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sion to all neglect of duty; whether he has in any measure “ overcome the world” as they who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have put their trust in him; whether his desires to escape from the miseries of hell, however strong, are weaker than his desires after holiness and heaven; whether he is zealous in God's service, aims at his glory, delights in his presence, and in doing his “ will on earth as it is done in “ heaven;" whether he can forgive enemies, can sincerely return blessing for cursing; whether he is anxious not simply to stand but to “ run in the way of “ God's commandments.” In religion there is no standing still; if we are actuated by true religious principles, they will continually impel us forward, and cause us, with Paul, to“ press towards the mark “ for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ “ Jesus.” (r)
Be it remembered, then, that true repentance and conversion reduce all holy resolutions to actions, and either thus create religion, or transfer it from the head to the heart, there to reside permanently as an actuating principle. “ He that resolves to live well when “ danger is upon him, or a violent fear, or when the “ appetites of lust are newly satisfied, or newly served, “yet, when the temptation comes again, sins again, 6 and then is sorrowful, and resolves once more against 6. it, and yet falls when the temptation returns, is a vain “ man, but no true penitent, nor in the state of grace ; 66 and if he chance to die in one of those good modes is $s very far from salvation : for, if it be necessary that
() Phil. iii. 14.
“we resolve to live well, it is necessary we should do “.50. For resolution is an imperfect act, a term of re“ lation, and signifies nothing but in order to the " actions. It is as a faculty is to the act, as spring to “ the harvest, as eggs are to birds, as a relative to its “ correspondent, nothing without it. No man theres“ fore can be in a state of grace and actual favour by “ resolutions and holy purposes ; these are but the gate “ portal towards pardon : a HOLY LIFE is the only per“ fection of repentance, and the firm ground upon 66 which we can cast the anchor of hope in the mer“ cies of God through Jesus Christ.” (s)
Know, however, for your encouragement, that “ in 66 Christ's temple it is not as in ordinary material “ buildings. In these though the whole frame stand “ upon the foundation, yet it stands together by the 6 strength of the parts amongst themselves, and there“ fore their mutual weakness and failings do prejudice “ the stability of the whole. But in the Church, the “ strength of Christ the foundation, is not an imma" nent, personal, fixed thing; but a derivative and “ an effused strength, which runs through the whole 6 building. Because the foundation, being a vital “ foundation, is able to shed forth and transfuse its 66 stability into the whole structure. Whatever the 6 materials are of themselves, though never so frail, 66 yet being once incorporated in the building, they are 66 presently transformed into the nature and firmness 66 of their foundation. To whom coming as unto a “ living stone” saith St. Peter, “ye also as lively
(s) Bishop Taylor's Holy Living, ch. iii. $9.
oś stones are built up a spiritual house: thus noting 66 unto us the transformation and uniformity of the " saints with Christ, both in their spiritual nature, and 6 in the firmness and stability of the same.”
When converted to God “ we stand not, like Adam, “ upon our own bottom, but are branches of such a “ vine as never withers, members of such a head as 6 never dies; sharers in such a spirit as cleanseth, 6 healeth, and purifieth the heart; partakers of such “ promises as are sealed with the oath of God. Since, " then, we live not by our own life, but by the life of “ Christ; are not led or sealed by our own spirit, but “ by the spirit of Christ; do not obtain mercy by our 66 own prayers, but by the intercession of Christ; stand 6 not reconciled in virtue of our endeavours, but by 6 the propitiation wrought by Christ, who loved us " when we were enemies; ' who is both willing and 66 able to save us to the uttermost, and to preserve “ his own mercies in us ; to whose office it belongs to
take order that none who are given unto him be lost; “ undoubtedly that life of Christ in us which is thus " underpropped, though it be not privileged from “ temptations, nor from backslidings, yet is an abiding “ life.” “ Infinitely, therefore, doth it concern the soul 66 of every man to be restless and unsatisfied with any “ other good thing, till he find himself entitled unto 6 this happy communion with the Life of Christ, “ which will never fail him." (ss)
(ss) Reynolds's Three 'Treatises, p. 454.
On the Influences of the Spirit.
Among the several momentous doctrines that are developed in the system of revelation, none seems to have experienced a reception less consistent with the natural order of things, than that of the influence of the Spirit of God upon the mind and conduct of man. This doctrine is so compatible with the dictates of unassisted reason, that several of the heathen philosophers firmly believed it, and unambiguously asserted it. Yet, notwithstanding this, it is doubted by some philosophers residing in Christian countries; and although it is plainly declared in various portions of Scripture, still the only persons, as far as I know, by whom it is positively and unhesitatingly denied and despised, are professing Christians. (888) This singular anomaly in the progress of opinion is often ascribed to the gradual expansion of the mental faculties, occasioned by the constant accumulation of the store of scientific, literary, and Biblical knowledge ;-especially since the era of the reformation, when a new impulse was given to every species of human inquiry. The reason thus assigned, however, though plausible, is not satisfac
(sss) Persons who thus despise and reject, one by one, the constituents of vital christianity, inay be addressed in the quaint language of an old theologian, “ I beseech you, Sirs, as you regard the reputation of your “ reason, tell us, why you will profess a religion which you abhor ? Or, “ why will you abhor a religion which you profess ? ”
tory. Old sciences have, it is true, been much improved and extended ; and new sciences have often grown with rapidity out of the old stock; so that truths which in one age have stood almost at the summit of knowledge, have in the next sunk into the mere elements; or propositions which in one age have been received as irrefragable, have in a succeeding age been exploded as untenable and fallacious. But no
thing of this kind can be traced with regard to religious 'truth. The incessant and successful labours of
Biblical critics have purged away impurities in existing copies, especially of the New Testament; and, by a careful collation of different manuscripts, have expunged errors and removed difficulties ; but they have not added one proposition to the repository of revealed knowledge, as it was left by the apostles: nor have they taken one proposition away. The Bible gave the same view of human nature to the Primitive Christians in the early ages, and to the Reformers in the sixteenth century, as it exhibits to us: it pointed out the same method of salvation, and promised like aids of “ the “same Spirit,” to pious persons in all times, and in all places. (t) This, indeed, is essential to its perfection,
(1) “ Whatever then (says Vincentius Lirinensis) was faithfully “ sown by the Fathers in the church which is the husbandry of God,' 6 ought to be diligently observed and cultivated by the sons: this must
flourish and fructify, this must increase and multiply, and be con. “ tinually growing on (retaining its original proportions) to its proper per“ fection. Succeeding ages may set off, file, and polish, the ancient " Doctrines of this Divine Philosophy; but they must never change, bb never retrench, or mutilate any thing: the doctrines may admit of + more evidence, clearness, and distinction, but they must be inviolably