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that I have been lowering the standard of true devotional fervour, and substituting the formality of habit in its place.
If such is to be the impression carried away by any individual here present, it were indeed far better that the subject had never been brought forward.—But I trust, my brethren, that I shall not be so fearfully misinterpreted.- If I assert, as I do still assert, because I fully believe, that vivid feelings are not to be expected in every stage, more especially in the advanced stages, of a Christian's progress—it is because I suppose that in those stages the passion of religion, which is the imperfect-has given way to the principle of religion, which is the more perfect state. I suppose that by the grace of God, obeyed and cultivated, the man has acquired a new nature, to which works of purity, holiness, and devotion are congenial, and from which they spring without effort, and without the excitement of any perceptible emotion. It is impossible that indifference should ever be mistaken for this calm “ joy and peace in believing,” by any but
the wilfully deceived. No one can ever suppose that the fire on the altar is extinguished, because it burns with an uniform, clear, and steady light-in place of languishing at one time nearly to extinction, at another blazing up with a fierce momentary flame.—May God, my brethren, by his preventing grace, give us in the first place to feel all the motives and impulses of his religion—and then by his co-operating grace, may he enable us so to act upon them—that finally the real principle of pure Christianity may be inwardly grafted in our hearts, and we may bring forth fruit constantly and uniformly, the fruits of an holy and religious life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THE PEACE CONFERRED BY THE GOSPEL.
John xvi. 33.
These things have I spoken unto you, that in me
ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
The tenth chapter of St. Matthew (which we have heard this morning) tells us that when Christ had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease. And he commanded them saying, among other things, “ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have
144 THE PEACE CONFERRED BY THE GOSPEL.
received, freely give ?." These words,
freely ye have received,” may be applied to all the disciples of Christ, none other can describe their position more accurately.—Theirs is a condition of privileges. — They have received freely and abundantly of every thing that is worth a wish—of every thing that can tend to promote the real comfort and happiness of man.— Without money, and without price, the Christian has been endowed with a power against evil spirits to cast them out-against all the temptations, from whatever source arising, which would assault and hurt his soul.—He has been enabled to heal all manner of disease, to soothe all the troubles of the mind, and to turn to blessings all the afflictions of the body. He is partaker of a power which can raise the deadeven the power of Christ's resurrection, with whom he shares in the victory over death and the grave.
All this, I repeat, he has “received freely.” These blessings
I Matt. x. 8.
are the free gifts of God to him, he has not wrought for them : they are gratuitously offered to him, and he is invited, nay, earnestly intreated, to accept them.
Yet so imperfectly do we very generally appreciate the Gospel, that I question whether this is the view which many of us take of it.—That is to say, which we take of it spontaneously—as the suggestion of our own minds, springing from our own experience, without the need, or the employment of any process of reasoning to convince us. Following the intuitive promptings of our hearts, we should say perhaps, that we have no doubt of the Gospel's being a path which leads to peace, though we have not yet found that it is of itself a way of pleasantness. We believe its promises to be glorious, but we feel its exactions also to be grievous.
For instance, in speaking of Christianity, would not the following appear to most
of us, not only an useful practical method of ! putting the question, but at the same time
the fullest and most accurate view to take of it ?—The religion of Jesus Christ is