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wards another, than what the Gospel enjoins, we may be certain that there must be something wrong within; some grievous error in our will and manner of life, which keeps us from the proper fruits, as well as from our sufficient enjoyment of the promises and mercies of our baptismal covenant.
If a sinful desire of forbidden, or an over anxious desire of unforbidden things; if the inconsistencies and sad errors of judgment, will, or conduct, mark our daily life, we need not, indeed, wonder that we grow not in the knowledge of what God has done for us, in due thankfulness for what our redemption cost; in a spiritual understanding and grateful application of the mercies of redeeming love. .. This consideration, however, must not be misunderstood. For, so to think of our redemption, and so to believe it, as to make it practical in our daily lives, our fallen nature and past experience too well prove to be difficult indeed. Our natural corruption, our strange alienation from God, and too much clinging to the things of this life, make that a task, which might seem more likely to be received as an inviting duty. -!: The distinction is between the will and the honest exertion to attain these things, and the decided choice and adoption of what keeps us from God, and the proper care of the soul; and our remedy, if we be really desirous of a remedy, is nigh at hand. God's strength shall be perfected in our weakness.
Our rightly believing and applying the truths of the Gospel is not the effect of our own strength. It is not the office of the kindliest friendship between man and man; it is not the highest and most active sense and necessity of personal exertion for each other's spiritual good; it is not the weight of the most solemn and earnest labours of the ministers of religion; it is not any, nor all of these means which, of themselves, can avail; can change the soul from its natural state of alienation from God, unto the renewed state of faith, love, and obedience in Christ. And yet is there no cause to complain; for the things which are impossible with man, are possible unto God.” The Third Person, in the adorable Trinity, has an equal share in the great work of Redeeming Love with the Father, who “ so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life;" and with the Son, who, for man's sake was willing to die, a
6. Lamb slain for the sins of the world.” It is the peculiar office of the Holy Ghost to bring us to the knowledge of God, and also to the knowledge of ourselves. But His aid is not intended to do away with our own honest endeavours, in dependence upon Him alone, to “ work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” Upon His help we may, with great consolation, entirely depend, to begin and perfect our victory over all those multiplied obstacles to our rightly understanding, duly valuing, and faithfully performing what God has revealed. But, let us never forget, that
that heavenly aid we do not depend, so long as we wilfully commit sin, or wilfully neglect a known duty. We then shew that we neither really pray for the help of the Holy Spirit, nor act upon what He gives that so we may receive more. We wilfully remain in our natural unbelief, and natural love of sin. We then “ grieve the Holy Spirit,” and tempt him, in just judgment, to withdraw himself from us for ever.
The awful truths of which we have now refreshed our remembrance, are the most fearfully important of all knowledge which man can possibly be made acquainted with.
The message of salvation, • Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved,” is the weightiest part of the revelation which we have received from the Lord; and those who neglect or refuse to receive it, reject what no other scheme can ever accomplish they refuse to be saved. Upon this point, then, the real belief of the Gospel, let us not deceive ourselves, nor suffer ourselves to be deceived, There is a test sufficiently plain for us all: no one really believes, or understands, to any saving purpose, what the Gospel is, who wil. fully commits sin, or who habitually omits plain and daily duties.
Upon this single point, let the whole matter rest. If we live in sin, not merely in the grosser sins of professedly ungodly men, men who hate religion, and all things belonging to it; but if we do not grow in grace, in the honest exercise of a “conscience void of offence towards God and man,” in the active performance of daily duty, according to our station and circumstances and opportunities, we should be more than suspicious that we are wrong at heart: instantly let us examine our selves, and honestly see what our belief and understanding of the Christian method and conditions of salvation really are: let us see whether we have, as yet, any thing more of religion than the confession of its truths, with little persuasion in our own minds, that those awful realities so nearly concern ourselves, as to form the exact rule by which, on a future day, we shall be judged at the tribunal of Christ.
and shew us a danger of which we had well nigh been left to experience the fearful consequences, then let us seek the present remedy, and « flee from the wrath to come.' prayer, by self-denial, by self-knowledge, let us arm our souls against the destroying wiles of that spiritual enemy, who first tempted man in paradise; who strove, in his temptation of the eternal Son of God, to work our heavier fall, and who still strives, in all our daily temptations, to frustrate the mercy of “
of " God in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," so that the Gospel of reconciliation may be preached to us in vain. Warned of our danger by every thing which God, in His various dealings of Providence and Grace, and which our own conscience, continually bring before us, let us be convinced of what Scripture hath so expressly made known. Let it awaken our fears, and so produce watchfulness and prayer ; let it direct and animate our hopes, and so, through the ever present aid of God, lead us to a better way. Then will religion bring with it its promised blessings.
The peace of redemption will be more and more our own, and we shall soon experience, in reference to the difficulties and discouragements in the beginning of a religious life, that nevertheless“ its ways are ways
“ its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.” In the