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stored to the image and favour of God, by virtue of its abiding energy, and the immutable power and grace of its Divine Author. (1)
It is possible that a belief of these truths, striking and momentous as they are, may float loosely in the understanding, without being efficacious. But they are exquisitely formed to affect us deeply: and whenever the secret links which connect the understanding with the heart are acted upon by the mysterious energy of him " who knoweth our frame” and all its hidden springs, this belief leads to that saving change which is called conversion. Then he who is the subject of it becomes “ a new creature: old things are passed 6 away ; behold, all things become new.” (m) He has new apprehensions of things, new hopes, new fears, new joys, new sorrows, new affections, new employments, new prospects, and, it may be, new friends and new foes: he feels a perfect renovation of character ; his greatest solicitude is to be “ a fellow worker with 66 God, and a fellow heir with the saints:" and impelled by the joint influence of delight and self-abasement, he may be ready to exclaim, with Baxter, “O “ wonderful! that heaven will be familiar with earth, “ God with man, the Most High with a worm, and
the Most Holy with a vile sinner! Man refuses me “ when God entertains me. Those I never wronged “ reproach me; and God, whom I have unspeakably “ injured, invites and entreats me, and condescends to “ me, as if he were obliged to serve me. Men may
(1) See Doddridge's Works, vol. i. p. 274. (m) 2 Cor. v. 17.
56 abhor me, whom I have deserved well of: but God, 6 from whom I deserve eternal torments, graciously “accepts me. I upbraid myself with my sins, but he “ now upbraids me not : I condemn myself for them, “ but he will not condemn me. He forgives me sooner “ than I can forgive myself. I have peace with him, 6 before I can have peace in my own conscience." ;
The Christian religion, as pourtrayed in the Gospel, differs from all others in furnishing an internal principle, from which the purest conduct emanates. It is not a religion of forms and ceremonies, but the religion of the inner man.” The language of God to every Christian is, “ My son, give me thine heart.” The true Christian, as depicted in the New Testament, is a faithful and active servant, who inquires what his Lord's will is, and performs it with cheerful alacrity. He makes it “ his meat and his drink to do the will of his “ heavenly Father ;” and he knows that, conformably with that will, be must “ relieve the fatherless and “ widows in their affliction, and keep himself unspotted “ from the world.” (n) He considers it his duty, and finds it his delight, to please God, and render as far as possible his fellow-creatures happy ; “ to add to his “ faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to “ knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; 6 and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly “ kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity." (0) Still he walks as on the confines of the eternal state, and is anxious, therefore, to renounce the world, its course and its spirit, yea, to be “ dead unto the world” (n) James, i. 27.
(0) 2 Pet. i. 5-7. .
and “ alive unto God,” to attain more and more of the Divine image, to “grow up to Christ in all things," to enjoy “fellowship with God,” and, “if he be risen 6 with Christ, to seek those things which are above, 156 where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (p)
Such are the dispositions and the employments which are required to be exemplified in the sincere Christian. He is exhorted to flee from a contrary temper and conduct, by the assurance that “ the wrath of “ God abideth on ” all those who reject the offer of the Gospel ; and he is stimulated to persevere in the Christian course by the assurance that heaven is the inheritance of every sincere and humble follower of Jesus. His hopes are constantly directed to that happy period when he shall be “ ever with the Lord, to 6 behold” and participate in " his glory.” He lives under the persuasion that, after he has passed through 6 the valley of the shadow of death,” « God will wipe “ away all tears from his eyes,” and he will be no more exposed to fear or sorrow, to mourning or death. He believes that his spirit will be united to his glorified body in those delightful regions, where an enemy shall never enter, and from whence a friend shall never depart; where there will be satiety without disgust, day and no night, joy and no weeping, difference in degree and yet all full, “ love without dissimulation,” excellency without envy, multitudes without confusion, harmony without discord; where the understanding shall be astonishingly enriched, the will perfectly rectia
(2) Gal. vi. 14. Rom. vi, 11. 2 Cor. iii. 18. Eph. iv. 15. 1 John, i. 3. Cok, üi. 1:
fied, the affections all transformed into love and joy; where “ the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, 6 shall feed him, and lead him unto living fountains of 6 waters:” (q) where God shall be the light and the glory of the place for ever and ever!
These, in brief, are the doctrines of the New Testament, the “ fruits of the Spirit,” manifested in those who believe, and the glorious expectations of a future world, which are intended at once to stimulate and to reward “ a patient continuance in well doing.” “But
these, you will probably say, 6 are not recognised by many who call themselves Christians; for there
are many that profess a belief in Christianity, who • nevertheless ridicule the idea of living under its
power. If that system of religion, which is incul• cated in the New Testament, teach, as your language * clearly implies, the depravity of human nature, the
necessity of regeneration, the influences of the Spirit,
particular Providence, the atonement and the Divinity • of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, the resurrec• tion of the body, and the eternity of future punish'ment; it teaches what not many rich, not many
noble, not many wise, are prepared to receive, and • what none can receive without being exposed in
consequence to contumely, derision, and reproach.' While I acknowledge the justice of this observation, I would wish to guard you against drawing any such conclusions from it as would be unfavourable to a cordial reception of the great and essential peculiarities of the evangelical system. That several of the rich and
(9) Rev. vii, 17.
noble should reject the religion of Jesus Christ is not at all to be wondered at, when it is recollected that the most genuine fruits of that religion are meekness, humility, godly simplicity, an aversion to pomp and display ;-—dispositions, which flow in a current directly opposite to all the natural tendencies of opulence, and which, notwithstanding (such is the irresistible energy of Christian principles), have often been found to adorn the character of persons of the most exalted rank. Blessed be God, there are those
“Who wear a coronet and pray :" there are also monarchs who delight in acknowledging their allegiance to the King of kings, and whose piety is to them a greater ornament than the richest gem which decks their crowns. So that God is not without witnesses, nor Jesus Christ without sincere disciples, among those who surround, or those who sit upon, earthly thrones.
As to the frequent rejection of the peculiarities of the Christian religion by men of learning and science, neither can that be a matter of surprise. It is very possible to know much without being wise, and especially without being “ wise unto salvation."
" - Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Wisdoin in minds attentive to their own.