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Lord's leisure :” Be strong, and" he shall comfort thy heart;” and put thou thy trust in the Lord !
6. And if you see any who appear (so far as man can judge, but God alone searcheth the hearts) to be already partakers of their hope, already “ made perfect in love;" far from envying the grace of God in them, let it rejoice and comfort your heart. Glorify God for their sake! “ If one member is honoured," shall not “all the members rejoice with it?” Instead of jealousy or evil surmising concerning them, praise God for the consolation! Rejoice in having a fresh proof of the faithfulness of God in fulfilling all his promises ; and stir yourself up the more, to “ apprehend that for which you also are apprehended of Christ Jesus !
7. In order to this, redeem the time. Improve the present moment. Buy up every opportunity of growing in grace, or of doing good. Let not the thought of receiving more grace tomorrow, make you negligent of today. You have one talent now: If you expect five more, 30 much then rather improve that you have. And the more you expect to receive hereafter, the more labour for God now. Sufficient for the day is the grace thereof. God is now pouring bis benefits upon you: Now approve yourself a faithful steward of the present grace of God. Whatever may be tomorrow, give all diligence today, to “add to your faith, courage, temperance, patience, brotherly-kindness,” and the fear of God, till you attain that pure and perfect love! Let these things be now in
you, and abound!" Be not now slothful or unfruitful : “ So shall an entrance be ministered unto you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
8. Lastly: If in time past you bave abused this blessed hope of being holy as He is holy, yet do not, therefore, cast it away. Let the abuse cease, the use remain. Use it now to the more abundant glory of God, and profit of your own soul. In steadfast faith, in calm tranquillity of spirit, in full assurance of hope, rejoicing evermore for what God hath done, press ye on unto perfection! Daily growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and going on from strength to strength, in resignation, in patience, in humble thankfulness for what ye have attained, and for what ye shall, run the race set before you, “looking unto Jesus,” till, through perfect love, ye enter into his glory!
THE SCRIPTURE WAY OF SALVATION.
" Ye are saved through faith.” Eph. ii. 8.
1. Nothing can be more intricate, complex, and hard to be understood, than Religion, as it has been often described. And this is not only true concerning the religion of the Heathens, even many of the wisest of them, but concerning the religion of those also who were, in some sense, Christians; yea, and men of great name in the Christian world; men who seemed to be pillars thereof. Yet how easy to be understood, how plain and simple a thing is the genuine religion of Jesus Christ; provided only that we take it in its native form, just as it is described in the Oracles of God! It is exactly suited, by the wise Creator and Governor of the world, to the weak understanding and narrow capacity of man in his present state. How observable is this, both with regard to the end it proposes, and the means to attain that end! The end is, in one word, Salvation; the means to attain it, Faith.
2. It is easily discerned, that these two little words, I mean Faith and Salvation, include the substance of all the Bible, the marrow, as it were, of the whole Scripture. So much the more should we take all possible care to avoid all mistake concerning them, and to form a true and accurate judgment concerning both the one and the other.
3. Let us then seriously inquire,
1. 1. And, First, let us inquire, What is Salvation ? The salvation which is here spoken of, is not what is frequently understood by that word, the going to Heaven, eternal Happiness. It is not the soul's going to Paradise, termed by our Lord, “ Abraham's bosom.” It is not a blessing which lies on
the other side death ; or, as we usually speak, in the other world. The very words of the text itself put this beyond all question : “ Ye are saved.” It is not something at a distance; it is a present thing; a blessing which, through the free mercy of God, ye are now in possession of. Nay, the words may be rendered, and that with equal propriety, “ Ye have been saved :" So that the salvation which is here spoken of, might be extended to the entire work of God, from the first dawning of grace in the soul, till it is consummated in glory.
2. If we take this in its utmost extent, it will include all that is wrought in the soul by what is frequently termed, natural conscience, but more properly, preventing grace ;-all the drawings of the Father; the desires after God which, if we yield to them, increase more and more ;-all that light wherewith the Son of God “enlighteneth every one that cometh into the world;" showing every man, “ to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God;”—all the convictions which his Spirit, from time to time, works in every child of man; although, it is true, the generality of men stifle them as soon as possible, and after a while forget, or at least deny, that they ever had them at all.
3. But we are at present concerned only with that salvation which the Apostle is directly speaking of. And this consists of two general parts, Justification and Sanctification.
Justification is another word for Pardon. It is the forgiveness of all our sins; and, what is necessarily implied therein, our acceptance with God. The price whereby this hath been procured for us, (commonly termed the meritorious cause of our justification,) is the Blood and Righteousness of Christ; or, to express it a little more clearly, all that Christ hath done and suffered for us, till he “poured out his soul for the transgressors." The immediate effects of justification are, the peace of God, a “ peace that passeth all understanding," and a “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,” “ with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
4. And at the same time that we are justified, yea, in that very moment, Sanctification begins. Ir that instant we are born again, born from above, born of the Spirit: there is a real as well as a relative change. We are inwardly renewed by the power of God. We feel “ the love of God shed abroad in our heart, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” producing love to all mankind, and more especially to the children of God; expelling the love of the world, the love of
pleasure, of ease, of honour, of money ; together with pride, anger, self-will, and every other evil temper; in a word, changing the earthly, sensual, devilish mind, into “ the mind which was in Christ Jesus.”
5. How naturally do those who experience such a change, imagine that all sin is gone; that it is utterly rooted out of their heart, and bas no more any place therein ?. How easily do they draw that inference, “ I feel no sin; therefore I have none: It does not stir; therefore it does not exist : It has no motion; therefore it has no being."
6. But it is seldom long before they are undeceived, finding sin was only suspended, not destroyed. Temptations return, and sin revives; showing it was but stunned before, not dead. They now feel cwo principles in themselves, plainly contrary to each other; “ the flesh lusting against the Spirit;" nature opposing the grace of God. They cannot deny, that, although they still feel power to believe in Christ, and to love God; and, although his “Spirit (still] witnesses with their spirits, that they are children of God;" yet they feel in themselves sometimes pride or self-will, sometimes anger or unbelief. They find one or more of these frequently stirring in their heart, though not conquering ; yea, perhaps, “ thrusting sore at them, that they may fall;” but the Lord is their help.
7. How exactly did Macarius, fourteen hundred years ago, describe the present experience of the children of God! “The únskilful, (or unexperienced,] when grace operates, presently imagine they have no more sin. Whereas they that have discretion cannot deny, that even we who have the grace of God may be molested again.-For we have often had instances of some among the brethren, who have experienced such grace as to affirm that they had no sin in them; and yet, after all, when they thought themselves entirely freed from it, the corruption that lurked within was stirred up anew, and they were well nigh burned up."
8. From the time of our being born again, the gradual work of sactification takes place. We are enabled," by the Spirit, to mortify the deeds of the body,” of our evil nature ; and as we are more and more dead to sin, we are more and more alive to God. We go on from grace to grace, while we are careful to “abstain from all appearance of evil,” and are “ zealous of good works,” as we have opportunity of doing good to all men ; while we walk in all His ordinances blameless, therein worshipping Him in spirit and in truth ; while we take up our Vol. I, No. 12.
eruss, and deny ourselves every pleasure that does not lead us to God.
9. It is thus that we wait for entire sanctification ; for a full salvation from all our sins, from pride, self-will, anger, unbelief; or, as the Apostle expresses it,“ go on unto perfection.” But what is Perfection? The word has various senses : here it mcans Perfect Love. It is love excluding sin; love filling the heart, taking up the whole capacity of the soul. It is love “ rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, in every thing giving thanks."
II. But what is that Faith through which we are saved ? This is the Second point to be considered.
i. Faith in general is defined by the Apostle, 7payat ελεγχος ου βλεπομένων : 10 ευidence, a divine evidence and conviction [the word means both] of things not seen ; not visible, not perceivable either by sight, or by any other of the external senses. It implies both a supernatural eridence of God, and of the things of God, a kind of spiritual light exhibited to the soul, and a supernatural sight or perception thereof. Accordingly the Scripture speaks of God's giving sometimes light, sometimes a power of discerning it. So St. Paul, “ God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And elsewhere the same Apostle speaks of " the eyes of (our) understanding being opened." By this two-fold operation of the Holy Spirit, having the eyes of our soul both opened and enlightened, we see the things which the natural “eye hath not seen, neither the ear heard.” We have a prospect of the invisible things of God; we see the spiritual world, which is all round about us, and yet no more discerned by our natural faculties, than if it had no being: and we see the eternal world; piercing through the veil which hangs between time and eternity. Clouds and darkness then rest upon it no more, but we already see the glory which shall be revealed.
2. Taking the word in a more particular sense, Faith is a divine midence and contic!ion, not only that “God was in Christ, ? cconciling the world unto himsell," but also that Christ loved me, ind gave himself for me. It is by this faith (whether tre term it the essence, or rather a property thereof) that we receive Christ; that we receive lius in all his offices, as our Prophet, Priest, and King. It is by this that he is "made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."