Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

2. Does faith come by hearing 2 Then, when we have opportunity to hear the preaching of the word, this must have the preference to all other means of grace. Nothing equals this, in point of importance. . In this case, we are not at our option, whether to go to the place of hearing, or to sit down at our ease, and attend to some other means of grace. If we substitute something else, rather than to go up to the house of the Lord, to hear the dispensation of his word; we are like those who listened to the flatteries of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin. “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”. Such is the nature of the christian faith, and of the christian institutions, that they can never admit of a substitute; any more than the temple worship, in the days of Jeroboam, People often find it more convenient, especially in unleasant seasons, to spend the sabbath in their houses, or in their fields, than to go some miles to the house of the Lord. They promise themselves much instruction from the bible, and religious books. But at the close of the day, they can realize little or no improvement. They have been drowsy and stupid ; and have sought relief oil their pillows. They have been perplexed and haunted with worldly schemes. Secular concerns have intruded on their minds. They have sought diversion from the newspaper, or books of amusement, and sought in vain, Satan has beguiled them, and “they are led captive by him, at his will.” And scarcely a gleam of hope remains, that they will ever see the kingdom of God. 3. Does faith come hy hearing P Then we have advantage to examine ourselves, whether, we are in the faith. Many professors of the christian faith are found to be, in a great measure, negligent of the ministry of the gospel. were they in the lively exercise of that faith which cometh by hearing, and which is cherished by hearing; they would certainly feel a lively interest in the preach. ing of the gospel. Every gospel sermon would be a feast offat things. Real believers of the gospel “receive with

[ocr errors]

meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save their
souls.” “They receive the sincere milk of the word,
and grow to -
In this view of the subject, have we not peculiar ad-
vantage for self-examination P Are we not able to decide
whether we are begotten of God, through the gospel P.
“Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth.”
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incor-
ruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth
forever.” Now is it possible, that we should be the sub-
jects of the new birth, and this by means of the ministry
of the word; without being at all sensible of it P and
without realizing its peculiar effects In order to find
evidence of the christian faith, which comes by hearing
the gospel, we must still delight to hear; and like David,
we must love the habitation of God ; and be able, from
our own experience, to say, “A day in thy courts is bet-
ter than a thousand,” in the common walks of life.
4. Does faith come by hearing 8 even by hearing the
ministry of the word of God 2 Then how deplorable is
the condition of the heathen And how loudly does the
subject before us call upon us to exert all the means in
our power, to ameliorate their sad condition Surely,
we should never relinquish nor abate our exertions to fur-
nish the world with a preached gospel, so long as a
heathen remains on the earth.
• From scripture, and universal experience, it is evi-
dent, that bibles, and tracts, and schools, however impor-
tant in their place, will never produce the christian faith;
because this comes only by hearing. How infinitely im-
portant it is, that the world be furnished with faithful
ministers of Christ! He that is indifferent to this great
and sacred enterprise, must be either criminally ignorant
of the state of the world, or grossly unbelieving and hard
hearted.
Finally; Does faith come by hearing P Then let no one
complain, that the means of grace are useless. The
means of grace, in the hand of the Lord, are as effectual
as the means of living, and of gaining property and hon-
ors. Since faith, which is a most precious gift of God,

comes by hearing, let us be unfeignedly thankful, and never think it a burden to hear the ministration of the system of divine truth. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” “Take heed what ye hear, and how ye hear.”.... AMEN.

ESSAY XXVIII.
Evidences of Piety.

THAT those who live in the daily exercise of Christian faith and holiness, may have satisfactory evidence of piety in their own hearts ; and may also discover great evidence of piety in others; is clearly taught usin the holy scriptures. The Apostle John, including other christians with himself, says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the breth. ren.”. And, as if this single evidence might be doubtful, he adds, “By this we know, that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” And this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.” Again; “Hereby know we, that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his spirit.” “He that keepeth my commandments, abideth in my love.” This is an evidence of piety in ourselves, and in others. We may here observe, that the christian hope is grounded on more or less evidence of christian piety. Hence those

who entertain this hope, are required to give a reason of

it, with meekness and fear. In proving from scripture, that there are certain evi. dences of christian piety, we have, in a measure, anticipated the evidences themselves. But we may now proceed to be more particular. 1. The change which has taken place, in those who are the happy subjects of divine grace, is of such a nature, and is so great, that, in general, it must be more or less

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

realized. The nature of this change is, that, from bein perfectly selfish and sinful, a man becomes, in a goo ineasure, holy and benevolent. From the love of sin, he is converted to the love of righteousness. From the love of the riches, honors, and pleasures of this world, he has “The love of God shed abroad in his heart, by the

Holy Ghost.” . This is the general nature of that change

of heart, by which he becomes a man of piety. From
the very nature of this change it might seem easy for
christians, and especially those who have been long and
faithful in the school of Christ, to realize, in some meas-
ure, the happy state of their own hearts. . But this change
is not only excellent in its nature, and perceptible by
the subjects of it; but it is a very great change. It is
called a new creation. “If any man be in Christ, he
is a new creature ; old things are passed away, behold,
all things are become new ; and all things are of God.”
This change is called regeneration. “ The washing of
regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” It is
often represented as a resurrection of the dead. Christ
speaks of this change, under the figure of the resurrection
of the dead, in these words: “Verily, verily, I say unto
you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall
hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear
shall live.” “And you hath he quickened, who were
dead in trespasses and sins.” This resurrection is of a
spiritual nature, and is a more glorious work than the
resurrection of the body. Surely, a work so great and
marvellous must carry its own evidence with it; and
especially to those who are the subjects of it. For it is a
change of heart and life.
2. Love to the brethren is a precious fruit of the great
change of heart, which has been under consideration.
And this is represented as a sure, and infallible evidence
of piety. , “We know, that we have passed from death
unto i. because we love the brethren.” By this love,
or the visible fruits of it, we discover the evidence of
true religion in others, as well as in ourselves. “By
this shall all men know, that ye are my disciples,” said

Christ, “If ye have love one to another.” Love is the fulfilling of the law ; and it is the great requirement of the gospel. Especially, is what is called brotherly love, which is so much extolled by the Apostle John, an evidence of piety. For this love consists in a holy delight and fellowship with the saints. Loving the holy breth. ren, because they are holy, is the same thing, or the same kind of affection, which is exercised in loving the Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly, “If any man love not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen F** 3. The sum total of the evidence of grace, consists in discovering those things, in which true religion consists; and in complying with all its requirements. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.” Instead of con: sidering the commandments of the Lord as a grief and a burden, we must be able to say, with Paul, “I delight in the law of the Lord, after the inner man.” But to avail ourselves of this evidence of piety it is required of us, that we be very strict, constant, and candid in our attention, to find out, and understand all those things, in which true religion consists. For if we mistake the nature of religion, we shall mistake its requirements; and our practice will be as corrupt as our principles. Having a correct view of the commandments of Christ, and finding our hearts and practice in conformity to them, we have clear and satisfactory evidence of vital piety. This is abundantly confirmed, by the beloved Apostle. “He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we, that we are in him.” What then are the commandments of Christ? To notice only his leading commandments, we may observe, that the first of all is repentance. Since the coming of Christ, as the light of the world, “God now commandeth all men, every where to repent.” This was the first command, proclaimed in the ears of all the people, by John the Baptist. When Christ also sent out his disciples, and seventy others, to preach and work miracles

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »