« AnteriorContinuar »
morning. But as the word of God is the means of illumination, you ought to familia arize it to your thoughts, whatever difficulty you may experience in the attempt.
You probably can repeat the Shorter Catechism. This little book will supply a rich store of useful thoughts to you. It will guide your meditations on the person and offices of Christ, the great things which he has done and will do for you, the precious blessings of the gospel, the nature of faith and repentance, and other important subjects in religion.
It is not found difficult to young persons to commit this whole book to memory, and why should it be thought more difficult to commit to memory a considerable portion of the express words of the Holy Ghost. This would greatly assist you in the duty of meditation. Some think it would be very troublesome to learn so exactly a few paragraphs of the Bible; but I am speaking at present to persons who have a deep concern about their salva on. You, I am persuaded, will not grudge a little trouble that will be useful to your souls. Those who are ready to perish for hunger, will be glad of a very troublesome employinent, that they may procure themselves bread to satisfy their hunger. I take it for granted that you take it for a matter of greater importance to labor for the meat that endur
eth to everlasting life, than for that which perisheth.
You have probably been frequently reading such passages as give you the richest encouragement to look for good at the hand of the Lord. The calls and promises contained in the following passages, well deserve to be kept and frequently revolved in your minds, Isa. xliii. 25. xliv. 22. xlv, 22--25. Jer, xxxi. 31---34. Ezek. xi. 18-20. xxxvi. 25--32. 37. Micah vii. 18—20. Hosea vi. 1-3. xiv. throughout. John iii. 16-21. vi. 27, 28. Acts xiii. 38, 39. Rom. iii. 23--31. iv. 22-25. 2 Cor. v. 18-21. I mention only a few ; your own observation will find out many more. .
Self inquiry is another duty required by God. “Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith,” and it you are not in the faith, what is the reason that you do not be. lieve in Christ?
Persons too often think that they are in the faith, when unbelief still reigns in them; and some true believers, through the weakness of their faith or knowlege, cannot be persuaded that the good work is wrought in them. They think that they could not be so much in the dark about their own condition as they are, if their faith were a reality. They find sin still working in their minds, especially when they would do good. They are still disquieted with doubts and fears,
and therefore it appears to them that no good thing dwells in them. But there may be some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel where there is much corruption. Do you really renounce all your own righteousness, seeking above all things to be found in Christ ? Do you gladly receive the word of salvation as the only ground of your hope towards God? Are you sh it up to the faith of Christ by a deep sense of your lost. condition ? Do you seek relief only in Christ from the guilt of sin, resolving that amidst all discouragements you will hope in him? “ It is a good thing that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord; for the Lord is ever good unto him that waiteth for him, unto the soul that seeketh him.”
But if you do not yet believe on Christ, what is the reason why you will not come to him that you may have life? Ask this question at your own hearts, and if they can render you a good reason, hold fast your unbelief, and refuse to let it go. If the reason is not good, you must condemn yourselves; and if you condemn yourselves, why do you persist in a conduct dishonoring to God, and ruinous to yourselves ?
The reason, you say, is not that you have not sufficient warrant from God to rely on
Christ, but that you cannot make u:e of . this warrant ; you cannot come to Christ
except the Father draw you; and as he has not hitherto drawn you, it is impossible for you to come.
But in what manner do you expect God will draw you to Christ? Do you imagine that he will give you a visible sign of his drawing power? or that he will speak to you in the same manner as he spake to the ancient prophets, giving you some new rev. elation of his will, that you may be enabled to testify a due rcgard to that old revelation which you had from the beginning ?
When God draws men to Christ, he convinces them of their sin and misery, enlightens them in the knowlege of Christ, and persuades and enables them to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to them in the gospel. Are you then convinced that you justly deserve the condemnation of hell for your sins? Do you see that Christ is an all sufficient and most gracious Saviour ? - Are you effectually disposed to approve of his salvation, as a salvation from sin as well as from misery, as a salvation for which you must forever be indebted to his free and sovereign grace? Does nothing on earth or in heaven appear so desirable in your eyes, as a share in the salvation procured by the blood, and applied by the Spirit of Christ ? Are not these views and dispositions, so different from what you formerly felt in yourselves, indications of a divine power opening your hearts, like Lydia's, to receive the truth, and to receive Christ revealed in the word of truth? The working of God is to be seen in the works which he does. His eternal power and godhead were seen, or ought to have been seen, by the heathens, in the things that were made by his power. And his operation upon ihe souls of men may be seen in those views of the mind, in those tempers of the heart, which can be the production of nothing less than a divine power.
Perhaps, you will say, if this be the case, I am still in my first estate, and can find no encouragement from the review of my own feelings or exercises of mind to believe on Christ. I know that without Christ I must perish. I have often felt earnest longings to partake of his grace. But I have not that deep conviction of guilt, that ardent desire of Christ and his salvation, as a salvation from sin as well as misery, which is felt by every genuine believer. What right then have I to conclude that I have any claim upon Christ, or a right to look for his mercy to eternal life?
To this I answer, that you may be mistaken, and you may be right in what you say of your own experience. Those who know best the evil of sin, and the sinfulness of their own hearts, are least disposed to think that they are sufficiently humbled under views of their sinful states. Those whose hearts are possessed by the most ardent desires after Christ,