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EVIDENCES BY WHICH THIS IMPOR
ruptions may get the better of your | Second subject proposed for our con. convictions, and from not following up sideration.--THE OFFERING A in private what you have heard and felt in public, your good resolutions TANT FACT MAY BE ASCERTAINED. may wither away, and you may bring In doing so, I shall confine myself to no fruit to perfection, and the king- three points, out of many which dom of God may never be established might be offered if our time allowed. within you.
They are these- First, a renewed Another equally common delusion heart—Secondly, a true faith—Thirdby which we may be deluded, is ima- ly, an increasing desire after God in gining that the kingdom of grace is Christ Jesus. Where they are found within you, because you forsake some we do not scruple to say that the great things that are displeasing to God. work is fully commenced—the foundNow we are told even of Herod, that ation of the kingdom of grace is he did many things and heard John established. Heaven and earth shall gladly, although he was guilty of pass away; but this, from its first stone, adultery and murder. In the same laid in weakness and in much tremmanner you may be so affected by the bling, to its head stone, carried up in truths of God's word, or the common triumph, shall never pass away, till operations of the Spirit, that you may that which was begun in grace be do many things that God commands perfected in glory. you, and hear his word gladly; and you First, then, a renewed heart. This may resolve to give up some particu- evidence the Spirit of God fully estahlar sins in which you have long and lishes when he says by the mouth of guiltily indulged. We bless God if the Apostle, “If any man be in Christ even this be attained; but then be he is a new creature. Old things are careful that you do not mistake reform passed away, behold all things have ation for conversion. You may have become new.” It is impossible, thereexchanged your more flagrant enor- fore, for this kingdom of grace to exist mities for more secret and less offen- in the heart, unless there be this new sive sins in the sight of man, and this creation. We do not mean by this to is frequently the case ; for, although, assert, that any new faculties of mind the love or the power of God has no part will be implanted, but that there will in the matter, though you may cut off be a new impulse given to those which the poisoned streams, the poisoned you do possess-new motives-new fountain from which they flow, the desires-new actions-new conduct. evil heart of unbelief, may be un- The strings of a harp remain the cleansed and unaltered still. The same, but the tones they produce are heart of the natural man is Satan's various. If then, brethren, you find throne ; and if that be still untouched, no change of heart, if old sins still if he be still Lord of the ascendant, reign, old tempers triumph, old pleathe kingdom of God is not within you. sures captivate, and you are as gross
You will see, then, even from these and as sensual as ever, and as worldly slight hints, how open we are to de- or even as thoughtless, and as God lusion on this great subject-how forgetting as you ever were, surely easily we are misled—how liable to if God's word be true, one great and be deceived; and this particularly in important feature is wanting ; surely our own case, where the heart, de- you will, at least hesitate before you ceitful above measure, is engaged in believe that the kingdom of God is deceiving us.
This will naturally bring us to the Secondly; I have mentioned a true
faith as another unquestionable evi- | public profession of godliness, but that dence of the establishment of this earnest and increasing and secret kingdom. By a true faith, I mean seeking for him and longing after that faith which the Apostle meant him; that it does not merely desire when he said, “Therefore being jus-Christ for what he has, but what he tified by faith, we have peace with is; not only for his rewards, but for God." A faith which while it de- his holiness and his loveliness. This pends solely and entirely upon the desire is so great in the heart, where one great sacrifice and finished work the kingdom of God is fully estaof our adorable Redeemer for all our blished, that it rests satisfied with nosalvation, upon his righteousness thing short of God himself—his apalone for acceptance, and upon his probation—his favour-his presenceSpirit for sanctification, has respect to his love. all God's commandments, teaches us It is also a gradually increasing to love them because we love God, desire. It does not begin by breaking and to love God because he first forth into rhapsody—it does not at loved us.
Such faith, however weak, once at the commencement of the yea, though it touch but the hem of Christian life, imitate those powerful Christ's garment, such faith is a true feelings and those strong expressions, faith-a justifying faith-a saving which are the result of deep, and long, faith—a miraculous faith. Yes, even and tried experience of the unsearch. at this day, such a faith always has, able riches of Christ; but it increases and to the last day always will, work gradually, like the sun in the horizon, miracles. Not, indeed, by healing us shining brighter and brighter—desirof those temporal afflictions, which ing more and more—thankful for the God, in his mercy, and wisdom, and least degree of grace which God love, has seen fit to lay upon us; but bestows, but not satisfied with the by removing the mountain of our sins, greatest; seeking more love, more and casting it into the sea of Christ's holiness, more and more of the precleansing, and healing, and pardoning sence of Christ, even up to that hour blood. This is the miracle which a when we shall see him face to face. true faith was intended to work, and Now these, brethren, are clear and which a true faith always will work. convincing, because they are scriptu
The Third evidence which I have ral evidences, wherever they are found mentioned, is that of an increasing to exist, that the kingdom of God is desire after God in Christ Jesus. If within you. But clear and convincing the kingdom of grace be really esta- as they are, there will always be some blished within you, you will know in every congregation, a class in whom something experimentally of that feel the minister of Christ is most deeply ing of the prophet Isaiah, “With my interested, who are unable to distinsoul have I desired thee; yea, with guish these evidences although they my spirit within me will I seek thee possess them. You then who, although early. The desire of my soul is to earnestly engaged in seeking after thy name and in the remembrance of Christ, the one thing needful, often thee.” There will be this love for write bitter things against yourselves, God in Christ Jesus, and this desire attend, and may the Spirit of God for nearer and closer communion with enable you to profit, while we consider, him, which his people have experienced THE VALUE OF THOSE OBJECTIONS in all ages, and which differs from every counterfeit in these important to you WHEN particulars, that it is not merely a TRIALS AND PAINFUL EXPERIENCES.
WHICH THE SOUL OFTEN SUGGESTS
You are, perhaps, ready at such times of the children of God may have been to say, “I fear the kingdom of God far more deeply tried, and far more is not really established within me, painfully humbled for sin, than yourbecause the fallow ground of my heart selves. has never been sufficiently deeply Again, this is not an uncommon broken up by the law before I was feeling in the heart of those to whom led to Christ. I have never been I am now especially addressing myhumbled enough. I have never suf- self. “I fear the kingdom of God is fered sufficiently in sorrow and humi- not within me, or I should surely be liation for sin.” God forbid that in more strong, and vigorous, and lively, endeavouring to remove these diffi. in the Divine life, than I have ever culties we should treat the work of the yet been. I am sensible of nothing Lord lightly, or give any countenance but weakness. If I look at my prayers, to the superficial feelings of religion my readings, my meditations, my saso common amongst us, void of all craments, my obediences, all are alike; depth of root, so certain to wither all are poor, weak, worthless offeraway. It cannot be too often repeated, ings. If I am in trouble or difficulty, that where the work of conversion my faith immediately fails me; and so has been deeply laid in brokenness of unimportant and uninfluential is Di. heart for sin, there it will be usually vine grace in my heart, that I am found the most clear and decisive. often led to doubt its very existence Still would we not be deterred by this there.” These, brethren, are the feelbelief from speaking comfortably to ings which mark the bruised reed and those who need consolation on this the smoking flax, which Christ has point. I would say to you then, there promised never to break nor to quench. is no possible measure of contrition or Do not for a moment imagine that the humiliation for sin prescribed by weakness of grace and the want of God's word, neither may we prescribe grace are synonymous. It is true that it. It is the truth and the sincerity of you may feel all these symptoms to your sorrow for sin, at which God which I have alluded; and yet it is looks, not at the measure of it. If, equally true, that at this very moment then, you are really anxious to know, you may be among the dearest of whether you have been sufficiently God's children. A weak faith will humbled for sin, we would reply, save as well as a strong one ; the Are you so humbled for sin that you child's hand may put on the garment are willing to give it up ?-are you so of salvation as well as the hand of the humbled for sin that you would not giant; the youngest of Noah's childwillingly again commit even the most ren was as safe when once within the favoured of your sins, if all the world door of the ark as Noah himself; and were offered you? The refiner does the feeble believer who is brought by not ask how long has the gold remained the Spirit of our God, to cast himself, in the furnace; he asks, is the dross for time and eternity, on the bosom of purged away?—is the baser metal his Lord, is as safe as the beloved burnt up? If it be so, then does he Apostle, who laid his head there durrequire nothing further to convince ing those hours of sorrow which prehim that the gold has been sufficiently ceded the crucifixion of his Master. long in the crucible. So, if in mourn- Lastly, this is by no means unusual ing for sin, if your humbling your among those in whose hearts the kingselves for sin has, by God's grace, dom of grace has been recently estapurged away your love for sin, be blished. “The kingdom of God cancontent on this point, although many not be in my heart, because I find that the dominion of Satan is still now your shame and your abhorrence strong and powerful within me. Il-if those sins which you once volun. feel pride, and worldliness, and covet tarily wore as a crown upon your head ousness, and evil lusts, and evil you now, involuntarily, carry with you tempers struggling within. If I were as fetters upon your legs, from which, really a child of God, this could not as they hinder you from running in possibly be so." This, again, is a the
of God's commandments, you difficult and delicate point to handle. ought ever to strive and pray for to Should we say these are no proofs of be freed. Yes, beloved brethren, if that “carnal mind which is enmity you judge of others as you judge of against God,” we should contradict yourselves in this matter, that because the word of God. Should we say there are these remains of inbred sin, such sins are in the true believer of no the kingdom of God is not within importance, what would become of them, you would be obliged to pluck that distinct declaration of the Apostle some of the holiest saints out of the which admits of no exception, no Bible. reserve, “To be carnally minded is Be not then cast down by these death?” While on the other hand, things, but be equally careful not to should we acknowledge that the king- rest quietly contented under them. dom of God is not within you, because Strive to be perfect, even as your fayou suffer from these things, we ther in Heaven is perfect. A man should be actually at variance with all must not always be a child; the bethe recorded experience, and all the liever must not always be an infant. daily and hourly testimony of God's What God may look upon with parpeople.
don and complacency at the commenceWhat shall we say then, for your ment of your Christian course, may, comfort and encouragement ? We and will, excite his displeasure, and would tell you, that when the kingdom weary out his forbearance and patiof God is established within your ence, if it be continued through years heart, the dominion of Satan and of of opportunities of grace and strivings sin is for ever broken, but that it is of the Spirit of God. Imitate, therenot utterly cast out, the life of it is fore, the example of the Apostle, prolonged for a season. Doubtless “ Count not yourselves to have apthis is permitted by God to humble prehended any thing, but forgetting you still further, and to make you those things that are behind, and prize and value Christ still more ; | reaching forth unto those things that every
fall into one of your are before, press forward to the mark old sins, the effect is that you loathe of the prize of the high calling of God and abhor it still more entirely. in Christ Jesus.” And may that
Now, brethren, has it this effect on kingdom of grace, which is now but you? Then rejoice; it is the evidence of in its infancy within your heart, grow spiritual life; it is, at any rate, a cer- and strengthen, and flourish, until tain proof that you are not spiritually every faculty of your souls be endued dead. Something is dead; yea, blessed with the power of Christ, and every be the God, much is dead if those affection of your heart filled with the transgressions which were once conti- love of Christ, and every thought of nual or frequent are now few and far your mind be ght into captivity between-if those acts which once to the obedience of Christ. Amen. were your glory and your boast, are
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. TOPHAM,
AT ST. ANDREWS, DROITWICH, SEPT. 2, 1832.
I Samuel 3, xviii.-—“ It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.” The calm resignation of Eli to the families more difficult to be supported, will of God has afforded matter of than trouble arising from positive instruction to the suffering children pain. It would teach us how we of Adam in every succeeding age of should temper our souls with the the world, since the publication of the spirit of resignation, to the appointBible; and the consideration of the ments and chastisements of heaven. words of my text, may at this awful It would instruct us how to walk, in period of Divine visitation, suggest order to obtain present comfort; while some hints useful and beneficial to us, at the same time we were securing who are hourly made sensible of the “ the one thing needful.” It would insecurity of mortal existence, and of point to models of holiness and humithe necessity there is of being prepared | lity, exemplified in men like ourselves, to meet the dangers with which we who now inherit the promises and are encompassed.
stand before the throne of God. It In the seasons of health and of would make us feel our dependence strength, when food and raiment, upon Providence-our feeblenessmay be provided for the exigencies of our short-sightedness—our frailtya family, without extraordinary toil our sinfulness. It would generate in and anxiety—when the artizan, the our breasts, a love towards God and merchant, the labourer, and the agri- towards man, and render us willing culturist, each rejoice in the produce servants, in the household of our of their several exertions or capital, heavenly Father, to do the work and the community partaking of the which he hath given us. Firmly beadvantages of the general industry, lieving, that our conduct, if based enjoys prosperity and comforts, man- upon the doctrines and precepts of the kind are too apt to repose upon the Gospel, will be the criterion, by which present, and to forget alike the past our destiny in eternity shall be apand the future—to rejoice in the ple- portioned, “that whatsoever a man nitude of their abundance, and to soweth, that shall he also reap," neglect making provision for the we would be prepared to meet every changes and chances incident to mor- event with resignation, whether it tality; and when reverses, diseases, or might be afflicting or joyous. “It is the accidents inseparable from our imper- Lord, let him do what seemeth him fect condition occur, to show a dispo- good,” would be the language of our sition unworthy the character of the hearts ; it is the pleasure of heaven religion they profess to believe, un- that we should suffer, we therefore worthy the faith they pretend to rest bow with submission to the decree.
Never, perhaps, in the memory of any The religion of the Bible, if pro- person present, was there a time when perly felt and understood, would the truths and consolations of the Bible, render men in a great measure inde- were more eagerly sought after, and pendent of many of the misfortunes seized on, than during the month just and calamities, which frequently bring ended. The monition “ Set thine distress upon individuals, and upon house in order for thou shalt die.”
their hopes upon.