sense of your weakness, to hope in the Lord, and to put your trust in his power and grace. Look to him with renewed earnestness and confidence: trust in his grace, and rely upon his promises: and the strength of Christ will be made perfect in the weakness of man, and the glory of the Lord be displayed, where our own insufficiency is most deeply felt and acknowledged."

SERMON VI.

ON THE CONNEXION BETWEEN REGENERATION AND OTHER DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL.

John iii. 1-3.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a Teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

WHEN a person, claiming so high a title as that of the Son of God, proposes to us a new religion, grounded upon the evidence of various miracles; and declares, that, according to their reception or rejection of it, mankind shall be saved or perish for ever; it is highly incumbent upon us clearly to understand what are its characteristic doctrines and peculiar genius, and wherein it essentially differs from others religions which have been received in the world. The curiosity of Nicode

« VorigeDoorgaan »