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far from imputing to you all the vices, which in many instances spring from a state of mind somewhat similar to your own. I am ready to acknowledge all the amiable and prepossessing qualities which may probably adorn your cha racter. I admit the good effects of your moral and religious example on your neighbourhood and dependents. I acknowledge your benevolence to the poor. I grant even that you are sincere in serving God according to your conscience. I will suppose further, that, from your education and circumstances, you may have seldom met with truly religious persons, or, as perhaps you might be inclined to call them, over-religious persons. All this I concede; and every measure of deference and regard which is due to your rank or reputation in society, I most cordially render to you. Nay, I allow further, that the statements which I have been making in this discourse are the statements of a minority in the community, and of a minority which you may have been taught to overlook. But allow me seriously to propose to you this plain question, Have you ever considered, as becomes immortal and accountable creatures, THE ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FORM AND THE POWER OF CHRISTIANITY? Have you ever thoroughly examined your heart and life as to this obvious and yet fundamental point? You must be aware, from the express language of
the text, as well as from the confessedly corrupt state of many Christian churches, that there is such a thing as retaining the one whilst the other is denied. Have you, then, ever suspected yourselves? Have you considered that the very circumstance of belonging to a pure and reformed national church, may possibly assist to betray you into an error upon this point? Have you ever reflected that there is possibly something higher and more spiritual in religion than you have as yet discovered, something more delightful and elevating, something that engages and fills the heart, something that brings back man to God as a father, something that unites him to the cross of Christ, that separates him from the world, and fixes his whole soul on eternity and heaven?
Read only with a teachable heart the plain language of Holy Scripture.' Mark what it states, in every place, of the power of godliness. Open, for instance, the 6th chapter of St. John. All is spiritual and divine. Christ is spoken of as the bread of life—His flesh is the life of the world—Except we eat his flesh' and drink his blood, we have no life in us. Now, let me simply ask if you ever experienced any thing of THIS UNION WITH CHRIST BY FAITH? Turn again to the 5th chapter of the 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians. The Apostle there speaks of the constraining love of Christ, of our being new crea
tures in him, of our being reconciled to God through Him who was made sin for us. Now, has this solemn transaction of the soul with God, THIS RECONCILIATION, taken place? Has it led you to a supreme love to Christ? Are
you new creatures ?--Once more, for almost any part of Scripture is sufficient for this purpose, read the 8th chapter to the Romans;, reflect on the two states there described—the being in the flesh, and the being in the Spirit—the carnal and the spiritual mind-the indwelling, the leading, the consolation of the Spirit of God, and the minding and following the things of this world. Did this subject ever occupy your thoughts? Can you hope that you are actu
INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
But I need not press you on these or similar points. You must acknowledge that your
religion bas never gone so deep as these and other passages of Scripture obviously and necessarily require. You know that you have never prayed with a humble and contrite heart; that you have never sought reconciliation with God by a living faith, nor been justified by the alone righteousness of Christ, nor been born again of the Holy Gbost, nor endeavoured to walk according to the Spirit, Your religion has never changed your heart and broken you off from your secret sins.
Your religion has never
brought you in tears to the foot of a Saviour's
Your religion has never made you delight in the law of God after the inner man, You have a form, and little more than a form, of godliness. You are in fact dead as to spiritual life and feeling. You are, after all, establishing your own righteousness on the ruins of the Cross. You pursue, without pleasure or meaning, a weary and accustomed round of mere external duties and forms.
Awake then from your fatal security: Learn what true and spiritual religion is, and what it must effect in you, if ever you go to heaven. Behold, the penetrating eye of an all-seeing God is fixed upon you! Hearken to those awful words, as to a voice of thunder, addressed to the Jews of old, but in their main intention applicable with double force to professed Christians: To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord; I am full of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts.
When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand to · tread my courts ? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with ; it is' iniquity, even your solemn meeting. All mere forms, then, are abominable in the sight of God, if the heart be wanting: What can the mask and
shadow of religion avail with Him? The semblance of justice and benevolence may, indeed, impose on men like yourselves; but it can never for one instant deceive the Most High. Even in this world, what benefit would the notion of life, or healing, or wealth, or deliverance produce? What good would arise from the mere machinery or implements of skill or benevolence? Would they raise the dead, restore the sick, enrich the perishing, or release the prisoner? And much less will the mere form of pardon and grace and purity, change or sanctify the heart. Beseech, then, of God the gift of his Holy Spirit. Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. Surrender your heart to God. Never rest contented till the whole power of religion, like a gentle and steady and copious stream, refresh and renew your soul. Renounce your reliance on a heartless semblance of piety which only impedes, and postpones your conversion ; and embrace, as penitent sinners, the offers of grace made you in the Gospel. Thus shall you be, not only almost, but altogether Christians. You shall no longer halt between two opinions, but boldly and fully follow the Lord. And you shall feel all the grace and blessedness of the converted and devoted servants of Christ.