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pel. You wish not to be singular, and be cast out of the world while you remain in it. Well, we simply say, that there can be no gospel gathered from the Bible, that does not urge it, nor Christian character without it. If the truth must render men holy, it must, in a world like ours, render them peculiar. In two respects the good man, from the moment he is born of God, becomes unlike the men of this world. All the features of depravity that are cast from his character, and the features of holiness ingrafted on it, will tend to render him peculiar. Thus in two directions will the difference widen, and will go on extending through time and through eternity. To produce this peculiarity is the very design of the gospel; for men by nature are unlike God, and the gospel, when it produces its legitimate effect, renders men like God. Hence, unless it sanctify all men, or the regenerate are taken immediately to beaven, it must introduce into society a peculiar people. If you are offended with this peculiarity, then you need not put it on. You can live in this world without it, and you can die without it, but you can not live in heaven without it.
That zeal begotten in his people by the grace of God, constitutes I know the most offensive feature of their peculiarity. But God's people cannot be without it, and please him. And he has never promised to render his people what the world can admire. "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore shall the world hate you." You need have nothing to do with his people, or imbibe their zeal if it offends you. There is current a gospel, and you can attend upon it, that pours out against this zeal the whole torrent of its invective. It would nourish a cold philosophical religion, that shall never reach or warm the heart, that will have but little to do with prayer, or praise, or holy feeling, or heavenly aspiration, or effort to save souls; or take away, in any shape, the curse that has lighted upon this dark world. You can take your pew under such a gospel and never be urged to zeal and engagedness. But where it will conduct you, may demand a doubt. Not to heaven surely, where they cease not day nor night saying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory." There must be great zeal where there is such perpetual worship. how such zeal as this would be lashed and scouted in this cold and cheerless world!
Day and night! O,
But the gospel of Jesus Christ aims to make this world as much like heaven as possible; would beget all the zeal they have there,
and all the industry, and all the celestial fire. We hide not our wish, to render men in this world as much in earnest in serving God, and blessing his creatures, as they are in heaven. And, sure as you breath, you have never seen a zeal like that in heaven. It was not in Paul, nor Peter, nor Brainard, nor Whitefield, nor Martin. And if you have ever once seen enough any where to offend you, depend upon it you could not stay in heaven an hour.
Finally, it offends you, that the Savior should be the proprietor of the Church he purchased with his blood. You would have him an agent, a prophet, a messenger; you would not allow him to own his sheep; you would make him an insignificant subject of that kingdom he purchased with his blood. And why this zeal to degrade him? Did he not earn the kingdom with his stripes, and his wounds, and his sweat, and his dying agonies? And did he not build the very world in which he has set up this kingdom? The apostle thought proper to speak of his purifying to himself a peculiar people.
And why not let them be his? Are you afraid to be his? Would it grieve you to be a member of his family, and have a seat at the supper of the Lamb? Well, dear friend, there will come a day when you will be afraid, if you are not his. When he shall come in the clouds of heaven, and all his holy angels with him, and the last trumpet shall have waked you from the sleep of the grave, then "he that believeth shall not make haste," but all others,-oh, with what hurry and confusion will they quit their sepulchres! and with what untold anguish will they call upon the rocks and mountains, to fall on them and hide them from the face that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb! Will you not then wish that you were his?
Ye disciples of the Lord Jesus, did it ever occur to you how precious a thought this is. You belong to this very Lord Jesus. "Ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." How safe and how happy, if he can make you so! and you have no fear but he can.
Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you. You will see him come directly to gather you, and you will hail him as he comes, "My Lord, and my God." My soul casts in her lot with you. We glory in belonging to Christ, and look wishfully toward that hour, when we shall see him as he is and be like him. Then, almighty Redeemer, then shall I be satisfied when I wake with thy likeness. Amen.
GOSPEL TRUTH DISTINGUISHED.
JOHN XVIII. 38.
What is truth?
THIS question was put to our Lord by the miserable time-serving Pilate, who had no heart to love what he inquired after. He, and the whole multitude of the ungodly in all ages, would have the reputation of being the friends of truth. But when they have inquired what truth is, they are careful to turn away their ear from the answer. This one fatal error characterizes the whole human family, till the Spirit of God sanctifies the heart. Till then, they will not candidly examine the Bible, nor put themselves under the guidance of the Spirit of God, nor will love the truth when they know it. Hence to know and love the truth, is characteristic of a heavenly mind.
But the question still comes up, What is that truth which I must know and love, in order to have evidence that I am born of God? The text would furnish a field too large for a single sermon, and must be diminished. It will be my object to give you a few general characteristics of gospel truth. In doing this, I shall name the particular doctrines no farther than may be necessary, to illustrate some leading feature of revealed truth generally.
I should choose to say in answer to the question in the text, What is truth?
I. Truth is that which is consistent with the main scope of God's word. An insulated text or two, may seem to support what is truth. By such means almost any sentiment may be drawn from the Bible, or from any other book. We could thus prove that "There is no God:" "Thou shalt not surely die:" "Thou shalt hate thine enemy: :" "I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my own heart, to add drunkenness to thirst." Now you may fill a book with such insulated texts, but it would be all false a lie couched in Bible language, but not the less a lie.
All the false doctrines, that have spread their plagues through
this ill-fated world, has thus originated, and been thus sustained. To him who is willing to understand it, the Bible is plain; but to one who prefers delusion, and wishes to believe a lie, because he has no sure pleasure in the truth, the Bible presents it in that disconnected form, that he may wrest it, if he please, to his own destruction.
Still it will prove true, that when a tortured text has been made the basis of a false doctrine, that doctrine will not be sustained by the main drift of inspiration. It cannot be 'supported by other texts, without giving them a false and forced construction, and the whole system when thus built will be a baseless fabric. There will be many texts in the very face of the false doctrine, and in a greater number still its falsehood will be implied. But it will not be thus with truth. When you have fairly gathered any doctrine that God meant to teach, from any part of his word, you will find it asserted in other parts, implied in others, and in none contra. dicted.
Now apply this rule to any one doctrine, or system of doctrines, and it will assuredly assist you in discovering what is truth. The saint's perseverance, for instance, is clearly taught in this text, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way; though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand;" and in this, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord;" and in this, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it, until the day of Jesus Christ;" and in this, "The righteous shall hold on his way."
Now the doctrine thus taught in a number of texts of which I have quoted but few, has implied support in a far more numerous class still. All those texts which speak of heaven, as the final home of believers, imply the doctrine; all those which make regenerated men the Savior's reward; the promises made to believers, of help in the time of need, of victory in the hour of conflict, of escape from temptation, of light in darkness, of strength equal to their day, of guidance through life, and of hope in death. It is implied in that assurance of salvation which Paul had, and which every believer may have; in the terms of the covenant, which is said to be everlasting, well ordered in all things and sure; and in the
very nature of holiness, which immediately on taking existence in the heart, seizes heavenly objects as its own inheritance. And the doctrine thus supported directly, and by extensive implication, is nowhere contradicted.
Now bring any doctrine to this test, and if thus supported it is true. Upon the truth, light will shine from almost every page of inspiration. But we must be candid and diligent, or we may not hope to be enlightened. If men go to the Bible, determined to support a scheme of their own, it is by no means certain, that there is any lie, so obvious to detection, that it may not be thus sustained for it is threatened, "For this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." If you still ask, What is truth? I answer again,
II. Truth is that, after which men inquire humbly and prayerfully. That was a good ejaculation of the Psalmist, "Open thou mine eyes, and I shall behold wondrous things out of thy law." All Bible truth is in its very nature humiliating to a sinner; hence there must be humility, or there can be here no possible evidence of that candor, which is necessary in researches after truth of any kind. And we shall pray while endeavoring to acquaint ourselves with God's word, because a desire to know the truth implies a heart to love it, and this implies a spirit of prayer.
All those men who have searched the most profoundly, after the mind of God, have been men of prayer. They made ample proficiency in their inquiries, because in the outset they imbued their souls with the spirit of the gospel. In answer to their prayers they had the teachings of the Spirit of God. It is only a mind opened by the Sanctifier for the reception of truth, joined to a heart softened and subdued by him, that can have any very exalted pleasure in becoming acquainted with those holy objects which the truths of God present. He will have a low opinion of his own wisdom, and will feel his need of Divine aid at every stage of his progress.
It is recorded of one good man, who is known to have made uncommon proficiency in his researches after truth, that he studied his Bible every day upon his knees. And of every good man it must be true, from the nature of the case, that he studies the word of God with his eyes directed toward heaven for Divine teaching. Between truth, and a humble prayerful spirit, there