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of God's salvation, and attend the part of divine doctrine that first seizes our attention.
Neither should you be too minute in your inquiries. The blind man, who was not able to answer every question pertaining to his case, could yet say, "One thing I know whereas I was blind, now I see." A man may be sure of his natural life, though he knows not when it commenced; and he actually possessed the boon, long before he was able to prove it to himself, though he always evinced it to others. What we have to look after should be influences and effects; and these may be undeniable, without the knowledge of the time, the means, and the manner of their production. A slow and gradual operation is less striking than a sudden and instantaneous; but the increase of the corn sown is as real, and as divine too, as the multiplication of the barley loaves in the gospel.
When we are deciding our Christian state, we should not try ourselves by attainments. The reality of divine grace is one thing; the degree is another. We may be of the same species with a fellow-creature, though not of the same stature and though not equally advancing, we may be in the same way. This I know is liable to some abuse; and we are always afraid, when we thus speak, lest people should avail themselves of it, "to settle," as the Scripture has it," upon their lees ;" or, in other words, to be content with a hope of their safety, while they are careless of religions progression. Thus it is said, Cromwell having asked a minister, "What was the lowest evidence of regeneration," said, on receiving an answer, "Then I am safe." And yet there are moments of gloom and depression, in which the
question must be-not have I much grace? but have I any? When the house is on fire, the tradesman does not think of taking stock; his only concern then is to save..
It is a good evidence in your favour, if you value the thing; and while the multitude ask, "Who will show us any good?" can say-One good only can serve my purpose; and the language of the Apostle, and of the martyr, is not too strong for me-"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death :" "None but Christ, none but Christ!" "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled."
It is a token for good, when you feel much concern and anxiety about this state. It has been said, that it is easy to believe what we wish; but, Paley remarks, that the experience of every man gives the lie to this maxim. We all know, that in proportion as we attach moment to a thing, and find our happiness involved in it, we find it hard to persuade ourselves that we have a firm hold of it; we are alive and awake to every supposition of uncertainty: we still want proof and confirmation. Does the miser feel it easy to believe that his money, the god of his idolatry, is safe? A mother hears that the vessel is wrecked on a foreign shore, but that her son is rescued from the deep. There is nothing in the world she so much desires to be true; yet is it easy for her to banish her solicitude and doubt? She will peruse every document, and examine every witness; and scarcely be able to think he is living till she presses him in her arms. Now we may reason from the less to the greater. A man
who feels the infinite importance attached to the soul and eternity, will always find it difficult to consider himself a child of God, and an heir of glory; and will néver cease saying, "Give me a token for good, that I may rejoice in thee. Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." Smoke is not fire, yet there is no smoke 'where there is no fire-doubts and fears are not faith, but they are gendered by it.
They who are united to Christ are characterized by the change which they have experienced. This change is not only real, but entire-entire, not in the degree, but extent. It is complete in nothing; but it is begun in all the Christian's views, and sentiments, and dispositions, and dependence, and taste, and motives, and pursuits. Hence, says the Apostle, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are be
They are also distinguished by the principle which governs them. Hence we read, "They that are in Christ Jesus, walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." The former will excite as well as the latter ; but they do not yield to it and his servants ye are, to whom ye obey. The one is opposed, the other is encouraged. The one enters into the mind by fraud or force like a robber, producing alarm and misery, and allowing of no peace till he is expelled. The other is invited; and when he comes is welcomed and entertained as a friend. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the
And this leads us to remark, that all they who are in him resemble him. "He that saith he dwelleth in him, ought himself also to walk even as he walked." Not only gratitude and consistency require this, but evidence. "If," says the holy Saviour, "I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.' There must
be likeness, in order to fellowship. "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness? what concord hath Christ with Belial?" Christ and Christians are, not like Nebuchadnezzar's statue: the head of which was of gold, while the subordinate parts were of inferior metal, down to the feet which were partly iron and partly clay. "He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one." "He is a partaker of their nature; and they are the partakers of his. They are not of the world even as he is not of the world. They have the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus: a sameness of sentiment and feeling; a oneness of heart and of soul-" he that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit."
Men and Brethren-Are you in Christ?
Perhaps you have never yet asked yourselves this question. You have been careful of your property; and every legal doubt has led you to call in the lawyer. You have been anxious for your character, and every whisper of slander has led you to to vindicate your
reputation. You have been all alive to your health, and every symptom of disease has instantly led you to consult the physician. But to this very hourand you know it to this very hour-never once in your lives have you retired, and seriously asked yourselves—Am I in Christ? And yet you acknowledge that your eternal happiness depends upon it— and that this life is your only opportunity-and that this season is not only short, but uncertain-and that "in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh !" Yet you call yourselves rational creatures! Yet you allow that a "prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished!"
My dear Hearers.
You admire one and another your fellow creatures, and think how happy you should feel if you could make their advantages your own. And what are these advantages? Are they not things that perish in the using? that afford no satisfaction in the enjoyment? that profit not in the day of wrath? that cannot deliver from death? And are these the things for which you envy men of the world, who have their portion in this life? Is it not time, especially for some of you, to grow wiser, and to form your estimates by the judgment of God, which is always according to truth? "Search the Scriptures." There you will find that they, and they alone, are wise, and safe, and happy, who can say, to "the praise of the glory of his grace, "We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true: and we are in him that is true; even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." Envy these, not by grudging them their blessedness,