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indeed a religion of peace, for it proclaims the reconciliation of man with his maker, his deliverance from the power of sin, his redemption from the bonds of death, and the certainty of his resurrection to life eternal.-It has declared in a manner which no language could have done, the ineffable love of God for mankind : his great care for them, and parental interest in them. It has rendered it impossible for us to suppose even for a moment, that the Almighty in any case willingly afflicts those whom he has called his children, but that if they suffer—it is because as a man chasteneth his son so the Lord their God chasteneth them," for their improvement and profit.-And this is a consideration which in all their tribulation must enable them to be of good cheer,-must overcome the world, its trials and troubles, and confer that peace of God which passeth all understanding. But then on the other hand, though it be undoubtedly true that all these privileges are conveyed to us by Christianity, yet they are accompanied by conditions so severe as to render the attainment of the blessings extremely difficult.—The body is to be mortified and kept in subjection- The natural appetites and passions are to be eradicated in some cases-controuled in all. Under the bitterest afflictions, the soul must be possessed in patience-Man must be dumb, not opening his mouth, though the phials of God's wrath (as it may seem) be emptied upon his head. And all this is hard to flesh and blood-however willing the spirit may be to attempt, the flesh is too weak to accomplish it-No man is sufficient for these things. God forgive us our imperfections, for we cannot remedy them.
I ask again, does not this view of Christianity which presents us with its privileges on the one hand, and its conditions and requirements on the other, appear to us a full and true one ?—Yet it is not so.— It is one which it is useful to take, which indeed we must take, when descending to particulars of practice-but as a statement of the first great principles of our faith, it does not declare the whole truth. For in point of fact, those very things which it represents as conditions and requirements of Christianity, are all of them among its privileges, perhaps its most important privileges. Christ does not simply say-Do this or that, or ye cannot become members, or continue menibers of my church-he does not merely say, “ sin no more”, to a being who was born in sin, and is naturally prone to evil-or“
Weep not,” to one whose tears flow in obedience to an imperative law of his constitution--- he is no Egyptian task-master, pressing the fulfilment of the daily work, careless as to the capability of the miserable bondsman: but this is the language he employs, “ Come unto me that ye may have life—I do indeed require obedience—but come unto me and I will give you power to obey—I do require the subjugation of the lusts of the flesh, but come unto me and I will give you of a spirit, which shall bring into subjection to me, all the thoughts and intents of the heart—I do require patience
under the ills of life, but come unto me, and I will provide a comforter.” • In the world ye may have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Thus the things which appear exactions in the Gospel, must themselves be looked upon as free gifts; since even at the moment that it imposes conditions, it provides and supplies the power of observing them.
Now let us make some practical use of these considerations. Let us see whether they may not be remembered with advantage when we are tempted or afflicted. “ 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.” Here we see two powers placed in opposition to each other, the power of the world, and the power of Christ. Tribulation is the
wages of the one, the gift of the other is peace : and it is owing to some signal victory obtained by Christ over the antagonist power, that he is enabled to promise a share of this peace to all his followers.- What is meant then by this world which bringeth tribulation ?—this power which Christ hath overcome ?Without doubt, the power of sin, the influence of that evil spirit, whom Adam's transgression constituted the prince of this world, and whose dominion Christ came into the world to destroy. If it be true then, that Christ hath obtained the victory to which he here lays claim, if he have subdued the power of sin, it is quite clear that he hath opened to us an escape from temptation, and hath also done away with sorrow.—For sin is the only parent, and sole nurse of sorrow-and if the parent be destroyed, the offspring must perish with her. So that the declaration of the text in plain words is this—No man suffers tribulation of any kind, excepting in proportion as he obeys the world, and forsakes Christ-on the other hand, in the exact proportion that any one separates himself from the world—(or the worldly principle which is sin) and unites himself to Christ, in that proportion is he removed beyond the reach of tribulation. Consequently (for I am not afraid, my brethren,