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only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent," is the foundation of all religion and morality. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding." Another essentially good thing, is repentance towards God: - the very term Repentance, supposes that things in heart and life have been wrong: this the awakened sinner not only thinks but feels; and thus he laments : “I have been wrong in my views, wrong in my motives, wrong in ten thousand actions of my life." All is wrong while the heart is hard and the life sensual. Every man is a bad man until he weeps for sin. And surely that by which a sinner passes from impenitence to sensibility, from error to truth, from Hell to Heaven, must be a good thing: such is repentance.Hence Infinite Goodness enjoins it, “ God commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent." Connected with repentance is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, it is the same principle acting somewhat differently. What is repentance, but the heart relenting under a consciousness of having grieved the Holy Spirit of God? And what is faith, but the heart reclining on his inercy? The immediate effect of faith is good : “ With the heart man believeth unto righteousness :" its inseparable benefits are good : “ Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” &c. Its final issue is good,“ Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” Humility also, is one of those good and perfect gifts which ennobles our nature, and ensures the safety of its possessor : “He that is low, needs fear no fall.” And it shews the favour of himn whose kindness is better than life: “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” Patience and submission are equally valuable. Is any atticted ? “ It is good for a man both to hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God: it is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” The last good thing I shall mention is religious zeal. Give Christianity a fair and complete investigation, and say, if there be a beiter cause in which our zeal can be employed. Commerce struggles to accumulate wealth, - Philosophy labours to comprehend knowledge, Patriotism harangues in dcfence of civil liberty; but Christian Zeal has the glory of God for its end; and in order to this, it labours to pull sinners out of the fire. It is good to be zealously affected always in this good thing. Reader, covet earnestly these best gifts ; but these good things inust, in a strict sense, be found in us: religion is a thing not to be assumed, but im. bibed : it must not only regulate the actions of the outward conduct, but govern the tempers of the heart. The fairest fruit, if unsound at the core, is but the more disgusting, as it disapports the expectation which its beautiful appearance had kuised. That acquaintance with truth which excites love and
Phil. iv. 82
stimulates obedience to God, has not been improperly termed heart-knowledge. Truth itself places the seal of all religion here:“A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things." How severely are they censured, whose religion was merely superficial :"Ye Hypocrites Ş!” And how numerous are the blessings pronounced upon the honest and good heart! “To this man will I look," "saith the high and lofty One. O may he cause every virtue to be in us, and abound I!
Yet, evil things will frequently gain the ascendency, even in a good man: he is renewed in the spirit of his mind; yet he is not a sinless infallible creature. There is a surprizing mixture of evil and good in the best of men. Sin dwelt in Paul :: Impatience in Job: Folly in Solomon: Imprudence in Jehoshaphat! and these things, as a law in their members, would control them; as an enemy warring against the law of their minds, would occasionly lead them captive! Let this truth stir us up to greater ardour in the spiritual conflict; eneinies so near, call for redoubled vigilance and fortitude. Let this truth mitigate the pressure of despondency:- Tho'sins as an host may encamp against us, if we regard and treat them as eneinies, ihey shall not be our masters; and though the victory may often appear doubtful, a good man shall not be utterly cast down.
Now, where good things are found in us (though mised with much evil) God will kindly acknowledge and commend them. He knows and approves his own work. Even the partial and temporary repentance of Ahab is not unnoticed || ; much less will he overlook the penitence of Ephraim :-“I have heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus **" Here let us learn to soften the asperity of censure, and wherever good is discoverable, to acknowledge it. We may hope that real grace predominates in many persons, of whom fellow professors form but a low opinion. Certainly those who are in the habit of disguising the virtue of others, and proclaiming their vices, are themselves the most suspicious characters. Hasty and indiscriminate censure is inconsistent with that impartiality of judgment which nature itself teaches men to exercise towards each other. It is opposite to one distinguishing ornament of a Christian, - Charity. “ Charity doth not behave itself unseemly; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil; but hopeth all things, &c. It opposes the divine example; the Lord acknowledges' that “there are a few names even in Sardis ;” and is represented as mentioning, at the last day, the graces and virtues of his frail and imperfect followers t.
Wherever these gooil things exist, they will be finally triamphant over the evil ones. This arises from the immuta
Peter i. 8. :
ll 1 Kings xxi. 23.
| Rom, V. 20.
bility of that love which breithes in every gospel promises God is faithful. We may be confident of this very thing: “ Let us ask for good thingi, cherish them, and be thankful for them!”
CESTRIENSIS. ♡ Isaiah liv. 10.
TO CHRISTIAN PROFESSORS.
And the Disciples were called Christiuis first in Antioch,
Acts xi. 20. There is a great difference between possessing the chai racter, and bearing the name only of a Christian. All who are born in a Christian country are denominated Christians; but it is evident from the above text, that the persons there mentioned, were disciples long before they were called Christians : they possessed the character of real followers of the Lamb before they were even called by his name.
By far the greatest part of the world, called Christendoin, know not Christ; and while the enemies of his cross bear his name, the real disciples of the meck and lowly Jesus are branded with the appellation of Fanatics and Enthusiasts, and“ their names are cast out as evil.” Doubtless there were many Jews at the time when our blessed Lord said of Nathanael, “ Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" by which we are emphatically taught, that“ He is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the tlesh; but he is a Jew which is one iuwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart; in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God *.” Hence, if we have the naine, without the nature of Christians, we are nothing. Our possessing much head-knowledge may do well enough." for the praise of men;" but the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of thein only whose heart is perfect or upright towards lini. The counterfeit coin, outwardly, for a time shines as bright as the current standard money; but it possesses no intrinsic value; it will not stand the test in the balance, much less of being tricd by him who“ sits as a refiner.”
It is inuch to be feared that too many are deceiving themselyes and others, by a profession of religion destitute of its power.
“ Amaziali did that which was right in the sight of God, but not with a perfect heart.” Hence we learn, if the heart be not right with God, all is wrong. The Pharisees of old inade a fair shew in the fleshi," and did those things which they ought not to have lert undone;" but the woes denounced against such specions onbelievers ve tremendous indeed. The three classes of professors, whose characters are set forth for our admonition in the solemn parabie of the Sower, were all hearers; they had for a time the torm of godliness, and are stid to have had ine seed sown in the heart ; but, eventually, they were found to be without root and barren, wbile the tourih class are there also described as having not only heard the word, but as having kept it, and brought forth fruit.
* Rom. ii. 28, 29.
If we compare this parable with the 15th chapter of Saint John's Gospel, we shall remark the cause of the barrennes of the seed in the parable, and the unfruitfulness of the branches in the chapter last referred to, to have been, that they were destitute of that radical or permanent principle of life, which is neces-ary to the bringing forth of good fruit.
“ Abide'in me and I in you; for as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Hence it appears, that all such were not vitally united to the true vine, bui only attached thereto outwardly by professiol.; and conscquently were destitute of the Spirit of God; for Christ himseli declares *, “ If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you ior ever, even the spirit of truth,” de. The ten vorgins bac all of them the same lamp of outward profe-51012; but one half of them had no oil is their vessels, were uitsout abiding grace, or, in other words, bad no root in tcu enes:--they lad deceived the world, their companioris, and wemselves; and this mistake lay una discovered to the great day; for when there was a cry made, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh!" dreadful discovery: they perceived their lainps to be “ going out," and all their hopes expiring for ever! And mark the fearful end of the five foolish virgins, or mere outward professors ; in their calamity they apply to the wise virgins - cv Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out :” but they are told to go and buy for themselves; by which we are taught that religion is a personal ting, and not merely an outward appendage; whereas their religion had been for shew, for others, and not for themselves; but the vise and gracious cannot now help t! em. View them next appising to them that sell. Probabiy the ministers of Christ are here intended, who dispense the word of lite; but no — the day of gospel grace is over; the visiou is for ever sealed ; they knew not the day of their visitation, and therefore the things which make for peace are for ever hidden from their eyes; and while they thus went to buy," the Bridegrooin came, and they that were ready went in with hiin to the marriage, and the door was shut. Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us ; but he answered and said, Verily, I say unto you,
John siv. dg
I know you not!" O wretched state of deep despair! view them calling to the mountains, “ Fall on us,” and to the hills, “ Cover us," but in vain; for it is written, “In that day shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them." He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
Professor of religion, these are solemn realities! and no cunningly devised fable. Look well into thine own heart: bast thou a name that thou livest, and yet art dead? Hast thou the reputation only of a Christian, without a “ well-grounded hope" of being vitaliy united 10 the Lord Jesus Christ ? Art thou neither cold nor hot in the ways of religion ? habitually preserving, in thy daily conduct, a lifeless neutrality between God and the world: temporizing in the grand concern of thy never dying soul:-on the one hand, regularly frequenting the ordiDances of God, and, on the other hand, following the vain customs and sinful pastimes of a gainsaying and an adulterous generation? To you it is said, "How long halt ye between two opinions! If the Lord be God, follow him; bit if Baal, then folow lim :" “ Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” If you have never vet given your beart 10 God, it is not too late; flee to the city of refuge, for the avenger of blood is at your hecis ! O do not negleet so great salvation, lest in the great day of account the Judge should say to you,
« So then terause thou hast been lukewarin, and neither cold nor hot, I wil spue thee out of iny inouth.”
Orair you, my dear reader, contenting yourself with the extornais of religion, and vainly solacing your inind that you were born in a Christian country, without due examination whether you have been born again? Are you satisfying yourself that you were baptized in your youth; and are you totally unconcerned to know, whether you have been baptized with ihe baptism of repentance, and of the Holy Ghosti or are you quieting your conscience with the idea of having been brought up by religious parents ? saying with the Jews of old,“ We have Abraham for our father," without having :'v evidence that God the Father is your father, the Son of God your Redeemer, and the floly Ghost your Sanctifier! I bescech you, consider well the state of your heart towards God, endeavour to realize a dying hour, and beware of mistaking a cold assent to the truulis of the Bible for a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
But it is possible this paper may fall into your bands, O presumptuous professors, who have no doubt at all of your election; but are destitute of the evidence of your calling, by being deficient in those" things which accompany salvation," holding fast the “ form of sound words, but without the power; like the lifeless image in Nebuchadrezzar's dream, having a head of fine gold, but the feet of very different materials; possessing spiendid knowledge, bud- ybose daily walk and conversation de