« EdellinenJatka »
meekness, love, and all the train of attractive graces and virtues, in this way adorn the character of the believer. The saint well knows, that wandering thoughts, fretful tempers, carnal passions, and worldly anxieties, tend to embitter his comforts and darken his hopes. · Reader, examine yourself. Whose image and superscription do you bear? Remember, every true Christian has received the impress of the Saviour's moral likeness; or, as it is said, “ is renewed in knowledge and holiness, after the image of Him that created him." Have you inbibed the amiable tempers and heavenly dispositions of Jesus ? " If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” The brightest talents and the most zealous profession avail nothing while the heart is unchanged. It is expressly declared, “ He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” . Do you follow Christ, daily endeavouring to mark and pursue his steps ? No other pattern is so deserving of imitation. If then you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, be careful to walk even as he walked. Be a living epistle of Christ, known and read of all. If you keep near to Jesus, and grow in conformity to him, your evidence of an interest in his salvation will be clear and satisfying to your own mind. But those who are conscious, that their aims are low and selfish, their tempers and dispositions unsanctified, and their conduct loose and vicious, have no scriptural ground to conclude they are yet made partakers of Christ. We look in vain for the saviour's image in such persons. Not one line or faint feature of resemblance can be found. Nay, where pride reigns in the heart, where malice and envy work, where lying and deceit habitually prevail, there are strong marks of likeness to Satan. He, who knew what was in man, said to the wicked Jews, “ Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." What an awful state is this! Surely it nearly concerns every one to know his true character; whether Christ be formed in him the hope of glory, or he be led captive by the devil at his will.
2. Another evidence, that Christ is precious to us, is a willingness to make every sacrifice which the profession of his name requires.
Is any thing too valuable to be relinquished for Christ? Can the flattering prospect, or full possession of worldly power, honour, emolument, and pleasure, indemnify the soul for the loss of its salvation is not the sum total of all earthly bliss, light and worthless in the estimate of the believer, compared with an interest in Christ ? Yet how many refuse, at the command of the Gospel, to part with the idols which they have set . up in their hearts! How many prefer their farms, their merchandize, and their amusements, to the one thing needful! The necessity of making every thing yield, to become secondary and subservient to the cause of true religion, is so strongly asserted and clearly settled in the Gospel, as to leave no room for the shadow of a doubt. The words of our great Master ought to outweigh a thousand pretended difficulties and objections, which carnal policy may throw into the opposite scale. “ If any man come unto me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” It is hardly necessary to say, that this does not imply that we should do or wish evil to our parents, or other relatives, for we are forbidden to bear ill-will even to our enemies. It does, however, imply, that whenever the dearest ties of nature clash with the known commands of Christ, the former must give way to the latter. If we cannot please both our friends and the Saviour, we must prefer the claims of heaven to those of earth, the concerns of the soul to those of the body. This sense of the above-mentioned remarkable passage is confirmed by the parallel place, Mat. x, 37,
“ He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Nor let any murmur, crying, “ This is a hard saying, who can bear it?” To human nature in its unrenewed state it is, indeed, utterly impracticable ; but we have in the sacred records several memorable examples in which this precept was fulfilled. “ By faith, Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward.” Heb. xi, 24, 25, 26.
Was it not a magnanimous conduct to cast in his lot with the despised saints of God, rather than shine in all the splendour of a monarch's palace? Was it not a just estimate, a wise choice, to prefer the riches of Christ to Egypt's best possessions ? Was it not a noble and profitable exchange, to give up the short-lived pleasures of sin for the recompense of an eternal reward?.;
Another instance equally worthy of notice is the apostle Paul. It is hardly possible to put together more strong, decisive language, than he uses. When all the advantages of birth and education; all his civil and religious privileges are présented in one full view; he says, “ But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” When called to make à sacrifice of those things, which he had before so highly esteemed and valued, he did it without any lingering hesitation, or drawback of sinful regret. “ Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss; of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ," Phil. iii, 7, 8. Nor was this a transient flash of zeal; he retained his firm. ness to the last, and sealed his testimony for Jesus with his blood. And long since the apóstolic age, there have been found many so ardently attached to the Saviour and his truth as to make a voluntary sacrifice of the best earthly comforts, rather than either deny him or desert his cause. When Luther, the brightest luminary of the reformation, was summoned before the diet at Worms, his friends, apprehending the great danger to which he would be exposed, endeavoured to dissuade him ; but he answered, " I am called by the providence of God to go, and I will go, though there be as many devils in