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the importance of Christianity, and yet to enjoy those animal gratifications, which give such a zest to their existence. Thus they go on, like the rich man in the parable, faring sumptuously every day; and never find out their dreadful mistake, till like him, they open their eyes in hell, being in torments ! How awfully blinded is the soul of man, until illuminated by the Holy Spirit of truth.
Till his glorious light irradiate our minds, we can form no accurate ideas either of God, or of ourselves. All is chaos' and confusion. We do not even see men as trees walking. We are in a state of complete blindness, and all our conceptions are erroneous. We grope in the dark.
in the dark. We stumble even at noon day.
How different from that cold assent of the understanding to the general truths of the Gospel, which satisfies an unbelieving world, is the faith which the Spirit of God works in the hearts of his people.
The believer in Jesus is the new creation of God. His mind is enlightened from above. His heart is made to feel its guilt and misery. He reads the word of God with an interest unfelt before. He reads it as a revelation of love from the God of mercy, proclaiming pardon to the guilty--peace to the miserable, and purity to the polluted. Every declaration bears, to his mind, the stamp of truth. He requires no other sanction than, “thus saith the Lord;” and finding this, he reads with reverence, and seeks for grace to receive with all meekness, the engrafted word which is able to save his soul. He finds his own character exactly pourtrayed in its sacred pages. He looks within, and is able to trace sin through the dark recesses and secret windings of his heart. He discovers those latent seeds of evil, those bitter springs of misery, unbelief, and pride, and lust, and covetousness, which
are continually pouring forth their deadly streams into his outward life. He traces all this evil to the fall of man, and finds that the deadly poison has contaminated the whole posterity of Adam. He owns himself a sinner, both by nature and practice. He justifies the righteous judgment of God, whose law he has broken, and whose tremendous curse he has so awfully incurred. He no longer tries to palliate his offences, or invent soft names whereby to varnish over the deformity of sin. He frankly and fully confesses himself a rebel, guilty of death, and deserving of nothing less than eternal damnation.
Into this humble, broken, contrite state of heart he is brought by the deep convictions of that Holy Spirit, whose office it is to convince the world of
But does this divine agent leave him in this awakened state of agony and despair? Ah! no ! how good, how gracious, how merciful is God! He wounds in order to heal; he kills in order to make alive.
When a person labours under a violent fever, every expedient is tried to reduce the wasting malady. The means used, seem for a time to increase the weakness and debility of the patient: but he is thus weakened only that he may eventually become strong. No sooner is the consuming fever abated, than cordials and restoratives are freely administered, which given before, would have augmented the dangerous symptoms, and thus have hastened on the fatal consequences of the disease.
Thus our heavenly Physician humbles and subdues the proud heart of the sinner; and destroys the feverish thirst and burning desire after sinful gratifications, before he imparts the reviving cordials of pardon and peace, to restore the sin-sick soul to spiritual health and vigour,
Then the bloom of health begins to appear in the sweet tints of peace and joy, of love and humility, of meekness and heavenly-mindedness, which beautify the soul, and cause the believer to shine in the image of his divine Redeemer.
The happy believer now knows his malady and his remedy. He takes with gratitude those medicines which infinite wisdom prescribes. He daily feeds upon Christ by faith, and daily derives strength from this gracious source of blessedness. He feels his own weakness, and experiences the power of Jesus. He loathes himself and truly loves his Saviour, in whose righteousness he appears all lovely in the eyes of his heavenly Father. As a pilgrim, he journeys onwards under the guidance of that Holy Spirit, who dwells in him as in a temple, and who has promised to keep him by his mighty power through faith unto salvation. The world fascinates no longer. The mask falls from its face, and he be holds the idol in its natural deformity. He sees the emptiness of human applause; the madness of ambition; the deceitfulness of riches ; the folly of dissipation. Every thing beneath the sun assumes its true character, whilst he views it through the medium of God's holy word.
He learns to form a proper estimate of temporal things. He prays for grace to use the world as not abusing it; to be moderate in the enjoyment of all created good; knowing that the fashion of this world passeth away.
Has the believer no enjoyment of life? Is he destitute of all rational delights because he makes the Lord his portion? It would be an impeachment of the goodness of God, to suppose his service a mere Egyptian bondage.
The true believer in Jesus has the sweetest enjoyment of life. He can eat his meat with sin
gleness of heart, praising God. He can taste the sweets of Christian friendship and domestic life: He can enjoy all the endearing charities of husband, father, brother: He can feel his heart expanding towards the poor, and find his joy in pouring the balm of consolation into the troubled breast: He can delight in all the beauties of natural scenery ; and relish all the charms of sound philosophy: He can rejoice in every opening prospect for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, through institutions devised by Christian wisdom and conducted in Christian simplicity: He can weep in his best moments over the ruins of the fall, not only as felt in his own heart, but as beheld in the abject condition of the millions of mankind. He can rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Say then, can such a man be miserable ? can such a man be destitute of sources of real enjoyment? He lives by faith. He longs for heaven. He desires to be daily conformed to Jesus, and to glorify him more, whether it be by life or death. To him to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Such is the character of the converted sinner. O! how precious, how divine, how rare a character. Lord, impart this grace unto me, who am less than the least of all thy mercies, till faith shall end in the glorious, fruition of thyself in thy everlasting kingdom of light and glory.
Blest Saviour, condescend
Incline my soul to love
Preserve me by thy care ;
Let angel-guards surround,
When death the message brings
XXIV. ON THE NEW CREATURE.
The heart cannot be too deeply impressed with the absolute necessity of regenerating grace; or seek too earnestly for the promised blessing.
If the value of one immortal soul exceeds in amount all the wealth of the globe, yea, of millions of material worlds; how strange that men should barter their souls for trifles light as air, and empty as vanity itself.
Awful infatuation !-By many persons, faith is considered as the cheapest commodity, and of the most easy attainment ; forgetting that the eternal Son of God paid the price of his own most precious blood, that we might receive this heavenly grace, and be made partakers of everlasting glory.
Faith is the gift of God; and if any man be in Christ, or in other words, if any man possess this gift of faith, he is a new creature; with him, old things have passed away, and behold all things have hecome new.