Page images

vellous light, and from the power of Satan unto God.' Then souls guilty and debased, condemned and ruined, are redeemed from everlasting sin and woe. Then heaven is enlarged by the accession of new inhabitants; and the joy which is felt in that benevolent world over repenting sinners trembles delightfully through his own bosom. The sight of a sanctified mind, of a redeemed and forgiven sinner, of endless virtue and immortal life begun, is the fairest and most enchanting prospect ever seen in the great kingdom of Jehovah.

V. The joy of the Christian in this world is the beginning of everlasting joy.


To be spiritually minded is both life and peace.' This mind is the mind of every Christian. Of course, life and peace' eternal are begun in him, while he resides in this evil and melancholy world.


There are indeed many interruptions, diminutions, and preventions of this glorious possession accomplished by remaining sin, and its inseparable companion, sorrow of heart.' But in the midst of all these he finds consolation, often abundant, almost unceasing, and always sufficient for his wants. The promises of the Gospel are continually before him. God, he knows, will never leave him, nor forsake him.' Christ, he knows, will always be with him unto the end.' He may indeed be cast down,' but he will not be destroyed:' he may be afflicted,' but he will not be forsaken.' The Father of his spirit may indeed 'smite him in his wrath for a small moment, yet with everlasting kindness will he have mercy on him.' In every gloomy and distressing day there will be gleams of sunshine, and openings of a serene, unclouded heaven. In the dry and thirsty ground, where there is apparently no water,' and in the midst of a desolation visibly without limits, the wilderness will suddenly rejoice and blossom as the rose.'




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

His piety is a seed sown here in an unkind, barren soil indeed, and under a wintry climate; but it will live, and grow, until it shall be transplanted to a happier region, beneath a more friendly sky; where it will shoot forth in its native strength and beauty. The flame of divine love kindled feebly in his heart will never cease to burn, until it shall rise and glow with unextinguishable ardour beyond the grave. The


light which here dawns in darkness, and feebly illumines the surrounding gloom, will perpetually shine brighter and brighter, unto the perfect day.' All his sins and sorrows will continually lessen, and recede, and fade; all his graces, consolations, and hopes will expand and improve; until the imperfect good which he finds in this vale of tears,' shall be lost in the everlasting beauty, happiness, and glory of heaven.







In the last Discourse I considered at large the fourth consequence of regeneration. I shall now proceed to examine two other consequences of this great change in man, commonly termed, increase of grace, and perseverance to the end.

In the text the progress of the renewed man in holiness of character, is compared to the dawning light of the morning; which, barely perceptible at first, increases by gradations also barely perceptible, until the sun, ascending above the horizon, sheds over the face of the earth the full beams of day.

By this image we are naturally taught the following things:

I. That the holiness of the Christian is a beautiful object · II. That it increases as he advances in life;

III. That it continues to the end.

I. The holiness of the Christian is a beautiful object.

The views which David, who uttered the instructions contained in this chapter, and which Solomon, who under the influence of inspiration repeated them to us, formed of this

evangelical subject, are sufficiently manifested in the text. It is here compared to the most beautiful of all the objects in the natural world, presented to us in the most beautiful form; viz. the light of the sun succeeding the darkness of the night, and advancing, through a most elegant and delightful progress, to the splendour of the perfect day. What this illustrious object is in the natural system, the holiness of the Christian is in the moral system.


In a similar manner it is spoken of throughout the Scriptures. It is styled by Christ the pearl of great price.' It is said by David to be more precious than thousands of gold, and of silver.' It is said by Job, that it cannot be gotten for gold; that silver shall not be weighed for the price thereof; that it cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, the precious onyx, or the sapphire; that no mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls; that the price of wisdom is above rubies ;' and that its fame has been repeated in the regions of death and destruction. It is styled by Moses the beauty and glory of God' himself. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children: And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.'


[ocr errors]

In conformity to these declarations, those who possess this character are styled,' the excellent of the earth, in whom God delights;'-' chosen ;-wise ;'-' children of God ;'—' followers of Christ; born of the Spirit; the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold;'-' children of light;''heirs of God; and brethren of Christ.' In all these appellations, the moral beauty, the loveliness of mind possessed by Christians, as it appears to the eye of God, is strongly conspicuous; and its inestimable value is exhibited in the most forcible terms of which language is capable.

When we consider this subject in its own proper nature, and as viewed by human reason, we cannot but acknowledge the justice of the scriptural representations. The Spirit infused into man at his renovation has been heretofore exhibited as the only voluntary source of happiness. This being admitted, as by unbiassed reason it must be, no other words can adequately describe either the excellence, the beauty, or the loveliness of this disposition. Its value is of course proportioned to the good of which it is the spring; and to this no limits can be affixed. In whatever degree it exists, and how

ever humble it may be, it still partakes of the common nature. The gold may exist in particles of dust; still it is gold; and superior, both in value and lustre, to all the dross in the universe. He who consecrates his faculties, however small they may be, to the glory of God and the good of the intelligent creation, possesses the angelic character; and is not an angel only because his powers are inferior, and his disposition mixed, and hitherto imperfect.

But there is something still to be added to the beauty of the Christian character. The Christian, as has been uniformly taught in these Discourses, is in this world imperfectly holy. From his remaining sin arise to him many circumstances incompatible with a state of perfection. Many temptations, many difficulties, and many sorrows spring up in his progress towards heaven, which a glorified spirit cannot know. In his struggles with these, in the resolution with which he meets and encounters his spiritual enemies, in his contentions with 'the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,' in his steady dependence on God, in his faithful prayers for divine aid; in his patience, submission, and fortitude under sufferings, in his firm faith in the divine promises, and in his cheerful resignation of himself into the hands of God, there is often manifested a beauty and amiableness of character which is probably seen in no other world beside this; but which must be approved and admired in every world where wisdom is allowed to decide.

In all the meek and lowly virtues of the Christian character there is something pre-eminently delightful and endearing. I know not whether there is any character more strikingly beautiful and lovely than that of a penitent. Children, it seems to me, never interest us so deeply by any amiableness, and are never regarded with such peculiar endearment, as when they come to us with an ingenuous, cordial sorrow for their faults, a cheerful confession, and unfeigned designs of amendment. Such in a peculiar degree is the charming aspect of Christian penitence. On it the High and Lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity,' has declared himself pleased to 'look,' and over it the joy of heaven is exquisitely enhanced.

[ocr errors]

II. The holiness of the Christian increases as he advances

in life.

« PreviousContinue »