Page images

these vain reasonings, when we consider the rule of the Apostle, EVEN AS Christ forgave you, so also do ye? What injuries can be great, compared with those which we have done to God? What obstacles to forgiveness so threatening, as the obstacles which seemed to prevent our being pardoned? What sacrifice to be named with the awful and incomprehensible death of the Son of God, when he was once offered to bear the sins of many? And yet what forgiveness so gracious, so spontaneous, so rich, so entire, so pe:'manent, so directly flowing from the heart, co pure from all remaining wrath, so imbued and filled with infinite love and compassion, as that act of remission, by which Christ hath forgiven us? He who does not then put on all those lovely graces which begin in sympathy for the miserable, and end in forgiveness to the guilty, has never felt aright in his heart the benefit of Christ pardoning his sin, and has no proof that he possesses this inestimable blessing

And, indeed, to pass to a brief application of the whole subject, we cannot but learn from what has been said,


For if real religion include the feeling of Christian motives and the performing of Chris




tian duties, then how few comparatively, even in a Christian country, can, by any rule of charity, be considered as servants of God! How few have ever assumed a distinct Christian profession; I mean, a profession, not merely of Christianity, but of those things in which Christianity consists! How few have risen with Christ, how few have set their affections on things above, how few are dead to the world, how few have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man; how few are sensible, or even profess to be sensible, of the unspeakable love which God bears to his children, and of the infinite mercy of Christ in pardoning sin! Or if there were any doubt of the general deficiency of nominal and external Christians as to these and other points of inward piety, what doubt could remain, if we look to their spirit and conduct? By their fruits ye

shall know them. What then are the tempers and behaviour of the generality of men ? Are they meek, and compassionate, and lowly, and forgiving, or are they not too obviously fierce, and selfish, and obstinate; resentful of the smallest injury, disdainful of submission, proud of superiority, and contemptuous towards · others? What mean the family feuds which disgrace our households, what the heart-burnings, what the unnatural divisions, and separations, what the interminable quarrels, what

the party-spirit, evil-speakings, and slanders, which prevail among men ?

0, let us at least learn from the subject before us, what Christianity is, and what it must effect in us before we can be Christians. Let us begin with seeking the pardon of our sins. This is to be the motive of obedience, and must therefore precede it. Repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, are the beginning of all religion. This will lay the axe to the root of the tree. By répentance the sinner breaks off from transgression ;' by faith he receives the gift of righteousness, and obtains the benefit of remission. The merits of Jesus Christ being imputed to his account, he is accepted as righteous before God. He who thus receives forgiveness from the hands of his compassionate Saviour, will assuredly begin to love his neighbour as himself. Thus holiness and pardon will be inseparable. The regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, which he has already experienced in its incipient operation, will make him more and more a new creature. He will put off the old man with his deeds, he will put on the new man, and be gradually adorned with all the softer virtues of compassion, meekness, and forgiveness towards“ those around him. This is Christianity. This is the principle and the practice of religion. This therefore let us seek, imploring of God

his Holy Spirit to give us true repentance, and bestow on us the gift of faith, to forgive us our sins, and to form us to a holy imitation of the unbounded mercy which we receive,

But we may,

II. LEARN HOW MUCH TRUE CHRISTIANS THEMSELVES HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO ACT UP TO THEIR PROFESSION.' The virtues we have been considering are not acquired in a day. A long course of instruction, and perpetual efforts of watchfulness and prayer, are indispensable, Holiness does, indeed, in some degree necessarily follow the true grace of God; but for the growth and promotion of it, there is great need of constant exhortation and vigorous exertion, The Colossians had already put on the new man; but they are commanded in the text still to proceed to cultivate the virtues wbich we have been reviewing, because they were to grow and increase in them, and to exert and exercise them daily in all the concerns of life. Christian morality must therefore be duly preached and enforced, as well as Christian doctrine, if we would follow the example of St. Paul. The necessity of doing this is evident. For how deficient are we in the holy and lovely graces which our text enjoins! How difficult for us is it even to understand what is meant by them, of to feel the importance and difficulty of cultivat

ing them, unless they form a part of ministerial mstruction! How different would be the aspect of the Church, if its members uniformly, or any thing like uniformly, acted in the spirit of the Apostle's maxims! Let us then examine ourselves strictly on these points! Let us put off more and more the sordid and disgraceful garments of our unrenewed and sinful condition, and let us put on the becoming dress which should adorn the children of God!

And to this end let us enter more deeply into the MOTIVES of Christianity, that, by divine grace, we may employ them more fully to the production of Christian practice !' If the doctrine of the love of God and the pardoning grace of CẮrist be withdrawn or obscåred; the fönndation is taken from the building, and the edifice will fall: If these doctrine's be inculcated withoc:t Christian practice, we' overthrow the edifice already reared, and leave only the foundation. To unite the two is the Apostolic method. Grow, then, in the view of the Saviour's PARDONING MERCY, that you may be merciful. Imbibe more fully the obligation of your Christian PROFESSION, that you may act agreeably to it. Increase in the LOVE God, that you may love others. The mysteries of the divine love, especially in the ELECTION OF GRACE, may be most profitably contemplated by the experienced and obedient


« EelmineJätka »