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the likeness of man;"-or, when it is said, that • God so loved the world, that he gave his only- begotten Son, that all who believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life;"—or when, again, we are told that God “ will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask Him,”—and that this Holy Spirit strives with our evil nature, is grieved by our wilful and ungrateful coldness, and is utterly blasphemed by our continued hardness and impenitence. We all can understand what this means : would to God, that we all, in the Scripture sense of the word, believed it: that is, that it had entered not only into our understandings, but into our very heart of hearts, a daily living fountain of peace, and hope, and joy.
True it is, that this Bread of Life does not nourish us all; and instead of seeing that the fault is in ourselves, and that to our sickly bodies the most wholesome food will lose its virtue, we are apt to question the power and usefulness of the food itself. True it is, that if we were but good and holy, it would be an idle question to ask about our faith, when our lives sufficiently declared it. So, if a man were strong and healthy, it would be needless to inquire about the quality of his food. But not more foolish is it to suppose that a man can be strong and healthy without wholesome food, than to think that we can be good and holy without a Christian's faith. Even with that faith, how far are we from what we ought to be—even the best and holiest of us all! Yet those who have tried it know that without that faith they would be nothing at all; and that, in whatever degree they have overcome the world or themselves, it is owing to their faith in the promises of God the Father, resting on the atonement of the blood of his Son, and given and strengthened by the abiding aid and comfort of the Holy Spirit,
GALATIANS 111. 24.
The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.
In the sermon which I preached last Sunday from this place, I could not forbear from entering into some detail upon the great and peculiar truths of Christianity.
The day seemed to call for such a choice of a subject, as it was set apart to commemorate, not one part only of the scheme of our redemption, like the feasts of Christmas, or Easter, or Whitsuntide, but the whole of it together : all our relations to God, and all that God has done for us, are concentrated in a manner in the celebration of Trinity Sunday. Yet, even at the very time when I was thus dwelling on the great truths of the Gospel, I doubted whether my hearers were sufficiently advanced to receive them. I do not mean
advanced in understanding,-for in that respect they are, indeed, easy,—but advanced in Christian feelings and Christian practice. By what strange error could it have ever happened that the doctrines of the Gospel have been regarded as little bearing upon our practice, but because the practice of so many, who call themselves Christians, has been unfit to receive them? It is an awful, but a certain truth, that the very foundation of Christianity, that “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” is heard continually with no lively impression of the inestimable blessing conveyed in it. How should it rightly be valued, when we care so little about the evil of sin, and think there is nothing very alarming in the condition of a sinner? Therefore the words of the Apostle are for ever useful, and apply to the successive stages of our individual growth, no less than to the successive periods in the existence of the world; “ The law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ :” and it is vain to hope that we shall ever attain to the full faith and love of a Christian, without having first gone to school to the teaching of the law.
For this reason it is, that on former occasions I have spoken less than some, perhaps, migh
expect, of the promises of the Gospel; and have dwelt much more upon your own individual faults and duties. Assuredly, if any one among you were filled with an entire hatred of sin,if he were thoroughly anxious to become like God, and felt most deeply the infinite distance between the most pure and most high God, and himself a sinner,-to such an one I would hasten to hold forth the Gospel promises,--to such an one I would repeat all those comfortable words, of which the Scripture is so full-that there is no condemnation for those who believe in Christ, and that all who believe in him are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. I would say, that, through the aid of Christ's spirit, they should be daily renewed after Christ's image, till their resemblance to God should be the sure sign that they were, indeed, the children of God. This, I say, is the language which we should use to those who are really anxious about their salvation; who really are dissatisfied with and distrust themselves, and love and entirely desire to please God. It was when the publican said, in sincerity and earnestness of heart, “God be merciful to me a sinner," that he went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee.