« PreviousContinue »
Jievers at the resurrection will seem to themselves to have died but the moment before, cannot affect the argument that they would sustain a real loss by death, if they remained insensible and inactive till the resurrection. The supposition is, therefore, as irreconcilable with the desire which Paul expressed, as it is with his reiterated assertion, that the soul, when separated from the body, abides with Christ.
“ Write! therefore," said the Spirit, “ blessed are the dead who die in the Lord! Yea, that (instantly) they may rest from their toils, and their works follow with them *.” Christian! Death approaches; but it is only to take off thy burden, that thou mayest serve thy Lord more freely, more actively, more effectually, than thou ever couldst in thy mortal body; and that thou mayst enjoy his presence without alloy or interruption. Aged, infirm believer! lift up thy head! the redemption of thy soul from its corruptions and temptations draweth nigh: thy present affliction, which is but light and momentary, is “ working out for thee an infinitely exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Even so! Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"
* Rev. xiv. 13:
ON THE HOLINESS OF GOD.
IN A LETTER TO A FRIEND IN LONDON. Dear Sir,
From the long-continued intimacy that has subsisted between us, I know thiat you will understand at once what I now write you upon certain doctrines, nero and old.
Notwithstanding the many divisions and subdivisions that subsist among mankind at present, on the head of religion, there is a day approaching, called, justly, “ the Day of God," when there will be only two parties, the righteous and the wicked! Already I see it to be so in reality. In the course of iny reading I find that, for a century past, many of the Deists, while they allow the power, wisdom, and goodness of God, deny that holiness and justice are essential attributes of the Eternal Majesty! Now, I can trace the same idea through the pract.cal sentiments of a nultitude of the preachers and professors of Christianity; and I seem to see the world divided already, as they will be on that great day! I see almost" no new thing under the sun!” The same that now is, bas already been, though it inay asşume a new shape. I do not wander at man's errors in religion: I cannot see how it could be otherwise, unless men were created anew by God the Holy Ghost, which is not always the case with the Scribes, the heads of sects, and the disputers of this world. Eren the truly regenerated, who have
seen God, may fall froin their attainments, and be for a time overwhelmed with darkness.
No man can justly rank as a real Christian who has not, in a day of divine power, a sense of the holiness of the Eternal Majesty really and thoroughly impressed upon bis conscience and beart. He may have this, and not clearly see il; but it must be in reality, in order to produce the divine image in man, without which final salvation is impossible* Certain modes of faith appear to me to have no connection with real holiness of heart, but to resemble the belief of a historical fact, or the persuasion we have of the truth of a mathematical proposition. They imply no divine change; they do not absolutely require a day of livine supernatural power to produce them.
I know, froin personal experience, that until the light of God shine into the conscience and heart with creating and renewing power t, a man knows nothing really or savingly of the proper nature of divine things; what God is, what Christ is, what is the nature of saving faith, or of that evidence by which the redeemned of the Lord do believe I How God inakes the common knowledge of himself, the outward instructions of the word and ordinances, and the use of means, subservient to the renewing of the unrenewed heart and conscience, though we must acknowledge the fact , is a mystery which we cannot as yet fully comprehend ||
By a strict attention to my own experience for near forty years, and by observing what has occurred around me during that time, I very plainly perceive, that what the false heart especially falls short of in religion, is right impressions of the holiness of the Eternal Majesty, and a real love to it. Without this we do not truly enter into the kingdom of God even in grace, but still tarry among the Scribes and the disputers of this world; the stony-ground hearers with their passing affectious; and the partially enlightened, whoʻmay totally fall away. How a man can allow himself so lightly to pass over the holiness of God, a subject so thoroughly interwoven with every part of the scripture revelation, can only be accounted for froin the blindness and self-deceit that is so natural to us all,
As you advance in theological studies you will find that, from the days of Luther to the present time, all corrupters of the Scripture doctrines, all Heretics, all Sectaries and Bigots, do either greatly overlook, or have partial and defective views of, the holiness of God. This is the case with Legalists, Antinomians, Arminians, Socinians, Formalists, Sect-makers, &c. &c. &c. Right and genuine views of the holiness of Jehovah would cure thein of their errors. It was Luther's superior view
* Mat. 1.8.
Rom. X. 17.
t 2 Cor. iv. 6. I 1 Cor. ii. 14.
John iv. 35-38.John ili. &.
of the holiness of God that led him, in a practical and experiniental way, to the righteousness and atonement of the Son of God; and to that deep humiliation of spirit for which he was so remarkable. He is very unlike bis pretended imitators in modern times, who believed in the righteousness of Christ with a whole heart; that is, without any proper sense of sin, or of God's boliness.
Without right views of God's holiness, and of our sinfulness, we can neither understand nor relish the mystery of sovereign grace. Men may scem to climb high in this, who know pothing of it in reality. The Mahometans, Deists, and some modern Socinians, are great Predestinarians, or, more properly, Fatalists; so also, ii least practically, are many false professors of religion at present. Without divine and supernatural views of the holiness of God, we cannot cordially embrace the righteousness and atonement of the Son of God:we cannot heartily admire the wisdom and propriety, the beauty and excellence of this glorious dispensation of God 10 fallen inan! Some bave spoken very high things of the atonement, that 10 me appear never to have understood it at all. Indeed, all our views of the atonement, unless we have proper views of the holiness of God, and of the evil of sin, are a mere deception. What a poor account do many make of other essential parts of the divine plan! their zeal running to a mere outside, or !o a partial kind of philosophical holiness, or to the rites, peculiarities, and opinions of their respec. tive sects and parties! How will this religion stand with that unfeigned holiness of heart inculcated by a thousand different expressions in the sacred Scriptures ? It is the peculiar glory of the Christian religion, not only to reveal and bring near the atonement; but also, by the power of God, the Holy Ghost, to forin the divine image in our immortal souls. This is one of the best arguments for the divinity of it; and in this it differs from all other religions that ever were in the world. I can trace some lineaments of this image in several perplexed and brokenhearted Christians, by their temper, conversation, and conduct, while I can see nothing of it in sundry proud hypocrites, Dotwithstanding their boasted zeal, assurance, and confidence *
I am, dear Sir, ever yours in Jesus, líuntlıy.
G. C. Isa. Ixvi. 2. Mat. vii. 15-20.
REFLECTIONS ON GENESIS XIX. 16.
And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand.
Tiese wordis relate to the departure of Lot out of Sodom, “And there came two angels to Südoin, to warn Lot of the de
struction of the city; and when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot'; and whilst helingered, they laid hold upon his band, and brought hiin forth without the city. Then the. Lord rained upon Sodom, and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire out of Heaven.”.
The believer, whilst he dwelis in a world of iniquity and sin, is exposed to danger, temptation, and eternal death. Seduced by example, his affections pre-engaged, and his heart alienated from God, he lives amidst ihe sins of Sodom; and were not the hard of divine love and mercy to lay hold upon him and lead him forth, he would linger on the borders of destruction till the judgments of God descended upon him, and consumed him. But there is mercy with God, therefore shall be be feared ; and though there may appear no distinct vision or si.. militude of an angel to lay hold of his hand and lead hiin forth ; yet, by the word of inspiration and the inessages of divine grace, whilst le lingers, and scarcely advances a single step in the “life of faithi," he is gently drawn, and will finally be brought forth beyond the city.
There has been ever some correspondence in the experience of God's children, in all ages of ihe world. St. Paul beautifully illustrates this idea in his epistles. It is from these characters istic leatures that the mind is enabled to dwell upon the consolations of Scriptue; to percieve the disposition and unwillinga ness of the natural heart to receive the impressions of divine grace; to watch the powerful constraint of God's hand in the work of conversion; and to rejoice in the security of God's promises in the glorious scheme of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.
Moses, the faithful servant of the Lord, lingered when he was called to go before the children of Israel, and even veutured to reason against the commission appointed him by God, “ because he was slow of speech:” but the hand of God laid hold
upon him, and gave him faith to believe in his proinise. " I will be with thy inouth, and will teach thee what thou shalt
' David, the man after God's own heart, lingered amidst the pleasures of sin, till the prophet was sent, and delivered that solemn inessage which convicted 'hin; and led him to repent in dust and ashes.
Job lingered in his fancied innoceney till he received a visit of mercy, and he was constrained to cry out, “ I have heard of thee by the bearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thce; wherefore I abhor invselt."
Isaiah lingered till me was touched by the seraphim with “a live coal from the allar."
Jeremiah lingered, wheo lc said, “ Ah, Lord God, I cannot speak, for I am a child;" but the Lord put torth his hand and touched him.
Zaccheus lingered in the sycamore-tree till the voice of Jesus bade him “ make haste, and come down."
Peter lingered in the prison till the angel led him out: and even the blessed apostle Paul lingered till he was led into Damascus, and impelled to cry out, “Who art thou, Lord?" And, doubtless, all the saints of God, since the introduction of sin into Paradise, have lingered, and endeavoured to hide themselves amongst the trees of the garden, from the presence of God. But wherever the fear of the Lord is implanted, let the soul take encouragement; there is still the “ angel of God to take” hold of the hand, and lead the believer forth beyond the city.
Christian, retrace the path you have trodden; has not the Lord led thee hitherto ? 'When the dangers of infancy, the temptations of youth, the enticements and blandishments of pleasure artured you, and you lingered amongst them, did not the Lord lay hold upon your hand and lead you forth? -! you are convinced of the danger of sin, the Spirit of God discovered it 10 you, and, as it were, led you forth whilst you lingered. If you feel your want of a Saviour, Jesus has turned and looked upon you as he did upon Peter; for remember," ise love him because he first loved us." Let us resolve all our mercies into the free grace of God:-whilst we are lingering, and scarcely believe for fearfulness and doubt, he is saying, “ Look unto me, and be ye saved.” And
Dost thou still linger? Do the frailties and imperfections of the flesh still impede your progress ? “Tarry thou the Lord's leisure," and he will lead thee by his counsel ; and, by-and-bye, bis minister, the angel of death, will lay hold on thy hand, and lead thee forth beyond the city. Fear not to follow the precious angel of the covenant; though clouds and darkness intervene, the promises are sent to support you. Underneath you shall be the everlasting arms; but if the Spirit still lingers to dwell a little longer in the body, and the language of nature is “Oh, not so my Lord,”--the hand which has led thee hitherto will not forsake thee in the end, but bear thee up upon the mount, and lead thee forth beyond the city, as Moses was guided when he saw the promised land; and “thither shalt ibou escape, and thy soul shall live." Surry.
THE CREAT APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES,
The brave have been celebrated in all ages. To describe their character, and to inmortalize their atchievemeats, the powers of Genius and of Taste have combined their efforts; but the