« PreviousContinue »
lowers. His Gospel spreads wider and wider throughout the world, and the sure word of prophecy seems hastening to its accomplishment; that word of the Most High God, which hath foretold a period of time, in which “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Were it necessary to enlarge upon the evi. dences for the proof of the Gospel history of the life and death and divine mission of its great Founder, it may with truth be said, that far more of every kind of possible evidence which supports other ancient truths, in addition to that which is peculiarly its own, might be brought to prove the truth of the Scriptures, than can be or ever has been brought to prove the genuineness of any other ancient book whatever. The Scriptures have been proved, over and over again, to the entire overthrow of all the arguments which malice, ingenuity, worldly wisdom, and the dreary self-interested wishes of professed sinners, could raise against them; and they remain, like their great Author, firm and immoveable, the gracious revelation of our covenanted hope of mercy and reconciliation in Christ Jesus, the Saviour of our souls. - The second thing proposed remains to be considered ; that this doctrine of our salvation
* Isaiah, xi. 9.
in Jesus Christ necessarily proves the plain necessity of a good and holy life. The text tells us, that through the eternal Son of God
“receive the adoption of sons.” Now this relationship in Christ between God and man, as much implies duty, love, and obedience on our part, as it has announced a gracious and merciful forbearance, and fatherly care, on the part of our God.
of our God. We are required to have faith in Christ; and that, undoubtedly, is the great foundation. But Christ hath himself said, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them;" and the whole Scripture shews, sufficiently plain to alarm the conscience of the sinner, that if we know and do them not, a heavy woe will fall upon us in the day of wrath. Peculiar opinions may blind the judgment; the spirit of adherence to some accredited one whom men may regard as their father in Christ may keep up a distinction which God has never made; but in the end, there is no one who does not find, his conscience teaching him, and his inward misgivings pointing to the truth, that “ faith without works is dead, being alone.” Every principle which can be brought to bear upon this point, whether it be taken from the dealings or the words of God, the examples or the instruction of inspired men, very clearly shews, with a testimony which none may resist, that when we profess to believe the Gospel, we take upon ourselves to obey it: that when we say we believe in Christ, we give dreadful witness against our own soul, unless we receive the whole“ truth as it is in Jesus ;”. acknowledge Him as our Prophet and our Priest, and obey Him as our King.
In this point, then, by the testimony of our own conscience, guided by the word of God, let us ever judge our own selves. That conscience so guided will soon tell us by its silent voice, whether our professed faith in the Gospel be such a faith as the Gospel requires ; whether, when we say that we believe in Jesus Christ, we really do believe, and shew our belief by a holy life; or, whether we are coldly satisfied with a mere outward confession of faith, which, being apart from a holy obedience, leaves us little more of the comfort and the fruits of faith, than what is dreadfully declared of those fallen spirits, who “believe and tremble.”
If our daily lives, our habits, our employ ments, our tempers, are more and more directed towards the great end for which we are all placed in this world—the glory of God, the good of our fellow-creatures, and the entire renewal of the inward man, we then give good and scriptural proof that we believe in Jesus Christ; then have we, indeed, in our own souls, the first-fruits of the everlasting blessedness of His true disciples.
But if we be such only as the world is satisfied with, still in sinful habits, in unsubdued, almost unresisted sin, our outward belief in Jesus Christ, the conviction upon our understanding that the Christian religion is well supported by its evidences, is then but solemn mockery ; for, confessing Him with our lips, we deny him by our lives.
This inference, fearful as it is true, it well becomes us all to ponder and apply, each for himself. In the point of a right, a saving faith, it is of immense consequence that each should ascertain the exact truth, in reference to his own soul.
That we cannot but believe in Christ, so far as the mere assent of the understanding goes, few, in these times, are hardy enough to deny : for the credit of intellectual attainment, and ordinary progress in other branches of knowledge, would then suffer a loss.
But the belief of a Christian must not end here. We believe in what Christ, the eternal Son of God, hath accomplished for us all, buying our pardon at the great price of His own blood, and now interceding on our behalf, and now preparing a place of glory in the mansions of His own Heaven.
But do we not also believe that His exam
ple is before us; that His laws are before us, yea, written and engraved upon the tablets of our hearts; that His promise of the Holy Spirit remains firm for ever, that His strength may aid our weakness, His indwelling influence purify our natural corruption ?
If so, will our consciences suffer us to be at peace in the pitiful tribute of lip-service ? to rest upon the confession of the tongue, when every plain argument from reason, Scripture, and our own experience, proves, that a saving faith can only be evidenced by a holy life? By no other way whatever can we now give proof to our own conscience, or expect to satisfy conscience when our time of trial shall be at an end, that we indeed believe in the holy, the obedient, as well as the suffering Saviour of our souls.
A good tree can be known only by its fruits. This, after all, must be the only test: If we have a saving faith in Christ, that faith will appear in our daily life. He who hath said, “ Be ye holy, for I am holy,” never could intend that a mere belief in a holy being would excuse an humble and earnest imitation of His own infinite holiness. The eternal Son of God became man, that man might have a Redeemer, and an example of life ; and that Saviour, in whom we profess to believe, hath perfected His great work of Redemption, and