« PreviousContinue »
given himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour.
“ Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”—“ Put on charity”—and “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.”—“ Be clothed with humility.”—“Love not the world, neither the things which are in the world.”—“Seek those things which are above."_"Set your affection on things above.”—“ Let your speech be alway with grace." __“Rejoice evermore--pray without ceasing.'
5:"_“ Abstain from all appearance of evil."“Fight the good fight of faith." __“Be faithful unto death."
These beautiful exhortations contain a lively portrait of the true believer. How different from the worldling, the nominal Christian, the cold-hearted adherer to the Gospel, the double-minded professor. Here, all is life and energy. Here, all is spirit, unction, and power. Here, we see, “the workmanship of God"_"“the new creation in Christ Jesus.”
Where these lineaments are found, there, grace is begun; where they are wanting, all pretensions to religion, all hope of final salvation, all self-appropriation of the promises, is delusion-a device of Satan, to lull the soul to sleep on the lap of carnal security, till it drop into the flames of hell. Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law. Change my heart by the powerful influence of thy Holy Spirit. Fill my soul with humility, love, and purity. May Christ be formed in me the hope of glory. May Christ dwell in my heart by faith. May love and every grace abound within me, till I am brought by sovereign mercy
to the general assembly of the church of the first• born, whose names are written in heaven.
How free the love, how rich the grace,
A pard'ning God bestows;
In boundless streams it flows.
What joy arises in the heart,
When Jesu's cross appears ;
Subdue my guilty fears.
Blest Saviour, speak the healing word,
Bid all my sorrows cease ;
My RIGHTEOUSNESS and PEACE.
O ! let thy precious blood divine,
Wash all my sins away;
Through heaven's eternal day.
XIII. ON THE LOVE OF GOD.
“God is love !" sweet truth. O! my soul, rejoice daily in this blessed revelation : « God is love."
Before all worlds, before any being was formed, “God is love"-love, eternal and unchangeable. He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. He is love.
How inconceivably great is the love of God. All worlds rolling in the infinite expanse; al beings inhabiting those innumerable spheres, which extend far beyond the boundaries of the most excursive imagination : all the myriads of angelic spirits, which dwell for ever in the bright effulgence of uncreated light: are only the overflowings of that love, which is inexhaustible.
The immense fountain loses not one drop, though countless millions are filled by its streams. It is ever flowing, ever full. Lord, thou art love. O! fill
my soul with thy love. Thou canst not be diminished, and I shall be made everlastingly blessed. When the Almighty created the angels in heaven, and man in paradise, he endued them with powers suited to their distinctive degrees of excellence.
Both were formed holy, and consequently happy.
All nature proclaims the benevolence of deity; the unbounded goodness of Jehovah.
The moral law emanated from the love of God. This law was stamped upon the heart of Adam, when in a state of innocence. It is a transcript of the divine mind; holy, just, and good.
When man sinned, he broke the law of love. He fell under its curse. To redeem him from this wretched state, Jesus, the Son of God, assumed our mortal nature; expiated our guilt, and brought in an everlasting righteousness. He burst the bars of death. He ascended up on high; and reigns the sovereign Lord of angels and of men.
When the royal law” of love was broken in paradise, how soon did Adam's first-born imbrue his hand in a brother's blood ! Violence overspread the earth with awful rapidity; till God, in righteous judgment swept the guilty rebels from the earth, by a tremendous flood of waters.
Every succeeding age has been marked by mi. series of every name, all flowing from one common source-an evil heart of unbelief. Sin is the cause of misery, and sin originates with man.
If it be asked, what is the true cause of man's inability to love and serve God ? May we not answer, a criminal indisposition of heart so to do. It is not that man cannot love God, from a natural incapacity, arising from a total destitution of understanding, will, and affections ; but rather that he will not, owing to a deep rooted enmity against the holy character and commands of God.
This aversion of the heart from God, constitutes the chief guilt of man. Man is a responsible being, and must render an account to God, from whom he receives all his powers, for the abuse of those talents committed to his trust. He can love the world : he can love sensual delights; he can love riches and honours, yea, every thing which tends to gratify his passions, and to exalt him in his own eyes, or in the estimation of others. He has a will to choose what is pleasing to his animal appetites ; and to refuse what is painful or distasteful to him. He has an understanding to judge upon worldly matters ; and a quick eye to discover the path to temporal advancement. He finds his hopes and fears, his joys and griefs, his love and hatred, brought into continual exercise with the ever-varying events of life.
Hence man does not labour under a natural incapacity. His inability is altogether of a moral kind. Sin has darkened and corrupted all the higher faculties of the soul; so that now, “the world by wisdom knows not God." Men choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil ;" for “the carnal mind is enmity against God."
This wrong state of the heart, this evil bias of the soul, this radical corruption of our nature, is universal. It spreads itself through the whole human race, without exception; for all are born in sin ; all are by nature the children of wrath, and the heirs of hell.
So powerful is this innate evil, this natural indisposedness of the heart towards God, that neither reason, conscience, nor philosophy can remove it.
God alone can turn the heart of the sinner to himself. The language of divine revelation is : " thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help.”
Whilst therefore in deepest self-abasement we bear the burden of our guilt, and acknowledge that we have destroyed ourselves ; we must ascribe all the glory of our salvation to omnipotent love, in whom our help is found ? and say, with the grateful Psalmist : “ Not unto us, O! Lord, not unto us, but unto · thy name, give the glory for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake.”
The whole human race must soon stand before the judgment seat of Christ. No plea will then be accepted in arrest of judgment. In that awful day, every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world will become guilty before God: “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.'
From this view of our fallen state, we may scripturally conclude, that sinners, if left to themselves, would never turn to God. And hence we see the blessedness and necessity of that grace which turneth us from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.
It is a true saying of St. Augustine, that without free-will there could be no condemnation; and without free grace there could be no salvation.
But the voice of sovereign love declares to the great Melchisedec: “thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." Ps. ex.
Here is set forth the power of God; the persons on whom this power is exerted; and the blessed effects of it upon their souls. This power is the power of God unto salvation. When he works, who can let it? It is convincing power, converting power, sustaining power. O! that this divine power, this ENERGY OF LOVE may be felt in every
soul. Lord, may I feel it in mine.
But on whom is this power exerted ?
When we view the whole human race sunk in sin and misery, in a state of open rebellion against the majesty of heaven, where shall we find his people. The very words, they shall be willing ;" imply, that they were not always so. Prior to this