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“ how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through " the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God,
purge your conscience from dead works to serve the “ living God ?"*
None but real Christians, exercised in the spiritual life, know the value or necessity of the promises of ftrength and afliltance contained in the scriptures. The glory of their Redeemer's person, spoken of in so magnificent terms, both in the Old Testament and the New, is surveyed by them with the most exquisite delight. The power and efficacy of his adminiftration, is to them a fource of unspeakable comfort. Under him, as the Captain of their falvation, they “ display their banners,” and go forth with undaunted courage to meet every opposing eneniy, believing that they shall be “more than conquerors through him that “ loved them." Among many others, see the two following passages : “O Zion that bringest good tidings, get " thee up into the high mountain: o Jerusalem, that “ bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength, “ lift it up, be not afraid : say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God. Behold, the Lord God will come “ with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: be. “ hold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. " He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather “ the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, " and shall gently lead those that are with young.t-Fear “thou not, for I am with thee : be not dismayed, for I am " thy God : I will ftrengthen thee, yea, I will help thee,
yea, I will uphold thee with the right-hand of my righte“ ousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against 4 thee, shall be ashamed and confounded; they shall be
as nothing, and they that strive with thee, shall perish. “ Thou shalt feek them, and shalt not find them, even “ them that contended with thee: they that war against “ thee, shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For “ I the Lord thy God will hold thy right-hand, saying un" to thee, Fear not, I will help thee. I
* Heb, ix, 13, 14.
+ If, xl. 9, 10, 11,
| If. xl, 10, 11, 12, 13.
How the Christian is governed in his daily conversation.
EFORE concluding this chapter, I shall speak a few
words of the principles by which a believer is governed in his after obedience. On this the reader may observe, that a change in his whole character and conduct immediately and necessarily takes place. The love of God is “ shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost,” and is the commanding principle of all his future actions. It constantly discovers its influence, except in so far as it is resisted and counteracted by the remaining struggles of that
law in his members, which warreth against the law of “ God in his mind.” By the discovery which he hath obtained of the real nature and infinite amiablenefs of God, his will is renewed; he approves the things that are excellent, and gets such an impression of the obligation of the law of God, as cannot be afterwards effaced. So-long however as he continues under a load of unforgiven guilt, and fees every perfection of God armed with terror againft himself, there can be little else than flavish fear: but when he hears a gracious promise of pardon ; when on examining the evidence his doubt and uncertainty is removed; when he sees the righteous ground on which this forgive. ness is built, he lays hold of it as his own, and is united to God by unfeigned love. This love, though weak in its measure, is, notwithstanding, perfect in its nature, and therefore powerful in its influence; being at once a love of esteem, of gratitude, and of desire.
The love of God is the first precept of the moral law, and the first duty of every intelligent creature; but it is easy to fee, that unless our love is fixed upon the true God, it is spurious and unprofitable : and unless the true God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ,” for any
finner to love him is impoffible : but through the glorious gospel, the new nature is effectually produced, and cannot be produced in any other way. It is Christ Jesus who revealsto us the true God, the knowledge of whom we had loft.“ No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, 66 which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared “him*.” It is he who makes our peace with God, whom we had offended by our transgressions; for “ being justifi“ed by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord “ Jefus Chriftt.” And it is he who reconcileth our minds to God, by discovering his mercy to us; so that he might well say of himself, “I am the way, and the truth, " and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by “ me." 1. I might easily shew, that the love of God is the source, the fum, and the perfection of holiness. All other duties naturally flow from it; nay, all other duties are nothing elfe but the necessary expreflions of it. But instead of en: tering into a particular detail, suffer me only to observe these two things; First, that a believer is under the conftant influence of gratitude to God; and, fecondly, That this includes in it, and will certainly produce, the most fincere and fervent love to all his fellow-creatures.
1. A believer is under the constant influence of grati. tude to God, and that not of a common kind. It is not merely thankfulness to a bountiful and liberal benefactor, for mercies which have not been deserved, but a deep sense of obligation to a Saviour, who loved him, and washed him in his own blood from the guilt he had contracted; who faved him by his own death from the dreadful penalty which he had incurred. What the influence of this must be, we may gather from the words of the apostle Paul, “ For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we “ thus judge, That if one died for all, then were all dead; " and that he died for all, that they which live should not “henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which “ died for them, and rofe again.
I cannot immediately drop this fubject, but intreat the reader to observe how deeply a sense of redeeming love must be engraven on the heart of every believer. On how many circumstances will he expatiate, which ferve to magnify the grace of God, and point out the force of his own obligations ? The infinite greatness and glory of
+ Rom. v. I.
# John, xiv66
God, independent and all-sufficient, that he should have compassion on the guilty sinner, and say, “ Deliver him “ from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom.” O, how piercing those rays of love, which could reach from the Godhead to man! To this he will never fail to add his own unworthiness his numerous, aggravated, repeated provocations. He never lofes fight of those fins which first compelled him to fly for refuge“ to the hope “ fet before him.” His own interest obliged him to remember them before, as exposing him to condemnation, and he is now willing to confess and record them, as serving to illustrate the divine mercy.
And let us never forget the unspeakable gist of God, " that he spared not his own son, but delivered him up for “us all.” How shall we fufficiently wonder at the boundless mercy of the Father, and the infinite condescension of the Son, when we reflect upon his incarnation, and on the aftonishing end of his appearance in our nature, that he might“ bear our sins in his own body on the tree.” Did he overcome all his enemies in his last conflict, and “ make a few of them openly, triumphing over them in “ his cross ?” And shall he not also, by the same means, reign in his people's hearts, and be the sovereign Lord of all their affections ?
To all this, I shall only add that glorious inheritance, which is provided for every“ vessel of mercy,” after he hath passed his preparatory trials. How well may we join with the apostle Peter in this solemn form of thanksgiving, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, " which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten
us again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and “ that fadeth not away*.” Now, when all these circumstances are considered by the believer, together with such as may be peculiar to himself and his own past conduct, muft he not be ready to cry out, “ Lord, what wilt thou " have me to do! O that I knew how I might repay foine small part
my infinite obligations! O that I knew
i Pet, i, 3, 4
by what means, or at what expence I might magnify and “ do thee honor! Write thy laws in my heart, and put " them in my inward parts, and enable me in every po“ fible way to thew that I love thee, because thou hast firit « loved me.”
2. This plainly includes in it, and will certainly produce the most sincere and fervent love to his fellow.creatures. As love to God is the firft, so love to man is the second commandment of the moral law. We have our Lord's own authority for saying it is “like” unto the first; and that love which “ worketh no ill to his neighbours" is the “ fulfilling of the law.” Every one is ready to acknowledge, that love to man is an important branch of practical religion. But many great pleaders for this duty do not fufficiently attend to its inseparable connection with the love of God, and in particular with a fense of redeeming love, or the love of God in Christ : Yet is there no such principle of universal love any where to be found?
In order to take a short view of this, it will be proper to distinguish our brethren of mankind into the two gene. ral classes of bad men and good. As to bad men, th same love to God, the fame concern for his glory, which fills the Christian with grief and indignation at their most daring offences, inspires the most ardent desire for their recovery and falvation. This is the only love to them, which is either acceptable to God or profitable to themselves. It will shew itself in all the offices of kindness and humanity; in instructing them where there is ability, admonishing them where there is opportunity, and in pleading for them at the throne of grace, to which there is always undisturbed access. The believer, knowing the danger of fin, and having a prospect of approaching eternity, is moved with compassion for blind and in considerate finners. Their conduct leads him to reflect upon the depravity of his own nature, and earnestly to pray, that they may be partakers of divine grace.
He that loveth God is under little temptation to hate his brother; or rather, in so far as he loveth God fincerely, he is under none at all. Hatred commonly ariseth from