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In the Gospel we have the strongest motives to gratitude and obedience. It is full of the sweetest promises to every penitent believer, who flies to Jesus for life and salvation.
Let us enquire how this Gospel has come to us. Has it convinced us of our lost condition? Has it truly humbled us in the sight of God? Has it made us apply to Christ in faith, and earnest supplication? Have we experienced a change of heart, being renewed in the spirit of our mind? Do we feel joy in the Holy Ghost, and peace with God through Jesus Christ?
It is easy in these days of the Church's quiet, to pass for religious characters, since few events occur to try the principles of professors. But all is not sterling that dazzles the eye. Many seem to take delight in religious institutions, and to be on friendly terms with their religious neighbours, who yet remain, through life, satisfied with barren notions of the Gospel,-and strangers to its renovating power. May the Holy Spirit preserve us from this fatal error. Let us beware of false marks, of a false peace, and groundless hopes; for this truth stands immoveably fixed in the Word of God-" IF ANY MAN HAVE NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE IS NONE OF HIS."
The doctrines of grace, systematically arranged in the mind, while the heart is estranged from God, will profit us no more, than the idea of a valuable estate would benefit a person on the verge of bankruptcy, because its fields, woods, and mansions were vividly painted on his imagination. Without a personal interest in the merits
of Christ, and an experimental acquaintance with his salvation, it is vain to expect admission into the celestial city.
Nominal Christianity neither receives, nor confers a blessing. Thousands pride themselves in the name of Christian, as if that were sufficient to secure salvation, in the absence of every holy affection.
Blessed are they, who can unite with St. John in all the fulness of his assurance: "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. We know that we are of God. We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ."
As fallen creatures, we need a spiritual discernment, and a spiritual taste. Without the former, a thick darkness respecting the things of God would ever shroud the understanding; without the latter, no real delight in the riches of his grace would be felt in the soul. When these blessings are imparted, we then love Christ above every other object, and obey his Will above other law.
Pride and the lust of the flesh are continually opposing the humbling and the holy doctrines of the Gospel. Salvation by grace, through faith, is offensive to our pride. Salvation by grace, through the sanctification of the Spirit, is equally distasteful to our fleshly mind.
The leaven of pride is not wholly eradicated, even in the bosom of the humble Christian. There
are seasons when it works with painful violence; and then, the darkness of our minds, and the deadness of our hearts, indicate that the Holy Spirit is grieved, and that Satan has gained an advantage over us.
Spiritual pride is a subtle evil. It slides into our prayer, and entwines itself about our praise. It spoils our best duties, and creates that fondness for human approbation, which puffs up the heart, and steals it away from God. Thus sang Cowper:
"O popular Applause! what heart of man
And therefore heedless, can withstand thy pow'r?"
When the Gospel of Christ, that word of life and reconciliation, shall be exhibited in its spirit and power by all professing Christians, happy indeed will the period be! Then the knowledge of the Lord will overspread the earth; for many will go to and fro in the name of the Lord, and knowledge shall be increased.
But have we attained this consummation, so devoutly to be wished? Is this the aspect of the nominally Christian world? Can we say, that in every place" judgment runs down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream ?”
Alas! we have to mourn over thousands, who, while they eagerly grasp after the fruit of the tree of knowledge, despise the infinitely richer fruit of
the tree of life. If knowledge be power, how important, for the well-being of society, that it be founded upon, and drawn from, the Word of God.
Unsanctified knowledge puffeth up. It engenders schisms in the Church, and disorders in the state.
As a Christian people, we may value ourselves upon our benevolent institutions, and religious societies, and think we have done much good in aiding their establishment and enlargement: but has inward piety been the spring of our outward exertions? Has love to Christ been our daily constraining motive? "Bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." This, saith the Apostle, is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.
Let us view the two portraits of mankind as drawn by the pencil of eternal Truth, by which we shall see that man, while unconverted to God, is the same internally, whatever change have taken place in his outward condition. Behold first the picture which St. Paul draws of the heathen world, and which is a faithful representation of modern Paganism :-"God gave them over to a reprobate mind, being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, cove
nant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
O what a deluge of evil has sin brought upon the earth! Surely, where the Gospel shines, the prospect will be cheering. Happy could we find it so.-Look at the picture which the Apostle again draws of the nominally Christian world, and the heart must sicken at the view.
"In the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."
How awful in their features of evil are these two portraits of mankind. The heathen world, and the nominally Christian world, are essentially the same.
Have we not entered upon these predicted times of peril? Does not iniquity, to a frightful extent, abound amongst us? Are not the elements of confusion now at work? Do not these detailed enormities, both disfigure and convulse the nations of Christendom?
The Papal apostacy is gathering its forces against the truth of the Bible: infidelity is waving its banners in proud defiance. Worldly-minded