صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

family and neighborhood &c. And the difference between them lies in their ultimate intentions or the reasons for what they do.

There is, as I have intimated, special difficulty in ascertaining, for certainty, which is the saint and which the sinner, when the sinners selfishness is directed to the securing of a heavenly and eternal interest instead of a worldly and temporal one. He may and often does aim at securing a heavenly and an eternal interest both for himself, and family, and friends. When he does this his outward manifestations are so very like those of the true saint as to render it difficult if not impossible for an observer for the time being to distinguish accurately between them.

I have compared the saint and the sinner in my last lecture for the purpose of showing in what respect they may be alike.

I will now in a few particulars proceed to contrast them that it may appear in what they differ.

1. And fundamentally they are radically opposite to each other in their ultimate choice or intention. They are supremely devoted to different and opposite ends. They live to promote those opposite ends.

2. The saint is governed by reason, the law of God or the moral law; in other words still, the law of disinterested and universal benevolence is his law. This law is not only revealed and developed in his intelligence, but it is written in his heart. So that the law of his intellect is the law of his heart. He not only sees and acknowledges what he ought to do and De, but he is conscious to himself and gives evidence to others, whether they receive it and are convinced by it or not, that his heart, his will or intention, is conformed to his convictions of duty. He sees the path of duty and follows it. He knows what he ought to will, intend and do, and does it. Of this he is conscious. And of this others may be satisfied if they are observing, charitable, and candid.

3. The sinner is right over against this in the most important and fundamental respects. He is not governed by reason and principle, but by feeling, desire, and impulse. Sometimes his feelings coincide with the intelligence, and sometimes they do not. But when they do so coincide, the will does not pursue the course it does out of respect or in obedience to the law of the intelligence, but in obedience to the impulse of the sensibility which for the time being impels in the same direction as does the law of the reason. But for the

most part the impulses of the sensibility incline him to worldly gratifications and in an opposite direction to that which the intelligence points out. This leads him to a course of life that is too manifestly the opposite of reason to leave any room for doubt as to what his true character is.

But he also has the law revealed in his intelligence. His head is right, but his heart is wrong. He knows what he ought to do and will and be, but he is conscious that his heart does not obey his reason. He is conscious that the law is in his intelligence but is not written in his heart. He knows that he is not in heart what he necessarily affirms that he ought to be. He knows that he is habitually selfish and not disinterestedly benevolent. Sometimes, as has been said, during seasons of special religious excitement when his sensibility and intelligence impel in the same direction, he thinks his heart and his head agree; that he is what he knows he ought to be; that the law is written in his heart. But as soon as this excitement subsides he sees or may see that it was not his intelligence but his sensibility that governed his will; that in the absence of religious excitement his intelligence has no control of his will; that he is governed by impulse and not by principle. This will also be manifest to others. If during religious excitement they have hoped too well of him, as soon as and in proportion as excitement ceases, they will clearly see that it was the impulse of feeling and not the law of the intelligence that governed him. They will soon clearly see that he has not and had not the root of the matter in him; that his religion was founded in the effervescence of the ever varying sensibility and not in the stable demands of his reason and conscience. As excitement waxes and wanes he will be ever fluctuating. Sometimes quite zealous and active and talkative, full of feeling, he will have the appearance of possessing most of the phases of christian character in a state of freshness and beauty. And anon his religious excitement ceases. His tongue is silent on religious subjects. His zeal abates apace. His attendance at the prayer and conference meeting is interrupted and finally ceases. A worldly excitement takes possession of his sensibility. His will is carried of course. Politics, business, amusement, no matter what, is for the time being his exciting topic, he is carried away with it, and remains in this state carried hither and thither by worldly engrossments until another religious excitement renews and confirms his delusion and that of his friends, who look upon him as a real christian but prone to backsliding.

4. The true saint is distinguished by his firm adherence to all the principles and rules of the Divine government. He is a reformer from principle, and needs not the gale of popular excitement or of popular applause to put and keep him in motion. His intellect and conscience have taken the control of his will, or the will has renounced the impulses of the sensibility as its law, and voluntarily committed itself to the demands of the reason. This fact must appear both on the field of his own consciousness, and also in most instances be very manifest to others. His zeal does not wax and wane with every breeze of excitement. He is not carried away by every change in the effervescing sensibility. The law of reason being written in his heart, he does not at one time appear reasonable and to be influenced by conscience and a regard to the law of love, and at another to be infinitely unreasonable and to have little or no regard to God or his laws. He fears and shuns popular excitements as he does all other temptations. He loaths and resists them. The excitements of politics and business and amusements, are regarded by him with a jealous eye. He dreads their influence on his sensibility, and when he feels them, it causes a deep struggle and groaning of spirit, because the will, adhering to the law of conscience, steadfastly resists them. Such like excitements instead of being his element and the aliment of his life, are a grief and a vexation to him. Instead of living, and moving, and having his being as it were in the midst of them and by them, he is only annoyed by them. They are not the moving spring of his activity, but only embarrass his spiritual life. His spiritual life is founded in the law of the intelligence, and supported by the light of the Holy Spirit poured upon his intellect through the truth. He steadily resists the flood tides of mere feeling on every subject and abides by truth and principle and moral law whatever may be the circumstances of worldly or religious excitement around him. Be it ever remembered, it is moral law, moral principle, the law of love, and not mere feeling, that governs him.

5. The sinner or deceived professor, for they are one, is right over against this. Excitement is his element and his life. He has truly no moral principle except in theory. He is never truly influenced by truth, law, reason, but always by excitement of some kind. His activity is based on this; hence he is not disturbed and embarassed in his movements by excitements of any kind, any longer than it takes to put down one form of excitement and take on another. If when

he is much interested and excited and carried away in one direction, a counter influence or excitement comes in his way, he is taken aback for the time being. He is disconcerted and embarrassed, perhaps displeased. But you will soon see him go about and fill away to the new excitement. Excitement is his life, and although like a ship at sea, he is thrown into temporary confusion by a sudden change of the winds and waves, so, like her whose life and activity are the breezes and the gale and the ocean wave, he readily accommodates his sails and his course to the ever changing breeze and currents of excitement in the midst of which he loves to live, and on the foaming surface of which he is borne along. If you wish to move him, you must strongly appeal to his feelings. Reason does not, can not govern him. 'Tis not enough to say to him, Thus saith the Lord. He will admit the right, but surely will not do it. He will not go that way, unless you can first make his feelings move in that direction. He holds the truth only in theory and in unrighteousness. It is not the law of his life, his heart, his warmest affections and sympathies. Present considerations to his intelligence: unless they excite his sensibility, and arouse his hopes, or fears, or feelings in some direction, you might as well attempt to change the course of the winds by your words. His imagination must be aroused and set on fire. His sensibility must be reached, enkindled. The gales of excitement must be awaked, and the mainspring of his action must be touched and directed to impel his will, before you can quicken him into life. His feelings are his law.

6. The saint is justified, and he has the evidence of it in the peace of his own mind. He is conscious of obeying the law of reason and of love. Consequently he naturally has that kind and degree of peace that flows from the harmony of his will with the law of his intelligence. He sometimes has conflicts with the impulses of feeling and desire. But unless he is overcome, these conflicts, though they may cause him inwardly and perhaps audibly to groan, do not interrupt his peace. There are still the elements of peace within him. His heart and conscience are at one, and while this is so, he has thus far the evidence of justification in himself. That is, he knows that God can not condemn his present state. Conscious as he is of conformity of heart to the moral law he can not but affirm to himself that the lawgiver is pleased with his present attitude. But further, he has also within the Spirit of God witnessing with his spirit that he is a child of God,

forgiven, accepted, adopted. He feels the filial spirit drawing his heart to exclaim, Father, Father. He is conscious that he pleases God and has God's smile of approbation.

He is at peace with himself because he affirms his heart to be in unison with the law of love. His conscience does not upbraid, but smile. The harmony of his own being is a witness to himself that this is the state in which he was made to exist. He is at peace with God, because he and God are pursuing precisely the same end and by the same means. There can be no collision, no controversy between them. He is at peace with the universe in the sense that he has no ill-will and no malicious feelings or wish to gratify in the injury of any one of all the creatures of God. He has no fear but to sin against God. He is not influenced on the one hand by the fear of hell, nor on the other by the hope of reward. He is not anxious about his own salvation, but prayerfully and calmly leaves that question in the hands of God and concerns himself only to promote the highest glory of God and the good of being. "Being justified by faith he has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." "There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

7. The sinner's experience is the opposite of this. He is under condemnation, and seldom can so far deceive himself, even in his most religious moods, as to imagine that he has a consciousness of acceptance either with his own conscience or with God. There is almost never a time in which he has not a greater or less degree of restlessness and misgiving within. Even when he is most engaged in religion as he supposes, he finds himself dissatisfied with himself. Something is wrong. There is a struggle and a pang. He may not exactly see where and what the difficulty is. He does not after all obey reason and conscience, and is not governed by the law and will of God. Not having the consciousness of this obedience, his conscience does not smile. He sometimes feels deeply, and acts as he feels, and is conscious of being sincere in the sense of feeling what he says and acting in obedience to deep feeling. But this does not satisfy conscience. He is more or less wretched after all. He has not true peace. Sometimes he has a self-righteous quiet and enjoyment. But this is neither peace of conscience nor peace with God. He after all feels uneasy and condemned, notwithstanding all his feeling and zeal and activity. They are not of the right kind. Hence they do not satisfy the conscience. They do not meet

« السابقةمتابعة »