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faith, or earthly laws, enforce and require, by present or future rewards and punishments. Without this Christian charity there does not seem any certainty how a man will conduct himself, so much of earth is mixed up with every superstition. Upon any supposed emergency, the deeds, and words, and thoughts, of any Christian are so far understood by any second person, as that second person is himself a Christian. Afflicted or prospered, the Christian acknowledges the hand of Him, who also giveth eternal life to His children. As to earthly sufferings, they are evidently aggravated to those who suffer in disobedience. And in all joy, the feeling of obligation beyond all hope of return, is the most keenly delightful of all with which the heart can be throbbing. It is not broken by calculation, or disturbed by conscience.
Fear is cast out, and love prevails, and even sinners find their Enemy baffled.
The terms of our acceptance with God are essentially individual, and must be complied with in our own proper persons, and welcomed
in our own hearts. To serve Him is our privilege, and to serve Him altogether : any consideration whether such or such enjoyments be allowable, argues at once more or less approximation to a spirit of bondage. To doubt is to condemn, and but for our want of faith such a doubt could not have arisen. A Christian's perfection, for our present purpose, may be said to consist in doing all things at all times as well as he can. His power is the measure of his duty. To be less a Christian on one day, or one occasion, than another, designedly, were a contradiction in terms. Temptations from without, and weakness within, render occasional offences more than probable; but if they take away the heart from God, the character of Christianity for the time being is lost.
Throughout any community of Christians, taking the word in a more general sense, the influence of Christianity will surely and quietly shew itself. It has even done much for those who have disavowed its work. It will make manners affectionate and gentle; reasoning sound and calm ; exertion habitual and requisite. Whatever height we gain on the earth gives us the means, and the hope, of attaining the higher points, it first discovers to our view. We are framed for eternity. We cannot in the present constitution of things maintain a station at any degree of moral character to which we may have attained, any more than we can arrest the passing moment, and hold our lives in it, without any dependence upon the past or the future. In what manner our progress will supply strength, may be conjectured in some measure from the weight of any one admitted sin; and again, from the great difference which selfish and indolent habits of body are found more or less, by unchanging experience, to work in mental energy.
Good works are occasionally spoken of as being the condition of salvation; but in one sense, which has been put upon the word condition, this assertion is unwarrantable, and calculated to mislead the incautious. There is not any promise of eternal life to those who do well, because they do well. Good works are not the cause, but the effect of
grace of God is free, through Jesus Christ, and unconditional. If we could comply with any terms that should entitle us to it, it would be unnecessary.
Where the condition of salvation is spoken of, and does not mean the state in which we are living, but appears, at the first glance, to mark out the money and the price we are to pay for the milk and the wine, it will often be found spoken of with such previous qualifications, and subject to such a tacit and conventional understanding, as saves the writer from the error, to which it leaves the reader exposed. Had our salvation been placed within our own hearts and minds, instead of being, as it is, without us, and beyond our own reach, the gift of God; had the means of our salvation originated with ourselves, and been dependent upon our own exertions in the first instance, instead of being derived through Him Who was lifted up on the cross to save sinners—then indeed our strength would have been our weakness; but now,
we know that, when we are weak, then are we strong.
It must in conclusion be stated, that our prayers should bear continual testimony that our only reliance is upon Jesus Christ. The words we utter, or the aspirations after true holiness, which we cannot so definitely embody, may yet take effect upon our own hearts, and often draw down a blessing. Our reason, the wisdom of our flesh, is indeed corrupt, until we receive a better Spirit; and we shall receive it if we ask aright. Solomon has cautioned us to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and to lean not unto our own understanding. On any point the principles of the Bible will give our determination its fullest and only sanction. We must be cautious that we do not reply against God, and that we do not stand in a wrong spirit upon His high hill, and pass judgment upon His works. As the Bridegroom may come at any hour, we must be cautious to have oil provided for our lamps. Each man should be prepared beforehand for the particular situation in life he may expect to fill, with such a ready knowledge of the lessons of his Lord,