Page images


Spirit so presents to view the character of Christ, unfolds this and the other interesting and wondrous trait, shows us his exalted excellence, and urges them upon our minds and hearts, that eventually, we cordially embrace Him as all our salvation, and all our desire, and can say “What things were gain to (us) these (we) court loss for Christ, yea doubtless, and we count every thing but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.We shall not pretend to notice the various thoughts and feelings, the fears, anxieties, and desires, that racked and agitated the soul before it cordially surrendered itself, in sweet and delighted approbation of the Chief among ten thousands—the one altogether lovely; nor through how long, or how short a space, the Spirit has been telling of His glory, and His grace,-now pointing to Calvary, and now to Heaven. Suffice it to say, that the heart once barred against the tenderest and best of friends is unclosed. Every thing which once stood in the way of the soul's communion with Him, is renounced. Rank, parentage and relations, wealth, honors and worldly applause, religious duties, outward moralily and former experiences are all sacrificed. Without Christ he is unhappy and feels he ever must be so. He is the life of his delights—the centre, and sum, and soul of all his joys. 'Tis Heaven to see His smiling face, and the child of God presses close to the throne of His grace from day to day, that he may gaze upon His glory. In loving adoration he bows before Him, and as he feels the beamings of that light which pours its splendor all around, earth sinks, and fades, and disappears. Its glory is darkness in his eye as illumined by the brighter glories of the Son of God, and every thing, which men call good and great, is absolute loss in his view, as it keeps him from the presence and communion of Him who is the song, and boast, and triumph of Heaven.

1 Phil. ii. 7. 8.

Thus, the love which animates the christian, is perfectly intelligible, without supposing it is the effect of some specific disposition, created in the soul or laid, like our animal appetites and constitutional susceptibilities, in the very nalure. It is the natural capacity to love, as awakened and directed by the noblest object in the universe—the blessed Redeemer; to the apprehension of whose grace and excellence the mind has been excited by the Spirit's efficacious influence. Nor does it terminate exclusively on His person and character. We take a deep interest in all that concerns the reputation, and engages the attention of the one we love. Accordingly, the christian loves the law of God, and would not expunge from it one solitary precept, or wish its restraints on his heart and conduct, to be in the least diminished. So does he love the word of God, and frequently meditates upon its precious promises, precepts and salutary instructions and counsels. He also loves the wore ship of God, and cannot consent long to be absent from the public assembly, and social meeting, where, according to His promise, Jesus meets with his people. Much less can he consent, if he be a parent, that his family should become a nursery of rebellion, and the morning and the evening sacrifice be neglected. He loves his duty, and delights to do the will of God. He loves the followers of Christ, and his faithful ministers, and esteems them very highly for His sake. Nor does he restrict this regard, to those of his own sect. He loves the cause of God, and labors and contributes in his place, and according to his means, to see it advanced. In short every thing that belongs to Christ, and interests His heart, commends itself to the christian's. These are the ohjects that gain the affections, which were once squandered on things earthly, sensual, devilish.

Intimately associated with this feeling of love, is that of REPENTANCE. We are said to repent, when we are heartily sorry for what we have done, and wish that it had not been done, and seek, by confession, restoration, reformation, or in other appropriate ways to make some amends for it. It is a feeling that is ever connected with a sense of personal guilt. We never do, nor can, we repent for what is not, either wrong in itself, or apprehended to be such by us. The child sces the character of its conduct towards its parents, and feeling it has done wrong, repents of its evil deeds, and, acknowledging its feelings, gives a moral pledge 'that it will reform. So, the sinner,- when he brings his own conduct and the feelings of his own heart in contrast with the righteous commands, and holy character of God, and sees, in the light of this high and holy standard of right, how wrong they have been becomes uneasy, agitated, and oftimes overwhelmed with a sense of his guilt. He does indeed, after some sort, repent,--regrets that he had done this and the other wickedness, and protests and vows that he will do so no more. But such feelings are painful; and it is a law of our nature to shrink from pain, and to avoid what is productive of uneasiness. The terrors of hell, and of death induced by the contrast, which the sinner makes of his own conduct, with the truth and righteousness and holiness of the divine law and character, never yet lasted long, or proved permanently influential. They are only the pleasurable emotions, or those which, at the iime afford some gratification to the individual, that are of easy repetition and are cherished. But against the anguish of convictions the impenitent sinner struggles.

There is, however, another view to be taken of the Di. vine Character, and when the impenitent sinner contrasts his conduct with the goodness and grace, the boundless love, and mercy, and compassion of God, especially as manifested in Ilis giving His own well beloved Son to die for usthe just for the unjust, that He might bring us to Himself, he feels the baseness, the vileness, the ingratitude, the maDignity of his conduct, and heartily loathes it, and bimself,

on account of it.

The feelings of sorrow, induced by a view of the tender mercies of God, in contrast with his own character, break his heart; and he weeps and mourns, for his transgressions. He looks on Him whom he hath pierced, and mourns for it, as "one that mourneth for an only son, and is in bitterness for it, as one that is in bitterness for a first born." Nor does he find these feelings painful. He seeks to have them increased continually, and often in retirement, in meditation on the word, under the preaching, and at the holy table of the Lord, stands gazing with mingled emotions of sorrow and love, on Him who was delivered for our offences.” It is his full, deliberate, and decided purpose, eternally to renounce his sins. The sins and corruption or others as they dishonor God, deeply affect his heart. God is his choice, and seeing His glory to be of far greater consequence than his own enjoyments or interests, he is ready to exclaim

Oh could I lose myself in thee;

Thy depth of mercy prove;
Thou vast unfathomable sea

Of unexhausted love!
I loathe myself when God I see,

And into nothing fall;
Content, if ruou exalted be,

And Christ be aLL IN ALL.. With these feelings of love for God, and sorrow for sin, will be found associated that of confidence or Faith. Faith is the trust or reliance of the heart upon the word of God. It is not a mere intellectual belief; for the objects disclosed by Ilis testimony, cannot be apprehended as realities, without producing some excitement, and therefore it is, that, "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” Scientific speculatims and inquiries, regard the great truths and facts of revelation as mere matters of abstraction. Such things seldom, if ever, interest the heart. Indeed when they do so, in any strong degree, it is thought to in1 Zech. xii. 10.

dicate mental alienation. And perhaps, this is one reason why an unbelieving world accounts the christian mad. They cannot understand why mere abstract matters, as they apprehend the truths of christianity to be, should take such deep hold on the sensibilities. But the christian knows, that they are solemn realities. His religion is all based on matters of fact. He knows it is true, that God hates sin, and must punish the sinner, if he will not repent; that sin is most odious, impudent, malignant and abominable, as it is opposition to His law and government, and seeks to exalt a miserable worm of the dust, a wretched rebel-the idol self, to supremacy;—that Jesus the eternal Son of God, has died to magnify the law of God, and make it honorable;—that having finished transgression, and made an end of sin, He hath brought in an everlasting righteousness, so that, now God can forgive, in perfect consistency with His truth, and honor, and without any ground of impeachment of His goodness and equity as a moral governor; and that He actually is willing, and ready to forgive, and proffers His pardoning mercy to any and every sinner, who hears the gospel. Apprehending these things as absolutely true, the heart is inspired with confidence, alike in the character of God, as a moral governor, and in the faithful. ness of his declarations, and yields itself in sweet reliance unto Him in both respects.

The evidence of the truth of these things, which is furnished to the mind, is abundantly satisfactory. It is the word of Him who cannot lie. This sways his mind, and his faith becomes "the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for.” “He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." But she that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar." And this is the grand offence which ruins and damns to all eternity, those who reject the testimony of Jesus, "the Amen—the faithful 1 Heb. xi. 1. 2 John ii. 33.

3 1 John v. 10.

« PreviousContinue »